After six trumpet judgments, chapter 9 ends with these words: “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons…” (Rev 9:20). God had given mankind many opportunities for repentance, but alas, they became more hardened in their sin. So we would have expected chapter 10 to lead right into the 7th trumpet, which ushers in the seven bowls of wrath and final judgment. But John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, pauses the judgment narrative, as he did between the opening of the 6th and 7th seal, to answer these two questions that are on the heart of suffering saints; namely: How long will this suffering go on and evil continue in the world? And secondly, what will happen to the believers during these difficult times that are to come on the earth? In chapters 10 and 11, John receives two visions which answer these questions in turn.
In chapter 10, John sees a mighty angel coming down from heaven with an open scroll in his hand; he plants his one foot on the land and the other in the sea, and he “swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it, that there would be no more delay, but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets” (Rev 10:6-7).
The message of the angel is that once the 7th angel blows his trumpet, the mystery of God’s redemptive plan that was announced to the prophets will be fulfilled. There will be no further delay. This is good news indeed!
John was told to go and to take the scroll from the hand of the angel and to eat it. The scroll would be as sweet as honey in his mouth, but make his stomach bitter. From verse 11, we learn that John was to prophesy about many peoples, nations, languages, and kings. The believers in those nations would receive the message of final judgment and Christ’s return with great joy; while the unbelievers would reject and oppose this message.
This chapter teaches us that as believers, we can rejoice in the fact that the mystery of God’s will for the world and our future has been revealed to us in His word. Therefore, we don’t need to be anxious about our future, nor turn to man’s opinions and speculations to help us make sense of current events. In the second place, this chapter teaches us that God’s word must be assimilated and digested and not just intellectually perceived. Thirdly, we learn that we must receive and teach both the sweet parts of scripture as well as the difficult ones. May the Lord bless His word to our hearts this coming Sunday.