The Apocalypse Week 6
The Angel and the little Scroll
Key Text: Revelation 10
So who hear has heard the following “facts”?
- Napoleon was short.
- We only use 10% of our brains.
- Touching a baby bird will make its mother reject it.
- George Washington had wooden teeth.
- You have to drink 8 glasses of water a day.
- Vikings wore horned helmets
- The great wall of China can be seen from Space
- Or that Albert Einstein failed High School maths
Do you know what all these facts have in common? They are rubbish! Not one of them are true. Hands up, how many of you believed these to be true?
The reality is that many of us take things at face value not looking to the reality behind those things. We like these things because behind them is a story than we want to be true.
Tonight we are looking at Revelation 10 and in this we will see that there is one whose voice we can trust to be true and that is everything that God speaks; however, unlike the above “facts” sometime what God speaks is true even when it makes some people uncomfortable.
Tonight we are moving on in our study through Revelation looking at Revelation 10 tonight. Last week we saw the terrors of God’s judgment being poured out on the wickedness of man and the hardness of man’s heart in refusing the rule of God.
This week we see the undeniable power of God in what He is doing. We see this in three very peculiar images that John gives us in Revelation 10 so let’s read.
Revelation 10New International Version (NIV)
The Angel and the Little Scroll
10 Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. 2 He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, 3 and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. 4 And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down.”
5 Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. 6 And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said, “There will be no more delay! 7 But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.”
8 Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me once more: “Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.”
9 So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, “Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but ‘in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.’[a]” 10 I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. 11 Then I was told, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.”
Again the temptation remains to get distracted by what is actually happening over what John is trying to communicate. We can get terrified in the images over encourage by the message of what John is saying.
So let us look at these three peculiar messages.
We see that this angel is mighty (mentioned 3 times in revelation) an image of incredible power and might. Let’s look at what this angel symbolises.
He is clothed in clouds - In the OT clouds are a sign of God’s glory and in Revelation 1 we see that Jesus is coming with judgment “with the clouds” (Rev 1:7)
To this John says this angel has a rainbow above his head. In Rev 3 we have already see that God is surrounded by rainbows further connecting this angel to the very presence and power of God!
His face was like the sun - like Moses when he came down from Mount Sinai after being the presence of God. The implication of this is that this angel had been sent from the glory of God. What is happening in this moment is ordained from the presence of the throne room of God!
The imagery continues as His feet like pillars of fire - symbolizing judgment.
This angel signifies judgment, glory and power coming from the very throne room of God, however, due to the fact that he is sent of God means that the people of God can take comfort in this otherwise terrifying image. God is about to send His deliverance!
In verse 10:2b-3a we see how the angel places his right foot on the land and the other in the sea! This signifies that the angel’s authority is over the whole earth.
God is coming to take back what is rightfully His – rightfully re-establishing His authority over all that He has made. Church, God is not done with His creation! He is working; re-establishing His authority!
The Angel shouts as a lion (signifying God’s vengeance is coming - in the OT God anger is described as a roaring of a lion (Job 4L9-10; Hos 5:14).
The significance of all this is that God is coming with great power to take back this world!
Again later the angel swears by the he who created all things that all that God planned will not be delayed; God is doing this! He will no longer delay His work is started! The eschatological work of salvation is done; evil has been judged on the cross now God is working out his final consummative work as John speaks and as we speak tonight!
What is left of this image of the Angel is what is the mystery of God that the angel speaks about in verse 7?
Well scripture gives us a clarity of this (Eph 3:9 and Dan 12:7) is the mystery of what God previously closed up; that salvation has come through Christ and that now all are welcomed to be the people of God! Evil has been defeated upon the Cross and the reign of God is extending throughout the world through the people of God!
The end work of God is intrinsically connected to the gospel of Jesus Christ; gentiles and Jews worshiping together the living God and fulling living for him is a sign in itself of the end!
The next image we look at is…
The Seven thunders
This is a truly disconcerting image to us; because inherently in this image is a mystery which we hate! You and I hate things being kept from us! We want to know we want to figure it all out! Unfortunately, as we will see sometimes things are meant to remain a mystery!
So understanding these seven thunders lies in understanding the number. The number here again signifies perfection - it is a dramatic emphasis of the importance of the message. It is a perfect message as if God Himself is speaking this message!
But a voice command John to seal up the message. This message was meant only for John and not for us! Some things belong to God; the message is either too terrifying or incredible for all men to handle this is God’s!
Deuteronomy 29:29 speaks to this verse
Deuteronomy 29:29New International Version (NIV)
29 The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.
We do not need to know all the details; simply that which God reveals to us is sufficient! Again that is what might be the most frustrating aspect of Revelation, it is not meant to give us all the answers; in fact, in many cases it might give us more questions; however, it gives us enough to worship God and trust Him in what He is doing!
This leaves us one last image…
The little scroll
A peculiar image connected to the OT again, this scroll is different from the first scroll but also connected to it. The first Scroll we see is wrapped up in the mystery of God being reveal and Christ alone is able to open it; so this scroll is intrinsically connected to the first scroll; however, it is little or less than the first one. Christ alone is able to handle the first scroll; however, this scroll is meant for the savant of God (the prophet John).
So John eats this scroll. This is the third time in Scripture where someone is told to eat a book or scroll (Jer 15:13-17 and Ezekiel 2:8-10 are the other two references).
Eating is an idiom in all these cases for receiving knowledge or a prophetic message. In other words, the message of God must become a part of John before he must speak it (and he is called to speak it to all nations, peoples, languages, and kings). But it must be emphasised the message must become a part of Him. As the old saying goes; you are what you eat! This is exactly what is being communicated here; the message of the scroll must become a part of the messenger!
The message (or scroll) is described as sweet but bitter to the stomach. This is the message of hope that we have in the Gospel. The gospel it is sweet but there is bitter truth to it as well. God’s message of hope is sweet but also full of bitter truth that the world is not willing to hear!
The offer of salvation is sweet to all who hear; self-abandonment and surrender to the King of kings is bitter to the sinful state of man who desires to be king of his own life. It is by nature bittersweet! Free grace that costs us our pride; our selfishness and self-seeking.
Paul describes this in 2 Corinthians 2:15-16
“5For we are to God the sweet aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16To the one, we are an odour of death and demise; to the other, a fragrance that brings life. And who is qualified for such a task?…”
The message of the gospel has always evoked two responses; surrender or hatred. Church we now like John also carry this message of hope and we carry it to the whole world.
And this lies at the heart of what we are seeing tonight. God will no longer delay in doing what He always said He would do. God said that he will dwell with his people judge the evil and deliver His chosen people from around the world.
The reality is that this has started in the expansion of the church throughout the whole world. This very action of the church spreading throughout the world is further accelerating the finality of the consummating work of God.
Church we are charged with the mystery of the ages the message of the Gospel that salvation is for all through faith from first to last so that none might boast.
We declare that bitter sweet message to the world so that some might hear and respond in grace. This is or charge however, like John Church the message must become part of us as well.
The reality is that God is finalising the world he is bringing ever to its conclusion which is Him as King forever, and evil judged and dealt with.
However, until the day of that completion we must faithfully live out the message of the gospel ensuring that it alive in us and alive in our preaching.
Every one of us bears witness of the bittersweet message of God! But let us remember church this is a message ordained from the very throne room of God baring His authority and power!
Essentially God is at work in Creation church! Always even when he finally brings his consummative work of the judgement!
So let us live in that reality; God is at work in and with us as we bear witness to His message.