The Revelation Given to John by Jesus Through the Angel
Revelation, Chapter Eight
Silence in Heaven
The Lamb ripped off the seventh seal and John saw and heard nothing: silence for a short period, about ½ hour. Everyone is waiting for something important.
J. Vernon McGee says this is the lull before the storm of the seven trumpets. “This silence marks the transition from grace to judgment!”[i] I don’t agree but either one or both of us may be wrong. I believe the seventh seal, the seventh trumpet, and the seventh bowl all usher in the thousand year reign of Mashiach on earth. That would mean the silence is the end, not the beginning of tribulation.
Silence: a picture of the eternal peace of heaven. That long awaited for rest[ii]for the people of Yahweh. This is the Sabbath of the Church’s history. This is the climax of tribulation. The people of Yahweh have already been under the protective seal of the Spirit of Yahweh. Now they (we) are at perfect peace.
This is not the absence of life, but the essence of life. We will be living in a world, for a thousand years, where everyone is left alive after the rapture (Catching away) of the Church[iii] and the battle of Armageddon will be our responsibility. We will be reigning with Mashiach. That means law enforcement, teaching, caring for the sick and the aged, all positions of responsibility will lay on our shoulders. But we will be equipped to handle all the stress and hard work because we will not only have our glorified bodies[iv]but we will completely possess Yahweh’s perfect rest.
This silence, I believe, is not the same as the silent waiting for the eye of a hurricane, nor is it the silence before a storm. I believe it is the silence of waiting for the seventh trumpet to usher in the crescendo of voices in heaven singing the victory song of the Kingdom[v]. Victory in the Kingdom means it is the end of the earth’s sinful reign[vi]. The silence is a suspension of activity while Mashiach leaves for his earthly ministry. The family of Yahweh (That’s us!) have already been called away to meet him in the air.
Two silver trumpets (two is the number of witnesses required by law[vii]) called the congregation together to get their marching orders. The trumpets were used to call for Yahweh’s help against the enemy, and at times of celebration to remind the congregation that Yahweh was their god. The walls of Jericho fell at the sound of the trumpet and a shout form the army of Yahweh[viii]. The trumpet was used for a warning[ix]that the enemy was near – as an analogy of the watchman who warned of the destructive nature of sin. Seven trumpets called the nation of Israel to order for the trek through the wilderness of sin, into the Promised Land. The trumpet call ushered in both the Day of Atonement and the Year of Jubilee[x]. According to the Westminster Study Edition Of The Bible[xi], “It was common thought in late Judaism that seven angels occupies positions of special eminence in the worship and service of God.”
John is very familiar with all of this, so when he sees seven angels being given seven trumpets he expects to see Yahweh move forward with his people, toward his goal. Important events are about to be announced. Something mighty is about to happen[xii].
Then, to assure John – and us – that Yahweh’s family is his major concern, another angel comes and stands at the altar. This angel holds a gold[xiii]censer. The censer is filled with incense, representing the prayers of Yahweh’s people ascending into heaven. Frank Charles Thomas says these prayers are pleas for the coming of the Messianic Kingdom[xiv].
John’s vision of the prayers of Yahweh’s people ascending into heaven, safely brought by the strong hand of a mighty angel, is an assurance that Yahweh hears the cry of the righteous and delivers them[xv]. We are instructed by the Psalmist to pray for the peace of Jerusalem[xvi] until Mashiach’s kingdom is established. Yeshua taught us to pray for the establishment of the Kingdom[xvii].
We have been praying for this for thousands of years (days in Yahweh’s economy). We talk of how bad things are getting in this world and plan and scheme to stop the increasing violence, sickness, and suffering of humanity.
This vision is Yahweh’s assurance that he hears our prayers and is answering them. He knows what to do about the escalating violence and the cruelty of the world, but he is not willing that anyone should be lost in their sin forever; therefor, he is long suffering so that all who will may come to him.
Our lives are very short; as a result. We can’t see Yahweh’s overall plan being worked out, unless we look with spiritual eyes through the lenses of Scripture. Accordingly Yahweh (Yeshua Ha Mashiach) gave these visions to John to share with us so we would understand when all these bad things happen; it is Yahweh working out his perfect plan in time and space.
Since we know that “By coming up with a new plan, a new covenant between god and his people, God put the old plan on the shelf. And there it stays, gathering dust[xviii]”, we also understand that this alter represents an approach to Yahweh opened by sacrifice of the Lamb of God – once and for all.[xix]
In the old plan the gold alter of incense was in the Holy of Holies where only the high priest could enter once a year, and then only if his life was pure enough. The alter in heaven that John sees is a picture of that once for all work of Mashiach that makes it possible for us to pray boldly[xx]. This alter represents our ability, and right of, direct communication with Yahweh.
The fire that the angel fills the censer with, I believe, represents the power of prayer[xxi].
John sees the angel take the fire of prayers of Yahweh’s people and fill the censer with it, and then he heaves it to the earth. The result is thunder, voices, lightning and an earthquake[xxii].
The message for us is that when Yahweh’ people pray, things happen. The power of the Holy Spirit is at work, on earth, in human hearts. As we learned in lesson ten, lightning and thunder are symbols of Yahweh’s majesty and power – the source of life. The voices speak the living, life changing word of Yahweh. The earthquake, I believe, is a picture of the earth moving against itself in response to the preaching of the word[xxiii].
Prayer: O Lord, we look for you in the events of this day, of past days, and the promise of the future. We know that you are working out your perfect plan in this world we live in. We desire to see your name glorified in the laws of the land and in the lives of your people. We are your family O Yahweh, and the sheep of your pasture. Make us fit to serve in your kingdom and we will not complain about how you do it. Come soon Master Yeshua!
[i] Thru The Bible, volume 5, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, 1983, page 960
[ii] Hebrews 4:9
[iii] I Thessalonians 4:15-18
[iv] I Corinthians 15:51-57
[v] Revelation 11:15
[vi] Revelation 16:17-21
[vii] Numbers 10:2
[viii] Joshua 6:4
[ix] Ezekiel 33:3
[x] Leviticus 25:9, 10
[xi] Westminster Press, Philadelphia, page 469 of the New Testament, notes on verses 1-6
[xii] David Jeramiah, page 141
[xiii] Gold for purity and durability, not to mention that gold is a precious metal
[xiv] The Thomas Chain Reference Bible, fifth improved edition, B.B. Kirkbridge Bible Company, Inc, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1988, page 1639
[xv] Psalm 34:17
[xvi] Psalm 122:6
[xvii] Matthew 6:17
[xviii] The Message Bible, Hebrews 8:13
[xix] Hebrews 9:11-14
[xx] Hebrews 4:16; Romans 8:26, 27
[xxi] Matthew 3:11,; Acts 1:8; 2:3
[xxii] Revelation 4:5
[xxiii] Romans 8:22