The seventh seal is opened
Author of the series six volumes of the Studies in the Scripture, C.T. Russell, said in 1916 (Q645:3): "There are certain things in Revelation which I do not understand, and for this reason I do not write the Seventh Volume." All these "certain things" were the unknown pieces for the dozens years. They from necessity had to stay not filled until the time of opening of the seventh seal.
The secrets hidden under this seal in symbolic visions could not earlier be read, until the Divine time came and have occurred the events on which these visions pointed out. Since the end of the Times of the Gentiles (1914) took place many unusual events. Two world wars shook the world, everywhere various revolutions multiplied. In result of World War II many of nations reached independence. Chosen nation of Israel also received its own state. God's people saw all these things, but they did not know, how to harmonize these events with the prophecies of Bible, except they had the general conviction, that this happens in the second presence of Christ.
That situation changed however, when, just before time of the manifestation of Lord’s presence (gr. epifaneia), the Lamb unlocked seventh seal concealing last secrets for the Church. In the mid-60s of the 20th century, in Poland, came to being prophetic movement, which with miraculous aptness began to explain the meaning of events of the elapsed half-century history. This explanations closely agreed with the teaching of the six volumes of the Studies in the Scriptures.
In the lead of this movement was the member of the church in Warsaw, brother Tadeusz Wiśniewski. Before the eyes of believers he began to shape the prophetic perspective based on so-called "the parallels from Abraham life." He presented his amazing observations on The General Convention of Free Students of the Scriptures in Cracow, in July, 1966. This lecture, cut off from future dates, was placed in year 1967 in writing "Na Straży" with title: "Whereby shall I know?" Main contents of the lecture appeared in the book "Biblical Chronology" (Chronologia Biblijna), published in 1974.
The year 1969 brought the next breakthrough. Then it turned out, that God's Word had kept in reserve to the very end the additional tool to the acquiring of wisdom - language of biblical numerology (Rev. 13:18). In the same year, on the convention in Łódź, the brother Wiśniewski announced, that the words of our Lord, "my voice" (Rev. 3:20) they have the numerical value 1874. First of all, this finding confirmed the date of the second presence of Christ, when He knocked to the door of the church at Laodicea. In turn this pointed out at the year 1969 as the date, from which Lord began to speak with the language of biblical numerology. Since 95, when John heard above mentioned words, until 1969 it elapsed 1874 years (95 + 1874 = 1969).
The use of the language of the biblical numerology had the principal meaning for reading inexplicable so far the visions of the book of the Revelation. Especially the understanding of subject of blowing the trumpet seven angels has become the breakthrough. The simple and explicit reasoning, which only the Truth can deliver, identified blowing the trumpets of these angels as the development of communist movement, the atheistic army of our Lord, in the day of his presence.
This discovery started the special chain reaction, which threw the light on important pictures and visions understood initially at the dawn of Lord's presence, but from necessity laid on the side (after 1914). This relates to the picture of ten Egyptian plagues, the picture of Lot's escape from Sodom, the Elijah vision, etc. Besides, it turned out that the tenth string of God's harp, chronology, it cracked not, and though pressed temporarily and switched off from the sound, this string began to ring together with others with miraculous harmony.
So splendid exposure of God's secrets engendered the conviction, that the seventh seal, under which these secrets were hidden, had been opened. This conviction was strengthened even more, when it turned out, that the expression "he opened the seventh seal" has the numerical value equal 1967.
From then on, the road to a understanding of the rest of mysteries of the Revelation was wide opened for all followers of Christ.
Revelation – chapter 1
(1) The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show unto his servants, [even] the things which must shortly come to pass: and he sent and signified [it by semeion] by his angel unto his servant John; (2) who bare witness of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, [even] of all things that he saw. (3) Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things that are written therein: for the time is at hand.
The introductory words announce it as a special revelation of things not previously understood. The book is full of signs and symbols, evidently designed to barricade its mysteries from all except the saints, and from them also until the time was due for the secrets to be revealed. It turned out that this due time was the beginning of seventh millennium of history of the world, that is the second present of our Lord (1874 + 1000).
Knowledge on the subject of object, time and manner of establishment of God's Kingdom on the earth by the Lord Christ was concealed inside the scroll under seven seals (Rev. 5:1). This scroll represents the Divine Plan of Redemption of the mankind, possible to putting it into practice only after satisfaction of the requirements of the Divine justice: "you shall give soul for soul" (Exod. 21:23). God's Son, Jesus Christ gave his soul, that is life, for the death as the ransom for Adam and his offspring. In such a way He became the God's Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. As a result, the Son of God was entitled by his Father to put this plan into practice. All that, what written on the back of scroll (Rev. 5:1) represents the general evangelical hope already announced in the Paradise, saying, that the woman seed shall bruise snake head. Among others, this external record of Revelation’s scroll helped Martin Luther to recognize at the papacy the symbolic city on seven mountains, the biblical Antichrist.
Nevertheless, God's people waited almost two thousands years for the fulfilment "the things which must shortly come to pass." From the human standpoint it was dreadfully long period. Long expectation discourages. That is why the Scripture protected God's people from such feeling and encouraged to continual zeal by the promise of coming the Kingdom of God very shortly. Such promise is in accord with the Divine principle, that says, "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." Thus, symbolic John (his class) waited not even two days for second arrival of Christ (1874). Since this moment prophetic events started to rush forward, because our Lord began to getting involved in the matters of this world. At the same time, He, as the Lamb entitled by God, began to open the successive seals of the scroll so that his followers can understand these events suitably.
Revelation, which the Son received from his Father was passed on to John by the angel. Who is this angel? Our Lord set up on the time of his second presence of his special angel to pass on by him the secrets of Divine Plan of the Ages to his disciples. It is office of "the faithful and wise servant, whom his lord has set over his household, to give them their food in due season." (Matt. 25:45.) A contents hidden under first six seals were made accessible for the household by the brother Ch.T. Russell (USA), whereas secrets from under last seal, seventh, through the brother T. Wiśniewski (Poland). Possible polemics with such position would be legitimate only then, if some credible explanations of the Revelation from another sources came to pass anywhere. There is in fact several hundred or so of such comments, but every is different, and not any of them delivers coherent explanation of the biblical visions associated with prophetic events.
Every excerpt from the God's word is the blessing both for the one who reads and for another one that listens. The essence of mutual benefitting from the Revelation is however then, when visions of it explains the one person, "the faithful servant," whereas the whole of believers are listening, are understanding and obeying. First verse says that Jesus himself coded the scroll of God's Plan, therefore only He could to make, through chosen human tool, those codes accessible for whole household. The most faithful hearts and minds were unanimous regarding this fact.
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(4) John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from him who is and who was and who is to come; and from the seven Spirits that are before his throne; (5) and from Jesus Christ, [who is] the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his blood; (6) and he made us [to be] a kingdom, [to be] priests unto his God and Father; to him [be] the glory and the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
The first three chapters of Revelation contain particular specifications and general admonitions, not only for the local churches therein mentioned, but for all "overcomers." They apply not only to the different epochs in the history of the Church as a whole, but to different classes in any one epoch in the history of the Church.
Verse 5 clearly teaches what the creeds of Christendom ignore, and what is in direct antagonism to their statements; namely, that the risen Christ was "the first born of the dead." That is to say, our Lord was the first to experience a resurrection in the full sense of the word, the first to experience a resurrection to perfection. R5991
Our Lord has been highly exalted after his resurrection, and He was declared to be ruler of the kings of the earth. He has sat down with the Father in his throne. From then on Son of God was co-operating with his Father in work of choice his Bride, Church, from among the members of fallen mankind. The present mission of this Church is to prepare to be kings and priests in the next age. All partakers of a heavenly calling could not be admitted to school preparing them to the future service in their sinful state. They had to first be justified by faith in the efficacy of Christ blood. "The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1:7.) This Royal Priesthood is to be God's agency during the Millennial age for bringing blessings to the world of mankind. These elected kings and priest will be fully qualified to exercise their power in moderation – with new minds which are now being developed, disciplined and brought to the standard of perfect love, which is full of pity, compassion, brotherly kindness and harmony.
(7) Behold, he cometh with the clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they that pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn over him. Even so, Amen.
From what the Scripture says, it appears that highly glorified Lord may be seen during his second presence only with the intellect sight, by no means natural.
The Lord himself said, "Yet a little while, and the world sees me no more, but ye shall see me." Only the Lord's faithful followers were to see him, when they are changed in the First Resurrection. The Scriptures clearly indicate that our Lord's present condition is the heavenly, the spiritual condition, even higher than He had before He came into the world. The Lord prayed to the Father that He would glorify him with the glory that He had with him before He came into the world – "before the world was." The Father assured him that He had glorified him and would glorify him again. (John 17:5; 12:28.) The Scriptures also assure us that our Lord in his glorified condition is far above angels, principalities and powers. (Phil. 2:9,10.) When He was a man, he was "a little lower than the angels." (Heb. 2:6-9.) The Scripture declares, that the Lord is now the express image of the Father's person (Heb. 1:3), and also declares of him, "Whom no man has seen nor can see."
At preliminary phase of parousia, to the time of epiphaneia (1874-1980), the signs of activity of the Lord was known only to his Church, his Bride class.
The beginning of the Lord Jesus manifestation in glory (epiphaneia) to the world is the time of trouble, about which the Scripture says: "All shall wail because of him." It is his manifestation in power, the breaking in pieces of things of this present order of affairs, the great time of trouble, that was to be the end of this Age and the inauguration of the Millennial age.
Darkness now covers the earth. "The god of this world has blinded the minds of all those who believe not." (2 Cor. 4:4.) They do not know the object of Christ's coming and why He comes, therefore they are for a time in ignorance of his presence. But gradually they will come to know that they are in the time of trouble, the day of wrath, in which this age is to close. The coming of the Lord in the "clouds of heaven" well represent the confusion in general. In such situation the people of the world are in mourning. They will be mourn more and more when the trouble becomes general. In the midst of that trouble, they will gradually learn of the grace of God.
Then their blinded eyes shall be opened gradually. Every human being shall come to an understanding of the fact that the coming of Christ will be for the blessing of "all the families of the earth," for the lifting up of the poor and fallen race. His coming will be "times of refreshing," "Times of Restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." (Acts 3:19-21)
First the Jews will come to recognize Him. The Apostle Paul says, "Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved" (Rom. 11:25,26) from their blindness, from their ignorance, from their misunderstanding at presentation of Jesus Christ at his first advent. The Prophet says that those that "pierced him" shall mourn for him as a man mourns for his only son. (Zech. 12:10.) Thus they will appreciate Christ, and their eyes will be the first eyes that will be opened. But at that same time, when their eyes begin to see out of obscurity, there will not be anything that they can see with the natural sight.
(8) I am the Alpha and the Omega, saith the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty..
In no other way can we understand Jesus to be the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, that as Jehovah's agent he is the beginner and finisher of the wondrous plan of Redemption, though not its author. In a word, he was the only direct creation of Jehovah – all other creations being through him, as Jehovah's agent, or representative; as we read: "To us there is one God – the Father – of whom are all things and we in him; and one Lord – Jesus Christ – by whom are all things, and we by him." (1 Cor. 8:6.) He is the first born of every creature [born before all creation]; for by him were all things created. (Col. 1:15-18)
(9) I John, your brother and partaker with you in tribulation and kingdom and patience [which are] in Jesus, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. (10) I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet (11) saying, What thou seest, write in a book and send [it] to the seven churches: unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamum, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
John Apostle was caught up into the Day of the Lord, that is, to the second presence of Jesus Christ. Since 1874 we already live in this Day. It is here and now properly that we can see the wonderful things of the divine character and plan. But to see these things, to understand these things, we must be in the spirit. Only those who have become new creatures in Christ Jesus can be expected to understand and appreciate spiritual things, and this is the class whom John represented. Not addressed to the world, but to the Lord’s people, justified and consecrated.
As John heard a voice behind him and looked in that direction, so we who now are having the realities find that the message is behind us, and turn and look toward the past to see the fulfilment of the various features of the divine plan and to hear and understand the message given to his people by the risen Lord.
Seven mentioned cities then existing remained (some in ruins) until the present time. Whether the condition of these local churches in John's time was such as would be specially and respectively blessed by these messages, we know not; but it seems evident that these cities were chosen from a peculiarity in their names which fitted God's purpose. Therefore, while the messages were given to the seven churches specified and were applicable to them, they should properly have a still wider application to the whole Church of Christ, the number seven representing completeness and the order representing different epochs in the history of the Church.
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Thus the Church at Ephesus represented the condition of the Church in the Apostle's days at the time of the writing of the messages, while the Laodicean Church represents the Church in our day – in the end of this Gospel age. The other churches correspondingly represented different epochs intermediate, between the beginning and now. The messages given to these seven churches apply to and fit historically the one Church of the living God, over every member and branch of which the Lord has a care. This thought, that the seven represented completeness, we find emphasized in the other symbolical representations – in the seven golden candlesticks, the seven stars, etc.
(12) And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And having turned I saw seven golden candlesticks;
In the Tabernacle, and subsequently in the Temple of Solomon, the golden candlesticks were placed by the Lord's direction – not seven candlesticks, but one with seven branches, representing the complete Church during this Gospel age. In Revelation it is the same candlestick, but its parts are separated. The union, the relationship between them, were being supplied by our Redeemer, the antitypical High Priest. The lampstand symbolized the Lord's nominal people of this Gospel age, including his "members." It holds forth the light of life, the light that shines in the darkness and which he directed should be so let shine before men that they might see our good works and glorify the Father in heaven. It is to be noted that the candlestick represents the nominal Church of Christ rather than the true. This is shown by the fact that in the Lord's addressing each of these lampstands or churches he finds fault with the many and approves the few, especially so in the last, the seventh, the Laodicean Church of our day.
(13) and in the midst of the candlesticks one like unto a son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle. (14) And his head and his hair were white as white wool, [white] as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; (15) and his feet like unto burnished brass, as if it had been refined in a furnace; and his voice as the voice of many waters.
It is a symbolical picture, which provides us with precious lessons, more useful than an attempt to describe to our minds the appearance of our Lord as a spirit being. His head and hair as white as wool and snow tell of his wisdom, and that he is the "Ancient of Days;" they speak also of splendor and purity. His eyes like a flame of fire tell in symbol that our Master is all-seeing, omniscient; that he is not deceived by outward forms or ceremonies, but can and does read every thought and intent of the heart. Having described the head John mentions the hands and feet.
The remainder of the body was covered with a garment which reached from his head to his feet. This may possibly represent the fact that the glory of Christ was manifested in his own person, in his own ministry and in that of his twelve apostles, his representatives. With their death the body of Truth was almost completely veiled throughout the eighteen centuries intervening until now. At present-day time, in the end of the Gospel age, the feet members have been illuminated by the Truth to shine forth – not like the Head, but as polished brass (an alloy of copper and zinc). Copper is a symbol of human nature. The focused rays of divine inspiration and revelation from the past 6,000 years shining upon true Church of Laodicea period became a great incentive to be in flesh a polished, bright, luminous representatives of the glorious Head and members of the Christ. "The feet" members of the body, must, in their contact and dealings with the world, be refined, purified, clean – "Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord's house.
His voice, as the sound of many waters, might be understood to mean peoples, nations and languages, and that thus our Lord, present with his Church, would speak to her and through her by many tongues, in many languages.
(16) And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
Our Lord himself, is showed as the majestic person being present amongst the candlesticks. His countenance is pictured as shining as the great light of the sun. In such a way He was pictured as the great Instructor and Caretaker of the candlesticks, the churches.
His special messengers in the Church throughout the entire period are represented as the angels of the seven churches. They were showed in seven stars in his right hand, in his favor as well as in his power. The difference between the figures of the star and the candlestick is manifest: the star light is the heavenly light, the spiritual enlightenment or instruction; the lamp light is the earthly light, representing good works, obedience, etc., of those who nominally constitute the Lord's Church in the world and who are exhorted not to put their light under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and to let their light so shine as to glorify their Father in heaven.
These stars of the seven churches apparently represent special ministers or servants of the Church. In Rev. 12:1 the Church is pictured as a woman crowned with twelve stars. These stars evidently represent the twelve apostles as the special lights of the Church. Similarly, the seven stars which the Lord holds in his right hand seem to represent special light-bearers in the Church – in each of the seven phases or developments. That they are held in his right hand seems to teach us that these should be considered as in some special sense under the Master's guidance and protection and care in the interest of the churches which they represented. It will be noticed that the messages to the various churches are all addressed to these stars or messengers or angels of the churches, as though he would have us understand that the appropriate message for each appropriate time or epoch in the Church's experience would be sent by the Lord through a particular star or messenger whom he would particularly commission as his representative.
As a symbolic picture a two-edged sword is full of meaning. The mouth, from which proceeded it is not to tell us that this is the appearance of our Lord in glory, but merely to symbolize to us that his words in his Church are to be as the sword of the spirit, which the Apostle declares to be sharper than any two-edged sword, discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart, dividing and classifying his people, and separating from his elect every impure thing and every unacceptable element.
How heart-searching is the Word of God when we get to understand it – not merely as a compendium of rules and regulations, but when we come to catch the spirit of it, when we come to see that its requirement is love out of a pure heart, first to the Father, secondly to our Lord and Head, thirdly to all his brethren, fourthly to the world in general, groaning and travailing in pain, waiting for the glorious blessings of the coming day, and fifthly, sympathetically toward our enemies also, realizing that they are warped and twisted and blinded through the deceitfulness of sin and through the machinations of the great Adversary.
(17) And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as one dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not; I am the first and the last, (18) and the Living one; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.
Symbolically, when once we get a glimpse of the glories of the divine character through the divine plan, when once we get a true view with the eyes of our understanding of him with whom we have to do, as the great heart-searcher and caretaker of his Church, we fall before him humbled to the dust, realizing that we are imperfect, that we cannot stand before our Master, that we are unworthy of his favor and blessing. But as he touched John gently, raising him up, so he has spoken to us comfort, peace and love, assuring us that we have not an High-Priest that cannot be touched with a feeling of our infirmities, but, on the contrary, one who is able to sympathize and mercifully to assist, one who has bought us with his own precious blood, who has accepted us and will number us as his body members so long as we abide in him, seeking in our hearts to know and to do his will. His comforting assurance to us is:
(1) "Fear not." The same message that the Father sent us through the prophet Isaiah, saying, "Their fear of me is not of me, but is taught by the precepts of men." (Isa. 29:13.) This lesson, "Fear not," is one of the first that we must learn. We cannot come into close sympathy with our Lord and be taught of him respecting other features of his plan until we learn this lesson, "Fear not," until we learn to have confidence in him as the one who loved us and bought us with his precious blood, and whose purposes toward us continually are for our welfare and, if we submit ourselves to his guidance, to bring us off conquerors and more than conquerors.
(2) "I am the First and the Last." We must recognize our Lord as the one who was the beginning of the creation of God and the end of it, the one by whom were all things, the one who is next to the Father, his very representative in everything pertaining to the affairs of the universe.
(3) We must recognize him as the one who was dead, the one who really died for our sins, but who as really was raised out of death by the power of the Father.
(4) We must realize that He is alive for evermore, that death has no more dominion over him, that the work is finished, that neither sacrifices of the mass nor death in any other sense or form has dominion over him nor ever will have, nor will ever be needed; his work is perfect, and, as he cried on the cross, "It is finished."
(5) We must recognize that He has the keys, the authority, the power over the tomb, to deliver from it all who are there imprisoned. We must also realize that He has the key, the power over death, so that those whom he liberates from the prison-house of death, the tomb, like those who have not yet gone into it but who are under the sentence of death, may all be ultimately delivered, set free from the dominion of sin and death, delivered into the full liberty of the sons of God, righteousness and life eternal.
(19) Write therefore the things which thou sawest, and the things which are, and the things which shall come to pass hereafter; (20) the mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks are seven churches.
To be in harmony with the rest of the book, "the seven churches which are in Asia" must be symbolic; and as the book is chiefly history written beforehand, they must symbolize seven successive stages in the history of the Christian Church, covering the period between the First Advent and the Second Coming of Christ.
John letters were the prophetic scenario of the experiences of the Church within the entire Gospel age. Today's John, living in the Day of the Lord, when he turned and looked backward he has traced on the cards of the history the faithful fulfilment of prophecies described by John Apostle. He as if once again wrote the letters, he read prophecies of John Apostle and associated them with events, he described specific temptations, dangers and the examples of bravery of saints of Most High God from the entire Gospel Age. So understood letters of today's John became valuable instruction for all churches during Christ second presence.
Added by: Andrzej