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"Then Is Finished The Mystery Of God"



Chapter 2

The Opener of the Scroll of Mystery

Revelation 5

A SCROLL of mystery is being unrolled, and its contents of secrets for our days are being revealed. They are being expressed in dramatic action, made to come alive, in our marvelous twentieth century. Someone worthy has been found competent, suitable, to open this scroll of mystery and to explain its secrets to us with exciting events on the world stage of action. Who is this expert opener of the scroll, and how did he get hold of it? Why was he entrusted with its execution? The Christian apostle John of nineteen centuries ago was greatly interested in these same questions. These questions are worthy of our interest above all other interesting marvels of modern times, and we shall be hugely rewarded for making it our business to get them answered. Let us join the apostle John in learning the answers.

The vision that John was invited to come up to heaven in spirit to see did not end with merely seeing Jehovah God the Almighty on his heavenly throne, seated in glory and receiving the praises of heavenly creatures. Out of the glow of beautiful light that represented God seated upon his flashing throne there was a hand extended. It was the right hand, and it held something! The apostle John, who was put under obligation to make the revelation known to us, tells us about it, in these words: "And I saw in the right hand of the one seated upon the throne a scroll written within and on the reverse side, sealed tight with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a

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loud voice: 'Who is worthy to open the scroll and loose its seals?' But neither in heaven nor upon earth nor underneath the earth was there a single one able to open the scroll or to look into it. And I gave way to a great deal of weeping because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it." — Revelation 5:1-4.

No one could wrest that scroll forcibly out of the right hand of the Almighty God to break its seals and look inside. Only of his own accord would God's right hand, which especially symbolizes power, hand that scroll to the one whom He deemed worthy, suitable. He himself had written the contents of that scroll, inside and outside. He thus recorded exciting prophecies of events that were linked with the finishing of the mystery of God. These prophetic matters were sealed perfectly against detection by any undeserving creature in heaven and earth, the seven seals picturing that fact. But would Almighty God tantalize all who beheld the scroll by merely allowing them to see it in his right hand but never providing some worthy one to break all seven seals and make known the prophetic contents of the scroll? No! He would not have brought the mysterious scroll to the view of his creatures unless he had purposed to satisfy their proper interest and to reveal to them the sacred mystery of his will. In his due time he would reveal his mystery by his worthy one.

By proclaiming with a loud voice the gripping question, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and loose its seals?" the strong angel induced a search to be made among the persons living in heaven and on earth, and among the dead underneath the ground, for someone worthy in God's estimation. The apostle John himself was not worthy, and when it appeared to him that no other creature was worthy, he burst into tears. His great eagerness to have the mystery of the scroll solved accurately foreshadowed the intense eagerness of true Bible-studying Christians in our twentieth century to understand what was meant by the symbolic

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things that John saw as the seven seals were finally opened, one seal after another. Explanations given to these earnest Christian Bible students prior to the end of World War I in the year 1918 failed to satisfy them. But just as God tested out the degree of John's interest, so he tested out the degree of interest of twentieth-century Christians.

Our tears of long-tested interest and anxiety can be dried just as were John's burning tears nineteen centuries ago. But by means of whom? One of those twenty-four older persons who had cast their golden crowns at God's feet helped John, making known a vital discovery to him: "But one of the older persons says to me: 'Stop weeping. Look! The Lion that is of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has conquered so as to open the scroll and its seven seals.' " (Revelation 5:5) The Jewish Christian apostle John well knew who is "the Lion that is of the tribe of Judah, the root of David." John recalled the prophecy that was pronounced back in 1711 B.C.E. by the dying patriarch Jacob upon his fourth son, named Judah, as recorded in Genesis 49:9, 10:

"A lion cub Judah is. From the prey, my son, you will certainly go up. He bowed down, he stretched himself out like a lion and, like a lion, who dares rouse him? The scepter will not turn aside from Judah, neither the commander's staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to him the obedience of the people will belong."

According to this uncovering of part of the mystery or sacred secret of God, "the Lion that is of the tribe of Judah" was to be a just king, a king fearless like a lion in executing divine justice. The scepter of kingly rule was at last to come to him without fail; God himself would never turn aside nor would he let be turned aside from this Lion the royal scepter of world rule, for to him the obedience of all the peoples of earth belongs. Bound to come to him is the "commander's staff," which is to rest between his knees and feet as he sits upon his throne of world rulership.

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When he comes, "Shiloh" comes, this name signifying his divine right to rule, for Shiloh means (in Hebrew) "To Whom It Belongs," "The One Whose It Is." The tribe of Judah would exist from 1711 B.C.E. onward for 1743 years, or until 33 C.E., and yet, without being turned aside, the scepter and commander's staff would unerringly come into permanent possession of "the Lion that is of the tribe of Judah." God has willed it.

Out of this tribe of Judah came David the youngest son of Jesse of the town of Bethlehem-Judah. While still a shepherd boy David was anointed by the prophet Samuel at God's command to be the future king of all twelve tribes of Israel. In the year 1077 B.C.E. David was anointed at the city of Hebron to be king over the tribe of Judah. Seven and a half years later, or in 1070 B.C.E., he was finally anointed as king over all twelve tribes of Israel. He moved his capital city to Jerusalem, and there Jehovah God made a solemn covenant with him, that the kingdom of God over His chosen people should always remain in the family line of David. (2 Samuel 7:8-29) This family line of King David would end up in a permanent heir to the royal throne, and this everlasting heir would be "the Lion that is of the tribe of Judah." He would be the one whom God would use to revive the kingdom of David, which was overthrown in the year 607 B.C.E. by the pagan Babylonians. After that this final heir would become "the root of David." As a "root" he would give new life to the Davidic kingdom and keep it going forever.

To prove worthy to receive the mysterious scroll at God's hand and to open its seven seals, this "Lion that is of the tribe of Judah" first had to conquer. But conquer what, and how? His forefather David had conquered and had thus with God's help subdued all the Promised Land for the nation of Israel. How would his permanent heir conquer and prove worthy? Our making certain who this permanent heir is will help us to discern how he "has conquered so as to open the scroll and its seven seals." This worthy one

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has been found! The apostle John had a vision of his coming on to the heavenly scene at the tense moment. What does he look like? A lion? Tell us, John! Answering our request, John writes:

"And I saw standing in the midst of the throne [or, in the center of the throne] and of the four living creatures and in the midst of the older persons a lamb as though it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which eyes mean the seven spirits of God that have been sent forth into the whole earth. And he went and at once took it out of the right hand of the one seated on the throne." — Revelation 5:6, 7.

Instead of seeing a symbolic lion, the apostle John saw, probably to his surprise, a symbolic lamb that "had been slaughtered" but that had been brought back to life by the power of the Almighty God "seated on the throne." Ah, now the identity of "the Lion that is of the tribe of Judah" becomes unmistakable. The apostle John, in the year 29 C.E., had heard the messenger, John the Baptist, say, as he pointed to the nearby Jesus, who had been baptized in water and then anointed with God's spirit from heaven: "See, the Lamb of God!" The previous day John the Baptist had said within the hearing of bystanders: "See, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world! ... I viewed the spirit coming down as a dove out of heaven, and it remained upon him. Even I did not know him, but the very One who sent me to baptize in water said to me, 'Whoever it is upon whom you see the spirit coming down and remaining, this is the one that baptizes in holy spirit.' And I have seen it, and I have borne witness that this one is the Son of God." — John 1:29-36.

THE "LAMB" THAT CONQUERED

About three and a half years later, on Nisan 14, the Passover day of the year 33 C.E., the apostle John himself saw this "Lamb of God" slaughtered, murdered, by being nailed to a torture stake outside the walls of Jerusalem to die, outwardly like a cursed

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criminal, but really as a symbolic passover lamb "that takes away the sin of the world." The apostle John, who stood near the torture stake of Jesus, tells us that, just as in the case of the literal passover lamb, not a bone of Jesus was broken before his dead body was taken down from the torture stake to be buried. (John 19:25-37; Exodus 12:43-46) The night before this, the apostle John had heard Jesus say to his faithful apostles: "In the world you are having tribulation, but take courage! I have conquered the world." (John 16:33) On the third day after the slaughter and burial of this world conqueror, the apostle John saw him alive again, resurrected from the dead by the power of Almighty God. On the fortieth day from then John saw this resurrected Jesus ascend from the Mount of Olives toward heaven and then disappear from sight behind a cloud. — John 20:19-25; Luke 24:36-53; Acts 1:1-12.

As a reward for his conquering the wicked world and proving faithful to the Almighty God to the death on the torture stake, this symbolic Lamb of God has become "the Lion that is of the tribe of Judah, the root of David." Almighty God has clothed him with full power, all the power that this once slaughtered Lamb needs to carry out completely God's purpose for him. This full power was symbolized by the "seven horns" that the Lamb had upon his head.

Not alone does he have fullness of power, but he has also the fullness of perfect perception, discernment and knowledge suitable to go with such a tremendous grant of power, this being symbolized by the "seven eyes" of this unusual Lamb. This fullness of perception and knowledge the Lamb received from Almighty God, for which reason the seven eyes are said to be "the seven spirits of God that have been sent forth into the whole earth." Spirit (pneúma, Greek) is active force, and the "seven eyes" or "seven spirits" stand for a fullness of active force from God. This force the Lamb can use in observing from far off in heaven all

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that goes on in the whole earth and discerning its meaning. — Compare Zechariah 4:10.

Beyond all dispute, this once slaughtered but world-conquering Lamb was "worthy to open the scroll and loose its seals." So past the twenty-four older persons enthroned in a circle about God's throne and past the four cherubic living creatures that were centrally located toward the four sides of the throne, yes, past the lionlike living creature, the Lamb went right up to God's throne and received out of his right hand the mysterious scroll. His being allowed to take the scroll out of God's hand meant his being commissioned to reveal to creatures in heaven and earth the things written upon the scroll. It meant also his being authorized to do whatever might be necessary to see to it that what was prophesied in writing on the scroll came true. Here is where the symbolic "seven eyes," "seven spirits," and "seven horns" of the Lamb would prove to be useful.

Thus this heavenly scene differs in certain respects from the prophet Daniel's vision as recorded in Daniel 7:13, 14. There Daniel saw in vision a heavenly person like a son of man being ushered into the presence of the Ancient of Days to be highly honored. To him the Almighty God, the Ancient of Days, gave rulership, dignity, and kingdom, not just over the twelve tribes of the nation of Israel, but over all mankind, "that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him." The fulfillment of this took place in the heavens at the close of the Gentile Times, around Tishri 15 (October 4/5) in the year 1914 C.E. Since then he has been obeying the divine command, "Go subduing in the midst of your enemies." (Psalm 110:1, 2; Hebrews 10:12, 13) Daniel's vision shows all such enemies on earth being finally destroyed, to clear the way for the Son of man's kingdom to rule all peoples, national groups and languages without a rival earthly government. (Daniel 7:11,12,17-26) But this vision to Daniel does not show the Son of man as taking a secret scroll from God's right hand and breaking its seven seals to disclose its mysterious contents.

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When, therefore, did the Lamb, who is also "the Lion that is of the tribe of Judah," come and take the scroll out of God's right hand and begin to open its seven seals? When, in fulfillment of John's vision, this Lamb does actually appear and take the scroll out of God's hand, it does not mean that first then Jehovah God on his heavenly throne makes his decision and shows to all creation who is worthy to take the scroll and unseal its contents. The apostle John was given his vision apparently near the close of the first century C.E., traditionally about the year 96 C.E. Well, at that time the vision disclosed that there would be such a mysterious scroll and that the honor and authority to unseal it was reserved for the symbolical Lamb, "the Lion that is of the tribe of Judah," namely, Jesus Christ, glorified in heaven. Since then Bible-studying Christians have been looking for the heavenly Jesus Christ to receive that scroll at God's hand and to reveal to their understanding the fulfillment of its prophetic contents.

With all that has been taking place on earth from the year 1914 C.E. onward, would it be strange or unreasonable that the breaking of the seven seals of the mysterious scroll has been taking place in this twentieth century? No, and this likelihood should lead us excitedly to examine what takes place in heaven and on earth after the breaking open of the seven seals, one by one. Why, this takes in the finishing of the "mystery of God"! But what did the apostle John see take place when the worthy Lamb got possession of the scroll in vision, and what should we expect to take place in the invisible heavens when this Lamb of God actually takes what is pictured by the scroll and stands ready to open its seals with divine approval? Tell us, John, please:

"And when he took the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four older persons fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp and golden bowls that were full of incense, and the incense means the prayers of the holy ones. And they sing a new song, saying: 'You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, because you were slaughtered and with your

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blood you bought persons for God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.'" — Revelation 5:8-10.

Even the heavenly cherubs, pictured by the four living creatures, interrupt their continually saying, "Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is coming," to do obeisance to the Lamb and to acknowledge this Chosen One of God as worthy. (Revelation 4:8) Those who are pictured by the twenty-four older persons do not cast their crowns down before the Lamb as they did before God on his throne, but they do join in rendering obeisance to the Lamb as being God's worthy one.

According to the Greek language in which John wrote down the vision, the twenty-four older persons, and not the four cherubic living creatures, are the ones that have each a harp and a golden bowl full of incense. "Each of the elders had a harp, and they held golden bowls," is the way the New English Bible renders the text of verse eight in chapter five.* Later on (in Revelation 14:1-3) the 144,000 faithful footstep followers of the Lamb of God are shown as having harps and as singing a new song. They are the "holy ones," who offer up to God "prayers" like "incense" as out of golden bowls.

So the twenty-four older persons, picturing the 144,000, are really singing the "new song" about themselves, when they acknowledge the worthiness of the Lamb and sing to him: "You were slaughtered and with your blood you bought persons for God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth." Those followers of the Lamb who are made priests and who are to rule over the earth have part in the "first resurrection" to heavenly glory and they are called "holy." (Revelation 20:4-6; 14:4, 5) For such a glorious future the 144,000


* In the Greek text the word for "living creatures" is in the neuter gender, but the expression "having each" is in the masculine gender.
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(of whom the apostle John was one) are greatly indebted to the once slaughtered Lamb, and most properly they ascribe worthiness to him.

ACCLAIMED AS WORTHY BY SUPERHUMAN CREATURES

Even holy angels of heaven who were not bought for God by the blood of the Lamb are moved by unselfish appreciation to join in acknowledging the worthiness of the Lamb, "the Lion that is of the tribe of Judah." "And I saw," says the apostle John, "and I heard a voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the older persons, and the number of them was myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: The Lamb that was slaughtered is worthy to receive the power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.' " — Revelation 5:11, 12.

From that scene in heaven we can imagine what kind of reception in heaven Jesus Christ received when, on the twenty-fifth day of the Jewish lunar month Iyar, 33 C.E., or the fortieth day from his resurrection from the dead, he ascended from the Mount of Olives east of the city of Jerusalem, leaving down below his watching disciples. (Luke 24:50-52; Acts 1:1-12; John 6:62; 20:17; Hebrews 1:3, 4; 1 Peter 3:22) In the heavenly scene that the apostle John beheld, Satan the Devil and his demons are not seen. This suggests that by the time John's vision is fulfilled Satan the Devil and his demons have been cast out of heaven and have been confined to the vicinity of our earth. (Revelation 12: 7-13) This would locate the fulfillment of John's vision after the close of the Gentile Times in 1914 C.E. and after the war in heaven that followed and in which the Lamb, "the Lion that is of the tribe of Judah," conquered. (Revelation 5:5) Thus in the cleansed heavens all the spirit creatures acclaim the once slaughtered but now resurrected Lamb of God as deserving power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory and blessing as a reward from Jehovah God.

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Man is made "a little lower than angels." (Hebrews 2:5-9; Psalm 8:4, 5) Reasonably, then, if the angels who are superior to us humans hail the self-sacrificing Lamb, Jesus Christ, as worthy to receive favor and honor from God to such an extent, ought we here on earth not to show the same appreciation for the Lamb? Ought we not to join with the angels in approving and applauding the glorification of the Lamb Jesus Christ in heaven? Eventually we shall have to do so if we desire to be in the fulfillment of the further part of John's vision. This further part of John's vision looks into the distant future, yes, a thousand years into the future when all living creation in heaven and on earth will be lined up in one under the Lamb as Jehovah God's topmost representative. This will require the future final destruction of Satan the Devil and his demons and of all who wickedly choose to serve him. Giving us good promise of this desirable state of affairs, John writes:

"And every creature that is in heaven and on earth and underneath the earth and on the sea, and all the things in them, I heard saying: To the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb be the blessing and the honor and the glory and the might forever and ever.' And the four living creatures went saying: 'Amen!' and the older persons fell down and worshiped." — Revelation 5:13, 14.

What a tingling sensation it gives us when John says that he saw and heard "every creature that is ... underneath the earth" ascribing blessing, honor, glory and might to Jehovah God sitting on the heavenly throne and to the Lamb of God! Why does this stir us so much? Because such a miracle means the resurrection of the human dead from their earthly graves. On one occasion when he was a man on earth, the Lamb of God said: "Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment." — John 5:28, 29.

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The resurrection of the human dead under the heavenly rule of the Lamb of God and his 144,000 glorified followers will allow for all these resurrected human dead to take full advantage of God's provisions for them through his Lamb. Those resurrected ones who finally choose not to ascribe blessing, honor, glory and might forever to God and his Lamb will be destroyed with Satan the Devil and his demon angels. (Revelation 20: 7-15) These will thus prove that their resurrection was not properly taken advantage of and appreciated. They misused the glorious opportunity that this resurrection opened up to them under God's kingdom. They did so by finally going back to the practice of vile things, and for this course Jehovah God executed an adverse judgment against them, this resulting in their everlasting destruction.

The removal of all wicked ones, spirit and human, from all the realm of life and existence is a coming certainty. This will leave all heaven and all earth absolutely clean forever of wickedness. The Almighty God Jehovah is able and has promised to bring about this all-desirable condition in all creation visible and invisible. He will do so at his appointed time, thereby vindicating his word of promise and his might and power. All the cherubic living creatures around God's throne will faithfully agree to this final ascription of blessing, honor, glory and might to the enthroned Jehovah God and to his Lamb; they will say Amen to this.

The 144,000 glorified Christians, who are pictured by the twenty-four older persons and who will be alive at this victorious hour, will likewise be faithful to the universal sovereignty of Jehovah God. They will fall down and worship before the throne of Jehovah God. They will acknowledge his Lamb, "the Lion that is of the tribe of Judah," as the beloved one whom the Almighty God used in bringing about this grand, universal result, to last forever.

Overwhelming, therefore, is the heavenly approval that is given to God's choice of the Lamb, "the Lion that is of the tribe of Judah," as the one worthy of

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being the opener of the mysterious scroll in God's right hand. The weight of the approbation expressed by all those hundreds of millions of superhuman angels and cherubs counterbalances and outweighs all the disapproval, all the indifferent lack of support shown by the thousands of millions of perplexed, misguided humanity. Do we appreciate this true estimate of matters? Then we will join the apostle John and turn our eyes hopefully to the God-honored one, the Lamb. We will watch to see what happens when he breaks the seven seals, one at a time, to open the scroll that he has received from God's right hand. Astounding and intriguing things are due to be revealed to our spiritual vision as the prophetic scroll is gradually opened, till at last it is fully opened and the "mystery of God" is finished.



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