The Strong Angel and the Little Book
THE STRONG ANGEL AND THE LITTLE BOOK
As we begin chapter 10 we have just seen the sounding of the 5 and 6th trumpets… or the first two “woes” mentioned in chapter 8:13.
- Six trumpets have been sounded to warn of the coming judgment on the Roman Empire and
those who are in opposition to God.
- One more trumpet is to sound… and we will see that in chapter 11.
- But what you have here in chapter 10 is an interlude between the 6th and 7th trumpet.
Back earlier in the book, in chapter 6 we had the opening of the first 6 seals. Then in chapter 7 we had an interlude before the opening of the 7th seal in chapter 8.
- And the thing you learn is, the purpose of these interludes is to encourage the saints in some
- The interlude found in chapter 7 reassures the saints that in the midst of this coming
judgment, they have not been forgotten and in fact, they are in the presence of God.
The interlude found here in chapter 10 will reassure the saints that God will no longer delay the coming judgment on those who are persecuting them.
- This interlude will also assure them that God has more than enough weapons in His arsenal to bring forth the destruction that is coming.
- And this interlude will also reassure these saints that John’s words… and the words that he will continue to speak…are from God.
As we go through these first several verses, the descriptive terms are geared to show us the power of the messenger.
- They are there to impress upon us his authority… his importance…His closeness to God.
Look what it says beginning in verse 1:
And I 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; 2 and he had in his hand a little book which was open. And he placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land;
- All of these descriptive terms indicate that this angel was close to God and that he came
with a divine mission.
In fact, notice the end of verse 2, that the angel “placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land.”
- Who is it that can stand on the sea as if it were land?
- The earth and sea is what makes up the whole world…and so the fact that he puts his
foot on the earth and sea indicates his universal authority
Notice, the angel has in his hand “a little book which was open.”
- Verse 11 indicates that the little book is a book of prophecy… or a message that John is to
relate…and verse 8 indicates that it is also a commission to John.
- John has already been revealing prophecy up to this time.
- What John will do is he will accept the responsibility to say even more.
Notice what the angel does, vs. 3: …and he cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars; and when he had cried out, the seven peals of thunder uttered their voices.
- All of these descriptive terms are geared to show power…authority.
- The mention of a “lion’s roar”… several times in the OT when God came to warn of a
judgment that was coming, He is said to “roar…or roar like a lion.”
- So, when this angel “cries out” what he has to say should be heeded by wicked and righteous
And notice when the angel cries out so too did the “7 peals of thunder.”
- Thunder warns of an approaching storm.
- God has seen the impenitence of the unbelievers.
- IN the last part of chapter 9 He tells us of how they refused to repent.
- So this is an image of power and strength to warn them once again… and to warn the wayward believer and let all know that the unbeliever will be dealt with.
VS 4: And when the seven peals of thunder had spoken, 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.”
- There is something awesome and terrifying about lightening flashes and rolling thunder.
- Thunder accompanied the plague of the hail in Egypt (Ex. 9:23).
- Thunder accompanied the Lord’s appearing on Horeb causing the people to tremble
(Ex. 19: 16; 20:18).
- By His great thunder God frustrated the plans of the Philistine in 1 Sam. 7:10.
- And with His arrows of lightening and His thunders from heaven He scattered the
enemies of David (2 Sam. 22:14ff).
- And in Psalm 29, David heard the voices expressing God’s awesome power in the
thunder of the storm at sea.
- Thunder always carries with it some foreboding of power and judgment.
So these 7 peals of thunder speak…and John was about to write what He saw and heard in reference to these 7 peals of thunder…when a voice from heaven “stays” his hand…and tells him to “seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken, and do not write them.”
- To “seal up” something is not simply to delay it…or postpone it.
- To “seal up” is to declare that the event is closed…and that apart from new revelation, the
message cannot be known to man. (See Dan. 12: 4, 9)
Now, do not misunderstand…the “sealing up” of what the 7 peals of thunder have spoken does not mean that the impending judgment is cancelled.
- It simply means that just this one part is cancelled.
- We will never know what the message of the 7 peals of thunder was.
So why would God mention this?
- More than likely this is here to assure the saints that God has many unrevealed weapons in His arsenal of judgment that He can use at His discretion.
- Man cannot know all of God’s ways, (see Deut. 29:29).
Now, look at verse 5:
5 And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven, 6 and 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 shall be delay no longer,
Notice the angel “lifts his right hand to heaven and swears by God.”
- Many years ago…and you still see it once in a while…but preachers when they would baptize someone often held up their hand and said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father….”
- This is where that comes from…and what it is, is this gesture always accompanies a solemn oath… indicating an appeal to God as witness of that oath.
- See: Gen. 14:22; Deut. 32:40; Ezek 20: 5ff; Dan. 12:7.
And notice, the angel swears by God.
- By swearing by God, the angel is swearing by Him who is eternal, and all powerful.. .and
- You can be sure that this prophecy will be fulfilled.
In fact, the angels swears that “there shall be delay no longer.”
- The things that God has promised are about to be revealed.
- The delay was to give them time to repent.
- But the time of delay is up.
- Don’t waste the opportunity… repent now or be lost forever.
This was also an encouragement to the saints…their time of suffering was soon to be vindicated.
So the angel swears that there will “be delay no longer”…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 preached to His servants, the prophets.
We have already had 6 trumpets…but the 7th has not come yet.
- We will find it in the next chapter.
- Out of the 7th trumpet will come the 7 bowls.
- When that 7th trumpet sounds the whole course of judgment will have been covered.
And the word “mystery“…what mystery?
- The one that John has been receiving up to this point.
- The mystery of the conflict between Rome and the church… and what is going to happen
to both….and the fact that the Lord’s people will be victorious.
And that is the “Good tidings” preached to His servants the prophets.
- The ultimate message of this book is “remain faithful and be victorious in Christ” and that is the message that God’s prophets have preached before.
And 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.” 9 And I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book. And he said to me, “Take it, and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.”
- John is told to take it and “eat” it.
- Not just nibble at it… but to eat it up.
- It was to enter His belly.
- In other words, he was to fully accept the message and the consequent responsibility of that message.
- Not just preach it…we are talking about making the message part of them and giving themselves to the message.
More preachers need to do this.
And then in verse 9 the voice tells him that the book “will make his stomach bitter, but in his mouth it will be sweet as honey.”
- It is bitter to his stomach because there is some bad news in what He must speak.
- The church is to suffer much.
- Nevertheless, it is the word of God, therefore the taste is sweet. (Psalm 19:10).
And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, (John accepts the word and the responsibility that goes with it) and it was in my mouth sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter. 11 And they said to me, “You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.”
The words of the angel prove to be true.
- And John has much more to say… and we will find that in the rest of the book.
So, what have we seen in this chapter?
- We have seen an angel of tremendous power…reassure these saints that what John has
said, and what he will continue to say, is from heaven.
- And the angel that reassures these saints that “God’s judgment on their oppressors will no
longer be delayed.”
- And then the angel reassures us that God is more than capable to carry out what He plans
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2024