Summary: What is this book?
The fifth chapter is a continuation of the fourth. John had just seen God, Christ, the spirit, the covenant and the Church. I am sure that these things had John’s undivided attention. John’s vision changes quickly as the fifth chapter begins. John sees a book. There must have been incredible power in this book. The bible says that it was in the right hand of God. John looked past the power that was in God’s right hand, (Exodus 15:6; Psalms 17:7; 18:35; 48:10) and saw the book. He looked past the things that his right hand brought in the past, (1 Kings 18:41-46; Matthew 8:1-4; John 20:24-29) and saw what was in his hand here. Hopefully everyone can agree that this was the most important thing ever to be in the right hand of God.
He describes the book by saying that it was written within and on the backside. Unfortunately, this was the only description that John could give, because the book was sealed with seven seals. I believe that as soon as John saw the book, he knew what it represented. The bible says that a strong angel asked, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? By that we know that this book needed to be unsealed. Isaiah 29:9-11 says, Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered. And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed. There was a time when the book couldn‘t be read because of it‘s seals. No man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book. Many say that a great search was made. I believe that from the foundation of the world, God knew that his Son was the only one able to open this book. Here, John was seeing that there was nothing that he could do to open the book. John couldn’t depend on anyone else, he had to depend solely on God and his Son. I heard a man say on the radio one time, that God was trying to get us to a place of independence. That he wanted us to depend less upon him, and do things on our own. There is nothing farther from the truth than that. He wants us to be more dependent on him and less on ourselves.
When John understood he was helpless, verse 4 says he wept much. Not only did he see he couldn’t open the book, but he saw the personal importance of the book. It being opened or not, directly effected John’s outcome! Understanding that, is the key to understanding what this book is. It is not the bringing of 7 judgments upon the earth after the ascension of the Church to heaven. As a matter of fact, without this book being opened, there would not be a Church to ascend! I believe the book represents salvation. We all can agree that at one time, salvation was unobtainable. It was sealed!