Revelation is an Opened Book

SYNOPSIS:  Christians do not need to wait until History’s final years to understand the message of Revelation. The interpretation of its visions was intended to be understood by the churches of Asia and to be applicable to their real-life situations.

Photo by Jaredd Craig on Unsplash
Jaredd Craig on Unsplash
Some voices claim the correct understanding of Bible prophecy will not be disclosed fully until the “last generation,” hidden information to be decoded only in history's last few years. Passages from the books of Daniel and Revelation are cited to validate this idea.
This popular teaching is based on Daniel 12:4 when an angel ordered the prophet to “seal the book until the time of the end.” The assumption is that the meaning of it will not be understood until the final years before the return of Christ.
This interpretation is contrary to the stated purpose of Revelation and it ignores the New Testament understanding of the “last days.” Moreover, it overlooks the command to John by an angel NOT to “seal the prophecy of this book”:
(Daniel 12:4) - “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book to the time of the end.”
(Revelation 22:10) - “And he said to me, ‘Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand’.”
In the first verse of Revelation, the book is identified as an unveiling or apokaluypsis, that is, a “disclosure, an unveiling, an uncovering.” The book reveals things previously hidden. Its images and language are intended to disclose, not to mystify or to conceal.
The purpose is to “show God’s servants the things that must come to pass shortly.” The “servants” addressed are the seven churches of Asia. They would not have heard “shortly” to mean two thousand years in the future. Those who read and “keep” the prophecy are declared “blessed.” The ability to “keep” necessitates the ability to understand. The imminence of the unveiled events is reiterated in the opening paragraph, “the season is at hand” and in the book’s epilogue (Revelation 1:1-4, 1:11, 22:10).
The preceding does not mean that all of the predictions in the book found their fulfillment in the first century, but it does mean that the process of fulfillment began at that time.
The book of Revelation often interprets its own symbolism. The “seven golden lampstands” among which Christ walks, for example, are stated to represent the seven churches. Its visions are intended to reveal and communicate information, not to conceal it (Revelation 1:20, 11:4).
Daniel was commanded to seal the book until the “time of the end.” In the New Testament, the “last days” began with the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. God gave partial revelation “long ago to the fathers in the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us in a Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2).
God’s promise to pour out His Spirit on all flesh was actualized “in the last days.” God sent Jesus in “the fullness of time to redeem those under the Law.” God’s “mysteries” hidden in past generations are now revealed in Jesus. Thus, the promised time of fulfillment, the “last days,” began with the first advent of Jesus (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:17, Romans 11:25, 1 Corinthians 2:1, 2 Corinthians 1:20, Ephesians 1:9, 6:19, Colossians 1:26, 4:7).
There is a sealed book in the visions of Revelation, the scroll sealed with seven seals. Only the sacrificed Lamb is “worthy” to open it. This image portrays the victory of Jesus on Calvary and his subsequent elevation to God’s right hand, the basis for which he is authorized to open the scroll (Acts 2:33, Hebrews 1:3, 8:1, 10:12, 12:2, 1 Peter 3:22, Revelation 3:21, 6:16, 7:9-17, 12:5, 14:3, 22:1-3).
Jesus established his worthiness to open the scroll in his sacrificial death. In the vision of Revelation, the Lamb takes the scroll and immediately begins to open it. Thus, the contents of the scroll unfold over the remainder of the book. The scroll is observed opened fully (for the first time) in Chapter 10.
The book of Revelation concludes by reiterating themes from its prologue. The Risen Christ sent his angel to show his servants the “things that must come to pass shortly.” He reiterates promises of blessing to them “who keep the words of the prophecy.” The angel repeats the pronouncement: “the season is near” (Revelation 22:6-10).
The commandment to Daniel to seal the book provides the wording for a passage in the book’s epilogue. Daniel was commanded to “seal the scroll until the time of the end,” whereas, John is commanded, “not to seal the words of the prophecy of this scroll, for the season is near.” Revelation revealed to the churches of Asia what was hidden from Daniel, for the last days arrived with the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. The proper understanding of God’s mysteries is found in Jesus Christ.
Christians do not need to wait until History’s final years to understand the message of Revelation. The interpretation of its visions was intended to be understood by the churches of Asia and to be applicable to their real-life situations.

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