Eat the Book

Revelation 10

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
January 2023

We have been studying the Book of Revelation.  Today, we come to Revelation 10.  It is a small chapter.  It is only eleven verses long, but it is not the shortest chapter in Revelation.  That is Revelation 15.  It is only eight verses long.

This chapter is small and raises a lot of questions.  Who is the mighty angel?  What is the little book in his hand?  What are the seven thunders?  Why are they sealed?  Why is John told to not write it down?  Why is John told to eat a book? This chapter deals with book eating.  Why would John eat a book?  How do you eat a book?

Revelation 10 is also supernatural.  John has an angelic visitation.  He gets a revelation.  He got a revelation that he was not allowed to share with anyone.

Revelation 10 deals with about John, a really big angel and a little book.  One preacher entitled it, “A Mighty Angel, Accomplished Mystery & A Tasty Scroll”[1]

We are looking at the Trumpet Judgments in the Tribulation Period which will bring utter devastation on the earth and on people, as God’s Wrath is unleashed on the earth.

Many of these chapters are a bit depressing with all of these plagues and judgments falling on people.  There is an invasion of demons on the earth.  A horde of demons from hell invade the planet and people want to kill themselves.

There are demon locusts which tortured people for five months and a demonic army which wipes out a third of the population.  It does not result in repentance.  A big revival does not break out when this happens.  No one gets saved.  it is all bad news.

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

God gives us a break from all of the disasters that are taking place on earth. So far, we have seen six trumpets blown.  We would expect to hear the sound of the seventh trumpet.  But we do not hear that trumpet sound until we get to the next chapter (Revelation 11:19).

Instead of encountering a horde of demon locusts, John encounters a heavenly angel.  John sees a spectacular angel coming out of the sky and down to earth

This was not any angel.  It was a special angel.  This angel was wrapped in a cloud.  This angel had a rainbow over his head.  This angel was bright.  He was shiny.

We are told that “his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars” (Revelation 10:1 NIV)He had these legs of fire and his face shined like the Sun.

This was a mighty angel.  He was really strong.  There are no weak Pee Wee Herman angels but, apparently, some angels are stronger than others.  He was not only strong; he was tall.  He was gigantic.

He had one foot on the land and one foot on the sea (Revelation 10:5), like a conqueror taking possession of his territory.  It was like someone taking dominion over a territory.

Debate Over the Mighty Angel

Who is this mighty angel?  Many believe this is a divine being.  Some good scholars hold this view.  Some of the best commentaries on Revelation believe this is a theophany (so Greg Beale[2], David Aune[3]). Many believe that this angel is Jesus.  The word “angel” in Greek just means messenger.

The angel descends from heaven in a cloud. It is how God appeared in a in the OT.  He appeared in a cloud (the Shekinah glory cloud).  Jesus will return with clouds (Revelation 1:7)

The face of this angel is as bright as the Sun. The face of the glorified Christ was as bright as the Sun (Revelation 1:16).

The feet of this angel were pillars of fire. Jesus had feet like bronze glowing in a furnace (Revelation 1:15 NIV).

This angel roars like a lion.  God roared like a lion in Scripture (Amos 1:2; Joel 3:16; Hosea 11:10). Jesus was compared to a lion earlier in the book.  He is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5).

These are interesting arguments, but this is probably just an angel.  He is not God but he does represent God, and speak for God.  He is called “ANOTHER mighty angel” (Revelation 10:1)  There are two other mighty angels in Revelation (Revelation (5:2; 18:21).

First, Jesus is never called an angel in the Book of Revelation or anywhere else in the NT.  Jesus is never called a mighty angel in Scripture.  He is described as an angel in the OT (“the angel of the Lord”).

Second, this angel takes an oath.  To take an oath is to call on a higher power or person to witness the truthfulness 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 (Revelation 10:6). There was another angel in the OT who did something similar (Daniel 12:7).

This angel also took an oath.  Some groups believe it is a sin to take an oath.  Mennonites believe it is a sin.

It is not a sin to take an oath.  Paul took an oath (II Corinthians 1:23).  Angels took oaths.  This one in Revelation 10 did.  When Jesus was on trial, He testified under oath (Matthew 26:63-64).  If you go to court and have to testify under oath, that is not wrong.

I had jury duty a few weeks ago.  It was a criminal case.  When I arrived, I came to a room with about forty or fifty people.  There were couches and tables and Bibles everywhere.

One cranky old lady went up to Meredith Edwards, the clerk of court, and said, “I have a complaint.  Why are there so many Bibles here?  I feel like I am in church.”

That grumpy old lady needed to go to church but, as it turned out, the reason there were so many Bibles in the room, was because according to NC Law all jurors have to take an oath.  They have to be sworn in.  Many like to do that holding a Bible.  What oath does this angel take?

Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. 6 And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said, “There will be no more delay! 7 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.” (Revelation 10:5-7 NIV)

The KJV gives a mistranslation to Revelation 10:6. It says, “that there should be time no longer.”  You might get the impression from the KJV that when the Seventh Trumpet is blown, time (χρόνος) will cease.

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 (Revelation 22:2).

Even after the blowing of the Seventh Trumpet, time does not completely stop. You still have a thousand-year kingdom.  A better translation is “There will be no more delay,” not “There will be no more time.”

What happens when the Seventh Trumpet is blown?  When the Seventh Trumpet is blown, the seven bowls will be poured out.  Tribulation will be over.  Judgment will be complete.  Human history as we know it will come to an end.

John sees this tall, strong angel descending from heaven, shining like the Sun.  This angel was not only strong, tall and bright, he was loud, really loud.  Many things in heaven are loud. When he shouted, we are told that the voices of the seven thunders spoke.

and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. 4 And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down.” (Revelation 10:3-4 NIV).

A revelation about the future came from this angel, the revelation of the seven thunders.

The Seven Thunders

And he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down.” (Revelation 10:3-4 NIV)

We are not sure how thunder can speak but these thunders spoke.  John heard them.  He understood.  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.

How many of us have been told by our spouse, “I have a secret but you can’t tell anyone.”  Some of us have trouble keeping a secret but John knew something probably about future events (since Revelation is prophetic) that he was not allowed to share.

The first part of the chapter, there were some things that John was not allowed to tell.  The second part of the chapter, he heard some things that he was allowed to tell.  He was commanded to tell.  He was given one prohibition and one command in this chapter.

God told John what the seven thunders were.  He was not allowed to tell us.  We don’t know what the seven thunders said.  John knew what they were and was about to write it down.  He heard what they said but was not allowed to write it down or tell anyone.

What did the seven thunders say?  We don’t know.  They have been sealed (Revelation 10:4), but if you want to find out, you can go on the Internet.  There are all kinds of websites which tell you about what they said.

They claim they have an important message for America.  Some Seventh Day Adventists say they know what they are, but we have no idea what the seven thunders are.  They have been sealed.

Then he told me, ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near. (Revelation 22:10 NIV)

The Book of Revelation is not a closed book.  It is an open book.  It is a revelation.  It is an unveiling.  The Book of Revelation is not sealed, except for the seven thunders.  Only one part is sealed (not disclosed).

John was not the only one who was not allowed to tell what he saw.  The same thing happened to the Apostle Paul.  Both John and Paul were not permitted to share some supernatural things that God showed them.  We do not have any revelations that we are not allowed to share with people.

Paul’s Supernatural Experiences

In II Corinthians 12, Paul gives his personal testimony.  Paul had a lot of supernatural experiences.  He saw Jesus more than once.  He saw the Resurrected Christ on the Damascus Road.  Before he became a Christian, Jesus appeared to him.

In Acts 22, Paul was in Jerusalem and was praying in the temple and he fell into a trance and saw Jesus (Acts 22:17-21).

In Acts 23, Jesus appeared to Paul again, while he was in prison in Jerusalem (Acts 23:11) but Paul not only saw Jesus several times on earth, he went to heaven.  He was transported to the third heaven.  Three times, John saw Jesus on earth.

Once, he actually went to Heaven.  He was “caught up” to paradise (II Corinthians 12:4).  The word “caught up” is the same word used in I Thessalonians 4 of the rapture of the church (ἁρπάζω).  We will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord.

12 I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell…

because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 
(II Corinthians 12:1-4 NIV)

Paul was raptured to heaven.  He saw some things and heard amazing things and he never told anyone about them.  In fact, he never told anyone for fourteen years.

Who would take a trip to heaven and wait for fourteen years to tell anyone?  If that happened today to us, we would share it, go on TV, write a book or start a ministry.

It is not wrong to do those things, but Paul was FORBIDDEN to tell anyone what he saw.  John had a vision of the Lamb on his throne worshipped by all kinds of angels.  He was allowed to tell us what he saw.  He was commanded to write what he saw.

Apparently, this trip to heaven was just for Paul.  It wasn’t for anyone else.  Why?  No one knows, but I have a theory.  This trip to heaven took place in 44 AD before any of his missionary journeys.[4] The reason he was taken to heaven was to prepare him for his three missionary journeys.

He was going to face some very difficult things.  He was going to suffer greatly.  He was going to be beaten, stoned with rocks and eventually martyred.  He needed this trip to heaven before he left for the missionary field.

Paul said, “because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh” (II Corinthians 12:7).

Paul’s trip to heaven led to pride, so God had to use some thorn therapy to treat it, as Church Swindoll calls it.[5]  He still uses thorns to humble us today.  They come in different forms.

Paul doesn’t tell us what his thorn in the flesh was, but it was something that kept him humble.  He implies that it was something physical, and it was demonically caused.  Paul came back from heaven and faced a demon from hell, a messenger of Satan.

We do know that getting a thorn stuck in your body is painful.  The greatest experience of Paul’s life was followed by the most painful experience of Paul’s life.  Paul prayed for God to remove it several times.  God said No.  Even apostles did not always get what they wanted when they prayed.

The TV preachers would have to say that Paul must not have had enough faith, but Paul had plenty of faith.  What Paul says at the end of the chapter is that this thorn taught Paul a lesson. Paul learned some things from his thorn in the flesh that he did not learn from heaven.

What is the lesson for us today from the Revelation 10 for us today?  Two very important lessons for us come right out of this chapter.

Practical Applications

1) Lesson from the Seven Thunders

What do we learn from the seven thunders?  We learn a very important truth.  It is a lesson that many Christians have not learned.  There are some things are hidden and some things are revealed.

We like it when things are revealed.  What we don’t like it that some things are hidden but the Bible teaches both.  There are actually three types of mysteries in Scripture.

Three Kinds of Mysteries

1) God reveals things that were previously hidden

I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:25-27 NIV)

There are some mysteries in the OT that were not revealed until the NT.

2) God reveals things to some people but not others

At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have HIDDEN these things from the wise and learned, and REVEALED them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. (Luke 10:21 NIV)

That is not the God that most Christians worship – a God who hides things as well as reveal things.  Not only does He do it but Jesus thanked God that He does it.

3) God’s revelation is only partial

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. (Deuteronomy 29:29 NIV).

God does not reveal everything, even to us.  There are some things not even revealed to us.  They are secrets.  God has some secrets.  Notice the two things mentioned in this passage.

There are SECRET THINGS and there are REVEALED THINGS.  There are things that God has revealed.  We have sixty-six books of revealed truth, inspired truth but there are also secret things.

The seven thunders are secret things.  God revealed the seven seals.  He revealed the seven bowls and the seven trumpets, but he did not reveal the seven thunders.

What does this mean?  It means that there are things about the future that God has not told us.  We do not know everything.  Be careful of people who claim to know everything about end-times.  God has not told us everything.

Be careful about preachers who think they know everything.  They have prophetic charts and think they have a complete picture of end-time events but there are some things we can’t know.

There are mysteries, not only about the future but about our own life.  There are all kinds of questions about our own life that we don’t understand and may never understand.

Why is there evil in the world?  Why does God allow it?  Why do bad things happen to good people?  Why do babies die?  Why do people get cancer?

There were things that happened to Job that he did not understand.  He lost his family.  He lost his health.  He lost his wealth, and he did not know why.

There are things we may not understand why things happen in our own life.  God has not told us everything.  Some things are secrets.  There are things we don’t need to know right now and will not find out until we get to heaven.

2) Lesson from the Little Book

Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me once more: “Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.”

9 So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, “Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but ‘in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.’”

10 I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. 11 Then I was told, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.” (Revelation 10:8-11 NIV)

John sees a giant angel, shining as bright as the Sun, with a little book in his hand.  Apparently, angels in heaven like to read but I don’t think they like fiction

It was really not a book as we know it.  They did not have those in John’s day.  It was a little scroll. .  John hears a voice from heaven that tells him to take the little book and eat it.  The book is for him.

When he took it, the angel told him to eat it.  The same thing happened to Ezekiel.  He was given a scroll and told to eat it.  John took a bite out of this scroll that the angel held and ate it.

Chuck Swindoll once said that this was “God’s recipe for Sweet and Sour Scroll.”  We are told what it tasted like.

It was sweet but it gave him heartburn. John needed some Rolaids after eating this scroll. My wife once commented that what John needed was some Scrollaids.

Why was this book both bitter and sweet?  We don’t know exactly what the book was.  Some say it contained the contents of Revelation 16.  We know it contained a revelation of future events.

It was sweet because it was God’s Word, and it was bitter because it was a word of judgment.  That is a hard message to communicate to others.  The Bible contains warnings and promises.

The Bible 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.

John was given a message to give to people.  It was a prophetic message.  Then I was told, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.” (Revelation 10:11 NIV).

Before he preached, he was to absorb, digest and assimilate the contents of the message.  The prophet of God was to “let the word of God affect him first before he ministers it to others”[6]

We have a message to share with people as well.  God’s Word is is to be food to us, just like it was to Ezekiel and John.  It is compared to bread.  Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds. out of the mouth of God.

God’s Word is compared to milk.  It is compared to meat (Hebrews 5:11-14).  Some Christians just have a milk diet.  They do not want anything too deep.  Milk is great for baby Christians.  Mature Christians need more than milk to grow.

It is compared to honey.  David said, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103 NIV).

What God told John and Ezekiel; he tells us to do.  We are to feed on the Word of God daily.  God’s Word is not just a weapon to be used against false teachers and demons.  It is food for us to eat.

We are to eat all of God’s Word, not just a few parts of it.  That is why we study books of the Bible.  When we finish one, we start another one.  We do not just do NT books; we study OT books as well.


[2] G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 523.

[3] David E. Aune, Revelation 6–16, vol. 52B, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 557–558.

[4] Ralph Martin, II Corinthians, Word Biblical Commentary (Volume 40), Second Edition, p. 1295.


[6] Charles Ryrie, Revelation, p. 69.

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