Silence in Heaven

Revelation 8:1

Miss the dramatic buildup – short time devoted to preaching ;-), chapter / verse breaks, chapter 7 diversion. 6 seals, progressively more intense, now the seventh…. Expecting huge climax, all the special effects. Instead, silence. In previous times, silence easier to find. Now, this generation has figured out how to multiply ways to make noise. Increasingly rare to see someone without something other than a hearing aid stuck in at least one ear – cellphone, ipod, earbuds. Hardly day passes without at least one vehicle going by, sound system vibrates windows… of the house.

according to the World Health Organization, around 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults face this risk [of hearing loss] due to exposure to unsafe levels of sound. Exposure to high levels of recreational noise from personal audio devices and loud entertainment venues are to blame for this risk.”

Issue goes deeper than that – not just that there is noise, most people want some kind of “background noise”. Are uncomfortable with any kind of extended silence. Even “moment of silence” to show respect nearly impossible for some to endure. Perhaps you’re wondering: how’s he gonna preach for a half hour on 1 verse about silence? Are three apparent divisions in verse: “When He opened the seventh seal” – “there was silence in heaven” – “for about half an hour”. So we have the panorama unfolded, the response, and the duration.

A. the panorama unfolded

all seven seals – entire document – God’s plan of redemption from Ascension to the end… from God’s perspective

the ebb and flow of peoples, nations, events and circumstances suddenly revealed… in context of redemption

the King establishes his kingdom, rules his kingdom, advances his kingdom, adds to his subjects, conquers his enemies

Col 2.15Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in his cross.

as seven seals broken and scroll unrolled, see Christ’s kingdom advancing from Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria and the world beyond

rise and fall of nations, denomi-nations, waves of missionary advances… often at incredible cost – men and women giving lives to bring Gospel to far-away nations and people

drama seen from the top: evident how was more at work than just mankind pursuing their petty plans on world stage

indicates God’s entire plan will be brought to his ordained conclusion

John 6:37-39 “Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out.For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me.This is the will of Him who sent Me: that I should lose none of those He has given Me but should raise them up on the last day.”

God knew before creation all who would be his – promise of Lord Jesus is that not a single one would be missing on the last day

God’s plan as is unfolded is not just a picture of the end result – shows that God has as inseparable part of his purpose all of means necessary to achieve that result

those means include four horsemen, martyrs for their faith, final appearance of Lion of Judah to conclude this era of time

God also knew before creation all who would not be his – God has as inseparable part of his purpose all of means necessary to achieve their defeat

both of those statements true for men/women/children and angels/demons – God’s purpose encompasses all his creation, all aspects of Redemption both positive and negative

important to remember: we all started out as allies of Satan; is by God’s gracious work of redemption… seen in this panorama of seven seals… that we were converted, our citizenship transferred into Christ’s kingdom

B. the response

speechless before majesty of God

majesty = “greatness and splendour of God, revealed in his creation and mighty works of deliverance. On account of his majesty, God is worthy of praise and adoration from all people.” Dictionary of Bible Themes

“Our generation may indeed have more knowledge about the universe, and less interest in its Maker, than any generation in human history.” Trey Graham, Baptist Press

imagine public gathering too large to be counted, of men and angels praising God in full voice… suddenly silent! – have seen and begun to more fully grasp the majesty of God

we have seen some of majesty of God in his works, but only some; rest is hidden from us on this side of the tapestry

at opening of final seal – majesty of God seen from heaven’s perspective now revealed… in what he has done place on earth… and God is standing right there displaying and on display

in all the noise – sense of majesty of God absent from even much of church

several times Saturday in Bangor: mighty work of God in saving sinners related; response – applause, whistles, shouts; 2 or 3 generations ago, could have heard pin drop

ask family or friends: “why do you go to church / that church”? is answer “because I see / experience glory and majesty of God and he changes me by his truth”

too often answer focuses on programs or schedule or personalities or fellowship with others and little to do with God

problem is two-fold: people looking for something less than God, leaders doing best to supply what will keep people coming

not an issue for multitude in heaven – totally in awe of God’s inexpressible majesty on display before them: could see end result standing there beside them… “an enormous crowd that no one could count, made up of persons from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne”

saw in the scroll how God brought them out of every nation, frustrating and defeating forces of evil in process

wisdom

The wisdom of God in redemption is visible in manifesting two contrary affections at the same time, and in one act: the greatest hatred of sin, and the greatest love to the sinner. In this way he punishes the sin without ruining the sinner, and repairs the ruins of the sinner without indulging the sin. Here is eternal love and eternal hatred; a condemning the sin to what it merited, and an advancing the sinner to what he could not expect.” Stephen Charnock, Existence and Attributes of God

who but God could ever come up with plan like his, covering all the bases, missing no details, doing it all perfectly and right

power

the power of God is that ability and strength, whereby he can bring to pass whatsoever he please; whatsoever his infinite wisdom can direct, and whatsoever the infinite purity of his will can resolve.” Charnock

Isa. 46:9-11“…I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me,Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’ …Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.

exercising power to bring about his purpose in enlarging and purifying Christ’s kingdom, defeating Satan and his allies

when what we make displeases us, we destroy it… God recreates it – uses power that surpasses Creation to make us new, “repairing our ruin” but ultimately going beyond: confirming us in holiness in heaven forever

our final estate will be better than our first: sin no longer a possibility when we fully arrive… glorified soul and body

love

1 John 4:10 “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

Rom. 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

were pushing God away, didn’t want him or his love – God in majesty of his love didn’t simply throw us crumbs, gave his most cherished priceless treasure

God’s redeeming love demonstrated toward us, poured into our hearts, made complete in us, changes us to be fit members of God’s family

God’s majestic love eliminates all artificial boundaries – transforms enemies into friends… spiritually and socially

enemies of God converted, earthly enemies reconciled – God replaces love of self with love for others in each of his children

works

of creation – Psa. 19:1

whether scale of universe or single cell, majesty of God so clearly on display no human being without excuse – none can say “I didn’t know God exists”

more we grasp about created universe, more of God’s majesty is revealed, especially his wisdom and power… even after corruption by sin

of re-creation – 2 Cor. 5:17

man can make something look like new, is impossible for man to change qualities inherent in something/someone else

God raises dead to life, replaces heart of stone with heart of flesh – changes sinful desires to ones that please him

transforms our very being, our thinking, our feeling, gives future and hope – none of which anyone can do for self or another

C. the duration

half an hour – shortest specific unit of time in Bible – measurable yet brief

a moment passes by, then we recognize it; “tribulation for ten days” (Smyrna, Rev. 2:10) may seem like forever but really isn’t

long enough to get full effect of awe

tourist, south rim Grand Canyon, smartphone panned one side to other, ready to leave – had seen it but had made no impression

stand for 1/2 hour, scan one end of view to the other, from top to bottom – focus on details, get grasp on full scope: awe increases moment by moment, finally finds some kind of expression

short enough to be succeeded by spontaneous outburst of praise

clear indication this is not the end of the story – definitely not “life stinks, then you die”; must be something else that kick-starts sounding worship again

as if numberless multitude holding breath as it all soaks in, will be released in even more vigorous praise than what we’ve seen so far – simply cannot hold back giving God the praise his glorious majesty demands

Don’t lose sense of awe before majesty of God – is ok to be silent, overwhelmed, overcome by God’s glory, his greatness, his wondrous love and mercy and power. Then… let loose with praise that comes from all your being – heart, soul, mind, strength.

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