Why not silence for seven days? That would have been cool.
The half hour has to mean something. Right? It just seems so odd to have a period of time so mundane and realistic that it doesn’t fit with the book. “Yeah, you should have been there; we had living beasts with animal heads, cherubim, Jesus (first fiery, then lioney, then a lamb), and then my shoelaces came undone so I had to tie them again.”
My intention is not to mock, but to illustrate my point: a half hour just doesn’t seem to fit here. The sight of Jesus, earlier, caused a fall-down-dead effect. That tells us how awesome He is. Here though, the seventh and final seal gets treatment that, apparently, Schubert would warrant.
Have you ever really experienced silence? The kind of silence where you can hear you heart beating in your ears? Have you ever really shut up long enough to know what it’s like to become truly still in your body and spirit? Likely not. I know before I started on my journey with spiritual formation I certainly hadn’t. The the last few years, however, I expanded that horizon. I still remember the first time I went on a spiritual retreat…going to a place of quiet and intentionally choosing to be quiet…it was kind of unnerving. My mind spun and buzzed and rebelled against the quiet. I imagine that must have been the experience in heaven right then. Heaven has been depicted so far as a busy, noisy place-angels, the four creatures, the 144,000 souls, all raising their voices in the …
Do you ever wonder if prayer does anything? There are times I wonder if my prayers even reach God’s ears. If they do, I sometimes wonder if God is really listening. There have been long periods in my Christian life when I have found God to be very silent. At those times, I have felt that God was distant and removed from my situation. Nothing is more discouraging than to pray and pray about a matter only to see nothing happen. Or, to have things go worse than before we prayed! We already saw in chapter 6 that the souls under the altar of God where shouting for God to do something about the suffering and persecution that was happening to the churches. They asked the question, “How much longer…?” Have you ever asked that question of God? There are …
I appreciate what N.T. Wright is saying about the momentary and potent silence in heaven. It’s not just the absence of chatter or even shouts of worship, but a “profound, still, deep experience.”
I don’t think I’ve been very successful, but I’ve tried to help my own children appreciate this truth. It’s not the old adage “children are meant to be seen and not heard” that I’m talking about. I mean, just as I’ve helped my children, who are both musicians now, to appreciate music of all kinds, I want them to be comfortable with silence, to welcome it and to find comfort in it instead of feeling agitated and anxious for more ear candy.
Shhhh. “Be still and know that I am God.”
Have you ever been part of an awkward silence? When after a special moment or event there is nothing more to say. Or when speaking to someone for awhile you run out of things to talk about? Then comes the pause.
Well up to this point there has been enough drama to make a multiple book series as well as prequels, sequels etc. for the big screen. Scrolls, horsemen, earthquakes, tsunamis, fire on earth…good stuff. And then, “when the lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven.” Wow what a contrast.
As NT states “we might be disappointed by the sudden silence….but the unexpected hush in heaven ought to tell us that something huge, something powerful, something utterly decisive, is now going to happen.” Well said NT. What if we could look at all awkward silences in this manner? That …
Sometimes when I pray I feel like I’m just talking to myself and calling it “prayer” to avoid therapy. But the truth is, our prayers are never wasted. Our worries and concerns and hardships are never ignored. Perhaps the most singular feature of Christian spirituality is the assurance that God listens. Our prayers are not sent to his voice mail, or absently attended while he watches sports. God is not our distracted grandpa. He is presiding over the earth, from heaven, and his ears are attuned to our suffering.
John tells us there are angels catching our prayers in golden bowls. Our prayers are placed upon the altar of the stars and mingled with fire. Our prayers are hurled back to earth with a vengeance, with the certainty that every courtier in the clouds has focused their attention on our circumstances …