And he said to me, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. Revelation 22:10
The previous verse contained the admonition for John to not worship at the feet of the angel. In his words, he said, “For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” Having said that, this verse now begins with, “And he said to me.”
Due to the flow of the dialog, one might think this is still the angel, but it is not. This is now “God” speaking. The angel just said, “Worship God.” He is the nearest antecedent –
And He [God] said to me.
This is surely the case because of what it says in verses 12 and 13, and then again in verse 16. Having said that, the idea being conveyed is that Jesus is God –
Worship God. (22:9)
And He [God] said to me. (22:10)
“And behold, I am coming quickly, andMy reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” (22:12, 13)
“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” (22:16)
With that understood, the words conveyed to John are, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book.” This is the opposite of what was said in Revelation 10:4 –
“Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.”
There is no contradiction in this at all. If the words of the seven thunders are sealed up, it does not mean that what John is being told to not seal is somehow at odds with that. Rather, the note concerning the sealing up of the seven thunders is a part of the contents of the book which is not to be sealed. John is being told that what has been conveyed to him, including the fact that something that he heard was not to be revealed. Rather, he is to make everything openly known that he has been told to reveal.
With this stated, the reason for this is given in the words, “for the time is at hand.” Here, the word kairos is used. Rather than speaking of the time as it passes by (the Greek word chronos), this word speaks of a particular moment or a suitable time. The time for the contents of the book to occur is ready to unfold.
As the book is written to the seven churches, this is not an indication that all of the events of the book are to be completed soon, but that the time for the words to begin to be fulfilled is.
For example, the church at Smyrna was told, “the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
Such an event as is recorded there is “at hand.” So, why was John given this book of Revelation, detailing events even thousands of years later, and even off into eternity? The answer is to show this church, and all the other churches, that God has a plan and that it ends with the restoration of all things. The tribulation that these people will face, and of which some will even have to die from because of their faith, is not the end of the story. Instead, it is only a step on the way to the glory that has now been revealed to John.
The book is a book of hope, set forth for the people of God, and to give them confidence in the power of God in Christ to restore all things that were lost at the very beginning of man’s time on earth.
Life application: Something new entered into the events of the church age in 1948. That is the year Israel was reestablished in their land. What was hidden from the eyes of the church for so long is that there is still a plan and a purpose for them. We can see this clearly now, and it makes the immanency of Christ’s return even more palpable.
Scholars of prophecy and eschatology look with wonder at the events of the world today. With each new occurrence, the words of Old Testament prophecy, which seemed so confused that they had to be spiritualized to make any sense of them. In 1948, Israel returned as a nation. In 1967 Jerusalem was again taken by Israel. The land has and continues to be divided since then, such as Israel’s departure from Gaza.
Each of these events helps bring the way the Old Testament portrays many prophetic events into a focus never imagined before. Now seems to be the time in human history where the “words of the prophecy of this book” are really coming into complete clarity, meaning that the church age may be coming to a close soon. Wouldn’t it be great to be the generation that sees the coming of the Lord for us! Even so, come Lord JESUS.
Lord, it is exhilarating to wake up and turn on the news and see prophecy being fulfilled before our eyes. What is written in the Bible, recorded so very long ago, is more up to date than the daily news. What an immensely wise and wonderful God You are! We look to You and Your glorious return with anticipation. Amen.