In order to make a proper application of the seven seals, we must have a better understanding of the heavenly sanctuary service, its origin, and the object of its existence as taught by the earthly sanctuary built by Moses. (Heb. 8:5).
In the sanctuary construction and service, is revealed the plan of salvation. The first apartment, called the holy place, in which the high priest officiated daily with sacrifices and divers manners of gifts and washings, was a place for confession of sin. All of which was a shadow of heavenly things, clearly revealing the plan of salvation. The second apartment, within the vail, called the "most holy," or the "holiest of all," was open only in the seventh month, and tenth day of the month, in each year; there redemption from the condemnation of the law was assured. (Lev. 23:27-30, 16:34). It was called the day of atonement, judgment, or cleansing of the Sanctuary. (Lev. 16:33; Dan. 7:10, 8:14). This was a day for the blotting out of sins accumulated during the year, and was a symbol of the great day of atonement; not in figure; but in reality. (See Lev. 16:19. Also Great Controversy, p. 485). The seat overshadowed by the cherubims being called the mercy seat, proves that it is a throne of mercy, and therefore a throne of judgment, where sinners can obtain mercy.
The entire system–priest, sacrifice, and service–was a type of Christ and His administration in the heavenly sanctuary, which the Lord pitched and not man. (See Heb. 8:2 and Acts of the Apostles, p. 14). The holy place was for the confession of sin, but the most holy for blotting out sin.
While the services in the earthly sanctuary were in operation, there could have been no services in the heavenly until after Christ ascended and became our High Priest. (See Hebrews 8). Therefore, when the services in the heavenly began, the services in the earthly ceased. The true worshippers in the earthly, who by faith looked forward to the administration of the heavenly, were credited in the books of heaven as worthy of life eternal. Their records were to be investigated when Christ our High Priest entered within the vail into the holiest of all to blot out sin. (See Deut. 7:10).
Says the Spirit of God: "It is impossible that the sins of men should be blotted out until after the judgment at which time their
cases are to be investigated." Great Controversy, p. 485. While the services in the earthly sanctuary were in force, the heavenly served as a depository for confessed sins. The same is true even under Christ's administration while in the holy apartment, until He entered into the most holy.
The Plan of Salvation Preceded the Fall
The heavenly sanctuary being for confession and the blotting out of sin, it could not have existed before sin entered and brought about the necessity for such a structure. Although the sanctuary service was originated after Adam sinned, the plan of salvation had always existed, and was revealed in, and by, the sanctuary service. Thus the plan that preceded the fall is found in Christ, in whom there was and is redeeming power for all.
Is the Sanctuary the Eternal Place of God's Throne?
While the earthly sanctuary existed, God met His people in the most holy place, where His presence was manifested between the cherubims on the mercy seat. Therefore, some have taken the position that the eternal place of God's throne is in "the holiest of all" of the heavenly sanctuary, but such an idea is contrary to both type and antitype. The first reason is that the sanctuary did not always exist, as previously explained; second, the most holy was closed while Christ ministered in the holy. Says Paul: "We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens." (Heb. 8:1). If God's throne was in the "most holy" place when Christ ascended on high, then He must have immediately entered the "holiest of all," instead of the "holy place." Such a position is contrary to both Scripture and service. God met His ancient people in the holiest of all, where, in figure, their sins were blotted out. Thus, symbolically showing, that He cannot meet His saints face to face until after He has met them in the "most holy"–blotted out their sins, not in figure, but in reality–in the anti-typical day of atonement. We shall prove this again from another angle.
The Revelator, in a vision about 96 A.D., was permitted to look into both apartments. A voice from heaven said to him: "Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter." Then he saw a throne set, and one sat on the throne, and before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto a crystal. (See Rev. 4:1-6). The voice told him that the things which he saw were to be "hereafter"; that is, in the future from the time of the vision. Hence, it is evident that there was no throne there at that time–about 62 years after Christ had ascended to the
Father. Therefore, Christ sat on the right hand of God, but not on the throne in the sanctuary. What, then? Has God more than one throne? "Throne" is a seat, and wherever God sits, there His throne is. Note that "around and before the throne" in the sanctuary, is the "sea of glass."
Now we read of another throne: "And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and the Lamb." (Rev. 22:1). Again, note that from one of the thrones proceeds the "river of life," but from the other, the "sea of glass." Therefore, there are two thrones. Christ sat at the right hand of God on the throne from which proceeds the "river of life," for this is the one called, "the throne of God and the Lamb." This is God's eternal place of abode; but the one in the sanctuary was set for the time being (See Dan. 7:9, 10), during Christ's ministration in the holiest of all, which is a throne of judgment–of blotting out sins and granting of rewards. The one from which proceeds the river of life is a throne of life and of eternity.
Where is the Throne Seen by John?
Rev. 4:1, 2, 4-6: "After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit; and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne....And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God. And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind."
The description of the place is such that it bears evidence of being in the heavenly sanctuary. The same is supported by the Spirit of Prophecy: "As in vision the apostle John was granted a view of the Temple of God in heaven, he beheld there 'seven lamps of fire burning before the throne.' He saw an angel 'having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.' Here the prophet was permitted to behold the first apartment of the sanctuary in heaven; and he saw there the 'seven lamps of fire' and the 'golden
altar' represented by the golden candlestick and the altar of incense in the sanctuary on earth. Again, 'the temple of God was opened', and he looked within the inner vail, upon the holy of holies. Here he beheld 'the ark of His testament,' represented by the sacred chest constructed by Moses to contain the law of God." Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 356.
In the earthly sanctuary, the high priest alone was permitted to officiate in the second apartment, within the vail, and it has been understood by some that the throne seen by John could not have been in the most holy, because the twenty-four elders are before the throne. That thought is incorrect, for it would be unreasonable to take the position that God would move His throne from the "holiest of all," to the "holy place," rather than for the elders to enter in the most holy before the throne. Furthermore, it is the throne of the Eternal One that makes the second apartment most holy. Therefore, if we take the position that the throne of God was moved into the first apartment, then it would become the "most holy." Thus, if the elders and the beasts, or creatures, were not permitted in the second apartment before the throne, neither would they be permitted in the first apartment before the throne. Taking any other stand than this would be saying that the apartment is holier than the Creator and His throne.
According to Paul, the services within the vail of the earthly tabernacle cannot clear all that takes place in the heavenly. Said he: "The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing." (Heb. 9:8). Therefore, we must find the truth of the services in the heavenly sanctuary from another angel. We quote Daniel 7:9, 10: "I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened."
The prophet was shown the commencement of the judgment (atonement), or as it is also called, the cleansing of the sanctuary, which takes place in the most holy apartment; for he says, "the judgment was set, and the books were opened." Now note that, "Thousand thousands ministered unto him and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him." Thus we see that Paul is right, that the service of the heavenly was not fully manifested by the service in the earthly. Though the high priest
alone was permitted to enter the most holy in the earthly, an innumerable company entered into the heavenly. Therefore, where is the evidence that the elders cannot be in the holiest of all? It is impossible to apply the fulfillment of the 2300 prophetic days–years–of Daniel's vision in chapter 8, verse 14, at any other time than the judgment in 1844.
This prophetic period commenced at the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem. (Dan. 9:25). The decree made by the king of Persia was carried out in 457 B.C. (See Ezra 7.) Therefore, it terminated in 1844; at which time Christ passed from the "holy" into the "most holy" place. For further study, see Great Controversy, p. 486.
We shall endeavor to prove that the vision of Daniel is of the same event as that of John. Daniel speaks of thrones (plural), then he makes a distinction of the throne of God (Ancient of days) by the "fiery stream" coming from before Him. The book of Daniel is a prophecy, but the vision of John is a revelation. Daniel says he saw "thrones," but John gives us the number of them–twenty-five in all. (Rev. 4:2, 4). Daniel says, "a fiery stream came forth from before him;" John tells us what the stream is: "The "sea of glass mingled with fire." (Rev. 4:6, 15:2) Daniel says: "Thousand thousands...and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him." John tells us who they are: "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." (Rev. 5:11) Daniel says, "the judgment was set and the books were opened." John adds that one of the books was in the hand of Him that sat on the throne and was sealed with seven seals." (Rev. 5:1) Thus John gives us more explicit revelation of the same event.
The door he saw "open" is the vail between the "holy" and the "most holy," for there is no other that had been kept closed. Therefore, the word "hereafter" in chapter 4, verse 1, means from the time of the vision–pointing forward to 1844.
Though the priest of the earthly sanctuary entered the "most holy" place but once a year, according to Paul, Christ entered the "holy" place once forever. (See Heb. 9:12) And of that time the apostle says, He is "to appear in the presence of God for us," in the "holiest of all." (Verse 24) Therefore, Christ could not enter the first apartment as a priest before His resurrection from the dead, at which time He became our High Priest; neither could He enter into the most holy in that capacity before the day of judgment, for Paul says, He "entered in once." Then the prophecy by Daniel and the revelation by John, can be of no
other event than the commencement of the judgment at the date stated (1844).
Only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life are brought into the presence of God–in the "most holy" place. Says the apostle: "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus." (Heb. 10:19) As the same vision continues, we pass to the fifth and sixth chapters of Revelation.
Quoting 5:1, 3, 5-7, 6:1, "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 no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open 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 I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals."
The book sealed with seven seals, in the right hand of the Great Judge, must contain the names of those whose sins are to be blotted out. Inasmuch as this is the only book that "no man in heaven nor in earth...was able to open, neither to look thereon," save the Lamb which was before the throne (See chapter 5:1-9), it is unquestionably clear that the book with the seven seals is the one called "The Lamb's Book of Life." And with it the judgment opened. The same is repeated in Rev. 20:12, "And I saw the dead, small and great stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works." (See Great Controversy, p. 480). Since this cannot be refuted, it is evident that a foundation for the application of the seals is established.
We quote the scripture of the first four seals: "And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. And
when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand...And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth." (Rev. 6:2-5, 7, 8.)
Some have applied the seven seals of the sixth chapter of Revelation to the church in the New Testament time, but the symbols are contrary to the application. In both Old and New Testament time, God's church has been symbolized by a chaste woman. (See Jer. 6:2; Rev. 12:1) Inspiration makes no change in the rule for a symbol of an impure church, for in Rev. 17:1, 4, 5, an harlot is used to point out a church, or churches, that are fallen or untrue. The change of this rule, (from "woman" to "man" or "horses") cannot be found anywhere within the Bible.
It is not only unscriptural to apply men and horses as symbols of the church, but it is altogether unfitting as well. Neither can any proof be presented to show that the seals apply only to the New Testament time. Therefore, the application of the symbols must be sought elsewhere. Thus we are confronted with the necessity of deeper study on the subject. According to the counsel of the servant of the Lord, we are admonished to study this, for it holds out an important truth for those who shall have a part in the closing of the gospel work. Quoting Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 9, p. 267: "The fifth chapter of Revelation needs to be closely studied. It is of great importance to those who shall act a part in the work of God for these last days."
Had the chapter been properly understood, explained, and published before the above testimony was written, there would have been no need for this urgency. Furthermore, if it had been explained in the past, why is the lesson of such great importance, and who is bearing the responsibility of its deliverance to the world? But the fifth chapter, separated from the fourth and sixth, cannot be comprehended, for these chapters contain one subject; namely, the seven seals. The fifth chapter is mentioned because it is the heart and key of the subject.
It would be impossible to correctly understand the lesson of the seals in the sixth chapter, unless we know something about the "elders," the "book," and the "beasts" of the fourth chapter, where the vision begins. When we acquire some knowledge of their duties before the throne, and the purpose of the assembly,
as well as the occasion, then only can we make a proper application that can stand the test.
Unless the meaning of every symbol is fittingly explained so that it cannot be contradicted, and a present truth lesson with special significance derived, the interpretation cannot be dependable and there can be no truth in it. God does not make vain repetitions, neither would He waste the time of His servants to write them. Therefore, every little symbol has its meaning, and reveals a great truth.
The Judgment and the Seals–Revelation Chapter 4
Verse 1: "After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter." The door that was opened cannot be any other than the one separating the two apartments; namely, the holy from the most holy, in the heavenly sanctuary, as shown by the earthly sanctuary built by Moses. That apartment was to be opened at the beginning of the judgment, typified by the day of atonement as previously explained. Then we make no mistake in concluding that the scene is the judgment in session, and as the voice said to John, "I will shew thee things which must be hereafter," it is evident that he looked forward in vision to the opening of the judgment in 1844.
If these conclusions are correct, and the vision describes the judgment in progress, then the same must be proven by things seen in vision. A judgment in session requires a judge, an advocate, a jury, and representatives of those who are to be judged, for they cannot be there (in heaven) in person. There must be books containing the names, and records of the deeds, of those who are to be judged; also the time of the judgment, and the reward. We quote the scripture describing the Great Judge: "And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald." (Verses 2 and 3).
The glory of God is represented by the likeness of precious stones. The rainbow reveals God's never failing promise and great mercy. God said to Noah: "This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth." (Gen. 9:12, 13).
The following verse depicts the jury: "And round about the
throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold." (Rev. 4:4). The crowns of gold denote their kingly authority to act upon the case. The white robes show that they are men from earth, redeemed by the blood of Christ. "And round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind." (Verse 6) "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." (Rev. 5:8, 9) Note the beasts and elders all sang, saying: "For thou hast redeemed us out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." Thus, the beasts, as well as the elders, are redeemed from the earth.
Again, note that the beasts and elders make a total of twenty-eight. It would be impossible for only twenty-eight persons to be redeemed out of every kindred, tongue, and people, and nation: for if there were only one redeemed out of every nation, the number would run into thousands, instead of twenty-eight. Therefore, it is evident that the "four beasts" are symbols which represent four groups of saints gathered from all ages, and out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation. In a similar way the world empires after the flood are symbolically represented by beasts. Thus by the beasts are represented those that shall be judged.
"And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come." (Rev. 4:8) "Full of eyes." Eyes are to give light to the body. Therefore, they stand as a symbol, signifying that God's people have had sufficient light in every age. "Before and behind" denotes prophetic light, revealing to them the past, present and future; this being made possible by the Spirit of God and by holy angels. The number "four" shows that there are four classes of saints to be considered in the judgment. Two of these classes are to be resurrected; namely, those who died naturally, and those who were martyred. The other two are they who shall be translated at the coming of Christ; namely, the 144,000 of Rev. 7:1-8, and the great multitude with palms in their hands, as shown in verse 9.
As the wings of the lion, and also of the four-headed leopard beast (Babylon and Grecia) represent
numbers of periods as previously explained (on page 33-42), then they must stand for the same on these beasts. They are to point out the seal under which the judgment began–the sixth seal–therefore six wings. "Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come." That is, God before the judgment, in the time of the judgment, and after the judgment.
Verse 7: "And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle." The beasts by nature also represent the four periods of the church. The first beast is like a lion. "Lion" is the king of beasts, and is intended to point out the first period of the church before the ceremonial section, with which the judgment began.
The second beast being "like a calf," it is evident that he represents the sacrificial, or typical section. Thus the beast with the "face of a man" must represent the anti-typical period after the crucifixion. And the fourth beast was like a "flying eagle." He represents the period in the time of the harvest. The last period is symbolized by the flying eagle to denote the church that shall be translated. A "flying eagle" is king of birds, as the lion is king of beasts, which is a sign of victory, thus making a perfect symbol. As the judgment of the dead began with the beast like a lion,–king of beasts,–just so the judgment of the living begins with the beast like an eagle,–king of birds. The entire truth of these "four beasts" is not yet revealed.
As the beasts and the elders praise and worship God, it is sufficient testimony that creation is satisfied that He is just, and true, and the Creator of all. Those whose names are written within the book of the "seven seals" are the ones whose sins are to be blotted out with the precious blood of Christ. Thus praise, and honor, and glory, is due to our God forever and ever.
"I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins." (Isa. 43:25) "I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea." (Micah 7:9, 19) Shall we with the great apostle say: "For I am persuaded, that neither death, not life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor power, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord?" (Romans 8:38, 39)
Thus far our attention has been called to the Great Judge, the jury of twenty-four elders, the four beasts representing those who shall be judged, and the book containing the names–sealed with seven seals. Now our attention is turned to the advocate.
"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 the 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." (Rev. 5:6-8)
The "Lamb" is a symbol of Christ, our defender. Said John: "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." (1 John 2:1)
The seven horns on the Lamb signifies completeness of power and authority, verifying the words spoken by Christ: "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. (Matt. 28:18) This immeasurable power is for our good, and is freely offered to us. Said Jesus: "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you." (Matt. 17:20) Dear friend, these words are either true or untrue. There can be no middle ground. As Christ cannot lie, will you try His never failing word, and let Him fulfill His promise?
The seven eyes of the Lamb denote completeness of vision; evidence that there is nothing hid from our Advocate, and that all things are open and naked unto Him; equally so with God the Father. The Psalmist describes God's power in vision in the following words: "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee." (Ps. 139:7-12)
The Revelator says the horns and the eyes of the Lamb "are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth." All of this power, both in might and in vision, is embodied and demonstrated by the Spirit of God. Said Jesus, "It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto
you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you." (John 16:7) "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." (John 14:26)
The seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the "seven Spirits of God." (Rev. 4:5) The lamps of fire, seven in number, present before the throne, represent completeness of the truth of God–present truth revealed to every generation since the world began–by which we are judged. Those who are obedient to all the light and truth given them, have come up to the requirements–they are sealed, and cleared from the condemnation of the law of God.
"The seven lamps...which are the seven Spirits of God." (Rev. 4:5) This scripture proves the fact that light and truth are revealed by the Spirit of God only. "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." (John 14:26) The rejecting of light and present truth is the sin against the Holy Ghost. "And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost [present truth] it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come." (Matt. 12:32) Our attitude towards present truth would "Either make a tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit." (Verse 33) Thus, present truth has the power to change the individual and fit him for eternal life, which is the seal of the living God. Said Jesus: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:5)
Sea of Glass
"And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind." (Rev. 4:6) According to the punctuation in the verse just quoted, it means that the beasts are in the midst of the throne and round about the throne. It would be impossible for them to be in the midst, and also round about the throne–mercy seat. If they were in the midst of the throne, they would be taking the place of God, the Judge, and His Son, the Lamb. Thus, we conclude that the first clause of the verse is mispunctuated. By omitting the colon the Scripture would read as follows: "And
before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal and in the midst of the throne." Thus, it is the sea of glass in the midst, and before the throne; and not the beasts. "The sea of glass" proceeds from the throne, and is a symbol of life eternal in the same manner as the "Lamb" is a symbol of Christ, our Advocate.
The sea is the most extensive body upon the earth; thus it is used to represent eternity. "Clear as crystal" denotes perfection, freedom from sin and defects. In Rev. 15:2, we read: "And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire." Fire would be the only perfect symbol that could be used to represent life. Therefore, the sea of glass proceeds from God's throne, and represents life eternal, which is the reward of those whose names are in the Lamb's book of life, within the seven seals. "And there shall in nowise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abominations, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life." (Rev. 21:27) In the judgment it is granted to the saints "that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name," to stand on the sea of glass–life eternal. (Rev. 15:2)
The arrangement and the scene, as described by John, proves that it is the judgment in session: for it is held in the "Holy of Holies"–typified by the earthly sanctuary and its service, in which Aaron, the high priest, officiated in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month. It was called the day of atonement–judgment, the cleansing of the sanctuary or purification of the church–the separation of the tares from the wheat. There we behold the Great Judge (God the Father), the Advocate (the Lamb–Jesus Christ the righteous), a jury (the twenty-four elders–clothed with the righteousness of Christ–white robes); a representation of those who are to be judged (the four beasts); the light and truth which they have kept (the seven lamps); the reward which is to be granted to those who are judged (sea of glass); and the book containing the names of all the righteous, beginning with Adam and on to the close of probation–the end of the gospel (seven seals). "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." (Rev. 5:1) Because the book contains the names of all who are sealed with the seal of God (His truth) it is called the book of seals, also the Lamb's book of life.
In the following scripture we behold the entire universe watching with intense interest the affairs of the human family as the scroll unrolls, revealing to them the mystery of God: "And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who
created all things by Jesus Christ." (Eph. 3:9) Quoting Rev. 5:11-14, "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." The scripture quoted proves that the entire universe is satisfied with the love of God, and the righteousness of Christ. We repeat verse 13: "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."
The Opening of the 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 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 the saints." (Rev. 5:2-8)
This scripture reveals that there is not another in the vast universe of God that is worthy, or that can open the book, for "the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, has prevailed." Christ acquired the above title by His birth, and by His victory on the cross for those who would believe in Him as the Saviour of
the world. He has prevailed by shedding His blood on Calvary; thus none other can open the book, for he alone has died for the human race. This "book" contains the names of the saints, and the "seven seals" comprise, prophetically, the world's history, during which time the saints are sealed. These seven periods of unfulfilled history sealed the book, and the only one that could open it–see into the future–was the "Lamb." The book was "written within and on the backside"–"written within" is the prophetic word of God; "and on the backside," is the historical fulfillment of prophecies. "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." (Rev. 13:8) "Who hath wrought and done it, Calling the generation from the beginning." (Isa. 41:4)
It is Christ who has prepared the way for this judicial procedure to plead for His people, and to blot out their sins. "In the typical service, only those who had come before God with confession and repentance, and whose sins, through the blood of the sin offering, were transferred to the sanctuary, had a part in the service in the day of atonement. So in the great day of final atonement and investigative judgment, the only cases considered are those of the professed people of God. The judgment of the wicked is a distinct and separate work, and takes place at a later period. 'Judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall be the end of them that obey not the gospel?' As the books of record are opened in the judgment, the lives of all who have believed on Jesus come in review before God. Beginning with those who first lived upon the earth, our Advocate presents the cases of each successive generation, and closes with the living." Great Controversy, p. 480, 483.
Besides the book in the hand of the judge, there are other books, but this one which no other being in heaven or in earth was worthy to open, save the "Lamb," is the one called "The Lamb's Book of Life." And the Revelator says that those only shall enter the city of God whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. "'A book of remembrance' is written before God, in which are recorded the good deeds of 'them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name.'" Id., p. 481.
The Seals by Periods–Revelation Six
As the evidence brought forth cannot be questioned that with the book of seals the judgment opened, and as it began with the righteous who lived upon the earth first, and ends with the last, it is positive that the seven seals spread over the entire world's
history. Consequently, they include every saint since the world began. The number "seven" bears the same evidence.
As there are seven seals in consecutive order, it is clear that our world's history is divided into seven different periods. The judgment begins with the first and ends with the last. Evidently the first six seals complete the cases of those who were dead preceding the judgment, and while it is in session: but the seventh sealing period, being the last, must concern the living.
There is sufficient scriptural evidence that all the saved in all ages are sealed with the seal of God; for this reason the seven periods are called "seven seals," and the names of those who are sealed written in the book; consequently, the book is sealed with seven seals. (See John 6:27; Eph. 4:30, 1:13; 2 Tim. 2:19; 2 Cor. 1:22; and Rev. 9:4).