The apostle saw in the hand of Him that sat upon the throne, a roll of parchments in the form usual in those times, and sealed with seven seals. This represented the secret purposes of God about to be revealed. The designs and methods of Divine Providence, toward the church and the world, are stated, fixed, and made a matter of record. The counsels of God are altogether hidden from the eye and understanding of the creature. The several parts are not unsealed and opened at once, but after each other, till the whole mystery of God's counsel and conduct is finished in the world.
(Rev 5:1 KJV) And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
Hitherto the apostle had seen only the great God, the governor of all things, now, he is favored with a sight of the model and methods of his government, as they are all written down in a book which he holds in his hand; and this we are now to consider as shut up and sealed in the hand of God. Observe the designs and methods of divine Providence towards the church and the world are stated and fixed; they are resolved upon and agreed to, as that which is written in a book. The great design is laid, every part adjusted, all determined, and every thing passed into decree and made a matter of record. The original and first draught of this book is the book of God's decrees, laid up in his own cabinet, in his eternal mind: but there is a transcript of so much as was necessary to be known in the book of the scriptures in general, in the prophetical part of the scripture especially, and in this prophecy in particular. God holds this book in his right hand, to declare the authority of the book, and his readiness and resolution to execute all the contents thereof, all the counsels and purposes therein recorded.
(Rev 5:1 KJV) And I saw on the right hand of him that sat on the throne,....
Of this throne, and who it was that sat upon it;
(Rev 4:2 KJV) and one sat on the throne;
not the trinity of persons in the Godhead, which some think are signified by the three precious stones in Rev_4:3,
(Rev 4:3 KJV) And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
the jasper, sardine, and emerald; for, as distinct from him that sat upon the throne, the Lamb is said to be in the midst of it, and the seven spirits of God are said to be before it: nor is Jesus Christ intended, and his two natures; his divine nature by the jasper, and his human nature by the red and blood colored sardine; since he, the Lamb, is represented as in the midst of the throne, and is often distinguished from him that sat upon it;
(Rev 5:6 KJV) And I beheld, and, lo, 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, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
but God the Father is designed, who sits on the throne, though not to the exclusion of the Son and Spirit, yet in distinction from them. This clause is left out in the Ethiopic version.
And who had "in" his right hand, or "at", or "upon" his right hand, as the Syriac and Arabic versions render it, lying by, or near his right hand; though according to,
(Rev 5:7 KJV) And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.
the book appears to have been in his right hand, as our version, and others render it:
This book in the hand of God is shut up and sealed; it is known to none but himself, till he allows it to be opened. Known unto God, and to him alone, are all his works, from the beginning of the world; but it is his glory to conceal the matter as he pleases. The times and seasons, and their great events, he hath kept in his own hand and power. It is sealed with seven seals.
(Rev 5:1 KJV) a book written within, and on the backside, sealed with seven seals:
This book was very much like Ezekiel's roll,
(Eze 2:9 KJV) And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein;
which was written פנים ואחור, "within" and "without", before and behind, and indeed it was in the form of a roll: the manner of writings in those times was on sheets of parchment, which, when finished, were rolled up in the form of a cylinder; hence a book is called a "volume". This book seems to have consisted of seven rolls, to which was annexed seven seals; and there being not room enough within, contrary to the common way of writing, some things were written upon the backside of the outermost roll; and such writings were by the ancients called "Opistographi": and the word is used by them sometimes for very prolix writings.
By this book some understand the Scriptures of the Old Testament, which were written in rolls;
(Heb 10:5 KJV) Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:
and which came out of the right hand of God, and were given forth by him; and being written within, and on the backside, may denote the fullness of them, they containing a variety of matter, useful and profitable, for different purposes; or else the literal and mystical, or spiritual meaning of some parts of them: or, as others think, the more clear explanation of the books of the Old Testament, by those of the New Testament; and its being sealed may signify the authenticity of those writings, having the seal of God's truth, and the impress of his wisdom, power, and goodness on them; and also the hidden sense and meaning of them, they being, especially in the prophetic and spiritual part of them, a sealed book to natural men, and of which Christ is the truest and best interpreter; but then this book was opened, and looked into, and read, and, in some measure, understood, even by the Old Testament saints, and had been before this time expounded by Christ, concerning himself; yea, he had opened the understandings of his disciples to understand those Scriptures, and had counted them, and others, worthy to open and explain this book to others, and had sent them into all the world for this purpose; and for the same reasons it cannot be understood of the Gospel published to Jews and Gentiles, the one within, and the other without; rather therefore the book of God's decrees is here meant, which respects all creatures, and all occurrences and events in the whole world, from the beginning to the end of time; and so Ezekiel's roll, according to the Targum;
(Eze 2:10 KJV) And he spread it before me; and it was written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe.
which was written before and behind, signified that which was מן שרויא, "from the beginning", and which דעתיד למהוי בסופא, "shall be in the end", or hereafter. This book God holds "in his right hand", as the rule and measure of all he does, and of the government of the world, and which he constantly fulfils and executes; and its being written "within and without" may denote the perfection and comprehensiveness of it, it reaching to all creatures and things, even the most minute; and its being "sealed" shows the certainty of its fulfillment, and the secrecy and hiddenness of it, until accomplished; though it seems best of all to understand it of that part of God's decrees relating to the church and world, particularly the Roman empire, which from henceforward, to the end of time, was to be fulfilled; and so is no other than the book of the Revelation itself, exhibited in the following scenes and visions; and this may be truly said to be in the right hand of God, and from thence taken by the Lamb, it being the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, Rev_1:1;
(Rev 1:1 KJV) The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
and may be said to be written, both "within and on the backside", to show that it contains a large account of things, a long train of events to be accomplished; as also to signify, that it regards the church, and the members of it, who are those that are within, in the several ages of time, and the world, or those that are without; for this book prophecy regards both the state of the Roman empire, and of the Christian church; and its being "sealed" shows the authenticity, certainty, and also the obscurity of what was contained therein; and with "seven" seals, with respect to the seven periods of time, in which the prophecies in it are to be fulfilled.
This tells us with what inscrutable secrecy the counsels of God are laid, how impenetrable by the eye and intellect of the creature; and also points us to seven several parts of this book of God's counsels. Each part seems to have its particular seal, and, when opened, discovers its proper events; these seven parts are not unsealed and opened at once, but successively, one scene of Providence introducing another, and explaining it, till the whole mystery of God's counsel and conduct be finished in the world.
Ray Zink has been intensely researching the Holy Word of God for the past 28 years. As a published author through article writings and blog posts, he now shares with others the deeper wisdom of the Scriptures that he has had the blessings to discover. More of his work can be seen at http://bible-mysteries.com/
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