Revelation Chapter 5
VERSE 1 continued, “And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals.”
“Since a book or scroll is usually held in the left hand, this detail concerning the right hand should not be considered a more or less superfluous matter, for it indicates a deeper significance; namely, that the subject matter or content of the scroll was near and dear to its Author. None but the closest and the most worthy associate would dare hope that the Creator would relinquish control for even a momentary perusal or examination of the hitherto undisclosed divine purpose contained therein. The writing on the back or outside part of the scroll merely whetted John’s appetite for further information concerning the hidden mystery, but—alas!—the document was fastened securely with seven seals. No one would have the audacity to break the King’s seal without express authorization (Dan. 12:4, 9; 1 Pet. 1:10–12).
Subsequent detail in the vision concerning the manner in which the contents of the book were kept securely and firmly in hand indicates that the seven seals WERE NOT affixed in a parallel line along the single outer edge of the rolled scroll (as is commonly depicted in the samples shown above).
Under such an arrangement, the breaking of the seals, one by one (as is described in the narrative), in slow and successive order would not sufficiently expose the inner content of the message to meet the requirements of the vision (Rev. 6:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12; 8:1). The breaking of one seal of the scroll would not enable a person to investigate further, for the effort would be thwarted by the other six seals affixed along the same edge. Therefore, under this circumstance, all seven seals would have to be broken before the divine plan could even begin to be understood.
How, then, were the seals affixed?
Each seal was fastened to the document in the approximate center of the page. For example, the impression of the first seal was externally visible midway along the outer edge of the scroll (as depicted in the last illustration below). The second impression would be completely hidden from view until the first seal had been broken and the scroll unfurled a sufficient distance, i.e., to the end of the first message, then, and only then, would the second seal be encountered. One by one, the remaining seals were distributed internally in a similar fashion.
In the illustration above the forth seal has just been broken revealing the message of the forth seal as well as revealing the fifth seal yet to be opened. The sixth and seventh seal ribbons are seen still extending from the ends of the scroll. The method for affixing the seals in the inside of the scroll would be slightly different from that of the one on the outside. While the first seal may have been stamped (as illustrated in the pictures below) the remaining six were probably just melted paraffin wax. The messages would be written first and then the scroll would be rolled up beginning from the latter end first and then as the beginning of each message was reached the wax and ribbon would be affixed effectively bonding that section of the scroll together. This would be let dry and then continued on until the next, until the scroll was fully rolled up and sealed with the first seal. In this manner the scroll could effectively contain seven seals.
The question arises: If the seals were arranged this way, how did John know that six other seals existed deep within the document?
The customary way to affix legal seals to a document was, and still is, to use a metal tool or finger ring with a flattened head or stamp, upon which was engraved a sharply defined insignia or coat of arms pertinent to the author or executor of the enactment (Esther 3:12; Dan. 6:17; Matt. 27:66). A mixture of hot wax or paraffin was applied to the document and a long, colorful ribbon (or piece of string) was placed in the melted paraffin. Then, when the metal stamp was pressed into the slightly hardened paraffin, both the distinctive design of the mold and the ribbon became embedded in the mixture and, upon further cooling and hardening, became firmly attached to the scroll. In other words, John beheld six other quality ribbons protruding from either of the two small ends—not the broad edge—of the scroll.
Perhaps there were three from one end of the document and three from the other end. The Apostle, observing the extension of these ribbons, properly reasoned that each respective ribbon terminated within the parchment with a corresponding seal. A confirmation of this thought would be the complete exposure of the first seal and its appendage—a sample of the other six hidden within the parchment.” (The Keys of Revelation)
We will move on to Verse 2 in our next post.
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