When does Christ open the book with seven seals?
Recently, I was studying Revelation, Chapter 5, where John of Patmos is shown a book with seven seals, actually it’s a scroll.
Chapter 6 then describes what happens as the seals are opened. A lot of Christians are incredibly fixated on what these seals represent and the events that follow in the book of Revelation. There are so many different opinions and theories about how and when these prophecies will be fulfilled.
So let’s look at the first part of chapter 5.
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.
Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne.
And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals… Revelation 5:1-9 NIV
The scroll with seven seals – when will it be opened?
This is quite a scene, isn’t it? What does it really mean?
Well, for centuries, Bible scholars have pontificated and prophesied on the meaning of this passage and the chapters that follow. Basically, they have created four-color flip charts, time-lines, and elaborate explanations of who the four living creatures are, the four horsemen, which are mentioned later, 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. People have been prophesying that the time is at hand and that we are living in the last days and perhaps even the last few moments before the fulfillment of the prophecies in the book of Revelation.
Prophecies come and go
And if you keep track of these things at all, you’ve noticed there’s a growing list of people, especially over the last 100-200 years or so, who have come up exact dates for when certain things will come to pass, which are mentioned the book of Revelation. They have it all figured out.
But, the prophesied time frames for when Jesus would return or when the world would end, have come and gone. Then, these so-called prophets continue to tweak their predictions, recalculating but always proclaiming the time is right around the corner. But each new generation says the same thing.
And there’s an increasing number of Bible scholars today who believe the prophecies in the Book Revelation are not referring to something in the 20th or 21st centuries, but to the immediate time just after it was written.
But whether the book of Revelation was written referring to the first century or the 21st century, or beyond, I think we have missed something in these apocalyptic writings.
Only Christ can open the 7 seals
To me, the essence of this last book in the Bible is about the ultimate supremacy of good over evil.
But I’m not convinced it’s 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 certainly not pretending to know all the answers, but just sharing my thoughts and observations.
Whether these prophesies have already been completely fulfilled or will be so in the future, 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 problems: 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. Maybe there are some fears within you, which you haven’t dealt with. These things affect us, even if we aren’t aware of them.
You’ve probably tried to resolve these problems through prayer or any way possible.
Here’s where the Lamb in chapter 5 of Revelation, which represents Christ, comes to the rescue.
Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to wait till the end of time for Christ to open the seven seals? What if it could happen right now?
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 these obstacles.
As Christ opens the seven seals in Revelation, chapter 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.
Human will and effort cannot open the seven seals
This is true in our lives today, both individually and collectively. 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, no government policy or agency, can do what Christ does for us. No man-made religious doctrines, human psychology, or material remedies can deliver us from evil. Only Christ can truly uncover and destroy what hinders us. But hidden, unknown evil must first be exposed. And that’s exactly what Christ does.
When we try to force open the seals of evil with human will and determination, whether with selfish or even noble motives, we will fail because we’re trying to do something we are not ordained to do and which we’re incapable of accomplishing. We are trying to take the place of Christ. We must let the Lamb of God do his job. He alone can. He alone knows how.
Symptoms of spiritual progress
Every time you have the humility to realize that you, or anyone or anything else cannot solve your problems, you’re opening the door to let Christ in to open a seal, which is the first step.
If there is a rotten log across a path in the forest, which prevents you from going forward, the first step is to move it out of the way. You may need some help if it’s a big log. In the process of removing the log, all the bugs and spiders, which were hidden in and under it, scatter.
When Christ exposes the hidden hurts and sins in our hearts, sometimes it seems they flare up and get worse, then cling to us more tenaciously, just as the spiders from under the rotting log run up your leg when you move it. But this is a symptom, or you could say, a precursor, of spiritual rebirth and regeneration.
When Christ opens the seven seals, all hell breaks loose. Go read Revelation chapter 6 and you’ll see what I mean. This exposure of evil and the upheaval that follows is a necessary step in Christ’s ultimate victory over evil.
A lot of preachers try 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.
Quit trying to figure out when
It’s not about dates and times so much as how God is “ripening the grain.” Even Jesus said, in referring to his coming and the end of the age,
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Mark 13:22 NKJV
Jesus says that even he doesn’t know the time. Who do we think we are that we can figure it out? Only the Father in heaven knows that. So when people claim they have discovered the exact date, through their careful interpretation of Scripture, when Jesus will return and the end of the world will occur, don’t take their predictions seriously.
Just before Jesus ascended, his disciples asked him if he would restore the kingdom right then.
Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” Acts 1:6, 7 NIV
Jesus’s reply still stands as a rebuke to everyone today trying to figure out dates and times. He said, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.”
“It is not for you to know the times or dates…” Let that sink in a minute. Are you willing to give up this desire to know something Jesus said is impossible to know? To think we can figure out when the end of this age will come is incredibly arrogant. It’s like trying to build a modern day Tower of Babel, to reach for the heavens and assume God’s role.
Christ fulfills the prophecy today
Let’s come back to this idea of Christ opening the seven seals on the scroll.
Instead of getting all caught up in how this is going to happen in the future or whether it has already happened in the past, I encourage you to focus more on how Christ fulfills 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 the unhealed wounds from things others have done to harm you?
Only Christ can open the seals of your heart, expose the evil, and defeat the foe.
Christ at the door
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. Revelation 3:20 NIV
Imagine if Jesus came to your front door and asked to come in to share a meal with you, but your house was an absolute mess. I did a podcast episode based on this very premise. Episode 14: Would You Let Jesus in Your House if You Hadn’t Cleaned up for Weeks?
There have been times in the past, when my house was so messy, I wouldn’t even let my friends in who came to the door. Fortunately, that’s no longer the case. Now think about Jesus. Would you want him to see your messy house? And I use this as a metaphor for the mess in our lives.
But that’s why Christ comes, to help clean up the mess. And he goes right to the closet you have all that junk crammed into, that secret chamber in your heart where you’ve hidden away hurts, fears, and sins. Christ opens the door hiding this mess, pulls it all out and starts getting rid of it. In effect, he is opening the seven seals of your heart.
Deep, hidden fears uncovered by Christ
This has happened to me in the last week or so. Sometimes gently, sometimes more forcefully, Christ has been exposing some deep, hidden fears in my heart, I wasn’t really aware of or I thought I had dealt with.
These fears have kept me from doing some things I need to do with my life, fears that I’m not good enough or don’t know enough to do everything God wants me to. It’s been a sobering process, but also a very hopeful one. I feel Christ removing these fears, and that gives me courage to go forward.
And just as a side note, the number 7 often represents a sense of completeness, or fullness. Think of the seven seals as symbolic of all the evil’s or problems, whether in your life individually or the whole world, as referred to in the book of Revelation. When the Lamb, Christ, opens these seals, it represents the complete exposure and destruction of all evil, both individually and collectively.
Let go of what Christ gets rid of
When this happens, 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, a messy 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, the mess in your heart. He also cleans the windows so more light, or more of God’s love comes into your life. He washes the dishes and does the laundry, or rather, he gets rid of all the daily grime, the daily fears and hurts, on a regular basis, so they doesn’t pile up and get crammed in that closet he just cleaned out.
And you guessed it. Christ doesn’t clean out that closet, doesn’t clean up your life, for you to put more junk back in there.
When your closet is clean, you can store your clean clothes and linens there. When Christ cleans out all the fears and hurts in your heart, you have a place in your life to keep track of your spiritual growth, the times when you turned to God for help, and the healings and solutions God has brought to you. This metaphor could go on and on, but you get the idea.
Take a moment and be still. Christ is opening the seals of evil on your life. It may seem scary, it may seem tumultuous, but it’s a cleansing process, a healing in progress.
This prophecy of Christ breaking the seals on the scroll is not just for the past or only for the future.
Christ is knocking on the door of your heart. All he asks is to share a meal with you, to partake of the bread of life with you. In the process, he will open the seven seals, everything that would try to keep you from being all that God made you to be.
Christ is uncovering and destroying whatever is unlike him in your life today, as well as in the whole world, one heart at a time.
If you have questions or comments please contact me. I’d love to hear from you..
James Early, the Jesus Mindset Coach, is a Bible teacher, speaker, and podcaster. He conducts Bible workshops online and in person. His focus is on getting back to the original Christianity of Jesus by embracing the mindset of Christ in daily life. Contact him here.
Revelation 5:1-9 NIV
1 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.
2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?”
3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it.
4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.
5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
7 He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne.
8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.
9 And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals…
Mark 13:22 NKJV
22 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Acts 1:6, 7 NIV
6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.”
Revelation 3:20 NIV
20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.