We continue to look at the imagery of chapters 9 and 10 in The Book of Revelation. We see that the new earth will be bursting with life. How can glimpses of this life to come be found, experienced, and shared in our current reality? We look at the great mystery of God and the mystery of the union between Christ and the church.
We’ll be in chapters 10 and 11 in this episode.
It’s a little bit difficult to keep track of where we are, so I just want to go back and review real quickly, to put us in the context of Revelation.
The book is organized in the categories of what was, what is, and what is to come. And we saw “what was” and “what is” in chapters 1-3 with the letters to the churches. It was appropriate that the letters be written to the churches because Revelation opens with a statement, an assertion that this is a revelation of Jesus Christ given to his servants. To his servants. So this is a book written to believers. It’s written to people who are servants of Jesus.
“What was” and “what is” were given to the churches, believers in Christ. And the message was very clear because Revelation is a very simple book. It talks about very complex events, but it’s a very simple book with a simple message. The message is be an overcomer, be a victor, be a conqueror, be someone who prevails—which is this word nikao which comes from the Greek word nike, the goddess of victory. Be an overcomer.
The way you do that, and the way we do that is by being a great martyreo, a great witness. Sometimes witnesses are asked to give their lives. But always they’re asked to not fear death.
There are many kinds of death: There’s physical death. There’s rejection. Rejection of the world. Rejection of people. And other kinds of death.
No matter what the cost that we’re asked to bear, for being a great witness, we’re asked to bear that. And in doing so, we become a conqueror or a victor, one who prevails, an overcomer. And the key message of a way to do that is: do not fear death, any kind of death.
Then we started in chapter 4, and we went on to “what is to come”. What we’ve seen in “what is to come” is the key position that John is in as he begins to get this message, he is in the throne room. He’s transported to the throne room. The word throne shows up 41 times in Revelation because there’s this overwhelming emphasis that God is in control, and that’s an important message because we’re seeing events spin out of control as we go through Revelation. God is in control.
We saw that these horses went out and these plagues went out, and each time they’re authorized. It was given to him to conquer. It was given to them to bring the plague on the earth. All these things are prescribed from the throne room. And all these things are what is to come.
And in each case we are still encouraged to not fear death, to continue to be an overcomer, to be a witness.
We saw the first thing that happened was there was a scroll. And this scroll, we now know as we’ve gone through Revelation, contained the culmination of history. This is everything coming to completion, coming to fruition. And nobody could open the scroll. History was not allowed to be culminated, and John cried.
Then there was someone found worthy, and it was the Lamb who was slain. That’s who was worthy to open the scrolls. So he began to break the seal and open the scroll. He begins to break the seal.
Each time he breaks a seal, a drama comes to life, and we see something happen, and these judgments on the earth start to unfurl.
So we saw the seven seals get opened and this book unrolled. Seven seals unfurled. We saw the seventh seal. We saw seven trumpets. We saw these six things happen so far in these trumpets. We’re still in the sixth trumpet when we go into chapter 10.
When the first trumpet was opened, we saw a third of the vegetation on earth die.
When the second trumpet was opened, we saw a third of the sea creatures die, and a third of the oceans turned to blood.
When the third trumpet was opened, we saw a third of the springs become wormwood or bitter, and many died. It doesn’t tell us how many; just many.
In the fourth trumpet, we saw a third of the stars go dark. We’ll see more about that next week.
In the fifth trumpet, we saw five months of torment from demon grasshoppers out of the bottomless pit or the abyss, but only on those who had not been sealed by God.
And then we saw the sixth trumpet, and a third of mankind was killed.
Let’s look at 9:20 because it’s a run-up to chapter 10. So after all these seals, after all these plagues—which all were very reminiscent of the plagues on Egypt and the hardness of heart of Pharaoh. But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands—
So, unlike the Egyptians who saw the plagues and said, “Hey, let us give you our gold and our best wishes. Please be on your way.” These guys say, “Even though these plagues are way worse, we’re not bowing. Even though we know it’s the Lamb and his wrath, we’re not bowing the knee.” Pretty hard hearts.
We saw the seals unfurl, and the seventh seal was the seven trumpet judgments. And those things I just went through, the vegetation dying and so forth, those were the six trumpets that we saw. What’s going to happen is in the seventh trumpet, there’s going to be seven bowl judgments.
But in between the seventh trumpet and the seven bowls, we’re going to get an overview of human history, which is going to be really interesting. That will be next time. An overview of human history and an explanation of how all this is coming together and where we fit in. It’s pretty amazing.
So seven seals, seven trumpets. We’re in the sixth trumpet. We’re still in the sixth trumpet here in chapter 10.
The sixth trumpet
Revelation 10:1. I saw still 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. 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, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars.
Here’s an angel. Looks like a pretty awesome angel. I wonder if this is the same angel that led Israel out of Egypt. You notice he has a cloud on his head and fire on his feet? I wonder if you looked at that from the human perspective on earth, if it would look like a pillar by night and a cloud by day. I don’t know. But again this imagery of the plagues on Egypt and the deliverance of Israel from Egypt is all through this book.
The seven thunders
And he has in this book a little biblia, a little scroll, and he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices. Now we’ve got thunders that are talking, which we saw the altar talked, and we saw the creatures talk. And now the environment is talking. So maybe the trees will even talk. And I can’t wait to see all that. That’s going to be a cool place to be. Disney will come to life in the new earth.
They uttered their voices. Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.”
Now there’s a lot of speculation about: what did the seven thunders say? And, you know what? I’m really confident on this interpretation: We don’t know what they said. I’m not sure about a lot of this stuff. I’m sure about this. We don’t know.
I think the point here is, there’s a lot that God doesn’t want us to know. He’s telling us what he wants us to know, and the part he doesn’t want us to know he’s not telling us.
If you knew the day you were going to die and how you were going to die, would that make your life better or worse? It would be different, for sure. I’m glad I don’t know. There are some things that we don’t need to know.
He’s telling us here there’s some stuff “I don’t want you to know”. Seal that up. Don’t write it down. John knew; he wasn’t allowed to tell us.
Paul actually told us, “I got to see things that were amazing, and I was told I can’t pass it along.” Some things he could tell us; some things he couldn’t.
Verse 5. The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to heaven 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, 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 declared to His servants the prophets.
Remember we’re in the sixth trumpet. The seventh trumpet is about to sound. So the seventh angel is going to sound. And in the days of this seventh angel, everything is going to come to pass. And one of the key things that we’re going to see when these bowls start getting poured out and as the seventh trumpet blows is—this is it. We’re finally at the finish line. Finally everything is coming to culmination. We’re right at the end of human history right here.
God is in control
We see an emphasis here on him who created all things. He’s emphasizing God is in control. God is God. Throne room we’ve seen 41 times. We saw in Revelation 4:11 that the reason why we should worship God is because he is the creator. You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, And by Your will they exist.
One of the main themes of Revelation is God is God. Just because all this stuff is falling apart doesn’t mean God is not God. It means this is part of what was written in this scroll. These are the events that were prescribed, and they are now unfurling.
No more delay
Furthermore he says there should be delay no longer. Now this is a really interesting statement because, what does that mean? It means that God wants to bring all things to completion. God wants to fulfill all the promises. God wants to reconcile all things to himself. But he’s delaying.
Why is he delaying? Let’s look at Romans 9:22. What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory—
What if? What if he was just enduring these things because it would, in the end, be better for all things? Well, that’s what he is doing.
Look at Genesis 15:14. This is God speaking to Abraham. He says to Abraham, “—the nation whom they serve—He’s talking about them going into Egypt. His family’s going to go to Egypt for 400 years. And he says, “—the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
Isn’t that interesting? Abraham is in the promised land. He says, your people are going to go to Egypt, then they’re going to come back. But I’m waiting for this time period because the Amorites iniquity is not yet fulfilled.
There comes a time when judgment is ripe, when the grapes are ready. We’re going to see a little later, he’s going to go in and harvest grapes. It’s this picture that when they’re ripe is when you pluck them.
He says, we’ve been delaying because the iniquity’s not complete. But the iniquity’s going to be complete, and then this judgment is going to come pouring out. We’re in a delay period right now, but that delay is not going to last forever.
The mystery of God
—delay no longer, but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel—what’s going to happen? ‑‑‑‑the mystery of God would be finished.
Now what does he mean by this? What is the mystery of God? Well, let’s take a look at several different aspects of the mystery of God, that about God which he is revealing to us in time.
Look at Mark 4:11. And He said to them—this is Jesus speaking—“To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables. So that seeing they may see and not perceive—”
The mystery of the kingdom of God is part of what Jesus showed his followers. And again, that mystery was largely focused on the person of Jesus Christ and him as fulfillment of all the prophecies.
Look at Romans 11:25. For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion—What is the mystery? That blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved—
Another kind of new thing that’s taking place is God made these promises to Abraham, to David that there would be a kingdom, the kingdom would last forever, and now there’s this crazy thing happening where all the Gentiles and all the nations are being grafted into this fantastic promise. And then it’s going to be fulfilled. Incredible.
Again, how did that happen? Through the agency of Jesus Christ.
Look at 1 Corinthians 15:51. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—
The idea of a rapture, of a resurrection, of us being transformed from a physical body that corrupts to a physical body that doesn’t corrupt. I Corinthians calls it a spiritual body. It’s an amazing mystery, and something that has been revealed in time.
Look at Ephesians 5:32. This is speaking of marriage. Husbands love your wives; wives fear your husbands. This is a great mystery—this marriage thing, that two shall become one flesh. An amazing mystery.
Why’s it a mystery? People have been getting married for a long time. Because I speak concerning Christ and the church. There’s a marriage coming. There’s a marriage supper that’s going to come. There’s a wedding involved here. Jesus is the groom, and his people are the bride.
This is not actually a new metaphor because it’s used in the Old Testament often times, especially when Israel goes astray. I’m thinking of Ezekiel 16, and he calls Israel a wife who has left and gone into adultery.
This idea that Jesus is actually going to be married to the entire church, all of his people, it’s an amazing mystery. We don’t actually know what that’s going to be like. It’s hard for us to imagine. All we can know is what marriage is like among ourselves. But that is a picture of what is to come. What all this up rolls into is the culmination of human history in the person of Jesus Christ.
Look at Colossians 1:16. With all of this in mind with Revelation, this verse that’s generally real familiar to us—it’s like an Awana’s staple—really comes to life.
Listen to Colossians 1:16: For by Him all things were created—You can hear the echo of Revelation there, right? —that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible—
We saw the thrones of Satan. We’ve seen the throne of God. And Jesus is over all that. We’re going to see pretty soon Satan and his angels kicked out of heaven and limited to roam on the earth. Angels, principalities, powers, they’re all his, visible or invisible, thrones or dominions, principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church—this mysterious bride that’s going to ultimately be his bride to have—who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead—this resurrection that we’re going to experience—that in all things he may have the preeminence.
These are all things coming to completion. This word finished is the root word teleo, and we’ve seen this root word all through scripture.
In Hebrews 7:11, it talks about teleo, or that is a root word of Hebrews 7:11. And it says something like, if the law could have brought perfection. All the translations translate this word perfection. It’s the idea of completion. If the Levitical priesthood and the law, in Hebrews it says, could have brought completion, could have reconciled all things and brought all things to the place where they were supposed to be, then we wouldn’t have needed another priest, it says.
But we did need another priest. And who is it? This person of Jesus Christ, the new Melchizedek. That’s who we needed because he is the one who’s going to bring all things to completion.
So now we’re delaying no longer, and the days of the seventh angel blowing the seventh trumpet, everything’s going to come to completion. —as he declared to His servants the prophets. There’s nothing new here. This is what God has been talking about all along. And he reveals it in pieces, kind of like a layer cake or a scroll that you’re unraveling. But it all fits together. It’s all part of the same story.
The little book
Verse 8, Then 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.” Remember this angel has one foot on the land and one foot on the sea. I think this is a big angel! And take this book. So I went to the angel and said to him, “Give me the little book.” I think that’s pretty cool. John’s like, “Ok I’m getting this now! If I’m told something, I’ve got some authority now.”
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.” Then I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth.
Now we’ve seen this happen once before. Ezekiel had this happen to him. He was given this scroll, and he ate it, and it was like honey. This is something new. It was like honey, but then it turns bitter.
—it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter. And he said to me, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.”
I’ve thought about this quite a while. What’s he trying to tell us here? And this is the best I can do: The word of God is sweet, sweet like honey. We’re told that all through the scripture, right? Truth is what brings sweetness.
But in this case, part of the truth is the judgment of God. In order for all things to come to fulfillment, for the seventh trumpet to bring everything to finality, and there’s delay no longer, a lot of really nasty things have to happen. A lot of times truth, although it’s wonderful, has really bitter consequences. And I think that’s what he’s telling him here.
Although the prophets were given the mysteries of God, and now the mystery of God is coming to fruition, John is going to add some things because he’s got some more prophecy to give. And the prophecy concerns what? Many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings. Because again, although this is the fulfillment of Israel, although this is the fulfillment of the church, it involves the whole world. We’re talking about the whole world here, not just a local event. Many peoples, many kings, many nations.