CHAPTER TEN



THE MIGHTY ANGEL WITH THE SCROLL

1 "And I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire.

2 And he had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land,

3 and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. And when he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices.

4 And when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; and I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them."

5 And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his hand to heaven

6 and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer,

7 but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He has declared to His servants the prophets.

JOHN CONSUMES THE SCROLL

8 "And the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, "Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth."

9 And I went to the angel and said to him, "Give me the little book." And he said to me, "Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth."

10 And I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. And when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter.

11 And he said to me, "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings."

This is the pattern we see in Revelation --- first, general information, followed by specific, prophetic details, then pauses, then more apocalyptic things, then again general pictures, etc. Chapter 10 leans to the general-information side but also presents some very interesting, key concepts, though not all that easy to understand.

Recall in our study we are at some point after the Sixth Trumpet. But before showing him the Seventh Trumpet, another mighty angel called John aside to relate some more instructions. However, as with all Scripture (according to Luke 12:2), its truth is designed to be understood at some point in time. Actually, the context itself tells us when: verse 7 says it will be revealed during the "days of the sounding of the seventh angel".

As these eleven verses are read carefully, several obvious questions come to mind:

1. What did the seven thunders reveal to John and why was he instructed not to write about them?

2. What did the angel mean by saying the "mystery of God" would be finished in the days (plural) of the voice of the seventh angel?

3. Who are God's "servants the prophets" John referred to here?

4. Why was John instructed to eat the little book?

5. What is the meaning of the book being sweet in John's mouth but bitter in his stomach?

6. What is meant by the statement that John would prophesy again before many people, and nations, and tongues, and kings?

7. When and how would John prophesy again?

Let's try to make some plain sense out of this thought-provoking chapter. The Seven Thunders John was not to write about must have contained information of such a revealing nature that God didn't want John to document it at the time. Instead, he was told to "eat" the little book (which likely had the same information that was in the "Thunders"). God said John would "prophesy again before many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings". Now, how was he going to do that? After all, John was a prisoner on the island of Patmos at that time and probably never released to preach publicly again. Well, part of the answer lies in the fact that we have John's testimony today in the book of Revelation, and through it, his 'prophesying' is being spread abroad. But, does this satisfy the puzzlying questions about the Thunders or the book he ate?

Surely there is an explanation. I think John's promised, future ministry had to refer to a much later time than his day. In fact, I'm convinced it referred specifically to our day! Of course, this doesn't mean John would later be reincarnated. I believe it alludes to what could be called the spirit and power of the apostle John, much like John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah. Actually, the text itself provides most of the answer if we'll only grasp what it says. Verse 7 forecasts, "...in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound (i.e., just beforehand), the mystery of God would be finished, as he has declared to His servants the prophets."

Now think about what this sentence really says. Remember, by my reckoning, we are at the very edge of Trumpet Six now, kind of in a 'holding pattern' just prior to Trumpet Seven. If I'm even close to being correct in the Historical picture presented thus far, this means we are very near, if not already, living in the days John spoke about in Revelation 10:7. In other words, I believe we have come to the literal time and place when John was told the "mystery of God" would be unravelled. We had to get there someday, didn't we?

But exactly what is this "mystery of God"? In general, I think it refers to all Biblical prophecy, but more specifically, points to the things the apostle himself wrote abouti.e., the Seals, the Trumpets, the Vials, etc. But further, even to prophecy as being elucidated by the prophetically-sensitive writers of our day, including, as audacious as it may seem, the concepts found right here in the book you are reading.

Today, the Holy Spirit is clarifying prophecy to certain individuals of His choosing. Let's call them what God didHis "servants the prophets". Most of the 'accepted' servants are seminarians. These represent the formally-educated "prophets". It was their books which first got me interested in this subject. But the Bible indicates God also (in fact, usually) calls laymen to be prophetic "servants". The bottom line is that accurate, prophetic understanding is God's work. And regardless of who we are talking about, no amount of ordinary study will equal one hour alone with God while He 'feeds' His Own Word to the sealed spirit of the one He has chosen to do so, be he seminarian or layman.

What I'm saying is that John 'heard' and 'ate' certain information which he was not allowed to speak at that time. I think it was just too revealing for those living then to know because it was too long before the fact. The early Church just didn't need to have that information because it wouldn't involve them. It was designed for those living in the last days only. In His infinite wisdom, God reserves certain prophetic clarifications until that point in time is reached which will involve those living then. God has His Own ways of bringing His will to the surface at the right time and the right place. Let's 'allow' Him the right to do that, O.K.? That, I'm convinced, is what the "Seven Thunders" and the "little book" are all about.

"SWEET," YET "BITTER"

Why was the little book "sweet in the mouth" but "bitter in the stomach", to John? To get the answer, let's first look at this from the aspect of normal food and the digestive process. If food tastes sweet, at the outset we know a little about the overall quality of the kind of food we just took in. (Digestion actually begins in the mouth). But as we all know, sweet-tasting food doesn't necessarily reveal how it will affect us later. The stomach and intestines will later 'decide' more conclusively about the exact nature of the food, whether it is good or bad for us.

Now John used this physical concept to help us understand a deeper Biblical truth. When John put the paper containing God's secrets in His mouth, it tasted sweet. This means the initial understanding of those words would be pleasant to think about. The same would be true for anyone who would later read and learn about those thoughts. But when the 'food' (the words) got to John's stomach, it caused bitterness. This means that upon deeper reflection of the words and understanding their fuller implications, much sorrow would come as the fulfillment of those prophecies became a reality. This sorrow is the "bitter" aspect John experienced in the "stomach".

For example, as you have already learned (hopefully) in this book, it's exciting just to take in the basics of Biblical prophecy. I felt that way when I first began to understand the Historical aspect of Revelation. In John's terminology, it was "sweet in my mouth". This was the result of first impressions. It's what happens to everyone when learning about things formerly vague to them. But nothing is ever altogether good (sweet) all the way through! The reality of this struck home as I got deeper into Biblical prophecy. Once it soaked in, I then became affected by some of the devastating aspects of it, e.g., the slaughter of 6,000,000 Jews by Apollyon (Hitler). This represents the bitter side of the book which the apostle ate. As I began to see the bigger picture of prophecy, I too can honestly say that what first seemed 'sweet in my mouth', later changed into a 'bitter-sweet' flavor, advancing toward the more bitter side as I learned more about the shaking and upheavals which await mankind as we enter the end of the age.

Let me make this a little clearer by aiming this directly at you. If you are beginning to believe my book has some credibility, you are probably getting a little excited as you see the identifications. If so, that represents the 'sweetness' John referred to. But, before you are finished with this book, you'll probably grow quite weary of seeing the continual flow of labels which will be given to the prophetic symbology. That, plus the associated devastations, represents the "bitter" side of the coin. As of right now, (1994), according to John's vision, there are two more "woes" to go. And after that, things get even more "bitter"! So get ready folks, for the worst is yet to come. (Just how much of the last stages the Church must experience before being removed from the earth is yet to be discussed.)

SUMMARY OF REVELATION 10

(Before going on, read again the 11 verses at the beginning of this chapter.)

Now let's put this chapter in a nutshell: First, John heard something (the Seven Thunders) which most likely would have given plainer explanation of what Revelation is all about. That is, the symbolic descriptions used throughout the book would probably have been more vividly clarified by these Seven Thunders. Next, the same information was probably contained in the "little book" John was instructed to "eat". My view is that the content of the little book would later be 'fed' to others at some future, appropriate time, so that what John was told not to write about in his day could later be known by those whose lives the prophecy would involve: the people of our day.

Secondly, I believe the "mystery of God" (verse 7) is all Biblical prophecy brought to the surface, designed particularly for those who would experience end-time events. Jesus said it in Luke 12:2 like this: "For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known." And in Amos 3:7 God says, "...Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets." And even more direct right here in the immediate context (Vs. 7) we find, "...but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He has declared to His servants the prophets." So, God has promised that His "mysteries" would eventually be made plainer. He is seeing to that. Hallelujah!

Thirdly, the "sweet" and "bitter" simply means this: "Sweet" is knowing what the basics of prophecy mean. "Bitter" is realizing the consequences of those prophecies --- the widespread destruction and loss of much human life.

Fourthly, the prediction that John would "prophesy again" refers to the "little book" he ate, which would later be revealed to God's "servants the prophets" who would speak in John's behalf. This does not mean new Biblical words would be given. It simply refers to the spiritual understanding which would later come. The understanding comes through reading the words of prophecy we already have, seeing their real and allegorical content, and relating them to actual end-time events. The requirement for comprehension is based on two factors: (1) the Holy Spirit's call and anointing plus (2) seeing and understanding which historical facts fit the symbolic-word terminology.

Fifthly, I believe the time "John" would "prophesy" again is in our day! And if I am correct in my understanding here, these "thunders" (the concepts) will eventually go before "many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings", for that's what verse 11 clearly says!



THOSE RECURRING, INCREDIBLE "ELEVENS"

I'd like to share an interesting observation I made as I first studied these Scriptures. A church once invited me to give a talk on Bible prophecy. As I prepared notes and Scripture references I would use in the presentation, I noticed that practically all the references (15 or more) were associated with the number "eleven". The chapters were either "11" or the verses were "11". And if more than one verse was to be used, adding together the numbered verses would total "11" (i.e., two verses, like 5 & 6, would be needed to complete the thought in the passage.)

As an optometrist, numbers are very much a part of my life. Now I realize one can play all kinds of games with numbers but that's never been my 'bag'. However, for all the Scriptures I planned to speak about that night to just happen to revolve around the number 11 was just too much for me to believe or accept as mere-chance-coincidence. I have since concluded God authored the number arrangements in His Word just as surely as He did the word order.

Let me illustrate: The last time Elijah is seen in the Old Testament is found in 2 Kings 2:11. "And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven." Then the next verse I looked up was Matt. 17:11. "And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias (i.e., Elijah) truly shall first come, and restore all things." Next I found Mark 9:11. "And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come?" (Recall that Jesus was saying in both these verses that John the Baptist was Elijah, meaning he came, unrecognized, in the spirit and power of Elijah.) Then I looked up the Old Testament prediction of the coming of John the Baptist: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." This is from Mal. 4: 5 & 6.

You will note that all four of the above references are found in an 11th verse, or in two verses which, when added, equal 11. The laws of probability allow only so many coincidences like this before it can be assumed there is intelligence behind it. I find it most remarkable that God would first allow these special insights into certain Scriptures of His Word, then would follow that understanding with little confirmations, such as the eleven phenomenon.

As my study progressed, 'coincidences' increased so much in regularity that I would later become expectant that God would add His confirmations in some special way. He was always faithful. And don't get me wrong. I was not looking for signs. I simply became aware of them. This, you might say, was the 'frosting on the cake'. A few others who have already had a chance to study this work in some depth, have also begun to see that these numerical relationships do indeed seem to correlate, and have later given me feedback somewhat substantiating that this is not merely a numbers game I've put together.

Now isn't it interesting we would at this point just happen to arrive at the key chapter of my book, chapter ELEVEN?