In the ancient world, people wrote their letters and books on papyrus or on parchment, instead of paper. They made parchment from animal skin; papyrus is a plant material. They wrote everything on a single sheet - for a book, it would be a very long sheet. Then, as soon as the writer had finished his work, he would roll it up. That was called a scroll.
Often, the contents of the scroll would be private. So, the writer would heat a substance called wax, and he would pour it onto the edge of the scroll. He marked the wax with a special tool, so that people could recognise his mark. As the wax became cold, it became hard. Now nobody could open the scroll to read it, unless they first broke the wax. People called the wax: a seal.
In chapter 4, John has described how God showed heaven to him. John even saw the throne (royal seat) of God. What John had already seen was extraordinary. However, now God would show John his (Godís) plans for the future. John would see how God will establish his perfect rule over all things.
So next, God allowed John to see that he (God) was holding a book, that is, a scroll. John immediately realised that the book was greatly important, for three reasons:
(1) God himself held the book in his right hand.
(2) There was a long message in the book. Usually, people only wrote on one side of the sheet, but here the words continued onto the back of the sheet.
(3) Usually, it was enough to put one seal onto a scroll. However, this scroll had 7 seals.
Next part: Who can open the scroll? (Revelation 5:2-3)
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© 2016, Keith Simons.