Summary: An Exposition of Rev. 10
The Bittersweet Truth
George came home from work after a very long and terrible day. Everything had gone wrong. His secretary called in sick and he couldn’t figure out how to use the fax machine. The photocopier jammed and the paper caught on fire. The district manager scolded him for not meeting his monthly quota. As he plops down in his favorite easy chair he says to his wife, “I’ve had nothing but bad news at the office today. If there is one thing I don’t want, it is more bad news.” His wife gently replied, “In that case, you’ll be glad to know that 3 out of 4 of your children did not break their arms today.”
One of the most essential skills in life is to learn to take the good with the bad, to enjoy the pleasant and to endure the unpleasant, to make the most of the bittersweet experiences in life. One thing that helps us as Christians do this is to accept the fact that both the bitter and the sweet in life ultimately come from our Lord, Who we believe controls everything-from the small details of our personal lives to the larger events of world history. But do you ever ask like Job:
Job 2:10 …Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?...
Job recognized that God’s plans for us included both the sweet and the bitter. Tonight I want to take a closer look at the bittersweet reality of God’s plan for this world, and for you and I personally. These realities are symbolized in a vision the apostle John records in Rev. 10. (read vs. 1-4)
After the 6th trumpet judgment in Rev. 9, the pace of John’s vision slows down into a sort of interlude, a breather, before the 7th and final trumpet judgment comes in Rev. 11.
John sees a gigantic, mighty angel descend from heaven in a cloud, with a rainbow for his hat, and the sun for a face, and feet like columns of flame. In his hand he holds a small scroll (a little book) and as he touches down, he sets one foot on the land, and one foot in the sea, and speaks with the roar of a lion.
Everything about this angel reminds us of the throne of God described earlier in the Revelation, and is meant to tell us this angel represents the power and person of God and the Lamb, Jesus Christ. Yet as huge as he is, he is only a miniature figure of God’s greater glory.
But when he speaks, God also speaks. The seven thunders here are not just weather rumblings—they are a Voice, the Voice that is spoken of in
Ps 29:3 The voice of the LORD is over the waters; The God of glory thunders…
God’s voice booms out from His throne, confirming the words of the angel. John takes out his stylus and starts to write, but the thunder boom again Don’t write what you just heard. Seal it up, and keep it a secret.
Keep it a secret? I thought this book is called the revelation! Why would God taunt us by giving John a message and then ordering it to be kept secret?
I can think of one good reason: to remind us we don’t need to know everything about God’s plan for this world, or His plan for our own lives. This is our first bittersweet reality: God doesn’t tell us everything He knows.
Dt 29:29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
Here’s the bitter: ignorance can be very frustrating, because it is very humbling. It’s not easy to admit we don’t know it all, we haven’t got it all figured out. There are many things about God and His plan you can be sure of, but there are also many things that remain a mystery.
That’s one reason why I don’t really buy teachers who promise to unlock the “key” to the book of Revelation, or who construct elaborate maps and schemes and novels to prove they have the last days all figured out. I think God deliberately leaves us in the dark about many of those details, and we come along and try to “fill in the gaps” with our own speculations.
It’s better not to know so much than to know so many things that ain’t so. —Josh Billings
I think there are a lot of “prophecy experts” who seem sure of a lot of things that ain’t necessarily so. But be sure of this: nobody has God’s final plan of redemption all figured out.
Mt 24:36 But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.