John Eats the Little Book

Revelation 10

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
May 2012

We have been studying the Book of Revelation. It is a book filled with judgment and death. It mentions demons and plagues falling on people. It has been fairly negative up to this point, people being tortured by demonic locusts for five months and killed by demonic horsemen. It is a little depressing.

They are chapters that for the most part are full of the wrath of God. In fact, it is so depressing that people would rather die than face what was going on in the Tribulation Period.

Revelation 10 is very different. It is like a breath of fresh air. It is a short chapter. It is much more positive than negative. It is not depressing at all. No one dies in this chapter.

It is also less controversial. There is one question in the chapter that scholars have debated but for the most part the chapter as a whole is very clear and understandable.

This is the second time that we have seen this in the book. After showing six terrible seals fall on the earth, each getting progressively worse, it all stops and there is silence for a half an hour.

After that silence, John sees two visions that are a break in the story – the vision of the 144,000 from the twelve tribes of Israel and the vision of the innumerable multitude from every tribe, language and nation. That was in Revelation 7.

Now after showing six trumpet judgments that fall on the earth, each one worse than the one before, there is another break in the story. It is another parenthesis and this interlude also consists of two visions. The first vision is found in Revelation 10. We will look at the second vision next week. The first vision is the vision of a giant angel and a little scroll. Let’s read the chapter together.

How does the chapter begin? It begins with a mighty angel coming down from heaven (10:1). How is this angel described? He is described five different ways in the very first verse. He is described as mighty. He is clothed with this cloud. He has a rainbow over his head. His face is like the sun. His legs are like fiery pillars.

Identification of the Mighty Angel

Who is this being? Some believe that it is Jesus (so Henry Morris, David Jeremiah). The word “angel” in Greek just means messenger. Why would some think that this might refer to Jesus?

  •  The angel descends from heaven in a cloud. That is how Jesus will return (1:7) and God often appeared in a cloud in the OT, the Shekinah glory cloud.
  •  His face is as bright as the Sun. The face of the glorified Christ was as bright as the Sun (1:16).
  •  His feet are said to be pillars of fire. In another chapter of Revelation, Jesus’ feet were said to be “like bronze glowing in a furnace” (1:15).
  •  He also roars like a lion and Jesus was compared to a lion earlier in the book (5:5). God in the OT was said to roar like a lion (Amos 1:2; Joel 3:16; Hosea 11:10).

But if you look a little closer, you will see that this being who descends from heaven cannot be Jesus. It must be a real angel. The Book of Revelation is full of angels. All throughout the book, you see angels (blowing trumpets, holding back the winds, sealing the servants of God, etc.).

Reasons Jesus is NOT the Mighty Angel

1) Nowhere else in Revelation is Jesus called an angel

In fact, nowhere else in NT is Jesus called an angel. He is described as an angel in the OT (“the angel of the Lord” but not in the NT). If this Jesus comes out of heaven to earth, it would be the Second Coming. His coming in Revelation 19 would be the Third Coming.

2) This angel takes an oath

To take an oath is to call on a higher power or person to witness the veracity of a statement. People did this all of the time in the OT. God can take an oath but the only one he can swear by is himself, because there is no one greater than God (Hebrews 6:13-17).

This angel does not swear by himself. He lifts up his hands and swears to the one who lives forever and ever. He swears to the one who created the world (10:6). Since Jesus is the Creator, if this is Jesus he would be swearing to himself. It is clearly an angel and calls to mind another angel in the OT who does this (Daniel 12:7).

This angel takes an oath. What does he swear? “There will be no more delay! But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets” (10:6-7). In the KJV the angel takes an oath “that there should be time no longer”. That is a bad translation.

You might get the impression from the KJV that when the Seventh Trumpet is blown, time will cease and eternity will start but that is simply not the case. Even after the blowing of the Seventh Trumpet time does not completely stop. You still have a thousand year kingdom.

The angel does not take an oath that when this happens, there will be no more time but that when this happens, there will be no more delay. Judgment will be complete. The prayers of the martyrs will be answered.

There is a hymn that talks about heaven as a place when time will be no more but that is a compete myth. There will be time in heaven. We saw in Revelation 8 that there was silence for a half an hour in heaven. Even in the eternal state there will be time. We are told that the tree of life will yield different fruit each month (22:2).

3) This being is called “another mighty angel”

There are actually three mighty angels in the book (5:2; 10:1; 18:21). The same Greek word for mighty or strong is used each time (ίσχυρός). He is another mighty angel just like the last mighty angel in the book.

Where did we see the first mighty angel in Revelation? It goes back to Revelation 5:2. That was the first mighty angel in the book and there are many similarities between the two.

Two Mighty Angels in Revelation

  • Both passages mention a MIGHTY angel (10:1; 5:2).

Which one is it? We do not know. Gabriel means “strength of God” but we do not know which one it is.

  • Both angels mention a BOOK or SCROLL (10:2; 5:1-2).

Revelation 10 describes a massive angel with one foot on the sea and one on the land holding a little book. It has to be a little book, because John is going to eat it later on in the chapter.

  • Both angels speak with a LOUD voice.

The angel in Revelation 5 proclaimed in a LOUD voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” The angel in Revelation 10 is loud. The passage says, “He gave a LOUD shout like the roar of a lion.

When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke” (10:3). I don’t know how thunder can speak but these spoke and when they spoke, John started to write them down (1:19).

When he started to do this, a voice from heaven said, “Do not write it down” (10:4). It is the only time in the book that John was ordered NOT to write down what he saw.

Why was he not allowed to write it down? Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.”

There is a very important lesson from that verse. It tells us that God has some secrets. There are some things that only he knows and that he does not want us to know. We are naturally curious. Inquiring minds want to know. We want to know everything but there are some things that we do not know and will never know.

For example, exactly what will we be doing in heaven for all eternity? The Bible says that we will serve him but how will we serve him? What will we do? When will Jesus return? Why do some people get cancer?

Why do some babies die young? Why are there no answers to these questions? God hasn’t told us. He is not obligated to tell us everything. Job went through some terrible things. He talked to all of his friends about why it happened. Then he talked to God at the end of the book but God never told him why it happened.

This passage in Deuteronomy says that there are some things that God has revealed and there are some things that He has not revealed. He has not revealed everything. There are some questions that the Bible simply does not answer. There are some topics that the Bible does not address.

They are called “secrets”. God has revealed to us all of the things that we need to know. That is the doctrine of the sufficiency of the Scriptures. All that we need to know for salvation and for sanctification is revealed in this book (II Timothy 3:15-17; Psalm 119:1).

The problem with many people is that they spend all of their time focusing on “the secret things” and trying to figure them out, like exactly when Jesus will return, even though Jesus specifically said, “That day and hour no one knows” (Matthew 24:36).

Instead, what we need to do is focus all of our attention on what God has revealed, instead of what he has not revealed. That is why we need to spend our life studying, memorizing, applying, mastering and obeying this book but how many Christians have not read the Bible and do not know it very well.

These seven thunders are part of the secrets of the Lord. John was not allowed to write down what they said. They were to be sealed (10:4). That is interesting because John was told that the Book of Revelation as a whole was NOT to be sealed (22:10).

Throughout history, different people have tried to guess what these seven thunders have said but we will never find out what they said because their message has been sealed. They remain one of the mysteries of the book. If you ever hear anyone who says, “God has revealed to me what the seven thunders said,” don’t believe them, because they are sealed.

Strange Command

This chapter is different from the other chapters in Revelation. Up to this point, John has been pretty much a bystander. He has been watching what is going on in heaven and on earth. Now for the first time, he plays more of an active role. A huge angel holds a tiny little book. Most likely this book contains the rest of the Book of Revelation, specifically chapters 11-22.

John is told to take the book out of the angel’s hand and then he is told to eat it (10:8-12). Did John really eat the book? That’s what the passage says. It says that he put it into his mouth and ate it and it went into his stomach (10:10). Now, unless we are a toddler, we will not try to take a bite out of a book, but apparently this book was edible.

The interesting thing is, there was another person in the Bible who was also told to eat a book. Does anyone know his name? It was Ezekiel. Ezekiel also says that he opened his mouth and filled his stomach with it (3:2-3). Now, if you go to Bible College or seminary, you will be told by all of the “prophecy experts” that if you really want to understand the Book of Revelation, you have to first study the Book of Daniel.

The Book of Daniel is an important background book to Revelation. There’s a lot of truth to that but the Book of Ezekiel also contains a lot of background to the book. There are so many similarities between Ezekiel and Revelation that it is shocking. I will mention thirteen similarities and these are not all of them.

Similarities Between John and Ezekiel

1. Both were written by men who were exiles. Ezekiel was an exile to Babylon (Ezekiel 1:1). John was an exile to Patmos (Revelation 1:9).

2. Both of these men were told to prophesy some things (Revelation 10:11; Ezekiel 13:1-2; 21:1-3; 25:1; 34:1; 37:4-10). Both are called prophets. One was an OT prophet and one was a NT prophet.

3. Both men saw the heavens open (Revelation 4:1; Ezekiel 1:1).

4. Both men saw visions of God (Revelation 4; Ezekiel 1). Both saw God sitting on a throne with a rainbow over his head surrounded by all kinds of angels full of eyes (four living creatures, ox, lion, eagle and man). Both visions mention precious stones, fire, lightening, things glowing and sparkling.

5. Both fell down on their face after seeing the vision. They had similar reactions to the vision (Revelation 1:17; Ezekiel 1:28).

6. Both men were supernaturally transported to different places (Revelation 4:1; Ezekiel 8:3; 11:1; 40:1-3).

7. Both call cities prostitutes. Ezekiel calls Jerusalem a prostitute. John calls Babylon a whore (Revelation 17-18/Ezekiel 16, 23)

8. Both mention groups of people being sealed on their foreheads (Revelation 7; Ezekiel 9).

9. Both mention a battle with Gog and Magog (Revelation 20; Ezekiel 38-39).

10. Both of the things they wrote down were books of Scripture and both of those books were apocalyptic.

11. Both mention the temple being measured with a rod (Ezekiel 40-41; Revelation 11)

12. Both mention a lament over different cities – Tyre and Egypt (Ezekiel 27 & 30) and Babylon (Revelation 18)

13. Both men were commanded to eat a book (Revelation 10; Ezekiel 2).

John took a bite out of this scroll and ate it. How did it taste? It was sweet at first but turned his stomach sour (10:9). Chuck Swindoll says that this was God’s recipe for sweet and sour scroll. It tasted great but gave him and upset stomach. It gave him heartburn. John needed some Rolaids after eating this scroll. My wife says that what John needed was some Scrollaids, rather than some Rolaids. I am told that chocolate gives some people heartburn

Why was the scroll sweet and bitter at the same time? It was sweet because it was God’s Word and it was bitter because much of the content was hard to stomach and difficult to communicate to others.

The Bible contains warnings and promises. It speaks of heaven and hell. It speaks of sin and forgiveness. It talks about the love of God. It also talks about the wrath of God. It talks about the mercy of God but it also talks about the judgment of God.

Food Metaphors for the Bible

We should not do this literally – pour honey all over your Bible, cut it up, cook it up and eat it (literally eat words) but we can do this figuratively. God’s word is compared to food in Scripture.

1) The Bible is compared to bread (Matthew 4:4)

It is not just bread but “our daily bread”. Bread was a staple food in the ancient world, like rice is in many countries. It is not just something people ate but something they ate every day. This shows that we need God’s Word every day.

2) The Bible is compared to milk (Hebrews 5:11-14)

Hebrews compares some parts of the Bible to milk. The metaphor of milk indicates that some bible truths and bible doctrines are simple, something that newborns drink.

3) The Bible is compared to meat (Hebrews 5:15)

Meat is a figure that indicates that some bible truths and bible doctrines are more advanced and deep.

4) The Bible is compared to honey (Psalm 119:103; 19:9-10)

Many of us do not eat honey, unless we are health nuts. Honey is a natural sweetener. Most of us prefer sugar which is man-made (refined). Both are sweeteners. Here Scripture is seen almost as a dessert (“sweeter than honey”).

You may have a craving for chocolate or apple pie. You can’t get enough of your favorite dessert. Comparing the Bible to honey indicates that God’s Word should be something that we crave. We should have a spiritual sweet tooth.

Why is the Bible Compared to Food?

1. It is something that we need to survive.

We don’t have it, we die. We should treat God’s Word as something that we have to have. It is essential, not optional. There are plenty of people who think you can get along fine without reading or studying the Bible. T

here are some churches that do not seem to think that Bible study is that important. It is not promoted that much or emphasized. It is treated as optional.

2. It is something that nourishes us.

It is good for us. Food gives us all the nutrients for a healthy body. Children do not just need food to stay alive. They need it to grow. The Bible for a healthy soul. The Bible is soul food. It is essential for spiritual growth. If you do not know God’s Word, you will not grow spiritually.

3. It is something that we crave.

It is something we love. We do not just eat because we have to. In fact, for some of us it is too enjoyable. It becomes addictive. We do not eat to live. We live to eat. The point is that God’s Word should be something that we crave. Job said, “I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread” (23:12).

While it is possible to eat too much, it is not possible to spend too much time in this book. We are to meditate on it day and night (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2). If we ate day and night, we would get sick.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *