|Opening of the Seven Seals Introduction
We are looking at some of the finest and glorious chapters of the Bible. The setting and theme are unbelievable (whoops! wrong words to use.) Imagine the throne, God on the throne, the rainbow, the elders, the creatures, the sea of glass, etc. Isn't it beautiful? However, if John can now look at the earth, this is a time when the world is utterly corrupt and horrible. Remember, at this time, if one understands the rapture (Jesus instantaneously taking all true believers to heaven) and believes in prophecy, John is instantaneously taken to heaven symbolizing the rapture of the saints (true believers in Christ). The believers are gone and there is left on earth only the corrupt and non-believers. Because all believers are gone from earth and, since the Holy Spirit was IN the believers, as Jesus promised, it follows that the Holy Spirit is now not on the earth either. There will have to be some way to handle the people who convert to Christ in the tribulation. We will see this later.
There are many people today who simply cannot believe this rapture could happen either physically or directed by a loving God. God takes the believers and leaves the others to suffer. The problem with this philosophy is the people do not understand the wrath of God. There IS a wrath of God. God does LOVE; but, He also is righteous. To be righteous, one must make sure that people are responsible for their own actions (remember, free will). With the unearned grace of God, true born-again, regenerated people are saved from their sins by the blood given by Christ. Jesus DID die for all; but for ALL WHO HAVE ACCEPTED Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Some just do not understand the logic of punishment for sin.
By the way, some also separate the two words, Lord and Savior. Some believe one can accept Jesus as the forgiver of sins (Savior). But one does not have to take Jesus as the Lord of their life at that time; in other words, they do not necessarily have to let Jesus direct their lives. There are ministeries that let you accept forgiveness even without accepting Christ as their Lord. This is a bending of the words. In fact, one cannot really accept forgiveness without also accepting Jesus as the Lord. Repentance means "a turning around" which means one turns his or her life around and will "sin no more" (at least try to) as Jesus told Mary of Magdela.
v1: John now sees a book. The word for book used here is the Greek biblion which stands for book, certificate, or scroll. It is more likely that what God has in his hand is a scroll. This would be consistent with what John would see and understand. In those days, scrolls were made of skins and were sealed by wax. Then the wax would be embedded with a sign (from a ring or other stamp). This undisturbed wax assured that one would know whether the scroll had not been disturbed or opened. See a description of writing and books in -General Discussion of Writing.
Although John could not really determine the exact figure or face of God, he was able to see what appeared to be book or scroll in what he called the right hand. That shows the figure and writing that resulted from God was meant to be somewhat understood. This was an indication of our being made in the image of God.
The scroll is described as being written internally and outside. Therefore, we can assume the were things written inside and something, perhaps titles, on the front and back. The writing internally and outside front and back could also signify completeness.
It is stated the scroll was sealed, WITH SEVEN SEALS. There it is again; seven indicating the completeness. Completeness of what? We are examining John being "lifted" into heaven. This as we have stated is taken by most conservative and evangelical scholars as the indicator of the rapture. We will be "in the blink of an eye" be taken to Jesus is represented by the way John was taken in his "vision" or dream. At the rapture, there is no second chance to "save" yourself from the tribulation sufferings. In other words, the seals mean the scroll has been closed and completed. Now God will release the information in the scroll as he sees fit. We shall see that John is given that responsibility after some trying moments by John.
Now, what was in the scroll??
v2-3: Since the scroll is sealed and considered complete; all judgments and woes are full and known to God but not known to anyone else. Since the scroll was sealed and the seals were undamaged and full and ready to be opened at this time, this appears to be the preparation of the Tribulation. That is because the Tribulation will not occur until all parts of God's plans are complete.
Can one imagine the level of person that deserves and qualifies to open the scroll? A strong angel (probably referring to the level of power of the angel - i.e. perhaps Gabriel) speaks out; isn't there anyone who qualifies? There was no man who was able to open the scroll.
Wasn't there anyone who was qualified to open the seals? The words say that a man must open the scroll. This is to be contrasted with angels or other supernatural to be able to open the scroll. There have been billions of men. But, what man qualifies to unseal the scroll. Since the scroll is associated with the judged, the qualified man must not be judged because you cannot judge yourself. "there are none righteous, no, not one" Rom. 3:10
v4: John weeps. John was so sorry that there was no one qualified to unseal the scroll. This is disappointing when one is trying to find the supreme sinless, all powerful beings. John has been raptured up. Now the next step is the Tribulation that will cull out the evil and unbelievers. So not opening the scroll just will cause delays.
We are waiting for the second coming. Without the Tribulation occurring, the second coming is also delayed.
Bengel said. "Without tears Revelation was not written; neither can it be understood without tears."
Ezekiel and Daniel have scroll/seal descripts; but with orders from God NOT to open because God was not ready.
Dan 7:9-10 [scripture]; 7:9-14 [commentary]; Dan 12:4 [scripture]; 12:4 [commentary]; Psa 24:3-5; lsa 53:6- 63-3
v5:One of the elders comes to John and tells him not to weep. It is interesting that the being that helped John was not an angel; it was a redeemed man that assured John. The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David is qualified. The ancient symbol for the tribe of Judah was the lion.
The root of David was the lineage of which the Messiah was supposed to come. It may even be that the elder is Judah, himself. To review the lineage, see Daniel Lineage
Gen. 49-8-12; Isa. 10:33; Isa. 11:1
v 6: Now, right in the middle of the glory that John has been witnessing, Jesus stands, the lamb that had been slain. Yes, Jesus lives. Note He is being referred to as a lion and a lamb. For his first advent, He was the sacrificial lamb; for His second advent, He is a lion - strong enough to judge the ungodly. The lamb showed "as it had been slain". This is symbolized by the lamb with the holes in His wrists, feet, and side showing. The interesting thing about this "lamb" showing is that He had seven horns and seven eyes. The story about the seven has been discussed many times. This is the number signifying perfection and completeness. The eyes were mentioned previously as all seeing; everything is in sight; nothing is hidden from Him. However, what is the symbol of the horns? The horn has been used many time to symbolize power. This will be used quite a bit in Revelation. It will fall in place the more we study. Therefore, the seven horns means all power. So, in summary, Jesus is symbolized as an all powerful, all seeing being. Even Daniel in chapter 8 refers to a broken horn symbolizing a loss of power Dan. 8:22 [scripture]; 8:22 [commentary]
John 1-29,36; Exod. 12:3-13; Dan. 7:13-14 [scripture]; 7:9-14 [commentary];
v 7: Now Jesus takes the sealed scroll from the Godhead, the Father. Jesus is acknowledging His power and authority by this action.
Dan 7:13-14 [scripture]; 7:9-14 [commentary];
v 8: Now Jesus takes the book or scroll. This is for what every raptured believer has been waiting: the Tribulation to start. The elders and creatures in heaven now fall down prostrate to worship Jesus. The Greek word presbuteroi is used for those who have the harps and vials. The word means elders or teachers. This is where we get "presbyters" or "presbyterian". This would mean the elders have the harps and vials. That is rather logical because our picture of the creatures does not lend to them the ability to handle harps and vials.
The cups or vials are accepted as incense. The harps and praising we can understand. WHat is the purpose of incense? What is incense? Incense is a mixture or aromatic spices. It is made to be burned in connection with the offering of sacrifices (Exod. 25:6). The materials were made up with precision to exact specifications. The word also is used to refer to the smoke when burning. The text says the vials of incense are the prayers of the saints. So the text is trying to make a relationship of incense used for sacrifice and the saints. The burning of the incense is for the sacrifice of the saints.
Psa. 33:2; Rev. 7:9- 14:2-3; 15:2; Lev. 25:54; Isa, 56:7
v 9: They sang a new song. This praising states Jesus is worthy to take the scroll and open the seals. It is said that Jesus, the lamb, was killed and was later redeemed by God the Father. Jesus gave His blood for everyone in the world. Because the song has words saying Jesus redeemed "us", it can be assumed that the saints were included now in the praising. Can one imagine the possibility of "a billion" (i.e. a large number) of saints with harps praising God. Wow!
v 10: It is stated here that the saints will be made kings and priests 1 Peter 2:5) of God. Their place of reign will be on the earth though they will be of different body (remember, they were raptured and given new spiritual bodies. This is stated in three places in Revelation Rev. 1:6; 5:10; 20:6). We don't know it yet, but this leadership is probably relating to the Millenium after Jesus' Second Coming. We will look at this later. We will also be continually praising God in various ways. Some scholars believe a better translation of "we shall reign on the earth" would be better "we shall reign over the earth" because of the body properties and the God-given responsibilities.
v 11: Now John recognizes that the praising is coming from God's hosts (angels). Don't be concerned about the numbers of angels. They are approximations. Just consider a uncountable number (although, of course God knows) of angels about the throne. The term "ten thousand" is sometimes called a "myriad". That is where we get our word. We can also assume that there are many more angels than saints since there at least one angel responsible for a saint.
v 12: Glorying the Lamb spreads outward from the creatures, then elders, the angels, then creatures of the universe. There is here a seven (yes, again) fold praise to the Lamb. The work of creation are "power", "honor", and "glory". Jesus also merits the rest of the praise.
v14: Amen- from the Hebrew "so be it" or "so let it be"; something certain, true, faithful, and valid. May be said for something which is or has been or an indication of what is wished to occur.
For anyone who has a copy of Handel's Messiah may want to play and closely listen to "Worthy is the Lamb". It is glorious.
Dan. 7-10; Deut. 33-2; Luke 2:13-14; Rom. 14:11
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