The Seven Seals — Part 1 of 4
“. . . When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:15–17, emphasis mine.)
With this issue of Day Star, I would like to begin a presentation on the seven seals in Revelation. This story comes in two parts. The focus this month will be on the book (scroll) that was sealed with seven seals and written before the world was created. Next month, we will investigate the meaning of the seven seals.
For the sake of illustration, let us assume that you have a heart full of love, in addition to the gift of omniscience (e.g., having all knowledge). Further, you will be married soon and you and your fiancé have agreed that your family will have nine children.
Because you have the gift of omniscience, you know that your firstborn will be a son (called “Joe”) and he will be born on July 31, 2003. You also know that fifty years later, Joe will become extremely hostile toward both of you because he wants your assets to financially support his secret addiction. Because you have foreknowledge, you know that Joe will use lies and deceit to have both of you declared incompetent.
To cover his true motives, Joe will eventually convince two of your nine children that both you and your fiancé were horrible parents and they will side with him! You even know that Joe would take your lives, if he could, to get the money he wants.
To complicate matters, imagine you also know that during Joe’s first 40 years of life, he will be a wonderful, loveable son. If you knew all these facts in advance, what would you do to protect yourself from the inevitable?
- Choose to have no children.
- Choose to have eight children and forfeit Joe.
- Choose to kill Joe while he is still your best friend.
- Choose to kill Joe when he passes the point of “no return” in an attempt to limit his deadly influence on others.
- Before any child is born, record what you know will happen before it occurs and use this information to show all of your children and grandchildren at the appropriate time.
This illustration may seem silly, but the issues surrounding this story have profound ramifications within the context of God’s love and omniscience. Basically, this is the situation that God faced before He created life. God knows everything. (Isaiah 44:8; 46:10,11; Jeremiah 17:10)
God foreknew that Lucifer, the first of all created beings, would eventually become the devil. God foreknew the horrendous results Lucifer’s existence would cause. God also foreknew that Adam and Eve would follow in Lucifer’s footsteps and sin. Consequently, Earth would eventually be filled with billions of rebellious people.
Given His heart of perfect love and His power of omniscience, God faced at least five options similar to those previously stated and chose an option similar to “e” for the following reasons:
- Choose to have no children. I believe God rejected this option because He desired to fill His universe and life with many happy children—too numerous to count. (Isaiah 45:18) The presence of billions of angels and human beings in the universe propels me to this conclusion. God must have thought, “The gift of life and the joy that comes from sharing love is much more valuable than any damage caused by sin.”
- Choose not to create Lucifer. While this option may solve the problem with Lucifer, it does not solve the real problem. If God limited creation to beings who would remain obedient, then He would not be a God of love. Love is not about control, but instead, love is about choice. It is because “God is love” that angels and mankind do have a choice. They can choose to rebel against God or choose to love and serve Him—the choice is ours to make, not His to dictate. If God created children who had no choice, His creation would be little more than unreasoning robots. Therefore, not creating Lucifer (and other beings who might rebel against His will) was not an option for God because manipulating His children for His own benefit is contrary to the principles His love extols. The presence of sin in the universe proves two immutable things: First, the presence of sin proves that God grants the power of choice to His children. Second, the death of Jesus at Calvary proves that God is love. He did not have to offer salvation, but because of love He chose to offer man salvation without any reservation. Even though God foreknew the great price sin would extract on His children, His foreknowledge did not prevent Him from creating Lucifer or Adam and Eve. (Revelation 13:8)
- Choose to destroy Lucifer before he sins. If God had killed Lucifer before he sinned, God would be guilty of murder! If God killed Lucifer on the basis of His foreknowledge alone, what could justify His behavior before the angels? God is righteous and deceit is not in His character, so to deceive the angels by making Lucifers death look like an accident was not possible. If God killed Lucifer without justification, intelligent angels would eventually conclude that God was a tyrant! Despots with a self-centered ego destroy those who challenge their authority because they love power and wealth most. On the other hand, God claims to be righteous in everything He does (Isaiah 41:10) and to kill Lucifer simply to avoid having problems with him would not be righteous. In fact, God did just the opposite. He permitted Lucifer to live for a few thousand years after his rebellion to demonstrate a very important point about sin. Sin has caused God’s children to experience everything that God does not want for them: sorrow, suffering, sickness and death. God’s rules for eternal life are best not because He says so—but because they have proved to be so. Yes, Lucifer and all sinners will be annihilated at the end of sin’s drama, but God will be fully justified in the eyes of every survivor when He destroys the wicked!
- Choose to immediately kill Lucifer after he sinned to limit his influence on others. If God chose this option, the angels would not have had an opportunity to observe and understand the nature and malignant growth of sin. In other words, if Lucifer was prematurely put to death, the possibility of sin occurring again in the universe would always remain high because the angels would never completely understand the nature of sin. By allowing sin to run its ugly and grievous course for a few thousand years, God has enabled a comprehensive drama to reveal the terrible properties of sin. Six thousand years of sin have proved this truth: Rebellion against the laws of God always produces suffering, sorrow, sadness and death. The fundamental point is that God’s laws are not arbitrary. (He did not make them up to suit His fancy). God’s laws are based on His love for His creatures. God’s laws encompass all the issues of life. The truths expressed in His laws spring from infinite wisdom. He alone knows what it takes for His children to live happily ever after! Since God foreknew that sin would become a reality and produce a harvest of suffering, He chose to allow Lucifer to live for a few thousand years. As surprising as this may seem to each of us who deal with sin on a daily basis, God did this for the benefit of everyone who would choose to live eternally. The drama of sin will be studied and restudied throughout eternity and “the knowledge of good and evil” will prevent sin from rising a second time.
- To protect Himself from the forthcoming accusations of Lucifer, God wrote a book. He recorded a complete history of sin before angels or human beings were created. (See Revelation 17:8.) This book (or scroll) is called the “Book of Life” for it contains the entire story of life. (Revelation 3:5; 5:7; 20:15)God recorded the contents of His foreknowledge so He could show all of His children what He knew before sin became a reality. God sealed the Book of Life with seven seals so that the contents could not be known until the end of the 1000 years. If the contents of the Book of Life were prematurely revealed, it would be impossible for God to prove that He does not manipulate the eternal destiny of His children. This fact confuses a lot of people. They say, “If my eternal destiny is my choice, and God already knows my eternal destiny, do I really have a choice in my eternal destiny?” The answer is a resounding “Yes!” God’s foreknowledge has no bearing on your choices. You are free to rebel against His laws or to submit to His authority. This is your choice. The fact that He already knows what you will ultimately do has no bearing on what you ultimately do. By sealing the contents of the Book of Life until the end of sin’s drama, God will prove to everyone that He can be trusted. He does not use His foreknowledge to manipulate His children. As far as God is concerned, the future is like the past, both are the result of His children’s choices. At the end of the 1000 years in Revelation 20, when Lucifer and his angels and everyone who has ever lived on Earth has been resurrected, the last seal on the Book of Life will be broken and the contents revealed.Everyone will be able to see the contents of the Book of Life for himself. Everyone will see the details that God foreknew about every angel and every person before life was created! Everyone will be awestruck as he or she considers this profound truth: God foreknew the choices of every angel and every person from the beginning, but He did not manipulate or force anyone in their choices.
In fact, everyone will see that God loved everyone the same, even though He foreknew what each person would choose! This is a profound truth: We are free to submit or rebel against the authority of God. At the end, the eternal destiny of each angel and each person will be proven to be the result of his or her choice.
God can be Trusted
God is love. God also has omniscience and omnipotence. These qualities of God operate in perfect harmony and these prerogatives of God explain why faith in God is so important. God is doing things right now that could take perhaps 7,000 years to understand.
So, how do we reconcile the unknown and live at peace with a God whose actions we cannot understand? There is only one way. Jesus said it very simply, “You have to trust me.” (John 14:1) If you have stepped out in faith, then you know from experience that time and time again He has proved that He can be explicitly trusted. Faith in God is always rewarded because faith eventually gives way to understanding. (Hebrews 11:6; 1 Corinthians 13:10)
Faith is an experience with God that when seen in reverse, makes perfect sense. God stands today where we will stand tomorrow.
God is love. This is proven by the fact that He has granted the power of choice to every angel and human being. God has omniscience. This is proven by the fact that He can foretell the future with 100% accuracy. (Prophecy demonstrates this power. See Jeremiah 1:5; Isaiah 45:1-5; 1 Kings 13:2; 2 Kings 8)
God is omnipotent. He has the power to create a universe of life by merely speaking certain words! But, even though He has all of these marvelous powers, God does not use His awesome powers to force the behavior of His subjects. Even though God foreknew the rise of sin, He was willing to pay an enormous price for sin’s existence. God’s omnipotence and omniscience does not alter His actions which spring from a heart of selfless love.
What a wonderful God! No one is as great as the Most High God!
Great White Throne
“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.”(Revelation 20:12) This text reveals that two books will be opened and the facts contained within presented to the people of Earth at the end of the 1000 years. The first book contains a record of everyone’s life as God saw it. (See Daniel 7:9–10; Ecclesiastes 12:14; 2 Corinthians 5:10.)
There will be no blame, no denial, no excuses, no escape from God’s judgment when the Great White Throne scene occurs at the end of the 1,000 years. The contents of the first book prove that God judged accurately and righteously. The eternal reward of each person is based on that person’s choices. (Revelation 22:12)
When the wicked recall and ponder their life’s record as recorded in the Book of Deeds, they will kneel before God admitting that He has been unquestionably accurate and fair in His judgment of them. When the righteous consider their life’s record, they too will confess that God’s record is true with one significant difference.
They will confess that they have no claim to the marvelous gift of eternal life that He has bestowed upon them. They will kneel before God’s mercy with a sense of overwhelming gratitude.
Consider the scene: Two groups of people will kneel before God on that great day: One will kneel before God’s justice, the other before His mercy. “By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone are righteousness and strength.’ All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame. But in the Lord all the descendants of Israel will be found righteous and will exult.” (Isaiah 45:23–25)
The second book opened is the Book of Life. The contents of the Book of Life will be presented before that vast throng. Everyone will be astonished that God, foreknowing the choices of every angel and person, gave so much love and grace, and so many opportunities to respond to His love and grace.
God foreknew who would hate and rebel against Him long before they came to life yet He gave everyone the opportunity to accept the gift of life and Jesus as a ransom for their sinful life. As this revelation illuminates everyone’s consciousness, every knee will bow again.
Sinners will bow, not in submission to the almighty’s authority and power, which is awesome. Instead, everyone will bow before God admitting that He alone is worthy of honor and worship. All people will agree that His love and generosity went far beyond the bounds of what some would call “fair.” The depths of God’s love and goodness are unbelievable!
What a day that will be! I am looking forward to this awesome occasion and look forward to seeing you there.