Where, in all the revelations of eternity, is there another such a scene? Where, in all the disclosures of God, and His awful administrations, is there another such a picture, or another such a crisis? Search the book of inspiration from end to end, and you will find no parallel to it.1
What ought we to look for as the first thing, in the Apocalypse, which , as we have seen, has the end of the many days and the time of the end for its great subject, but the unsealing of this book, the sealing of which is so prominently spoken of in the book of Daniel? . . . We take it therefore that the opening of the seals of this book is the enlargement, development, and continuation of the Book of Daniel, describing, from Gods side, the judgments necessary to secure the fulfilment of all that He has foretold.2As attractive as this explanation may be, it falls short of explaining the emphasis placed in this chapter between the right to open the book and redemption. The identification of this scroll is not found only in the fact that, like other prophetic writings, it is sealed, but also in its close association with redemption (Rev. Rev. 5:9+) and the events which follow upon the loosing of its seals. The scroll is inherently related to the fulfillment of a purchase. Ladd suggests the scroll is a form of ancient will. Heb. 9:1).3 This view has the advantage of explaining the emphasis found here upon the death of the Lamb (Rev. Rev. 5:6+, Rev. 5:9+). The events which transpire following the loosing of the seals are directly related to Christs inheritance:
[Psalm Ps. 2:1-3] describe[s] the rebellious world forces gathered together to try to prevent Gods Messiah from taking tenant possession or administration of the earth. [Psalm Ps. 2:7] records that when the Messiah confronts this challenge, He will declare what God has already decreed concerning Him: Thou art my Son. . . . the biblical term son involves the concept of heir (Gal. Gal. 4:7). Thus, as Gods Son, the Messiah is the heir of an inheritance given to Him by God. Psalm Ps. 2:8 presents Gods description of that inheritance: I shall give thee the nations for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.4Although the loosing of the seals results in the realization of the promised inheritance (Ps. Ps. 2:8), it seems that more than just a will is in view. A purchase was made at the cross, and now the deed of that purchase is being claimed by its rightful owner. While Babylon had besieged Jerusalem, God told Jeremiah to purchase a plot of ground in Israel. Even though the land had fallen to Babylon, Jeremiahs purchase demonstrated the reality of Gods promise to restore Israel back to the land (Jer. Jer. 32:14-15, Jer. 32:43-44). There are significant parallels between Jeremiahs deed of purchase and Messiahs redemption described in this chapter. In both cases, a purchase was made in advance and a period intervened before the possession was fully awarded at a future date.
Although [Jeremiah] had paid the price of redemption for this cousins land and thereby had gained the right of tenant possession, he could not take immediate, actual possession of the land for at least two reasons. First, Jeremiah was confined in prison when he paid the price of redemption (Jer. Jer. 32:2-3, Jer. 32:8-9). Second, his cousins land was already under Babylonian control when Jeremiah paid for it. Because Israel had rebelled against God so persistently, its land inheritance had been turned over to foreigners (Lam. Lam. 5:2; Jer. Jer. 32:21-24, Jer. 32:28-36). The Jews (including Jeremiah) would be exiled to other countries, and their land would continue under enemy control for several decades; but then the Jews would be regathered to their homeland, and their land would be restored to their control (Jer. Jer. 32:15, Jer. 32:37, Jer. 32:41-44). Because he knew that actual possession of the land could not take place for many years, Jeremiah commanded that both deeds of purchase be placed in a secure place for a long time (Jer. Jer. 32:13-15).5The purchase price has been paid, but that which has been purchased remains in the hands of usurpers. Thus, a chain of judgments are brought forth by which the purchaser takes back what He rightfully owns. In the end, the usurpers are evicted and that which has been purchased is finally in the hands of the purchaser.
The contents of the Βιβλιον [Biblion] must be brought into relation to the whole chain of judicial acts which unfold from Rev. Rev. 6:1+ on and from which there develop organically the visions of the trumpets and bowls. Hence we are not concerned merely with the 6 or 7 seals themselves, but with all the last events up to the consummation.6The meaning of the scroll is best understood by recognizing the truth in each of these ideas:
Frequent references to the events of the seals, trumpets, and bowls appear throughout the remaining visions in Revelation . . . indicating that the content of the seven-sealed scroll ultimately includes the unfolding of the consummation of the mystery of all things, the goal or end of all history, for both the conquerors and the worshipers of the beast. In Rev. Rev. 10:7+ we are told that in the days of the sounding of the seventh trumpet the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets. From this it may be concluded that the scroll contains the unveiling of the mystery of God that OT prophets foretold . . . Thus the seals conceal the mystery, which only Christ can disclose (Dan. Dan. 12:9; Rev. Rev. 10:4+), of how Gods judgment and his kingdom will come. . . . The scroll, then, is not only about judgment or about the inheritance of the kingdom, Rather it contains the announcement of the consummation of all history.10
Jeremiah signed and sealed shut one copy of the scroll deed of purchase and had witnesses sign it, apparently on the outside (Jer. Jer. 32:10, Jer. 32:12). Concerning this practice, Weemse wrote, For the manner of writing the contract, he who was to buy the ground wrote two instruments; the one to be sealed with his own signet, the other he showed unclosed to the witnesses, that they might subscribe and bear witness of that which was written. This, the witnesses did subscribe UPON THE BACK of the inclosed [sic] instrument . . . Gaston Maspero gave an example of an enclosed document being used as evidence. Contracts stamped upon clay tablets have been found in Babylonia, enclosed in an envelope of clay, on the outside of which an exact duplicate of the contract is impressed: if in the course of time any disagreement arose and it was suspected that the outside text had been tampered with, the envelope was broken in the presence of witnesses to see if the inside text agreed with it or not. The fact that the sealed scroll of Revelation Rev. 5:1+ had writing on both the inside and the outside (Rev. Rev. 5:1+), in the same manner as Jeremiahs and other deeds of purchase in Israels land redemption system, indicates that it is a deed of purchase.11
All seven are part of the same sealed scroll; all seven have the same purpose or function with regard to that scroll; all seven will be part of the irrefutable evidence that Christ is the true Kinsman-Redeemer; all seven will be broken by Christ; and all seven will be part of the same program of Christs evicting Satan and his forces and taking permanent possession of the earth.12The sequence of events which follow from the opening of these seals indicates that all the judgments which following are included within the seals:
A study of Revelation Rev. 8:1+ through 18 indicates that the seventh seal will contain the seven trumpet and seven bowl judgments. Thus, when Christ breaks all seven seals of the Revelation Rev. 5:1+ scroll, He will thereby instigate the total bombardment of divine wrath or judgment against the domain of Satan and his forces, which will cover the 70th week of Daniel Dan. 9:1 up to Christs coming immediately after the 70th week and the Great Tribulation.13
1 J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 118.
5 Ibid., 82.
6 Gottlob Schrenk, Biblion, in Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey William Bromily, and Gerhard Friedrich, eds., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-c1976), s.v. Biblion.
12 Ibid., 111.
13 Ibid., 96.