Seal up the book...Do not seal up the book: Prophecy in Daniel and Revelation
"But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase." (Daniel 12:4)
Then he told me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near. (Revelation 22:10)
Seal up...do not seal up. What can it mean?
Many have gone over the prophecy in Daniel 12 and many have admitted there is difficulty in interpreting the words.
Does seal up in Daniel mean hide the words? No, because the words are included in the canon and have been available for any person to read since the beginning.
The words seal up are also used in Revelation referring to the Seven Thunders. In that case, seal up meant do not write the words down. The words themselves have been sealed up within the confines of the Holy Heavenly Temple, and we do not even know what was said at all.
And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.” (Revelation 10:4)
Therefore in Daniel's case, since he was told to write the words down and those words were subsequently preserved, it seems that seal up meant write, but that God would conceal the understanding of the words from us until an appointed time.
Now, in the 4th verse the prophet goes on to speak about the final part of the book. He says, “But it’s for you Daniel. Conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time, many will go back and forth and knowledge will increase.” What an interesting text this is. He says seal up the book and what does that mean? Does that mean preserve it, when we seal something, we often seal it to preserve it. Well it probably does not mean that, notice the 9th verse, go your way Daniel for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time. So, probably this is seal up in the sense of conceal, so as for you Daniel conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time, many will go back in forth and knowledge will increase, and so what he seems to be saying is, Daniel, this book is to be an enigma until the end of time.
And do you know that is exactly what the Book of Daniel has been? It has been largely an enigma until modern times. With the revival of the study of the prophetic word in the 19th Century, the Book of Daniel has begun to come into its own, and the book now as a result of the revival of prophetic understanding of Scripture has become a very significant book and the prophecy has it would seem to me at least been partially fulfilled. S. Lewis Johnson, Tribulation, Resurrection, Testimony in Daniel's Conclusion
We compare the command to seal up the prophetic words to Daniel with the words to John NOT to seal up the prophetic words.
And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. (Revelation 22:10)
John MacArthur on what it means to not seal up the book: Believer's Immediate Response to Christ's Imminent Return
That reminds me again that we’re not looking into this book for some kind of secretive meanings hidden behind what is obvious. If the truth is not in the words, then this command is nonsense. But the truth is in the words and we are not to seal up these words, we are to make them known. Way back in chapter 1 verse 11, John was told to write in a book what you see and send it to the churches. Spread it, spread this word, Jesus is coming and with Him comes blessing for His own and with Him comes horrifying judgment on the ungodly. To fail to preach revelation, to fail to proclaim revelation is not only foolish, because back in chapter 1 verse 3 it says, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy and heed the things written in it for the time is near.” Not only will you forfeit that blessing, it is not just foolish but it is sinful.
If ever there was a day to proclaim its truths, it is now. And tomorrow will be a more important day and the day after that a more important day, and next month, more important, and next year, more important as the coming of Christ becomes even nearer. Any Christian who fails to learn the truths of this book and to understand the words of this book which are not at all incomprehensible, as we have learned, is forfeiting blessing and any preacher who fails to preach this book of the glorious realities to come in the return of Jesus Christ is sinfully unfaithful to his mandate.
And yet it is common, I suppose it is even normal in the church today to have this book completely ignored. As wonderful as the gospel record is, which tells us the story of the first coming of Christ, as marvelous as the epistles are which gives us the theology that comes out of His work, this is the book that exalts Him most. Not to preach the book of Revelation is to fall short of exalting the Lord Jesus Christ with that exaltation due to Him. It is not just a failure to teach the whole counsel of God and to give His people the love of His appearing, it is outright disobedience. The time is near. It is imminent. It is soon. This must be preached, don’t seal it up.The true prophetic words of the Revelation of Jesus Christ and Daniel apply to us today, and they should spur us to fervency and love and witness and holy living. The words have been released to speak for understanding. God is gracious and all prophecy progresses in an orderly fashion, in His timing.