Understanding The Apocalypse

Revelation 10:1-10
Chapter 17

We concluded Revelation 9, understanding that even after experiencing the judgments of God, in the Great Tribulation, humanity will remain idolatrous and unrepentant. This suggests and perhaps, even proves, that repentance toward God is not wrought by His judgment. On the contrary, when the judgment of God comes, it is too late for repentance.

It is the Gospel of the Grace of God, not judgment for sins, which spawns repentance in the hearts of men. The Apostle Paul said in Romans 1:16, "...the gospel of Christ...is the power of God, unto Salvation, to everyone who believes." And we know from the Great Commission and other Scripture passages that the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ is the responsibility of the Church.

This means the Good News that Christ died for our sins and rose from the grave has never been and will never be, a message for the tongues or ears of angels, or for any of God's created beings, other than humans. It is because our Lord Jesus Christ became a human and died for the sins of humans that the Gospel is a message solely for the ears of humans, to be proclaimed by those who have been redeemed by Grace, through faith in that Gospel.

Because the Church will be gone from the earth during the Great Tribulation, there will be no proclamation of the Gospel. Therefore, there will be no repentance. The Great Tribulation is not a time for Grace. It is a time for judgment, since there is no one left on earth who is willing to repent. The truth of this statement will become evident as we study Revelation 10.

I. The Mighty Angel

"And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud; and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as though it were the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire" (Revelation 10:1).
Because there is no sounding trumpet, we know the appearance of this mighty angel is a result of the sounding of the sixth trumpet and is a part of the second woe.

Many believe this angel is our Lord Jesus Christ, since he is called mighty and is majestic in appearance. But the use of the word translated "another" makes this interpretation difficult to accept.

In Greek the word does not mean "another of a different kind." It means "another of the same kind." Since there is only one Christ, John could not possibly be saying he saw another Christ of the same kind. Therefore, John must be saying he saw a different angel of the same kind. That is, an angel similar to one he saw previously coming down from heaven.

The modifier "mighty" along with the description of this angel are strong evidences that he is the personal representative of the Majesty on High. Notice, this angel's description,

II. The Seven Thunders
"And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth; and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices, And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write; and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not" (Revelation 10:3-4).
A popular advertisement once told that when E. F. Hutton speaks, people listen. Likewise, when the lion roars the jungle listens. This is because the lion only roars when he is hungry and preparing to hunt for food. Since the other animals fear the king of beasts, they are quiet so they can listen for his approach. Therefore, the roar of the lion is a majestic call for silence and attention. So it is when the mighty angel roars as a lion. There is silence and attention and then, "...seven thunders uttered their voices."

Seven booming or thunder like voices bellow out their messages. John grabs his pen and paper and is about to write, when he heard a voice from heaven say, "Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not."

Whatever John heard the seven thunders say, it was intended for his ears only. Though he was willing to share it in this Revelation, God was not willing for him to do so. This is because God only reveals that which He specifically wants us to know. However, what He reveals is sufficient for us. No one can rightly say that God has not given sufficient information for people to determine His divine will. As someone has so eloquently said, "I have enough trouble living up to what I know, without worrying about what I do not know."

III. The Oath of The Mighty Angel

"And the angel whom I saw standing upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, And swore by him that liveth forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, and the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things which are in it, that there should be delay 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" (Revelation 10:5-7).
John saw the mighty angel lift his hand and swear an oath by the Almighty God of Creation. This can only mean his announcement is certain to be fulfilled. There will be no more delays.

Earlier, it was mentioned there will be no one left on earth who is willing to repent during this Great Tribulation. This is why the mighty angel will announce there will be no more delays in the completion of God's program.

However, we know from 2 Peter 3:9,

"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
Truly, our God is a God of Grace and His desire is to redeem mankind. But when there is no one willing to repent, it is time to draw the curtain closed. When the seventh angel blows his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as He foretold through His prophets.

Now, we must explore this "mystery." But before committing to what the mystery is, we need to determine what it is not:

The only mystery of God, revealed to the prophets and remaining to be fulfilled is the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven, on earth. This Kingdom will be ushered in at the conclusion of the Great Tribulation.

What the prophets wrote concerning the Kingdom began with the Davidic Covenant in 2 Samuel 7:16. "And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established forever before thee; thy throne shall be established forever." God unconditionally promised David that his house, kingdom and throne would be established forever.

Isaiah said the King who would rule on David's throne would be born of a virgin and would be called "Immanuel" or "God with us." This King was predicted to be a Rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch out of his roots. This is to say, He would be a descendant or Son of David. He will rule in righteousness, uphold the oppressed and slay the wicked.

Zechariah said this King would come in power and glory to fight in the day of battle for Israel and establish His Kingdom in the city of Jerusalem.

Even so, these writers who foretold of a King coming in power and glory also spoke of Him entering the City of Jerusalem on a donkey, meek and lowly. It was predicted their coming King would be rejected, crucified and Israel would be downtrodden by the Gentiles.

So the mystery was this: How could Messiah be meek and lowly and come in power and Glory? How could He be rejected, crucified and still establish His Kingdom?

The answer is that Christ would come in two advents. First, He would come as the Savior, to die for the sins of the world and second, He would come as the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Therefore, we see in our text that the countdown to the completion of this "mystery" will begin when the seventh angel begins to sound his trumpet.

IV. The Little Scroll

"And the voice which I heard from heaven spoke unto me again, and said, Go and take the little scroll which is open in the hand of the angel who standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little scroll. 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 scroll 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" (Revelation 10:8-10).
Again, the little scroll the angel held in v:2, is in focus and two things jump out from this passage. They are: The authority of the Word of God and the effect of the Word of God on those who receive it.

As in Revelation 10:4, John again heard the Voice from heaven giving him directions. He is told to take the scroll from the angel. Keep in mind, the description John gave of this angel. This was a mighty angel, who was given power over all the earth, whose face shown as the sun. His feet were as pillars of fire and when he spoke his voice was as the roar of a lion.

But as awesome as the angel is, John in obedience to the Word of God and in the authority thereof, said to the angel, "Give me the little scroll." And not because John was a mighty man, but because of the authority of the Word of God, the angel said, "Take it, and eat it up."

This in many ways reminds me of David facing the giant named Goliath. David prevailed over the giant, not in his own strength, but in the strength of the Word of the Lord.

Surely, these two accounts point out that neither man nor angel can stand against the child of God who is acting in obedience to the Word of God. Hear this! If you desire the authority and power of God in your life, you must be obedient to the Word of God.

But the Word of God also affects those who receive it. John said the little scroll we determined to be symbolic of the written Word of God was sweet in his mouth but bitter in his stomach. Surely this sums up the effect of the Word of God, in the Believer - It is sweet because it is God's Word; but bitter when we take it into ourselves for it forces us to judge ourselves.

John's knowledge of the Word of God was sweet in that the coming of the Lord was near, but bitter because he knew more judgment was coming. Hopefully, as we digest the book of Revelation, it has the same effect on us that it had on John.

The knowledge that our Lord is coming in Glory to establish His Kingdom should be sweet music to our ears. But at the same time, we should sorrow for those who do not know Christ as their Savior. For if our Lord should come for His Church while they are in this state, they will suffer the wrath and judgment of God.

Therefore, we should view our Lord's coming as bittersweet and in obedience to our great commission and by the authority thereof, seek to proclaim the Gospel of Christ to a lost and dying world.

From "Understanding The Apocalypse"
A book of sermons by Pastor Jim McColloch, Th.M., Th.D.
© Copyright 1994, 1999, 2006