31 December 2018

The Unsealed Book - Time of Fulfillment is Now

The opened scroll
At the close of his visions, an angel commanded Daniel “to shut up the words, and seal the book until the season of the end” (Daniel 12:4). One school of prophecy sees this as a promise that the meaning of his prophecies will be disclosed in History’s final years, to the “last generation” to live before the end of the age.
      This interpretation misses what the book of Revelation does with this verse from Daniel (Revelation 1:1-3; 22:10). Revelation does not directly cite Old Testament passages; it uses verbal allusions to clauses from the Septuagint Greek version of the Hebrew Bible and incorporates them into its narrative, often with changes to the original words. Students of prophecy must pay close attention to spot these allusions.
     The very first word of Revelation is apokalupsis or “revelation,” which means an “unveiling, disclosure, revelation.” God gave it to Jesus to show His servants what things are about to come to pass (1:1). The visions of Revelation are not meant to hide or mystify us, but to disclose imminent events and insights into them.
     The first paragraph of Revelation declares its purpose is to “show God’s servants by signs what things must come to pass soon,” His servants in the first place being the seven churches of Asia (1:1-3). The paragraph concludes with promised blessings for Christians who hear and heed the words of the prophecy, because “the season is near.” What John refers to is the record of his visions now preserved in the book of Revelation, “the words of the prophecy.”
     The clause, “what things must come to pass soon,” alludes to Daniel’s words to King Nebuchadnezzar about his dream of a great image: “There is a God in heaven that reveals mysteries, and has shown the king what things must come to pass in latter days” (Daniel 2:28). The Greek clause in the Septuagint is an exact match to the one in Revelation 1:1 only “latter days” is now changed to “soon.” What was once in the distant future is for the churches of Asiaimminent.
     “The season is near” in Revelation 1:3 is based on the clause from Daniel 12:4, “the season of the end.” In both passages “season” represents the Greek noun kairos, meaning “season, an opportune time, set time.” As with Daniel 2:28, Revelation changes “the end” to “near” or engusto denote something “near, imminent, at hand.”
     At the conclusion of Revelation, an angel commands John NOTto seal the sayings of the prophecy of this book, for the season is at hand,” again alluding to Daniel 12:4. The comparison with Daniel is clear and deliberate. What Daniel was told to seal until a distant future John is told not to seal, for the time of disclosure has arrived.
     The book of Revelation opens with greetings from God, the “seven spirits before the throne,” and from “Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth, and loosed us from our sins by his blood; who made us to be a kingdom, priests unto his God and Father.”
Christ’s royal status is presented as an accomplished fact in the Book of Revelation. He is the one who bore faithful witness in his death. He is the firstborn of the dead through his resurrection. His death and resurrection are the basis of his absolute and royal authority, the (present) “ruler of the kings of the earth.” His reign and realm are not waiting in heaven for some future interim period after his return; he rules already over the Cosmos, including over the earth.
     By obedience unto death Jesus “overcame and sat down with my Father in his throne” (3:21). His right to take and open “scroll sealed with seven seals” was achieved in his sacrificial Lamb (5:5-6); already he has all authority (“I am the Living one, and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades”  - 1:18), and already he has begun to open the sealed scroll (6:1).
     This means that in accordance with Yahweh’s promise at Sinai, men and women freed by his sacrifice are constituted “kings and priests” to reign with him (cp. 5:10). From the start, Revelation’s visions are anchored in the past death and resurrection of Jesus.
    Christians still waiting for some prophetic point in the future for revelation into Daniel’s prophecies are a day late and a dollar short. The messianic age and the time of fulfillment have arrived already in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

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