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!
While John was weeping, one of the elders spoke up and said for John to weep not. Why was the elder able to tell him not to weep? There was a remedy for the problem. The Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. The Lamb of God, Jesus Christ prevailed to open the book. It doesn’t say that he was going to prevail, but he hath prevailed. What do you think Christ had to do to prevail to open the book? Verse 6 says that, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain. When Christ was slain, and resurrected from the dead, he prevailed to open this book. So why would he wait till the Church was in heaven to open the book? Wouldn’t that mean that this book would still be hid from you and I? When he prevailed to open the book, he opened it! Matthew 13:33-35 says this: Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world. Salvation is no longer hid from us, but it is made nigh to us by the blood of the Lamb.