Thursday, October 19, 2017
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Book of Seven Seals
nd I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? 3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. 4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. 5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. 6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. (Rev 5:1-6)
The apostle John’s vision of the Heavenly Sanctuary continues in today’s selection from Chapter 5 – “I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book.” This is the Book that completes the full Revelation of God. It is held in His Right Hand of Authority - the same hand with which witnesses who testify in courts of law seal their testimony, or take an oath of allegiance. This Book was “written within and on the backside.” Here we have further evidence of its completeness. Note that portions of the Book are sealed with one of seven seals. Before it can be understood, one of the seals must be removed. But subsequent books will remain sealed until unsealed. This is God’s manner of revelation – He reveals only that which we are able and privileged to know sequentially.
The matter of completeness is reinforced at the end of this Book: “18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Rev 22:18-19) In this last passage is a dire warning to those who heretically tamper with the Word of God to remove entire passages and change meanings for profit in publishing counterfeit new Bible versions. I feel my understanding inadequate to explain the mysteries of the Bible, but I do pray the guidance of the Holy Ghost to be my Strong Tower in doing so – a Tower that lifts my soul above the mundane matters of this world, and which will enable me to see spiritual truths at a distance.
“And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice.” This is no ordinary Angel of the common fare of Heaven, but a STRONG Angel – possibly of the caliber of the Archangel Gabriel or Michael. He is comparable to the mighty angel of chapter 10: “And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.” (Rev 10:1-3)
If the words of the Angel were of little significance, such a mighty Messenger would not have been required, He had an important message! “Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?” Of course, no man – minister, laity, or scholar - on earth is worthy to loose the seals of that Book – only the Lord. “And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.” To their spiritual ruin and damnation, many men today presume to know more of what our Lord intended than He knew Himself. The Higher Critics have given us only doubt, confusion and an altered perception of God’s Word as revealed in the greater number of Bible manuscripts. Their ultimate goal is to render the Lord Jesus Christ as a mere man like unto the rest of us. Not only do they not understand the Word of God, but they care little for it as well.
Man, left to himself, is powerless to know God. He is already dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2). The soul must be made alive (quickened) by the efficacious ministry of the Holy Ghost to make him both alive and to know God. He cannot understand Holy Scripture without the counsel of that Holy Ghost removing the scales from his eyes long subject to the darkness of the depths of the sea. His tears of sorrow will not avail to know God: “And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.” No man was worthy then, and no man is worthy today. John was promised ob being shown things which must surely come hereafter, yet he cannot understand the sealed books. He wept at his own frustration. Should we not also be moved with sorrow at our own lack of understanding, and seek to know more?
What would we do without the Lord Jesus Christ as our hope, Master, Savior and Redeemer? Would we not be without any hope whatsoever? He is able to perform all things for our good; and He, indeed, has done so! “And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.” (Rev 5:5) His sacrificial death in our stead opens every spiritual mystery in due course. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6) Without His coming to pay our sin debt, we were weak and defenseless; and our understanding shrouded in darkness and unbelief. He is the Lion of Judah – Simba-wah-Yudah – as the Kenyan church calls our Lord. He died for us in DUE time – not before the time of greatest need; or too late in time to have maximum benefit for us – but in DUE time. One of the elders (or fathers of the ancient Church – either Old or New) counsels John, and us, not to weep for nothing is lost to the Elect of God. Not only is Christ accounted, in genealogical tables of legal descent, the Son of David, He is also the Root and Predecessor of David from which David derived his living and power.
Here is the summation of the whole matter: “6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” Our Lord Jesus Christ is that Lamb that was slain as our Passover at Golgotha’s stony brow. His death ripped the Temple Veil that separated the believer from the Holiest of Holies (God) from top to bottom. No longer would we need a High Priest to intercede before the Throne of Mercy on our behalf because our Lord Jesus Christ has become our High Priest. We need no other intercessor – neither saint, nor angel, nor clergy – to intercede on our behalf.
Remember the Seven Golden Candlesticks and Seven Stars of Revelation 1? Here we have another illustration of the Seven Spirits of God. He yet bears the marks of His sacrifice in Heaven perhaps making Him the only Person with marks of wounds in Heaven. “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne.” The position we consider Christ to hold in the Kingdom of God is important for us to know Him, God the Father, and God the Holy Ghost. Where is Christ in relationship to that Throne of God? He is in the “MIDST” of the Throne. He is the central Person of the Godhead, and He is forever in the presence of the Father and Holy Ghost. But even more amazing is the fact that so illustrious a Personage is also in the midst of His people – the Church. He was in the midst of the scholars in the Temple at twelve years age; He was in the midst of Israel during His earthly ministry (see Acts 2:22); He was in the midst of His disciples after the resurrection (see John 20:19): He was in the midst of the transgressors (you and me) on the Cross at Calvary (John 19:18); and He is now and forever in the midst of those who are called by His Name (Matthew 18:20).
It is to be devoutly desired the Lord Jesus Christ is in the midst of our hearts; in the midst of our marriages; in the midst of our families; in the midst of our nation; and in the midst of our Nation.
Is He in the midst of all that you consider important and enduring?
|If you prefer, there is an easy to read and print READER version RIGHT HERE!|
The Throne of God
nd After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. 2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. 3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. 4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. 5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. 6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. 7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. 8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. 9 And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, 10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (Rev 4:1-11 (KJV)
This text reveals a glorious image of many to follow in this Book. John has been shown things which were (at the time of the writing) and which are. We now are introduced to those things which are to come. But those things which are to come are melded in with those things which are today, and then, prevailing on earth and in Heaven. 1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
Please bear in mind, again, John is writing with a vocabulary insufficient to describe the full majesty and grandeur of those visions which are shown him. Even our modern day vocabulary, heavily enriched with technologically advanced cinematography, would also fall short of descriptive adjectives to express the Holy and Heavenly visions that John sees, and will see, as the narrative continues in Revelation.
The Voice of God is an unbearable Voice for human ears to conceive. You will remember the descent of the Glory of God upon Sinai (in the smoke, cloud, and thundering) and the response of the people thereto. 18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. 19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. 20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. 21 And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. (Ex 20:18-21) That which John sees in vision now is perhaps of even greater profundity because he is viewing a scene through the very Door of Heaven.
The Voice John heard commanded, Come up hither! Of course, John could not, in physical form, arise and pass through the gates of Heaven – he was in the Spirit and therefore enabled to experience travel that flesh and blood cannot do. And immediately I was in the spirit.
John was privileged to see what no other mortal has seen – the Throne of God. And, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. The beauty and brightness of the being escapes description. John employs every wonderful manner of description he can muster in relating to a dull and short-sighted world the wonder of that vision on High. 3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. The jasper can be a stone of variant colors from red to green. It may even have been a diamond of greenish luster since a jasper is not so valuable. Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. (Rev 21:11) Since the sardine stone is red or deep orange, I would venture that the jasper stone was green for contrast. The rainbow about the Throne seems to represent the new Covenant which is that to which the old pointed. God is constant in His Will and Divine Purpose.
Now we must consider the four and twenty elders. Since these are gathered around the Throne of God, we must consider that they must mean the completeness of some manner of God’s plan. and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. It seems quite logical to me that these represent the Twelve Patriarchs of the Old Testament Church and the Twelve Apostles of the New Testament. They have gained a victory as evidenced by their gold crowns, and are clothed in white raiment with the imputed righteousness of our Lord.
And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. These lamps of fire burning before the Throne are represented in the Tabernacle by the seven-branched candlestick before the Holiest Place representing the Spirit and Presence of God.
And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. (Rev 4:6) This sea of glass may have comparison in the Molten Sea before the Sanctuary of the Temple. We are cleansed by the washing of the Word ere we come to the Presence of God. This sea of glass is like unto Crystal and is not of a liquid nature, but is firm and steady, deep and wide. The judgments of God are described as a deep. Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: (Psalm 36:6) The four beasts described are between the Throne and the people and may have reference to the true ministers of God. The able and dedicated minister is diligent in the searching the Scriptures for meaning. He knows the History of the Word, and he knows what God has revealed of the future in prophecy. Full of eyes before and behind.
And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. Below is how the editors of the Geneva Bible margins describe the four beasts:
By instruments used, in that he has both a most ready treasury and a workhouse excellently furnished with all things, to the executing of his will, which things flow from his commandment, as repeated in (Revelation 15:2) and has also the angels ready administers of his counsel and pleasure to all parts of the world, continually watching, (in this verse) working by reason otherwise than the instruments without life last mentioned, courageous as lions, mighty as bulls, wise as men, swift as eagles (Revelation 4:7) most apt to all purposes as furnished with wings on every part, most piercing of sight, and finally, pure and holy spirits always in continual motion (Revelation 4:8)
The TRISAGION (Holy, Holy, Holy) of the Godhead is also given. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. Isaiah 6:3 (KJV) We find the Trisagion also presented in the 99th Psalm sequentially: 3 Let them praise thy great and terrible name; for it is holy. . . . Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at his footstool; forhe is holy. . . . Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the Lord our God is holy. (Psalms 99:3,5)
9 And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever 10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. I quote from Jamieson-Faussett-Brown with this closing note on 9-11: The ground of praise here is God's eternity, and God's power and glory manifested in the creation of all things for His pleasure. Creation is the foundation of all God's other acts of power, wisdom, and love, and therefore forms the first theme of His creatures' thanksgivings. The four living creatures take the lead of the twenty-four elders, both in this anthem, and in that new song which follows on the ground of their redemption. (Rev. 5:8-10) — Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary