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31 December 2018

The Unsealed Book - Time of Fulfillment is Now

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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 to unveil the meaning of this book’s prophecies during History’s final years, to the “last generation” to live before the end of the age.
This interpretation misses how the book of Revelation applies this verse from the book of Daniel (Revelation 1:1-322:10). It does not directly cite Old Testament passages; instead, it uses verbal allusions to clauses from the Septuagint Greek version of the Hebrew Bible and incorporates them into its narrative. It often includes changes to the original words of Daniel, often slight grammatical changes such as a different verb tense from the original. Students of prophecy must pay close attention to spot these allusions and alterations.
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 were about to come to pass (Revelation 1:1). The visions of Revelation are not intended to hide or mystify, but to disclose critical information.
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 (Revelation 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 now imminent for the churches of Asia.
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, opportune time, set time.” As with Daniel 2:28, Revelation changes “the end” to “near” or engus to denote something “near, imminent, at hand.”
At the conclusion of Revelation, an angel commands John NOT “to 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 commanded not to seal it, 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. 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 form the basis of his reign at God’s right hand, the (present) “ruler of the kings of the earth.” His reign and realm are not waiting in heaven for some future interim period; his rule is a present reality.
By obedience unto death Jesus “overcame and sat down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:21). His right to take and to open “scroll sealed with seven seals” was achieved in his sacrificial Lamb (Revelation 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 (Revelation 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. Revelation 5:10). From the start, Revelation’s visions are anchored in the past death and the 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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