Singer-songwriter Sandra McCracken believes that “Our Silence Is Music to God’s Ears,” the title of a recent article in Christianity Today. “When I’m quiet,” she admits, “things float up to the surface from the shadow places in my heart that I haven’t wanted to deal with. But after a time, I can tune my ears to hear the still, small whisper of God. . . . Silence is the waiting posture that helps us to be poised to hear God’s voice.”
That’s the basic significance of the “silence in heaven” following the opening of the seventh seal by the Lamb, Jesus Christ (v. 1). One study Bible calls this a “dramatic pause.” Another says the silence “sustains the suspense.” In other words, this is the calm before the storm, since the seventh seal begins the seven trumpet judgments, which in turn lead into the seven bowl judgments. The silence here does play this narrative function, but is that its only role?
The Africa Study Bible adds: “This monumental occasion was such a significant event that even the inhabitants of heaven had to stand in silent awe.” The Moody Bible Commentary notes that silence can indicate both anticipation and submission and is a fitting response to God’s judgment (Zeph. 1:7). In our month’s study, this points us back to Habakkuk 2:20, where silence is a reverent and worshipful response to the bottom-line reality that God is sovereign and righteous.
When the heavenly silence is broken, it’s by the “prayers of all God’s people,” as symbolized by the golden censer and incense presented by an angel before God’s throne (vv. 3–4; cf. Rev. 6:10). The narrative resumes, with “fire from the altar” striking the earth to signal the start of the trumpet judgments (v. 5).
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