Still in the heavenly throne room of God, John witnesses the Lord Jesus Christ come forward as a “kinsman-redeemer”, and in accordance with ancient Jewish law complete the greatest land transaction ever settled.
v.1-3 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. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it.
The best way to approach this remarkable chapter and the explanation for what we are about to read is for us to understand both, the historical facts surrounding the planet and man’s relation to it, as well as an ancient Jewish law regarding the redemption of forfeited property (an anti-type to the transaction we’ll see Jesus later evoke in this chapter).
In the beginning God created the earth.
Therefore the earth belongs to God (Ps.24:1-2) and always will. But at the same time that God holds title to the earth He doesn’t possess the earth—Satan does. Shortly after creating Adam and Eve God gave man and woman the earth as an inheritance to freely possess and occupy and have dominion over (Gen.1:28). When they committed sin, however, they forfeited man’s proper inheritance to the earth, thus subjecting the planet to the dominion of Satan and the curse of sin, causing even creation itself to groan for deliverance.
“…because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now” (Rom.8:19-22)
Okay, now let’s consider the ancient Jewish law. When an Israelite sold or lost some of his possession through non-payment, the law permitted him a legal right to make restitution and reclaim the forfeited property once he could afford it. If the man became poor, however, and could not reclaim the property, then the law permitted a near blood relative called a “kinsman-redeemer” to volunteer and pay the debt thereby to preserve the life, property, and family name in the debtor’s behalf (Lev.25:25,47-49), and is particularly illustrated when a man named Boaz purchased back the land for a relative name Naomi (Ruth 4:3-14).
Likewise, when man forfeited the planet without the means of reclaiming it, Jesus Christ became man’s Kinsman-Redeemer. He willingly paid our debt, reclaimed free and clear title to our planet, and thus repudiated Satan’s right to it. Having full authority to drive Satan out, Jesus made it possible for the purposes of God surrounding man and earth to be completed.
Now let’s look at the passage.
The scroll John sees the Father holding is the title deed to the earth. Moreover, in full accord as an anti-type of the ancient law and custom of redemption, the deed is sealed as evidence of the purchase (check—Jer.32:6-14) and a cry is made to the Kinsman to come forward (in this case, more than two thousand years after making the payment) to complete the transaction.