Read This Week: Revelation 16

Then they gathered the kings together to the place in Hebrew called Armageddon. – Revelation 16:16 NIV.

One important thing to remember when taking in a portion of Scripture, like Revelation 16, is that God is, first and foremost, holy. We speak so much about the character of God and His eternal attributes, which are innumerable, glorious, and unrivaled. We often discuss His love, grace, mercy, goodness, patience, and faithfulness. We highlight His peace, comfort, strength, and omniscience.

All these things are true of the Father, but in recalling these characteristics, we must always recognize that the chief among them is His holiness. The supreme quality cascades, allowing the Lord to be the righteous judge. He is worthy of His seat of judgment and justified in His measures of expression because of His holiness. We must keep this in view always, but especially when trying to absorb parts of the Bible like this one.

There is no way to describe this chapter other than brutal and challenging to read. If you love people and care for others like Jesus does and calls us to, reading the ending account in the series of God’s final judgments is heavy and hard to digest. It tells of the Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath and the ultimate fall of Babylon, leading to the triumphant return of Jesus Christ to earth. It also brings forth a place (or word) known even in secular circles and referenced as a metaphor for fierce battles, destruction, and apocalyptic conflict. That place or word is Armageddon. It means the hill of Megiddo, “the place of soldiers and slaughter.” 

Armageddon is a valley that is twenty miles long and fourteen miles wide. It forms a vast natural battlefield that can contain troops, horses, artillery, and combat tech as far as the eye can see. One can stand on the famed Mount Carmel, look out over Armageddon with its topographical grandness, and understand why it is the gathering place of the world’s armies. It also has historical significance, as it was where Gideon faced the Midianites (Judges 7) and King Saul died (1 Samuel 31). Additionally, many encounters happened here during the Crusades of the eleventh through fifteenth centuries and when the British defeated the Turks in 1917.

The nations’ armies assemble here according to God’s will and are led by the enemy and his demonic factions as they prepare for the final battle with Jesus. Before this occurs, God unleashes his final righteous judgment on the earth through the Seven Bowls.

The first is sores breaking out on people and not going away (v.2). The second and third are reminiscent of the Exodus, where the waters turn into blood and contaminate the water supply (v. 3-6). The fourth, the sun will scorch the earth and burn people (v. 8-9); the fifth will see the world covered in darkness and people begging for light with no relief (v.10-11), and the sixth will be the drying up of the Euphrates river (v. 12-16) that will allow for the invasion of the Holy Land by the armies of the east. The seventh and final judgment is a massive earthquake followed by hail that weighs in the neighborhood of a hundred pounds that falls on people (v. 17-21). This chapter is a harrowing and disturbing account of God’s justice for sin.

Take heart and be encouraged through the difficulty of this chapter. The King of Kings is and will be victorious over evil, darkness, sin, and death. The rage and wrath of the nations and the supernatural but limited power of the devil are no match for Him in our present day and will be no match for Him at Armageddon. We currently face threats of war and uncertainty among nations. Still, we can be confident that in our times and the ones to come, God will exact His holiness, righteousness, and triumph that we will take part in for eternity.

The Sound of Victory

Read This Week: Revelation 15

And I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and the number of its name. They held harps given to them by God and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and the Lamb: “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the nations. Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will worship before.” – Revelation 15:2-4 NIV

John now sees the seven angels holding seven flasks or bottles of God’s wrath. In the previous chapter, the Scriptures told us that the wrath of God would be poured out as judgment on all those who worshiped the Antichrist, took the mark of the beast, and pledged their allegiance to the enemy. It says they will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath (14:10). The Lord is about to exact righteous judgment on His enemies in the form of the “third woe,” but before He does, there is another pause of blessing, spiritual reflection, and praise; to celebrate the impending victory of The Lamb.

These verses describe the revelator witnessing those who have come through the tribulation and endured the beast’s reign. These believers resisted the false prophet and his teaching, refused to take the mark of Satan, and withstood the vicious assault that the dragon unleashed on the world. They did not adopt the satanic system or give in to the mounting influence around them to consent to the evil forces that the devil sanctioned. They also confronted and did not participate in worshipping idols, false gods, and deceitful ideology. They stood firm and faithful at a high cost.

The believers of the tribulation, because they don’t take the mark of the beast, cannot hold jobs or buy and sell merchandise. They often go hungry, live in poverty, and make do with little to nothing. They depend entirely on God for their provision in every area of their lives. Some are thrown in prison, tortured, and publicly beaten, while others are murdered and executed. Yet, they remain faithful to Jesus and the mission of the gospel. They will not waver despite their suffering and will not relent regardless of their anguish. They stay true to God’s word, remain steadfast in His kingdom’s purposes, and lift their voice to make the sound of victory, a sure, eternal triumph that belongs to the King of Kings. Verses 2-4 illustrate this sound of success with these words:

Those who had been victorious over the beast held harps given by God and sang the song of the Lamb: “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the nations, for you alone are holy, and all nations will come and worship before you.

The actions, behaviors, songs, and examples of these Christ followers should be an encouragement, blessing, and inspiration to all of us in our time. It provides us with hope and assurance that amid our suffering, we can remain faithful and devoted to the God of the universe and His promises. We don’t have to succumb to the world’s influences or embrace the systems of men just because so many others do. We can stand on the word, speak boldly of love and grace, and make a joyful sound of victory among our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and community. We can be victorious because of Jesus.

A New Song

Read This Week: Revelation 14

Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne. – Revelation 14:1-3a NIV

Don’t you love listening to and hearing a new song? It’s almost as if we anticipate how it will land in our hearts or how it will pull at our emotions and evoke memories and thoughts.

Revelation 14 is a reprieve from the horror and devastation of chapters 11-13. In it and the following two chapters, we see an emphasis on the voices of God’s people. We see the Lord Himself speaking to His children and those far from Him. But we also see people speaking out and singing out in praise and worship of God. We see them preaching the gospel, warning the world to repent and run to the Father’s loving arms. We read where the remnant and others are lifting their voices to proclaim the good news of Jesus and the finality of the last judgment. We also see them singing a new song because God is doing something new.

We see two distinct and collective voices in this particular chapter. The first one is the voice of 144,000. These are the faithful Jewish people that John described in Revelation 7 that are now standing with God on Mount Zion. The Bible also tells us that this collection of people is lifting their voices to speak and sing. Verses 1-3 say:

There before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne.

The experiences and terrible nature of the tribulation have not broken their spirits. It has not caused them to turn away from the one true God. It has not given them doubts or pauses about His character, goodness, eternality, and grace. Their struggles have not changed their faith or resolve. Their sorrow has turned into singing and joyful noise. They have separated from the new world order and turned again to the new mercies of God. Their example is quite the encouragement for us living in the trials and turmoil of our day. May we not lose hope and focus on what is happening around us but instead fix our eyes and hearts on an unchangeable, immutable God who constantly does new things that cause us to sing new songs in honor of Him.

The other voices raised in this section are those of the angels. They declared a message of triumph and worship of God and His power and mighty works. Verse 7 describes this time of divine worship in this way:

Fear God and give him glory because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and the springs of water.

The angels continue to raise a new song in the heavens around specific acts and things He has done on behalf of Himself, the kingdom, and His people for all time. They sing a new song of the righteousness of God (v.6-7). They sing a new song of the fall of Babylon and the ultimate defeat of the enemy and his evil soldiers who act on his behalf (v.8). They sing a new song of warning about following the beast while allowing an opportunity for repentance and salvation (v.9-13). And they sing a new song of God’s harvest and judgment (v.14-20) and the fall of evil that corrupts, dissuades, and poisons people.

We can sing a new song to God every day in our lives. He always does new things among us in His sovereignty and good pleasure. Something that we can’t predict, understand, or sometimes believe. Yet, He loves us so much that He is still doing things that blow our minds. May we raise our voices, praise His name, and sing of His glory and eternal reign.

The Beast

Read This Week: Revelation 13

The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?” It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, to receive a mark on their right hands or foreheads so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. – Revelation 13:1-4, 16-17 NIV

Chapter 13 continues to unfold the narrative of the evil trio of Satan, the Antichrist, and the false prophet. It isn’t easy to read this portion of Scripture and not be unnerved at the depths of depravity and the notion that God will allow the enemy to unleash his fury and wreak havoc on the earth and all the people who dwell on it. We saw last week that the devil is ultimately not strong enough to overcome the mighty power of God and that he will meet his eternal demise, but the words of verses 7-8 should humble and touch us when it says this about the beast which the dragon empowers:

It was given the power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain.

That passage reads like something from a Tolkien novel or a Marvel movie. But no science fiction or fantasy writer could truly capture the horror of this part of the tribulation. The idea of the Antichrist possessing the power to wage war against God’s people, conquer them, and have authority over every nation is beyond the finite imagination. He will begin his reign in unifying peace and end it in unimaginable evil and plundering.

Furthermore, another beast (false prophet) will rise, and as verses 12-13 tell us, he will exercise all the authority of the first beast on its behalf and make the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast. The third beast will perform great signs, even causing a fire from heaven to come to the earth in full view of the people, similar to what the two witnesses of God had done before him. This false prophet will also be the one to force all people to receive the infamous mark of the beast, also known as the number 666. It will be a harrowing time for the world, yet they will inconceivably worship the evil trinity.

The beast will be formidable in his time, but he nor the third beast will be able to overcome The Lamb. In this sense, and for all time, the Lamb of God will win over the beast that resembles a leopard but has feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. These foreshadowed events that John captures for us are similar to current times. The spirit of AntiChrist is alive and pervasive in the world, and Christ-followers must not be a part of it, be deceived by it, or succumb to its allure. We must be faithful to Jesus while avoiding false worship and staying on God’s mission to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every person. They need it now and will need it then.

Not Strong Enough

Read This Week: Revelation 12

Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. – Revelation 12:7-9 NIV

Revelation 12 begins a narrative stretch of introducing three central figures in the tribulation – Satan (seen as the dragon), the one who is the false Christ, and the deceitful and false prophet. They will oppose the Lord and Christians in every way. They will try to destroy the people of God and the gospel and unleash havoc, chaos, and torment in a manner never seen on earth. They will confuse the people and even sow unimaginable discord among believers and those wanting to hear the message of salvation through Christ. They will attempt to overthrow the God of the universe once and for all. But they will not succeed.

The first part of the chapter reveals the nation of Israel giving birth to Jesus from the remarkable perspective of the heavens. It details how the enemy tried to prevent Christ from being born and mankind from having a savior and experiencing the love, grace, mercy, and hope of God. Verses 1-5 tell us of this amazing scene:

A woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child. And her child was snatched up to God and his throne.

John continues on by describing the great war in heaven between Michael, the archangel, and his band of angels against Satan and his followers. It was an intense, supernatural battle that ended with the Devil being thrown out of heaven and losing his place there. Verses 7-9 tell us that Satan and his army fought back furiously, but he was not strong enough. Consequently, he is cast out of his position and made to dwell in this sort of no man’s land, between heaven and earth, where he leads the world astray (v.9) and wages war against humanity, especially those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus (v.17). But he is ultimately not strong enough.

The enemy has power, no doubt, but he is not strong enough to overcome the supremacy, authority, and capacity of Almighty God. He was not strong enough to stop the birth of Jesus. He was not strong enough to kill the Messiah as a baby when his parents had to flee the country. He was not strong enough to stop Jesus’ ministry or tempt him in the wilderness or cause him to give up in the garden. Satan was not strong enough to put him to death permanently, keep him in the grave or stop him from overcoming death. He wasn’t strong enough to keep the church from forming and advancing the gospel through the ages.

As the biblical commentator Warren Wiersbe said, “Satan even has access to heaven, where he accuses God’s people, but he cannot dethrone the exalted Savior.” Even in the moments when it looks like Satan is winning, victory is out of reach. Even when he tries to make life unbearable for followers of Jesus, he can’t win. He can’t supersede or overcome the eternal and conquering power of God. He was and is not strong enough.

Both Great and Small

Read This Week: Revelation 11

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were angry, and your wrath had come. The time has come for judging the dead and rewarding your servants, the prophets, and the people who revere your name, both great and small. – Revelation 11:15-18 NIV

Chapter 11 is much like Chapter 10 of Revelation, containing some descript, dreadful, and shocking scenes from the middle of the tribulation. The first 14 verses of the passage detail the experience of the two witnesses for Jesus that will testify of God’s power, sovereignty, and salvation for over three years. After they finish sharing the message of Christ in those days, the Enemy will be allowed to come up from the Abyss and attack, overpower, and kill them. Then to make matters worse, the masses will celebrate their deaths, and everyone who sees them will abandon their bodies. Verses 9-10 say: 

For three and a half days, some from every people, tribe, language, and nation will gaze at their bodies and refuse burial. The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate.

But then, after three and a half days, something unbelievable, supernatural, and miraculous will happen. God will bring the two witnesses back to life before the whole world. They will stand up, and the Lord will call them back up into heaven, and the people will be terrified and in awe of God’s power. Furthermore, it will cause them to give glory to the God of heaven. God will redeem this horrible scene in a way that will cause sadistic, unfeeling, and evil people to fall on their faces and worship Him.

This transformation is what God does all the time. He infuses His love, grace, and power into situations that are ugly, vile, and difficult to watch, and transforms, changes, and makes them right. He takes people and any circumstance, both great and small, and redeems them for His glory and our good. Doing so causes the most unlikely individuals, communities, and nations to turn in awe and reverence toward His heart in worship. 

The rising from death to life is what He did for us and all those who have and will call on His name. No person, both great and small, is beyond the reach of God’s mercy and love. No situation is too difficult for His mighty strength. No relationship is too complicated for His wisdom. No sickness is too aggressive for His healing hands, and no despair is too oppressive for His freedom. God rules over everything, both great and small, and with this knowledge, we can be confident and say as the twenty-four elders in verses 17-18:

We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.

A Testimony

Read This Week: Revelation 10

Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. – Revelation 10:1-3 NIV

This chapter begins a section of Revelation that describes the events and movements in the middle of the seven years of tribulation. During this time, the Antichrist comes to power by promising peace, unity, and protection of the Jewish people. Then, after three and a half years, he will go back on his word and violate and infiltrate the temple he helps them rebuild in Jerusalem, thus beginning a season of confusing and brutal persecution of the Jews. It will be an alarming time for everyone on earth and one of great hardship. But the people of God will not be without testimony in the world among all of the disorder and reign of evil.

Chapter 10 tells us about the testimony of the mighty angel. Verse 1 says that he was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. This fantastic description and scene of power and majesty are reminiscent of the Lord. The elements of the rainbow, sun, and fire are those used to describe Jesus himself. The angel holds a scroll with the rest of the revelation that John will record and provide. Earlier, we saw that Jesus is the only One worthy to break the seal and unravel the scroll, and it would make sense that He would be the One to deliver the rest of the message.

Earlier in Revelation 5, we also saw that Jesus is the long-awaited Lion of the tribe of Judah, and here, in verses 2-3, it says He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. If indeed this angel is the Lord Jesus Christ, that indicates that amid all the rampant chaos of evil, spiritual disobedience, and the command of terror under the Antichrist, there is still a powerful testimony of Christ in the world. The presence and power of Jesus will be preeminent even though it will look like the Enemy is gaining a foothold and winning. He will still be under the power and authority of Christ in the latter days, and many witnesses will rise and testify to God’s goodness and salvation.

This testimony of the angel should encourage us for the future and in the here and now. It should inspire us to testify to God’s love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness through Jesus Christ amid our present age’s seeming despair and desperation. It should encourage us to share our testimony of salvation and how the Lion of Judah has changed us, how He rescued us from darkness and the control of sin and set us on a new, eternal path of righteousness. A testimony could make all the difference for someone in our lives and generations to come.

Woe Is Past

Read This Week: Revelation 9

During those days, people will seek death but not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them. The first woe is past; two other woes are yet to come. – Revelation 9:6 & 12 NIV

Revelation 9 is a challenging read. People often comment that some Bible sections present problems in understanding and difficulty absorbing some implications and realities. This particular chapter and chapter 8 fit into this category and are unlike any we have read in the study to this point. These passages present one of the book’s significant movements involving judgment. They describe two terrifying armies liberated at a strategic time and allowed by God to judge humankind, thus presenting things to us that are hard to ingest but are part of the Lord’s redemptive plan.

The first army that John describes is from the Abyss or the pit. This Abyss is not the final and eternal place set aside for the Enemy but part of that realm under God’s authority. When the pit opens, verse 2 says that smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The smoke from the Abyss darkened the sun and sky. The smoke damages the atmosphere, but what is truly horrific is what comes out of the smoke. The Bible says it was an army of demons numbered like locusts that terrorized humankind and caused pain and agony. 

They are not locusts; however, they are described as horses prepared for battle. Their faces resembled humans, and their teeth were like a lion’s. They had breastplates of iron and tails with stingers, like scorpions, and in their tails, they had the power to torment people for five months (v.7-10). Even though we endure exposure to many graphic images of war and violence in our day and age, we can barely comprehend this type of judgment and suffering.

The second army in Revelation 9 is from the east and was twice ten thousand times ten thousand. It was an underworld liberation army of 200 million. The number alone is scary and intimidating. This army is not unleashed to torment and harass through stinging hurt, but they are released to kill a third of the world’s population. Yet, after five months of death, distress, and unimaginable affliction to the modern mind, the people do not feel remorse for their wickedness and denial of God. Verses 20-21 provide the unfortunate response of all the rest to the judgments and chances to repent and turn toward God:

The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality, or their thefts.

As followers of Christ, we should be thankful that Jesus holds the keys to hell and death and possesses divine authority over Satan and his armies. We should be humbled and alerted by these words but also motivated and reaffirmed in our mission; to be used by God as vessels and mouthpieces for the gospel. To demonstrate and share the love and message of Jesus with everyone with whom we come in contact. To communicate the sobering truth of God’s righteous judgment while reflecting on the goodness of his grace and the eternality of his salvation. To express to others that woe is past when we are in Christ, and no others are yet to come.

All Things New

Read This Week: Luke 24

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly, two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright, the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified, and on the third day be raised again.'” Then they remembered. – Luke 24:1-8 NIV

A new day brings new things. It brings new opportunities, challenges, mercy, chances to make things right, and a new run at the life God has given us. Something is refreshing and exciting about all things being new. It brightens the view and lifts the spirit when we’re reminded that life offers and promises new things. On Resurrection Sunday in Luke 24, something new was about to be discovered that would change not only the women going to the tomb but the fate of humanity from that moment forward. 

Jesus had been raised from the dead just like he said he would. Death had given way to the triumph of God’s sovereign plan of redemption and the fulfillment of His new covenant through Christ. Verse 3 says they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. The Lord had removed the huge stone in front of the grave, and Jesus had walked out in the newness of life. And because of the Resurrection, we have a new life. We live for Christ and leave behind the second death, the control of sin, self-interest, and destructive patterns of our old lifestyle. 2 Corinthians 5:15-17 says:

He died for everyone, so those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

When a new life begins, we have a new outlook. Luke 24 tells us that the women were afraid and put their faces to the ground in alarm and fright. But the two angels spoke and reminded them of Jesus’ promise that he must be delivered to the hands of sinners, be crucified, and be raised on the third day. Then they remembered his words, and their outlook changed. They were delighted and couldn’t wait to share the truth with others. Their sorrow had turned to joy, their anxiety turned to anticipation, and their fear turned to confidence and trust. That is the new outlook that the Resurrection gives us.

Finally, the Resurrection gives us new hope. When our future hope is real to us, it changes how we live in the present. The new hope of the first day of the week, when Jesus walked out of the grave in victory, empowers and inspires us to live for Him daily. Our new hope can make the mountaintops sweeter, the valleys less daunting, and the mundane more meaningful. It can change the decisions we make, the places we go, the people we serve, and the purpose we live for. 

Joni Eareckson Tada, Christian author and speaker who suffered a devastating injury to her vertebrae at 17 years old and became a quadriplegic said this about her new life in Christ: “I, with shriveled, bent fingers, atrophied muscles, gnarled knees, and no feeling from the shoulders down, will one day have a new body, light, bright and clothed in righteousness – powerful and dazzling. Can you imagine the hope that the Resurrection gives someone spinal-cord injured like me?” The Resurrection of Jesus makes all things new.

A Moment of Silence

Read This Week: Revelation 8

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. Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense and the prayers of God’s people went up before God from the angel’s hand. – Revelation 8:1-4 NIV

A moment of silence is something we observe in our society for various reasons. We frequently see it suggested and done at ball games, award shows, or concerts to honor someone who has passed away. It is also to pay respects to fallen soldiers and memorialize tragic events that affect communities and even countries. In Christianity, a moment of silence is often a way to connect with God and become more in tune with His heart and desire for our lives through prayer, meditation, and worship. A moment of quiet with Jesus can be a beautiful and peaceful communion and a great time to be grateful, reflect on His attributes, gain wisdom, lament, cry out, and endure hardship.

There was a moment of silence in heaven in Revelation 8. It came on the heels of all the loud, celebratory worship and praise of Christ in the last chapter. But when the Lamb cracked the seventh seal, heaven was silent for 30 minutes. Imagine that. Just moments before, the heavenly realm was deafening with the unison praise of God, but it is now eerily soundless for half an hour. 

They had entered a time of preparation for what was to come. The plan was developing in front of them, and they were both amazed by what they saw and quieted by what would follow. Then they prayed and petitioned God, as verse 4 splendidly illustrates: The smoke of the incense and the prayers of God’s people went up before God from the angel’s hand. Their preparation for the trumpet judgments involved silence and prayer.

We should take note of this progression in our lives in the present. No matter what season we go through, our spiritual approach to God should include the following:

  • Praise and thanksgiving.
  • Being still.
  • Quieting our hearts and minds.
  • Seeking the Lord through prayer.

A moment of silence is necessary and vital to an intimate and God-glorifying walk with Christ. It brings us closer to our Savior while giving us an eternal perspective as we live daily. It can move us into a greater understanding of truth and give the spiritual clarity to navigate anything life brings. A regular moment of silence can empower us to be grateful in seasons of plenty and secure in seasons of challenge. It can reorientate us to our mission and God’s kingdom purposes that He passionately calls us to.

We might not be preparing for the trumpet judgments like the heavenly community in chapter 8, or enduring and witnessing the end times desolation of the earth, seas, freshwater, and sources of light (v. 6-13). We might not be on the precipice of the destruction of Babylon and viewing eschatological events of a savage and turbulent nature. However, we live in a chaotic age and world broken by sin where the people and family of God must be ready to shine His light in the darkness. We need a consistent moment of silence; to be in the presence of God, read His word, pray, and allow Him to equip us for the journey.