Have you experienced that almost eerie stillness that happens right before a storm? Growing up in the Midwest, that was a regular summertime occurrence for me. It wasn’t necessarily a favorite time of mine either because it brought to mind a very traumatic night when a tornado ripped through our town and my father was away on business, perhaps driving through that very storm. My mother did a great job of ushering us and our petrified cats to the basement. My dad arrived home safely after the storm had passed. I can still recall that memory, despite the fact it at least was fifty years ago!
The stillness in our text today wasn’t eerie. It was beautiful, and it was intentional. It was like heaven took a breath while the prayers of the faithful were burned with a sweet incense to the Lord. There was one more seal to go, but it was time to focus on the Lamb and on the victory. This pause was for us to take a breath and revel in the promises of God. We often rush through our days and all the tasks on our to-do list. Is spending time with God on your list? Does that quiet time include silence? How can we listen for the voice of God to direct our lives if we are surrounded by noise all the time?
This time of silence also intensified the drama of what was to come. John soon saw seven angels come forward who were each given a trumpet. The “time out” was about to end with the blast from the first trumpet. A second series of God’s judgments were about to be released on earth.
The first four trumpets that we read of today ushered in destruction directly affecting the cosmos and elements of nature. The earth, trees, seas, rivers, sun, moon, and stars of the sky are all affected. Of course, humans will experience the consequences of these four judgments.
Many people will try to figure out exactly what each item of Revelation symbolizes. To some degree we want to understand the imagery, but it does us better to see the big picture and not miss the point. God is present. God cares for his people. It is Christ who is Lord over our lives in times of struggle and strife.
We are left with a bit of foreshadowing. A cliff hanger of sorts is given by the eagle flying overhead. “Terror, terror, terror to all who belong to this world because of what will happen when the last three angels blow their trumpets.” Note to whom the eagle is referring, “all who belong to this world.” It is the unbelievers who will encounter harm from these judgments yet to come. While all people will in some way be touched by fallout from the judgments, it is only the unbelievers who need to fear.
Take some time today to be quiet. You might want to set a timer. Thirty minutes might be a little long if you aren’t used to being silent for extended periods of time. Devote this quiet time to listening for God’s voice. Ask him to reveal something to you. Then faithfully listen. Be still.
Let’s pray. Father God, I thank you that I can spend times of silence in your presence. I wait patiently for you to speak to me. Thank you for your presence in my life and in our world. I pray that more and more people will see and believe. Use me and my words to draw people to a deeper relationship with you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.