The other day I was studying Revelation, Chapter 5, where John of Patmos is shown a book sealed with seven seals. (It was actually a scroll, as the one pictured above.) No man in heaven, on earth or under the earth is found worthy to break the seals, open the book, read it, or even look at it. John doesn’t know exactly what this book is yet, but he intuitively knows it’s pretty important. And he’s deeply disappointed that no one can open it. In fact he breaks down and cries.
One of the Elders comforts John with the great news that there is someone worthy to break the seals and read the book. The Lamb of God is equal to the task. Only Christ is worthy and able to open the seals.
For centuries, Bible scholars have pontificated on the meaning of this passage and the chapters that follow. They have their four-color flip charts and elaborate explanations of who the four horsemen are and what the seven seals represent, the seven trumpets and the seven angels with their plagues. And more importantly they predict when these prophecies will be FULFILLED. Many promise us that the time is at hand and that we are living in the very midst of the fulfillment today.
Many of the prophesied time frames have come and gone and the so-called modern day prophets continue to tweak their predictions always proclaiming the time is right around the corner. But each new generation says the same thing. Maybe we have missed something in these prophecies.
Only Christ can open the 7 seals
I do believe that the last book in the Bible reveals the ultimate supremacy of good over evil. But I’m not convinced it is a question of how events will unfold in a linear time frame-of-reference. In fact, I wrote a blog post a while back about this: Revelation 21: The end of the world is not a chronological event. I’m not pretending to know all the answers, but just sharing my thoughts and observations.
Yes, I believe these prophesies will be fulfilled in the grand scale of things, but the more I’ve thought about it, the more it seems to me they are, or can be, also fulfilled in our individual lives on a daily basis with each challenge we may face.
Overcoming addiction: the spiritual solution
Maybe you have a deep emotional scar because of something that happened in your past. Maybe you have an addiction in your life to drugs, sex, or just eating too many banana splits. And maybe you’ve tried to resolve these problems through prayer or any way possible. There may even be some negative influences in your life that bind you, things you’re not even aware of.
When evil influences seem to have us bound up and sealed so we can’t live life to the fullest, only Christ can actually remove the problem. As Christ opens the seven seals in Revelation, chapters 5 & 6, various forms of evil are loosed and run roughshod over the earth. But these evils had to be taken from their hiding places and exposed in order to be finally destroyed by God’s ultimate omnipotence.
So it is for us individually. Only Christ can uncover the hurts and fears we have buried and sealed in our hearts. Only Christ can break the seal, unlock the door, get down to the root of the problem and heal us. No man, woman or child, no institution–religious or secular, no organization or government agency can do what Christ can do for us. No man-made doctrines or human psychology can deliver us from evil. Only Christ can truly uncover and destroy what hinders us. But hidden, unknown evil must first be exposed.
When we try to force the seals open with human will and determination, whether with selfish or even noble motives, we will fail because we are trying to do something we are not ordained to do and incapable of accomplishing. We are trying to take the place of Christ. We must let the Lamb of God do the job. He alone knows how.
Symptoms of spiritual progress
Every time you have the humility to realize that you or anyone else cannot solve your own problems, you are letting Christ remove the seal, which is the first step. If there is a rotten log across a path in the forest, the first step is to move it out of the way. In the process of removing the log, all the bugs and snakes, which were hidden in and under it, scatter. Sometimes, when Christ exposes the hidden sins in our hearts, it seems they flare up and cling to us more tenaciously, just as the spiders from under the rotting log run up your leg. But this is a symptom of spiritual rebirth and regeneration.
When Christ opens the seven seals, all hell breaks loose. This, too, is a symptom of, or a necessary step in, Christ’s ultimate victory over evil.
A lot of preachers are trying to scare people into believing in Christ by foreshadowing the tumultuous times ahead, but I think they are missing a crucial point about how Bible prophecy is fulfilled. It’s not about dates and times so much as how God is “ripening the grain.” Even Jesus said he didn’t know when the end of the world would be. Who do we think we are that we can figure it out? Only the Father in heaven knows that. So when mortal men try to claim they have discovered the exact date of something Jesus said he didn’t know, I usually take their predictions with much more than just one grain of salt.
Just before Jesus ascended, his disciples asked him if he would restore the kingdom right then. His reply still stands as a rebuke to everyone today trying to figure out when it will happen. He said, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria [Gasp, even the Samaritans?], and unto the uttermost part of the earth [Double gasp, and the heathen!].” Acts 1:7, 8 KJV)
“It is not for you to know the times or the seasons…” Let that sink in a minute. That’s right, stop and think about it. Are you willing to give up this desire to know something Jesus said is impossible to know? To me, this is a sin of arrogance. It’s like trying to build a modern day Tower of Babel.
I encourage you to focus more on how Christ can fulfill this prophecy in your life today. Is there something hiding in your heart that needs to be exposed, faced, and healed? Things you have done wrong and haven’t dealt with? Or things others have done to harm you? Only Christ can open the seals of your heart and defeat the foe.
Christ says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20 KJV) Imagine if Jesus came to your door and asked to come in when your house was an absolute mess. We wouldn’t let our friends in. We probably wouldn’t want Jesus to see the mess in our home (our lives) either. But that’s why he comes, to help clean up the mess. And he goes right to the closet you have all that junk/your hurts, fears, and sins crammed into, pulls it all out and starts getting rid of it.
When this happens (and by the way, this is a metaphor), don’t hold onto the stuff in your life Christ comes to get rid of. Don’t be afraid to let him in to help. He’s really good at cleaning up a messy house/life. Don’t be impressed with how big the mess is or how long it’s been there. Christ is a full-service cleaner-upper. He doesn’t just get rid of the junk in your closet/heart. He cleans the windows so more light/God’s love comes in. He washes the dishes and does the laundry, or rather, he gets rid of all the daily grime on a regular basis, so it doesn’t pile up and get crammed in that closet he just cleaned out.
And you guessed it. He didn’t clean out that closet for you to put more junk in. You can store your clean clothes and linens there. You can have a place in your life to keep track of your spiritual growth and times when you turned to God for help. This metaphor could go on and on, but you get the idea.
Take a moment and be still. Christ is opening the seals. Christ is uncovering and destroying whatever displeases him, in your life as well as the whole world.
I’d love to hear how Christ has cleaned out your “closet.”