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. and 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.
   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

   Of course, it goes without saying that we must not confuse the seventh seal with the seventh trumpet.

   To refresh our memory: no one was found worthy except the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome, to open the scroll and its seven seals." 5:5

   No events are recorded with the breaking of the seventh sealBut 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. The KJV Bible Commentary.  Chapter 8 begins where chapter 6 ended. KJV Study Bible  

   Here is another, more accurate, point of view:
  At the end of chapter 6, the events of the sixth seal happen.  
  • In 7:1 the four angels holding the four winds appear to wreak havoc on the earth.  
  • in 7:2 the angel with the seventh seal appears and tells the angels of 7:1  with a loud voice ... "Do not harm the earth, nor the sea, nor the trees.   
  • This parenthesis introduced in 7:3 with the words, Do not harm the earth ... till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads is closed at the end of 8:1 with these words there was silence in heaven about half an hour.
  • In 8:2 the story from 6:17 resumes with the opening of the seventh seal. And I saw the seven angels who stood before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. 
   The description of the 7th seal is in 7:1-2.  Nothing is said in 8:1, about the seventh seal except that it was mentioned as being opened.  This would not be so confusing if the man who divided the Bible into chapters and verses would have left 7:1-2 as 6:18-19.

   The gales and hurricanes mentioned in 7:1-2 are the fulfilment of the seventh seal of 8:1, for if they are not, we have the unlikely scenario of having only one seal (the seventh), for which we are not given the contents.   Furthermore, the actions of 7:1-2 do not fit into the sixth seal which is recorded in chapter 6; but they do fit into the seventh seal in 8:1.

  There are many Bible commentaries which teach that the opening of the seventh seal sets into motion the sounding of the seven trumpets.  I see a problem with that teaching because there is a time lapse between the opening of the seventh seal in 8:1 and the time when the angels who stood before God were given the seven trumpets in 8:2. 

   Furthermore, if The Apocalypse is arranged, as it is in this study, five of the seven trumpets have sounded and five of the seven bowls of wrath have been poured out before the events of chapter 8:2 take place.  

   Though the first four trumpets are listed in order in chapter 8:7-13 we must recognize that history continues to happen even during the blowing of the trumpets.  It is not as though a trumpet sounds and some history all of a sudden starts happening, then another trumpet sounds and history starts happening again.  History is a continuous ongoing thing. It is that history which is found in the last chapters of The Apocalypse which is interlaced into the sounding of the trumpets and the pouring out of the bowls of wrath.

   Admittedly, this sounds confusing but it is not trivial.  If facts like this are not put in their proper place when studying the Bible, we end up with teachings such as, for example:  
  • Christ will return before the Great Tribulation,
  • Christ is coming back two times,
  • our dead friends are watching over us now, 
  • we go to heaven as soon as we die, 
  • and the more flighty; people become angels when they die.  
These doctrines are not in the Bible!

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, e.g. no trumpets blowing, no opening of seals, no visions for John. 

 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.  

   The 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.  

  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 chosen path 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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