Many scrolls are mentioned here. The scrolls mentioned in the Bible are books used at that time, but not all scrolls were considered to be the same.
聖經提到的書卷有多種。有地上公民的｢生死冊｣。摩西為百姓求情說：｢請在冊子上除掉我的名。｣( 出32:32) 他的意思是讓他去代人死。也有｢羔羊的生命冊｣，上面有名字的人，就是有永生的人。另外有｢記念冊｣。記錄人為神所做過的事、所說過的話( 瑪3:16) 。到了20 章也看見，有所有人的｢生平紀錄冊｣。最後的審判就按這些紀錄作判決。
The books mentioned in the Bible are various. There is the “Book of Life and Death” of the citizens of this world. Moses pleaded to God for the people in Exodus 32:32 saying: “But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book You have written.” His intention was for him to die instead of his people. There is also the “Lamb’s Book of Life”; the names of the people recorded in that book are the ones who have eternal life. Another book is the “Scroll of Remembrance”, which records the words and the actions of God’s people. (Malachi 3:16). Then, in chapter 20 we see the “books which record people’s life”. The judgment at the end of the world will be done according to those records.
Besides books of records, there are also books of prophecy. God revealed things that will happen in the future to the different prophets and to John the Apostle. In this chapter we can see that there are different kinds of revelations.
1. Sealed prophecies
5:1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals.
The scroll in chapter 5 was sealed with seven seals. The seals were not like a stamp, they were tightly sealed. The seals were not all on the outside, but they were sealed in layers, each layer was revealed individually. Like having seven layers of locks, the first lock would open the first layer; the second lock would open the second layer and so forth until all the layers are unlocked.
When the seventh seal was opened, the trends of the end of world would be revealed step by step. After that, there comes the seven trumpet sounds, each trumpet sound brings a war scene. The trumpet sounds from the first to the sixth are very distinct. Every trumpet sound is very clear. The end of chapter 9 is also the end of the sixth trumpet. But it is not easy to find the start of the end of the seventh trumpet because the seventh trumpet is the longest one; the seventh trumpet was blown for seven years.
At that time John knew very distinctly that the prophecy was sealed and that no one could open it, therefore he wept.
Why was it sealed? We have already read that God did not seal it on purpose because the scroll came from God’s hand; He wants people to know and understand. From the angel’s voice we know that no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. The whole book was a prophecy. No one is in the whole entire universe can know the future except God. People not only did not know the prophecy but even they were told about it, they would not have been able to understand it.
It is not that God likes to keep secrets from us and does not want to disclose them to us. Proverbs 25:2, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” It is glory for a king to understand the whole affair before making a judgment. But “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter”. This means that God’s wisdom, His plans and His ways are higher than ours and surpasses our understanding.
The scroll had writings on both sides and its content was very detailed but no one could read it except Jesus Christ. Only He is fully man and fully God and lives outside time and space. He entered into the time and space of humanity. He is beyond time and space which no human being can accomplish that. Only Christ is God and man and He is the only one who can connect with both sides.
2. REVELATION BY ANGELS
1 Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars.
The mighty angel seemed to have a high rank and status, maybe an archangel, who was described to have great glory. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. Some might have thought that he was Christ because that description would be fitting for Him but the mighty angel was not Christ.
( 一) 啟示錄裡每當基督出現的時候，都清楚說是基督，沒有必要在這裡故作神秘。
(1) Whenever Christ appears in the Book of Revelation, it will clearly say is Christ, there is no need for mystery here.
( 二) 約翰與主生活在一起幾年時間，無論是基督的肉身或榮耀的身體，他都認識。不像但以理、以西結等先知，從未見過基督。約翰不會認不出。但多數的天使他沒有見過。
(2) John lived with the Lord a few years so he would have known Christ in the physical body and in the glorified body. Not like the other prophets like Daniel or Ezekiel who have never seen Christ. He would have definitely known if that angel was Christ but did not know all of the angels.
( 叁) 天使位分能力分大小，位分越大，能力越大，也越有榮耀。這是一位大能天使。所以也大有榮耀。
(3) The ranks of the angels go in accordance with their power; the higher the power, the higher the ranking and their glory. This was a mighty angel and therefore he had great glory.
When God, Christ or angels appear they do it in a very bright cloud. When demons appear there is often a dark and gloomy smoke. Angels have the glory of God, which is why they are called angels of light. When people see angels, they might think they are seeing Christ because of their awesome majesty. But this one was just a mighty angel.
THE OPEN SCROLL
2 He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land.
The angel was holding a little scroll. Jews believe that angels are the ones who bring God’s Word to them. His right foot was on the sea and his left foot on the land. What he is proclaiming is God’s message to all the people. The sea represents the political world; the land represents the religious world. God’s revelation is given to all the prophets and to all the rulers; it is given to the church and to the nations; to the believers and to all mankind; therefore the last verse says: “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.” The prophecies are not solely given to the church.
The so-called separation of church and state has gone too far. When the United States was established as a country, Christianity was the national religion, and the official motto in the nation’s paper money was “In God we trust”, and this is right. With Christianity as the national religion it does not mean that it forces everyone to believe God, it just shows that America was established in the Christian faith.
Buddhist and Muslim countries have made it clear that their religion is the national religion, yet how can a Christian nation be against Christian activities? The church cannot meet in schools and no Bible classes are allowed. People have to know that God’s Word was also given to the nations. During the times of Moses politics and the church was not separate. The heads of state should know what God wants to reveal to us.
A LOUD SHOUT
3 and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke.
In 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4, Paul says: “With a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call.” The voice of this mighty angel was very awesome, like the roar of a lion. Also like the voices of the “seven thunders”, he was the archangel whom Paul spoke about, only this archangel would have such power and influence.
In Paul’s letters, when the angel called with a loud voice, that is also the time when the rapture of the church occurs. This archangel is calling out to the believers of the whole world, telling them that it is time to gather with the Lord .
3. AN UNUTTERABLE REVELATION
4 And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down.”
What did the seven thunders say? We can only guess. Most likely it had something to do with the rapture at the end of times. All we know is that John heard words which he could not divulge. What happened between verse 1 and verse 4 was tremendous, a very important event concerning the resurrection of the believers that were dead in Christ and the believers that were still alive, both groups were caught up to heaven. This would be the greatest event in history, John must have wanted to record such an extraordinary happening, but a voice from heaven told him to seal it up.
Therefore, we can see that there are two kinds of revelations which are not made known to us. The first kind is the kind that God wants us to know about but our limited understanding does not permit us to comprehend what God wants to tell us. The second kind is the kind that God does not want us to know about so that we keep a watchful heart as we continue to seek Him.
IT WILL DEFINITELY HAPPEN
5 我所看見的，那踏海踏地的天使，向天舉起右手來，6 指著那創造天和天上之物，地和地上之物，海和海中之物，直活到永永遠遠的起誓說：不再有時日了。
5 Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. 6 And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it and the sea and all that is in it, and said, “There will be no more delay!
The angel raised his right hand to heaven and swore saying: “There will be no more delay!” The mystery of God was fulfilled; there would be no more delay. The end had come. Why did the angel have to swear? The purpose was to tell us that those events will definitely happen. Like when you are about to give your testimony during the service, first comes the invocation, then the singing of hymns, and following the prayer that will be the time when you are supposed to give your testimony. When you see the list of events taking place one by one, you start to get nervous because you know that the event will definitely happen.
Even though these signs were fulfilled step by step, the hearts of the people were less and less watchful. Many people would say: “This war will end. All the wars in history ended sometime or another. Bad weather will come and go. What about Greenhouse effect, environmental pollution? It will get better after a while.” As the end times gets nearer, people will live a more befuddled life as if they were drunk or in a dream and they will become less and less watchful. As in the times of Noah, the floods came and all the people were unprepared. The solemn declaration of this angel is telling people not to continue to be fast asleep.
WE KNEW THESE EVENTS WOULD HAPPEN BEFOREHAND
7 But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.”
Even though the words of the seven thunders were sealed up, we should have already known the contents of it, because he said: “But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.”
( 1) 這是已經傳給眾先知的，就是在聖經裡面有記載的。(2) 這是佳音、好消息，不是壞消息。要我們儆醒等候這大日子來。為甚麽不能寫？是為我們益處，要我們儆醒。
(1) What was announced to his servants the prophets are the things written down in the Bible; (2) it is good news, not bad news. God wants us to be watchful and alert for the coming of that great and awesome day. Why not write it down? It was not written down for our own benefit, so that we might be always watchful.
4. OPENED REVELATION
MUST BE EATEN
8 我先前從天上所聽見的那聲音又吩咐我說：你去把那踏海踏地之天使手中展開的小書捲取過來。9 我就去到天使那裡，對他說：請你把小書卷給我。他對我說：你拿著喫盡了，便叫你肚子發苦，然而在你口中要甜如蜜。
8 Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me once more: “Go; take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.” 9 So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, “Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but ‘in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.”
The main point of this little scroll is not its size but that it “lies open”. Everyone could read it and it was prepared for us so that we could understand its intention.
What should people do about it? Eat it so it becomes part of our lives. Treat it as our everyday food. Nowadays there are many Bibles and it is very convenient for us to read it. In ancient times, most of the saints did not have a Bible; they could only hear a prophet reading it occasionally or hear the teachings by a priest. Back then they had to try very hard to remember what they have heard and meditate on it, because they did not have a Bible of their own . It is very convenient for us nowadays, one person could own many Bibles, but many people despise the importance of God’s Word, they think is just another kind of book.
The angel wanted John to eat the open scroll; like Ezekiel and the prophet Jeremiah, they had to eat God’s Word. To eat it means to receive it into our spirits, not just to let God’s Word to come in one ear and go out the other ear; but to receive God’s Word into our spirits and fully digest it into our lives.
The process of digestion is very amazing; in the beginning it tasted as sweet as honey which is what many Christians experience. When they first receive God’s Word they feel very happy and full of joy. But, later on, when they truly put it into practice, it becomes bitter; because when we actually put God’s Word into action, it is a very hard thing to do. Different members of our family might have different values which will bring out many conflicts. When we know that our children or friends are going the wrong way, we feel awful, yet it is not easy for us to warn them about the terrible consequences of their behavior.
THE EXPERIENCE OF OBEYING GOD ‘ S WORD
10 我從天使手中把小書卷接過來喫盡了。在我口中果然甜如蜜，喫了以後，肚子覺得發苦了。11 天使對我說：你必指著多民多國多方多王再說豫言。
10 I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. 11 Then I was told, “You must prophesy again about many peoples , nations, languages and kings.”
When we look at how corrupted our society has become, we feel disturbed. When we look at how distant people’s hearts have drifted away from God’s expectations, our hearts ache; but we need to understand that our heartaches are not the final stage. The pain will not last forever, it is only a process. We have to remember that these words were spoken to “many peoples, nations, languages and kings.” Therefore, during the final stage there are words that need to be spoken, work that needs to be done and God’s will has to be carried out. The sweetness and the bitterness will pass away; at the end, we have a message to proclaim to the whole world, we have to convey God’s Word clearly. This open revelation was prepared for the people of the entire world.