“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
After the angel redirected the apostle John to “worship God” alone (22:9), he then instructed him, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.” (Revelation 22:10). Since God wants the book of Revelation to be available for His people to read and be encouraged to prepare for future events, the angel instructs John not to “seal the words of the prophecy of this book.” God does not want His prophetic word to be concealed or hidden from His redeemed people because “the time is at hand” or near for the fulfillment of these prophetic words. God’s people need to be aware of what is going to happen in the future so they can prepare for those events.
All servants of God are to get the message of Revelation out to His people! They are not to conceal it or avoid it. Yet, few churches and their leaders are proclaiming the message of this book. This is a great disservice to God’s people. More than ever in my lifetime, the people of God need God’s prophetic word from the book of Revelation. They need to know what is going to happen especially when we watch the world spiraling out of control.
For example, the next event on God’s prophetic calendar is the Rapture or sudden removal of the church from the earth (see comments on Revelation 4:1-4; cf. I Thessalonians 1:10; 4:13-5:11). Failure to inform God’s people of this robs them of the comfort and encouragement God intended for His people (I Thessalonians 4:18; 5:11) during a time when they are being misinformed about being in the Tribulation already (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:2-3).
The apostle Paul wrote, “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3). The apostle Paul is correcting his readers’ misconception about the coming of “the day of Christ” (2:2) which refers to the Judgment Seat of Christ (cf. I Corinthians 1:8; Philippians 1:6, 10; 2:16; cf. Romans 14:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10). 1 False teachers were telling them that “the day of Christ had come” (2:2), and therefore, Paul’s readers had missed the Rapture of the Church which precedes the Bema and the Tribulation wrath to come (I Thessalonians 1:9-10; 4:13-5:10; cf. Revelation 4:1-4). Paul explains that two events will precede the “day” of Christ:
1. “The falling away” (2:3a) may refer to the false teaching that will accompany the administration of “the man of sin” (cf. Matthew 24:15-24; Revelation 13:1-7, 11-18). All the false teachings of the current church age simply foreshadow the ultimate apostasy of the man of sin.
2. The revealing of “the man of sin” (2:3b) who will exalt himself as “God in the temple of God” (2:4) will take place in the middle of the Tribulation period (cf. Matthew 24:15). The temple which was destroyed in 70 A. D., must be rebuilt in Jerusalem before the man of sin takes his place there.
3. “He who now restrains” must be removed before “the lawless one will be revealed” (2:6-8). This Restrainer is most likely the indwelling Holy Spirit in all believers that comprise the church today (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13-14; I Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:2-3; Ephesians 1:13-14). So, for the Restrainer to be removed, the church must be removed through the Rapture which Paul discussed in detail in I Thessalonians (1:9-10; 4:13-5:11).
Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians reminds us that how we view the future directly influences how we live today. His readers thought they missed the Rapture and were living in the Tribulation which “troubled” them (2 Thessalonians 2:2) and caused some to stop working and earning a living (3:6-15). Paul corrects this error in their thinking about future events to “comfort” them (2:16-17) and encourage them to keep working (3:12-15).
Likewise, God wants the prophetic words of the book of Revelation to comfort and encourage His people to prepare for the Rapture now. How can they do that if the church neglects to teach this or misinforms the church about the Rapture, saying it has already happened and we are in the Tribulation now?
The angel just encouraged the apostle John to get the message of Revelation out to people (Revelation 22:10), but then he says to John, “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.” (Revelation 22:11). The angel reminds John that even though the time is near for the prophetic events described in the book of Revelation to be fulfilled, there will be people who do not want to listen or be persuaded. The angel says to let “unjust” and “filthy” people remain in their “unjust” and “filthy” condition. 2 This tells us that there will be people who are in rebellion against God who will not listen to the book of Revelation and will continue in their wickedness.
This is a very strong warning to unbelievers not to delay becoming a believer in Jesus Christ. It portrays the hopelessness of the final condition of unbelievers. When King Jesus returns to earth with His church at the end of the Tribulation, unsaved people will not be able to change their eternal destiny. What they are when Jesus returns, they will remain forever! 3 People are not given a second chance after death (Hebrews 9:27). They are only given one life on earth to come to faith in Jesus Christ.
Refusal to believe in Christ for eternal life results in eternal condemnation. Jesus said, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18). When a person refuses to believe in Jesus Christ, he or she is rejecting God’s offer. They are condemning themselves. When a person refuses to believe in Christ alone for His gift of eternal life, they are in essence saying to God, “I reject what Jesus Christ did in my place as my Substitute.” Therefore, God has no choice but to let them pay for their own sin, through eternal separation from Him in what the Bible calls hell (Matthew 25:41, 46; Mark 9:43-38) or the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15). Those who go to hell are going there of their own choosing because they have rejected Christ and His free offer. God has not rejected them; instead, they have rejected God.
The angel also reminds John that there will be those who respond positively to the book of Revelation: “He who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.” (Revelation 22:11b). There will be those who receive the message of Revelation, and they will continue to move in the direction God wants them to go (“righteous… holy”). 4 This will prepare them to be richly rewarded by the Lord Jesus when He returns (22:12). We will talk more about this next time.
Prayer: Thank You heavenly Father for making the book of Revelation available for all people to read. Forgive us for neglecting to read and heed the message of this prophetic book. Starting today, use us to share this prophetic message with Your people and with a lost world so all of us can prepare for the future. Although most of humanity will continue in the direction they are already going, lead us to those whom You have prepared to hear and obey this prophetic book. In the matchless name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.
1. Robert Wilkin; J. Bond; Gary Derickson; Brad Doskocil; Zane Hodges; Dwight Hunt; Shawn Leach; The Grace New Testament Commentary: Revised Edition (Grace Evangelical Society, Kindle Edition, 2019), pp. 1147-1148.
2. Bob Vacendak; Robert Wilkin; J. Bond; Gary Derickson; Brad Doskocil; Zane Hodges; Dwight Hunt; Shawn Leach; The Grace New Testament Commentary: Revised Edition (Grace Evangelical Society, Kindle Edition, 2019), pg. 1589.
3. Tom Constable, Notes on Revelation, 2017 Edition, pg. 253. 4. Tony Evans, CSB Bible by Holman, The Tony Evans Study Commentary (B & H Publishing Group, Kindle Edition 2019), pg. 2424.