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Revelation 8:1-5 Silence in Heaven

When God is silent, when you do not receive the answer to your pleas and prayers, do not assume that God does not care or is there.

 Revelation 8:1-5 When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. 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, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. 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.

 Revelation 8:1 says, “there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.” Why is there silence in heaven?

Silence is often a sign of mourning, sadness, grief, embarrassment, fear, anger, and denial, but sometimes it is also a sign of love, reverence, and agreement. The reason for silence depends on the context of the situation.

What is the context of the silence in heaven? In John’s historical reality, the context was the pleas and prayers of the persecuted church on earth in the first century and in John’s heavenly vision, the context was the pleas and prayers of the saints in heaven in the end times.

So, the silence in heaven is in anticipation and expectation of God’s response to all prayers of the saints.

The problem is that most people want God to act immediately, but when God chooses not to answer right away, they give up on praying thinking that either God does not care, or He is not even there. They need to know their pleas and prayers offered in the name of Jesus could never be lost.

In Revelation 8:1-5, the scene of the silence in heaven was revealed to comfort and encourage the church with the truth that no plea or prayer of the saints could ever be wasted.

The big idea is that no plea or prayer in the name of Jesus is ever wasted, so never give up on pleading and praying, no matter whether you receive the answer in this life or not.

If you have ever felt that God doesn’t care about your prayers or that He seems silent, today’s message is for you. In Revelation 8:1-5, we see three truths about Silence in Heaven: the silence of the sovereign, the significance of the sound, and the supplications of the saints.

Silence of the Sovereign

Revelation 8:1 says, “When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.” This verse reveals that the Lamb that was slain— that is Christ crucified, risen, and coming again— when He opened the last of the seven seals, there was breathless, deafening silence throughout heaven for about half an hour.

Ever since we started studying the book of Revelation, verse by verse, we have not been able to catch our breath. There has been every unimaginable event and sound, but now, a moment of silence.

In Revelation 1:10, it’s the sound of a loud voice like a trumpet which was the voice of the risen and glorified Christ.

In Revelation 2 and 3, it’s the sound of repeated caution to each of the seven churches in Asia Minor, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

In Revelation 4, it’s the sounds of the voice of the one speaking like a trumpet and, in Revelation 4:5, it’s the sound of God’s throne, flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder.” In the rest of chapter 4 it’s the sound of praise, prayer and worship day and night.

In Revelation 5:2, it’s the sound of “a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”” In Revelation 5:7, it’s the sound of worship of the Lamb who took the scroll and it continues through the end of the chapter.

In Revelation 6:1, it’s the sound of a voice like thunder. After that, it’s the sound of pain of suffering and death as each seal is open. In Revelation 6:9, it’s the sound of the plea and prayer for God’s justice. In Revelation 6:12, it’s the sound of a great earthquake followed by the sound of a cry of loud voices of those who plead to be hidden from the wrath of the lamb.

In Revelation 7, it’s the sound of a great multitude that no one could count. Imagine that sound and magnitude of worship and celebration of salvation of nations, and after all that comes Revelation 8:1 with silence.

Since Revelation 5, the scroll with its seven seals has been the focus. The heavenites with great anticipation and expectation have been waiting for the seven seals of the scroll to be opened and when the seventh seal was opened there was nothing but silence.

All of heaven is silent for the verdict of the sovereign God. In heaven and on earth, seal after seal, God’s people were waiting for this final moment of the opening of the final seal to hear the final verdict of the just God against sin, evil, and evil-doers, but there was nothing but silence.

I can imagine in anticipation, expectation, honor, and awe of the One who sits on the throne, a great multitude of saints that no one can count being silent along with myriads and myriads of angels being silent.

But why is the Sovereign God silent? This is no ordinary silence. This is the silence before the storm. This is the silence before creation. This is the silence before Passover. This is the silence that the Son of God felt on the cross when He cried out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?

This is the silence of the grieving Father who cannot see His creation suffering from His own wrath. This is the silence of the sovereign who with all His power and might couldn’t make every soul willfully choose Him over their selfish, self-righteous, prideful, and fleshly addictions.

This is the silence in Zephaniah 1:7, “be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is near.”

The application is, sometimes silence of the sovereign is the provocation of God’s just judgment. Zechariah 2:13 says, “Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for He has roused Himself from His holy Dwelling.” The image is fearsome because when God rises from His seat, He strikes down all evildoers.

Significance of the Sound

Revelation 8:2 says, “Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.” The sound of the trumpets in the Old Testament signified authority, power, and a call to worship. To Israel, the sound of the trumpet meant several things: assembling for worship, celebration, procession, sacrifice, and war.

As I was preparing this message, in the next office, Pastor Miller was playing, “I Love to Tell the Story,” on his trumpet, and was a joyful sound. However, the trumpet for war will be fearsome. In Revelation 8, we are introduced to seven angels who were given trumpets to announce the judgment of God because God is about to wage war on earth.

We will learn about the Seven Trumpet judgments starting in Revelation 8:7 and continuing through Revelation 19:10 as the judgments intensify.

The application is, if we don’t know Jesus, come to Jesus and if you are Christian, bring others to Jesus before the trumpets of judgments are blown.

Supplication of the Saints

Revelation 8:3-4 says, “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, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.” Previously, I shared that in the Tabernacle and the temple, there were two altars. The altar in the outer court was for blood sacrifices but the inner court altar was to offer incense before God.

The priest will take coals from the outer court altar where the burnt offering was and bring them to the inner court to burn the incense on the altar at the entrance of the Holy of Holies. The firepan he used to transport the coal was the golden censer. In verse 4, a new angel on the scene had the golden censer and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints. Here we are told these are the prayers of all the saints which could mean these are the prayers ever offered to God.

As a result of these prayers, verse 5 continues, “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.” The sound will be unbearable. This is the initiation of God’s judgment as the result of all the prayers of the saints ever offered in the name of Jesus.

Theologian Eugene Peterson writes, concerning this passage, “Prayer participates in God’s action. God gathers our cries and our praises, our petitions and intercessions, and uses them. The prayers that ascended to God now descend to earth.” What we have here is a clear indication that no prayer ever prayed in the name of Jesus is ever lost.

The application here is to be confident that no plea or prayer is ever wasted when offered in the name of Jesus. All our payers ever offered in the name of Jesus will be answered in God’s timing. Amen.

Last Sunday as a church, we had a day of prayer and fasting. Some of the issues that we lifted before God were the issues that billions of believers for centuries have pleaded and prayed for faithfully. Revelation 8:1-5 tells us that a day is coming when heaven will plunge into silence and when the sovereign God breaks His silence, there will be the sound of trumpets of judgment in response to all the supplications of the saints. Be encouraged that none of your prayers are ever lost or wasted.

Learn to pray with faith and without ceasing because giving up on prayer is what the devil wants.

Daniel 10:2 tells us that Daniel was praying and fasting for 21days, and then came the angel of God who in verse said, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words.” Then it says for 21 days, God’s army fought against Satan’s forces so that Daniel may receive the response. Daniel’s prayer was answered right away, but it took 21 days for the answer to be delivered because of spiritual warfare. Imagine if Daniel had given up. So, pray with faith and without ceasing.

When God is silent, when you do not receive the answer to your pleas and prayers, do not assume that God does not care. Do not question whether God is there. If you have been praying for something for some time, do not give up whether you receive the answer to your prayers in this life or not because your pleas and prayers are never wasted.

If offered in the name of Jesus, all your prayers, for healing, restoration, marriage, family, job, career, and salvation, are before the throne of God. All your prayers against addiction, anger, jealousy, envy, sins of the flesh, and desires of the world are before the throne of God.

So, pray persistently, pray purposefully, and pray patiently.  Like Elijah, don’t think you are the only one left because God always has His remnant. Like Elijah, do not just look for God in thunder, storm, or lightning but rather in whispers and silence.

God in Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know I am God.” Only when we are silent before Him can we hear Him speak.

Study Questions

  1. Why was there silence in heaven in Revelation 8:1? What else does the Bible teach about silence?
  1. What is the significance of the trumpets given to the angels in Revelation 8:2?
  1. What does it mean in Revelation 8:3 which says, “he [the angel] was given much incense to offer with prayers of all the saints?”

Deeper Study Questions

  1. How do you react when you do not hear answers to your prayers?
  1. Does Revelation 8:3 help you cope with unanswered prayers? If it does, how so?
  1. Are there any situations about which you have been praying for a long time? If you feel comfortable, please share. What helped you to not give up?

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