What is the meaning of verse 95 in D&C 88?
As a courtesy to those readers who have not yet taken the time to memorize the 141 verses of D&C 88, I’ll cite the relevant portion here:
“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” (D&C 88:95).
Portions of the Olive Leaf (D&C 88) are apocalyptic in nature. That is, they thematically deal with the end times in such a way as to outline key events while obfuscating them. You can find examples of this literature in Moses 7, 1 Nephi 8 & 11, Daniel 7, and Revelation. This particular verse jump starts a series of seven trumpets that cover the different resurrections and the final triumph of Christ. We lack Nephi’s seership and feel to ask (like Laman and Lemuel) whether these visionary things are literal or symbolic. To which Nephi informs us “it was a representation of things both temporal and spiritual” (1 Nephi 15:31-32). In our case, there is literally an angel of the restoration (as seen in Revelation and the Olive Leaf (blowing the fifth trump)), but closer examination shows us that the angel in vision is a stand-in for a host of angels ranging from Moroni to Peter to Elijah and so on. And what’s more, none of them held a trump when they ministered! So we can expect that aspects of this “silence in heaven” will be literal, while other parts will show us that the fulfilment is corporeal while this image is a mere shade.
In working this out further, we have the advantage of apocalyptic authors borrowing heavily from previous sources for their imagery. So the Olive Leaf uses images lifted from Revelation, which uses imagery lifted from Ezekiel and Zechariah. As you’ve probably noticed by now, your passage is a reflection of the Revelation of John 8:1. “And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.” Once again, this silence is followed by seven angels trumping, but these angels instead herald calamity and woe. We are either dealing with a cyclical event (like the destruction and rebuilding of Jerusalem) or else two timelines of angels.
With its mirror in Revelation, we turn to the canonized commentary and find an explanation of the 7 trumps collectively, but nothing about the silence. For this, we turn to Joseph Smith’s general explanation of that book: “whenever God gives a vision of an image, or beast, or figure of any kind, He always holds Himself responsible to give a revelation or interpretation of the meaning thereof, otherwise we are not responsible or accountable for our belief in it” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 291).
We await further light and knowledge on this subject from the Lord’s servants, the prophets.