Do Not Seal Up
The Book of Revelation was written for the encouragement of the faithful against the trials and persecutions Satan and the world will invariably throw their way (NICNT, 390). And for that reason alone it must be heard. But it must be confessed that Revelation was among the last of the New Testament books to be received as canonical. It was regarded with some suspicion in the Eastern churches, a fact witnessed today in that though the liturgy of the Orthodox Church is saturated with Scripture throughout the year, Revelation does not appear in it. It received scant attention in the early and medieval periods and the Reformers, including the voluminous John Calvin, did not comment much upon it, except when it served their purpose to equate the “Roman Church” and the pope with the antichrist. Revelation’s popularity has grown in the last few centuries (the Modern era) and most of that associated with more popular brands that see the prophecies within it fulfilled in every current geopolitical struggle. In short, the Book has been either ignored or taken to fanatical heights.
To those who spurn it as incomprehensible, the angel tells John, “These words are faithful and true” and then commands him, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book.” Revelation is not to be treated on a par with the apocrypha; it is prophecy as all Scripture is and must be read for the edification of the Church. It speaks to the realities of living in a world where one is a stranger and alien and the hardships which must accompany such a reality. But for all its foretelling of trials to come, it also speaks to the ultimate triumph of those sealed (born again) of God. It provides abundant warnings to the faithful to remain faithful even in the threat of fire and water knowing that the glory of victory and acclamation before the Father in the world to come is worth it all. On the other hand, it explains the world to the believer. Revelation pulls no punches in describing the utter helplessness, wickedness, deceitfulness, and hard-heartedness of man bereft of the grace of God—and most are without such grace. And why is this? Because they spurn God’s grace. They prefer their sin to salvation and hate those who prefer salvation to sin. And if they prefer it so, let them have it so (22:11). The war is interminable UNTIL God terminates it—and one day, He will.
And that will come when our Lord returns. That was the refrain in the prologue (1:7) and here again in the epilogue (22:7). So, Preacher, preach Revelation, but preach it rightly, for the edification of the Church that she may walk in the valley of the shadow of death without fear of evil.