During his exile on Patmos, John had a vision of Heaven of events that I believe occurred in 1798. (See Chapter 5 in my book, The Lamb’s Book of Life) The story begins when John saw a book in the Father’s right hand sealed with seven seals. A mighty angel called out, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” Unfortunately, no one in Heaven or Earth was qualified to open the scroll. When John learned that no one was worthy to break the seals and open the book, he “wept and wept.” He was brokenhearted because he understood the profound importance of the book.
We cannot examine everything that made John weep, but a few words about the role and importance of the book in the Father’s hand might be helpful. The Father wrote a book before creation and sealed it with seven seals so that no created being could know what He had written. When no one was found worthy to break the seals and expose the contents of the book, John wept because he understood there was no way to exonerate the Father from Lucifer’s lies and scurrilous charges. Long before Jesus created Earth, Lucifer led a rebellion against the Father by twisting many facts and using unanswerable questions. His lies were so clever and sophisticated that one third of the holy angels joined the rebellion and the Father cast them out of Heaven. When the scene in Revelation 5 occurred, John realized the angels in Heaven had waited thousands of years to have Lucifer’s charges addressed. However, when the time came to exonerate the Father, no one was found worthy to receive the book, break the seals, and reveal what the Father had written.
John does not itemize what was needed to break the seals in Revelation 5, but the angels summarized the criteria in a song they sang: “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.” (Revelation 5:9) John also reported that after Jesus received the book, the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures bowed down and worshiped Him. Their response indicates unanimous approval and the recognition that Jesus is deity.
John, Paul, and Daniel Prophesy the Same Event
About thirty-five years after Jesus ascended to Heaven, Paul made the following prediction: “And He [the Father] made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment – to bring all things in Heaven and on Earth together under one head, even Christ.” (Ephesians 1:9,10, insertion and emphasis mine)
About 600 years before Paul made this prediction, Daniel saw the same event: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of Heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13,14, emphasis mine) This verse pinpoints two things. First, the Father gave Jesus sovereign power. Second, the Father relinquished his authority when he gave Jesus sovereign power.
By synthesizing the statements from John, Paul, and Daniel, I believe the Father recused Himself from the throne in 1798. This allowed Jesus to rule the universe independently and bring the sin problem to a close. When we consider the risk of transferring control of the universe to another person, we can understand why finding someone worthy to receive the sealed book was important! The Father wants the universe to see that Jesus is just as capable at ruling the universe as He is. The shifting of roles is part of a process that began in 1798 known as “the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The Father placed His character, governance, and exoneration in Jesus’ worthy hands when Jesus received the book. While John does not explain it, Paul wrote that Jesus’ sovereign authority is temporary. He wrote, “Then the end will come, when He [Jesus, at the end of the 1,000 years] hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He [Jesus] has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For He [Jesus] must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 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 [Jesus], it is clear that this does not include God [the Father] Himself, who put everything under Christ. When He [Jesus] has done this [e.g., destroyed the curse of sin and death itself], then the Son Himself will be made subject to Him [the Father] who put everything under Him, so that God [the Father] may be [above and over] all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:24-28, insertions and emphasis mine)
The Worthiness of Jesus Abolishes the One God Manifesting as Three Persons Doctrine
If the prevailing view of Christian monotheism is true – that there is one God manifesting Himself in three persons—Jesus’ advancement in Revelation 5 makes no sense. For example, what difference does it make if Jesus was found worthy to receive the book if the same God who wrote the book was the same God found worthy to open it? Said another way, if there is one God manifesting Himself in three persons, what is the point of God searching the universe to find someone worthy to receive the book with seven seals only to discover that no one, other than Himself, is worthy? The only way to eliminate internal conflict in Revelation 5 is this: Two separate and distinct Gods, each having His own will are involved. If this is the case, transferring sovereign power and the book sealed with seven seals to Jesus makes perfect sense. Moreover, Paul refers to two Gods by writing that at the end of sin’s drama, Jesus will transfer this sovereign power back to the Father so that Jesus will be subject to the Father once again.
Revelation 5 also abolishes the position that Jesus is a created being. The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures worshiped Him. No created being is to be worshiped. (Revelation 19:10) Daniel 7 abolishes a once “sufficient doctrine” that the Trinity is one God manifesting Himself in three persons. Instead, there are separate and distinct Gods with sovereign power temporarily transferred between them.
The Controversy over the Trinity
Christians have argued endlessly about the Godhead and the nature of the Trinity ever since Jesus ascended to Heaven. The best reason for the controversy is ignorance. Until light clearly shines, shadows are misleading! God has sealed the book of Daniel until the time of the end. (Daniel 12:4,9) The book of Revelation has many things to say about Jesus that previous generations could not have known or anticipated.
Given what I have learned about Jesus and the Godhead (however limited and incomplete), the following explanation is consistent with my understanding. When the Trinity formed, three equal, coeternal, distinct, and separate Gods came together to discuss the future. They decided to unite and function as one God to benefit the universe. If three separate, distinct, coeternal Gods ruled the universe, created beings would get confused and end up taking sides resulting in needless conflict and competition. So, three Gods decided to function as one God, but their decision required each of them to give up 2/3 of their rights and prerogatives so that 1/3 + 1/3 + 1/3 = 1.
The “Trinity” decided that one God, the God we now call “Jesus” would become the Creator of everything that exists. To accomplish this the Gods we call “the Father” and “the Holy Spirit” gave up their right to create so that only Jesus would serve as Creator. The Gods we call “Jesus” and “the Father” agreed to give up the power of omnipresence, so that only the Holy Spirit can be everywhere at once. The Gods we call “the Holy Spirit” and “Jesus” gave up their right to sit on the throne so the God we call “the Father” could rule as “Most High God.” Knowing that marriage is a 50/50 arrangement, please consider the enormous love and surrender involved when each member of the Trinity forfeited 2/3’s of His divine power and prerogatives to the others.
The surrender of their rights and prerogatives to each other explains why the Holy Spirit and Jesus do not know the future. Only the Father has foreknowledge and it was this exclusive power that enabled Him to write a complete history book of life before Jesus created Heaven and Earth. Jesus and the Holy Spirit do not know what the Father wrote in the Book of Life. When the Father, wrote the Book of Life, He included the life record of every angel that would live in Heaven and every person that would live on Earth. The information in His book is extremely sensitive because the Father foreknew who and who would not be saved. So, He sealed the book with seven seals so that no one could possibly learn what He foreknew until the drama with sin is completed. The Book of Life is not used to judge human beings. It is only opened at the end of the 1,000 years when the seventh seal is broken. (Revelation 20:12)
If anyone (angel or human) discovers what the Father wrote before sin’s drama is completed, the Father would never escape the charge that He predetermined who would be saved and who would be lost. When the contents of this Book are presented to the universe, the Father will prove that He foreknew Lucifer’s rebellion and the fall of Adam and Eve. He also foreknew the price that Jesus would pay to save sinners. He foreknew who would choose to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and receive salvation and who would not. Most of all, He will prove that although He perfectly knows the future, He does not control the choices His children can make. He permitted Lucifer and his followers to sin, He permitted Adam and Eve to sin, and He permits us to rebel against Him. All of God’s children will have free will and the power of choice for eternity!
Jesus Found Worthy to Receive the Book
Once we properly understand the purpose for the Book of Life and its seven seals, our understanding of the scene in Revelation 5 will improve. Like John, we can now understand the call, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” Three qualifications made Jesus uniquely worthy to receive the book and the sovereign power that went with it:
First, Jesus was willing for the Father to send Him to Earth and He perfectly fulfilled the Father’s will, even to the point of dying without any hope of resurrection. No greater example of perfect love and submission to the Father’s will has ever been demonstrated and no greater love for sinners has ever been seen.
Second, Jesus stooped to the lowly position of becoming a man. He faced every temptation known to man. He faced even greater temptations to use divine power for personal advantage, and yet He never sinned. After the Jews condemned Jesus to death for blasphemy and the Roman soldiers nearly beat Him to death, Jesus could have exercised divine authority and ended the process to save sinners. This was a huge temptation, but Jesus chose to “press on” and die for sinners, including those who were abusing Him. No one else has ever faced such an overwhelming temptation.
Finally, while on the cross, the Father surprised Jesus. He placed the curse of sin on Jesus and this separated Him from Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:21) The Father did this because He wanted to test Jesus. He wanted to know if Jesus loved sinners enough to die without any hope of living again. If Jesus voluntarily gave up His life without any hope of resurrection, the Father could legitimately transfer His life to sinners as a gift. When Jesus became separated from the Father, He was crushed! He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This was His ultimate test and Jesus refused to exercise divine power to save Himself from eternal death. Instead, He put complete confidence and faith in the Father saying, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” Ironically, after finding that Jesus was worthy, the Father placed complete confidence and faith in Jesus when He gave Him sovereign power and the book sealed with seven seals.
Given the nature and awesome accomplishments of Jesus, and given that Jesus is a perfect reflection of the Father, no one else in the universe comes close to revealing the love that the Father has for sinners. No one was more worthy to receive the book with seven seals or receive the Father’s throne and sovereign power. Given the qualifications required to break the seals, no one can make a claim of nepotism! No one else in the universe comes close to the accomplishments of Jesus. Therefore, because of His faith and love for the Father and sinners, Jesus was found worthy. The four living creatures, the twenty-four elders, and billions of angels rejoiced with praise and worship when He received the sealed book. The Father stepped aside, Jesus ascended the throne and His first action was to break the first seal.