R E V E L A T I O N
We now get into the beginning of the prophetic end of Revelation. We see a scroll with seven seals held in the right hand of the Almighty, which pertain to the future of mankind. However, there is something peculiar about this scroll. It has writing on both sides!
Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals.(NIV)
To begin with, seals mean that the scroll is closed to all but the one that is to open it. The fact that there are seven seals means that it was sealed perfectly and no one can open it but the one designated.
We have learned; it is Jehovah sitting on this throne, or "seat of authority". In His Right Hand, he holds a book sealed up with seven seals. "Written within and on the backside," The NIV interprets this to mean the writing was on both sides of the paper. Well any book you might read has writing on both sides of the paper. We today do not consider this note-worthy. In John's time they would have found it a bit confusing since their books were really scrolls which had to be unrolled to read. There is obviously a deeper meaning here than merely the words were written on both sides of a page. The Greek word here, "opiso" , connected with hepomai, "to follow," is used adverbially, of place, with the meaning "back," "backward," in the phrase eis ta opiso, "unto the things behind," in Mark 13:16; Luke 9:62; Luke 17:31; John 6:66; Phil. 3:13, "the things which are behind.
Mark 13: 16 And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.(KJV)
If you read the meaning of the above scripture, it becomes clear we have a book, with the purpose behind it of pre-ordained future events. In other words, these events were scheduled back before the book or scroll was written.
These events scheduled by God long ago have seals mandating that they are sure to happen. In order to open this scroll, resting in the hand of Jehovah, these seals have to be broken. These seals are considered so important that it takes someone very special to break open these seals. To verify this we see and hear in the next verse a powerful angel shouting:
And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, "Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?"(NIV)
This is not a matter of ritual or courtly form to the Creator. It is a matter of extreme importance. Important in connection to the events that is about to be revealed by the scroll. So much so, it requires someone "worthy" to perform this task. Someone perfectly worthy! This is so because these seals symbolize, as we shall see, God's wrath against mankind. A wrath fully justified because of the actions of mankind against God down threw the ages. So worthy a being is needed for this function, in fact, that we find:
But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it.(NIV)
"And no man in heaven,"(KJV) The NIV translated this as "No one" but we know that there certainly was someone in heaven capable of opening the seals. Which would make the KJV more accurate in this respect? However, no one in the NIV is being used in its generic sense so the message really remains the same. We also know that man cannot enter heaven unless he is born again of the Spirit. We likewise know that man in his fleshly form is not able to be in heaven. It is not physically possible any more than a man could stand on the surface of the sun. (The atoms that make up his body would be burned out of existence long before he reached the flames of its surface.) Just the same, at this point in the narrative there happens to be two symbolic men in heaven. One is John himself dutifully recording all he sees. I say John's presence is symbolic because he represents every Christian who has understanding supplied by the Holy Spirit. The twenty-four elders represent all other men. None the less, John also knows he does not possess the needed requirements to break these momentous seals. Neither he nor anyone one else of earth is even worthy to look at this book. For this reason he writes:
I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.(NIV)
However, the sight of John weeping provokes from an elder this sharp response:
Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals."(NIV)
It is a sharp response because the elder is commanding, "Do not weep! Look!" Its as if the elder were saying can you not see Christ is here. "The Lion of the tribe of Judah."
A lion is known as the King of beasts. The king being referred to here as the "The root of David," was a descendant of Abraham. God made a covenant with Abraham that Abraham's seed would eventually produce the King of the world. Jesus, when born on the earth, was a descendant of David and David was a descendant of Abraham. However, as the first and only begotten Son of Jehovah, Christ existed before David was thought of.
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:(KJV)
Jesus therefore as the firstborn of every creature is the only one who qualifies as both the root and the offspring of David:
I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.(KJV)
The elder is telling John this Root of David has prevailed. He prevailed by his integrity to his God and with the sacrifice of his own blood. He prevailed for the specific purpose, amongst other things, of saving mankind from the punishment of death sentenced to Adam, Eve, and their descendants.
Matt 15:13But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. (KJV)
In short, if Christ were not the root referred to in Rev 5: 5 he would have been rooted up. That Christ is the true and faithful root is further verified with the next verse of Revelation:
Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.(NIV)
This lamb is representative of Christ; which is easily verified by the Bible which we can do right now. There are thirty references to Christ being the lamb in the New Testament. Twenty-six of which are in Revelation. Below are, four scriptures making it very clear whom this lamb represents.
John 1:29The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (KJV)
John 1:36And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! (KJV)
Acts 8:32The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his sheerer, so opened he not his mouth: (KJV)
1 Pet 1:19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: (KJV)
Moses was told to tell his people to sacrifice an unblemished lamb and sprinkle the blood of this lamb around their doorframes. When the angels of death spotted the sprinkled blood, as they moved through Egypt in the final plague, they passed over that home causing no harm.
That this lamb of God has the use of His Fathers power the Holy Spirit is also represented by the seven horns and seven eyes. That this lamb will use this power for the purposes of His Father is also clear in that he is the only one able to break these seals. (Which, by the way, is the meaning of "I and the father are one." They are one in purpose and intent.)
[Notice] Root, Lamb, four beasts, lion, calf, eagle, book, seals, morning star, elders; all symbolize earthly things. Things we here on earth are familiar with. Therefore, these symbols are not being shown to John to mystify but to clarify the certainty that the wrath of God is aimed at mankind.
It is quite true that God is long-suffering, having endless patience. Nonetheless he has, century after century, warned mankind repeatedly of what would happen if mankind continued to walk in the path of evil. If Jehovah were to ignore His own warnings, He would be making a liar of Himself. NOT AT ALL LIKELY! Just as it says in the book of Proverbs, for everything there is a season. A time to laugh. A time to cry. A time for joy, and a time for sadness. It is now time for God to vent his wrath. A wrath, as we shall see, to be carried out by the lamb.
This lamb, representing Christ, is the only one in all of creation, as far as Jehovah is concerned, worthy to perform the task of breaking the seals on this very special scroll. For Christ is the only one who has proven Himself worthy to carry out this wrath.
"In the midst of the throne and of the four beasts," Now we have learned that the throne is center of the sea of glass. Under this sea of glass are four beasts and we are now seeing, appearing in the center of the beasts under Jehovah, this strange lamb. All of which explains why the word root is being used.
John 15:2Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh it away: and every (branch) that beareth fruit, he cleanseth it, that it may bear more fruit. (ASV)
At the top is Jehovah; directly under Jehovah, is Christ. Branching out from this direct stem from Jehovah is all the rest of creation.
Well, how do we know that this lamb wasn't on top of the sea of glass? In the first place, the lamb is described as standing in the midst of the four beasts and we know they are under the platform of life, or sea of crystal like glass, where the Almighty sits upon His throne. Also the next verse tells us Christ [here symbolized as a lamb]"came and took the scroll."
He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne.(NIV)
If this lamb that symbolizes Christ were on the same level as Jehovah, in the center of the sea of glass, He would not have had to come to the throne, He would have already been there.
So the lamb comes before his God and takes the scroll. It is only at this point in the narrative that the lamb is now on the same level of the sea of glass as His Father Jehovah.
I said this lamb was strange. He is strange because he bears seven horns. Luke explains:
Luke 1:69And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; (KJV)
In the Temple of God built by Solomon, David's son, under the direction of God, there was an altar. In front of this altar, built, as a part of it, were four horns. You can read about these special four horns in the 30th chapter of Exodus. They represent God's salvation, for the house of Israel, through these horns. The fact that there are seven instead of four horns on the lamb in Revelation represents Jehovah's perfect salvation for his perfect family. A salvation given to us through his perfect only begotten Son Jesus Christ who was sent to the earth as a perfect man for this as well as other explicit reasons. Christ also brought the final law of grace, honored his Fathers covenant with the house of Israel, set the stage for the inclusion of gentiles and began the preaching of the kingdom.
1 Sam 2:10The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed. (KJV)
So the seven horns on this lamb symbolize an accepted perfect salvation as well as strength, the perfect power to judge, and the fact that he is the anointed of Jehovah. Still, there is something else strange about this lamb. He has seven eyes. Paul explains this:
Heb 4:13Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. (KJV)
And Peter further clarifies it:
1 Pet 3:12For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. (KJV)
Gal 3:1O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? (KJV)
So, the seven eyes possessed by this lamb represent his perfect ability to see all.
There is no doubt to this entire heavenly court as to what this strange lamb is symbolically representing. Christ, like his Father Jehovah, does not need a formal introduction to any in the host of heaven. They all recognize him no matter what shape the symbolism takes. When Christ was here as a man on earth even the demons recognized Him instantly as verified by:
And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?(KJV)
Now if you read this account of demons being cast out by Christ you will see that Jesus had not even spoken yet when these demons began their protest. Jesus was simply walking towards them. And note they immediately recognize him for just what He is"Thou Son of God"
You might also note that even then, almost two thousand years ago, the demons knew that there would come a time of reckoning for their actions, from their comment of"To torment us before the time?"
As has been said there was no doubt, what this strange lamb represented. None whatsoever as verified by the next verse:
And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.(NIV)
"The four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the lamb," The beasts and the elders who represent everything pertaining to the earth along with all of man in general now fall down before the lamb to symbolizes their acknowledgment of this lamb as being their King. However, the Greek word "Pipto is used in this verse which also denotes "falling under judgment.""Having every one of them harps,"
There is a general concept or image that when one dies he goes to heaven, is issued wings and a harp, and spends all his time playing and singing music. I have often wished that I could play an instrument. However, I would not wish to do that, and only that, for the rest of eternity. It would soon become not only boring but a form of torture. Obviously, this is not the creators intent. "Harp" is translated from the Greek word "Kithara" which means a stringed instrument, guitar, lyre, harp. Each having distinct sounds or, one might say, a voice of their own.
When Paul was speaking on the subject of the disciples being allowed to speak in tongues or languages they were not normally familiar with, in order to spread the news of the gospel; he explained:
1 Cor 14:7And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? (KJV)
1 Cor 14:8For if the trumpet give an uncertain voice, who shall prepare himself for war? (ASV)
1 Cor 14:9So also ye, unless ye utter by the tongue speech easy to understand, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye will be speaking into the air. (ASV)
1 Cor 14:10There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and no (kind) is without signification. (ASV)
1 Cor 14:11If then I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be to him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh will be a barbarian unto me. (ASV)
1 Cor 14:12So also ye, since ye are zealous of spiritual (gifts), seek that ye may abound unto the edifying of the church. (ASV)
In short, the word harps is used to signify a voice uttering a message clear and distinct with understanding. Voices, that can explicitly sing the new song spoken of in the next verse.
And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.(NIV)
What is this song the four beasts and the elders are responsible for as Kings and priests reigning on earth before God? The song is the Gospel of the good news of the Kingdom ruled by the King they are acknowledging.
If this discussion of kings is confusing, let us try to clear it up this way. Many kings on the earth had lesser authority than the one that gave them their kingdoms. Herod was the King of Jerusalem because the ruler of Rome, Caesar, made him so. As such Herod was subject under and to decisions made by Caesar. They were both kings but Caesar exercised far more authority than Herod did even within Herod's own kingdom of Israel. This is why the twenty-four elders cast their crowns before their creator in an act of subjection, [Rev 4: 10] acknowledging that their crowns come from his authority.
It might also help when you realize that originally God did not have kings over Israel but Judges. God sent all his correspondence with the house of Israel through his judges. The host of Israel wanted a king so they could be like all the other nations of the world. Samuel lamented to God that they had rejected him. God answered Samuel by saying,"It is not you they have rejected but me" which is one of the reasons for the wrath of God being unfolded in this vision of John. Since kings are the ones all men in general recognize as authority over them kings is the word used. Nonetheless, God calling his faithful, "Priests" in the next verse verifies, judges is what is really meant, for this is what the four beasts and the elders sing.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."(NIV)
Kings are supposed to reign by divine authority. Since this is so, the faithful followers of Christ and God are spoken of as kings for they do have the divine authority to teach and preach the kingdom of God. For along with the four beasts and the 24 elders the whole heavenly host as a group verifies this, for we are told:
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders.(NIV)
What John is saying in the above scripture is that the host of heaven is an undefined number. If you don't believe this try adding up the sums mentioned. Ten thousand times ten thousand is one hundred million. That part is easy. Now try multiplying a hundred million by thousands of thousands.... ??? To whatever number you arrive at, add four beasts and twenty-four elders; and remember the twenty-four elders are, symbolic of all mankind; whatever that number comes too.
In truth, this number is represented, as being endless and uncountable because that congregation of those adopted from the earth will continue to grow forever as time goes on. What John is talking about here is the spiritual body of Christ that have overcome and reached that position. That process will never stop, even when the new heavens and the new earth are in full bloom. Spiritual children will continue to be adopted from the earthly kingdom of Christ for all time. How can this be stated in such a matter of fact manner? Isaiah gives the answer to that:
Isaiah 9:7Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on Davids throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (NIV)
Notice there will be no end to the increase of his government. This being the case the number cannot be counted for it is incomplete and will always be incomplete for new members will constantly be born into and added to it.
And what is this tremendous uncountable number of beings doing? They are:
In a loud voice they sang: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!"(NIV)
"Worthy is the Lamb." In other words, all of creation that stands on the side of Jehovah recognize Christ as the undisputed leader, the King, ordained by his Father. Any true Christian is only too happy to join into this song.
So far, what John has seen has taken us from the past into the present. Now the symbolism takes us into the future.
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!"(NIV)
We know this is the future because the above scripture is telling us there will be no one who does not do this. There will be no one at that time that does not recognize the sovereignty of Jehovah. No one, that does not recognize Christ as the ruler of this kingdom.
Is this happening now? Not so long as there is a single atheist, agnostic, or pagan left on the earth. This will not happen until:
Daniel 2:44And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. (KJV)
Isaiah gives us a good look at what the world will be like in that time in chapter 11 of that book but the main thing it is saying is:
Isaiah 11:9They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. (KJV)
When this future day arrives in all its glory then all Christians with tears of joy will most gratefully do what the final verse of chapter five in Revelations states:
The four living creatures said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshiped.(NIV)
AMEN. As it is written, so let it be.However, before that day arrives we have to endure the wrath of God, which begins with the four horsemen of the Apocalypse that we will be told of in the next chapter of Revelation. To John this was in the future although the first horseman had begun his ride in Johns time for the first horseman is Christ. Just the same, that was almost two thousand years ago. Today, as we shall see, all four are in full gallop. That wrath is not aimed at the family of God but the members of the family will still feel the consequences of the strife it has, is, and will bring. That family will feel the sorrow it brings but also the joy that it has finally arrived bringing them so much closer to the time Isaiah speaks of in his book. That time they know will pass and as God sees time, it will not be long. We are given a hint of that in verse 8 of chapter five above. Notice the prayers of the saints and the bowls of incense. Keep them in mind for they have a direct bearing on the length of God's wrath, which by God's own choosing is short or there would be no living flesh left on earth. We shall come to these bowls and the and Gods acknowledgement of these prayers later in Revelation.
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