THE SEVENTH SEAL
“And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.” Revelation 8:1.
Review and Herald, vol 7, October 2, 1855, #7, p 53-54.
We are aware that events are not brought to view in their chronological order in the book of Revelation; but any such chain of events as the seven seals, the seven trumpets, &c., cannot of course, be disarranged. We cannot place the fourth seal before the third, nor the fifth before the fourth, nor the seventh before the sixth. But what takes place under the sixth? We learn from Rev.vi,12-17, that under the sixth seal, the heavens depart as a scroll, the kings of the earth and the great men hide themselves in the dens and rocks of the mountains, and cry unto them, Fall on us and hide us from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of his wrath is come and who shall be able to stand. In other words, the sixth seal, beholds the coming of Christ and the end of the world; and it isn’t until the seventh is opened that there is silence in heaven for the space of half an hour; and yet they apply that silence to the cleansing of the sanctuary, before Christ leaves it: an event which must take place under the sixth seal! The whole of the seventh seal is applied to one of the many events which transpire under the sixth seal! I can hardly conceive how it would be possible to make a more palpable misapplication of sacred scripture!
As regards the offering of incense mentioned in verses 3-5, it can have no connection with verse 1, from the fact that verse 2 introduces another chain of events; namely, the seven trumpets, which, according to universal acknowledgment, began to be fulfilled far in the past.
We are now prepared for the inquiry, Has the cleansing of the Sanctuary commenced? It was told Daniel, "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the Sanctuary be cleansed." Clearly enough those days are in the past. Unless, therefore, the words of the angel have failed, a work has commenced called the cleansing of the Sanctuary; but there is no work either in the type or out of the type, to which this expression ever has been or ever can be, applied, except to the entrance of the high priest into the Most Holy place, and his ministration while there. Whenever the expression is used, this is the work which is brought to view, and this only.
I know of no period of time which is designated and set apart, in the Scriptures, as an "antitypical day of atonement" in which the Sanctuary shall be cleansed, more than that in which this work is performed. We consider this idea as springing from an undue regard to the formulas of the type, in reference to which we have already spoken. And the matter is carried still farther, when it is urged, because the first part of the day of atonement was the night season, and there were also several offerings to be made, before the cleansing of the Sanctuary could commence, that therefore the greater part of this "antitypical day of atonement" must pass, before the cleansing of the true Sanctuary shall take place.
Dan.viii,14, does not read that, unto 2300 days, then shall the antitypical day of atonement commence, and somewhere in the latter part of that day, the length of which nobody knows, the Sanctuary shall be cleansed! All that gave the day of atonement in the type its distinction and importance, was the fact that on that day the great work of cleansing the sanctuary was performed. In the antitype this great event only is brought to view, and the definite period of its commencement is marked out. Here is a point that no sophistry can evade. If the 2300 days have ended, the cleansing of the Sanctuary is going on. Doubtless they would deny that the days have ended were it not that that point is settled by a "demonstration" in which they have implicit faith.
Num.xxix,7-11, where an account is given of the offerings of the day of atonement, is quoted to show that we have now an opportunity of offering our sacrifices, that is, our prayers and confessions; also that we must come to the door of the tabernacle, the first apartment; and also that the cleansing of the Sanctuary must be for a time deferred. Now all who regard the matter in this light, since they profess such adherence to the type, and since they make our confessions the antitype of those offerings, are bound by consistency to show how many and what kind of confessions answer to "one young bullock! one ram! and seven lambs of the first year!" &c. The idea might be followed out till it would become ridiculous in the extreme.
There are other considerations which to my mind are proof on this point; and I make no one responsible for the positions taken. If the Sanctuary is not yet being cleansed, it involves all three of the angels of Rev.xiv, in a failure.
The first angel proclaimed, Fear God and give glory to him; for the hour of his Judgment is come. At the end of the 2300 days, when that message closed, had that time come? If the judgment scene which takes place in the second apartment of the Sanctuary, to which this proclamation doubtless refers, did not then commence, it had not come; and the first angel with his message, was too fast. But we believe that work did there commence; that there was the time when judgment began at the house of God, and the time came when Daniel, and all the righteous in the person of their Advocate should stand in their lot.
The second angel proclaims that Babylon is fallen. Why is Babylon fallen? Because she rejected special truth. A time was coming, in fulfillment of the designs of Heaven, when a change should take place in the position of our great High Priest, and, consequently, a change in his relation to the world. A truth was given which would prepare people for that change. This truth she scornfully rejected. Could God continue his Spirit and blessing to her in such a course? No. Could he withhold the accomplishment of his plans? No. The second angel uttered his warning; and all who then felt the force of that truth left her communion. The work moved on: our great High Priest withdrew himself to his closing ministration in the second apartment of the holy Sanctuary; and great Babylon was left in her barren pomp, destitute of the spirit and power of vital godliness. She is now becoming a hold of every foul spirit; and when this has progressed far enough to be apparent to every honest mind, we believe they will heed the voice of Rev.xviii,4; and that, consequently, another thinning of her ranks yet awaits her.
Our High Priest has entered the second apartment, and the way is prepared for the third angel. One portion of his message is, "Here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." This is based on the fact that "the temple of God was opened in heaven, (when Christ changed his position,) and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament. God's people are permitted to look by an eye of faith, into the inner apartment of the true Tabernacle: they there behold the ark of God, and their attention is called at once to the law contained within it; and the fact that there is now a special movement taking place in regard to that violated law, is proof that the second apartment of the Sanctuary has been opened, and the ark of the testament is seen. No person can receive the true light on the Sanctuary, and the present position and work of our great Mediator, without having his attention especially directed to the ten commandments. There is a beautiful harmony in all this, just such as we would expect to find in the plan and work of God.
Since, then, the closing work of the Sanctuary is being performed, it may be asked, What is the position of God's people and of the world, during this time; and how are we now to obtain forgiveness of sin?
It is a prerogative of this dispensation over the former, that the blood of Christ does cleanse us from, or take away, our sins. Ever since he commenced his work for mankind as Priest in the holy Sanctuary, it has been their privilege to avail themselves of the merits of his blood by faith in him. As long as that blood is ministered they can do this; and we have noticed that it is ministered in both apartments of the Sanctuary, the second as well as the first. But a consistent faith in Christ, involves the necessity of an understanding of his position and of his work; here therefore a restriction must be made. Light enough has been given us in the Word to trace our Saviour through all his characters as Prophet, Priest, and King, and we must keep our eye fixed upon him. He says, "I am the way, the truth and the life;" and unless we heed the light which reveals to us his position and work, he witnesses against us when he says, "Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." To come to him therefore at the present time, and to exercise an effective faith in him, we must have an understanding of his present position. We come to him therefore as our great High Priest, performing his last and special work, pleading his blood before the mercy-seat, beneath which reposes God's righteous law, a violation of which has made his sacrifice and mediation necessary; and as the scene is thus presented before us, we see the necessity of keeping that law in all its requirements. Those who therefore, with the present light on this subject, shall attempt to find in Christ a Saviour, while living in violation of that holy law, or shall seek him as minister in the first apartment of the Sanctuary, will find that he has withdrawn himself from them, and knows them not.
Again, while Christ exercises the office of Priest he is a mediator between God and man, and those who will come unto him may avail themselves of his mediation. He is Priest in the second apartment as well as the first. If we confess our sins, he is yet "faithful and just to forgive us our sins." But as surely as Babylon is fallen, and evil men and seducers are waxing worse and worse, and all are being drawn into the absorbing whirlpool of spiritualism, so surely his Spirit and sympathy is withdrawn from them as a body. Some may here call us bigoted and exclusive; but they may as well say the same of the whole plan of salvation, because it contains prescribed conditions with which men must comply, or they can never be saved.
We see then that to those who are honest enough to seek salvation according to the light of revealed truth, there is yet left a brief hour of probation, while the work of the Sanctuary is closing, and the last message of mercy is going forth. In view of these things how solemn is our position! How should we let our light shine! What manner of persons ought we to be! What manner of lives ought we to live! With what zeal should we engage in the service of God, that we may find at last to our eternal joy, our sins forgiven, and our names retained in the Lamb's book of life.
Review and Herald, vol 9, December 18, 1856, #7, p 52.
We will now look more particularly at some of the events transpiring in order under the seven seals; for with these seals our subject is connected. We read, "And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour." This silence as far as we have any account, occupies the whole of the seventh seal, and is the only event to transpire under it. But the seventh seal cannot be opened before the sixth; and the events of the sixth cannot take place before the fifth; but they must come in their order: the fifth, then the sixth; and after the events of the sixth have all transpired, the seventh, is opened which brings silence in heaven.
Fixing this fact in our mind, we will go back a little and see what took place under the sixth seal: "And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig-tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind: and the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places: and the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every freeman, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" Rev.vi,12-17.
No one can be at a loss to understand the events here brought to view. If we are not here carried to the end of this present state, and the coming of the Son of man, we know of no scriptures carrying us to those events. It must be evident to any one, therefore, that when the great men of the earth shall call for the rocks and mountains to hide them from the presence of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, Christ will have left his mediatorial position, and the cleansing of the Sanctuary will have been finished. But it is not till after these events that the seventh seal is opened, and there is silence in heaven for the space of half an hour. Therefore it is fixed beyond the least shadow of a possibility of contradiction that the silence in heaven has nothing to do with the cleansing of the Sanctuary; for this cleansing is all finished under the sixth seal; before the seventh seal is opened, under which the silence occurs; and this objection therefore to the view that our great High Priest is now doing up his last work for the salvation of mankind, vanishes into thin air.
Review and Herald, vol 20, September 16, 1862. #16, p 124.
THE first verse of the eighth chapter of the Revelation mentions the opening of the seventh seal. With this verse the prophetic chain under the symbols of the seven seals closes, and with the second verse another series of events is introduced. We suggest that a more proper division of the book, would put chapters vi and vii, and the first verse of chapter viii, in one chapter.
Verse 1. And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
....This probably applies to the second advent of Christ, and marks the period from the time that Christ leaves heaven with all the angels, till he returns with all the saints resurrected and changed, to the "Father's house." All the heavenly harpers being absent, there is said to be silence in heaven.
The sixth seal does not reach to the second advent. It brings us to the voice of God, the results of which convince the wicked that the great day of the wrath of God and of the Lamb has come. The seventh seal brings us to the coming of Christ accompanied by all the holy angels. Thus the seven seals reach from the preaching of the gospel in its purity, by Christ's first ministers, represented by the armed warrior on the white horse, down through the sad history of the church to the coming of Christ with all the holy angels to raise the righteous dead and change the righteous living.
Uriah Smith, Biblical Institute, Lesson 21, “The Seven Seals”, p 258-259.
The seventh seal is introduced in Rev.8:1. The only event mentioned is silence in Heaven about the space of half an hour; and the only time brought to view in the Bible when this could be fulfilled, is that described in Matt.25:31, when Christ appears and "all the holy angels" come with him. Then there can be silence in Heaven; and this event we understand to be the one to which the sixth seal is devoted.
Uriah Smith, Daniel and Revelation, “The Seven Trumpets”, p 475-476.
We name as the subject of this chapter the seven trumpets, as these constitute the main theme of the chapter, although there are other matters introduced before the opening of that series of events. The first verse of this chapter relates to the events of the preceding chapters, and therefore should not have been separated from them by the division of the chapter.
"VERSE 1. And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour."
The series of seven seals is here resumed and concluded. The sixth chapter closed with the events of the sixth seal, and the eighth commences with the opening of the seventh seal; hence the seventh chapter stands parenthetically between the sixth and seventh seals, from which it appears that the sealing work of that chapter belongs to the sixth seal.
Silence in Heaven. - Concerning the cause of this silence, only conjecture can be offered, - a conjecture, however, which is supported by the events of the sixth seal. That seal does not bring us to the second advent, although it embraces events that transpire in close connection therewith. It introduces the fearful commotions of the elements, described as the rolling of the heavens together as a scroll, caused by the voice of God, the breaking up of the surface of the earth, and the confession on the part of the wicked that the great day of God's wrath is come. They are doubtless in momentary expectation of seeing the King appear in, to them, unendurable glory. But the seal stops just short of that event. The personal appearing of Christ must therefore be allotted to the next seal. But when the Lord appears, he comes with all the holy angels with him. Matt.25:31. And when all the heavenly harpers leave the courts above to come down with their divine Lord, as he descends to gather the fruit of his redeeming work, will there not be silence in heaven?