“I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back,…”

Revelation 5:1-4

Chapter 4 of Revelation is all about John’s vision of God the Creator. Chapter 5 comes the vision of God the Redeemer, and will end with songs of praises and adoration to the Redeemer, in the same manner chapter 4 ends with the worship of the Creator.

“And I saw in the right hand of Him…” – This is not like God the Father grasping something, holding it tight. But God is holding it out to see who can take it on His right hand. Of course it’s an anthropomorphic phrase to speak of God’s power and authority. “…that sat on the throne a book…” – The “book” here is the word ‘Biblion’, but codex was not really invented until the 2nd century. So though it’s the word for ‘Biblion’, it should mean the content of scroll papyrus or parchment glued together and rolled up. It’s written on both sides, being full as it coiuld possibly be. Some have identified the book with the Old Testament particularly about the woes of judgement of Ezekiel 2:8-10. Others think it’s the events of the end times that were sealed up on Daniel 8:26. Still others say it’s an allusion to the inheritance of the saints. I think it’s the destiny of man’s history, and how it’s going to be consummated. Now notice, it’s “…sealed with seven seals.” – sealed (perfect tense), seven is the number of perfection and that’s the idea, it’s perfectly sealed.

In verse 2, John sees a mighty angel, some say, (etymologically the word ‘Gabriel’ means strong man of God) the angel Gabriel might be connected with this. We just can’t be sure. But this mighty angel mentioned in chapter 10:1 and chapter 18:21, announced with a loud voice he called to all of creation, “who is worthy to open the book and break its seals”? And look at verse 3, “no one in heaven or on the earth under the earth could the book” – this three-fold division seems to refer to angels and men both living and dead (cf. Phil. 2:10). So no conscious creation was found worthy to open it, and at that point John begins to weep. This is a beautiful theological truth that neither angels nor man can bring about the will of God in history, but only the crucified Son of God. What a tremendous theme of the whole book of Revelation! – that God is sovereign and He is sovereign through what He has chosen to do through Jesus Christ, and He is going to bring all history to a culmination and a conclusion. Nothing and no one can can thwart the plan and purpose of God in history!