When Jesus opened the final seal of the scroll something different happened or rather didn’t happen. Everything stopped for about half an hour. Verse 1 reads,
“When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.”
For around thirty minutes everything stopped, there was silence. Many of us have a hard time dealing with silence and suspension of action. I, for one have a difficult time stopping my brain and giving myself true silence. John does not tell us the reason for this half an hour stillness. He doesn’t tell us if the quiet touched the earth, if there was a break in action on earth as there was in Heaven. He tells us only that there was silence. But huge events had just occurred on earth. An earthquake so massive that mountains could not stand up to it, The Day of the Wrath of the Lamb had begun. Perhaps their silence was for prayer, contemplation, or mourning for the people of the earth. Perhaps it was a rest from the horror, or a time of compassionate grief. John did not say and I do not know.
I do know that if all of Heaven stopped for thirty minutes of silence, then I should stop sometimes too. I know that if the elders, the angels, the creatures, and God Himself are silent when Jesus opens the seventh seal that He must approve of silence from time to time. I can say that too often my “quiet time” is filled with conversation with God. Yes prayer is good and excellent, but so is silence for the right reasons. I have forgone silence in lieu of listening to my own inner monologue. Silence before God has purposes. Lamentations 3:25-31 reads,
“The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man that he bear
the yoke in his youth.
28 Let him sit alone in silence
when it is laid on him;
29 let him put his mouth in the dust--
there may yet be hope;
30 let him give his cheek to the one who strikes,
and let him be filled with insults.
31 For the Lord will not
cast off forever,”
Silence is an expression of our faith in God’s steadfastness. It is an exercise of our faith in His salvation.It allows reflection. It is the way we “pray” when we are most desperate. When words escape us, we give up on words we humble ourselves and put our mouth in the dust and show that we know where our hope comes from. It is an expression of Jesus’ kind of love. We know God is with us, He has made promises to us and we will faithfully wait as He faithfully remains The LORD. Zephaniah 1:7-9 says,
“Be silent before the Lord God!
For the day of the Lord is near;
the Lord has prepared a sacrifice
and consecrated his guests.
8 And on the day of the Lord's sacrifice--
“I will punish the officials and the king's sons
and all who array themselves in foreign attire.
9 On that day I will punish
everyone who leaps over the threshold,
and those who fill their master's house
with violence and fraud.”
Silence allows us to reflect on our heart condition and let God prepare us for the Day of Judgement. He can, through our silent awaiting of His fulfilled promise tell us if we are invited to and dressed for the Wedding Feast.
Do not relinquish the exercise of faith that silence is nor the blessing it is to the LORD our God. Do not forgo the benefits and blessing of silence. Silence allows you to seem intelligent (Proverbs 17:28), listen and become wiser (Proverbs 19:20-21), grow in faith (Psalm 27:14), feel God’s peace (Psalm 62:5-6), and be blessed by His goodness (Lamentations 3:25).
Perhaps the silence of Heaven at that time increased the faith and prayers of the Believers on earth. Perhaps their prayers grew more as their faith was exercised and strengthened. Verses 2-4 read tell us,
“Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. 3 And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, 4 and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.”
Our prayers come to the Throne of God like incense. Exodus 30:6-10 are God’s instructions regarding incense.
“And you shall put it in front of the veil that is above the ark of the testimony, in front of the mercy seat that is above the testimony, where I will meet with you. 7 And Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it. Every morning when he dresses the lamps he shall burn it, 8 and when Aaron sets up the lamps at twilight, he shall burn it, a regular incense offering before the Lord throughout your generations. 9 You shall not offer unauthorized incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering, and you shall not pour a drink offering on it.10 Aaron shall make atonement on its horns once a year. With the blood of the sin offering of atonement he shall make atonement for it once in the year throughout your generations. It is most holy to the Lord.”
Incense was an integral part of worshipping God, and has represented our prayers from the time that the Lord instituted the Tabernacle. The incense did not replace the sacrifices nor did the sacrifices replace the incense, they were separate and went together. Our salvation from Jesus does not mean we do not need to pray, and our prayer without Jesus is fruitless. The two go hand in hand. It is most holy to the LORD. He is pleased by the aroma, and that fragrance affects both the saved and lost on earth (2 Corinthians 2:14-17).
The prayers of the faithful believers rose before God. Imagine our prayers as incense, its smoke and its fragrance rising up before God. Incense affects the room and the one in the room, depending in its aroma. One aroma causes calm, another energy, and another healing. Depending on the make-up of the incense the perfume will be different and so the effect distinctive. Our prayers do not float up into the universe like random energy they go to the golden altar in the throne room of The Lord, they rise before God. He does not remain unmoved. Read Romans 8:31-35 as you picture your prayers rising up hand in hand with the blood of Jesus to God’s throne.
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?”
God loves us so much. He doesn’t ignore your prayers. Seek Him, seek the Kingdom of Heaven (God’s will) first above everything else and He will make sure you lack nothing in regards to His image and your needs. (Matthew 6:33). Jesus would not have taught us to ask for God’s will on earth as it is in Heaven nor for the Kingdom of God to come if He were not willing to give it to us (Matthew 6:9-13). In Matthew 7:7-11 Jesus said,
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
What happened in John’s vision when the saints’ prayers rose to God? Verse 5 reads,
“Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.”
God acted on the prayers of the saints. The silence was replaced with fire, thunder, lightning, and an earthquake. These events are reminiscent of those from the sixth seal. God did not sit idly by while His children cried for vengeance, begged for help, or pleaded for relief. He responded.
The dynamics of God come in threes. God is triune, Father, Son, and Spirit. We are made in His image, body, spirit, and mind. Marriage consists of man, woman, and God. Fellowship with the Lord consists of three parts, salvation, silence, and prayer. Believer, do not let any of these three go to the wayside. Put on the robe washed in the Lamb’s blood, your salvation (Isaiah 61:10).Be silent and wait upon the Lord (Psalm 37:7). Pray without ceasing_ (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). If you let even one go, you put yourself at risk. Salvation and prayer may do you well, but when you add in silence you are even more fortified. It is the same for any of the three-part gifts of God. If you ignore The Father in place of exalting Jesus and the Spirit, you will not know the complete God. If you leave Jesus out of your marriage you forsake perfect unity. If you choose to care for your spirit and mind in lieu of your body, you will become weak or diseased. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 put it this way,
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”