The Lion, The Lamb, And The Sealed Book 

The Sealed and the Unsealed

Let’s start with the beautiful words from Revelation 5:1-9, where all three components of our title are present:

1 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. 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.” And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.

Have you ever wondered what this sealed book is that the Lamb is unsealing?  Where did it come from?  To understand what book is unsealed in Revelation, we need to know whether any book was sealed in Tanach. Do we find a sealed book in Tanach?

In the last chapter of the book of Daniel, Daniel is told, “Seal this book until the time of the end.[1] Are these two fragments connected? While some may argue that these passages describe completely different books and different seals, there is no doubt that the sealing of the book of Daniel, like the unsealing of the book in Revelation, takes place in a completely prophetic context. The connection between these scriptures is evident in Hebrew. The last word of Daniel’s book, which translates as “the end of days”[2] (לקץ הימין), is very peculiar: our sages list it among words that have to end with mem: days ימים -, but instead, end with nun, thus forming the word “right” in Hebrew. The Midrash interprets ימין homiletically as referring to God’s right arm:  His power to work miracles, as well as His attributes of kindness and salvation, are all called His right arm. Thus, we get the reading of Dan.12:13 ‘The End (is) of the right hand of God’ or ‘The End belongs to Him Who sits at the right hand of the Father’.[3] This Daniel’s word seems very significant in our context, especially if we remember that in Revelation, the sealed scroll was “in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne”.

You might know that in Judaism, Daniel is not considered a prophet, his book is included in the Ketuvim (Writings) section of Tanach, not the Neviim (Prophets) section. The Talmud explicitly states that Daniel was not a prophet. However, the Talmud also clearly says that Daniel was shown visions of great importance, hidden from the other prophets. Rashi explains that Daniel is not considered a prophet, since he was not sent with a prophecy to the people of Israel. All this only strengthens our point and the connection with Revelation: We understand that the visions shown to Daniel refer to the end times and God’s plan, not only for Israel, but for all nations!  The contents of the book sealed in Daniel and unsealed in Revelation refer to the same events: the end of the days for Israel and the Gentile nations (the Great Shofar; the King as Judge; the books are unsealed/opened; the final judgment). Thus, we establish that the book unsealed in Revelation was sealed in Daniel.

 

Between the Sealing and the Unsealing

However, what happens to this book between these two points, between the sealing and the unsealing?  Does the Bible tell us anything about this? Are there other sealed books in Tanach?

You may be surprised—at least, I was when I first discovered it—that there are not many sealed books in the Tanach. Apart from Daniel, there is only one place – the amazing place that describes exactly what happens to this book: Isaiah 29:10-12:

10For the Lord has poured out on you the spirit of deep sleep, And has closed your eyes, namely, the prophets; And He has covered your heads, namely, the seers. 11 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.” 12 Then the book is delivered to one who is illiterate, saying, “Read this, please.” And he says, “I am not literate.”

What is this book that Isaiah is talking about? Isaiah’s prophecy speaks about חזות הכל – vision of all (it’s translated exactly by these words in the King James Version). There is a difference in Hebrew between prophecy (נבואה) and vision (חזות), although sometimes we may think of them as almost synonymous – and in this case, we see again the same word, chazut, that the Talmud applies to Daniel: As in the book of Daniel, the vision in Isaiah does not refer to any particular book or prophecy, but it speaks of the big picture, of seeing and understanding all that God has done and is going to do; of God’s overarching plan for the salvation of mankind; of the history from Genesis through Revelation. Therefore, I strongly believe that in Isaiah we see the very same book, the same scroll that we see in Revelation and Daniel. All three books are not just linked, but they are the same book — the book of God’s plan for mankind, revealed in a vision to Daniel as sealed by God, and shown in a vision to John as unsealed by Jesus. Isaiah describes the process that will take place between these two points: between the sealing and unsealing. So, what do we learn from Isaiah?

 

Two Types of Readers

We see two different types of readers of this book: those who can read but receive this book sealed, and those who cannot read—those who are literate, and those who are not. Who are these people, these two types of readers?

For years, I had meditated on this strange image. Only recently the Lord showed it to me very clearly: Of course, the literate reader is Israel, the very Israel that knows how to read, and not only how to read the Scriptures, but also knows how to read God’s handwriting in history, but for whom this book, this חזות הכל, this vision of all, is sealed – sealed by God’s command!

When Jesus came to this Earth, Israel (and Israel alone) was “literate” (I am not talking about Hebrew, of course, I am talking about understanding ‘God’s handwriting’ in the history that only Israel knew how to read): Jesus came to the people who had already had a relationship with God for over a thousand years. Jesus was a continuation of God’s conversation with Israel: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.”[4] Only Israel could truly understand God’s language; only Israel could read His message; only Israel could comprehend the images and the parables He used to describe Himself: God’s message through Jesus was a development of certain spiritual topics already seen before, already expressed, and already revealed in Israel’s history, and therefore only Israel could have truly understood and read these topics.  Do you remember the story of Joseph? There is an interesting detail in this story that few pay attention to: the dreams that Joseph had when he was at home didn’t have to be interpreted—not only his father, but even his brothers (who, as we all know, were not the most spiritual people at that time) immediately understood the message of the dreams; they didn’t need Joseph to explain the meaning to them. However, when Joseph was in Egypt, he seemed to be the only one who could understand the dreams—as if the language of dreams, the language of God’s communication through dreams, was a mother tongue for Joseph and his family, and a foreign tongue for the Egyptians. It is the same here: when Jesus came, the language of God was a mother tongue for Israel, and for Israel alone. Alas! It is precisely for our people—for those who are literate—that this book has been sealed!

However, if Israel was the one who knew how to read, but for whom this book was sealed, then it follows that those who did receive this book, this vision of all unsealed, did not know how to read it—at least in the beginning. Unfortunately, during two thousand years of Christian history, there have been many attempts to ‘read’ and interpret this book by ‘illiterate’ readers: hence, all the misinterpretations and false concepts regarding God’s plan and God’s Word that we have seen throughout Church history—especially regarding the role of Israel itself in the God’s overarching plan for the salvation of mankind. Those who do understand this are deeply longing for the days to come that are prophesied in Zechariah: Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”[5] Meanwhile, the hatred of Israel that has flooded the world today shows, more clearly than anything else, how wide the chasm is between the view of God and the view of man—the view from heaven and the view from earth—and how far from God’s truth man’s “illiterate” interpretation is.

 

[1] Dan.12:4

[2] Dan.12:13

[3] I am very grateful to my Dutch friend, Debby van Galen, who brought this connection to my attention.

[4] Heb. 1:1-2

[5] Zech.8:23

 

As always,  I would be happy to provide more information (and also a teacher’s discount for new students) regarding our wonderful courses  (juliab@eteachergroup.com). You might also enjoy my books, they all are Bible-based and have a lot of Hebrew insights you can get them here.  These days, you may be especially interested to read my book “If You Be the  Son of God” which reveals God’s plan with Israel and explains the suffering of my people.  

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. Teresa France

    Julia,
    Once again you get me diving deep into understand. My heart is placed open ready to receive what you teach! I pray for you and the institute; our world needs to see, read and hear these truths. May HaShem continue to use you to bring Glory to His kingdom.
    Shalom ~Teresa

  2. Gladys Fox

    Thank you Dear Julia ,
    You lesson came just when I needed it the most. Thanks be to God I firmly believe what you wrote.
    When I read the words “right hand of God” I am reminded of Jesus!
    Like all good parents God chose the best teachers for His children. Now more and more Christians are turning to Jewish teachers to learn the foundations of their religious beliefs
    My heart goes out to you and hope and pray that you and your loved ones stay safe! I pray for Israel for which I have a deep love!