Revelation 8:1: When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour...

Why silence in heaven for half hour? And why 1/2 hour? Is the timing is important? Thanks...


2 Answers 2


The seventh seal introduces the seven trumpet judgments of God. The judgments that lead up to the close of the tribulation are so severe that a solemn silence falls upon all of heaven. For heaven to fall silent, to cease the constant praises of God, is dramatic indeed. Silence is a powerful instrument and suggests a need to stop, think and reflect upon what is about to transpire.

Seven angels are then handed seven trumpets ready to sound (verse 2). An eighth angel takes a censer and burns “much incense” in it, representing the prayers of God’s people (verses 3–4). The angel then fills the censer, “with fire from the altar” then hurls it on the earth, followed by “peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake” (verse 5).

My NLT Study Bible makes this comment about Revelation 8:1 in the notes:

“The opening of the seventh seal concludes the first act and dramatically initiates silence, which suggests the mystery of God in his dealings with the world (see Revelation 10:4; 1 Kings 19:11-12). Perhaps the mysterious silence here is analogous to God’s rest on the seventh day of creation (Genesis 2:1-3). This brief hush precedes the unfolding of the second act of divine judgment when God will answer the prayers of his people.”

My ESV Study Bible says this:

“The silence in heaven that ensues when the Lamb breaks the seventh seal further sustains the suspense... The brief period of silence – about half an hour – displaces ceaseless praises by living creatures, elders, angels, and the church triumphant. Silence is appropriate in anticipation of the Lord’s coming judgment (Zephaniah 1:7-10; Zechariah 2:13).”

“About half an hour” may not have any significance, given the astonishing events the Apostle John saw. The element of time, linear and familiar to humans, may be inadequate to express properly what was being revealed in heaven. It is possible that in the revelation only a short period of time elapsed while the angels prepared themselves for what was to come. Whatever the reason for the silence, and its duration, it precedes earth-shattering events, and that should be sufficient to warn us of the terrible nature of the events that accompany the seven trumpets.

Edit: Whilst some denominations adopt a literalist interpretation of Revelation, I believe that the numbers convey ideas, not arithmetic. Forms display concepts, not shapes. Words are clothed in mystery, not logic. I do not think there is any reason to believe that the 30 minutes of silence in heaven is a literal 30 minutes measured by humans. It is simply a period of time that allows, for example, the prayers of the martyred saints to cry out to God for the avenging of the murder of His people (Revelation 6:9). Also for His church below to likewise cry out for the return of our Lord and Saviour. Such heartfelt prayers to God have been ascending into heaven for the past 2,000 years and will continue to do so till God intervenes in the affairs of men and brings an end to the evil that now permeates this world.

  • A severe tribulation to whom ever concerned earth or heaven would render the all merciful God merciless for the moments that the tribulation is rendered. That is not praiseworthy even if it is God. In your hearts you would feel that. However severe the crimes are, when ever the punishment is rendered all the hatred towards the crime subsides to be taken over by that innate feeling of empathy. Heaven has more of it than Hell and hence the silence I would presume. Now, what really gives that feeling to you even if you are an angel in heaven?That seems to be something beyond doesn’t it? Dec 4, 2018 at 17:01
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    Forgive me, but I don't understand what you mean by the all merciful God being rendered merciless. Along with God's mercy comes justice. I like your idea of heaven being rendered silent because of empathy for what is to come. Neither God, nor the Lamb, nor the angels would ever take delight in what is about to transpire. But God can never allow sin and rebellion against Him to go unpunished. Would you agree? Nonetheless, who are we to argue against God's sovereign right to dispense justice? If I've misunderstood your comments, please clarify.
    – Lesley
    Dec 4, 2018 at 17:19
  • No sir, you have not. The problem comes when we come to terms with what justice really means - breaking of laws. Laws and the constitution or it's equivalent and the makers of the Law are subject to change and shortcomings. Hence it needs to be periodically revised based on new facts and entities.For e.g we have now laws covering behavior in Space Mining for e.g. Similarly, Dec 4, 2018 at 17:41
  • That’s very interesting. It had not crossed my mind to consider the execution of justice beyond the boundaries of planet Earth. Yes, lawbreakers have to be brought to justice. Oh, and I’m a madam, not a sir (Lesley is the feminine version of the masculine Scottish place name Leslie). However, we must not get off-topic!
    – Lesley
    Dec 4, 2018 at 17:52
  • No Ma'am, you have not.The problem comes when we come to terms with what justice really means - breaking of laws and dispensing of appropriate punishment.Laws and the constitution or it's equivalent and the makers of the Law are subject to change and shortcomings - even if it is God designed. Because of the existence of free will.There is no limit on what new things or actions that we would introduce to the system as a whole that may break older laws or laws of other realms such as heaven or hell as such! A trial is necessary.Who then are the lawyers, and the judge and what is the root cause? Dec 4, 2018 at 17:56

Jehovah is in His holy temple: be silent before Him, all the earth! Hush, all flesh, before Jehovah! For He is roused up from His holy habitation. Be silent before the Lord Jehovah, for the day of Jehovah is near; for Jehovah has prepared a sacrifice; He has consecrated those whom He has called. Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted on earth. And they answered the Angel of Jehovah, who was standing among the myrtle trees, and they said, We have gone to and fro on the earth, and indeed all the earth sits still and is quiet.

Hab 2:20; Zech 2:13; Zeph 1:7; Psa 46:10; Zech 1:11.

And when He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And 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, having a golden censer, and much incense was given to Him to offer with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense went up with the prayers of the saints out of the hand of the Angel before God. And the Angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar and cast it to the earth; and there were thunders and voices and lightnings and an earthquake. And the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to trumpet.

I agree that the silence conveys solemnity. The 7th seal, along with the 6th: the answer to the saints' prayers including in the 5th. And (the 7th) beginning the three and a half years of "tribulation such as has not occurred from the beginning of the creation which God created until now, nor shall by any means ever occur." Mk 13:19, 24; Dan 9:27; 7:25; Mt 24:21, 29

  • Thank you for reminding us of the prayers of all the saints (Revelation 6:9) that ascend even now as we approach the tribulation that announces the return of Christ Jesus.
    – Lesley
    Mar 18 at 7:57

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