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The Little Book

Tom Pennington Revelation 10:1-11


Well, I encourage you to take your copy of God's Word and turn with me to Revelation 10. Revelation 10.

You remember, back in chapter 6, we watched as John saw the souls of those who'd been martyred during the Tribulation, under the altar in heaven, cry out. Do you remember what they said in chapter 6:10? They said, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" That question of how long has really come from the lips of God's people throughout human history. The heart of the question really is this: why does God permit sin to continue unabated and sinners unpunished? Why and how long until God deals with it?

This is the question of the saints throughout the Scriptures. Job 21:7: "Why do the wicked still live, continue on, also become very powerful?" Psalm 94:3-4: "How long shall the wicked, O LORD, how long shall the wicked exult? They pour forth words, they speak arrogantly; all who do wickedness vaunt themselves." Look at the prophet Jeremiah. Turn to Jeremiah 12:1: "Righteous are You, O LORD, that I would plead my case with You [Jeremiah prays]; indeed I would discuss matters of justice with You: why has the way of the wicked prospered? Why are all those who deal in treachery at ease? You have planted them, they have also taken root; they grow, they have even produced fruit. You are near to their lips but far from their mind. But You know me, O LORD; You see me; and You examine my heart's attitude toward You. Drag them off like sheep for the slaughter and set them apart for a day of carnage!" Habakkuk 1:13, as Habakkuk thinks about the coming destruction of his people by the Babylonians, he says this: "Your eyes [Oh God] are too pure to approve evil, and You can not look on wickedness with favor. Why do You look with favor on those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they?"

If you're honest, if we're honest with ourselves, we all struggle with the same questions, questions like, "God, why don't You stop the carnage in Ukraine?" "God, why don't You stop all of the sex trafficking and the murders, the abuse of children, the abortions, the abuse of authority, the countless other ways that man sins against others?" God, why do you allow us as your children to suffer and to suffer at the hands of those who are your enemies?" "How long, Oh God, will you allow sin to remain unpunished?" "When, God, will You finally intervene?" That's been the question since sin entered the world.

Scripture's answer is the day of the Lord is coming. The day of the Lord is coming. God will have His day. He will break His silence. He will step into human history in the person of His Son and bring His eternal plan to its consummation. He will make everything right and everything new.

During the future seven-year tribulation, when the seventh angel sounds his trumpet, it will announce the end - the end of human history and the imminent return of Jesus Christ and His reign as Lord. The seventh trumpet will announce and will initiate the seven bowl judgments that are described in chapter 16 - those intense, rapid-fire judgments that come immediately before and usher in Christ's return to the earth. We're almost there.

But before the angel sounds the seventh trumpet, there is first an interlude and that interlude begins in chapter 10:1 and runs to chapter 11:14. And like the interlude between the sixth and seventh seals, in chapter 7, and the interlude between the sixth and seventh bowls in just one verse, chapter 16:15, this interlude is here for a purpose. It's to remind God's people, as these events unfold, that God is still sovereign over all these things. He's not forgotten His people and He is redeeming others.

Just to remind you of where we are, the theme of this book that we're studying, the theme of Revelation, is in fact the revelation, the unveiling of Jesus Christ. It is from Jesus Christ, and it is about Jesus Christ - His person, His work, and His kingdom. He is the source of the book - it is the revelation of Jesus Christ - and He is the theme of this book.

Just to remind you of an outline, Jesus' words in chapter 1:19 provide the natural framework for an outline of this book. There we read: "Therefore [Jesus says to John, chapter 1:19] write [number one] the things which you have seen [that's the vision in chapter 1], and the things which are [that's the messages to the churches in chapters 2-3], and the things which will take place after these things [that's where we find ourselves]." We're studying the third part of this outline - "the things which will take place" - the stages that unfold Jesus' final triumph (chapters 4 through 22).

Now, we're between the sixth and the seventh seals, and you'll see that there is, I'm sorry, between the sixth and seventh trumpets and you'll see that there are interludes in two places in this outline. First of all, there's an interlude that's chapter 7, between the sixth seal and the seventh seal, and then there is a second interlude between the sixth trumpet and the seventh trumpet. So, that's where we find ourselves.

Now, these interludes are not strictly chronological. At times, instead, they overlap the chronology of the material around them. They overlap the chronology of the seals, the trumpets, and the bowls. For example, chapter 11:1-14 does not occur between the sixth and seventh trumpet. It describes, there, the ministry of the two witnesses. We'll look at that, Lord willing, next time. That happens during the entire second half of the Tribulation for 3 1/2 years. Chapter 11:2 says it's 42 months. Chapter 11:3 says it's 1260 days. And so, it's an interlude, but it's not, strictly speaking, a chronological interlude. It's a pause to look at a broader picture of what's happening during the Tribulation. And so, that's what we see in chapter 11. However, sometimes it is chronological (these interludes) and that's what we're going to see in chapter 10.

The events that we come to tonight happen after the sixth trumpet and before the seventh, because the seventh is described here in detail as they anticipated. So, let's read it together, Revelation 10:1-11. This is the interlude between the sixth trumpet and the seventh trumpet.

"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.' 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. 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.'"

In this chapter, one who is simply introduced to us as a strong angel declares that God's plan for human history, God's plan of the ages, will soon be complete. It's an amazing chapter with incredible information and challenge for us. Let's look at it together. It really breaks into two parts. The first part is the angel's announcement. And that's where we'll begin - the angel's announcement of the end of human history in verses 1 through 7.

Verse 1 introduces us to this angel. He's simply called, in verse 1, "another strong angel". Look at verse 1: "I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven..." Now, there's a lot of debate about who this angel is because of how he's described. He's described very similarly, in what follows, to the vision of Jesus Christ in chapter 1. And so, there's been a lot of discussion. Maybe it's Gabriel. But many, because there is so much similarity to the description in chapter 1, say that it's Jesus Christ. Let me just put that to bed for you, because I don't want you to be confused by this. The angel in this chapter is not Jesus Christ for several reasons.

First of all, the Greek word translated "another" (another strong angel) is a word that means another of the same kind. He's just another strong angel, like the one we already met in chapter 5:1. But Christ has nobody else in His category. He is unique. All the angels are created. He is the Creator and the uncreated One. So, this can't be Christ.

Secondly, when our Lord appears in Revelation, He's always identified with a clear title. Here are some of them: the ruler of the kings of the earth, the Son of Man, the First and the Last, the Living One, the Beginning of the creation of God, the Lion that's from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, the Lamb, the Lamb who was slain, faithful and true, the Word of God, King of kings and Lord of lords. In the Old Testament there is a description of the appearance of what's called a Theophany, an Old Testament appearance of God and, specifically, a Christophany - an Old Testament appearance of the second person of Trinity, our Lord. And at times, that person is described as "The Angel of the LORD". But not once does the New Testament refer to Jesus as an angel. And Revelation is filled with those titles I just described.

A third reason we know this isn't Christ is there are two other angels in Revelation that are identified as strong angels and it's clear that neither of them, in the context they're mentioned, is Jesus Christ. In chapter 5:2, the angel who searches for someone worthy to open the scroll, clearly is - ultimately sees Christ as the one who's worthy. So, a different person than Christ. In chapter 18:21 it's an angel, a strong angel, who announces the fall of Babylon.

A fourth reason is the second person of the Trinity would swear by Himself, as God often does, not swearing in the third person as this person does.

And then, finally, John describes this angel as coming down out of heaven. If this is Christ, then we've just added another coming of Christ. It isn't His incarnation. It isn't the rapture. It isn't the second coming. So, I hope you agree with me that this is not Christ.

Admittedly, the description of this angel is remarkable. But there are other descriptions of magnificent angels in the Bible. Think about Ezekiel 28 and how Satan is described before his fall. Or think about in Daniel 10 (we studied it together) the man dressed in linen. This angel in chapter 10 is described in ways very similar to how the Lord Jesus is described in chapter 1, and that's because he is Jesus' special representative. He has an authority delegated by Christ, so he reflects some of the glory of the One he represents.

Let's look at this person. This strong angel, verse 1 says, is "clothed with a cloud". It's as if he has the clouds draped across his shoulders. This is a clear picture of majesty and power. But also, in Revelation, clouds are most often associated with judgment.

One goes, verse 1 goes on to say, "and the rainbow was upon his head". The Greek word for rainbow is iris, the name of the Greek goddess who personified the rainbow. This word can describe an arc or circle of light that surrounds someone or something like a halo. That seems to be the idea here. In chapter 4:3, you'll remember this same word, rainbow, describes the emerald rainbow that encircles God's throne. Here, it seems to be a brilliantly multicolored rainbow that encircles this angel's head. Just as in other contexts, starting all the way back at the flood, when clouds symbolize God's judgment and the rainbow appears, it symbolizes His mercy in the midst of judgment. God originally gave the rainbow as a sign of His promise never to destroy the world by water again in Genesis 9. And the rainbow around the head of this angel is an assurance of God's covenant mercy to His people even as He pours out His judgment on the world.

I love the combination of clouds and rainbow. And, by the way, don't let those who are taking advantage of God's mercy and using the rainbow for another message steal the beauty of what God has given us in the rainbow. It is a picture of His amazing patience and mercy.

Verse 1 goes on to say, "and his face was like the sun..." Back in chapter 1:16, the face of the glorified Lord shines like the blazing sun. When Moses, you remember, spent time in the presence of God, his face shone temporarily as a reflection of God's glory. Well, this strong angel dwells in the presence of God in an ongoing way, so his face shines with a brilliant, blinding glory of God.

Verse 1 goes on to say, "and his feet like pillars of fire..." The Greek word for feet here apparently refers to both his feet and his legs because they're described as pillars. We don't know for sure what is intended here. It may be a possible reference to the cloud which led Israel (cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night) guiding, yes, but also protecting. So, this angel is God - is Christ's special herald and he therefore reflects Christ's glory and furthers Christ's mission.

Next, we see what he does. We see, in his hand, a little book. Verse 2: "and he had in his hand a little book which was open." There's been a lot of debate about the nature of this book because it's a slightly different form, a diminutive form in Greek, of the word scroll back in chapter 5. Some have argued that it's an entirely different scroll altogether. Just to kind of let you see what this is like, in chapter 5:1, the Greek word is biblion. In chapter 10:2, here in our text, it's the biblaridion. But down in chapter 10:8, this same book or scroll is again called biblion. So, I don't think that there's a lot to be made of the different word that's used. The two words may be used simply as synonyms. Or it's possible that that form in verse 2 represents a smaller portion of the scroll from chapter 5. Or it may just be a visual, because remember, what's going to happen later in this chapter. John is going to eat this book. So, it needs to be small enough to eat, right, in order for the picture to work. But either way, the point is I think that there is plenty of evidence that this is the same scroll as the one in chapter 5:1. It is the title deed to the earth. The main difference here in our text is that this scroll is now completely open. It's completely unrolled. This scroll now lies open in the hand of this strong angel and everyone in heaven can now see its contents, the full description of the fury of the divine judgment that still to come. A little book.

Thirdly, we see a sealed message, beginning in the middle of verse 2 and running down through verse 4. Verse 2 says, "He placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land..." What the angel does here is powerful symbolism. In Scripture, you remember, even in the time of the conquest, wherever their feet landed was a claim of authority, right? Wherever they walk - "This is our land!" What the angel does here may in fact reflect his impressive size, but more than that, it demonstrates that as Christ's representative, Christ owns every inch of this planet - land and sea. It's His. Psalm 24:1: "The earth is the LORD'S, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it." Our Lord owns this planet and everything on it. He governs it. He has the authority to judge it. And His representative puts one foot on the land and the other on the sea. "It's mine!" - that's what Christ says, "It's mine!"

Verse 3 goes on to say, "and he cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars..." As you would expect from such a massive creature, as described here, when he utters a loud cry, it sounds like a lion's roar. But don't forget this angel is also speaking on behalf of God, on behalf of Christ. So, he speaks with power, majesty, and with the authority of God. God is described like this in Jeremiah 25:30: "The LORD [Yahweh] will roar from on high and utter His voice from His holy habitation; He will roar mightily against His fold." Hosea 11:10: "They will walk after the LORD, He will roar like a lion; indeed He will roar and His sons will come trembling from the west." Joel 3:16: "The LORD roars from Zion and utters His voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth tremble." This angel, in chapter 10 of Revelation, roars like God Himself because he represents God. Specifically, he represents the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, we're going to see what he said in just a moment, but first we learn what happened after he spoke. Verse 3 says, "...and when he had cried out, the seven peals of thunder uttered their voices." Clearly, the seven peals of thunder were loud, like thunder, but they were not thunder as we know it, because in the very next verse we learn that what they said was intelligible and John was about to write it down.

So, what are these seven peals of thunder? Well, we can't be absolutely sure but since thunder accompanies God's throne, in chapter 4:5, and seems to be the voice of God in that context, as we saw it, it's likely that these seven peals of thunder are simply a poetic way of describing something that God Himself has said.

Verse 4 says, "When the seven peals of thunder had spoken, I was about to write..." You remember, back in chapter 1:19, Christ commanded John to write all the things that he saw. So, here he sees something. Here he hears whatever it was that came from the voice of God, represented by these seven peals of thunder. And he's about to write it down dutifully.

By the way, before I leave that, let me just say this implies that John wrote each portion of Revelation after each vision ended and before the next vision. That's what this seems to imply.

But before John could right this time, verse 4 says, "...I heard a voice from heaven..." We're not told whose - could be the voice of God, the voice of Christ. It could be another angel. Regardless, ultimately, obviously, the command comes from God Himself saying, "Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken and do not write them." Now the Greek word translated "seal up" is used different ways but here it clearly means to keep hidden or secret because he's told, notice at the end of verse 4, " not write them."

Now, I know the question that's on your mind and that is, "So, Tom, what did the seven peals of thunder say?" That's not a valid question. It's interesting, when you look through the Scripture, this has happened to others. Daniel witnessed things that he was told not to write. Daniel 8:26: "The vision of the evenings and mornings which has been told is true; but keep the vision secret, for it pertains to many days in the future." Daniel 12:9: "He said, 'Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time.'" In that case, their meaning was hidden. In 2 Corinthians 12:4, Paul, you remember, "was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak."

We aren't told why John wasn't permitted to write, whatever it was he understood from the seven peals of thunder. But God has His reasons. The bigger lesson for us is the powerful lesson of Deuteronomy 29:29. If you don't know this verse, you need to memorize it. You need to make sure it's marked in your Bible because this verse is absolutely crucial. "The secret things belong to the LORD [Yahweh] our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever..." There are things God has not chosen to tell us, but He's told us everything that He has decided that's important for us to know. In His wisdom, He's decided what to reveal. But there are things that God has not told us.

We find ourselves there often, don't we? We encounter situations in life. There are things that when I stand with parents at the limp body of their young child who's terribly sick or who's just passed away, when I hear about the horrific sins that the Lord has allowed, even though He doesn't condone and will judge, He's allowed against - for one person to commit against another. When I read the news and I see the images from Ukraine and on and on it goes, there are things I can't explain to you. I can explain the concepts. I can explain the larger picture of what the Scripture says. But in the end, folks, the secret things belong to the Lord our God. But the things that are revealed are what He's given to us. That's what we have and that's where we find hope and comfort.

By the way, the words of the seven peals of thunder and verse 3 are the only words in Revelation that are sealed. Someday, maybe the Lord will tell us when we're in His presence, what John heard.

The sealed message is followed by a universal announcement in verses 5 to 7. John was permitted to write what the angel said back in verse 3. And now in verses 5 to 7, it's recorded what he did and what he said.

Look at verse 5: "Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven..." Apparently, the picture here is that the little opened scroll is in his left hand, and he extends his right hand toward heaven, where God dwells, in the normal gesture for taking a solemn oath. It's just like we do in a court of law. It was to confirm before God Himself that what he's about to speak is the truth. Verse 6 says, "and swore..." He confirms the truthfulness of what he's about to say with an oath.

And notice, he "swore by Him [God]". He "swore by Him who lives forever and ever...", specifically, by God's eternality. He doesn't do this on a whim. This is important. This reminds us that the eternal God is in control of all things and that the eternal God has a plan for time in human history, and He's working out that plan.

He also swears by God. You'll notice who is the Creator. Verse 6 goes on to say, "WHO CREATED HEAVEN AND THE THINGS IN IT, AND THE EARTH AND THE THINGS IN IT, AND THE SEA AND THE THINGS IN IT..." Notice, he affirms by those terms that God created the entire universe - the heavens and earth's land and earth's ocean. And he also affirms that God created all things that fill the universe - "HEAVEN AND THE THINGS IN IT, AND THE EARTH AND THE THINGS IN IT, AND THE SEA AND THE THINGS IN IT..." Takes us back to chapter 4:11 where we see that scene before God the Father: "Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created."

What's the point? The God who created all things, therefore owns all things. He governs all of them in His great power. That same God who created will accomplish in what He created His great eternal plan. His purpose for the creation, which belongs to Him alone, will be fulfilled exactly as He's determined because it's His and He has the right.

What will He do? Well, we're going to see it unfold in the rest of Revelation. He's going to pour out His wrath on this existing universe and then He's going to renew it for 1000 years. He's going to make it like new. And we're going to live on this renewed planet for 1000 years. After those thousand years are done, He will destroy it. It will go entirely out of existence. And then, God will create a new heaven and a new earth, as Peter says, "in which righteousness dwells" or is at home.

So, everything we've seen so far, in verses 5 and 6, just sets the stage for the actual content of this strong angel's oath. What did he swear by God was true? Look at verse 6: "...that there will be delay no longer..." There will be delay no longer. This is God's response to the prayers of the martyrs - "How long, Oh Lord?", to the prayers offered in chapter 8. God's answer through His angel is, "Now! No further delay!" You see, from the beginning of human history and human sin, God's people have prayed that God's eternal plan of redemption would come to its completion, that His kingdom would come on earth. And all of those prayers are about to be answered. How many times have you prayed, "Your kingdom come"? The angel says, "Now! Now!"

The end of human history is near. Verse 7: "but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound..." This angel says the end will come when the seventh trumpet blows. We saw the sixth trumpet back in chapter 9:13 and following. The angel says the seventh trumpet is about to sound. But notice an important detail. The events and judgments contained in the seventh trumpet don't happen in a moment. And they don't even happen in a day. Instead, we're told these judgments will last for days. In other words, over a period of time. And that makes perfect sense. Remember, the seventh trumpet judgment includes the seven bowl judgments contained in chapter 16. As we'll discover, the events in the seven bowl judgments will take weeks to unfold, perhaps even months. So, in the days of the events that unfold in the seventh trumpet.

Verse 7 says, "then the mystery of God is finished..." Then the mystery of God is finished. When the judgments described in the seventh trumpet and the seven bowls that it contains are complete, then the mystery of God is finished. What is that? Well, let's take it apart one word at a time.

Start, first of all, with the word "mystery". What is a mystery? In biblical terms, a mystery is something that only God knows and that no one would ever discover unless God revealed it, and God now has revealed it. That's a mystery. Something we would never know, we would never discover, only God knows. And He has now revealed it. So, it is a mystery in that sense.

And it's the mystery of God. In other words, it's what He knows and what He's planning. It's God's great eternal plan of redemption. It's what Ephesians 3:10-11 call - and I love this description. If you look at Ephesians 3:10-11, you'll see a marginal note for one of the expressions in our New American Standard. Literally, it's "the plan of the ages". God has a plan of the ages and that's what we're talking about here. The eternal plan of God, the plan of redemption, God's eternal plan to redeem a people by His Son, for His Son, to His own glory. That is approaching its conclusion. The strong angel in Revelation 10 swears by God that in the days of the events of the seventh trumpet, the mystery of God will be finished.

Turn over to chapter 11:15: "Then the seventh angel sounded [here it is]; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.' And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God..."

This is the conclusion that all of eternity, all of human history, has been moving toward. All of those who oppose the rule of God, men and demons and Satan himself, will be judged and destroyed. All of those on whom God has set His eternal love will be saved forever and will enter into the glorious kingdom of His Son, Jesus Christ. The mystery of God describes the unfolding of everything that takes place from this point forward, in the book of Revelation, until the new heavens and the new earth become our eternal home. That's the mystery of God.

Verse 7 says, "then the mystery of God is finished..." And notice, this is the same mystery that God preached to His servants, the Old Testament prophets. Yeah, these truths were there. They were there in a rough outline. Some of the details are provided in the Old Testament. Read prophets like Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Joel, Amos, and Zechariah. All of them wrote about events that would unfold at the end of human history.

But it's in the New Testament, in Jesus' Olivette Discourse in Matthew 24 and 25, in 2 Thessalonians and especially here in Revelation, that the details are all filled in. Not everything, maybe, our curiosity would love to know, but remember, the secret things belong to the Lord. The things that are revealed belong to us and to our children. Everything God wanted us to know has now been revealed. This strong angel swears by God that in the days when the seventh trumpet sounds, the end of human history will come.

So, we've seen the angel's announcement at the end of human history. In the rest of this chapter, beginning in verse 8 through verse 11, we see the prophet's assignment regarding the end of human history. The prophet's assignment.

It begins with a command to take the book. Verse 8: "Then the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard again speaking with me..." The same voice in verse 4 that came from heaven and commanded him not to write what the seven peals of thunder said, now speaks with him again saying, verse 8, "Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the land."

Notice, for the third time in this chapter, this angel is described as standing on the sea and the land. Clearly, God is making a point. God intends to emphasize that He has given this angel remarkable authority over the earth. He's now holding, in Christ's stead, the title deed to the earth opened by Christ Himself. John is told to take the book out of the hand of that great angel.

Secondly, in verse 9, we see the command to digest the book. The command to digest the book. Verse 9 says, "So I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book." And John then learns from the angel what he's to do with it: "And he said to me, 'Take it and eat it..."

Now, if you're familiar with the Old Testament, this should bring up a couple of pictures. One of them is Jeremiah 15:16 where Jeremiah writes, "Your words were found and I ate them, and your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts."

The other place is Ezekiel. Turn back to the prophet Ezekiel and look at chapter 3:1-3. This is at Ezekiel's commission. And Ezekiel 3:1: "Then He said to me, 'Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.' So I opened my mouth, and He fed me this scroll. He said to me, 'Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.' Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth."

That's the background. Now, what's going on with the eating of all these scrolls? As with Jeremiah and Ezekiel, John's eating the scroll is a pretty clear picture. It pictures him taking in and assimilating or digesting the Word of God. This angel tells John to digest the content of this scroll, to understand it, to grapple with its meaning.

And then he tells him what's going to happen as a result. Verse 9: " will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey." That's unlike what we saw with Jeremiah and Ezekiel. There, in both cases, it was just sweet - sweet to their mouth. But, here, he's told it'll make your stomach bitter and in your mouth it will be sweet as honey. That's the command that this strong angel gives to John.

That brings us, in verse 10, to the reaction to the book - the prophet's reaction. Verse 10: "I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it..." John ate the book symbolizing the fact that he digested the content of God's Word that was in the scroll.

And what the angel described is exactly what happened. Verse 10 says, "...and in my mouth it was sweet as honey..." As John began to taste the great truths that Jesus will judge the wicked, that He'll take back control of this planet, that He will establish His kingdom, John found those truths truly sweet. Don't you?

But verse 10 says, "and when I had eaten it [after I chewed it and swallowed it and it made its way to my stomach], my stomach was made bitter." What's going on here? Well, as John digested the contents of the scroll, the title deed to the earth with its judgments, he came to understand all that would be required for Christ to take back control of the universe, all of the judgments that He would pour out in this planet, and it made him sick to his stomach. As he realized the coming fury of God's wrath and the inevitable but terrible doom that awaits unbelievers, what first tasted sweet, became bitter.

John MacArthur writes in his commentary on Revelation, "All who love Jesus Christ can relate to John's ambivalence. Believers long for Christ to return in glory, for Satan to be destroyed, and the glorious kingdom of our Lord to be set up on earth in which He will rule in universal sovereignty and glory, while establishing in the world righteousness, truth, and peace. But they, like Paul, mourn bitterly over the judgment of the ungodly."

In verse 11, there's the command to complete the book. Verse 11: "And they said to me..." Now "they" is an unusual pronoun here. It's possible it refers to the strong angel and the voice that have spoken to him throughout this chapter. More likely (we're going to see this again in the rest of the book), it's an indefinite reference to God. I think, likely, verse 11 is God speaking to him just as Christ spoke to him, to commission in the first time. Here God speaks to him again.

Verse 11: "You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings." Notice that word "again". Just as he was in chapter 1:19, John is now re-commissioned to write what he still going to witness and that's what's recorded in the rest of this book.

Notice these prophecies will be about "many peoples and nations and tongues and kings". Now, three of those groups are mentioned back in chapter 5:9, chapter 7:9 but, here, "kings" is added. So, the Lord tells John that the prophecies that are still to come in the book of Revelation, concern world leaders and all the nations on this planet. And John was to write so that everyone everywhere would know God's plan when the time comes. "Complete the book", Christ tells John.

It's an amazing chapter. But, as always, I want us to consider for a moment the implications. What are the implications of what we've studied together? I think there are several points of application.

First of all, we need to remember that God has an eternal plan for human history. Psalm 33:10-11. I love this. "The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples." Why? Because God has a plan. It goes on to say, "The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation." Don't you find that so encouraging? I love the fact that God has written human history and He's written how it ends. And He's told us, His friends, His children, so that we know.

Secondly, God will bring that plan to complete fruition in every detail. God has a plan that concerns everything and how it fleshes out and He will execute that plan perfectly. Here's why that's encouraging. Let's just be honest. We look at the world, we look at history, we look at what's going on in our time, and it looks random and completely out of control. There isn't a stray molecule in this universe. There isn't an inch on this planet, there isn't a palace or White House or a world leader, there is nothing, not an inch on this planet, not a molecule out of the control of Jesus Christ, and He will bring it into complete and final conclusion just as He's planned. There are no rogue molecules in God's universe.

Number three: God has determined exactly when history will end. People ask me all the time, "So, Tom, do you think, do you think this is it? I mean, you think what's going on in Europe and does this mean it's the end?" And my response is, "You know what, Jesus told us in Acts 1 that we are not to try to guess the time, the chronous, or the season." So, what I say is, "This could be it, but we need to live as if Christ will come back tomorrow or if He'll delay His coming for 1000 years." It's His plan but He'll bring it to its conclusion as He's planned, when He's planned.

Number four: God's plan includes the final judgment of all evil. Yes, justice will be done. Not one evil deed will ever go unpunished. The salvation and vindication of His children will be included in His plan and the exaltation of His Son.

Look at Ephesians 1. Ephesians 1 describes the eternal plan of God in just a few verses. And when you read verses 3 through 14 of Ephesians 1, you see that plan concerns God in His glory, it concerns believers and their salvation and their ultimate glorification, and it concerns the exultation of Jesus Christ. Look at verse 9: "He [God] made known to us the mystery of His will [there's that word "mystery" again, something we wouldn't have known unless God revealed it, but He now has revealed it], according to His kind intention which He [God] purposed in Him [Christ]." God's plan has Jesus Christ at the epicenter. And what is that plan? - "with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times..." In other words (paraphrased), when God decides to bring everything to its conclusion, here's what it'll look like - "the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth." He will be all and in all because He deserves it. He's worthy of the reward of His suffering and He will get it.

Turn over to 2 Thessalonians. 2 Thessalonians - Paul puts it this way in verse 6. He says, "For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you..." In other words, God's going to do justice. He's going to do what's right. This isn't about vendettas. This isn't about revenge. This is about justice. God is going to do justice. "...and [verse 7] to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire [and here's what He will do. Here's what the plan includes], dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power..." But here's what else it includes: "when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed..." This is the plan and it's going to happen.

Number five: God takes no delight in the death of the wicked. This book, you remember, that describes God's coming judgment, was bitter in John's stomach. Why? Because John found no delight in the destruction of the wicked and neither does God. Ezekiel 18:32: "'For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,' declares the Lord GOD. 'Therefore, repent and live.'" God isn't finding joy in pouring out His wrath on the earth. He's doing it because it is right, and it is just, and He must. His character demands it but He doesn't find pleasure in it. Instead, He says, "Repent and live." Christ, you remember, mourned over those who deserved judgment and were going to get it. So did John and, folks, so should we. We should long for God's justice. We should cry out for it as God saints always have. But we shouldn't delight in the death and destruction of the wicked.

And then, finally, this is a call to repent and believe the gospel. If you're here tonight and you don't know Jesus Christ, God wanted you to know. Think about this. God gave us this book so you would know and be warned about what's coming. This is God's grace to you, just like God does during the Tribulation, when He extends time after time after time and opportunity for people to repent. As you're here tonight, you're hearing this message about what God is going to do in the future. You're hearing what's going to happen to you if you don't repent and turn to God. This is God's grace appealing to you to take His gracious offer of salvation, forgiveness in His Son. Because there's coming a day when God will bring things to an end.

Today, God is incredibly patient. It seems like the wrong is thriving and will never get its today. But there's coming a day when the seventh trumpet judgment will sound, and human history will end. It will be a day of joy and celebration for all who believed in the Son of God. But it will be a day of doom and desperation and destruction for all who have refused His gracious offer. And so, tonight, tonight, God, through His Word, He's calling you to repent. He will have no pleasure, no delight in your suffering - what's being described here. Instead, He says, "Repent and live."

Here's how Revelation describes it. Look at the end of Revelation. Revelation 22:14. This is the invitation this book ends with: "Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the [heavenly] city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. 'I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.' The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come.' And let the one who hears say, 'Come.' And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost." That is Jesus' invitation to you tonight. If you're here tonight without Him, "Come. Come." He will find no joy in your suffering - what's described in this book. But if you will not turn, it will happen because He is not only gracious, He is also just. Turn and live!

Let's pray together.

Father, thank You for this chapter and all that we've discovered here together. Lord, we humble ourselves before You and acknowledge that You are God, and we are not; that there are secret things that belong only to You, that You have not chosen to reveal. But, Father, thank You that You have revealed so much about what's coming. You've done it to encourage us, Your people. But Lord, You've also done it in grace to warn the world, to warn even those who are here tonight who have not trusted in Your Son of what's coming. Lord, I pray that today, tonight, would be the day of their salvation, when they would turn to You, to Your Son and live. Thank You, Father, that by Your grace You've done that work in the hearts of most of us. May we love Your Son. May we long for the day when evil is judged, the right is done, and He makes all things new when He is rightly seated as the center of everything. Until that day, may He be the center of our lives. We pray in His name, Amen!


The Seventh Seal & the First Six Trumpets - Part 4

Tom Pennington Revelation 8-9

The Little Book

Tom Pennington Revelation 10:1-11

The Two Witnesses - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 11:1-13

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The Revelation of Jesus Christ - Part 2

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The King is Coming!

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A Vision of the Exalted Christ - Part 2

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Smyrna: Faithful in Suffering

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Pergamum: Undiscerning Tolerance

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Thyatira: Extra-Biblical Authority

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Sardis: Dead Christianity

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Philadelphia: Enduring Faithfulness

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Laodicea: A False Gospel

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He is Worthy! - Part 2

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He is Worthy! - Part 3

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He is Worthy! - Part 4

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The First Six Seals: The Tribulation Begins - Part 2

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Tribulation Saints - Part 2

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The Seventh Seal & the First Six Trumpets - Part 2

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The Seventh Seal & the First Six Trumpets - Part 3

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The Seventh Seal & the First Six Trumpets - Part 4

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The Two Witnesses - Part 2

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The Woman, her Son, and the Dragon - Part 2

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The Woman, her Son, and the Dragon - Part 3

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Antichrist - Part 1

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Antichrist - Part 2

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The False Prophet

Tom Pennington Revelation 13:11-18

A Preview of Jesus' Victory - Part 1

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A Preview of Jesus' Victory - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 14:1-20

A Preview of Jesus' Victory - Part 3

Tom Pennington Revelation 14:1-20

A Preview of Jesus' Victory - Part 4

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Heaven Prepares for the End

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Seven Bowls of Wrath - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 16:1-21

Seven Bowls of Wrath - Part 2

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Babylon is Fallen! - Part 1

Tom Pennington Revelation 17:1-18:24

Babylon is Fallen! - Part 2

Tom Pennington Revelation 17:1-18:24

Babylon Is Fallen! - Part 3

Tom Pennington Revelation 18

Babylon is Fallen! - Part 4

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The Rapture of the Church

Tom Pennington Selected Scriptures