The Epistle of Jesus #7 Heaven Standing By Revelation 10
Review / Chronology
I. The vision of Christ and letters to the seven churches. 1:9–3:22.
II. The Lamb opens the seven-sealed book is opened. 4:1–6:17.
III. The sealing of the 144,000 and the angels sounding the
seven trumpets. 7:1–9:21.
What Is Happening In Heaven
It is natural for us at from time to time to wonder, is God aware of what is happening in my life? Is He aware of what is happening in this world? If God exists, if He loves us then why is there only silence coming from the Halls of Heaven?
Example: the book of Job takes place in two places. In chapter 1 the sons of God come before God and God questions them. Satan is also among those who come before God is Lucifer, Satan Job 1:6-12. 6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. 7 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. 8 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? 9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? 10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. 12 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.
In all that follows, with all that Job endures, all his suffering, all his losses and even when God speaks to him and corrects him, not once does God tell Job what was happening in heaven. God doesn’t say that Job as acting as God’s champion on the earth against the power of Satan, God doesn’t tell Job that even though he suffered greatly God limited what Satan could do. God doesn’t tell Job that his struggle and story would be read and shared down the ages to give hope, comfort and purpose to untold numbers of God’s children.
In the book of Revelation though, God takes a different approach and he opens up a window into heaven, for us and especially for those that will be enduring the tribulation upon the earth during this terrible period. Just as we can look back and see that what Job was going through was under God’s plan and purpose, those during the time of Jacobs trouble, the great tribulation will know that those last 7 years were part of God’s plan for his nation Israel and that events were taking place in heaven that meant the silence of heaven would be broken, and this time it would be broken for all time and eternity.
Revelation chapter 10 and 11 are an interlude, a parenthesis if you would, that takes place between the 6th trumpet and the 7th trumpet which will unleash the 7 bowl or vial judgments. This interlude fits the pattern we see throughout these septenary judgments. (Did you get that? Septenary. I didn’t want you to miss that word it means corresponding to seven, groups of seven. I had to look it up this week and if I had to look it up then you better believe I’m going to have to let you know about it. Septenary, groups of seven. Got it? Good. I’ll try and bring it in here again in a minute. Make me think I’m not past my prime to learn a word like that at my age.)
These judgments, the seals, the trumpets, the seven bowls are arranged the same way. Groups of seven but inside the seven, they are grouped by 4 followed by 3. There were four similar seals, the four horsemen of the apocalypse and then the next three that were not similar. The first four trumpets somewhat similar, and then there were three dissimilar; and there will be that same kind of division in the bowls, as we shall see later. The last three are always separated from the first four. Also in each series of judgments, between the sixth and the seventh, there is an interlude, a break. Between the sixth and seventh seals, there was the interlude of chapter 7. Between the sixth and seventh bowls, there will be the interlude of Revelation 16:13-16. And here, after the sixth trumpet sounds and before the seventh, there is an interlude from chapter 10 to chapter 11:14.
The purpose of these breaks in judgments, these glimpse behind the action, is to encourage and give hope to God’s people in the midst of the terror of God’s outpouring of of wrath and judgment. “These interludes are to remind God’s people that God is still sovereign, His people are still remembered, and will be ultimately victorious.” – John McArthur
For us these chapters tell us that as God is working for His own during the tribulation, Then we know He is working for us, when we go through our own much smaller tribulation and suffering. This chapter sends the comforting and encouraging message, “Heaven is Standing By!” And when the time come heaven will act.
Transition - The first part of John’s interlude here in chapter 10 shows us that the Power of Heaven is Standing By for the people of God
The Mighty Angel - Revelation 10:1–11
And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: 2 And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, 3 And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices. 4 And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not. 5 And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, 6 And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer: 7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.
Understanding the Mighty Angel
This is one of the most difficult figures in all the book of Revelation to identify.
Some say it is Jesus, because so many of the symbols match those of Jesus in the first chapters of Revelation. This angel is clothed with a cloud and a rainbow as was Christ in chapter 1. His legs are like pillars of fire and he roars like a lion. This mighty angel straddles the earth and the sea, a symbol of ownership, all these would fit Jesus as the coming King of the earth.
Others point out that this mighty angel is introduced as another angel the word means another of the same kind, the same kind that we have seen in Revelation, but Jesus is not another of the same kind, for he was not created like the other angels. Usually when John shows us Jesus, he is giving a clear title for this is his unveiling, his apocalypse, but here there is no clear title like lamb of God or Lion of Judah. This angel also swears by the one who sits on the throne, which doesn’t seem to something Jesus would do. Also they point out that Jesus is never called the angel of the Lord after the Old Testament.
In the past I’ve said this is Jesus, right now I think this is another mighty angels, what hasn’t changed is that this is a very hard angel to identify. What is not hard to understand though is the message this angel is meant to send.
The Symbol of the Mighty Angel
Look again at his description, “Revelation 10:1-3 1 (He is)clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: 2 And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, 3 And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth
All these symbols tell us the same thing, this angel, this messenger of God brings the God’s message of power and promise. The cloud represents the power of heaven, the rainbow the promise of God, the sun shows righteousness and the feet show purifying judgment of fire. His voice sounds like a lion roaring before leaping upon its prey. All this power is standing by waiting to be unleashed upon those who are the enemies of God and the tormentors of his people.
Believing In Heaven’s Pent Up Power
As God’s people then will need the hope and reassurance that God is working in the background, working from heaven to cover and protect them, we also need to remember that God is working from heaven to care for us.
We may not be able to see past the veil of this physical body and earth, but we should believe, we should have faith that God is on our side and God is preparing the power of heaven on our behalf according to His plan and purpose.
Romans 8:28,37-39 28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. …37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Psalm 46:1-7 1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. 4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. 6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. 7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
Illustration: Elisha and the invisible host of heaven
2 Kings 6:13-18 And he said, Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, he is in Dothan. 14 Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about. 15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? 16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. 18 And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the LORD, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.
That is what we must also pray, “Lord open my eyes that I may see the power of Heaven standing by me.”
Transition - As John is looking this giant mighty angel standing upon the
land and sea and with his head stretched to the heavens he also sees that the
angel is holding a little book. And then in vs. 8 John quits being a spectator
and is suddenly brought into the vision itself.
The Little Book -
Revelation 10: 8-10
8 And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. 9 And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. 10 And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.
The Bittersweet Book
We are not told anything about this book other than its size in comparison to the angel and its effects on John when he eats it.
Could this bee the book that we first saw sealed with seven seals but now opened in the hand of this angel. If it were then they interpretation that this was Christ would be a little stronger. Or is this another book, another scroll that represents not the title deed of heaven and earth and not the story of the unveiling of Jesus return, but another book that pertains to John and the time in which he lives, the time in which we all live, the church age.
We are only told that John takes the book as he is commanded by the voice speaking from heaven, which can only be the voice of God and he is told to eat the book. When he does this he tells us that it was sweet in his mouth but bitter in his stomach.
I can’t think of any of the scholars, bible students, commentators that I have read over the years that disagreed on this aspect of Revelation 10. The little book represents the charge of God to his people to preach the Gospel and warn the lost world to repent for God is a holy and righteous God who will judge this world.
The Bittersweet Commission
The book is sweet because it confirms who we are, the servants of God. It is sweet because it confirms our commission, it is sweet because it presents the love and forgiveness of God to all who would believe. Is there anything better than telling people God loves them and sent his only begotten son to die for them? Nothing is sweeter than the Gospel being spoken in the mouth of God’s people.
Isaiah 52:7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet
of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good
tidings of good, that publisheth salvation;
that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
That is us, the ones who bring good tidings and publish peace and salvation. There is nothing sweeter.
But there is the other side of the message of the Gospel and it is bitter and filled with sorrow and judgment.
Romans 2:3-6 3 And thinkest thou this, O man, …, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? 4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
Revelation 6:17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
This is what John experienced and it is what any child of God knows, “There is nothing so sweet as the Gospel, but there is nothing so bitter as an unrepentant soul destined for Hell.” And we can never forget the two sides of this bitter sweet book lest we forget our purpose as God’s people and the Lord’s church.
Transition - And that brings us to the last part of this chapter, “The Great Command”
The Great Command - Revelation 10:11
And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
John Must Prophesy
John the last living apostle, the final member of the original church was told by the angel, your task is not finished. You must prophesy again. The word prophesy is another Greek word that has passed into our language almost unchanged, it is the word propheteuo, (prof-ate-yoo'-o) which means to foretell events, to speak under divine inspiration, and to exercise the prophetic office.
It is believed by most that John didn’t die on the island of Patmos as the Emporer Domination intended. In fact the Emperor died and John was released. Perhaps he carried his own last book to the churches or perhaps he was able to go and tell them first hand what he saw after they had received his letter through another means, but John was not finished.
In another way John is still not finished. The Book of Revelation, the Apocalypse, the Unveiling of Jesus is still prophesying today, still prophesying even this morning. Telling us that Jesus is coming back and that Heaven is standing by ready to bring righteousness and judgment to a world that has rejected their own creator and their own savior. John’s words still speak with a divine authority after 2000 years. Jesus is coming to rule and reign.
We Must Prophesy
John not only represented himself, but I believe John, when he take and eats the little book, also represent us, the believers the church of Jesus Christ in this age. We must accept the bitter sweet commission, we must continue to work, continue to give, continue to preach for we also are under a divine authority and must prophesy again before many peoples, nation tongues and kings.
You do this like you did yesterday at the Farmers Market, handing out tracts and showing yourself friendly to make friends. You do this when you support the work of Calvary and the preaching behind this pulpit. You do this when you send missionaries to start new works, new churches in nations around the world.
The marching order for the church is not the Sermon on the Mount, it is the Great Commission. Matthew 28:18-20 All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Like John we must hear and accept the words “You must prophesy” This is our sacred service, it is our tireless task, it is our divine destiny. It is our God given, angel assisted, Bible boosted, Christ commanded commission. We must prophesy.
And if this calling brings with it suffering, deprivation, sorrow and pain then always remember, Heaven is standing by. We are not alone we are not forgotten. Jesus has promised, “Lo, I am with you always.” Today we stand with God’s people in God’s service and we have the resources of God’s heaven to keep us standing.
Illustration: Daniel Prays and Heaven’s Help Is Sent
Daniel 10:7-14 7 And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the
men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them,
so that they fled to hide themselves. 8 Therefore I was left alone, and saw
this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was
turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.
10 And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. 11 And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. 12 Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. 14 Now I am come to make thee understand …
We may not see the visions of John or Daniel. We may not
physically feel the touch of an angel and be set by him back on our feet, but
know this we are all loved of God and when we pray, when we serve, when we faithfully
continue to fulfill our calling, Heaven’s power is sent to us. The angles may
not be seen in the same way but their help sent from God is just the same.
Hold On A Little Longer
Years ago when I was only about 9 or 10 years old my grandfather sent me a bunch of LPs, records, now days know as vinyl. These were any classic or pop music though. It was my grandfathers favorite preacher. Lester Roloff, from Corpus Christi, Texas. Mostly they were songs and he also read the books of 1 2 and 3rd John. As I was working through this sermon a remembered one of those songs and it fits nicely here as our conclusion to Heaven Standing By.
Bro. Roloff had a old, strained gravely voice, that was very distinctive and not really what you’d call a singing voice, but that didn’t stop him. Here is the song called Hold On a Little Longer, as best as I can remember it.
Hold On A Little Longer Hold On
You took the hand of Jesus,
Stepped out upon His promise
Yet it seems you have trusted in vain.
The answer you have prayed for,
Its on its way and paid for.
Hold On a Little Longer, Hold On
Hold on a Little Longer
Hold on a little Stronger
The testings of the Lord are pure gold.
He’ll take you through the fire.
He’ll burn out the dross and mire.
Hold On a little longer, hold on.
You’re watching for his coming,
You’re wondering why he’s waiting.
Hold on a little longer, hold on.
Those clouds will soon be bursting.
The Son of God descending
Hold On A little longer, hold on.
Hold on, pray on
Hold On A little longer, hold on.
Hold on, believe on.
Hold on a little longer, hold on.
That’s the best lesson from Revelation chapter 10, not who is that mighty angel or exactly what is the book, but Hold on for Heaven is At Work, Standing By for God’s people.