Revelation Chapter 5: 1
Revelation 5:1 – 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.
Revelation chapter 5 continues the vision of chapter 4. The “book” is a scroll with seven messages, each of which has been “sealed” with the authority of God. The breaking of the seals would reveal the message inside each part of the scroll. Scrolls normally had writing on only one side. This scroll contains the Tribulation judgments of God (compare chapter 6, Ezek. 2:9-10; Dan. 8:26; 12:4).
John introduced the throne of God in Heaven in Revelation 4. This chapter describes commencement of a series of events which will take place at the throne. These series of events in Heaven will unleash the events of the Tribulation on Earth.
John sees a scroll (or book), which in ancient times were tablets, or a continuous roll of papyrus, or parchment. As a point of interest, the Greek word for scroll is “biblion,” where we derive our word for “Bible.”
“Him who sat on the throne” has possession of this scroll. Recall from Revelation 4:2 and 4:3, that the “One… who sat on the throne” is Jesus, where He sits at the “right of the power of God” (Luke 22:69). In other words, both the Father and the Son are present on the throne, but Jesus is the only physical form of God that there is (John 1:18, Hebrews 1:1-3, Colossians 1:15, 2:9). Thus, Jesus is the only physical form that John sees on the throne. The Lord governs in righteousness and justice, delivering judgment and grace from His seat of authority (Revelation 4:2):
Psalms 9:7-8 – But the LORD shall endure forever; He has prepared His throne for judgment. He shall judge the world in righteousness, and He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness.
In Revelation 1:16, we saw that the right hand, or being at the right side, is a favored position and symbolizes strength, protection and salvation. The scroll being in the right hand shows that it is very significant.
The scroll in Revelation has writing on the “inside and on the back.” In other words, there is writing on both sides of the parchment. We read of a similar scroll in Ezekiel:
Ezekiel 2:9-3:1 – Now when I looked, there was a hand stretched out to me; and behold, a scroll of a book was in it. Then He spread it before me; and there was writing on the inside and on the outside, and written on it were lamentations and mourning and woe. Moreover He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.”
The writing on the scroll given to Ezekiel was a warning to Israel of impending judgment, if they did not repent. This scroll was not sealed, as is the one in Revelation. Ezekiel’s warning of coming judgment was conditional, though the Lord knew Israel would continue in rebellion; judgment eventually came as a result (Ezekiel 2-3).
“Sealed” in the Greek means having been closed, or made secure. Ezekiel’s scroll was not sealed; thus, its contents contained a conditional warning. In contrast, the scroll in Revelation is a sealed document; its contents cannot be revoked, similar to the way the seal of a king’s signet ring made pronouncements irreversible:
Esther 8:8 – …for whatever is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet ring no one can revoke.
Daniel 6:17 – Then a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signets of his lords, that the purpose concerning Daniel might not be changed.
Like Ezekiel’s unsealed scroll, God wrote the Ten Commandments on both sides of the tablets:
Exodus 32:15 – And Moses turned and went down from the mountain, and the two tablets of the Testimony were in his hand. The tablets were written on both sides; on the one side and on the other they were written.
In Jeremiah, we read of another sealed document that had writing on the inside and on the outside. Jeremiah prophesied about the exile of Israel to Babylon. Before the exile, the Lord told Jeremiah to buy a field from his cousin. The exchange occurred as follows:
Jeremiah 32:6-9 – And Jeremiah said, “The word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you, saying, “Buy my field which is in Anathoth, for the right of redemption is yours to buy it.”‘ Then Hanamel my uncle’s son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the Lord, and said to me, ‘Please buy my field that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin; for the right of inheritance is yours, and the redemption yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord. So I bought the field from Hanamel, the son of my uncle who was in Anathoth, and weighed out to him the money – seventeen shekels of silver.
Jeremiah 32:10-15 – And I signed the deed and sealed it, took witnesses, and weighed the money on the scales. So I took the purchase deed, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open; and I gave the purchase deed to Baruch the son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah, in the presence of Hanamel my uncle’s son, and in the presence of the witnesses who signed the purchase deed, before all the Jews who sat in the court of the prison. “Then I charged Baruch before them, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Take these deeds, both this purchase deed which is sealed and this deed which is open, and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may last many days.” For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.”‘
This “purchase deed” was a document that detailed the ownership of the land. Witnesses signed the deed after sealing it. Therefore, the witnesses’ signatures were on the outside of the deed. According to the Mosaic Law, a next of kin was able to redeem the land:
Leviticus 25:24-25 – And in all the land of your possession you shall grant redemption of the land. ‘If one of your brethren becomes poor, and has sold some of his possession, and if his redeeming relative comes to redeem it, then he may redeem what his brother sold.
Being the next of kin, Jeremiah’s cousin Hanamel was able to buy the land. Upon return from the exile a close relative could claim the land back. Several centuries earlier, in the story of Ruth, Boaz being the next of kin to Naomi, not only redeemed the land, but also took Ruth as his wife in the redemption process (Deuteronomy 25:6-10, Ruth 4).
Jeremiah’s “purchase deed” is the only other document in Scripture sealed, with writing on both sides. It is clear that the scroll in Revelation is a “purchase deed” as well. The land in Israel was given to the Hebrews by allotment. Certain circumstances could cause them to lose the land, but God made provisions for them to redeem it back. Similarly, Adam was given the whole earth to rule over. But after the fall, Adam’s dominion and hence the “purchase deed” to the earth was forfeited:
Hebrews 2:5-18 – For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying: “What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You take care of him? You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, and set him over the works of Your hands. You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
When Jesus came the first time, it was clear that Satan was in control of the world. When Satan tempted Jesus, he offered to give all the kingdoms of the world to the Lord, if He would worship him (Matthew 4:8-9). It appears the Satan controls the world to this day:
Ephesians 6:11-12 – Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
A sealed document conceals the contents within, until someone breaks the seals. The seals also preserved integrity of the contents. When it comes to spiritually “sealed” documents that contain God’s words, the contents are not concealed to everyone; just to those who turn their hearts away from God:
Isaiah 29:10-14 – For 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. 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.” Therefore the Lord said: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men, therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work among this people, a marvelous work and a wonder; for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden.”
When the seals are physically broken on the scroll in Revelation 6, the scroll’s contents will take place in real-time. This is also the case for Daniel’s prophecies that an angel told him to seal “until the time of the end” (Daniel 12:4, 9), when they would be understood as they came to pass. The same goes for all of Revelation:
Revelation 22:10 – And he said to me, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.”
We have been at the “time of the end” since John penned these words. The understanding of these prophecies will become clearer, as we draw closer to their fulfillment because the elements of these prophecies have begun to take shape. For example, Daniel’s prophecy that foretold of people “running to and fro and knowledge shall increase” (Daniel 12:4) didn’t make much sense to him, or to those who read this prophecy, before the last century. But most of it makes sense now to the current generation.
Our generation has seen the increase in travel, and the fairly recent development of the internet, which allows access to vast amounts of information, at the click of a mouse. It is clear that these prophecies given to Daniel are no longer sealed. We understand that the technology foretold by Daniel will aid in prophecies not yet fulfilled, like the “mark of the beast” system introduced in Revelation 13. This system will need a way to keep track of everyone on Earth, now made possible with the use of computers, for the purpose of buying and selling.
While the contents of the sealed scroll will occur at the breaking of each seal, all the words in Revelation have always been unsealed (Revelation 22:10). Those who read the contents of the scroll with a heart for the Lord can understand them. This goes back to what God told Isaiah in the passage above; the contents remain sealed only to those who turn their hearts away from God.
In short, the scroll is the “purchase deed” to the earth. It is not until the revealing of the contents of the sealed scroll to the world, that reclamation by a “kinsman redeemer” can take place. Subsequent chapters show that judgment is found written in the sealed document, similar to Ezekiel’s scroll. Zechariah’s description of the scroll also shows that judgment is found written on both sides, which will come to fruition during the Tribulation period, when a curse will go out over the whole earth:
Zechariah 5:1-3 – Then I turned and raised my eyes, and saw there a flying scroll. And he said to me, “What do you see?” So I answered, “I see a flying scroll. Its length is twenty cubits and its width ten cubits.” Then he said to me, “This is the curse that goes out over the face of the whole earth: ‘Every thief shall be expelled,’ according to this side of the scroll; and, ‘Every perjurer shall be expelled,’ according to that side of it.”
“Written within and on the backside”: This is typical of various kinds of contracts in the ancient world, including deeds, marriage contracts, rental and lease agreements, and wills. The inside of the scroll contained all the details of the contract, and the outside, or back, contained a summary of the document. In this case, it almost certainly is a deed, the title deed to the earth (compare Jer. 32:7).
“Sealed with seven seals”: Romans sealed their wills 7 times on the edge at each roll, to prevent unauthorized entry. Hebrew title deeds required a minimum of 3 witnesses and 3 separate seals, with more important transactions requiring more witnesses and seals.
We are not told specifically anywhere what this book contains. This is one of the mysteries that will remain until we are in heaven with Him and ask Him face to face. We know that the Right Hand of God is Jesus Christ, so whatever this book is, (actually the book is a scroll that is rolled up and sealed), Jesus is holding it. This book that is filled to overflowing and has something even on the back could mean the fullness of time. Perhaps on the reverse side would be “it is finished” or “the end”.
“Sealed with seven seals” just means that it is closed in completeness. These seals could be opened one at a time or all at once. They perhaps, if opened one at a time, could reveal a portion each time a seal is removed.
image courtesy: Revelation 5-1 – bible-com
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We are now living in the absolute End Times as per biblical prophecy.
Our Lord Jesus Christ – King of Kings. 2nd Coming and return is IMMENENT!.
Please do not waist another a minute.
No matter what religion you serve, there is only one God.
If, you want to be assured that you will not have to endure the perilous times that will befall you.
Irrespective, of what sins you may have committed at any time of your life. If you humble yourself and ask for God’s forgiveness. He will forgive you and wash them all away and welcome you as his beloved son or daughter with open arms.
If you are not a child of Father God or have not asked Jesus Christ to come into your life yet?
I implore you to do this without delay.
Read this prayer of Salvation and ask God to forgive you now and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour and you will be assured of eternal life.