A mighty angel appears, holding a small scroll. John takes the scroll and eats it. It tastes sweet but makes his stomach bitter. [UPDATED]
VERSE 1. I saw a mighty angel coming down out of the sky, clothed with a cloud. A rainbow was on his head. His face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire.
I saw a mighty angel. This does not seem to be one of the seven angels sounding the trumpets. Who is it?
- Jesus Christ?
- Michael the Archangel?
down out of the sky, clothed with a cloud. This is a celestial scene.
VERSE 2. He had in his hand a little open book. He set his right foot on the sea, and his left on the land.
a little open book. What is this small book? Why is it open?
right foot on the sea … left on the land. Standing on something indicates dominance. This mighty angel has authority over both land and sea.
VERSE 3. He cried with a loud voice, as a lion roars. When he cried, the seven thunders uttered their voices.
a loud voice, as a lion roars. This would inspire awe. It might be heard throughout the planet.
VERSE 4. When the seven thunders sounded, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from the sky saying, “Seal up the things which the seven thunders said, and don’t write them.”
Seal up … don’t write them. We are not permitted to know what this voice had said.
VERSE 5. The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to the sky,
lifted up his right hand to the sky. This is the posture of swearing an oath.
In a courtroom, before the take the witness stand, people swear an oath to tell the truth. As they take that oath, they raise their right hand.
In this verse, the mighty angel’s right hand is raised toward heaven. Of course, angels are absolutely truthful and loyal to God Almighty. However, probably for our sake, the angel makes this gesture.
VERSE 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 will no longer be delay,
swore by him. Angels have no need to take an oath. However, this is probably done for our sake, so that we would know what is happening.
there will no longer be delay. It is going to happen. Right. Now.
VERSE 7. but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as he declared to his servants, the prophets.
then the mystery of God is finished. The biblical promises, uttered through the prophets, will indeed be fulfilled. They will not be forgotten. They have a specific time to be fulfilled.
VERSE 8. The voice which I heard from heaven, again speaking with me, said, “Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the land.”
The voice … said. God the Father speaks again to John. Again.
take the book. At this terribly important moment in the history of the universe, everything stops.
John is to approach the angel and take that small book.
VERSE 9. I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book. He said to me, “Take it, and eat it. It will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.”
give me the little book. What is this little book? Perhaps it is the Bible. Perhaps it is divine revelation. Perhaps it is prophecy. Perhaps it is the Book of Revelation itself.
For the moment, let’s assume it is prophecy.
He said to me. Presumably the word “he” is in reference to the angel. The angel gives John an instruction.
Take it, and eat it. John is to take the words of prophecy from God the Father, and put them into his own mouth.
God’s words will be John’s. John’s words will be God’s words. We see that in verse 11, below.
In our own lives, we are to “devour” the Bible.
it will be as sweet as honey. For the lover of God, his words are a delight. Whatever they are, they taste as sweet as honey.
For the disciple-devotee, God’s message is welcome. Even difficult news from God is welcomed as part of his love and mercy.
Psalm 19:10. More to be desired are they than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the extract of the honeycomb.
Jeremiah 15:16. Your words were found, and I ate them. Your words were to me a joy and the rejoicing of my heart, for I am called by your name, LORD, God of Armies.
Revelation 10:9. I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book. He said to me, “Take it, and eat it. It will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.”
VERSE 10. I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it. It was as sweet as honey in my mouth. When I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter.
my stomach was made bitter. Sometimes God’s message can be hard to stomach:
- Perhaps God calls us to change our lives.
- Perhaps he reveals areas of our lives that need to be reformed.
- Perhaps he calls us to go minister to others, and we expect it will not be a delight.
You must prophesy again. John is called to prophecy in the name of God. Again. This was hinted at in verse 9, above.
prophesy. What John is to prophecy about concerns the future. His message is not about his present day.
Some Catholic and Mainline Protestant scholars claim that the Book of Revelation is of a literary genre that they call “apocalyptic.”
They say it is merely political commentary, but uses end-of-the-world jargon that should not be taken literally.
They claim that the purpose of “apocalyptic” literature is to encourage the readers who are alive at the time it is written.
They claim that “apocalyptic” literature uses figurative language to describe, not the future, but the present-day reality of its readers.
However, this verse says otherwise. It uses the word “prophecy.”
The “apocalyptic” scholars will reply with something like this: “Yes, of course John says it is ‘prophecy.’ That is part of the mythos of apocalyptic literature, to pretend to be prophecy.”
To impose an “apocalyptic” interpretation on a Book of the Bible is like getting a 5-star gourmet meal. But then you chemically leech out all the flavor. And then you throw it in a blender. And then you serve it at room temperature.
over many peoples, nations, languages, and kings. What John is to prophecy about concerns all peoples and nations, languages and kingdoms.
John’s message is not a narrowly-confined message about one population. Rather, it concerns the entire human race.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.