INDUCTIVE STUDIES ON REVELATION
Part Two: John is Re-Commissioned to Speak God's Word
THE SCRIPTURES (10:1-11)
1 I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire; 2 and he had in his hand a little book which was open. He placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land; 3 and he cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars; and when he had cried out, the seven peals of thunder uttered their voices. 4 When the seven peals of thunder had spoken, I was about to write; and I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken and do not write them." 5 Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven, 6 and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, WHO CREATED HEAVEN AND THE THINGS IN IT, AND THE EARTH AND THE THINGS IN IT, AND THE SEA AND THE THINGS IN IT, that there will be delay no longer, 7 but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets. 8 Then the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard again speaking with me, and saying, "Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the land." 9 So I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book. And he said to me, "Take it and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey." 10 I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and in my mouth it was sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter. 11 And they said to me, "You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings."
It was difficult at first to take this passage out from its regular place in Revelation; however, I did so (1) because it will later make the flow from the beginning to the end of Revelation better and (2) it introduces in chapter 11 another topic which really needs to be dealt with independently of its place in Revelation--the role of the Jews in the end times.
At the beginning of Revelation (Rev. 1:2 and chapter 4) John is basically commissioned to speak to the church for Christ concerning the end times. For the first 9 chapters John has accurately and sufficiently spoken for Christ in the area of the end times.
So much has happened though since Rev. 1:2--the address to the 7 churches, the heavenly scene, the breaking of the 7 seals and the blast of the 7 trumpets of wrath. It is easy to lose sight of so much in Revelation when you get caught up in all the wrath that God is pouring out upon His enemies and the enemies of His people. Moreover, it might be easy for John to get overwhelmed and lose sight of his role in Revelation. Also, he might have needed encouragement to persevere and keep speaking God's Word. We too might lose sight of the fact that this book is not just a matter of John's own opinions but is actually coming from Christ the Lord Himself. Whatever the reason, Christ felt it necessary to remind John and us in Rev. 10 of the pivotal role that John has in delivering the message of Revelation to us. In this chapter we are seeing Christ re-commission John to be His spokesman (the apostles seriously are important).
THE DESCENT OF THE ANGEL (10:1-2)
John sees an angel coming down from heaven. How does John describe this angel (10:1-2)?
This description of the angel indicates that we should probably take his word very seriously because this description basically underscores the fact that he is speaking for God Himself.
It is interesting that he stands on both the land and the sea. The reason he stands on both spots is that the message in the book he is holding applies to ALL the earth, not just the land portion, but the sea portion also. All the earth will be affected by God's judgment.
THE SEVEN PEALS OF THUNDER (10:3-7)
At this point the angel cries out with a loud cry, like that of a lion. When he does, the rumbles forth 7 peals of thunder. According to John 12:28-29 who just might be speaking whenever thunder like this rumbles?
Thunder many times represents God speaking in wrath or in terror. In fact, whenever Moses met God on the mountain to receive the Law, God descended upon the mountain with thunder and lightning and peals of thunder. The sight was so terrible that Moses was filled with fear and trembling (Heb. 12:21). That is the scene here.
John is about to write down what the 7 peals of thunder have just spoken. What does the angel tell John to do with the message of the 7 peals of thunder?
The reason that John is not to write down the warnings from the 7 peals of thunder is that there is no longer any time to write down this message in order to deliver it. The time has now come for the swift destruction of God's enemies (the 7 bowls of wrath which completely finish off the earth are about to be poured out).
JOHN AND THE LITTLE BOOK (10:8-11)
What does the voice from heaven instruct John to do (10:8)?
What does the angel warn John about the book (10:9)?
Eating the book means that John is to assimilate thoroughly the message of the book. He is to know it inside and out before he delivers that message to the people.
This scene is very similar to the scene in Ezekiel 2:8 and following where Ezekiel is to eat the book and then speak to the people the contents of the book. Like the book in Ezekiel 2, this book in Rev. 10 speaks about the sorrows about to fall upon all the world, non-Christians and Christians.
Why do you think it tasted sweet and yet later bitter?
Finally, what do the heavenly messengers instruct John to do (10:11)?
Revelation chapter 11 probably is the prophecy John is to declare to many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings--to all mankind. It deals specifically with the message to the nation of Israel.