People’s deeds will refute Satan’s criticism of God’s judgments.

SUMMARY

SUMMARY OF PREVIOUS CONCLUSIONS

To an extent, this article summarizes the articles on the seven seals. Previous articles concluded that:

    1. The sealed book in God’s right hand is the Book of Life, containing God’s judgments as to who will receive eternal life.
    2. The seals of the book are Satan’s accusations against those people.
    3. That the book is sealed up so that no one “was able to open the book or to look into it” (Rev 5:3) symbolizes that God’s created intelligent beings are unable to refute Satan’s accusations.
    4. John’s great weeping (Rev 5:4) represents the great sorrow in heaven caused by this “war in heaven” (Rev 12:7).
    5. Christ’s victory on earth brought an end to the sorrow (Rev 5:5) and caused Satan to be banished from heaven (Rev 12:8-9). Christ, on the other hand, was acclaimed trust-“worthy” to refute Satan’s accusations: “Worthy are you to take the book and to break its seals” (5:9).
    6. The CrossChrist’s victory did not immediately bring an end to the crisis. He is still busy breaking the seals today. Christ’s return and the implementation of God’s judgments are delayed until the last seal has been broken and the intelligent beings have the assurance that God’s judgments are perfect.
    7. That Jesus breaks the seals symbolizes that Christ directs events on earth to show that Satan’s objections are deceptive.

THE DEEDS OF PEOPLE BREAK THE SEALS.

Various books will be opened in the last judgment (Rev 20:12-13):

    • One of these is the book of life.
    • The other books contain the “deeds” of people by which people will be judged.

Consequently, the “deeds” of people, as recorded in the “books,” are the evidence that will allow God’s intelligent creatures to understand that God’s judgment, as contained in “the book of life,” are perfect. Therefore, when Christ breaks the seals, it symbolizes that He directs events on earth in such a way that the deeds of people will reveal their true natures; what they really are; that which the Creator is already able to see in the hearts of people, and on which He also based His judgments. These “deeds” will confirm that God judges perfectly.

Both the deeds of God’s people and the deeds of Satan’s people are recorded in the books.

THE WORLD IS PREPARING FOR THE FINAL BATTLE.

There will again be a battle between Christ and Satan; through their people on earth. Both sides are preparing for this battle:

Generally, God limits Satan with respect to what he is allowed to do against God’s people (e.g. Job 1:12). However, in this final battle, God will allow Satan to use the full force of his demonic powers unrestricted to persecute and deceive.

God’s end-time people, on the other hand, will be equipped with every spiritual power available to them. Symbolized by the seal of the living God (Rev 7:2), they will reach a level of spiritual maturity that was previously perhaps visible in individuals such as Job, but never before in God’s people as a group:

WHY GOD’S PEOPLE HAVE TO SUFFER

God does not allow His people to suffer without purpose. God claims certain people as worthy of eternal life. Satan is the accuser of the brethren. By rejecting God’s assessment or judgment of His elect, Satan actually accuses God of unfair judgment. Satan’s goal is to save himself. He wants to show to the universe that God makes mistakes in His judgments. If it can be shown that God’s judgments are faulty, even to the slightest degree, the implications for the creation will be massive. Satan and his angels would have grounds for their claim that they have been judged unfairly.

By choosing death rather than going against God’s laws, they will show that the people listed in the book of life will not surrender His principles. This will justify God’s decision to save them.

THE PURPOSE OF THE SEVEN LAST PLAGUES

The frequent mention in the plagues that the worshipers of the beast do not repent, even when confronted with clear evidence that they are wrong, implies that the purpose of the plagues is to show that the people with the mark of the beast will not repent under any circumstances; that they have become haters of God—solidly confirmed in their ways—irreversibly committed to evil.

– END OF SUMMARY –

PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE

Previous articles concluded that:

    1. The sealed book is the book of life,
    2. The seals are Satan’s accusations against the people listed in the book,
    3. For the created beings of God’s universe to feel safe and happy, they need to know that God’s judgments, of who will live and who will die, are without error, and
    4. Breaking the seals symbolizes that Satan’s accusations are refuted.

The contribution of the current article is that it is the deeds of people that confirm that God judges perfectly. In other words, when Jesus breaks the seals of the book, it symbolizes that He directs events on earth so that the deeds of people will reveal their true natures. In this way is revealed that which the Creator already saw in the hearts of people, on which He based His judgment.

The current article continues to explain how:

    • The deeds of God’s people justify God’s grace and
    • The deeds of Satan’s people show that they are irreversibly committed to evil. 

To provide a foundation for this conclusion, this article summarizes the conclusions of previous articles on the seven seals.

REVELATION 5 IS THE TIME OF THE CROSS.

Revelation 5:3-4 describes a time when there was a crisis in heaven. In the right hand of Him who sat on the throne, there was a book, sealed up with seven seals (Rev 5:1). “No one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it” (Rev 5:3). This caused John to “weep greatly” (Rev 5:4). 

But, as from verse 5, the sorrow turns to joy. One of the elders said to John, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah … has overcome so as to open the book.” Then John saw “a Lamb standing, as if slain” (Rev 5:6). The symbol of a slain lamb points to Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross. The crisis in the first four verses of Revelation 5, therefore, represents the time before Christ’s death. The remainder of Revelation 5 is Jesus’ glorification at His Father’s right hand after His ascension; an event that is frequently mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament (e.g., Acts 5:31; Heb 8:1; 12:2).

CONCLUSIONS FROM PREVIOUS ARTICLES

Previous articles on the seven seals have concluded as follows:

THERE WAS A CRISIS IN HEAVEN.

    • The book in God’s right hand (Rev 5:1) is the Book of Life. It contains God’s decisions, as to who is saved to eternal life.
    • That the book of life is sealed up so that no one “was able to open the book or to look into it” (Rev 5:3) symbolizes that God’s created intelligent beings are unable to fully understand God’s judgments. God knows all things but His creatures do not. And, to judge between those that will live and those that must die (Rom 8:13), is extremely complex.
    • The seals of the book are Satan’s informed and well-articulated accusations against the people listed in the book of life (Rev 12:10). (Consider, for example, the accusations which Satan could bring in against king David.) None of God’s intelligent creatures were able to counter Satan’s arguments or to show that God’s judgments are perfect in all instances.
    • God has condemned Satan and his angels. It is to protect himself that Satan wants to show that God’s judgments are flawed.
    • John’s great weeping (Rev 5:4) symbolizes the great sorrow in heaven caused by the uncertainty over the perfect accuracy of God’s judgments, for as long as Satan’s accusations remain unrefuted, evil must continue to exist and God’s people cannot be resurrected. If those questions can never be answered, sin will always exist and God’s dead people will never be raised to life.

CHRIST’S VICTORY ON EARTH MADE AN END TO THE CRISIS IN HEAVEN.

    • Satan blamed His rebellion on God. He claimed that the fault lies with God because nobody is able to comply with God’s norms under all circumstances. Therefore, Satan claimed, God is unjust when He forgives some sinners but condemns others. To address this accusation, Jesus became a vulnerable human being and subjected Himself to Satan’s temptation and persecution. He became a human being to show that there is no fault in God’s expectations and norms – that it is possible to remain true to God under the most severe circumstances.
    • As indicated by the instruction to John: “stop weeping” (Rev 5:5), Christ’s victory on earth brought an end to the sorrow and caused heaven to rejoice.
    • The Christ-event on earth brought a huge shift in the sentiments of the beings in heaven:
      • Any sympathy which they previously had with Satan, vanished, and he was banished from heaven (Rev 12:9, 12).
      • Christ, on the other hand, became accepted as the “true witness” (Rev 3:14; cf. 1:5). As such, He was acclaimed trust-“worthy” to explain God’s judgments: “Worthy are you to take the book and to break its seals” (Rev 5:9).

JESUS STILL HAVE TO BREAK THE SEALS.

    • Christ’s death did not make an end to the crisis immediately. In Revelation 5, He received the book of life after He ascended to heaven (Rev 5:7) but He breaks the seals one-by-one in Revelation 6. The sixth seal takes us to “the great day of their wrath” (Rev 6:17). This refers to Christ’s return. In other words, He will break the seals and open the book over a period of thousands of years. Before His death, no solution was in sight. But His death—which was His victory—set a process in motion that will eventually bring the crisis to an end.
    • Jesus’ faithfulness validated the basis for God’s judgments but does not yet show that the right people are listed in the book of life. Since it is enormously important for the safety and happiness of the created beings that they are fully assured that God judges perfectly, God delays the implementation of His judgments until the intelligent beings have that assurance.
    • When Jesus breaks the seals, things happen on earth (Rev 6). That Jesus breaks the seals symbolizes that Christ directs events on earth. Since the seals are Satan’s objections to God’s judgments, these earth-events refute Satan’s objections and reveal the perfection of God’s judgments.
    • After all seals have been broken, which means that all of Satan’s accusations have been fully refuted, then there will be no further need to allow evil to reign on earth. Then Christ will return, as symbolizes by the seventh seal (Rev 8:1). The silence of that seal symbolizes the sorrow in the Father’s heart and in the whole universe at the destruction of the lost at the return of Christ (Rev 19:21).

AGE-OLD TRUTHS

I realize that these conclusions will sound very strange to the average reader. This is not how the Bible is normally explained. However, these conclusions do not change the fundamental truths of the Bible but only explain them in a different way and, may I add, explain them in a way that breaks through the usual religious clichés to explain them both logically and Biblically sound.

PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE

The contribution of the current article is that it is the deeds of people that confirm God’s judgments. By breaking the seals, Jesus directs events on earth to allow people’s deeds to reveal that which the Creator alone is able to see in the hearts of people, on which He based His judgment. As explained below, both the judgments of God’s and the beast’s people are revealed by their deeds:

By choosing death rather than go against God’s laws, God’s people will reveal the glory of God in such a way that it would be a witness to every power and authority, created or yet to be created, for all of eternity. (Rick Joyner – The Call)

The deeds of Satan’s people show that they are irreversibly committed to evil.

MAN IS JUDGED BY HIS DEEDS.

Another departure from standard theology in this article is that people are judged by their deeds. This is discussed in a separate article that concludes that:

    • Man is judged by his deeds.
    • The works of the law” refers to the external ceremonies and rituals of the Mosaic Law by which the Jews attempted to justify themselves before God.
    • The “deeds” by which people are judged include the entire being; his words, deeds, thoughts, desires, and faith.

THE DEEDS OF PEOPLE BREAK THE SEALS.

In the last judgment:

Books were opened; and
another book was opened, which is the book of life;
and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds
” (Rev 20:12).

In other words:

    • One of these books is the book of life.
    • The other books contain the “deeds” of people by which people will be judged.

This means that the “deeds” of people, as recorded in the “books,” are the evidence that will allow God’s intelligent creatures to understand that God’s judgment, as contained in “the book of life,” are perfect; why God decided that the people in the book and only they will inherit eternal life. 

However, above we argued that the seal-events confirm God’s judgments. Now we have also said that the deeds of people confirm His judgments. It follows that the seal-events are the “deeds” of people. In other words, when Christ breaks the seals, it symbolizes that He directs events on earth in such a way that the deeds of people will reveal the true nature of their hearts; what they really are.

The following two sections will discuss how the “deeds” are revealed of:

      • God’s people and
      • Satan’s people.

THE DEEDS OF GOD’S PEOPLE

THE SEALS PREDICT A HISTORY OF PERSECUTION.

The vision of the seals – received nearly 2000 years ago – predicted that the history of the church will be one of persecution. In the First Seal, the gospel goes forth. The next three horsemen describe the suffering and sacrifice of God’s people, as they live and proclaim the gospel. The Fifth Seal brings us to the specific point in history when many Christians have already died for their faith (Rev 6:9) but the persecution will continue: The souls under the altar are told that:

They should rest for a little while longer,
until the number of their fellow servants …
who were to be killed even as they had been,
would be completed also
” (Rev 6:11).

A previous article concluded that the fifth seal is the beginning of the time of the end; a term from Daniel 12. This means that the persecution, after the point in time in the fifth seal, is the end-time persecution of Revelation 13: 

The image of the beast would … cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed” (Rev 13:15).

WHY JOB SUFFERED

God does not allow His people to suffer without purpose.

Job is an example of a believer that had to suffer. Job had no idea why he suffered. In the courts of heaven, God described Job as “blameless and upright” (Job 1:8). But Satan retorted, “put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face” (Job 1:11). Then God gave Satan permission to test Job. God said: “he is in your power, only spare his life” (Job 2:6). Satan killed Job’s children, destroyed his property, and afflicted Job with horrible sores. “Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God” (Job 1:22). The article on Job concluded as follows:

God claims certain people as worthy of eternal life. Satan is the accuser of the brethren. By rejecting God’s assessment or judgment of His elect, Satan actually accuses God of unfair judgment. When Satan tested Job, he has actually tested God’s ability to judge. Satan’s goal is to save himself. He wants to show to the universe that God makes mistakes in His judgments. If it can be shown that God’s judgments are faulty, even to the slightest degree, the implications for the creation will be massive. Satan and his angels would have grounds for their claim that they have been judged unfairly.

However, Job’s faithfulness proved God right. The suffering of God’s people has the same purpose.

WHY CHRIST SUFFERED

This world is part of a cosmic struggle between good and evil. Jesus came to this earth to be tested; to determine whether He would remain faithful to God under the most severe persecution and temptations. It was a contest between the Son of God and Satan.

Jesus was persecuted and suffered greatly. Based on the example of Job, we can assume that God gave Satan permission to test Jesus by all possible means. However, in this case, Satan was also allowed to kill Him. Satan did everything in his power to break Jesus’ faith in God and to get Jesus to sin. In the deepest pit of emotional torment, Jesus cried out, “my God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46) But even then Jesus remained faithful to God. He “has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15).

By His faithfulness, He won a huge victory in the cosmic war and was declared “worthy” to open the book of life (Rev 5:5, 9). This set a process in motion (the seven seals) that will result in the complete overthrow of Satan’s kingdom.

THE WORLD IS PREPARATION FOR THE FINAL BATTLE.

After the cross (Rev 12:5), when Satan was thrown out of heaven (Rev 12:8), he was thrown down to earth (Rev 12:9). In other words, the focus of the war has shifted from heaven to earth.

The world is preparing for the final battle. It will again be a battle between Christ and Satan; through their people on earth.

Generally, God limits Satan with respect to what he is allowed to do against God’s people but, in this final battle, God will allow Satan to use the full force of his demonic powers to persecute and deceive. During the darkest hour of this world’s history, the experience of Job and Christ will be the experience of the entire church.

God’s people, on the other hand, will also be equipped with every spiritual power available to them. They will receive the seal of God, which is something that only end-time believers will receive. 144000 will be sealed. This symbolic number indicates that God’s end-time people will reach a level of spiritual maturity that was previously perhaps visible in individuals such as Job, but never before in God’s people as a group:

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against … the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and … to stand firm” (Eph 6:12-13).

PURPOSE OF THE FINAL BATTLE

Through the faithfulness of God’s end-time people, Christ will win the final victory over Satan. They will show, even under the most severe temptation and circumstances, that the people listed in the book of life will not surrender His principles. This will justify God’s decision to save them. They are scared and fully aware of their sins. But they really want to believe in the God of the Bible and are willing to suffer all possible losses for Him.

RICK JOYNER ON THE FINAL BATTLE

Rick Joyner describes this end-time war well:

“The last-day church will not be greater than Paul’s generation, even if she does greater works … All that is done is done by My grace.  However, I will make more of My grace and power available to the last-day church, because she must accomplish more than the church in any age has yet accomplished.” (The Quest)

“Jesus could have judged the world after His resurrection, but the course of the world was allowed to continue so that His righteous ones could be proven and the power of what He did on the cross would be seen in mankind.”

“By choosing death rather than to go against God’s laws they will reveal the glory of God in such a way that it would be a witness to every power and authority, created or yet to be created, for all of eternity.  During this battle the glory of the cross would be revealed, and the wisdom of God would be known in a special way.” (The Call)

The main point of this quote is that this final battle will be a demonstration; firstly of God’s people, but ultimately, through them, of the glory and wisdom of God.

THEY WILL NOT DIE FOR THEMSELVES.

Jesus did not die for Himself. By remaining faithful to God under the most severe circumstances, He won the right to open the book of life. Consequently, He died for God’s people. In the same way, God’s end-time people will not die for themselves. Their faithfulness under the most severe circumstances will be the final key to refute Satan’s challenges to the grace which God grants His people. Consequently, they will suffer for the benefit of God’s people in all generations. They will show, as a witness to all intelligent beings in the universe, for all eternity, that God’s grace to His people in all ages is perfectly justified. This will enable God to make an end of sin and for Christ to return:

The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever” (Rev 11:15).

THE DEEDS OF SATAN’S PEOPLE

THE PURPOSE OF THE PLAGUES

The sixth seal is not a single event, but a time period that includes the seven last plagues, concluding with the return of Christ. The plagues are not arbitrary torment. They are a test:

The frequent mention of God’s righteousness (Rev 15:3, 4; 16:5, 7; 19:2) implies that the purpose of the plagues is to reveal the perfectness of God’s judgments.

In particular, the frequent mention in the plagues that the worshipers of the beast do not repent (Rev 16:9, 11, 21) implies that the purpose of the plagues is to show that the people with the mark of the beast will not repent under any circumstances; that they have become haters of God—solidly confirmed in their ways—irreversibly committed to evil.

They will refuse to repent, even when confronted with clear evidence that they are wrong:

They will see that the plagues do not fall on that hated minority (Rev 16:2, 10) that tormented them so much (Rev 11:10) by proclaiming the truth (Rev 14:6). They will see that the plagues only fall on the followers of the beast. They must realize, without a doubt, that this minority is God’s real people.

But they will not repent. On the contrary; they prepare to war against God (Rev 16:14-16). This will validate God’s judgment of them. It will show that God has no other option but to give “them over” (Rom 1:24, 26, 28).

TEST OF GOD’S JUDGMENTS

The seven plagues will only fall at the end of time, but they will confirm the accuracy of God’s judgments of all people that lived ever since the creation of the world.

THE WAR AT THE END OF THE MILLENNIUM

Before the Last Judgment at the end of the Millennium (Rev 20:11), all the lost who ever lived are resurrected (Rev 20:5), followed by their war against the people of God (Rev 20:7-10).

Why are they resurrected? What is the purpose of this war? 

Before the return of Christ, the heavenly beings were able to see Satan in action as the accuser (Rev 12:10).  They also have been able to witness the deeds of angels and people.  But God’s people have not received this evidence. When they are resurrected when Christ returns, they will have questions about their loved ones. They may be surprised by some people they find among the saved.  To enable them to understand, God’s people are granted 1000 years to study the “books” (Rev 20:12) and investigate the causes and consequences of everything that happened (Rev 20:4). However, they have never personally experienced seen Satan or Satan’s followers in the way that the heavenly beings saw them. For that reason, God allows a final demonstration of the nature of evil.

JUDGMENT BEFORE THEY GREAT WHITE THRONE

I saw the dead, the great and the small,
standing before the throne,
and books were opened
” (Rev 12:12).

Every person’s life is presented from the open books. The wicked see themselves just as God sees them. Each person beholds the spiritual influences of good and evil upon his or her life. They see the choices they made. He who sees the hearts and reads the motives reveals sin to them with factual clarity. The lost will know why they are condemned. Every motive will be fully exposed. The lost will admit that God judges perfectly.

FINAL CONCLUSIONS

  • The “deeds” of people, as recorded in the “books,” are the evidence that will allow God’s intelligent creatures to understand that God’s judgment, as contained in “the book of life,” are perfect.
  • When Christ breaks the seals, it symbolizes that He directs events on earth in such a way that the deeds of people will reveal their true nature.
  • God’s end-time people will show that the people listed in the book of life will choose death rather than going against God’s laws. This will justify God’s decision to save them.
  • The deeds of Satan’s people will show that they have become haters of God—solidly confirmed in their ways—irreversibly committed to evil.

ARTICLES ON THE SEVEN SEALS

OVERVIEW

REVELATION 4

REVELATION 5

REVELATION 6

    • Seal 1: The white horse is the gospel.
    • Seals 2 to 4: Bloodshed, famine and death
    • Seal 5: Who are the souls under the altar?
    • Seal 6 includes the plagues and concludes with Christ’s return.

REVELATION 7

REVELATION 8

For further reading on Revelation, I recommend Jon Paulien’s commentary. For general discussions of theology, I recommend Graham Maxwell, who you will find on the Pineknoll website.

Christ resolves the crisis of the sealed book through demonstrations.

SUMMARY OF THIS ARTICLE

CHRIST REFUTES SATAN
OVER THE CHURCH AGE
THROUGH THE DEEDS OF PEOPLE.

To break the seals of the book means to remove the things that prevent understanding. This means to refute Satan’s allegations that God judges unfairly.

Christ’s death did not immediately end the dispute. He takes the book after His ascension (Rev 5:7) and He breaks the seals in the time between His death and His return. Sin still reigns on earth today because Satan’s charges of unfair judgments have not yet been completely refuted.

Each time that Jesus breaks a seal, things happen on earth. This symbolizes that He directs events on earth to refute Satan’s criticism of God’s judgments through events on earth, namely through the deeds of people (cf. Rev 20:12; Rom 2:6) “Deeds” include the entire being; his words, deeds, thoughts, desires, and faith.

REDEMPTION HAS TWO PARTS.

Both Rev 5:9-10 and 12:11 explain that the crisis was resolved through a two-part process:

The first part of redemption is through Christ’s death:

      • In Rev 5:9-10, He purchased people with His blood.
      • In Rev 12:11, they overcame the accuser because of the blood of the Lamb.

In the second part of redemption, Jesus will break the seals which mean to refute Satan by directing events on earth to reveal the “deeds” of people, which are “their testimony:

      • In Rev 5:9-10, because He purchased people with His blood, He is worthy to break the seals.
      • In Rev 12:11, they overcame the accuser also because of the word of our brethren’s testimony.

Therefore, both the death of Christ and the testimony of His people are required to defeat Satan. Christ has not yet returned because Satan has not yet been fully refuted by revealing the deeds of people. Jesus died to save people but saving people includes refuting Satan’s objections to the names in the book of life.

WHAT MADE HIM WORTHY?
– DEATH OR OVERCOMING –

According to Rev 5:5, Christ is able to break the seals and to open the book because He “has overcome.” In contrast, according to Rev 5:9-10, He is worthy to break the seals because He was “slain” and purchased people with His “blood.” The purpose of this section is to show that these are different ways of saying the same thing because His “blood” refers to how He overcame:

Overcome” means to “be faithful until death” (Rev 2:10) to the will of God.

When the Bible says that people are saved by the blood of the Son, His blood serves as a symbol for His death.

His death was not limited to the moment of His last breath. His death refers to the last hours of His life.

Jesus remained “faithful until death.” His death, understood as His final hours when Satan inflicted the most severe temptations on Him, was His highest and final test but also His greatest victory. That victory reflects how He overcame throughout His entire life, for if He was unfaithful to God at any time during His life, His death would not have been of any value.

In conclusion, when the Bible refers to His blood or to His death, it really refers to the fact that He remained faithful until death. We are not saved by Christ’s literal blood or death, but because He remained “faithful until death.

WHAT CHANGED AT HIS DEATH?

The CrossBefore His death, nobody was able to break the seals (Rev 5:3) but, because of His death, Jesus Christ is declared “worthy” to do it (Rev 5:9). Since His death refers to His final hours in which He overcame Satan’s ultimate temptations, the question is: How did overcoming make Him “worthy” to break the seals (Rev 5:5)?

We should agree that the Son of God was not somehow improved. Neither did God change to become willing to forgive, as tradition claims. God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son (John 3:16). Rather, consider what we read in the text. As indicated by the following, His death demonstrated something about Him that was always true but not always known:

    1. He “has overcome” to break the seals (Rev 5:5). This implies that He came to earth to be tested. What changed is that He passed the test, demonstrating His worthiness.
    2. Rev 12:10-11 identifies two weapons by which Satan is defeated, namely “the blood of the Lamb” and the “testimonyof God’s people. Since God’s people demonstrate their faith by “their testimony,” it implies that “the blood of the Lamb” demonstrates the Lamb’s faith.
    3. It was not God who declared the Son “worthy,” but the heavenly beings (Rev 5:9-10), implying that His worthiness was something which they observed.
    4. After Christ’s death, Satan was “thrown down” (Rev 12:8), symbolizing his loss of influence over the angels. In contrast, Jesus “was caught up to God” (Rev 12:5), implying that He was “caught up” also in terms of influence.
    5. The rest of the New Testament supports the concept that Christ’s death was a demonstration (Rom 3:25, 26).

In conclusion, Satan claimed that the Son is unworthy but Christ’s willingness to be tested and the purity of His life demonstrated His eternal character. This confirmed Him to be “worthy” to reveal the contents of the book.

Satan is perhaps the most talented and most beautiful of all of God’s creatures (cf. Ezek 28:12, 17). But he used his talents to glorify himself. Perhaps Satan argued that the Son of God would also use His powers to benefit Himself, given the right circumstances. To be tested, the Son of God became a vulnerable human being. He had enormous powers. He could calm the winds and the waves (Matt 8:26), command “twelve legions of angels” (Matt 26:53), and raise people from death (e.g. John 11:43-44). But when sinful men nailed Him to a wooden pole, He did not use His powers to benefit Himself. In this, He demonstrated God’s character.

WHY WAS THE SON NOT WORTHY BEFORE HIS DEATH?

But the question remains, why was the Son of God not regarded “worthy” to refute Satan’s accusations before His death?

This can only be due to Satan’s accusations. While Satan accused God’s people, the Son of God defended God’s judgments. Just like Satan, with the enormous talents God gave him, was able to create doubt in the minds of the created universe about the veracity of God’s judgments of sinners, he was also able to create doubt about the truthfulness of the Son’s defense of God’s people.

To defend Himself against Satan’s charges, the only begotten Son of God was willing to subject Himself to a test by becoming a vulnerable human being. He was fully tested and won the victory by remaining “faithful until death.

This refuted Satan’s accusations against Him. Now the universe is convinced that Jesus is “the faithful and true Witness” (Rev 3:14). They trust Him to reveal the truth about God’s judgments.

However, even after the Cross, the book remains sealed. Christ’s death did not immediately refute Satan’s objections to God’s elect. Just like Christ’s life was a demonstration of His eternal character, the lives of God’s people, particularly during the end-time crisis, will demonstrate that God’s people are worthy of salvation. When the seventh seal is broken and all Satan’s arguments have been fully refuted, Christ will return and the elect will be resurrected.

– END OF SUMMARY – 

CHRIST REFUTES SATAN
OVER THE CHURCH AGE
THROUGH THE DEEDS OF PEOPLE.

CHRIST REFUTES SATAN

To break the seals of the book means to remove the things that prevent understanding. In the light of Rev 12, to break the seals means to refute Satan’s objections to God’s judgments.

… OVER THE CHURCH AGE

Christ’s death did not immediately end the dispute. He takes the book after His ascension (Rev 5:7) but He breaks the seals in Revelation 6. That chapter ends with the words “the great day of their wrath has come” (Rev 6:17), which refers to Christ’s return. In other words, Christ will break the seals in the time between His death and His return.

Therefore, the reason that Christ has not yet returned is that the God’s judgments are still (partly?) concealed. Sin still reigns on earth today because Satan’s charges of unfair judgments have not been completely refuted. Christ will return as soon as all the seals are broken, which means that God’s judgments will be understood. Quoting Rick Joyner in his book, The Call:

“When the Judgment Day comes, the King will be known to all, and His judgments will be understood.”

“The Judgment Day is coming.  All of creation will then know the wisdom of His judgments.”

… THROUGH EVENTS ON EARTH.

Each time that Jesus breaks a seal, things happen on earth. This symbolizes that He directs events on earth to refute Satan’s criticism of God’s judgments through events on earth.

As discussed elsewhere, one of the fundamental principles in this interpretation of the seven seals is that Satan’s criticism of God’s judgments will be refuted by the deeds of people. (The deeds” by which people are judged (e.g. Rev 20:12; Rom 2:6), include the entire being; his words, deeds, thoughts, desires, and faith.) That means that Jesus directs events on earth to reveal the “deeds” of both of God’s people and God’s enemies.

REDEMPTION HAS TWO PARTS.

Rev 5:9-10 and 12:11 are key passages. Both explain how the crisis was resolved:

REDEMPTION IN REVELATION 5:9-10

These verses explain how the crisis of the sealed book was resolved. They sang to Jesus:

Worthy are You to take the book
and to break its seals;
for You were slain,
and purchased for God with Your blood men
from every … nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God;
and they will reign upon the earth.

Notice the verb tenses:

In the past, He was “slain” and He “purchased” people for God with His blood.

In the present:
 – They are “a kingdom and priests to our God” and
 – He is “worthy” to break the seals.

In the future, “they will reign upon the earth.

They have been purchased by His death, but the book remains sealed.

REDEMPTION IN REVELATION 12:11

This explains how the accuser was defeated:

They overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb
and because of the word of their testimony,
and they did not love their life even when faced with death
.”

There are, unfortunately, five pronouns (they, him, their) in this verse, making it difficult to read. In this context, I propose that we read it as follows:

They (Michael and his angels – Rev 12:7)
overcame him (the accuser –
Rev 12:10)
because of the blood of the Lamb
and because of the word of their
(our brethren’s – v10) testimony,
and they
(our brethren)
did not love their life even when faced with death
.”

The more important point is that the word “because” appears twice in this verse, indicating that two things were required to overcome Satan:

    • The blood of the Lamb and
    • The word of their testimony – “even when faced with death.

In other words, according to this verse, “the blood of the Lamb” is required to overcome Satan but not sufficient. “The word of their testimony” is also required.

THE TWO PARTS OF REDEMPTION

Both passages, therefore, explain that the crisis was resolved through a two-part process:

REV 5:9-10 REV 12:11
Crisis Sealed book = Things not understood War between angels = dispute about God’s judgments
Part one:
Christ’s death
Purchased people with His blood Overcame the accuser
because of the blood of the Lamb
Part two: Therefore, He is worthy to break the seals. and because of the word of our brethren’s testimony

It is obvious that the references to Christ’s death in Rev 5 and Rev 12 in the first part of redemption are parallel.

His worthiness to break the seals (Rev 5) in the second part is also related to “the word of their testimony” (Rev 12) because, as discussed above, to break the seals means that the Son of God will refute Satan by directing events on earth to reveal the “deeds” of people, which are “their testimony.

This confirms the conclusion of the previous section that both the death of Christ and the testimony of His people are required to defeat Satan. Only after the seals have been broken, will Christ return and will they “reign upon the earth” (Rev 5:9-10). In other words, Christ has not yet returned because Satan has not yet been refuted by revealing the deeds of people.

CONCLUSION

Jesus died to save people but saving people includes breaking the seals, which means refuting Satan’s objections to the names in the book of life.

WHAT MADE HIM WORTHY?
– DEATH OR OVERCOMING –

According to Rev 5:5, Christ is able to break the seals and to open the book because He “has overcome.” In contrast, according to verses 9-10, He is worthy to break the seals because He was “slain” and purchased people with His “blood.” The purpose of this section is to explain that His “blood” refers to how He overcame. Therefore, these are different ways of saying the same thing:

OVERCOME

Each of the seven letters to the seven churches makes promises to the overcomers. In that context, “overcome” may be understood as:

    • Endured for My name’s sake,
      and have not grown weary
      ” (2:3);
    • Faithful until death” (2:10); and

To “overcome,” therefore, means to “be faithful until death” to the will of God. 

HE OVERCAME IN HIS DEATH.

When they discuss the atonement, some Christians ignore the “overcome“-part of verse 5 and emphasize His death and His blood in verses 9-10. They claim that people are saved by His literal death or even by His literal blood. However, if Jesus did not overcome, but died as a sinner, His death would not have been of any value. And there is no magical power in His blood. We need an explanation that reconciles His overcoming to His blood. Actually, these are two ways of saying the same thing:

HIS BLOOD IS A SYMBOL FOR HIS DEATH.

When the Bible says that people are saved by the blood of the Son, His blood serves as a symbol for His death.

HIS DEATH REFERS REFERS TO HIS FINAL HOURS.

When the New Testament says that people are saved by His death (e.g., Rom 5:10), His death was not limited to the moment of His last breath. His death refers to the last hours of His life when God allowed Satan unrestricted access to Him. This was Satan’s final and best opportunity to tempt Jesus to save Himself from his agony, and thereby to act contrary to the will of God (Luke 22:42). In those final hours, Satan tormented the Son of God physically and emotionally and slowly strangled the life out of His body with beatings and cruel nails. God “will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able” (1 Cor 10:13) but God allowed Satan to tempt Jesus with every test which Satan’s brilliant but evil mind could devise.

JESUS OVERCAME HIS HIGHEST TEST DURING THOSE HOURS.

But Jesus overcame. He remained “faithful until death” (Rev 2:10) – even under the most severe temptation and torment. He did not use His power to relieve Himself of His emotional and physical pain. He subjected Himself to a cruel death because He knew that that was God’s will. Therefore, His death, understood as His final hours during which He slowly died, was His highest and final test but also His greatest victory.

HE OVERCAME DURING HIS ENTIRE LIFE.

However, Jesus’ entire life was a test. The tempter was always looking for ways to get Jesus to sin; to act in His own interest: He was “led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Mat. 4:1). He “has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). His victory during His final hours, therefore, reflects how He overcame throughout His entire life, for if He was unfaithful to God at any time during His life, His death would not have been of any value. 

CONCLUSION

When the Bible refers to His blood or His death, it really refers to the fact that He remained faithful until death. When verse 5 says that He overcame to break the seals of the book and when verse 9 says that He died to become worthy to open the book, these verses are saying the same thing. We are not saved by Christ’s literal blood or death, but because He remained “faithful until death.

WHAT CHANGED AT HIS DEATH?

Before His death (5:5), nobody was able to break the seals (5:3) but, because of His death, Jesus Christ is declared “worthy” to do it (v9). In other words, not even the Son, before His death, was “worthy” to refute Satan’s claims of unfair judgment.

Why was He not “worthy” before He died and what made Him worthy? What changed as a result of Christ’s life and death?

As argued above, his “blood” should not be literalized. His blood symbolizes His death and His death refers to His final hours during which He overcame Satan’s final and ultimate temptations (5:5). The question, therefore, is: How did overcoming make Him “worthy” to break the seals (5:5)?

HE WAS NOT IMPROVED.

We should agree that the Son of God was not somehow improved by becoming a human being or by His death. To become a human being, He emptied Himself of equality with God (Phil. 2:5-7), but, even though this is impossible to understand, He remained the same ‘person’ as before. And He was not somehow improved by His experience on earth. He did not become more loving or better informed through the cross.

GOD DID NOT CHANGE.

Some claim that God changed, namely that, because of Christ’s death, God became willing to forgive. Some even say that Jesus died to pacify God’s wrath. This is a horrible distortion of the truth. The opposite is true: God is the Driver of salvation. He so loved the world that He gave His Only Son (John 3:16). “It was the Father’s good pleasure (to) … through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col 1:19-20). God did not become more willing to forgive.

Others claim that God’s justice demands that somebody had to suffer. At least, perhaps this view does not present God as angry and as eager to punish, but it does imply some higher law to which even God is subject, which does not make sense. God is that which exists. He gives existence to all else. (For a discussion of the various theories, see Theories of the Atonement.)

HIS DEATH DEMONSTRATED HIS WORTHINESS.

Rather, consider what we read in the text. As indicated by the following, His death demonstrated something about Him that was always true but not always known:

1. OVERCAME

He “has overcome” to break the seals (5:5). Satan tempted Him in all conceivable ways but He overcame and remained faithful until death. He lived His entire life without sin (Heb 4:15). These imply that Jesus came to earth to be tested. His entire life, but particularly the hours of His death, was a test. What changed is that He passed the test, which demonstrated the worthiness of His being.

2. TESTIMONY

Rev 12:10-11 identifies two weapons by which Satan is defeated, namely “the blood of the Lamb” and the “testimonyof God’s people. Since God’s people demonstrate their faith by “their testimony,” it implies that “the blood of the Lamb” is a demonstration of the faith of the Lamb.

3. DECLARED WORTHY

It was not God who declared the Son “worthy … to take the book and to break its seals,” but the 24 elders and the four living beings (Rev 5:8-9). This implies that His worthiness was not God’s decision but something which the universe observed.

4. INFLUENCE

The “war” between the angels in heaven (12:7) was a war of words: Satan accused “our brethren” (v10). Michael defended them. As a consequence of Christ’s victory, Satan was “thrown down” (12:8) but Jesus “was caught up to God and to His throne” (12:5).

Because this was a war of words, Satan was not cast down physically. He was symbolically thrown down in the sense that he lost his influence over the angels of heaven because, during his war with the human Son of God, he was demonstrated to be untrustworthy. This implies that Christ was “caught up” also in terms of influence. 

5. NEW TESTAMENT

The rest of the New Testament describes Christ’s death as a demonstration. While God displayed Jesus publicly “to demonstrate His righteousness” (Rom 3:25-26), through Christ, God “made a public display of” “the rulers and authorities” (Col. 2:15).

CONCLUSION

The question in this section is, what changed as a result of Christ’s life and death? There is no indication in the text of Revelation 5 and 12 of a change in God. Everything points to a change in the views of the heavenly beings because the trust-worthiness of the two main warriors in the war in heaven has been tested:

Satan claimed that the Son is unworthy but these claims have been proven to be false. Christ’s willingness to be tested and the purity of His life demonstrated His eternal character. This confirmed Him to be “worthy” to reveal the contents of the book.

At the same time, Satan was shown to be a liar.

This argument is based on a controversial philosophical assumption, namely that, when the Son became a human being, His entire being and His entire eternal character were contained in that human being. Therefore, when the man Jesus was tested, it was the character of the eternal Son of God that was tested. These concepts are beyond human understanding but assumed to be true.

WHY WAS JESUS NOT WORTHY BEFORE HIS DEATH?

SATAN CREATED DOUBT ABOUT CHRIST’S WORTHINESS.

But the question remains, why was the Son of God not regarded “worthy” to refute Satan’s accusations before His death? This can only be due to Satan’s accusations. While Satan accused God’s people, the Son of God defended God’s decisions. Just like Satan, with the enormous talents God gave him, was able to create doubt in the minds of the created universe about the veracity of God’s judgments of sinners, he was also able to create doubt about the truthfulness of the Son’s defense of God’s people.

To defend Himself against Satan’s charges, while this war of accusations was still raging in heaven, the only begotten Son of God was willing to subject Himself to a test by becoming a vulnerable human being. “He existed in the form of God” but came “in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:5-7). He was fully tested and won the victory by remaining “faithful until death.

This refuted Satan’s accusations against Himself. Now the universe is convinced that Jesus is “the faithful and true Witness” (Rev 3:14). They trust Him to reveal the truth about God’s judgments.

GOD’S PEOPLE MUST STILL BE TESTED.

However, even after the Cross, the book remains sealed. Christ’s death did not immediately refute Satan’s objections to God’s elect. 

Just like Christ’s life was a demonstration of His eternal character, the lives of God’s people, during the end-time crisis, will demonstrate that God’s people are worthy of salvation. This is explained by the final article in this series: Their deeds will refute Satan.

When the seventh seal is broken and all Satan’s arguments have been refuted, Christ will return and the elect will be resurrected.

GOD WANTS US TO UNDERSTAND.

After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to two disciples on the road the Emmaus and “explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27) but He did not reveal Himself to them until after He completed His explanation. Similarly, He does not want His created beings to believe on His personal say-so. God wants His created beings to evaluate the evidence for themselves and to be assured that God’s judgments with respect to the people we love are the best decisions possible.

FINAL CONCLUSIONS

BEFORE CHRIST

The sealed book in Revelation 5 and the “war in heaven” in Revelation 12 point to the same crisis, namely a dispute between the angels of heaven over whether God’s judgments are perfect. This dispute was caused by Satan, accusing God of unfair and arbitrary judgment.

The sealed book symbolizes God’s judgments – also known as “the book of life.”  The seven seals are Satan’s accusations against God’s elect. To break the seals means to refute Satan’s objections to God’s judgments. That the book is sealed up signifies that God’s created intelligent beings were unable to fully refute Satan’s allegations of unfair judgment.

The Son of God defended God’s judgments but, before His death, the Son of God was not “worthy” in the sense that Satan was able to create doubt in the minds of the created universe of the truthfulness of the Son’s defense of God’s people and of God’s judgments.

John’s weeping symbolizes the distress caused by the dispute over God’s judgments, for as long as Satan’s accusations remain unrefuted, evil must continue and God’s people cannot be resurrected.

CHRIST’S VICTORY

The Cross of ChristChrist’s blood symbolizes His death. His death does not only refer to the moment when He breathed His last but to His final hours when tempter inflicted the most severe torment and temptation possible on Him.

The hours of His death were His highest and final test but also His greatest victory, for He overcame by remaining “faithful until death” (Rev 2:10). In this way, He refuted Satan’s accusations against Him. Thus He became “worthy” to break the seals.

The main change, that was brought about by the Christ-event, is how the universe views Christ and Satan. The characters of both have been demonstrated. The Son of God is now accepted as trust-“worthy” but Satan was demonstrated to be a liar.

AFTER CHRIST

Christ’s victory did not immediately open the book. The book remains sealed because He, by overcoming, did not refute Satan’s objections against God’s elect. In other words, He has not yet shown that God judges perfectly.

Christ will refute Satan’s accusation during the time between His death and His return. During the end-time crisis, the lives (deeds) of God’s elect will demonstrate that they are worthy of salvation.

God delays Christ’s return and the implementation of His judgments until all understand that His judgments are perfect.

ARTICLES ON THE SEVEN SEALS

OVERVIEW

REVELATION 4

REVELATION 5

REVELATION 6

    • Seal 1: The white horse is the gospel.
    • Seals 2 to 4: Bloodshed, famine, and death
    • Seal 5: Who are the souls under the altar?
    • Seal 6 includes the plagues and concludes with Christ’s return.

REVELATION 7

REVELATION 8

For further reading on Revelation, I recommend Jon Paulien’s commentary. For general discussions of theology, I recommend Graham Maxwell, who you will find on the Pineknoll website.