The seventh seal is the Return of Christ – Revelation 8:1

When the Lamb broke the seventh seal,
there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

The breaking of the seventh seal is minimal in the extreme. It is devoid of action. In a single brief verse, simply saying that there will be silence in heaven for half an hour.

SUMMARY

Many commentators assume that the seventh seal includes the seven trumpets (Rev 8-11), but the sixth seal already ends immediately before the return of Christ while the seven trumpets describe an earlier time when people still have time to repent. See the next article for a discussion.

For the following reasons, the seventh seal is the sorrow in heaven when the multitude that hides in the mountains in the sixth seal (Rev 6:15), is put to death at the return of Christ (Rev 19:21):

      • The seventh seal is the last seal of the Book of Life; containing God’s judgments. The seals of the book are Satan’s informed objections to the people whom God chose for eternal life. That nobody is able to open the book symbolizes that the heavenly beings are unable to refute Satan’s objections. When the last (seventh) seal is broken, all barriers to understanding God’s judgments are removed. Then God can make an end to the reign of evil through the return of Christ.
      • As stated, the sixth seal ends immediately before the return of Christ. The seventh seal, therefore, should be the Return of Christ.
      • Other main parts of Revelation, such as the seven trumpets (Rev 8-11) and Rev 12-14, conclude with the return of Christ and describe different aspects of the same period of time.

For these reasons, it is proposed that the silence in heaven of the seventh seal is caused by the immeasurable sorrow in the heart of God and in the hearts of His people at the destruction of billions of people at the return of Christ.

– END OF SUMMARY – 

THE SEVENTH SEAL DOES NOT INCLUDE THE SEVEN TRUMPETS.

Since nothing happens in the seventh seal, and since the seven trumpets follow immediately after the seventh seal, many commentators assume that the seventh seal includes the seven trumpets (Rev 8-11). This would mean that the seven trumpets follow chronologically AFTER the first six seals.

However, in the sixth seal, the people hide in the mountains and say “the great day of their wrath has come” (Rev 6:17). This hiding multitude is killed at the return of Christ (Rev 19:21). Since they are still hiding, it means that the sixth seal is not quite yet the return of Christ.

On the other hand, in the seven last plagues, the people refuse to repent (Rev 16:9). Since, in the sixth seal, they hide in mountains “from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev 6:16), the sixth seal ends after the seven last plagues; very close to the return of Christ.

The trumpets, on the other hand, warn unbelievers of the coming judgment, and, therefore, represents the time when they still have the opportunity to repent, which is before the seven last plagues. The seven trumpets, therefore, describe the time before the sixth seal ends. Therefore, the seven trumpets cannot be part of the seventh seal. For a further discussion, see the article – Does the seventh seal include the seven trumpets? 

In support of this view, another article shows that the main parts of Revelation, such as the seven seals and the seven trumpets, are parallel to one another and that the events in Revelation are NOT given in strict chronological sequence.

PUT TO DEATH WHEN CHRIST RETURNS

As stated, the multitude that hides in the mountains in the sixth seal (Rev 6:15) is killed at the return of Christ. For example:

The rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh” (Rev 19:21).

The wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles” (Rev 14:20).

THE SEVENTH SEAL IS THE RETURN OF CHRIST

For the following reasons, the seventh seal is the sorrow in heaven when this multitude is destroyed at Christ’s return:

BOOK OF LIFE IS FULLY OPEN.

The seventh seal is the last seal of the book which the Lamb received in the fifth chapter (Rev 5:7). This is the Book of Life, containing the names of the saved. As discussed in the article – How Christ resolves the crisis – the seals are Satan’s accusations. Breaking the seals means that Christ refutes Satan’s arguments and shows that God’s judgments are perfect. When the last seal is broken, all of Satan’s arguments are refuted and God’s judgments are is fully understood. At that time, there would remain no further questions about God’s judgments, and God can make an end to the reign of evil through the return of Christ. God would not allow evil to reign a second longer than necessary.

THE SIXTH SEAL HAS THE SIGNS OF CHRIST’S RETURN.

This point in already mostly covered above. The sixth seal shows the people hiding because they can now see with their physical eyes that Christ is coming, but Christ has not yet arrived. Furthermore, the interlude between the sixth and seventh seals, by describing a great multitude standing before the throne, gives the answer to the question, “who will be able to stand” on “the great day of their wrath” (Rev 6:17; 7:9)? As argued in the article on the Innumerable Multitude, this multitude is shown to us at exactly the same time as in Rev 6:17; immediately before the return of Christ. The seventh seal, therefore, must be the Return of Christ or even after His return.

OTHER SUPPORT

The following is further support for the proposal that the seventh seal is the return of Christ:

      • Other main parts of Revelation (the seven trumpets (Rev 8-11), the seven wars (Rev 12-14), and the seven plagues (Rev 15-20) end with the return of Christ. As mentioned above, the main parts of Revelation, such as the seven seals and the seven trumpets, cover the same period of time.
      • The seventh seal is the first verse of chapter 8, which begins the seven trumpets. This may imply that the seventh seal belongs to the seven trumpets. However, the chapter divisions are not inspired. They were not part of the original text. They were added many centuries later.
      • The Old Testament associates silence with God rising for judgment: He “caused judgment to be heard from heaven; The earth feared and was still when God arose to judgment” (Ps 76:8-9; See also Zeph 1:7; Zech 2:13 and Hab 2:20).
      • In all the earlier seals, when the Lamb breaks the seals, something happens on earth. This implies that the seventh seal is also something that happens on earth.

HALF AN HOUR

This is the only place in the New Testament where the word translated “half hour” appears. “The ten horns … receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour” (Rev 17:12). Since this cannot be one literal hour, we should not interpret half an hour as literally 30 minutes. Perhaps they rule for a few years or few months. “Half an hour” would then be an even shorter period.

SORROW

Every person is a miracle of God’s creation. The unnumbered miracles of the human body result in the astounding miracle of a living, thinking human being. God is love and His people have become like God. It is proposed that the silence of the seventh seal is caused by the immeasurable sorrow in the heart of God and in the hearts of His people at the destruction of billions of people at the return of Christ. Then Heaven will fall silent. All the singing, glorifying, and praising ceases.

It is possible that the seventh seal also points to the sorrow of the final destruction of people at the end of the Millennium:

If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life (in the judgment before the great white throne), he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:15).

ARTICLES ON THE SEVEN SEALS

OVERVIEW

REVELATION 4

REVELATION 5

REVELATION 6

    • Seal 1: The white horse is the gospel.
    • Seals 2 to 4: Bloodshed, famine and death
    • Seal 5: Who are the souls under the altar?
    • Seal 6 includes the plagues and concludes with Christ’s return.

REVELATION 7

REVELATION 8

For further reading on Revelation, I recommend Jon Paulien’s commentary. For general discussions of theology, I recommend Graham Maxwell, who you will find on the Pineknoll website.

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