By Wu Ming
Wu Ming has been a sincere Christian for many years. She likes reading the Bible very much, and is especially curious about Revelation, eager to know what those prophecies in it mean. Once when she saw a passage in Revelation, “And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals” (Revelation 5:1), she thought, “What does the book here refer to? Does it refer to the Bible? Is the content of the book recorded in the Bible or outside of it?” At that moment, she remembered a passage in Daniel, “But you, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4). She thought to herself: It seems that in the last days many people will seek and examine this hidden and sealed book to understand more truths and God’s will. But then she also thought: Since the Bible has already been open to the world, and true believers can understand the truth and God’s will through reading it, why do people still have to seek in the last days? So, this sealed book predicted in Revelation may not be a reference to the Bible! However, during so many years of following the Lord, I’ve found that no matter who preached, in their sermons the book was always considered as the Bible. What explanation is actually right? She dimly felt that the book must refer to something else.
Afterward, she came to an experienced old pastor who had been preaching for over thirty years to seek the answer. The pastor said to her thoughtfully, “This book records about the vision John saw on the island of Patmos, and it prophesies what God will accomplish in the last days. It can only be opened by Him who sits upon the throne. By now we still don’t know the content of the book, that means we have to wait.” She thought the pastor’s words made sense and was helpful to her, though he didn’t know more details about the book either.
After that, Wu Ming increasingly longed to know the mysteries of the book. She believed that as long as she relied on the Lord and sought constantly, one day she would be able to understand what the book actually refers to. Some days passed and Wu Ming’s cousin came to see her. Her cousin was a preacher who had served the Lord for many years, and over these years, she had worked hard for the Lord and established many churches. Besides, her cousin was also the one that introduced me to the belief in the Lord in the beginning.
Seeing her cousin, Wu Ming was only too delighted. In their conversation, she brought up her puzzlement about the book, hoping to get some new knowledge from her cousin. She was told, “In the past, I had always thought that the book referred to the Bible, but after studying the chapters of the Bible carefully and communicating with the shepherds of some churches, I found that the book in Revelation actually referred to something else.” Then her cousin took out the Bible, turned to Revelation 5:1, and read, “And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.” Then she continued to say, “We can see from this prediction that the ‘book’ is in the hand of Him sitting on the throne. When we mention Him who sits on the throne, without doubt, we refer to God Himself, because man doesn’t have the qualification to sit on the throne. It says here the book is in the hand of Him who sits on the throne. To put it another way, the book is mastered by God and contains the hidden truth and mystery. But every one of us believers in the Lord has a Bible in our hands, and can read it freely. Even non-believers can also have access to reading it. So, how can it be said to have been sealed with seven seals? Let’s take a look at Revelation 5:2-4, ‘And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.’ We know that John wrote Revelation around 90 A.D. At that time, the Four Gospels, Acts, and letters to churches had already been finished. If the book refers to the Bible, then why did John cry because no one was worthy to open the book? In fact, Revelation records the vision John saw on the island of Patmos. The prophecies in it are about the things that hadn’t yet been accomplished by the Lord at that time, or we can say, the work God would do later. Just as Revelation says, ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to show to his servants things which must shortly come to pass …’ (Revelation 1:1). ‘… things which must shortly come to pass’ mentioned here means the things which is about to be accomplished soon but hasn’t been fulfilled yet. From this point we are sure that ‘the book’ absolutely doesn’t refer to the Bible, but refers to God’s new work to be done beyond the Bible. We know that Revelation is a book of prophecy about the Lord Jesus’ return, and is all about the things that will take place when the Lord Jesus returns. And ‘the seven vials’ and ‘the seven plagues,’ which are prophesied in it, refer to the great disasters that are going to be sent down by the Lord when He comes again in the last days. Thus it can be seen that ‘the book’ sealed with the seven seals can only be opened when the Lord Jesus returns.” Attracted by her cousin’s fellowship, Wu Ming listened carefully.
Wu Ming’s cousin continued to fellowship, “Since the book sealed with the seven seals is not the Bible, what then does it really refer to? What is written in it? The Lord Jesus once said a passage of thought-provoking words, ‘I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come’ (John 16:12-13). And Revelation 2:17 said, ‘He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna …’ The sealed book and the hidden words mentioned in Daniel, ‘all truth’ the Lord Jesus said, and ‘what the Spirit says to the churches’ and ‘the hidden manna’ in Revelation are absolutely related to the sealed book prophesied in Revelation. From these scriptures we should be able to realize that outside the Bible, there are truths, God’s words, and God’s demands on us. It is just that they are hidden from us temporarily. Only when the Lord Jesus returns can these truths and mysteries be opened up, and only God Himself has the authority and power to reveal them. When God comes again in the last days to reveal these truths and mysteries will exactly be when the book that has been sealed for so long is opened. Maybe we will hear the truths that are higher than those in any former age. Though this can’t be easily understood by each of us, it will surely be fulfilled as prophesied in Revelation. Recently one of my friends got over the Great Firewall and searched the Internet for the specific term “scroll”. He then saw this passage, ‘I will tell you this when I open My scroll in the last days. (The scroll refers to all of the words that I have spoken, My words in the last days—this is all inside of it.)’ (‘The One Hundred and Tenth Utterance’). I thought over this passage: Since what the book refers to has been explained clearly here, these words are probably the utterances of the returned Lord Jesus in the last days. Thus, we need to further seek.”
After listening to her cousin’s fellowship, Wu Ming’s mind became much clearer. Her cousin’s words brought great inspiration to her, making her get a new understanding about the book prophesied in Revelation. As it turns out, the book represents that during the last days God is to do new work beyond the Bible. It looks like only by seeking God’s words and work in the last days can one knows exactly what the content of the book is. Wu Ming said to her cousin excitedly, “So we must go quickly to search the Internet for the newest utterances and words of the returned Lord, and see if there is a new discovery.” Her cousin replied with a smile, “That’s good. It is now the last days. We must be wise virgins, and learn to hear and discern the Lord’s voice. As long as we thirst and seek, we will be able to hear God’s voice, welcome the Lord’s return, and understand the mysteries in the book!”