We are at a pivotal time in our study of the End Times as we have discussed all biblical events known to happen before the tribulation starts, as well as the events of the first three and a half years. I can’t believe we’ve come so far! As we near the end of Part 2, “Revelation 10 introduces the reader to the events of the middle of the tribulation” (Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 237).
“The sixth trumpet judgment concludes at the time of the middle of the tribulation and is followed by a temporary cessation of the judgments poured out in heaven. The tribulation enters into the proverbial eye of the storm” (Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah, p. 237). Hitchcock refers to this pause as an “intermission” (The End, p. 80-81). There are several events that take place during this “intermission,” but today we are focusing our attention on the little book found in Revelation 10.
“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; 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; 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. 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” (Revelation 10:1-4 NASB1995).
The strong angel is another, separate angel being introduced to John. The word “another” indicates “another of the same kind.” I love the description as he comes out of heaven surrounded with a cloud and with a rainbow upon his head. The Grace NT Commentary says, “the angel’s right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land symbolize God’s authority over the created order” (p. 1287).
The angel’s loud cry evokes the response of the seven thunders. Walvoord says, “it would seem evident that the seven thunders contain a further revelation consisting of some articulate voice which John could understand” (The Revelation of Jesus Christ, p. 171). The seven thunders seem to represent the voice of God.
“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.’ Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven, 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, 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” (Revelation 10:4-7 NASB1995).
We don’t know why John was kept from writing what he heard, we only know that the voice from heaven stopped him. Regarding the “Announcement of the End of the Age” in verses 5-7, “the expression here, however, does not refer to time as a succession of chronological events; rather it means that time has run out, that is, that there will be no further delay. The end is now to be consummated” (Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, p. 171).
What is this “mystery of God” spoken of in verse 7? The Grace NT Commentary says it is “God’s purposes and plans for humanity” (p. 1287). God’s plan for the ages has been revealed to the prophets (i.e. Daniel 9:24-27). “The mystery of God which is declared as subject to fulfillment is unfolded therefore in the Old Testament in the many passages which speak of the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth” (Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, p. 172).
“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.’ 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.’ 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. And they said to me, ‘You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings” (Revelation 10:8-11 NASB1995).
We aren’t told the contents of the little book, only that John was told to eat it. I believe the book contained the specific Word of God regarding the coming bowl judgments. Walvoord says, “no interpretation of the experience of John [eating the book] is given in the Scriptures, but it’s obvious that the symbolism is supposed to convey meaning without necessary comment. John, by eating the book partakes of its content, and in his act of obedience appropriates the statements, promises, and affirmations contained in the book. The book itself seems to be a symbol of the Word of God as it is delivered to men, that is, divine revelation already given” (The Revelation of Jesus Christ, p. 173-174).
The book was sweet to the taste but bitter to the stomach. If the book indeed contains the Word of the Lord, the sweetness is due to that fact. The bitterness, however, is due to the specificity of that word concerning the judgments which are to come. The prophet Ezekiel experienced something similar in Ezekiel 2:9-3:4. He was given a scroll and told to eat it. The scroll contained “lamentations, mourning and woe.” After Ezekiel ate it (which was sweet as honey in his mouth), God told him to prophesy to the house of Israel. John was given a similar command after eating the little book, “and they said to me, ‘you must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings” (Revelation 10:11 NASB1995).
Walvoord says, “the Word of God which was sweet to John’s soul also had its bitter aspects.” He goes on to say, “the Word of God is bitter in that it not only contains promises of grace but, as the book of Revelation itself abundantly illustrates, it reveals the divine judgments which will be poured out on the earth as God deals in wrath with the wicked world” (The Revelation of Jesus Christ, p. 174).
The apostle John had obviously tasted of the sweetness of the Living Word. He also knew the bitterness of persecution as he was exiled on the isle of Patmos “for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 1:9). I love the broader application Walvoord draws from the little book. He says, “the invitation to John to partake of the little book and eat is, of course, the invitation of God to all who would participate in the blessing of the Word of God… Like John, every saint should take and eat with the assurance that the Word will be sweet, whatever sufferings and trials he may be called upon to bear” (The Revelation of Jesus Christ, p. 174).
Week 9: Homework Reflections
Day One-Two: The Seven Peals of Thunder
- Read Revelation 4:5. What similarities do you see with Revelation 10:3-4?
- Many times in Scripture, God’s voice is described as thunder. Read the following verses and record your thoughts: Psalm 29:1-9; Psalm 18:13; Job 37:2-5; 40:9; John 12:28-29.
- What do you learn from 1 Samuel 2:10 and 2 Samuel 22:14?
- How do these passages (above) contrast with 1 Kings 19:11-12?
Day Three: The Mystery & Sovereignty of God
- The angel with one foot on the water and one foot on the land is a picture of God’s sovereign control over the world. Read Proverbs 8:27-29, and Psalm 104 and record what you learn about God’s sovereign control. How does knowing God is in control give you hope for the future?
- The mystery of God in Revelation 10:7 is speaking of His “purposes and plans for humanity” declared to the prophets (GNT Commentary, p. 1287). How do you see God’s plan revealed to Daniel in Daniel 9:24-27 and Jeremiah in Jeremiah 31:34 (the remnant of Israel)
- What do you learn about the “secret things” in Deuteronomy 29:29? What promise is given in Deuteronomy 4:29?
Day Four: The Little Book
- Read Ezekiel 2:8-3:4. How does it compare with Revelation 10:1-11?
- Read Jeremiah 15:16. How did Jeremiah respond to God’s Word?
- Why was the little book bitter to John’s stomach?
Day Five: The Sweet Word of God
- As we close, take some time to meditate on the sweetness of God’s Word. Read the following verses and record what you learn: Psalm 19:1-10; Psalm 119:103; Jeremiah 15:16; Colossians 3:16; Psalm 34:8; Matthew 4:4; 1 Peter 2:2; Psalm 81:10.