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). I received a reminder a while back 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. In this article, I will critique this interpretation of Revelation 8:1 just in case anyone else is wondering about this interpretation of Revelation 8:1.

As I indicated, some 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). Proponents of the particular interpretation I’m critiquing refer to the concept presented in 2 Peter 3:8 “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 1,000 year “day” or 1/48 of 1000 years (as 30 minutes is 1/48 of a day). I converted 1/48 of 1,000 years into figures we can use to compare: 1/48 of 1,000 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 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 1,000 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 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 period between the two world wars for several reasons:

  • Revelation 8:1 specifies that the silence is experienced in Heaven-not on the earth. I do not see how the silence can be applied to the period between two world wars on the earth when the silence is only observed in Heaven.
  • Most future prophetic events will transpire 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 occurred 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)?/li>
  • The 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 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.