REVELATION FIVE  


 

REVELATION FIVE

THE BOOK WITH SEVEN SEALS

 Verse one
And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne
a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals.

Daniel 12.4

But as for you Daniel, conceal these words and
seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back
and forth, and knowledge will increase.

Daniel 12:9-10

And he said, Go {your way,} Daniel, for {these}
words are concealed and sealed up until the end time. Many
will be purged, purified and refined; but the wicked will act
wickedly, and none of the wicked will understand, but those who
have insight will understand.

If there is a connection between the passages quoted above and Revelation 5 and 6, then it is certain that the events contained within the SEALED BOOK pertain to the inception of the 70th week of Daniel and beyond (at the earliest), or from the midpoint of the week and beyond (at the latest). The specifics in reference to the end time events will not be understood until the period of the times and seasons during which those events will take place. The book is sealed until the end time. And although John is given much amplification as the sealed book is opened in "vision" form, many of the symbols remain unexplained. Accordingly, the scroll will still not be understood completely until it is time for the events to unfold.

According to the ancient tradition, the contents of a sealed book cannot be read until the seals are broken. Isaiah 29:11, ". . . like the words of a sealed scroll, which when they give it to the one who is literate, saying Please read this, they will say, I cannot , for it is sealed."

At Rev. 5:1-7, John is given a vision of events that will occur at the time that God begins His end time program to bring to completion the redemption of the human race and the judgment of Satan and the fallen angels.

These are not events that precede the 70th week, for those are all GENERAL and have been occurring on a regular basis since 70 AD. There is nothing significant in “the beginning of birth pains,” for Jesus said of them, “See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.” (Mat. 24:6-8). And then, as per Matthew 24:9, the NEXT issue is the inception of the tribulation; the persecution waged by the man of lawlessness – the beast.

All the “birth pain” events are general historical trends that have gone on for 2000 years and they do not portend ANYTHING. What DOES portend “the end” is the arrival on the international political scene of a dynamic, charismatic and persuasive person, who will initiate the specific events that have been prophesied throughout the Old Testament. It is the arrival of THIS person that is directly related to the tribulation of Matthew 24:9-29.

Since Jesus taught that the events of the tribulation are the signs of the season that must occur before He returns (Matthew 24:32-34), and He returns at the 6th seal, then it should be obvious that the previous seals represent those events of the tribulation.

The seals represent the events which God has known all along would happen. The fact that Jesus opens the seals represents divine timing and permission for the initiation of these events. The fact that ONLY Jesus can open the seals indicates that the whole plan centers around His person and work as initiated and culminated through the incarnation.

The book itself contains the judgments of God that come from His wrath during the Day of the Lord. That judgment is portrayed by the 7 trumpets and the 7 bowls. Thus, after the 7th seal, the seal of silence is broken, it will be time for judgment to begin. The vision of this judgment begins at chapter 8.

Starting with chapter 6, the contents of the sealed book, including the seven seals will be presented in a MOVIE format that both John and the heaven-dwellers will be watching together. At various times there will be a pause in the “movie” and we will be shown some interaction with John within the context of his heavenly vision.

The specifics of the "end times" period given to John in this MOVIE format should be viewed as symbolic "teaching aids" and not actual historical details. Example: when it comes time for the events represented by the seals to occur, there will not be actual HORSES and RIDERS involved. These are symbols. Likewise, the beast coming up out of the sea is a symbol used as a teaching aid to communicate a specific event within the international environment at the time. But when it is time for these events to take place, there will not be a "BEAST" coming up out of the sea, but a man out from the Gentile world who controls an 8th world kingdom through the empowering of Satan.
And Satan will not appear as a “dragon” and Jesus does not appear as a lamb.
In other words, in the vision John is shown a “movie” that symbolizes future events. The symbols within the “movie” are not future. The events represented by the symbols ARE FUTURE beginning with the inception of Daniel’s 70th week.

Verses 2-4
And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?"
And no one in heaven, or on the earth, or under the earth, was able to open the book, or to look into it.

John is telling us only a SUMMARY of what he sees in the vision. The vision has shown him a “scene” in which several things have occurred.

Based on John’s reaction when the book cannot be opened, he has been told the importance of the book and its pertinence to the progression of God’s plan.

First, the angel makes a proclamation in the form of a question, “Who is worthy to open the book?” The words used (proclaim, great voice) give this proclamation the appearance of being a challenge. Some have claimed that the angel is Gabriel, but there is no scriptural identification, nor does it really matter.

Apparently then, within the vision, SEARCH is made for someone to approach the Father, to take and to open the book. The search is exhaustive and yet fruitless, for “no one in heaven, or on the earth, or under the earth” was found to open the book.

Verse 5
And I {began} to weep greatly, because no one was found worthy to open the book, or to look into it;

This has truly frustrated John, for he has really gotten into the mood of his vision and longs to understand what is going to happen. His emotions respond with uncontrollable weeping.

Verse 6

And one of the elders said to me, "Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its 7 seals."

One of the elders finally reveals to John that someone has been found to open the book. Of course, it should not be a surprise that it would be the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.

1. The lion of the tribe of Judah: The first qualification traces the Messianic lineage back to Judah the son of Jacob.
Jacob: Gen. 28.10-16 (Gen. 12:3; Gal. 3:8)
Judah: Gen. 49.8-12

2. The Root of David: The second qualification traces the Messianic lineage back to David the distant son of Judah. Luke 1:30-33; Acts 2:30-32; Romans 1:3; and 2 Timothy 2:8
Psalm 89.1-4 with Isaiah 11:1; 55.1-5; Jeremiah 23:5, Zechariah 3:8; 6:12; John 7.42

3. has overcome: His worthiness is based on the success of His Messianic commission. The verb is nikao and indicates VICTORY over an opponent and not just personal endurance.
A. His public ministry:  Jesus was always totally obedient to the viewpoint and policy of God the Father. John 8:29, "And He who sent Me is with Me;
He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him."

John 4:34; 6:38; 15:10
John 18:37, "For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.

B. His death on the cross: Verse 5:12, “worthy is the Lamb that was slain.”

Through Christ’s death on the cross, He accomplished a spiritual (or tactical) victory over Satan. The physical (or strategic) victory will be accomplished when Satan is imprisoned at the start of the Millennium and finalized at the end of the Millennium.

Ephesians 5:2, “Christ loved you and gave Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God as an odor of fragrance.”

Hebrews 2:14, “through death, He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.”

Colossians 2:15, “When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through it (the cross).”

C. His resurrection: The resurrection of Christ establishes the validity of His Messiahship, and the certainty of His victory over the forces of darkness.

Acts 2:32, 36, “This Jesus God raised up again . . . therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Messiah.”

Acts 17:31, “Because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

Verses 6-7, And I saw between the throne (with the 4 living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having 7 horns and 7 eyes, which are the 7 Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. And He came, and He took {it} out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.

This is all symbolism. Jesus is not a lamb and He does not have 7 horns and 7 eyes. The 7 eyes portray the presence of God the Holy Spirit as already seen at Revelation 4:5, which should be read for a detailed explanation of the 7 Spirits.


THE CHURCH ON THE EARTH

Revelation 5:8-10
Verse 8
And when He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders
fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense
which are the prayers of the saints.

It should be obvious that these are the prayers of the saints who are on the earth before the seals are broken. These are believers who are presently, at the time of John's vision, on the earth as members of the church. The description that follows most logically points only to a group of believers on the earth at the time of John's vision, and matches with the description of the church that John gives at Rev. 1:6,

“And He made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.”

Within the song, the ones who are purchased are the saints mentioned at the end of verse 8.

THE PRAYERS: The prayers are the general prayers of believers throughout the church age. These prayers appeal to God for protection and deliverance in the midst of the antagonistic environment in which the church exists. Hoping not to do injustice to the chronological flow of verses 4-6, perhaps these prayers would include the prayers of believers alive on the earth during the persecution of the beast in the tribulation.

Verses 9-10

And they sang a new song, saying,
Worthy are You to take the book, and to break its seals;
for You were slain, and purchased *(us) for God with Your blood
*men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
Verse 10: And You made them* a kingdom and priests to our God;
and they* will reign upon the earth.
 

WORTHY: The adjective is axios and indicates meritorious recognition.
The worthiness of the Lamb is the success of His Messianic mission which is indicated by the words, slain and purchased.

Of course, He is worthy because of His divinity and position within the Godhead, but that is not in view. The title LAMB, speaks of His humanity only and not His deity.

PURCHASED: The key to salvation is always and MUST always point back to the spiritual sacrifice of Christ on the cross that paid God’s just penalty for the sin of mankind. It is also important to note the use of the preposition, EK (out from), to indicate that only SOME are purchased and saved. It is NOT “every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” It is OUT FROM the collective mass of humanity that people are saved.

The purchase price is clearly the symbolic “blood of Christ, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless,” (1Peter 1:18-19). The use of the term “blood” is symbolic to make the connection to the animal sacrifice of the Old Testament. Literal PHYSICAL blood cannot pay the price for the SPIRITUAL problem of sin. It requires the spiritual death of the savior to pay for sin. The term blood, in all of its uses (shed, sprinkled, washed in) refers to the spiritual death of Christ and not the physical blood.

See details:  THE BLOOD OF CHRIST

Purchased US to God vs. purchased to God: The 24 elders are a symbolic group to indicate the presence of believers in heaven within the context of John’s vision. This symbolic group is viewing “the saints” on the earth and describing their salvation. The song is looking at the redeemed of the earth as a separate entity.

(*The manuscript discrepancy at verse 9, revolves around the choice of "purchased us for God" or simply "purchased for God." Where there is no discrepancy is at verse 10, where the third personal pronoun "them" is used in reference to the same group being discussed.. However, in the verb, "they will reign" ONE manuscript and a  few versions use "we will reign." On this issue the textual critics are divided. But it seems most reasonable that some ONE scribe made the change in the verb in order to agree with the choice of "us" at verse 9.
There are three options for the resolution of this problem, none of which really make a difference.
1. If the reading, "purchased to God" is taken as genuine, which is the preferred choice, although made with great indecision by textual critics [being given a C rating], then there is perfect agreement with the pronoun, "them" in verse 10. However, this does not solve the choice of identification, for the group can still refer to either angels or people. And to identify them as people singing about the redeemed in the third person is not inconsistent with songs of praise.
2. If the reading, "purchased us to God" is taken as genuine, then there is conflict with the pronoun "them" in verse 10, although agreement with the questionable reading of "we shall reign." And this is one of the reasons why the previous reading is preferred.
However, this choice, and the conflict is resolved by the third option.
3. The third option views the song as an Antiphonal (Give-and-Take) Arrangement.
This means that one group will sing one part and another group will sing the other.
In this case, the choices of "us" at verse 9 and "we shall reign" at verse 10 are accepted as genuine. It is then claimed that the 24 elders sing verse 9, the 4 living creatures sing "and you have made them . . ," and "we will reign" is sung by the 24 elders.

I am not averse to this interpretation, but it does not make any difference for the proper over all interpretation of the passage. And that interpretation is that these 24 elders are simply REPRESENTATIVE of the saints in heaven at the time of John's vision and are not representative of the raptured church - which did NOT occur at Revelation 4:1.)

 Regarding the song of the 24 elders and the discrepancy concerning
 the pronoun.  It is no issue.

 1. If the 24 are symbolic of the Old Testament saints plus dead New
 Testament saints, the pronoun "us" is quite pertinent, for they all
 come under the work of Jesus.
 
 2. And if we go with the other reading and use
 "purchased to God", then, it is probable that the elders are referring
 to a DIFFERENT group, which would be the church on the
 earth at that time, identified as “from every tribe,
 tongue, people and nation.”

PRIESTS: This word describes the present function of the church
here on earth as found at 1 Pet. 2:9-10,

But you are A CHOSEN RACE,
A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, a PROTECTED PEOPLE,
that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him
who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
for you once were NOT A PEOPLE,
but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD;
you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.)

Verse 10

REIGN: "- - - and they* will reign upon the earth."
(*"they" -So, with the better manuscript evidence at this point.)

This describes the future resurrection function of the church as taught by Jesus and the apostles. Mt.19.28-29; Lk. 22.29-30; 1 Cor. 6.2.
See Topic:  REIGNING

However, after the battle of Armageddon, those who died after the rapture will be raised up and these also will become part of the bride of Christ and as part of the first resurrection, will also reign with Christ. Revelation 20:4-6.

This same group of saints described at Rev. 5:9-10, on the earth, is viewed again at Revelation 7:9-17  as "standing" in heaven in physical bodies and having come out of the great tribulation.

“After these things I looked, and behold,
a great multitude, which no one could count,
from every nation and {all} tribes and peoples and tongues,
STANDING before the throne and before the Lamb,
clothed in white robes, and palm branches {were} in their hands.”

But here, at Revelation 5:9, this body of saints is viewed as on the earth and having a ministry of prayer. And they are described as having been purchased and appointed as priests, and as having a FUTURE reign.

It is the most sensible, viewing this at the TIME of John's vision, to see the church on earth at Rev. 5:9-10 where she will continue to function as priests to God until such time as she is removed from within the great tribulation and taken to heaven at the rapture which will occur at the 6th seal. At Revelation 7:9-17 John sees the result of the rapture; the saints assembled in heaven.
There is no logic in seeing the rapture at Revelation 4:1.
See The Revelation 4:1 Rapture Theory

The prayers of the saints would be those that appeal to God for protection and deliverance during the time of the great tribulation.

There is nothing that takes place between the two passages that explains it in any other way. This also lines up with what Jesus taught at Matthew 10:23, ". . you shall not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes."

That is, the church will continue to function on the earth until Jesus returns and removes it.

At verse 11 we are shown again the 4 living creatures and the 24 elders, which have already been identified in our study of chapter 4.

In review, the 24 elders represent those believers from all of past history, who have died and are present with the Lord in heaven at the time of John's vision.
Keep in mind that at the time of the vision, there does exist in heaven all the believers who had died throughout all of history up to that time.
It is most probable then, that the 24 elders represent both believers of the Old Testament as well as those of the church who have previously died.

As seen before, this “partnership” is seen in the description of the New Jerusalem at Revelation 21:12-14.

1. The 12 gates have the names of the 12 tribes of Israel.
2. The 12 foundation stones have the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb.

The issue at hand is to realize that the 24 elders REPRESENT the believers who are present in heaven AT THE TIME of John's vision and not believers who GET to heaven at some future time.

And the 4 living creatures are symbolic of the nation of Israel which still has a key role in God’s plan for the resolution of the angelic conflict.

PRAISE BEFORE THE LAMB OPENS THE SEALS
Now as John's vision continues, a great fan fare is produced to teach him the awesomeness of the 7 sealed book and the inception of those events symbolized by the seals.

Revelation 5:11-14

And I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing. and every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever. And the four living creatures kept saying, Amen. And the elders fell down and worshiped.

Verse 12
1. worthy: The adjective is axios. It indicates meritorious recognition.
2. Is the Lamb: The worthiness of the Lamb is based on the success of His mission, which is represented by the word, SLAIN. This word embraces both the death and the resurrection of Christ which has secured the redemption of God’s people, as already mentioned in the song at verse 9.

The worthiness of the Lamb was discussed earlier at verse 6.

3. To receive: This indicates what is to be granted to the victor based on His success. The following SEVEN items refer to what Christ gains as a result of His victory on the cross. It is officially acquired at the time of His ascension to the right hand of the Father, but much of it will not be REALIZED until His physical return to the earth when He will defeat His enemies. Hebrews 2:9; 1:8-13

4. Power: This word is dunamis. It refers to absolute power; power that can accomplish ANYTHING including that which is beyond or outside of the physical laws of the universe. It is the word used to indicate miracle activity.
 Jeremiah 32:17, “Ah Lord Yahweh! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You.”  Psalm 62:11; Luke 1:37.

This is what is in view at Revelation 7:12, in the praise expressed by the angels. They recognize the inherent ability that belongs to God IN GENERAL without reference to the future power that will be wielded at the end of the 70th week.

Here, the focus is on divine ability to execute justice and righteousness. The idea of RECEIVING power refers to the FUTURE administration of His power to carry out the final judgments against the evil of the darkness system and to reign in the universe with absolute and total sovereignty. This was discussed in detail at verse 4:11.

5. wealth: Ploutos, when used of Jesus (the Lamb), does not refer to wealth or riches, as with most translations, but to the CONCEPT of prosperity in general, and specifically prosperity of a spiritual nature. It thus indicates the PROMOTION and BENEFIT that accrued to Christ as a result of His victory on the cross. He is worthy to gain the spiritual prosperity that His victory accomplishes. Heb. 1:4, 9; 2:7-10. It also refers to ownership and rulership over all creation. It is described at Psalm 2:8, “ask of Me and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as your possession.” It is fulfilled at the beginning of Christ’s 1000 year earthly reign and is perpetuated into eternity after that.

6. wisdom: This refers to the vindication of God’s wisdom that Christ used to accomplish His victory, both during His ministry and on the cross. God’s way is confirmed as the right way through the success of the Messiah. The praise recognizes that Jesus is the embodiment of divine wisdom, and it is preserved intact through His victory.

7. might: the Greek word is ischus and refers to a more practical expression of ability. It is the enablement to DO THINGS that comes from His inherent omnipotence. It refers to a more SKILLFUL power expression and carries with it the idea of authority. He has both authority and ability to fulfill the Father’s plan for Him throughout the millennium and through all of eternity.

8. honor: The word is timā. This is a VALUE word. The proclamation recognizes that God is to be honored and respected as the One MOST worthy of such value and respect.
The verb, timao, is used at John 5:23, “In order that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”
It is the word used in, “honor your father and mother,” to indicate great respect and that great value is placed upon them.

9. glory: The word is doxa, and refers to those expressions or actions that bring specific attention to the supernatural character of God and His works. The focus is on His essence.
Thus, to glorify God means to do something that brings attention to WHO God is and what He has done for His creatures in the universe.
The word is also used for angels and man and various other things to indicate an integral essence or nature.

10. blessing (praise): Seen also at Rev. 7:12. The word is eulogia. It means, a good word, or a good action for someone. Creatures do not BLESS God, that is, they do not BESTOW upon God something like a “blessing.” The creature SPEAKS WELL OF God or PRAISES Him. It thus refers to the proclamation of good things about God; a synonym of praise.

Christ is worthy to receive such recognition from all of creation, which indeed, is what is shown to us at verse 13.
James 3:9, with the tongue, “we speak well about (bless) our Lord and Father.”
The adjective, eulogetos, occurs at Eph. 1:3, “praised (blessed) be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Luke 1:68; Rom. 9:5; 2 Cor. 1:3; 11:31; 1 Peter 1:3)
The verb, eulogeo, occurs at Luke 2:28.


Verse 13 UNIVERSAL PRAISE

“And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying,”

It should be obvious that this is symbolic.

EVERY living creature cannot praise God verbally.
1. Animals, fish, birds and insects, etc. do not communicate in human language.
2. The fallen angels will not praise God either now or later – even though they will bow in recognition of  Christ’s victory when they are in the lake of fire.

It says that John HEARD. However, in order for him to KNOW the source of the praise, he must be shown some symbolic and representative assembly of all these creatures.

THE UNIVERSAL SONG

1. To Him who sits on the throne: This is a reference to God the Father.
2. and to the Lamb: Jesus the Messiah
The praise expressed to the two of them equally indicates equality of essence and equality honor.
John 5:23, “in order that all may honor the Son even as they honor the Father.”
Isaiah 42:8, “I am Yahweh, that is my name; I will not give my glory to another.”

The four words used correspond with those mentioned in verse 12 except for dominion.
3. be blessing: It refers to the proclamation of good things about God; a synonym of praise.

4. honor: The word is timā. This is a VALUE word. The proclamation recognizes that God is to be honored and respected as the One MOST worthy of such value and respect.

5. glory: It  refers to those expressions or actions that bring specific attention to the supernatural character of God and His works. The focus is on His essence.
Thus, to glorify God means to do something that brings attention to WHO God is and what He has done for His creatures in the universe.


5. dominion: The word is kratos and is used only here and at verse 1:6 in the book of Revelation. At verse 1:6 it is praise directed to Jesus, and is coupled with GLORY, “to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever,”
The word refers to RULING authority and speaks of the eternal reign of the Godhead in view of the final victory over the forces of darkness.

6. forever and ever: Throughout eternity there will be no spiritual darkness to attack or detract from the character and plan of God.

Verse 14

“And the 4 living creatures kept saying, Amen. And the elders fell down and worshipped.”

This specific and massive display of praise to God that began at verse 4:8, is concluded now with agreement from the two symbolic groups that represent God’s redemptive plan for the human race; the nation of Israel and the church.
 

 
 

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