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1. And when He broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
    And when He broke the seventh seal,
This is the final seal on the scroll. When it is loosened, heaven can begin to see inside and the scroll starts to unfurl. Let's take time here to review the seven seals as they give a hint of the scroll contents.
The Seven Seals
Seal Number Reference Result
1
Revelation 6:1 ,2 Atheism
2
Revelation 6:3 ,4 War
3
Revelation 6:5 ,6 Famine
4
Revelation 6:7 ,8 Pestilence & Death
5
Revelation 6:9 Persecution
6
Revelation 6:12 Physical disturbances
7
Revelation 8:1 7 trumpets & 7 vials
    there was SILENCE IN HEAVEN for about half an hour.
Silence is NOT a normal state in heaven. When you read the previous chapters (Revelation 4:8), you are struck by all the praising, worshiping, and singing taking place in heaven. To have silence is unusual.

There are two views as to what causes the silence.

  • What heaven sees inside the scroll is so awful, it is stunned.
  • God wishes to listen to the prayers of the saints (Revelation 8:3) that He silences the heavens in order to hear them.
It is difficult to say from these two views, that either is the sole cause of the silence. Since God is all knowing (hearing), it seems a little restricting for Him to have silence to hear the prayers Himself. Rather, it may be for the benefit of the angels and saints already present.
As an aside observation, it is typical of the Revelation to have everything explained in precision. That is, the silence is for about half an hour ('not about an hour' or 'some period of time'). This would indicate that what follows with the trumpets is NOT symbolic but EXACTLY what will happen to the earth. The 'thirds' which follow in the rest of this chapter are accurate. If they were symbolic, then they would be 'some' and 'lots' of whatever are burned or destroyed, and the precision of time is not needed in this verse. This is because time is of consequence to earthly things or more precisely, due to the rotation of the earth on its axis; God has no time restrictions!
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright The Lockman Foundation, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 Used by permission."

References to the Revelation of Jesus Christ are in bold italics. All other references are in bold only.