The scene in Heaven –The Opening of the Seventh Seal
“And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.” (Revelation 8:1-6).
The scene reverts back to heaven. These events constitute the second looping parallelism, which consists of the seven trumpets. The seven trumpets are introduced under the seventh seal, for they are contained in it. When it is opened, there is a silence in heaven, whichJohn described as about half an hour. It must have seemed like an eternity toJohn. This silence may be contemporary with the winds held at bay by the four angels.
This silence is the lull just before the storm; however, it is more than that. This seventh seal takes us back to the mid-point of the tribulation and fills in the details passed over in the general description of the first six seals.
The silence cannot be ignored. It is a reminder to God’s saints, the Jewish remnant, that they were not unnoticed when they cried out to Him day and night. The following is an expression of their cries: “O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:2-3). “My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?” (Psalm 42:3). “And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words” (Matthew 26:44).
The parable of the widow and the unjust judge illustrates that God will respond, in His time, to the prayers of His saints. “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (See Luke 18:7-8). The time to avenge them has come. This silence before the storm was to illustrate and assure them that their prayers were heard even while the heavens were silent. The long awaited response to their prayers is now justified.
After the seventh seal is opened, a priestly angel comes forth from the Holy Placewith a censer filled with live coals from the altar. These coals are not from the brazen altar, but are from the altar of incense. The live coals are sprinkled with “much incense” and are offered up to God with the prayers of the suffering saints. Verse 4 states, “…the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.” God is preparing to avenge His persecuted saints by answering their calls for judgment on the wicked of the earth. Psalms 83:9 is an example of their prayers, “Do unto them as unto the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison…”
The above prayer is an imprecatory Psalm, which calls upon God to curse one’s enemies. Psalm 69 and 109 are considered the most significant, while 5, 6, 11, 12, 35, 37, 40, 52, 54, 56, 58,69, 79, 83, 137, 139, and 143 are also imprecatory Psalms.
Verse 5 describes the action taken by another angel in heaven. The introduction to this judgment is described as, “…voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.” This announces that trouble is on its way from heaven, and the earth has never experienced such wrath since the day the world began. “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:21-22).
It is similar to the days when Israel came out of Egypt, “According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I shew unto him marvellous things” (Micah 7:15). These events will be physical and literal. “Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land” (Jeremiah 23:7-8). (See Exodus 34:10; Deut. 28:10.)
The scene before us is a response to what was revealed at the opening of the fifth seal, “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:” (Revelation 6:9). The judgments, in part, are a reprisal for the suffering of the godly saints during the Day of the Lord.
Pastor Ken Blue was born in Boswell, Ark. In 1955 he accepted Christ as his Savior. He and his wife Joyce were married in 1955. They have 5 children. He graduated from Midwestern Baptist Bible College in 1969 and started the Open Door Baptist Church in Lynnwood, Wa. where he pastored for 39 years. Because of health issues (ALS) he was forced to resign as pastor. It is his desire to continue to be used of God to help pastors and believers through this ministry.