If you will recall last time, we are examining Revelation 10 which is the fourth parenthetical section of the book, presenting us with an interval in the main events; yet filling in much important information. Again, this is the longest parenthetical section, covering all the way from 10:1 – 11:14. The opening events of this interval preparing for the final trumpet blast highlight five unusual occurrences: An unusual angel, an unusual act, an unusual answer, an unusual announcement, and an unusual assignment.
We looked last time at the unusual angel. Keep in mind that in the NT, angel, translated from the Greek word, angelos; is simply a messenger. It is used of messengers whether they be actually angelic or human in origin. As one reads John’s narrative, it becomes abundantly clear that this is no ordinary messenger. In fact, many scholars and commentators see this messenger as Christ Himself. As we stated last time, I agree with that view. This unusual angel performs an unusual act. He places His right foot on the land, and His left on the sea. This is another of the many allusions to the Old Testament in this book. [See Deut. 11:24, 25] If this messenger (angel) is indeed Christ, He stakes His claim as rightful owner of the earth and its fulness with this act. In essence He is saying, “Satan has ruled this earth long enough! His time is over!” Next we see an unusual answer. We are told at this time that “seven thunders” utter their voices. “Thunder” in prophetic imagery speaks of judgment. So, “seven thunders” most likely refers to seven additional angels, distinct from those we have seen before, uttering additional pronouncements of judgment. For some reason which we are not told, John is forbidden to write down what these angels said. Perhaps we will be told in eternity.
IV. AN UNUSUAL ANNOUNCEMENT:
Next we come to an unusual announcement. John writes, And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer: But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.[Rev. 10:5 – 7KJV] Here, and I will put it this way from here on out, Christ lifts His hand to Heaven. He is about to swear an oath. This being the case, He was probably seen by John raising His right hand to Heaven, with the book held in His left hand. This is another indication that this “angel” is indeed the Lord Jesus Christ. No angel is ever seen in the Word of God swearing any type of oath. But we do know that God has done this several times. Consider the following as well: 1. The description given of Him cannot apply to an angel. 2. The description also coincides with the description given of Christ in the First Chapter of the Book of Revelation. 3. There is also a striking resemblance between this passage and the Tenth Chapter of the Book of Daniel. We read there that at the river Hiddekel, a man appeared unto Daniel, clothed in linen. His,
Loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: His body also like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. [Daniel 10:5b, 6] This is a preincarnate appearance of Christ in His glory. In Chapter twelve of Daniel this man clothed in linen stood above the river and lifted His hands to Heaven, and did swear by Him who lives forever and ever that it shall be for a time and times and half a time. [Dan. 12:7] He performs much the same act here as He does in our passage before us. The entire purpose of this vision seems to be that Judgment is to be announced, and will speedily come upon the world, and that the enemies of the Kingdom are about to be destroyed. Even though this is true, there is no reason to fear: for still He carries the rainbow, the symbol of the peace, mercy, and grace of God with regard to His Creation and to His people Israel.
Notice the words, And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer. This lets us know this earth belongs to God by virtue of Creation. So in effect, He is saying that it is through these final judgments that creation will be completely redeemed, that the Covenant will be realized and perfected, and that all of the world will be subjected to the Triune God in Glory.
In Genesis 1:1 we read, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. In 1:2 the Bible says, And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. I am of a school of thought that sees a gap between the creation of verse 1, which one could refer to as, original creation; and the work that began in verse 2 when the earth was lying without form and void. In verse 2 and following we see the Lord bringing the earth back to a habitable state. When this was done God set man in the earth as His viceroy, if you will, to rule the earth under God. We know of course that through Adam’s act of rebellion, Satan was made, god of this world [See 2 Cor. 4:4]. In this unusual announcement, this mighty angel declares that Satan’s reign of terror, coming as the one to kill, steal, and destroy; has come to an end, and truly the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ, and He shall reign on the earth!
Notice the final phrase in verse 6, that there should be time no longer. What does that mean? Are days, months, weeks, and years as we know them going to cease? How about seconds, minutes, and hours? Is time going to be a thing of the past in the Kingdom Age, and in the Perfect Age to come? Is that what is being conveyed to us? No, not at all. This verse could be translated, “That there should be delay no longer.” That is really what is being said here. Time is reckoned in years, months, weeks, days, minutes, etc. This will continue forever. The Bible says, While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. [Gen. 8:22 KJV] Believe it or not, time will never end. The very next verse proves that. It reads, But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets. Notice the reference to, “days.” No, time as we know it will never cease to exist. The reference of the Lord to creation again shows He is the rightful owner of the earth by virtue of the fact that He is the one who created it. His reference to time declares the fact that there will be delay no longer.
Again, verse 7 says, But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets. This proclamation of this mighty Messenger, whom I believe is Christ Himself; looks ahead to 11:15 and is really an announcement of the beginning of the final half of the Great Tribulation, which will be marked by the seventh trumpet blast as well as the third woe. This time will be horrible beyond compare, and for two reasons: 1) The judgments of God released with the bowls or vials will be more severe than anything seen in the preceding three and one half years. 2) Satan will at this time be cast down to Earth, and will empower the Antichrist in his bid for world domination. He will also completely turn against Israel as well. In fact, were it not for the Second Coming, Israel would be totally and completely destroyed, and that is what he will set out to do. But he will not succeed!
The phrase, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished,refers to the fact that Satan is about to be cast out of Heaven, where he will never again be allowed entrance. He was cast out of Heaven sometime in eternity past for his act of rebellion in attempting to commandeer the Throne of God [See Isa. 14:12 – 15; Ezek. 28:11 – 19]. At that time, it would seem, approximately one-third of the angelic host threw in their lot with him [See Rev. 12:4]. Since his initial expulsion from Heaven, which again occurred some time in eternity past, he continued to have limited access to Heaven [See Job 1:6 – 12; 2:1 – 7; Rev. 12:10]. This will end however at the beginning of the last half of the Great Tribulation.
It would seem that the great, Mystery of God, has to do at least in part with the long delay in Satan being once and for all dealt with. For some six-thousand years he has wreaked havoc in the Earth, coming to kill, steal, and destroy [See John 10:10]. Young men die in the prime of life, young women are cut down through various cancers, children tragically are killed, and families are bereaved of precious little babies. The natural man often will shake their fist at Heaven, blaming God for their calamities and tragedies. Still Heaven is silent and Satan continues in his awful reign of terror, from the natural perspective it seems that God does nothing. However, when we come back to the never-changing Word of God, what does He say? He tells us that it has already been declared and prophesied that an angel, in fact, a herald Angel with trumpet in hand, and by decree of the Lord God Almighty, on a particular day, at a given hour, actually at a scheduled moment, will sound that trumpet, and it will announce that the kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdoms of our God and His Christ. We need to understand the following: Not only was this Universe created by Christ, but as well, it was created for Christ. According to the Word of God, the history of this world ultimately moves to that time when God’s people shall reign with their Lord in the Earth.
V. AN UNUSUAL ASSIGNMENT:
John continues, And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings. [Rev. 10:8 – 11 KJV]
This is the same voice that spoke to John earlier (Vs. 4), forbidding him to record the words of the “seven thunders”. As he had in several places before [See 1:17; 4:1; 5:4, 5; 7:13, 14], John becomes an active participant in the vision. The voice said to him, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. This is the third time we are told of this angel’s location. This lets us know the great power and authority this messenger, whom again I contend is Christ, has over the Earth. We then see a graphic illustration of what a proper response on the part of believers to God’s impending judgment should be, John was told, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. The angel (Christ) knew what John’s reaction to this truth would be. Obediently, like Ezekiel before him [Ezek. 2:9 – 3:3], John in the vision symbolically took the little book out of the Angel’s (Christ) hand and ate it.
This is an act, an Hebraism, that is, a figurative term that describes the absorbing and assimilating of God’s Word [See Ps. 19:10; Jer. 15:16; Ezek. 3:1 – 3]. When John took in the Words of the Lord concerning the remaining judgments as the Lord took possession of the Universe, he found them both “sweet as honey” and “bitter”. They were “sweet” because John, like all believers, wanted the Lord to act in judgment to take back the earth that is rightfully His and be exalted and glorified as He deserved. Yet the realization of the terrible doom awaiting unbelievers turned that initial sweet taste into bitterness. All of us who truly love the Lord can relate to John’s ambivalence. As believers we long for Christ to Return in glory, for Satan to be destroyed, and the glorious Kingdom of our Lord to be set up on the Earth, in which He will rule in glory while establishing in the world righteousness, truth, and peace. But we, like Paul [See Rom. 9:1 – 3], mourn bitterly over the judgment of the ungodly.
Lastly, John is told, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings. By the use of the word, “again”, we see John being commissioned a second time (1:9) to write the rest of the prophecies he was being given. He was to be faithful to record all he was being shown, as they would relate to everyone everywhere. John is told to warn of all the bitter judgments coming in the seventh trumpet and in the seven bowls (vials).
As an exile on Patmos (1:9), John couldn’t preach to all nations personally, but he was to write the prophecies and distribute them, so as to warn all people of the bitterness of judgment to come, and of death and Hell. Because of what John wrote, sinners of all ages can know that, while judgment is presently restrained, (and this is rapidly beginning to change), a future day is coming when the seventh angel will sound his trumpet and sin’s dominion will be broken, the freedom of Satan and his rebel band of fallen angels will come to an end, godless men will be judged, and believers will be glorified. Is this science fiction? Fantasy? No! It is established Bible fact!
Join us next time as we examine the second half of this parenthetical section of the book of Revelation and are introduced to two unusual witnesses.