I’ve noted before that Bible prophecy is the ultimate puzzle. There are so many pieces (verses) that need to fit together to gain an understanding of the future and so many opinions on how these pieces should fit together (or be understood).

Recently I received a reminder of how unique this puzzle is when I received a request to study Revelation 8:1, which says the following:

“And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.” (Rev 8:1)

The reader mentioned an interpretation of the half an hour referenced in Revelation 8:1 that I had not heard before. The reader mentioned the possibility that the half an hour in Revelation 8:1 could represent the time between World War 1 and World War 2.

After spending some time reviewing this interpretation I’m ready to share my thoughts on it. Today I share my thoughts with everyone just in case anyone else had the same question.

Some people believe the half an hour mentioned in Revelation 8:1 represents a time period much longer period than a literal half an hour (30 minutes). The people who support the particular interpretation I’m analyzing today refer to the concept presented in 2 Peter 3:8 “that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day”.

  • The basic idea is that the half an hour in Revelation 8:1 represents 30 minutes in a 1000 year “day” or 1/48 of 1000 years (as 30 minutes is 1/48 of a day).

I converted 1/48 of 1000 years into figures we can use to compare: 1/48 of 1000 years is approximately 7,609 days or 20.83 years.

  • People who believe Revelation 8:1 represents the time between the two world wars say that 20.83 years is about the amount of time between the two world wars.

I also calculated the amount of time separating World War 1 and World War 2. World War 1 ended on November 11, 1918 while World War 2 began on September 1, 1939. The time between these two dates was 7,599 days or approximately 20.82 years.

The difference between the two world wars and 1/48 of 1000 years is just 10 days. People who believe Revelation 8:1 represents the time between the two world wars argue that the term “about” in Revelation 8:1 provides enough leeway so that the two time periods do not have to be exactly the same in length-they only have to be approximately close.

“And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.” (Rev 8:1)

Despite the proximity between the two time periods, I do not believe the half an hour in Revelation 8:1 relates to the time period between the two world wars for several reasons:

  • The text specifies that the silence is experienced in Heaven-not on Earth. I do not see how the silence can be applied to the period between two world wars on Earth when the silence is only observed in Heaven.
  • Most future prophetic events will take place within a seven year period (Daniel 9:27), so it seems impossible for the half an hour in Revelation 8:1-a period of silence still to come in the future-to represent 1/48 of 1000 years (or 20.83 years).
  • Periods of war and periods of peace have taken place throughout history. Why would those in Heaven be silent between the two world wars and not another time period separating major wars like the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the start of the Crimean War (38 years in length)?
  • A person who argues that the half an hour in Revelation 8:1 represents the time period between the two world wars would have to defend the idea that the first seven seals have already been opened. I don’t believe the seals have been opened yet…
  • The time period between the two world wars was not a very peaceful time on Earth. Japan waged two wars against China (1931-1933 and 1937-1941), the Axis Powers (ex Japan) and the Soviet Union participated in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), and Italy waged war against Ethiopia (1935-1936). In addition, there was significant political instability in the aftermath of World War 1 and during the Great Depression. Therefore, it would be a stretch to say there was “silence” on Earth between the two world wars.

I understand that people look at Revelation 8:1 differently. I personally prefer to take Revelation 8:1 at face value. Therefore, I simply see the half an hour in Revelation 8:1 as representing a thirty minute period of time.