How many times have you been asked to change your password or had your credit card prematurely replaced in the last year or so? In the past nine months, there have been a couple well reported major security incidents. A security breach at Target exposed millions of credit card numbers. the Heartbleed bug infected a security mechanism and made it possible to see and capture passwords on many websites. And those are just the well-reported incidents. Over the same span of time, there have been several less reported attacks. The key advice offered when a breach is discovered is to change your passwords.
Passwords are like keys that open a lock, knowing the right password or holding the right key is a demonstration of authority over what the password or key is protecting. Before passwords and keys, there were seals, a blob of wax imprinted with a signet indicating the authority that sealed it. A sealed document was often accompanied with instruction concerning who had the authority to break the seal. This leads us to our last Big Question and a book with seven seals.
John records in Revelation, “I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it. Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it;” (Revelation 5:1–4, NASB95) Our Big Question for this article is “Who is worthy to open the book and the break its seals?” Who has the password or the key that will unlock the book? Who has the rightful authority to do so?
We are not told why John longed to see inside the sealed book or why this caused him to weep. In a way, I think it speaks to the longing of every human heart to know the future, to know our final chapter. One of the heavenly Elders gave John some good news, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”” (Revelation 5:5, NASB95) Jesus and only Jesus holds the password, only Jesus can break the seals and open the book. In response, heaven sang, “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 tribe and tongue and people and nation.” (Revelation 5:9, NASB95) The lamb that was slain, the lion from the tribe of Judah is the only one in heaven and earth worthy to break the seals. (I condensed the scene for the sake of space, you may want to read Revelation 5 in its entirety.)
Jesus is clearly the answer to our big question. He is the only one worthy because of His sacrifice at Golgotha. But there is one other part; understanding what the seals represent in our answer. In general terms, the seals unlock or release the future, God’s wrath and judgment, and the promised return of Christ. As much as we would like to be able to peer into those depths and know the future we can’t, only Jesus can break those seals. Likewise only Jesus can break the seals that will release God’s ultimate wrath on the earth and open the door for Christ’s victorious return.
I have found in my own walk that end-times speculation can be a dangerous and distracting occupation. In pondering my own motivations toward this I find three traps. The first is the desire to escape troubles and uncertainty. Instead of trusting Jesus to walk with me through trouble it is easier to desire the escape of rapture. Another trap is the desire for vindication in the eyes of unbelievers. To revel in that aha moment when those who oppose the gospel see the truth. Lastly, the desire to crack the uncrackable, to figure out the puzzle of the last days. Or to put it another way, to be able to see behind the seals that only Jesus can open.
While those seals are closed to us there are other seals, other areas of authority that Christ has opened to us. Instead of getting bogged down in end-times speculation we are to be instruments of grace, philanthropists of love, ambassadors of forgiveness, conduits of healing, and proclaimers of redemption to the world around us. Are we in the last of the last days? I’ll let you know when Jesus unlocks the seals and the last day arrives. Until then, I’d rather concentrate on those things that Jesus has placed in our hands for the here and now. Who is worthy to break the seals and open the book? Jesus, and only Jesus.