The Seven-Sealed Book

Revelation

The Seven-Sealed Book

February 25th, 1962 @ 8:15 AM

Revelation 5:1-14

And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. 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. 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. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. 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; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.
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THE SEVEN-SEALED BOOK

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Revelation 5:1-14

2-25-62     8:15 a.m.

 

On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  This is the pastor bringing the early morning message entitled The Seven-Sealed Book.  We have come to one of the key and primary and most significant of all of the scenes in the Apocalypse.  And if you would like, you can take your Bible and you can follow the message this morning easily.  In the Book of the Revelation, the last book in the Bible, chapter 5:

And I saw in the right hand of Him that sat on the throne a book, a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals,

The seven sealed book—

And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?

And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.

And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.

And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not:  behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four cherubim, 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.

And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him that sat on the throne.

And when He had taken the book, the four cherubim and the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of saints.

And they sang a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

And hast made us unto our God kings and priests:  and we shall reign on the earth.

[Revelation 5:1-10]

I wish it were possible for me to put together the sermon this morning, and next Sunday morning, and the next Sunday morning, all three of them.  If we could put all three of them together and listen to them at one time, we could have a far better idea of this most significant of all of the scenes in the Book of the Revelation.  But I haven’t the time to do it, so it’s broken up into three parts.  The first one, this morning, The Seven-Sealed Book; the next Sunday morning, The Worthiness of the Lamb; and the third Sunday morning from now, The Song of Redemption.

Chapters 4 and 5 go together.  We have a separation here, but they’re not to be separated.  The first verse, for example, of chapter 5, begins with an “And” [Revelation 5:1].  It belongs to the chapter above [Revelation 4:11].  We are looking through John’s incredulous eyes at this heavenly scene of the throne, and the four cherubim, and the four and twenty elders, and the innumerable, uncountable numbers of angels [Revelation 5:11].

And as we look through the wondering, worshipful, reverent eyes of the sainted apostle John, we are conscious that all heaven is being prepared for something stupendously significant, and the thing that develops is something that you would never look for or never guess for.  For this significant thing that is coming to pass is summed up in a book that lies upon—you have it translated, “I saw in the right hand,” I saw epi tou, upon, “I saw upon,” as though extended toward anyone that could receive it or that could take it, “I saw upon the right hand of God a book” [Revelation 5:1].

Now there are several books in the Revelation.  Four different times you have reference to the Book of Life [Revelation 17:8, 20:12, 15, 21:27], which is a register of the names of those who are redeemed, who are saved.  You have a book of works, which is a divine record of the deeds done in the flesh [Revelation 20:12].  In the tenth chapter of the Revelation, you have a book of the testimony that is given to John to speak to the nations and peoples of the earth [Revelation 10:8-11].  But this book is altogether separate and distinct.  This one is much and greatly and vastly different.

The book that lies upon the hand of God described here is a scroll that is sealed with seven seals [Revelation 5:1].  The way that thing is written in Greek, you just get an idea that there never was such a sealed book as this sealed book: katesphragismenon hepta, a perfect passive participle; “sealed, having been sealed,” really sealed, seven times [Revelation 5:1].  Now, this kind of a book is a codex, invented by the Christians when they cut up the scroll of the Scriptures, tied them together at the back so that the Christian preacher could turn rapidly to the place out of which he was trying to give testimony to the deity of Christ.  That’s a good example, and the best I know, to show us what kind of preaching they did in those early years.  They took the Bible and they proved and they exhorted concerning the saviorhood of our Lord out of the Word of God.  That’s how come you to have a Book like this.  But until those first Christian centuries, all the books were scrolls; they were rolled up.  Now, that book that lay in the hand of God was a scroll, and it was rolled up to a certain part, and then that was sealed at the edge with a seal.  Then it was rolled up again, and then that part was sealed with another seal.  And then another part was rolled, and that was sealed.  And finally, when the entire scroll was rolled up, all of it was sealed with the seventh seal.  It was not only sealed on the outside, but all of those parts, seven parts inside, all of them were also separately sealed.  It was katesphragismenon; it was “really sealed” [Revelation 5:1].

Now when you broke the seals, why, it just came down the other way.  When you broke the first seal, a certain part of the book was opened.  When you broke the second seal, another part was opened.  When you broke the third seal, another part, and so on down, until when you broke the seventh seal the entire scroll was opened to be read [Revelation 5:1].

Now what does that mean?  That book, so significant and so meaningful, evidently has a tremendous bearing upon the purposes of God.  Well what is it?  Well, here are several suggestions, all of them good.  One suggestion is this: that that book is the investiture of Christ with the sovereignty and the authority of the universe, of heaven above and earth beneath.  Well, that’s good.  That means that this is the symbol of that glorious day when it shall come to pass that Christ takes unto Himself the reigns of the authority and the government of the universe.  As He said, “All authority is given unto Me in heaven and in earth” [Matthew 28:18].  And that book represents the investiture of Christ with all of the sovereignty and authority of creation.  Well, that’s good.  That’s a fine suggestion.

Here’s another suggestion about the meaning of that book: that book represents all of the counsels, and the elective purposes, and decrees, and the judgments of God.  That’s the reason the book is written on the inside and on the outside [Revelation 5:1].  It is so full of meaning, it is so greatly significant, and there are so many of the decrees and judgments of God, that there is barely space to write them down.  And if the book refers to that, then the sealed book means the unrealized, unexecuted plans and decrees and purposes of God.  And the breaking of the seals, the unsealed book [Revelation 5:2], would be the realization of the purposes and the plans and the programs of God for all of His creation.  Well that’s good.  That’s a fine suggestion.

Then here is another suggestion what that book means.  Daniel concludes like this:

And I heard, but I understood not:  then said I,

O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?

And God said, Go thy way, Daniel:  for the words are closed up and

sphragizō—

same word—

and sealed till the time of the end.

[Daniel 12:8-9]

That would be the Septuagint’s translation of that, the same Greek word used over here in the fifth chapter of the Book of the Revelation [Revelation 5:1].

Well the suggestion is made that the prophecy that was given to Daniel concerning the consummation of the age was sealed, and no man could know it, and it was thus unexecuted, but in the fifth chapter of the Book of the Revelation we have come to the time for the revelation of and the execution of the divine and elective purposes of God for this universe.  And the time has come, so the book is unsealed [Revelation 6:1-17], and God’s purposes are therewith executed in the earth [Revelation 10:7].  Well, that’s good; all of that is fine.

Now to me, as I read and study the best I know how and ponder over these things until my eyes nearly go out, to me, this is the full meaning of that book [Revelation 5:1].  First of all, let’s look at these significant things about it, as we read it, and what happened here in the fifth chapter of the Book of the Revelation.  First, it is this book that brings on the scene in heaven, the Son of God, the Prince of glory, the Redeemer of the universe, and the great Architect of the events that follow, that ensue in the new creation above and the new world below.  That’s the first thing about that book.  It is the instrument by which there is brought into the scenes of heaven the great Redeemer Christ [Revelation 5:5]; first thing about that book.

The second thing about that book: that book, when the One who takes it is introduced, that book is the instrument for the introduction of that great character in glory.  And when He appears, what kind of a character is He?  When you look at Him, this great Prince that comes forward to take that book, what is He?  John said he turned to see, and it was as it were a Lamb that had been slain [Revelation 5:6]—and next Sunday morning we’re going to discuss a sacrificial ‘Lamb as it had been slain.”  So when He comes to take the book, He comes in the character of a sacrificial offering, “a Lamb as it had been slain” [Revelation 5:6].

A third thing about this book: when the One comes forward to take it, He comes forward in an action and in a character from which all creation in heaven above and in earth below shrunk away in unworthiness and in inability [Revelation 5:7-8].

And a fourth thing and a last thing about that book; when the Lamb of God comes to take it, He alone out of all in heaven above and earth beneath; when He comes to take it in a character from which all else in heaven and in earth shrunk away in inability and in unworthiness; when He comes to take it, immediately the hosts in glory, and the songs in heaven, and the whole praise of creation pours out to Him as the great Redeemer of mankind and of God’s lost and doomed world [Revelation 5:8-10].

Therefore, I know this thing about that book: it’s great, and its primary, and its fundamental, and its first significance has to do with redemption!  That book that lies on the hand of God [Revelation 5:1], is the book of redemption [Revelation 5:9].  It’s the book of the reclaiming of God’s great and vast and marvelous creation [Romans 8:22-24].  That book has to do with the redemption of the entire purchased possession [Ephesians 1:14].  That book has to do with the buying back and the taking back to God of all of God’s created works [Romans 8:22-24].  That book has to do with the dispossession and the unencumbrance of the usurper and the alien that now has destroyed God’s inheritance, and God’s children, and God’s people [Acts 26:18; Colossians 1:13].  That book has to do with redemption! [Revelation 5:9].

Now we’ve got to have in our minds the meaning of that word redemption as it is followed and presented here in the Word of God.  And it is a far greater word and means far more than most of us realize.  When we use that word redemption, our minds immediately go back to the death of Christ, the redemptive price.  He redeemed us by His blood [1 Peter 1:18-19].  And we are inclined to sum up that meaning of redemption in the cross and in the offering and in the sacrifice of Christ [Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14].  Well, that’s true.  Redemption has its basis, its root, its foundation in the offering of Christ [Titus 2:14].  That’s correct.  But redemption refers to far, far more than that great fundamental fact and act upon which it is founded, upon which it reposes [Ephesians 1:7].  Redemption is one of the most all-inclusive decrees, and judgments, and programs of God that mind could imagine.  It goes back, and back, and back, and back through all of the thousands of years of history [Genesis 3:21].  And it goes on, and on, and on, and on to the great final and ultimate consummation that is yet to come! [Revelation 5:6, 9].

Redemption includes all the dispensations and all the marvelous theophanies of the days that are gone by.  It includes the first advent of our Lord [John 1:29].  It includes this age in which we now live—the age of grace, the age of the Holy Spirit, the age of the church [Ephesians 1:7]—and it includes all that we can see in the future [Revelation 21:23].

There have been great dispensations in the past; there’ll be greater dispensations in the future [Hebrews 9:28].  There was a great advent of Christ in the past [Galatians 4:4-5]; there will be a still greater advent of our Lord in the future [Matthew 24:30].  There have been marvelous theophanies of God in the days that are past [Hebrews 1:1-2]; there will be more marvelous theophanies of the Lord God in the days that are future.  And that word redemption refers to the entire program of God in history, in time, in dispensation, in elective decree, in His purposes.  And it reaches out to that ultimate and more glorious redemptive purpose that you find here realized in the last, the apocalyptic, book of the Bible [Revelation 4:1-20:15].

Now this world has known many redemptive blessings.  Had it not been for the work of Christ, Adam would have been destroyed the day he sinned [Genesis 3:1-6].  Had it not been for the redemptive work of Christ, the human race would cease to exist.  Had it not been for the redemptive work of Christ, this world would not stand!  It would sink into destruction and awful, cursed oblivion!  Redemption is like a golden chain that engirdles this globe, that binds the world to God.  But, but out of all of the seas and the oceans of mercies and remembrances of God in days past, they are nothing compared to the great redemptive purpose of God to be realized in days future.  Redemption rests upon the foundation of it, it reposes upon the great historical act of Christ in His death on the cross [Matthew 27:32-50], but the glorious realization of what it means is to be yet to come.  It’s out there in the future.  It is exemplified and symbolized here in this book that lies upon the right hand of God [Revelation 5:1].

Now I want to take just a moment to show you out of God’s Word that redemption in its realization lies in the future.  It is a great thing yet to come in the story of this universe and in the lives of our people.  In the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Luke, for example, in this apocalyptic discourse of our Lord, He describes those last days [Luke 21:7-27], and then He ends it with this sentence:  “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” [Luke 21:28]; future, future.

However we have known the blessings and the mercies of God in these days that are gone by, when we come to this time described here in the Book of the Revelation, when we come to this time and these things begin to come to pass, lift up your hearts, look up, for then your redemption draweth nigh [Luke 21:28]: that great ultimate that God hath in store for those who love Him [1 Corinthians 2:9].  For example, the apostle Paul, however he may have gloried in the cross, yet in 1 Corinthians 15:19 said, “But if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable, most miserable.”  However the Lord may have done a great work for us, if it is just in this life, we are a wretched and a miserable lot; our redemption lies in the future.

Or take the apostle Paul as he wrote in the passage I had you read.  In the first chapter of Ephesians, he says, “We are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise” [Ephesians 1:13], and that is a marvelous thing, a wonderful thing.  You’re saved, and you’re sealed, and you’re kept by the power of the Lord.  “But,” he says, “this is just an earnest, this is just a token.  What you now have of God and from Him is just a little piece, a little pledge until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory” [Ephesians 1: 14].

The great thing, says the apostle Paul, is not even what you have now as a Christian [Ephesians 1:13], but the great and marvelous thing is the redemption of the purchased possession, the whole thing! [Ephesians 1:14]. And in the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans, Paul says that “We know that the whole creation travaileth and groaneth until now in pain” [Romans 8:22], and he says that “This is the way we now live, and we hope for that great and ultimate redemption that God has ahead for us; for we are saved by hope, and if we hope for it, then do we patiently wait for it” [Romans 8:23-25].

Our redemption is now pledged to us, it is promised to us, but somebody else has it.  Somebody else possesses it.  Somebody else occupies it.  There is a usurper in this world [2 Corinthians 4:4].  There is an alien that has taken it over.  And we fall into his arms when we fall into sin, and when we fall into death, and when we fall into the curses that we see everywhere in this earth [Colossians 1:13].

But God has said, and God has pledged, and God has promised that there is going to be a redemption of the entire possession! [Ephesians 1:14].  And that redemption is described in the Book of the Revelation when God casts out that usurper and that alien; when death, and sin, and hell, and the grave are cast into the lake of fire [Revelation 20:10-15], and God gives back to His people what they lost in sin, and in the judgment, and in the wrath of Almighty God [Revelation 21:1-22:21].  Now, that is the book.

Now let’s look at it as it is used in the Bible.  This thing of redemption, according to the laws and to the customs of those ancient Jewish people, came about like this.  For example, in the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Leviticus, it says there that after forty-nine years, the fiftieth year is to be one of Jubilee, and in that fiftieth year every man’s property shall return to the house of his fathers [Leviticus 25:8-13].

There’s no such a thing in God’s law, here in the Bible, according to the laws and customs of the Jews, there’s no such a thing as the possession of a family ever ultimately be taken away from them.  “In the year of this Jubilee shall return every man unto his possession” [Leviticus 25:13].  Then the Lord gave the reason why:  “The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is Mine” [Leviticus 25:23].   And when anybody asks you, “Who owns Palestine? Does the Jew, or does the Arab, or does the United Nations?” you tell them, “The Book says it belongs to God!” [Leviticus 25:23].

The land shall not be sold for ever:  for the land is Mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with Me …

And if thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold some part of his possession, if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother has sold.

[Leviticus 25:23,25]

And then it goes on and we don’t have—ooh!  How the time goes away!

Either his uncle, or his uncle’s son, may redeem him,

or any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him

 [Leviticus 25:49].

So I turn over here and in the fourth chapter of the Book of Ruth I see there how Boaz redeemed the inheritance of Naomi and of Mahlon’s widow [Ruth 4:1-10].

And then I turn over here to the thirty-second chapter of the Book of Jeremiah, and I read there how he redeemed the property of his uncle at Anathoth, at Anathoth [Jeremiah 32:6-16], and this is the way that he did it.  He took the evidence of the purchase, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom and that which was open, “And I gave the evidence of the purchase,” and so on; “Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Take these evidences, this evidence of the purchase, both which is sealed and this evidence which is open, put them in an earthen vessel” [Jeremiah 32:14], and on and on.

Now all of that means this.  According to the laws and the customs of the ancient Jews, no man could ever sell his inheritance [Leviticus 25:23].  In the fiftieth year, it went back to the family that originally owned it [Leviticus 25:13].  But if a man came into distress and out of poverty and need, he was forced to sell his inheritance, why, then a kinsman, a goel, could redeem it for him [Leviticus 25:25].

And the way the redemptive purchase was made was this.  When the forfeiture was made, there were two scrolls that were made.  On the inside of one of them was a scroll written which told the details of the forfeiture, and it was rolled up and sealed.  I suppose that was sealed because the man who lost his inheritance might not want just anybody and everybody to know why it was that he was forced to sell it.  He didn’t want promiscuous eyes just to look upon it, the sorrow that had come into his life and the heartbreak that made him sell the inheritance of his father.

So all of that was written on the inside secretly, and it was rolled up and sealed, and that was the secret bonds of forfeiture.  Then there was another scroll that was open, where anybody could read the terms of its redemption and then the names of the witnesses, on that open roll that anybody could read.  Now, as time went on they did away with both scrolls, and they did all of that on one scroll.  On the inside of the scroll there was written the secret terms of its forfeiture: why the family had to give it up.  And then when it was sealed, on the outside was written the terms of its redemption and the witnesses.  Now, that is the book that lies in the hands of God [Revelation 5:1].

On that book you see a sign of a forfeited inheritance: a sealed scroll came to signify, it came to mean a forfeited inheritance, and that was the reason why it was written on the inside and on the outside [Revelation 5:1].  On the outside were the terms of its redemption.  And if a proper and legal person appeared, a goel, a redeemer, a kinsman who was able to redeem the property, why, then he could take the sealed instrument which was the sign of the mortgage, which was the bond of its forfeiture, he could take that sealed instrument and by paying the price he could tear up those seals, and he could buy back the forfeited inheritance.

And that is the book that lies upon the hands of God [Revelation 5:1].  It is a forfeiture, it is the sign of a lost possession, and when the seals are broken, that is a sign that the forfeiture has been redeemed, and it has been brought back.  But when it is sealed, and sealed seven times, it emphasizes the vastness of the encumbrance that is upon it [Revelation 5:1].

Now listen to me just the best you can as I sum up an hour’s speaking here in three minutes.  May I describe as quickly as I can the vastness of the encumbrance upon this inheritance?  First of all, there is the curse of Adam, the curse of Adam: “Thou shalt surely die” [Genesis 2:17], and that curse came upon all of Adam’s children, the federal head of our race.  We inherited it from him, the curse, and the damnation, and the sin, and the sorrow, and the misery, and the agony, and the death.  We’ve got it all [Romans 5:12].  The first: the curse of Adam, the encumbrance upon God’s inheritance [Genesis 3:17].

All right, second: and the ground was cursed.  God said, “Cursed shall be the ground for thy sake” [Genesis 3:17], and the earth was cursed [Genesis 3:17], and there were deserts and barren sterile places, and the very universe was cursed.  And then the vegetable kingdom was cursed: “thorns, and briers, and thistles” [Genesis 3:18].  And then the animal kingdom was cursed; to the serpent, “Cursed art thou, even above the curses of the cattle of the field and the herds of the flocks and all things that creep” [Genesis 3:14].  God’s entire creation was cursed, and an alien came to usurp it, and an enemy came to possess it [2 Corinthians 4:4].  And Satan, and death, and hell, and sin have damned our lives and destroyed our people, and they have brought the most indescribable hurt to God’s beautiful world [Romans 8:22].  Now, those are the seals, the vastness of the encumbrance that lies upon this great inheritance [Revelation 6:1-17; 8:1].

But the Lord Jesus Christ came not only to redeem our souls from hell [Psalm 49:15], and to wash the stain of sin out of our lives [Ephesians 1:7], but He also came to make us kings and priests over this earth [Revelation 5:9-10].  He also came to redeem the entire purchased possession [Ephesians 1:14].  God has bought it all back, all back.

And when we open those seals [Revelation 6:1-17, 8:1], we have the judgments of God as He ousts, as He thrusts away the usurper and the alien [John 12:31], and as He gives us back ultimately our final and glorious redemption [1 Peter 1:3-5].  First of all, our bodies are going to be redeemed out of the dust of the ground, out of the depths of the sea, out of the heart of the earth [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17].  These bodies are going to be remade [Revelation 21:4-5].  Our bodies are going to be redeemed [1 Corinthians 15:42].

And second, this earth, this creation is going to be redeemed [Isaiah 35:1], and I had passages here in the Bible to read how the desert shall blossom like the rose; God’s whole earth is going to be like the garden of Eden.  The earth’s going to be redeemed; and then the vegetable world is going to be redeemed [Isaiah 35:1-2,7; 45:18; Amos 9:13], and I had passages to read about that; and then the whole animal kingdom is going to be redeemed [Hosea 2:18; Isaiah 11:6-9, 65:25], and I had passages to read about that; until finally it will come to pass what Paul wrote in the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans:

For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

For the creation was made subject to futility and damnation and curses!  The creation itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

[Romans 8:19-22]

And not only they, but we also shall be redeemed by the price of our Lord [1 Peter 1:18-19; 1 Corinthians 6:20], by the opening of those seals [Revelation 6:1-17, 8:1], by the destruction of the bonds of forfeiture [Romans 8:21].  And God will give us back all that we have lost in the curse and in the sin of Adam [1 Corinthians 15:22; 1 Peter 1:4].  And that’s why in the fifth chapter of the Book of the Revelation they sing, all creation sings—the cherubim that represent all of animate life, and the elders that represent the redeemed of God’s people, and the whole earth above, and the whole earth beneath—they all sing, “Thou art worthy because Thou hast redeemed us to our God” [Revelation 5:8-10].

Oh, I hope you have some idea of what I’m trying to say!  It is so meaningful, so full of promise, so blessedly significant.  Wouldn’t you hate to think that the devil reigns over this world forever?  Wouldn’t you?  Wouldn’t you hate to think that death reigns over our bodies forever?  Wouldn’t you hate to think that the only future for God’s children is just the grave?  Oh, what marvelous and better thing God hath in store for those who trust in Him! [1 Corinthians 2:9].

Now while we sing this song, on the first note of the first stanza, somebody you give his heart to Jesus [Romans 10:9-10].  Somebody you put your life into the fellowship of the church.  While we sing this appeal, would you come and stand by me?  Trusting Jesus as Savior, putting your life—a family you, or one—as God shall say the word, on the first note of the first stanza, would you come and stand by me, while all of us stand and sing together?

THE SEVEN SEALED BOOK

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Revelation 5:1-14

2-25-62

I.          Introduction

A.  Chapter 4, 5 go together – the scene that John looked upon in glory

B.  The scene brings into focus a book that is laid upon the right hand of God

1. There are several books in the Revelation – Book of Life, Book of Works, Book of the Testimony

2. This book is altogether different, unique

C.  When we use the word “book” we refer to it as it was in the ancient day

1. Christians took the scroll, cut it up and tied the back together – a codex

D.Katesphragismenonsphragisinhepta – sealed with seven seals

1. As each seal was broken a certain portion of the scroll was unbound and could be read

II.         The book a symbol

A.  Some suggest it represents the investiture of Christ, His taking over the governmental authority of the universe(Matthew 28:18)

B.  Some suggest it represents the eternal counsels of God, His decrees, purposes, plans for the entire universe

C.  Some suggest it is the sealed book in Daniel that is to be sealed until the end – what it contains will come before us as the seals are broken and the purposes of God executed(Daniel 1:8-9)

III.        Underlying facts concerning the book

A. It brings into the heavenly scene the Son of God, the Prince of Glory

B.  When He comes to take the book, He does in the character of a lamb slain

C.  What He does in coming to take it is something from which all creation has shrunk back in unworthiness, inability

D.  When He takes the book, all creation bursts into song

1. The words of the songs, doxologies, are of redemption (Revelation 5:9)

E. The primary and chief significance has to do with redemption

IV.       The meaning of “redemption”

A.  When the word is used our minds go back to the atoning sacrifice of our Lord on the cross

1.  Refers to more – includes all the story of God, of all the ages past

2.  Also includes the dispensations yet to be and consummation to come

3.  Redemptive love and mercy of Christ girdles the world like a golden chain binding it to the heart of God

B.  A future in redemption(Luke 21:28, 1 Corinthians 15:19, Ephesians 1:13-14)

C. There is an inheritance pledged, a possession purchased, but a usurper possesses it now – one day God will redeem the entire purchased possession and cast out the interloper

V.        How this book reflects the manners, customs of the ancient Jew(Revelation 5:1)

A.  The seven-sealed book represented a forfeited inheritance

1.  According to Mosaic Law, estates, possessions of a Jew, in God’s land, could never be sold or given away

2.  The year of Jubilee, every man was given back the inheritance of his fathers(Leviticus 25:8-10, 13, 23-25, 47-)

3. If forced to sell, a kinsman had the right to redeem it, buy it back

a. The story of Ruth and Boaz(Ruth 4)

b. Jeremiah bought back inheritance of his uncle (Jeremiah 32:6-16)

B. When an inheritance forfeited, there were two scrolls written

1.  One recounted the reasons for the forfeiture, and was sealed

2. One written that was opened, that anybody could see, that had the terms of its redemption if a goel appeared

C. As time went on, they just used one scroll – on the inside was written the reasons, and the outside the terms of redemption

1. The book in the hand of God is a sign of the forfeiture of God’s creation

a. Seven seals signify the completeness of that forfeiture

b. The breaking of the seals is the restitution of the creation back to God and to Adam’s fallen race

VI.       The forfeited inheritance – the vastness of the encumbrance

A. Adam cursed – death passed upon all men (Genesis 2:17)

B. The ground cursed(Genesis 3:17)

C. Vegetable kingdom cursed(Genesis 3:18)

D. Animal kingdom cursed (Genesis 3:14)

VII.      There is coming a time when God shall redeem whole purchased possession

A.  Redemption of our bodies(2 Corinthians 5:1)

B. Redemption of this earth (Isaiah 35:1-2, 7)

C. Redemption of animal creation (Isaiah 11:6-9)

D. Redemption of the whole creation (Romans 8:20-21)

E.  The worthiness of the Lamb (John 1:29)