The Book of Revelation
“God’s Sweet and Sour Message”
As I look back over this last century, I’ve seen a horrible plague sweeping across the land, but it isn’t really a new plague, rather it’s one that’s been around for a long time. It’s unreliable and false messengers with unreliable and false messages.
It stared with Satan’s message to Eve. In essence he said, “You don’t have to be yourself, you don’t have to be what God has made you to be. You can be someone else. In fact, you can be just like God. You can be your own bosses, determining for yourself what is right and wrong for you own life.”
And so you had a false messenger given to humanity, a message they wanted to hear, in that while God said ‘no,’ Satan gave them permission to do what they’ve always wanted. And this false message brought not only physical death, but spiritual death as well.
Unfortunately this same message is still being propagated today. It’s the message of new age humanism taught by the celebrity and political cult of our day, and that is you don’t have to listen to the Bible nor follow its dictates, instead you can believe whatever is right and true for you.
During the days of the kings, Ahab, the most wicked of all the kings, listened to false prophets who told him whatever he wanted to hear, that he would be successful, but then Micah, a true prophet, came with a hard message, and he was mocked and imprisoned.
We see a similar story with the prophet Jeremiah who continued to give warnings about the coming of God’s judgments, and he was imprisoned for his words.
And our leaders no different today when men and women of God come against the message of peace and tolerance they perpetrate. These men and women of God are mocked, lose their jobs and businesses, and are even dragged into court.
But these false and unreliable messengers are also found within the church, preaching messages of social relevance, messages of health and wealth, messages of how to have happy lives and families. They’re messengers with nothing but happy, happy talk.
What’s really sad is that these are just the sorts of messages most Christians want to hear, just like the people in Jeremiah’s time. They didn’t want to hear the hard messages, but rather those that spoke of victory and happy times ahead.
The Apostle Paul seems to nail this on the head. He said,
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4 NKJV)
But here in the next two chapters of Revelation we have great messengers with great messages. The question is whether or not the people will listen, or better yet, will we?
Today we’re going to look at a mighty angel and the heart of his message, and then at the Lord’s re-commissioning of the Apostle John.
Read Revelation 10
Turn to Ezekiel 3
Some say this angel is Jesus Christ because of the many similarities to the appearance found in Revelation 1; clothed in a cloud, his face is like the sun and feet like pillars of fire, a rainbow is about his head, and he roars like a lion.
The difficulty, however, is that Jesus is never referred to as an angel in the book of Revelation. Further John describes him as ‘another’ mighty angel. The Greek word for ‘another’ means someone of the same kind, hence this angel is not unique, and can’t be Jesus. Further the oath the angel swears is to the Creator God, which would likewise negate this being Jesus, because He is the Creator, so He would be swearing to Himself.
It’s probably best to think of him as being another really big and powerful angel. But when we get so tied up as to whom the messenger is we miss the point, because it’s not about the messenger but the message, a message so great that only the mightiest messenger can deliver it.
In the messenger’s hand was a ‘little book.’ The contents of this book have been greatly disputed. Some point to it as none other than the seven-sealed scroll, God’s last will and testament concerning His creation, but the only way this can be the seven-sealed scroll is that if the angel is none other than Jesus.
But to give John this scroll isn’t likely, because John eating the seven-sealed scroll is improbable, and that’s because it’s last seal hasn’t yet been opened, which contains the seven bowl or vial judgments. Further, there’s nothing small about the seven-sealed scroll.
But there is an interesting parallel to another passage of Scripture between God’s commission of the prophet Ezekiel, and God’s re-commissioning of the Apostle John.
Read Ezekiel 3:1-3; 10-11
This scroll was nothing less than God’s prophetic announcement to the children of Israel in their Babylonian captivity. In Revelation, John is likewise told to eat the book and it too would taste sweet, but it would become bitter when ingested.
When we look at these two Scriptures side by side, and listen to God’s command to prophesy after eating, the most logical answer is that this little book is God’s words of judgment against the earth and it’s inhabitants. But this is only a supposition on my part because nowhere in Scripture does it talk about the contents of this book.
In verse four we see a sort of seven-gun salute with the seven voices of thunder. But before John could write them down, another voice from heaven commands him to seal them up and not to write them down.
For myself this voice is God’s. I come to this conclusion for several reasons.
• The number seven in biblical numerology is the number of God and perfection.
• Next God’s voice is often referred to as thunder.
o Job tells us to listen attentively to the thunder of His voice (Job 37:2-5), and
o The Psalmist said, “The Lord thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered His voice.” (Psalm 18:13 NKJV)
• And finally there’s what John was told, to seal up these words and not write them down, and the Bible says the secret things belong only to God (Deuteronomy 29:29).
Now, trying to figure out just what was God said in these seven thunders is the height of arrogance, because God commanded them to be sealed.
Now we come to the great pronouncement, the great message.
The angel begins by swearing by the Lord God who is the Creator of all things. This was not just to the Father, but rather to the Lord God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Scriptures tell us that it was the Father, who spoke the words of creation, but it was Jesus who brought them into existence, and it’s the Holy Spirit who maintains creation.
It’s too creation this great message is given. It isn’t long and drawn out, rather it’s simple and to the point. “Time has run out, there’s no more delays, the evil of this world is now coming to an end.”
Further, looking at God’s purpose for these judgments is so rebellious humanity could repent and come back to the Lord, but now it seems the time for that to happen is at an end.
There’s a verse in Romans that has always bothered me.
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting.” (Romans 1:28 NKJV)
Let me say this another way.
“Since they didn’t see fit to retain the knowledge of God, turning from Him and doing that which is directly against His word and commandments, God gave them over to a depraved mind, that is, an unfit mind, a mind that literally no longer has the knowledge of God at all.”
Therefore they go deeper and deeper into unrighteousness.
There comes a point it would seem that repentance is no longer even an option. It’s as I’ve said many times, that while God is longsuffering, He’s not forever suffering. We see this same probability in the book of Hebrews where it says that it’s impossible to renew a person again to repentance that has crucified again Jesus upon the cross (Hebrews 6:6).
In other words there a time when time has run out. When that point is, I don’t know, but if you’re tempted to think you’ve reached that point, then you haven’t, because you still retain the knowledge of God and your need to repent.
If you’ve come thinking that you’ve blown it so bad that God will never forgive you, then know that God isn’t finished yet, and He’s calling out to you and has placed into your heart the need to repent and turn your life back over to Him.
But here in Revelation the time has now run out. God has done everything He possibly can to get rebellious humanity to turn from their sins and still they refuse, and so the pronouncement is that the time for repentance is over, and that the last of the woes, the seventh trumpet judgment is about to sound, and its judgment is the worse than all the ones before it, and that’s because it contains the seven bowl or vial judgments of God.
Through this angel and the eating of this little book, the Lord re-commissions John. This is interesting because John already is a minister and a prophet of God’s word, so why now?
First John is commanded to ingest the book. As we saw earlier this book, like Ezekiel’s scroll, is nothing less than God’s word, and God likewise commands us to partake of it.
“As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” (1 Peter 2:2-3 NKJV)
And while we’re commanded to partake of His word, God never forces it down our throats. If we’re to receive it we must read and study it. The Apostle Paul said,
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 NKJV)
Donald Witney, who wrote a book on the Spiritual Disciplines, said, “No spiritual discipline is more important than the intake of God’s word. Nothing can substitute for it. There simply is no healthy Christian life apart from a diet of the milk and meat of Scripture.”
The Bereans were consider more noble minded than those from Thessalonica, because they received God’s word readily, but also made sure that everything Paul said was in accordance with God’s word (Acts 17:10-11).
Please don’t settle for only the predigested food you receive here on Sunday mornings, or at one of our other services. What you hear from me I’ve read, studied, and digested. Therefore, what I’m giving back to you is what I’ve already digested, that is, I’m regurgitating it back up for your consumption. Hope that doesn’t hurt your lunch plans.
• Please don’t miss out on the joy of discovering biblical insights first hand through your own Bible study.
Now, the word is sweet to John’s mouth, as God’s word always should be. The Psalmist said,
How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 110:1-3 NKJV)
But when John ingests it something else happens, it turns sour in his stomach. That is, when these words are fully digested, that is, fully understood, they don’t bring gladness, but instead they bring sorrow and sadness because John now knows the end of all things.
At this revelation God then re-commissions John saying that he must prophesy again. John already was an apostle and prophet, so why the re-commission? The only thing I can figure out is God knew how hard it would be to prophesy what was about to some.
There are many things we know must be said, but they’re hard for us to say them. Today we live in a feel good age, even within the church. I’ve heard that if I want to get more people into the church I need to preach more positive messages, to preach happy things and how we can just survive in the crazy mix up world we live in.
But then I’d be going directly against God’s word and His calling.
What I got from today’s message is that God wants to re-commission His church. He wants believers to get back out there and start proclaiming the fullness of the gospel message.
• That Jesus Christ is the only way, truth and life, and that no one can get to heaven and into the presence of the Father except through Him. In other words, there aren’t many gods and many paths to God.
• That salvation is open to all, and all a person needs to do is ask Jesus to forgive them and then repent, that is, to turn away from sin and towards God.
• But that’s not all. It’s also to preach the hard stuff as well. That we’re all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God, that is of His holy and righteous standards for life, and that the wages of such sin is death, and that hell is a real place where all those who have rejected Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord will go.
I believe God wants to re-commission His church, and the church is no one less than you and me.