The Seven Seals — Part 2 of 4
Initially, I anticipated this topic could be covered in a two-part series, but I was wrong. At a minimum, it appears this will be a three-part series. To review briefly, the previous issue of Day Star presented an aspect of God’s love that is very interesting to ponder.
For example, because God is love, He grants every child the freedom of choice. We can choose to obey God or to rebel against Him. This freedom is never revoked. Lucifer exercised this freedom when he chose to disobey and so did Adam and Eve. Many people may consider this topic “no big deal,” but this freedom to choose comes with a great price.
The freedom to rebel against our Creator was granted by our Creator and it puts Him in a very vulnerable position! This does not mean that God is subject to weakness, but that a God of love is willing to be vulnerable. Lucifer rebelled and God lost one-third of His angelic host. Adam and Eve rebelled and it cost the life of Jesus.
So, this freedom of choice that God offers has enormous consequences for God, as well as His children. This also means that God cannot demand our love. He may ask for it and He may seek our love and affection, but affection for God and submission to His commandments are the reciprocals of intelligent love. In other words, love for God is awakened in our hearts after we first understand something about His love for us. (Romans 2:4; 1 John 4:19)
God is omniscient (all knowing). The Bible states that He knows the changing number of hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:30), when every sparrow falls (Matthew 10:29), and what choices each of us will make before we are created! (Psalm 139:16; 1 Kings 13:2) Because God has omnipotence (all power) and omniscience, He can do something today that may take 7,000 years of study to understand.
Even more, His wisdom allows Him to know what to do today for the benefit of His children 7,000 years from now! This kind of wisdom belongs only to God. Consequently, relating to God during those periods of time when we do not understand what He is doing can be difficult. There is only one way to live in peace with the Creator of the Universe and that is through a nonnegotiable faith in His righteousness (right doing). With that short review, let us consider the Book of Life.
The Book of Life
“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. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll? But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.” (Revelation 5:1-4)
Many people unintentionally skip over the pivotal importance of the “book” that is sealed up! For some reason, the seven seals on the book have gained more attention than the book itself. Actually, it is the other way around. The all-important purpose of the book gives the seven seals their profound importance! The drama in Revelation 5 occurs in Heaven because sin produced a number of problems in Heaven.
To be sure, the problems that accompany the presence of sin and rebellion are not limited to Earth. Therefore, Revelation’s story reveals God’s methods for resolving sin from both perspectives—Heaven and Earth.
My study has led me to conclude that the book sealed up with seven seals is the “Book of Life.” I have come to this conclusion for three reasons: First, John mentions the “Book of Life” six times in Revelation and distinguishes this book from other books. (Revelation 3:5; 20:12)
For example, in Revelation 5 Jesus (the Lamb) is found worthy to receive this book with seven seals. John sometimes refers to this book using a possessive noun such as the “Lamb’s Book of Life” (Revelation 21:27) or the “Book of Life belonging to the Lamb.” (Revelation 13:8)
In other words, after the Lamb receives the sealed book from the right hand of the Father, the Lamb possesses the Book [of Life].
Second, according to the Bible, the Book of Life is opened and its contents revealed only at the end of the 1,000 years. (Revelation 20:12) Notice how this unfolds: The sixth seal is broken at the time of the Second Coming; therefore, the seventh seal must be broken and the contents of the Book of Life revealed at some point after the Second Coming. According to John, the Book of Life is opened at the very end of the 1,000 years.
Since the breaking of the seventh seal has to also occur after the Second Coming, the alignment of these two features suggests the Book of Life is the book sealed with seven seals.
The third reason I have concluded the book with seven seals is the Book of Life centers on its contents. Even though no one knows the specifics that are recorded in the book sealed with seven seals (Revelation 5:3), we do know the contents! Notice this verse: “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15) This verse suggests that only the names of the redeemed are found in the Book of Life.
In fact, because of this verse, many Christians believe the Book of Life contains only the names of the saved. They interpret the title to mean “The Book of [Eternal] Life,” but the Bible does not confer this meaning on the book, even though this will be the final result.
The Book of Life includes the lifes record of everyone who was given life. Think of this book as a roster about everyone who was ever born. In fact, God prerecorded our choices and actions in His book before we had life. (Psalm 139:16) On the basis of Gods perfect foreknowledge, He wrote out a complete history of life before life was created. Then He blotted out the names of those who would live, but chose to rebel.
In other words, God foreknew who would choose eternal life and who would choose rebellion. God does not want anyone to know who will be saved or lost (information that He foreknew) until the judgment of wicked angels and mankind has been completed. Keep this thought in mind: The Book of Life remains sealed until the 1,000 years have ended. The Book of Life has nothing to do with the judgment of mankind.
Man is not judged on the basis of God’s foreknowledge, but from the information written in separate books by angels who chronicle our daily actions. (See Daniel 7:9–10; Revelation 20:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Ecclesiastes 12:14; Malachi 3:16)
At first, this might sound confusing. Why did God include everyone in the Book of Life only to blot out the names of the wicked? He did this to prove that every person had the freedom to make a choice and that He does not manipulate this freedom in any way.
This means that at the appointed time, God can show that He foreknew who would rebel and who would submit to His authority. Yet, knowing all of this, He did not treat anyone unfairly. The Book of Life, written before any life was created, will exonerate God from any and all charges of unfairness that Lucifer and others have raised against Him.
Bible Writers Mention the Book
Several Bible writers knew about the presence of the Book of Life. Notice this conversation between Moses and God: ” ‘But now, please forgive their sin [of Israel] but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.’ The Lord replied to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book.’ “ (Exodus 32:32–33)
Moses knew that God had finished the Book of Life and begged God to forgive Israel or blot his name out of the book that had been written! God responds to Moses saying that whoever has sinned against Him would be blotted out. This response has led some Christians to conclude that the Book of Life is a dynamic recording, that is, names are added and removed on a daily basis. This is not the case for two reasons.
First, the Book of Life was written and sealed up before the creation of the world. Second, the eternal destiny of a person is not decided until he or she stands before the judgment bar of Christ! (For reasons beyond this study, the judgment of man occurs near or at the end of the world, not at the time of Moses.)
God’s response to Moses is an assurance that only the wicked are blotted out of His book. Second, Moses knew that the book had been written—that is, finished! Therefore, God’s response to Moses must be understood as a policy statement: “When I wrote the book, I blotted out the names of those who would sin against me.” Notice how this policy conforms with a statement taken from Revelation concerning the appearing of the Antichrist during the Great Tribulation: “The inhabitants of the Earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast.” (Revelation 17:8)
Did you notice when the Book of Life was written? Did you also notice whose names were left out of the Book of Life at the time of writing? Does it surprise you that God already knows who will worship the beast and who will not? God knows everything. But (and this is an emphatic “but”), even though God foreknows what we will do, the choice must be ours! This is freedom. By giving us the power of choice, the responsibility for our actions rests upon our heads.
If we were mere robots, we would have no moral obligation or responsibility. However, in a universe of freedom, those who have the power of choice also bear responsibility and accountability for their choices.
King David knew about the Book of Life. He wrote, “May they [the wicked] be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous.” (Psalm 69:28, insertion mine) King David understood that his entire life record was written down a long time before he was born.
He wrote, “Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16) Jesus alluded to the Book of Life when He said to His disciples, “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20)
Paul also mentions the Book of Life: “Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.” (Philippians 4:3)
The Seven Seals
Now that we know something about the purpose and contents of the Book of Life and why it was sealed up from the beginning, we naturally want to know more about the seven seals that protect the sensitive data inside the book.
The seven seals on the book represent seven revelations about Jesus. When the Father wrote the Book of Life, He foreknew the rise of sin and He foreknew that Jesus would die for sinners. This is why John says that Jesus is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:8)
The Father and Son agreed from the beginning that Jesus would assume the task of resolving the sin problem for man. (Psalm 2; John 3:16) Jesus also agreed to be the agent to resolve the sin problem for the Godhead as well. To resolve the sin problem for both God and man, God had to find Jesus worthy before men and angels.
This is why the angelic host and the 24 elders (24 people taken from Earth) are summoned to the great convention described in Revelation 4, 5 and Daniel 9. When the solution for sin is presented before this innumerable congregation, everyone agrees that Jesus is the only One worthy to receive the book sealed with seven seals. (Revelation 5) Since everyone present at the convention has the power of choice, this was not a rubber stamp approval.
Jesus was found worthy to redeem man on the basis of His righteous life and His shed blood. (Revelation 5:9) He was also found worthy to exonerate the Godhead of all charges of misconduct based on His perfect submission to the Father’s will. (John 6:38; Hebrews 5:7-10)
These points are presented because the worthiness of Jesus to resolve the sin problem unfolds before angels and mankind in seven phases. As each seal is broken open on the Book of Life, a new revelation about the worthiness of Jesus occurs in Heaven and on Earth.
Actually, this is why the book of Revelation is called, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ,” for it contains the drama surrounding the revealing of all that Jesus is!
Seven Revelations about Jesus
For reasons beyond this study, I believe Jesus received the Book of Life in 1798. At that time, He began the process of breaking open the seven seals, each one at the appropriate time in history. As each seal is broken, a truth about Jesus is disseminated through Heaven and Earth.
This process grows in glory and intensity as each seal is opened and continues until everyone receives a full disclosure about Jesus. (Three seals have been broken open thus far. The fourth seal is next.) Remember, there is a resurrection at the end of the 1,000 years and everyone who has ever lived will be alive at the white throne judgment!
At that time, when the seventh seal is finally broken open, the glorious truth about the identity, authority, power and prerogatives of Jesus will be seen by everyone. All creation will stand before its Creator! In short, the opening of the seven seals reveals these progressive truths about Jesus:
- Seal #1: The salvation of Jesus
- Seal #2: The gospel of Jesus
- Seal #3: The judgment of Jesus
- Seal #4: The authority of Jesus
- Seal #5: The faith of Jesus
- Seal #6: The glory of Jesus
- Seal #7: The eternal sovereign deity of Jesus
Seven is a perfect number and seven revelations about Jesus are a perfect revelation of all that Jesus is. The Father has predetermined this revelation because He wants the universe to see that Jesus is God just like Himself. Jesus has all of the powers, prerogatives and rights of the Father! (Colossians 1:16–19)
Jesus is the Word of God (Revelation 19:13) and is therefore, the spokesperson for the Godhead. Jesus is that member of the Godhead who lives among His creation revealing the ways of the Godhead to us.
Because Jesus humbled Himself to come, live and die as a man, the Father will, at the right time, exalt Jesus to sit by His side! Then the universe will see that Jesus is an equal of the Father. Incredibly, after receiving the highest honor that the Father can bestow upon Jesus, Jesus turns everything back over to the Father so that He may live among His creation as one of them.
Paul describes this amazing scene saying, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he [the Father] has put everything under his [Jesus’] feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this [destroyed death], then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:26–28, insertions mine)
Think about this for a moment. After Jesus has been given every glory, praise and accolade, He does not want to bask in that glory and fame. He chooses once again to be subject to the Father so that He can humbly live among their creation as one of His created subjects. What a Creator! What a God! What love! What a stunning revelation about Jesus!