Friday, April 19, 2013

The Seventh Seal is Opened

Just to make things a little less confusing let me reiterate.
  1. We have studied the blowing of the first five trumpets
  2. We have studied the pouring out of the first five bowls of wrath
  3. We have studied the opening of the first six seals.  The first four were the "four horsemen of the Apocalypse"; the fifth was when God sealed the saints in their foreheads; the sixth was when the 144,000 Jews were sealed.
  4. All the loose ends will be tied together when the seventh (the last) trumpet shall sound and when the seventh, the last bowl, of wrath is poured out and Christ returns.  

   When he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about half an hour. 8:1 

Silence in Heaven

   The KJV Bible commentary states that No events are recorded with the breaking of the seventh seal.  About this thought the King James Version Study Bible writes, Chapter 8 begins where chapter 6 ended. The KJV Bible commentary continues, But an ominous silence pervades all nature, which is indicative of the solemnity of the things that are about to take place. It is the calm before the storm.

   Here is another viewpoint.  The parenthesis introduced in 7:3 with the words, Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads is closed at the end of 8:1, and in 8:2 the story resumes with the opening of the seventh seal.  When he had opened the seventh seal there was silence in heaven takes us back to 7:1; I saw four angels...holding the four winds.  

   Nothing is said in 8:1, about the seventh seal except that it was mentioned as being opened.  However, the description of the seal is in 7:1-2.  The gales and hurricanes mentioned in 7:1-2 are the fulfillment of the seventh seal of 8:1, for if they are not, we have the unlikely scenario of having only one seal (the seventh), of which we are not given the contents.   Furthermore, the actions of 7:1-2 do not fit into the sixth seal, but they do fit into the seventh seal in 8:1.

   Admittedly, this sounds confusing but it is not trivial.  If facts like this are not put in their proper place we end up with teachings such as, for example,  Christ will return before the Great Tribulation, or we go to heaven as soon as we die, or even the more flighty; people become angels when they die.  How absurd!

Time in Heaven

   On opening the first seal, one of the four creatures was saying with a voice like thunder.  By way of contrast, after the seventh seal is opened, there was silence in heaven about half an hour.  Some have suggested that silence means inactivity.

   The space of half an hour is not a reckoning according to a heavenly chronometer, but it does indicate a very brief period.
The KJV Bible commentary

   With a different point of view in mind a technical question could be asked; if John were really in heaven, our eternal abode, how could he have recorded the time to be half an hour, since, we are told, there is no time in heaven.  That statement by John that it was half an hour lends weight to the idea that John was inside a spaceship, which at that juncture had its clocks set to measure earthly time.  

   Matthew Henry, in his usual, excessive verbiage declares profound silence in heaven for the space of half an hour, which may be understood either, 1. Of the silence of peace, that for this time no complaints were sent up to the ear of the Lord God of sabaoth; all was quiet and well in the church, and therefore all silent in heaven, for whenever the church on earth cries, through oppression, that cry comes up to heaven and resounds there; or, 2. A silence of expectation; great things were upon the wheel of providence, and the church of God, both in heaven and earth, stood silent, as became them.

    As I said in the introduction to this study, in almost every aspect of The Apocalypse one can choose one of many paths to follow and the path chosen seems right.  One thing I am sure of, I have not yet read any interpretation and arrangement of The Revelation with which I agree at many points.

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