Reading: Revelation 10:1-11
Chapters 10 to 11:14 provide a kind of interlude between the sixth and the seven trumpets and we are introduced to another mighty angel.
I find John’s description of the angel compelling and resonant of other Biblical passages. There are descriptive links with this angel and God; he has come straight from the Father and Son’s presence and takes on some of their characteristics. The angel is clothed in cloud (God makes the clouds his chariots Psalm 104:3). He has a rainbow above his head (God’s promise to Noah comes to mind). His face is like the Sun, (like Jesus in Chapter 1:16 and reminds us of Jesus’s face on the Mount of Transfiguration). His legs are fiery pillars, (reminding us of the pillars of fire and cloud that guided and protected the Children of Israel as they journeyed through the desert to the promised land). His voice is at one time like a lion and at another seven thunders, (the lion’s roar is often used as a simile for the voice of God Amos 3:16, Hosea 11:10 and Amos 3:8.) The seven thunders reminds us of the seven voices of God (mentioned in Psalm 29). Finally, the angel has one foot on land and the other on the sea. This indicates his size, and authority over all creation even over the chaos of the sea. God Almighty has complete and universal domination. John is about to write what he has heard the angel say, but is told not to. There are some things that are mysteries, things perhaps we are not ready to hear, accept or understand.
In the angel’s open hand there is a little scroll. Perhaps the scroll is small because it relates to a short period of time and is a limited revelation of it. Twice John is asked to take it (8 & 9), it is not given, nor is it thrust upon him, he has to be a willing messenger of God’s words. He is then told to eat the scroll which tasted sweet, yet was bitter in his stomach. This reminds us of another part of the Bible- Ezekiel was asked to eat a scroll that contained lamentations, dirges and woes, that too was sweet to taste. (Ezekiel 2:10 and 3:3)
The sweetness of God’s word is a recurring theme in the Bible. Apparently, when a Jewish child was learning the alphabet it was written on a slate in a mixture of flour and honey. Once the child had learnt the Hebrew letter and its sound they were allowed to lick it off the slate as a reward. David writes, “The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.” (Ps 19:10). Also he says, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Ps119:103).
However, the message given to John was both sweet and bitter at the same time. Sweet because it is God’s word and the message speaks of vindication and salvation for the righteous; sour because this salvation is tied to the bitterness of warning, persecution and martyrdom.
As I read this chapter I am challenged by just how much John is saturated in God’s word. Eugene Peterson writes,
“Revelation has 404 verses. In those 404 verses, there are 518 references to earlier scripture. If we are not familiar with the preceding writings, quite obviously we are not going to understand the Revelation. John has his favourite books of scripture: Ezekiel, Daniel, Zephaniah, Zechariah, Isaiah, Exodus. But there is probably not a single canonical Old Testament book to which he doesn’t make at least some allusion…
The statistics post a warning: no one has any business reading the last book who has not read the previous sixty-five.” (Reversed Thunder p. 23)
Do I find reading the Bible a chore or a delight? Is it honey on my lips? Honestly, how saturated am I in God’s word?
I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. (Matthew 5:18 NLT)
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Ps119:103).
Father, you are majestic and powerful. High above all earthly things. Nothing in space or time can hold or constrain you. You have complete authority over everything. Again I bring myself to you. I long to learn more about you and deepen my relationship with you. I want to know you Lord. Would you pour out your Spirit on me that I may hunger and thirst for you and your word. May your word be a lamp to my feet. In Jesus name. Amen.
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