Friday, October 17, 2014

a half hour of silence in the heavens

 And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. -Revelation 8:1
Hopefully we've all read the Bible by now and recognize this verse. There has been a lot of talk throughout history about the opening of the seventh seal, but we are among the lucky few who have lived to see it. This claim is based on scriptural evidence.

Note about this essay: This is not to make any fancy claims about exact dates or the exact nature of coming events. It is just to point out some scriptural and calendrical evidence for the scriptures and collaborate it with recent General Conference talks. My goal here is to inspire preparedness--which, I have blogged before, has been considered "urgent" for many, many, many years now. Even in the New Testament, Saints were counseled to treat their spiritual preparedness with urgency, even though the Second Coming was clearly not for some time (as we have yet to experience it ourselves, two millennia later). Hopefully we all approach our spiritual and material preparedness with the urgency recommended in the scriptures and by the prophets, regardless of upcoming events and how soon or far away they may be.

Upcoming: some evidence that the seventh seal has already been opened, per the beginning of the seventh thousand years as explained in the scriptures; an exploration of the calculation of the "half hour" of silence; how this fits with and supports the concept of the Christ coming at the Meridian of Time; the relation of the Seventh Seal to the Shemitah and upcoming Jubilee; and implications.
Seven seals. Image here.

The Seventh Seal: Timing, and the Half Hour

Poking around on the Internet today I found a link to Cleon Skousen's analysis of the time leading up to the Second Coming.

The whole article is worth a read, but here is a "brief" excerpt (brief compared to the rest of the essay, anyway!) Bolding is mine, and I cut out a giant paragraph that is worth reading but not necessarily as part of this post:

Now John is ready to transfer his attention from the five chapters outlining the preparations in heaven for the Second Coming and concentrate on the unfolding of these events on earth. All of these events are controlled by the factor of “time.” He therefore defines the period in which these events will occur. John says:“And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.” 15This immediately raises four highly significant questions. For example:#1. According to OUR calendar, when will the seventh seal be opened, and the half-hour of silence begins in heaven?Until 1582 A.D. our calendar was not at all accurate, but Pope Gregory employed a group of mathematicians and astronomers to restructure the calendar. They set up the new calendar so that it was in perfect harmony or calibration with the sun. To make it completely accurate they had to add one day every four years and that is how we got our “leap year.”But even with all that restructuring, how are we certain that it is completely accurate? The best answer to that question is in the Doctrine and Covenants. On two occasions the Lord used the Gregorian calendar in such a way that it seemed to clearly imply his approval of it.In Section 20 the Lord said he wanted the Church established on the sixth day of April because it would be “one thousand eight hundred and thirty years since the coming of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh.” 16In the very next section we are told the Church was set up by Joseph Smith under the guidance of the Holy Ghost and then it says:“Which church was organized and established in the year of your Lord eighteen hundred and thirty, in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month which is called April.” 17So if our calendar is accurate and apparently approved by the Lord, there is no question about the date of the opening of the seventh seal and the half hour of silence in heaven. It will commence in the year 2000 AD .#2. Why is there suddenly “silence in heaven” when the SEVENTH seal is opened?Apparently there is a great deal of furious activity in heaven right up to the time the seventh seal is opened. The Priesthood of this dispensation are required to work at a tremendous pace to get ready for the Second Coming. This was explained to Wilford Woodruff the last time he was allowed to see Joseph Smith in the spirit world.
Joseph Smith made it plain to Wilford Woodruff that the Priesthood of this dispensation are working under a fantastic deadline to teach everyone who has died without the gospel since the apostolic times. This task has to be completed by the time of ‘the opening of the seventh seal when the hosts of heaven will have a new task connected with the final preparation and cleansing of the earth for the Second Coming.#3. DO WE KNOW WHEN THE HALF HOUR OF SILENCE ENDS?From a modern revelation we learn when the half hour of silence ends. Here is what the Lord says:“And there shall be silence in heaven for the space of half an hour, and IMMEDIATELY after shall the curtain of heaven be unfolded, as a scroll is unfolded after it is rolled up, AND THE FACE OF THE LORD SHALL BE UNVEILED; and the saints that are upon the earth, who are alive, shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him.” 19Obviously we are talking about the Second Coming. So this tells us when the half hour of silence ends. It is just before the Second Coming.#4. CAN WE calculate THE ACTUAL DURATION OF TH HOUR OF SILENCE?Since we know the half hour of silence begins at 2,000 A.D. when the seventh seal is opened and since we know from a modern revelation that the half hour of silence ends with the Second Coming, can we calculate in terms of years the length of time which will elapse between these two monumental events? In other words, can we determine about how long the half hour of silence lasts?One of the apostles felt that such a calculation was possible. Here is the way Elder Bruce R. McConkie suggested it could be done. After talking about the half hour of silence, he says:“If the time here mentioned is ‘ Lord’s time’ in which one day is a thousand years, the haft hour would be some twenty-one of our years.”Elder McConkie reached this conclusion based on the following scriptures:“A day with the Lord after his manner of reckoning, it being 1000 years according to the time appointed to that [ whereon thou standest."And again:"But beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that ONE DAY is with the Lord as a THOUSAND YEARS, and a thousand years as one day."The next step was to divide 1,000 years by 24 to determine what an hour would be according to God’s time. It turned out to be 41.66 years or just under 42 years. This means that a half hour of God’s time would be ? 7 years or nearly 21 years. This would clearly suggest that this is the duration of the half hour of silence in heaven and the period of time when the angels undertake the calamitous preparation of the earth for the Savior’s second coming.
 So, to recap:

The scriptures indicate that the Gregorian calendar is an accurate count from the time of the Savior's birth. This would put the opening of the seventh seal from Revelations in the year 2000 AD, Gregorian. Here is a site with explanations from the scriptures and the prophets about why that is. But here's a good scriptural recap, D&C 77:12 (my bolding):

Angel sounding trumpet. Public domain. 
 12 Q. What are we to understand by the sounding of the trumpets, mentioned in the 8th chapter of Revelation?A. We are to understand that as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth, even so, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years will the Lord God sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man, and judge all things, and shall redeem all things, except that which he hath not put into his power, when he shall have sealed all things, unto the end of all things; and the sounding of the trumpets of the seven angels are the preparing and finishing of his work, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years—the preparing of the way before the time of his coming.

Basically, ancient and modern scripture agree that man is allotted 7,000 years on the earth. The opening of the seventh seal corresponds to the beginning of the last thousand years. The world gets a "half hour of silence," according to Revelation, and then Christ returns, the world burns, and the Millennium for real begins. Since the year Christ was born in was 1830 years prior to the restoration of the Gospel in 1830 AD Gregorian, and He was born at the Meridian of Time (the 4,000th year out of the 7,000 total), that would put the beginning of the seventh thousand years in 2000 AD: Y2K.

Per the scriptures, the ending of the world didn't happen then, with the opening of the seventh seal; rather, we began the half hour of silence predicted in the book of Revelation.

How does this fit with the Meridian of Time?

 This is slightly tangential, but I want to throw it in here in case anyone is as confused as I once was. One thing that always bothered me was that if that whole 7000 year thing was accurate, and Christ came at year 4000, then why--?? How does that work if He was supposed to come at the Meridian of Time?

John Pratt has an article about that, kind of--it doesn't address the Meridian of Time according to the whole history of humankind, but it does address the issue of the Meridian of Time according to the Enoch and Hebrew calendars. Examine:

The Enoch calendar. Image here
Christ born at Meridian of Grand Year. Following the same pattern shows that 6 Apr 1 BC fell in the year called 14 ADAR 2. The Feast of Esther begins on the day 14 Adar, or, in years with the thirteenth month, on 14 Adar2. So the proposed year of the Savior's birth also fell in a "holy year" of the Grand Year, corresponding to the Feast of Esther.
Moreover, that particular Grand Year comprised 385 years. The Feast of Esther that year fell in the 193rd year of the Grand Year, which is precisely the middle year of the 385 years. So the birth year of Christ occurred at the meridian of a Grand Year, which was also a "holy year."
One final point: the name Esther means "A star," so the birth year of Christ was the year of the "Feast of A Star." That seems appropriate, in light of the appearance of the Star of Bethlehem, which heralded his coming. If that was planned, then even Esther's very name was inspired.
Christ born at Meridian of Jubilee Year. The year beginning in Sep., 2 BC was a SUNDAY, the first year of the sabbatical cycle. In fact, it was also a Jubilee year which is always a SUNDAY, occuring every 49 years.[5] The jubilee year was to be announced with the blowing of the trumpet on the Day of Atonement (in September/October) (Lev. 25:9-10). If Christ was born during the night preceding 6 Apr 1 BC, as all of my calculations indicate, then he was born exactly on the meridian day of that Jubilee year, which was also the day of Passover. That is, from 10 Tishri to 15 Nisan is half a solar year. A normal Hebrew year is ten days short of a solar year, to the 5 extra days from the 10th to the 15th is exactly what is required to separate the two days by half a solar year. Thus, the meridian of time is precise down to the very day, not just the year. 

Anyway, it's awesome, but not super relevant--another article of his, I believe, points out that although the halfway point of 7,000 years would be 3,500, it would be rounded up to the nearest day to be the meridian. 3,500 rounded up is 4,000. Hence Christ's birthday as the Meridian of Time, even though it is not technically at the exact halfway midpoint of time.

So we really are looking at exactly 2,000 years from Christ's birth for the opening of the seventh seal--not 3,500 years.


What Happens in the Half-Hour of Silence? 

What does this half hour of silence mean? What is supposed to happen in it?

Revelation Chapters 8-12 are dedicated to this very thing. In Chapter 8 we see hail and natural disasters, Wormwood making the waters bitter, the water of the sea becoming blood. In Chapter 9 we see terror visiting men: "And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them" (verse 6). In Chapter 11 we learn of the prophets who will be slaughtered in Jerusalem. And so on. Basically there is a lot of stuff that is going to happen during this half hour--or, as Bruce R. McConkie calculated, 21 years--that immediately precedes the Second Coming, as explained in D&C 88:95-96:

 95 And there shall be silence in heaven for the space of half an hour; and immediately after shall the curtain of heaven be unfolded, as a scroll is unfolded after it is rolled up, and the face of the Lord shall be unveiled;
 96 And the saints that are upon the earth, who are alive, shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him.
Seven angels. Except in real life they are male. Image.
We know from the scriptures that "times of tribulation" are supposed to happen immediately prior to the Second Coming. Mormons don't super call that time the Tribulation but other Christians do, and it is said to be a seven-year period. You can read more about that on the Wikipedia article about it. Mormons would qualify by those standards as "Posttribulationists"-- people who believe the "Rapture," or "quickening" and being caught up as described in the scripture above, will happen after the Tribulation.

If there are seven years of Tribulation immediately prior to the Second Coming; if there are 21 total years between the opening of the seventh seal and the Second Coming; if the seventh seal has been opened as the scriptures indicate in the year 2000, AD; that would put us just on the cusp of beginning the Tribulation.

Relation to the Shemitah and Jubilee
Image here.

Twenty-one years happens to fit exactly 3 Shemitahs. We just began the third Shemitah year since 2000, on September 25, 2014. And it just so happens that the Jubilee begins on September 14, 2015. According to my research, this will be the 70th Jubilee since the Exodus and the 120th Jubilee since Creation. Examine this research on the relationship between the Jubilee cycles, Biblical prophecy, and the House of Israel. This Jubilee would, theoretically, signal the beginning of the final seven years--or "week of years"--preceding the unveiling of the Lord's face. In other words, we are on the cusp of the beginning of the Tribulation, the seven final, turbulent years preceding the end. It would begin right after 13 September 2015, the final, collapsing day of 29 Elul that corresponds to 9/11 and 9/28/08 (the date of the largest Wall Street collapse in history). Mid-September of 2015 starts the figurative Sunday of the final week of our half hour of silence immediately preceding what Protestants would call the Rapture.

This final week of years--seven years--is what other Christians call the Tribulation, as I explained above.

Conclusion and Implications

This is all based on scriptural evidence. That is not to claim great claims of accuracy or truth; but it is to say that this is not completely unfounded speculation. The Biblical calendar backs it up, and teachings in the Old and New Testaments as well as the Doctrine and Covenants back it up. According to the scriptures the seventh seal's opening corresponded with the year 2000, and right now we are almost 2/3 done with the silence during the half hour. This is scriptural. It isn't to name dates or claim anything about exact timing of the Second Coming or exact events or anything like that; exact dates and predictions are not the point. The point is that the scriptures said to be on the lookout for the half hour of silence, they told us when they would be, and told us how to recognize them. From what I can tell, we are in that half-hour now and times of tribulation are rapidly approaching.

The major implications for me:

Image here.
- Spiritual preparedness for self: we have a responsibility to be as spiritually developed as possible in order to handle the rigors of the trials coming up in essentially the immediate future. This month's Conference talks include recommendations to prepare in a way that has never been known, develop our personal ministries, and make our exercise of faith our first priority. I and my family were also very intrigued by the amount of talks dedicated to the importance of following the prophet even if it doesn't always make sense. I had a sense that those talks would be relevant very soon. And they already are relevant. So if you're not following the prophet, now would probably be a good time to get on that.

- Spiritual preparedness for others: we have a responsibility to do our part in the Hastening of the Work. It's our job to warn our neighbors and to reach out to them in love. This is also spiritual preparation for ourselves, as we exercise our faith in reaching out even though it can be scary.

- Material preparedness: my research has indicated that in the case of a widespread economic collapse as one might infer from a Shemitah-Jubilee link and a coming Tribulation, money will be less important than food, water, and other material essentials. If you were quarantined to your home for weeks due to plagues, would you have the necessaries you need to survive? If you had no electricity or clean water available, would you be able to meet your needs and the needs of your family? Would you be spiritually prepared to share with others, too?

- Physical preparedness: Is your body ready for some upcoming trials? In Conference this year, we were expressly counseled to get in good physical shape and health (as a way of increasing our spiritual confidence, no less!). AH I LOVE THAT TALK.

Again: This is not to make any fancy claims about exact dates or the exact nature of coming events. It is only to point out that the scriptures likely indicate that tough times are coming. I'm just passing it on. And for anyone wondering why this would not be explicitly addressed in General Conference, I did blog about that before. The prophets have been warning us, even explicitly, about this time for all of time. To echo their call for urgency in preparation is not alarmist. Since a person can die at any time and end their mortal probation, even if the Tribulation is not right around the corner, spiritual preparation is still of utmost urgency and importance. It is never bad to be scripturally aware and wisely prepared.

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