#26 The Angel and the Little Book
We return to our study of the book of Revelation this morning and I want to emphasize once again the overarching theme; this is the revelation of Jesus Christ, the unveiling of His majesty and divine glory for all to see. What is unfolding before our eyes in this study is the return of Jesus Christ to earth in all of His heavenly glory!
And I want to recall to your minds this very important truth found in De 29:29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. Da 2:22 “It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him. And so there is no place for us to say; “I know what God really meant when” even when He didn’t actually say anything!
One place that people, even well meaning people have done this is in regards to the second coming of Jesus Christ. In 1Co 15:51 Paul says, “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.”
Now even with this clear statement from the Holy scriptures, there are those who teach that Jesus is coming back the first time in secret to catch up all of His children in what they call the rapture. Then later on He will return in a visible way for all to see. And so they are teaching that Jesus is coming, not two but three times!
But the scriptures teach otherwise. He came the first time clothed in humility, as the suffering servant. But when He comes again it will be to judge the world. There is no third coming. In fact, from the book of Heb 9:28 we have this truth spelled out for us when the writer says; so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him. Can God get any plainer than that? If you need more, Jesus told us plainly that when He returns it will be no secret. He said in (Mt 24:26) “Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
Then in (Re 1:7) we are told, “BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.” And again from Jesus we hear these words from the gospel of, (Lu 17:24) “For just like the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day.
Jesus is coming back to this earth again one day and His coming will blow everyone away! On that day there will be no more atheists, no more agnostics.
No one will be able to deny the existence of God ever again. In (Ro 14:11) Paul declares this truth, “For it is written, “AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.” And in (Php 2:11) we are told in no uncertain terms that every eye will see Him and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
When we listen to the word of God, when we look at the whole council of God, all of our quirky little doctrines and presupposed theological notions fall apart. They are blown to the winds. I want to make this one point perfectly clear; it doesn’t matter what ‘we’ think! What matters is what God has said. Our Father has the last word, the final say! He has declared the end from the beginning. Before the foundation of the world, Gods plan for His creation already stood firm. His will is unalterable, unchangeable.
But some people would point to Nineveh and say, “Look, God repented, changed His mind. The Ninevites repented and God had a change of heart.” But I say to you that the only reason Nineveh repented is because God changed their hearts. It’s not the other way around. It was His will that they should be saved.
The whole plan for sending Jonah to Nineveh in the first place was to deliver the city. That is why Jonah couldn’t get out of going there in the first place. He tried, oh did he try! But God had issued a decree, had planned from before anything was created that there would be a place called Nineveh, had purposed to save these people and had planned all that would go into the process of accomplishing His will that had been decreed in eternity past. And everything went exactly according to the divine plan!
Now as we have seen in our study thus far, God has purposed to destroy His world. On the appointed day, He spoke creation in to existence and on the appointed day, He will speak it out of existence. We sing the Hymn, “This Is My Fathers World” and you better believe that is the truth! There was no relinquishing the ‘title deed to the earth to the devil” God didn’t forfeit His rights to the earth because of Adam’s sin.
This is not the devil’s world! God created this planet, this universe, everything we see, and know and don’t know! God created everything by His own omnipotent power, out of nothing! God is the Creator! And God is the Ruler of His creation. We are merely the createes. Everything that exists is the work of His hands and that includes the devil and all of his minions. And nothing in all of God’s creation has any power other than that which God bestowed upon them! Nothing in God’s creation is running amuck. Nothing is outside of His control! rule! Lordship!
God did not lose the title of the earth to the devil! There was no forfeiture of authority. God did not cease to be God because of Adam’s sin. In fact that is the key point here. Adam sinned! Adam broke fellowship with God! So the only thing that was forfeited was Adam’s right to fellowship with God. He broke fellowship by his sin.
But again we must understand that this was all by divine design, according to divine decree! I don’t pretend to understand it all but what I do know is that God created all things and directs all thing according to His divine will.
He created mankind and before any man lived or breathed God had selected certain ones to be His special children who would spend eternity with Him. For them He sent His Son Jesus Christ. And Jesus willingly sacrificed Himself on the cross for those whom the Father had given to Him. This is God’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes! In all of this there is mystery and there is the known. But the whole is God’s doing and He is greatly to be praised for His marvelous works on behalf of the children of men.
Returning to the theme of Revelation we know that Jesus Christ will be revealed in a wonderful, terrible way to His creation. Wonderful for His children and terrible for those who have demonstrated their hatred for Him! While Gods children will rejoice, the followers of Satan, the antichrist or whoever else other than God, will wail in torment and gnash their teeth in agony. They will look upon Him whom they have pierced and mourn.
And try as they might they will not be able to stop Jesus Christ from coming to set up His kingdom. Though hand join hand and all the world were to be gathered together to oppose Him, they would be accounted as the small dust of the scales and less than nothing! Pompous mankind puffs himself up and says, that there is nothing impossible to those who believe in themselves! This is the modus operandi of communism. Mankind can achieve utopia by just banding together and sharing all the world.
John Lennon wrote a song titled “Imagine.” Ponder the lyrics and you will see all the earmarks of self sufficient, God hating, God rejecting humanity.
Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try
No hell below us, above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today…Imagine there’s no countries. It isn’t hard to do.
Nothing to kill or die for; and no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace…
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions. I wonder if you can.
No need for greed or hunger, A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world…
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one
Now this is nothing new. John Lennon was merely echoing the sentiments of the spirit of the world, the spirit of antichrist. He had no use for Jesus. Karl Marx’ communist manifesto was Lennon’s heartfelt belief. Like Marx, Lennon believed that religion is the opiate (the drug, the narcotic) of the people; that what we really need is to just band together and share everything and then all will be right with the world.
But this has never worked! From the Tower of Babel to today, it doesn’t work. Someone like Mao or Castro or Lenin says, “Hey guys, lets overthrow the government and start a Communist country where everyone shares everything. Then everything will be perfect!”
The problem is that people like Mao, and Castro and Lenin and everyone that follows in their footsteps is this, they have their own agendas: they want power. They want to turn their people into sheep that they can rule. There is no sharing, only the designs of a wannabe dictator who is able to fool enough people into following him that they become the majority. And when the truth finally comes out, it is too late.
Sinful mankind cannot take care of themselves no matter how hard they try to fool themselves into believing otherwise. Point out the fact that it has never worked and they will say, “Ah but we have a better plan.” But the truth is, it’s like trying to make make liver or sweet potatoes taste good. It is impossible.
God rejecting people will always fall short of accomplishing their grandiose goals of a utopia. Mankind cannot ‘just all get along’. They will never be able to ‘live as one’ no matter how hard they try. They are blind to the truth that Jesus declared when He said “APART FROM ME YOU CAN DO NOTHING!” This truth is all-pervasive. Apart from the merciful intervention of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, we are all lost.
Mankind is helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. And unless this world repents and turns to God they will all die with a load of sins on their backs and their sins will sink them lower than the grave, to a place of torment that is unimaginable in its scope and endless in its duration.
As we are dealing with the return of Jesus to this earth in power and great glory we must understand that when He sets His foot on the Mount of Olives that’s it; time will be no more! Winkie Pratney said “When the author sets foot on the stage the play is over.” And when the Author of this world returns, this sphere of existence will be at an end. And we are fast approaching the day when the culmination of all things will be at hand.
This morning’s text is full of symbolic imagery and these symbols are full of divine truth. There is also much mystery here but we will bow before the Lord and worship nonetheless!
Notice what is happening in (Rev 10:1-11). John says, 1I 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… Who is this angel? Much speculation has been made as to his identity. Some people say that this is Jesus Himself. William Hendrickson disagrees pointing out that Jesus is never referred to as an angel in the book of Revelation. I this book Jesus is referred to as the Lamb, the Lion, and the word of God.
So what we know for sure is that this is a strong angel who he is we are not told. But consider the realities behind the symbols which this angel portrays. The cloud is a symbol of God coming in judgment, the rainbow, a symbol of the covenant between God and His people. His face, shines like the sun; as he reflects the glory of God. His feet are like pillars of fire. This reminds us of the pillar of fire which led Israel through the wilderness by night, and was the symbol of God’s presence. And so there is the possibility that this could be Jesus. But again we must be careful not to read anything into the scriptures.
1. Some say that it is the same book that Jesus received from the hand of the Father.
2. Others believe it to be a special book of the affairs of God’s Church.
3. Some believe that it is a little bible.
Now the main thing we must understand is this; we are not told what this book is! We don’t know what it is! There is no explanation as to what is contained in this book! So all speculation as to what it is, is just that: SPECULATION!
Now notice John’s description of the angel. Hendrickson says that he is a giant. Listen to the description; He placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land… Now some people could make the case that this angel landed on the beach and just stood there with a foot on the sand and one in the water. But here we have the imagery of almighty power and dominion. Our God owns this world and all that is in it. This angel is exemplifying that dominion.
It is like when someone comes to a new land like Columbus. He sets foot on the shore and declares; “I claim this land for Italy!” I see this as kind of the same thing but with a different twist. Instead of claiming a place as if it were new, God, through His angel is demonstrating the fact that this world actually does belong to Him! There is no question that God is the Lord of His creation, that HE owns everything that exists by right of the fact that He is the Creator of all things. This then is a statement of fact: “I OWN THIS PLACE!”
Continuing in verse 3 we read: and he cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars… The lion is the king of beasts and when he roars, everyone knows who he is. His is the roar of authority. It is the same instance here. The angel roars with the authority of God, declaring that God is KING of kings and LORD of lords. Again, Jesus is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah. So here is a point of favor of this being Jesus. Albert Barnes says, “The point of the comparison here seems to be the loudness with which the angel cried, and the power of what he said to awe the world – as the roar of the lion keeps the dwellers of the forest in awe!”
Next we read; “and when he had cried out, the seven peals of thunder uttered their voices. Here is another point of mass speculation. What are the seven thunders? What did they say? And people have written volumes as to who they think the Thunders are and what they think the Thunders said. But we are not told! There is no explanation! In fact 4When the seven peals of thunder had spoken, John says, “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.” Did you hear that? “Seal em up!
In other words, no one is to know what they said. The secret things belong to God! That should be the end of it! Don’t speculate on this because anything you may come up with will be a lie!
Notice what happens next. 5Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven, 6and 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, 7but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, (which we will see in chapter 11) then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets.
And what is this mystery? It’s a mystery! Lots of speculation occurs here as well. Some guy, who wrote long ago thought it referred to the Ottoman Turks. Others said it was the Muslim hordes. But I think the key word here is MYSTERY!!!! On the appointed day, God will reveal this truth to the world….BUT NOT BEFORE!
Now John himself is addressed again in verse 8And 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.” I find this scenario fascinating as it is very similar to what happened in the life of Ezekiel. He too was given a book and told to eat it. Lets look at that passage of scripture found in (Eze 2:8, 3:3) “Now you, son of man, listen to what I am speaking to you; do not be rebellious like that rebellious house. Open your mouth and eat what I am giving you.” 9 Then I looked, and behold, a hand was extended to me; and lo, a scroll was in it. 10 When He spread it out before me, it was written on the front and back, and written on it were lamentations, mourning and woe. 1 Then He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and He fed me this scroll. 3 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.”
Notice the similarities between Ezekiel’s experience and that of the Apostle John. 9So 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.” The eating of a book signifies the due reading of it, digesting it and meditating upon the matters in it.
Now here is my speculation and I want you to take it as just that. This book is the message that John will preach to those of his day and to those of our day as well as we read the words God commanded him to write. That word is sweet because it is the word of God and bitter because it is a hard message of judgment. It could very well be the book of Judgments that Jesus broke the seals on! That’s my opinion.
But John says in verse 10I 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. 11And they said* to me, “You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.”
This too has prompted much speculation about the person of the Apostle John.
And it is quite surprising concerning the disclaimer that is attached to it. Remember what happened in John 21:20-23 “Peter, turning around, *saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” 21 So Peter seeing him *said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” 22 Jesus *said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” 23 Therefore this saying went out among the brethren that that disciple would not die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but only, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?”
Well, here in the book of Revelation, John is told that he will prophesy again. What does that mean? Well, there are people (and I was one of them at one time) who have said, “John never died. So there is a 2000 year old man walking around on the earth somewhere getting ready to preach again.
But is that what is being said? No! In fact, John even explained it so that no one would get the wrong idea when he said; “Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but only, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?” In the same way, John would continue to preach upon his release from exile and even today, he being dead yet speaks through the Holy Scriptures. Even today God’s word is being preached.
Even today there are people from every tongue and tribe who are hearing the word of God. Kings are hearing the truth! The prophesies are being declared! And they will continue until the day Jesus returns to this earth. Then, all will be made clear. Now we see through a glass darkly. Now there are mysteries. But on that day, we will know even as we are known.