Lock Number Two: The Mystery Of The Sealed Book

Do you remember our KEY NUMBER TWO:  making the latent image visible?  We spoke about developing photographs in the past: a film would be placed in a special solution, the developer, and sometime later a picture would begin to appear.  At first the contours would appear, and then the finer details of the image, and finally the whole picture would emerge. In fact, this was the purpose of the developer:  to make the latent image visible.

This whole process was absolutely fascinating: On the one hand, the image was already there – it already existed in its entirety, perfectly imprinted on the film, the complex chemical process changed nothing about this image and added nothing to it – it merely developed, put on display, revealed what was already there. However, on the other hand, although only this one step separated us from seeing what was imprinted on the photograph, without this step, without developing the film, we would never discover what was embedded in it:  until the developer did its job, the latent image remained invisible. 

Today we will use this key to open LOCK NUMBER TWO: the mystery of the sealed and unsealed book. We will start with the words of Isaiah that had troubled my heart for many years:

The whole vision has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one who is literate, saying, “Read this, please.” And he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” Then the book is delivered to one who is illiterate, saying, “Read this, please.” And he says, “I am not literate.”[1]

What is this book the prophet is speaking about? We are not dealing with some specific prophecy here, we are told about the whole vision (hazut hakol), about  the global picture, about the vision and understanding of everything that God has done and is doing in the history of mankind.  I believe, Isaiah is speaking about that very same sealed ‘book’ that we see in Chapter 5 of the Book of Revelation:

And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it.[2]

Some might say that this parallel is very forced – that these are two completely different books and there is no connection between them. However, when Daniel speaks of another book: “You, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end[3], there is no doubt whatsoever that the sealing of Daniel’s book, like the unsealing of the book in Revelation, comes in a completely prophetic context. Dare we say that Isaiah’s sealed book is not linked to these two prophetic books? I am profoundly convinced that all three books are not only linked, but that they are one and the same book – the book of God’s end-time plans for mankind, revealed in a vision to Daniel as sealed by God, and shown in a vision to John as unsealed by Yeshua.

So we see this closed book, this sealed scroll of God’s plan, and it is delivered to one who is literate, saying: “Read this, please.” And he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” I had long meditated on this strange picture: Who is the one that knows how to read, but for some reason receives this book sealed? Today I believe that the literate one is Israel: Our people are not only literate concerning the Tanakh – the Hebrew Scriptures, God’s Word – but are also able to read God’s handwriting in history. We are taught to recognize God, His signature, and His unfolding plan in events around us. And it would seem, who else should read this book, but the one who is literate? But that’s just the issue: Specifically for the literate, the book is sealed. As we read in the prophet Daniel, it is sealed by God Himself, or at least by His direct command, and as we read in the book of Revelation, it can be unsealed only by God Himself. In Revelation, we are told with perfect clarity who the One is that can remove this seal, the only One who ‘is worthy’ to unseal this Book: But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”[4]  And as soon as He removes the seals and opens the Book, the literate are now able to read it. Once the seal is removed – even though nothing new is added to this Book, everything that existed only latently before, is now revealed for the first time, becoming visible and apparent. Pretty much like in our example with developing a photographic film – that is why we need this key to unlock this mystery.

Do you remember the exact wording of our second key: It takes God to make the latent image visible! It is very important to understand that for our people, it was not their choice or  their decision: , The book is sealed, and only when the seals are removed, it can be read. Once again, we will mention Apostle Paul – Rabbi Shaul: as we know, he had studied the Torah and Scriptures his whole life and unquestionably had been literate before his meeting with Yeshua. However, until Yeshua Himself removed the seals for him, Shaul could not read this scroll. When Yeshua appeared, and revealed Himself to him, when the seal was removed,  only then he was able to read.  Nothing was added to or changed in this text, no new texts or documents fell to Shaul from heaven. It was the same Scripture, the same Tanakh that he had read his entire life, but was now seen, understood, and read in a completely new light. Now he was able to read  God’s  Book,  this Book was unsealed for him. The moment when His sovereign hand removes the seals, the literate and illiterate alike simply cannot help but read and see the latent image become visible: Messiah, who had always been there and who is revealed and seen now on the pages of this Book, without changing anything in its text.

 

[1] Isa 29:11-12

[2] Rev 5:1-4

[3] Dan 12:4

[4] Rev. 5:5

About the author

Julia BlumJulia is a teacher and an author of several books on biblical topics. She teaches two biblical courses at the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, “Discovering the Hebrew Bible” and “Jewish Background of the New Testament”, and writes Hebrew insights for these courses.

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  1. SuSan Oxbrow

    How can I..a mere me..begin to express to you Julia..how you have touched a place in..mere me..that I wasn’t even aware was crying out for more..Thank you..Susan…

  2. Angelika Walter

    Thank you, Julia, I appreciate your always insightful and inspiring teaching. (I´m sorry for my lateness)
    I love the image with the photographer who makes the latent visible. I guess that happened to Paul on the road to Damaskus, it´s still the same Torah but all of a sudden he saw Yeshua in everything. I like the way you point out the connection between the sealed book of Daniel, the sealed book in Rev. and the hidden Messiah in Tanakh. You said “It takes God to make the latent image visible! It is very important to understand that for our people, it was not their choice or their decision: The book is sealed, and only when the seals are removed, it can be read.” Yes, only God can remove the seal and open eyes, but this also raises questions I´m struggling with, about the combination of God´s sovereignity and free will or between aspects of judgment and sacrifice for others. I think there was a choice at the time Yeshua lived among his people, not to fully understand that he was divine or even Messiah, but how to respond to his teaching and his call for repentance. I think the way people reacted had a lot to do with humility or pride and as it is always a pattern in the bible only the lowly and needy received him. But I´m also painfully aware that the way Christianity has presented Yeshua and injustices done in Jesus name made it nearly impossible to recognize him as Messiah and this is not stubbornness, but faithfulness to God. If God has sealed the mystery of Messiah and if this is not only judgment but for our, the nations, sake – how can God make Israel responsible for not seeing something they could not see? Will Yeshua, when he returns, call into the graves like he did with Lazarus and reveal himself then, so that all Israel will be saved?

    Thank you also, Henrietta for reminding us at the heartfelt cry of Esau. I think Esau is also misunderstood in relation to the much later word “Jacob I have loved, but hated Esau”. But in the Genesis-narrative, Esau is not depicted as evil or condemned, on the contrary, he is loved by Isaac, the story ends very hopeful with reconciliation. (though Esau´s descendants again fought against Jacobs descendants -why? Was reconciliation from Esaus side superficial and the root of envy not completely wiped out? Or does it indicate that every person in every generation must decide anew for themselves to walk in ways of peace or envy and hatred?) I like your words “Just as God heard the cry of the blood of Abel so God still hears the cry of his people and their cry comes up before The Throne where stands The Lion of The tribe of Judah.”

    God bless you.

  3. Suliaman Ibn Smith

    Shalom Julia,thanks for your deep explanation that it is G-d who will open the seal. And if He has not open the seal one can not see,meaning without totally submitting to G-d and He revealing the understanding to us we will read in vein.As He said in Job 28-28 And unto man he said,Behold, the fear of the Lord,that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. So one can have Wisdom without Understanding,or having Understanding without Wisdom.
    Thank you once again and mey the Good Lord Bless you.