Then I saw a scroll in the right hand of the one who was sitting on the throne. There was writing on the inside and the outside of the scroll, and it was sealed with seven seals." (Revelation 5:1 NLT)John's vision of heaven opens with the throne room of God and in His hand is the famous scroll. Revelation describes it as being written on both sides and sealed with seven seals. With the opening of the each seal an event is allowed to take place on the earth, which until this point had been prevented, or sealed away if you will. Once the scroll is opened the Day of the Lord begins, a time of wrath and judgment on unrepentant sinners with seven events announced with seven trumpets.
Speculation abounds as to the meaning of this scroll; could it be the sealed prophecies of Daniel 12:4, or perhaps the double sided scroll eaten by Ezekiel 2:9-10? The title deed to planet earth or perhaps it's just a scroll?
While these possibilities are intriguing, this particular scroll appears to contain special significance and it is linked with the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. When the scroll is presented in Revelation 5 a strong angel announces a challenge, “who is worthy to open this particular scroll?” No angel, prophet, or citizen in heaven or earth is found worthy to open this scroll. Daniel wrote and sealed up a scroll, Ezekiel was asked to eat a scroll, but this scroll is especially holy and no one is allowed to tinker with it. But Jesus is worthy.
"Then I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll and read it. But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, "Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David's throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals." Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth." (Revelation 5:4-6 NLT)
Jesus is worthy to open the scroll! How did He achieve this special authority? He has won the victory. What victory, you ask? Consider how He is described as He approaches the throne. A lamb who had been slaughtered but is now standing between the throne of God and everything else. By dying on the cross for our sins Jesus has redeemed His people from sin, paying the penalty for our transgressions by offering Himself as the sacrificial Lamb of God. But Jesus did not stay dead; by rising from the grave He conquered death itself and now stands between God and man interceding on our behalf.
"And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God's people. And they sang a new song with these words: "You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation." (Revelation 5:8-9 NLT)
Only Jesus is worthy to open the scroll because only Jesus lived a sinless life and died to pay the price for the sins of the world.
This scroll contains the will of God concerning the final fate of all mankind. Its contents detail what is known throughout the Bible as the Day of the Lord. It is the will of God concerning the end of the age.
"And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed." (2 Peter 3:7 NLT)
"For see, the day of the LORD is coming--the terrible day of his fury and fierce anger. The land will be made desolate, and all the sinners destroyed with it. The heavens will be black above them; the stars will give no light. The sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will provide no light. "I, the LORD, will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their sin. I will crush the arrogance of the proud and humble the pride of the mighty." (Isaiah 13:9-11 NLT)
Needless to say, the events described within the scroll will not be pleasant, but they will be necessary. God is love and patient, but God is also holy and just. He cannot stand by and watch sin go unpunished forever.
With the opening of the sixth seal several important events take place to give us clues to the significance of the scrolls contents. As seen in a previous article, I believe the rapture occurs at the sixth seal. We also see special protection given to 144,000 Israelites who will remain on the earth after the rapture (Revelation 7). The people who remain on the earth after the rapture who are not given special protection by God are seen cowering in fear and dread, gravely concerned about what is about to happen with the opening of the scroll.
"And they cried to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to survive?"" (Revelation 6:16-17 NLT)
"And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God's Son from heaven--Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment." (1 Thessalonians 1:10 NLT)In my youth I spent some time working as a stocker at Target. I highly recommend working at Target, only don't steal from them, especially as an employee. It happens, of course, a pen here, a book there. But don't kid yourself, they know what you are up to, they know, they are watching, and they are keeping track. The pen and the book don't amount to much, $10, maybe $15, but remember they are keeping track. Once you have reached a total worth prosecuting they will call their friends in the justice department and have you paraded around in irons. Up until then you could have stopped, you could have repented and escaped, but once you have passed a certain dollar amount you become an example.
The Old Testament is full of examples, full of warnings concerning God's judgment on a wicked people. Do not mistake God's patience for ignorance. Repent while God is still patiently waiting for you.
Throughout the Bible we see a pattern concerning the judgment of God upon sinful man. At first, God is patient, giving people a chance to realize their wrongdoing and repent of their sin.
"The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent." (2 Peter 3:9 NLT)
He warns of the coming judgment, giving even more opportunity for repentance.
"On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: "Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!" The people of Nineveh believed God's message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow. ... When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened." (Jonah 3:4-5, 10 NLT)
""Therefore, this is what the LORD God of Heaven's Armies, the God of Israel, says: 'Because you refuse to listen or answer when I call, I will send upon Judah and Jerusalem all the disasters I have threatened.'"" (Jeremiah 35:17 NLT)
But there is a point of no return, a time when the sin and stubbornness of a people warrant their destruction.
"After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction."" (Genesis 15:16 NLT)
"So the LORD told Abraham, "I have heard a great outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, because their sin is so flagrant. I am going down to see if their actions are as wicked as I have heard. If not, I want to know."" (Genesis 18:20-21 NLT)
This world dips further into darkness with every passing day. God has been warning us to repent for over two thousand years; no one can say that He has not been patient with us. Some have responded to His call, most of the world has not. There is coming a time when the level of sin and depravity on the earth will reach an all time high, a time when God’s sense of justice will outweigh His eternal patience. The first six seals describes mankind’s darkest, most sinful hour but with the opening of the seventh, God judges sin.
""Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. ... Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. ... For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again. ... "Immediately after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." (Matthew 24:9, 12, 21, 29-30 NLT)
With the breaking of the seventh seal the large scroll is opened and God’s judgment is to be poured out upon the world.
"When the Lamb broke the seventh seal on the scroll, there was silence throughout heaven for about half an hour. I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and they were given seven trumpets." (Revelation 8:1-2 NLT)
"When the seventh angel blows his trumpet, God's mysterious plan will be fulfilled. It will happen just as he announced it to his servants the prophets."" (Revelation 10:7 NLT)
"Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices shouting in heaven: "The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever."" (Revelation 11:15 NLT)
The large scroll describes the mysterious day of the Lord. It is a day of judgment from which the righteous will be spared and removed from at the rapture like Lot and his family from the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah while others (the 144,000 Israelites) are protected during the events like Noah and his family, and with its conclusion God will begin to establish His physical kingdom on the earth.