The seven seals in Revelation Chapters six through eight are not hard to understand when we let the Bible explain and interpret itself. Many try to interpret what these seals mean; and as a result, confusing ideas over the centuries have remained with us until this day.
However, we do not need to be confused at what Jesus is trying to tell us through these seals, because
"no prophecy of the scripture is of any privateinterpretation" (2 Peter 1:20). That word "private" refers to any interpretation developed by any person, scholar, church or whatever or whoever else. This is why in this note only the Bible will explain the symbols in the seven seals without our "private interpretation" because the Holy Spirit inspired these prophecies (Verse 21). As a matter of fact, this method is to always be used when studying any part of the Bible. This way, confusion will always fade away and the truth will appear as clear as the sun in the middle of the day.
2 Peter 1:19-21:
19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
We will clearly see that the seals cover the time between the early church after Jesus' resurrection until His second coming at the end of time. Jesus in these seals reveals the condition of His church and all who claim to follow him. After seeing the meaning of the symbols defined in other texts, we will quote from reliable historical sources showing that the seals really showed the future events concerning God's people from John's day. Let us now delve into the seals.
The Seals Opened Up in the Pre-Advent Judgement (A Quick Summary of Revelation 4 and 5)
The Pre-Advent Judgement, or the Judgement before the Second Coming of Christ, is when Jesus opens the seven seals of Revelation 6 - revealing the contents of the Book in the Father's right hand:
1 And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book (or scroll) written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.
4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.
5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
7 And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.
11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;
These events in Revelation 5:1-5,11 are introduced by Revelation 4. Chapters 4 and 5 are one unit as they describe the same event leading up to the opening of the seven seals:
1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
4 And round about the throne were four and twentyseats (or thrones, thronos in greek): and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
John saw the door opened from the Holy Place in the heavenly Sanctuary to the throne room of God - the Most Holy Place of the Sanctuary in Heaven. This open door was set before the Church of Philedalphia (Revelation 3:8[7-13]). After them, the Church of Laodicea appears (Rev. 3:14-21) and Laodicea means "judgement (justice) of the People". Spiritual Laodecia is living during the time of this last days Judgement, so right after Jesus concludes His message to Laodecia, he shows John the Pre-Advent Judgement (Revelation chapters 4 and 5) where the Father sits on His Throne. Jesus and the Father bothshare this throne and They have promised that if we overcome this world through Them and the Holy Spirit, we will sit with Them in Their throne:
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
We know that in this Most Holy Place the Pre-Advent Judgement occurs because Daniel saw this same Judgement as John did in Revelation, though John gives more details in two chapters - Revelation 4 and 5. Daniel described it in only a few verses:
9 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.
10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.
13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
We can clearly see that Daniel and John saw the same event because the parallels are obvious. Here are the main ones:
- In Revelation 5:5, Jesus prevails to open the Book in the Father's right hand.
- In Daniel 7:10, the Judgement was set, and "the books were opened".
- In Revelation 5:7, Jesus "came and took the Book" from the Father's "right hand". It is therefore obvious that Jesus had to come near before the Father to take this book.
- Daniel saw this in Daniel 7:13 when Jesus "the Son of man ... came to the Ancient of Days (the Father), and they brought Him near before Him." At this point, Revelation 5:7 notes that Jesus took the Book.
- In Revelation 4:2-4, thrones/seats were set up before the book was opened.
- In Daniel 7:9, thrones were "cast down" (or set up, not thrown violently).
- In Revelation 5:11, "thousands and thousands and ten thousand times ten thousand" angels where "round about the throne".
- In Daniel 7:10, "thousand thousands ministered unto him", and "ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him" and the "judgement was set" with the "books opened".
- In Revelation 4:5, John saw "seven lamps of fire burning before the throne".
- In Daniel 7:9,10, Daniel saw this same "fiery stream" that "issued and came forth from before Him" because "His throne was like the fiery flame" and wheels of burning fire.
These points make it crystal clear that Daniel and John saw the Judgement in heaven taking place. This was not the inauguration of Christ when he ascended back to heaven in 31 A.D. as some state. Books are opened only in the Judgement (Rev. 20:12). Never do we see any scripture hinting that any book is opened at any inauguration. Also, the inauguration of Christ as high priest happened in 31 A.D., about sixty five years before John was given this vision, which he was told was a future event! The last sentence in Revelation 4:1 says "... Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter [in the future]". Clearly this couldn't have been the inauguration of Christ because that took place almost six decades before John got this vision around 96 A.D. This throne room vision had to take place "hereafter", or sometime in the future after John got this vision.
In the next part of this series, we bring out more clearly the fact that since the cleansing of the sanctuary (same as the Pre-Advent judgement) deals with God's professed people, the seven seals describe the works and conditions of Christianity through the ages as they are being examined in this judgement.
Ellen White saw this same Judgement event:
I saw the Father rise from the throne, and in a flaming chariot go into the holy of holies within the veil, and sit down. Then Jesus rose up from the throne, and the most of those who were bowed down arose with Him. I did not see one ray of light pass from Jesus to the careless multitude after He arose, and they were left in perfect darkness. Those who arose when Jesus did, kept their eyes fixed on Him as He left the throne and led them out a little way. Then He raised His right arm, and we heard His lovely voice saying, “Wait here; I am going to My Father to receive the kingdom; keep your garments spotless, and in a little while I will return from the wedding and receive you to Myself.” Then a cloudy chariot, with wheels like flaming fire, surrounded by angels, came to where Jesus was. He stepped into the chariot and was borne to the holiest, where the Father sat. There I beheld Jesus, a great High Priest, standing before the Father.
The Contents of the Book Jesus Opens
When the seventh and last seal is opened, the contents of that book will be revealed. We are told what the contents are:
There in His open hand lay the book, the roll of the history of God’s providences, the prophetic history of nations and the church. Herein was contained the divine utterances, His authority, His commandments, His laws, the whole symbolic counsel of the Eternal, and the history of all ruling powers in the nations. In symbolic language was contained in that roll the influence of every nation, tongue, and people from the beginning of earth’s history to its close.
This roll was written within and without. John says: “I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon” [verse 4]. The vision as presented to John made its impression upon his mind. The destiny of every nation was contained in that book. John was distressed at the utter inability of any human being or angelic intelligence to read the words, or even to look thereon. His soul was wrought up to such a point of agony and suspense that one of the strong angels had compassion on him, and laying his hand on him assuringly, said, “Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof” [verse 5].
John continues: [verses 6, 7, quoted]. As the book was unrolled, all who looked upon it were filled with awe. There were no blanks in the book. There was space for no more writing. [Revelation 5:8-14; 6:8-11; Revelation 8:1-4, quoted.]
Individual actions are also in this book, because the choice the Jewish leaders made to reject Christ is written in this book (or scroll):
Thus the Jewish leaders made their choice. Their decision was registered in the book which John saw in the hand of Him that sat upon the throne, the book which no man could open. In all its vindictiveness this decision will appear before them in the day when this book is unsealed by the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
Our names are written in this book. This means that it is our promise of inheritance of eternal life and sitting with Christ on His throne. This book can all so be called a book of inheritance:
The book was opened, and now it can be read, and every case will be decided according to the things that are written in the book, ...
If you are ready for judgment, if your name is in that book that is sealed, if it is such that will command your course of action, then Christ will say, 'Have a seat on My throne,'...
The Book was opened ..., and every case will be decided according to the things that are written in the book ... The name that stands in that book does not have one title of influence, but it is the One who writes the very purposes of the heart ..."
Other books (scrolls) that Daniel saw opened in this Judgement are mentioned through the Bible. There are books that contain the record of our deeds:
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
There is the Book of Remembrance where God memorializes those who stood for Him even when most others didn't (the context of Malachi Chapter 3):
Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.
Those who are not saved will not have their names in the Book of Life:
Revelation 13:8; 20:15; 17:8; 21:27 and 22:19:
Rev 13:8 - And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Rev 20:15 - And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Rev 17:8 - The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
Rev 21:27 - And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither [whatsoever] worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Rev 22:19 - And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
One more critical point here. We sometimes also call this Judgement the Investigative Judgement, because the books are investigated to see what our deeds were. The deeds of nations are also investigated. This term is used to describe that we are judged by the things investigated in the books. This is biblical and is obvious at this point. When you hear people try to say otherwise, remember these texts. They are too clear to be misunderstood.
During this Judgement, God will not blot us out of the Book of Life if we are faithful. As He stands before the Father interceding, He will bring up our names for salvation before Him:
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
We can't afford to throw away our salvation by living in sins we know are separating us from God. God said that
"Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book." Exodus 32:32,33.
Jesus and the Father has made, and still are making every provision for us to be saved. Let us not neglect this while we live! As we walk with Christ, we are to "rejoice, because your names are written in heaven" as members of the "church of the first born" (Luke 10:20 and Hebrews 12:23). They are written in the Book of Life and that Book sealed with seven seals. Let us not be unfaithful and have our names "blotted out of" God's book.
In the next part, we will deal with the opening of the First seal.
God bless you all.