About 100 years ago, Emperor Menelik II ascended to the throne of Ethiopia, leaving footprints that stabilized a nation for generations to come. Among his lengthy achievements were the first modern bank in Ethiopia, the country’s first postal system, a nation wired for telephones, paved roads for automobiles, and cities plumbed for modern efficiencies whether they existed or not. If there was a higher standard of living elsewhere, Menelik wanted it for Ethiopia.
Having read about a new contraption known as the “Electric Chair,” the king was determined to have one not for executions but rather for the hot-seat’s reputation for lowering crime. Menelik ordered the deluxe model even though Ethiopia had no electrical power plants to provide the necessary juice. His idea was to use it as a visual aid to discourage crime. Where better to showcase the foreboding electric chair than as the king’s royal throne. Sure enough, while Menelik sat on his “throne,” Ethiopia’s crime rate fell.
But Menelik’s wisdom failed in his use of the Bible. The king’s faith was not based in what the Scriptures teach but in the pages themselves. He believed the Bible had the power to cure illnesses; therefore, every time he felt sick he ate a few pages from God’s Word. It was the king’s one-a-day multi-vitamin.
After suffering a serious stroke, Menelik prescribed for himself a strict diet of 1st and 2nd Kings. He ate both books, page by page which led to internal complications resulting in his death.
The Bible is not a book of magic, but it is a book that shows us truth. When used as God intended, is vital resource in our battle against sin. Is battle raging around us and within us – much of God’s Word focused on battle within, revelation emphasizes battle against sin and Satan, spiritual warfare going on in world.
So what are the saints doing while all the mayhem described in chapters 8 & 9 is going on? Here, chapters 10 & part of 11, John sees two different scenes from different angle. Trumpets and woes picture what happens primarily with respect to the wicked here on earth. Time period – from Ascension to Second Coming. Acton – God’s just wrath directed at rebellious sinners, giving opportunity and incentive for them to repent. Which brings up question: how will unbelievers / unchurched figure out what’s going on? How can they know God intends for them to repent? One answer to question here in our text.
Just like what comes between 6th and 7th seal tells of God’s providential care of his own, so our text relates to what God expects of his people. John first sees a powerful Angel who makes an announcement and then issues a commission.
A. the angel v.1-3
appearance (1, 3a)
some difference of opinion who this mighty / strong / powerful angel is – a special representative sent from God or God Himself?
Matt.26:64 “coming on the clouds of heaven”; Mark 14:62 “coming with the clouds of heaven”; Luke 21:27 “coming in a cloud”
Eze. 1:28 “Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.”
Matt. 17:2 “He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.”
Exod 13:21 “And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light”
Rev. 5:5 But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”
can there be serious question? has appearance of God of both Old and New Testaments – covenant-keeping God of the rainbow; who faithfully led people through wilderness; transfigured before apostle John himself; promised to return in a cloud; Lion who roars with authority and judgment (thunder) follows
no longer a crown of thorns on his head, instead a crown of glory; not a picture of one who is humiliated, subject to whims of raging crowd and weak politicians – instead one who comes in triumphant majesty bringing divine message
has a book or scroll in his hand, this time open – identified as a small book, and unlike sealed scroll of ch. 5 this one is open
intent of this Angel to reveal contents of book, not keep hidden – is this perhaps a vision parallel to John’s commission from chapter 1?
don’t forget opening promise of Rev. 1:3 “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.”
and closing promise Rev. 22:7 “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
authority (2b; also 5, 8b)
further indication given here of just who this powerful angel is: “he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land”
Ps. 110:1 The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
1 Cor. 15:25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.
he is Creator, Owner, Sovereign Ruler over land and sea – iow, ruler with supreme authority over all things
here is significant point in book of Revelation – must look beyond the obvious to see what is real
get all exercised about various authorities, misuse of power, miscarriage of justice, misappropriation of resources
is absolutely right to be distressed by evil and evildoers; but… remember: is a higher authority who is ruling over his creation – even those who do evil are still under his authority, what they do ultimately serves his purpose
Jesus said: “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”, he meant it and he is right now exercising it
B. his announcement v.4-7
his command (4)
important to our doctrine of scripture, how do we have God’s word the Bible – John wrote what he was commanded to… and only what he was commanded
important to our understanding of God – by God’s design, cannot know all there is to know: some things belong to God
if seven thunders represent God’s perfect judgment on evil fulfilled, entirely possible we couldn’t properly handle knowledge
his oath (5-6a)
Heb. 6:17-18 “So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath,so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.”
as surely as God is God, will be no other big event between John’s day and Second Coming – that is next big thing without fail
the seventh angel will blow his trumpet, “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout” of command, “with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thess. 4:16-18)
just as God announced through his prophets, redemption of his people will finally be complete – requires redemption / restoration of both soul and body, leads to re-creation of world presently under bondage of corruption
seems like people today working overtime trying to fill every available moment with some kind of activity… for themselves… for children… and have to travel 20 over limit to get there and do it
too few have same sense of urgency about being prepared for Jesus to return and set all things right – when that 7th trumpet sounds, will you be ready? how about your family? neighbors? co-workers?
if you do believe being prepared for Jesus’ return is of pressing importance and requires prompt action, do friends and neighbors see that in your conduct, hear it in your conversation?
people of God should be more excited about him setting all things to rights than anything else – can anything be more important, more exhilarating than the next thing on God’s to-do list?
cries of martyrs, of those unjustly imprisoned, of widows and orphans will be answered; Sovereign Lord of universe will declare his final judgment – welcome to righteous, condemnation to the wicked
groans of creation, groans of God’s people will be heard and answered – “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Rom. 8:23)
C. the commission v.8-11
go, take (8)
yes, groan for time when God’s plan for this age will reach its conclusion – however, John wasn’t there and neither are we
is work to do as outlined in revelation (little book) given by Christ to his servant – notice Jesus didn’t say “here it is”, put it in his hand; John had to make effort, follow command
take, eat (9)
then follows command from the one “who stands on sea and earth”, the one who must be obeyed – take and eat
take this revelation from Christ himself and make it your own – God’s word intended to permeate and change reader
some say “you are what you eat” – should be true of us and word of God: and as we are shaped by it, should overflow in our speech and actions
mixed reviews (10)
for one who loves God and his word, it is sweet to taste – God’s promises, encouragement, hope for future all provide pleasure
yet same judgments that deliver God’s people often have different effect on God’s enemies – destroys those who persist in rebellion, causes great pain and suffering for those who eventually come around
we can certainly rejoice in triumph of Christ’s Church over all her foes, at same time grieving those who are eternally lost
the task (11)
prophesy again – cf. Matt. 28:18ff – are to go make followers, not simply converts… baptizing and teaching them how to follow
peoples and nations and tongues and kings need to hear the truth – God does not have wonderful plan for those who reject him and his truth, quite the opposite
Rom 10:13-15For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?And how are they to preach unless they are sent? …So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.