Understanding the half-hour of silence is essential to comprehending the Revelation of John and the trans-formative portion of the millennium. Get it right and the pieces of the puzzle all fit together nicely, get it wrong and confusion will surely follow.
In all of scripture there are but two verses where the half-hour of silence it is mentioned and one of them comes to us via latter day revelation. This fact is a great blessing to us as Latter Day Saints because we have the needed key to making sense of it.
The first scriptural mention we have of the half-hour of silence comes to us from John. In Rev. chapter 8 we read:
1 And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
The oft-debated question here is whither the half-hour is according to man’s time or God’s time. Take the wrong fork in the road and who knows where we might end up. Fortunately John give us some rather obvious road signs if you will…
1- We need to remember that verse 1 quoted above is given to us in the context of seven seals which we know to represent 1000 years each or one day in the Lord’s time.
2- This same verse applies specifically to the “seventh seal”, the last of the 1000 year periods.
3- The half-hour silence is after all, “in heaven” according to John and so it is only reasonable to apply heaven’s time here.
We can calculate the value of the half-hour in terms of earth years by dividing 1000 by 48, which gives us 20.83 years. However John uses the term “about”, so 20.83 is an approximation. Rounding up to 21 years seams reasonable because it is divisible by 7, a number which is redundant throughout John’s revelation and appears to be representative of the wholeness, completeness and perfection of God’s works.
Other than the word “silence”, John gives us no hints as to what is going on “in heaven” during this 21 year span but he imminently begins to show us what follows via earth time by introducing a sequence with seven angels who sound seven trumpets. It would appear that the half-hour silence is intended more as a timing mechanism than anything else.
If we follow the timeline of the seven angels first mentioned in verse two and the sounding of their trumpets we eventually end up in Rev. chapter 11 where we get an account of the final events leading up to the battle of Armageddon, we read:
2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
11 And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.
12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
13 And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.
14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
By the way, there is a question that needs to be asked before we go much further. If chapter eleven covers events surrounding the battle of Armageddon, when in the sequence would the bridegroom have appeared to the saints? You know, the Lord’s first appearance? The obvious answer…. At the opening of the seventh seal of course!
The answer to that question begs yet another question, which is, just how much time to this point has passed since the opening of the seventh seal? We do some quick math to get our answer….
In verses 2 & 3 above we have “forty and two months” which is equivalent to “a thousand two hundred and threescore days”. In Rev. 9:5 (fifth angel) we read “but that they should be tormented five months” and in verse 15, (sixth angel) same chapter we read “And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.”
So we can say that a total of 60 months has passed since the opening of the seventh seal which is also the beginning of the half-hour of silence. Of course we need to allow some time for the events represented by the first four angels as well, although we don’t get any specific numbers from the text.
So here I’m going to do a little surmising and say the Lord will appear to the Jews at about the seven-year mark. This is consistent with the redundant use of the number seven in John’s revelation and the fact the half-hour of silence (21 years) is divisible by seven as well.
Might this seven years also be the seven years of tribulation we so often hear about? This would certainly be consistent because the time span represented by the seven angels is full of tribulation! “for the Lord hath a controversy with the nations, he will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 25:31)
We return to Rev. 11 where we read about the seventh angel (third woe):
15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
We are not given a great deal of detail about the battle of Armageddon here but we do get the final outcome for we are told that “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord”. From this time forth the Jew’s long awaited Messiah will reign in both in Zion and Jerusalem, the “controversy with the nations” having been decisively settled in our Lord’s favor!
Now we go to D&C 45 where we get more details about events that will unfold when Christ appears to the Jews, we read:
43 And the remnant shall be gathered unto this place;
44 And then they shall look for me, and, behold, I will come; and they shall see me in the clouds of heaven, clothed with power and great glory; with all the holy angels; and he that watches not for me shall be cut off.
45 But before the arm of the Lord shall fall, an angel shall sound his trump, and the saints that have slept shall come forth to meet me in the cloud.
46 Wherefore, if ye have slept in peace blessed are you; for as you now behold me and know that I am, even so shall ye come unto me and your souls shall live, and your redemption shall be perfected; and the saints shall come forth from the four quarters of the earth.
47 Then shall the arm of the Lord fall upon the nations.
48 And then shall the Lord set his foot upon this mount, and it shall cleave in twain, and the earth shall tremble, and reel to and fro, and the heavens also shall shake.
49 And the Lord shall utter his voice, and all the ends of the earth shall hear it; and the nations of the earth shall mourn, and they that have laughed shall see their folly.
50 And calamity shall cover the mocker, and the scorner shall be consumed; and they that have watched for iniquity shall be hewn down and cast into the fire.
51 And then shall the Jews look upon me and say: What are these wounds in thine hands and in thy feet?
52 Then shall they know that I am the Lord; for I will say unto them: These wounds are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. I am he who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God.
53 And then shall they weep because of their iniquities; then shall they lament because they persecuted their king.
54 And then shall the heathen nations be redeemed, and they that knew no law shall have part in the first resurrection; and it shall be tolerable for them.
At this time the Jews shall finally see their folly, for in answer to their inquiry “What are these wounds in thine hands and in thy feet?” he shall reply “These wounds are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. I am he who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God.”
With their acceptance of Christ as Messiah, it shall be necessary for them to receive the preaching of the gospel along with the ordinances of salvation. However, they are not the only ones who are humbled and receive a change of heart at this time for we read in verse 54 above “And then shall the heathen nations be redeemed”. We read about their reaction to events surrounding the battle of Armageddon in Ezekiel 38:
16 And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes….
23 Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the Lord.
So with the appearance of Christ at the battle of Armageddon and the submission of all nations to the rule of his millennial kingdom we see a shift from a “controversy with the nations” to a time when the Lord shall “sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man, and judge all things, and shall redeem all things, except that which he hath not put into his power, when he shall have sealed all things, unto the end of all things”. Let us now consider the source of this quote with a bit more context. We go to D&C 77:12:
“We are to understand that as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth, even so, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years will the Lord God sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man, and judge all things, and shall redeem all things, except that which he hath not put into his power, when he shall have sealed all things, unto the end of all things; and the sounding of the trumpets of the seven angels are the preparing and finishing of his work, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years—the preparing of the way before the time of his coming.”
This verse has been the source of much confusion in the past. Taken at face value it has often lead to completely erroneous conclusions. However, when placed in it’s proper context the lights come on and the pieces of the puzzle fit together perfectly!
At the end of this verse we read “in the beginning of the seventh thousand years—the preparing of the way before the time of his coming.” Question… to which of the Lord’s appearances does this verse apply? Answer… it simply cannot apply to either of his first two appearances because the Lord will not have “complete(d) the salvation of man… judge(d) all things, and… redeem(d) all things” before either the Jews or the Heathen nations receive the gospel and it’s saving ordinances! We are forced to conclude that the redemptive or saving works referenced in this verse cannot be completed until some time after the Lord’s second appearance.
So what’s the big picture here? I’m going to say that after the Lord appears to the Jews at the battle of Armageddon (7-year mark) and begins to exercise his righteous rule, we shall enter into another phase of the half-hour of silence. One in which the final preparations will be made before his third appearance for “the Lord God (shall) sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man, and judge all things, and shall redeem all things, except that which he hath not put into his power, when he shall have sealed all things, unto the end of all things”. This process will come to a conclusion at the end of the 21 years. We go to D&C 88 where we get the details of this third glorious event but first we must set the stage, we read:
87 For not many days hence and the earth shall tremble and reel to and fro as a drunken man; and the sun shall hide his face, and shall refuse to give light; and the moon shall be bathed in blood; and the stars shall become exceedingly angry, and shall cast themselves down as a fig that falleth from off a fig tree.
88 And after your testimony cometh wrath and indignation upon the people.
89 For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand.
90 And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds.
91 And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people.
92 And angels shall fly through the midst of heaven, crying with a loud voice, sounding the trump of God, saying: Prepare ye, prepare ye, O inhabitants of the earth; for the judgment of our God is come. Behold, and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
93 And immediately there shall appear a great sign in heaven, and all people shall see it together.
We start with the above verses because we need to understand the sequence represented here in section 88. In verse 87 we read “and the sun shall hide his face, and shall refuse to give light; and the moon shall be bathed in blood; and the stars shall become exceedingly angry, and shall cast themselves down as a fig that falleth from off a fig tree.”
The sun being darkened, moon turned to blood and the stars casting themselves down is definitely sixth seal. In these verses we have the final sequence leading to the Lord’s coming as the bridegroom. The saints are here instructed, “the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him”. And when they arrive at the predetermined location they see the sign of the son of man, for we read, “there shall appear a great sign in heaven, and all people shall see it together”, than the Lord appears to them.
So these events place us at the opening of the seventh seal and what else? Oh yes, the beginning of the half-hour of silence. Now we are ready and primed to understand what follows, continuing on with section 88 we read:
95 And there shall be silence in heaven for the space of half an hour; and immediately after shall the curtain of heaven be unfolded, as a scroll is unfolded after it is rolled up, and the face of the Lord shall be unveiled;
96 And the saints that are upon the earth, who are alive, shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him.
97 And they who have slept in their graves shall come forth, for their graves shall be opened; and they also shall be caught up to meet him in the midst of the pillar of heaven—
98 They are Christ’s, the first fruits, they who shall descend with him first, and they who are on the earth and in their graves, who are first caught up to meet him; and all this by the voice of the sounding of the trump of the angel of God.
From the coming of the bridegroom in verse 93, to verse 95 where we read “And there shall be silence in heaven for the space of half an hour” we have the passage of 21 years and “immediately after shall the curtain of heaven be unfolded, as a scroll is unfolded after it is rolled up, and the face of the Lord shall be unveiled”. (The Lord’s third appearance)
We also learn that “the saints that are upon the earth, who are alive, shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him”. That is, their bodies are changed from telestial to a terrestrial status, for they shall soon be set back down on the paradisiacal earth. The righteous saints who have died also receive their reward at this time. We continue reading:
99 And after this another angel shall sound, which is the second trump; and then cometh the redemption of those who are Christ’s at his coming; who have received their part in that prison which is prepared for them, that they might receive the gospel, and be judged according to men in the flesh.
Verse 99 documents the reward of the terrestrial and verses 100-101 give us the status of the telestial, we read:
100 And again, another trump shall sound, which is the third trump; and then come the spirits of men who are to be judged, and are found under condemnation;
101 And these are the rest of the dead; and they live not again until the thousand years are ended, neither again, until the end of the earth.
And now for the sons of perdition, we read:
102 And another trump shall sound, which is the fourth trump, saying: There are found among those who are to remain until that great and last day, even the end, who shall remain filthy still.
Every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess, we read:
103 And another trump shall sound, which is the fifth trump, which is the fifth angel who committeth the everlasting gospel—flying through the midst of heaven, unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people;
104 And this shall be the sound of his trump, saying to all people, both in heaven and in earth, and that are under the earth—for every ear shall hear it, and every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess, while they hear the sound of the trump, saying: Fear God, and give glory to him who sitteth upon the throne, forever and ever; for the hour of his judgment is come.
Babylon is fallen:
105 And again, another angel shall sound his trump, which is the sixth angel, saying: She is fallen who made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication; she is fallen, is fallen!
It is finished, the righteous receive their reward:
106 And again, another angel shall sound his trump, which is the seventh angel, saying: It is finished; it is finished! The Lamb of God hath overcome and trodden the wine-press alone, even the wine-press of the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God.
107 And then shall the angels be crowned with the glory of his might, and the saints shall be filled with his glory, and receive their inheritance and be made equal with him.
We have covered quite a bit of ground in this blog but have finally arrived at the end of the half-hour of silence. It is the point at which the Lord will have brought to fulfillment all of the covenants and promises made to mortal man. In so doing, mortal man is returned to the station held by our first parents before the fall, that of terrestrial. This condition is also extended to the earth as well.
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