Summary: This book or scroll is the official document of the last days of human history. The world’s future is about to be unfolded before our eyes.
There should be no break between chapters 4 & 5. We are still at the scene of the throne of God. Read verse 1. So God is seen sitting on His throne and holding a sealed book in His right hand. The book is sealed. It has never been opened. We must emphasize again and again that the book is sealed for a reason. This book is the key to understanding the rest of Revelation.
This book or scroll is the official document of the last days of human history. The world’s future is about to be unfolded before our eyes.
John sees God holding this book in His right hand. God is extending this book outward, poised to hand it to someone who is worthy enough to open it. The fact that God Himself is holding the book shows us some things. It shows us that God is the supreme Authority over the end of the world. And it shows us that God is ready to carry out and execute the events. He is ready for the end times to begin. It is a simple matter of finding someone worthy to carry out and oversee the events for God.
Notice that the book is written on both the front and back of the pages. The book was actually a scroll. There were no printing presses back then so their books were not like our books. The words were written on papyrus paper that was about 8 X 10. If the writing was lengthy, they taped or joined these pagers together into a long sheet and then it was rolled up.
When the writing was complete, and it was rolled up, they tied some ribbon or thread around the roll. That is what is meant by the book being sealed. They seldom wrote on the back side because once rolled up one could read part of it.
But this scroll was written on both sides. This shows us that the events of the end time are many and that it will take some time, a great deal of time, for all of them to take place. It also shows us that God is going to reveal a great deal about the end time to man. When? Just as soon as He can find someone worthy enough to open the book.
This book is sealed with seven seals. This shows us that the book is the last will and testament of God. In the Roman world a man’s will had to b witnessed by seven persons, and each attached his own personal seal to one of the threads of the document. The will could be opened only when the recipient came to claim the will. This book is of God may mean that it is His last will for the earth. IT contains what He wills for those who have rejected Him and what He wills for those who have accepted and worshipped Him.
The seven seals also show us that the book is large. It has a lot of material in it. It could mean that seven seals are required to hold it together.
The seven seals also show us the secrecy of the book. God sealed it with seven seals in order to keep the events of the end time from being known. They are not to be known by man until God Himself is ready to reveal them.
Read verses 2-4. Now comes the search for the one who can open the book. John sees a strong angel that shouts throughout the universe, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?”
The search fails. There is no being any place that is worthy to approach God and to execute His will throughout the universe. There is no person in heaven found worthy. This includes the angels, the four living creatures, the 24 elders, and all the redeemed. None are worthy.
No person on earth was found worthy. No person under the earth. No person from among the dead. As great as some have been in past history, no person from the past was found worthy to open the book.
So the search fails and John breaks down and cries. Why? Because there was no one found worthy to approach God and open the book and carry out the events of human history. John broke down in humility and with a sense of his own unworthiness.
But John wept for another reason as well. He was not going to be able to see the future of the world, the events of the end time. This promise had been made to him that he would see these things but now he couldn’t because there was no one to open the book.
The reason no one is found is because this book is the destiny of the world. This book tells about the end times. It tells what will happen to the corrupt. It tells of a new earth and a new heaven which are to be created. It contains history before it happens. So the person worthy enough to open the book must be a person who can grasp exactly what the book is saying, and then this person has to be able to carry out God’s will and execute the events.