If you read the passage above silently, go back and read it again out loud, blessing yourself and anyone else in hearing distance (Yes, I am going to mention that every week! – Revelation 1:3).
That’s quite incredible, isn’t it?
I mean, the seventh seal, the last thing that is standing in the way of God’s secret rescue plan for everything and everyone that is hurting and broken being put into action, has been broken! God’s rescue is on its way! Surely all of heaven will now erupt in shouts and praise and singing.
But they don’t. In fact, for the first time since John’s vision of the heavenly throne room began, there is nothing but silence. If there was anywhere in all of creation that should have an eruption of celebration at God’s rescue plan being released, it would be here; but all they get is silence.
Some scientists built a room in Minnesota that is so quiet, so silent, it reaches negative nine on the decibel scale. What’s really interesting about it though, is that there is something about the silence we can’t handle as people. The longest anyone has ever been able to stay in it is 45 minutes before they were too disorientated to carry on any longer. Our ears adjust to quiet, so that was 45 minutes of listening to their heart sound like it would erupt out of their chest, their stomach gurgling, and blood pumping. 45 minutes of being the only sound there is. And for some reason that level of self-awareness really messes people up.
For some of you, the thought of absolute silence terrifies you. For others, your heart longs for it more than anything else. For some, silence has been used as a tool of revenge or punishment. For others, it has been a refuge and safe place. For some, silence has been a prison that you have been trapped in. For others, it’s the place you began to experience God’s freedom.
Whoever you are and wherever you have come from, silence means something to you.
For many of us, silence is a reminder of the prayers we have so passionately ushered up to the throne of God, poured our heart and soul into, and yet heard nothing back in reply.
If that’s ever been you, this passage is for you.
The thirty minutes of silence in heaven is followed by an angel presenting incense and all the prayers of God’s people before an altar in this heavenly throne room. Your prayers, my prayers, our prayers are wafting up to God amidst the sweet smell of incense.
He’s heard. Every word you have ever prayed, God’s heard.
More than that, everything that is about to happen with these seven trumpets is God answering the very prayers that we uttered but doubted ever made it to his ears.
Something big is about to happen, jaw-droppingly big. Something so big that all of heaven takes a deep breath and holds it in as it waits. The singing, the praise, the worship has all stopped. All that is left is a deep and penetrating silence fuelled by the awe and wonder of everything in heaven.
And your prayers are sitting at the centre of this inspiring response.
I could write more, but this is too important. So take a moment, or two or three, and pause.
And be silent. Give God space to respond to all those prayers you have said, and are now being reminded that he has heard.
Because silence is never the absence of God (remember last week, he promised his Presence would never be taken away from us, we are sealed), but instead is often where we find him.
So take a moment and stop making noise, because God has heard and is answering everything you have ever prayed for.
This is a continuation of our series on Revelation at Birchfield Church. So if you want to listen to my talks (and others as we go along), please feel free to visit our website here and do that. Also, Tom Wright’s book, “Revelation for Everyone”, has been a big help in understanding this book; so go and buy it now and then read it.
Grace and peace to you all.