It’s interesting that in the beginning of chapter 9 with the blowing of the seven trumpets by the seven angels with the seventh seal opening that we saw a parallel between the blowing of the seven trumpets by seven priests after they walked around the great walls of the city of Jericho seven times on the seventh day. We began to briefly touch on the history of great city of ancient Babylon which was ruled by king Nebuchadnezzar II in the days of Daniel when Israel was unto Babylonian captivity for 70 years. We talked about it’s great walls that were made of brick which stretched 56 miles long, 300 feet high, were 25 feet thick with another wall 75 feet behind that one and the wall extended 35 feet below the ground. It had 250 towers that were 450 feet high to watch against invaders. On top of all this a large, wide and deep moat surrounded the outside walls of the city. In the middle of the city ran the Euphrates River that was closed by draw bridges at night. By hydraulic pumps this river fed what was known as one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World, the Hanging Gardens. It is said that Nebuchadnezzar had a wife who was from Media who missed her beautiful homeland so through hydraulic pumps and irrigation, Nebuchadnezzar built her a hanging paradise that became known as a wonder of the world because of its size and irrigation.
“In this palace he erected very high walks, supported by stone pillars; and by planting what was called a pensile paradise, and replenishing it with all sorts of trees, he rendered the prospect an exact resemblance of a mountainous country. This he did to gratify his queen, because she had been brought up in Media, and was fond of a mountainous situation. (Josephus)
Nebuchadnezzar’s palace was considered to be the most magnificent building ever erected on earth. (Bible History.com) Babylon was like the titanic, unsinkable, impenetrable. It was man’s best attempt against defense and only lasted 70 years before falling to the Medes and the Persians by God’s decree.
Babylon was an ancient city dating back to the book of Genesis. It was founded by one of Noah’s great grandsons named Nimrod, son of Cush, the son of Ham. Nimrod (rebellion or valor, hero,) was known to be a “Mighty hunter before the Lord” (Warrior, Strong man, brave man, mighty man) one of the most powerful men on earth who excelled at hunting game, (food and provision) and the beginning of his kingdom was Babel (confusion). (Gen. 10:8-9) This will immediately bring to mind the building of the Tower of Babel from Genesis 11 when men of the earth were all of one language and had it in their hearts to build themselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and to make a name for themselves, so they would not be dispersed over the face of the earth. (Gen. 11:4) It was then Yahweh came down from heaven and saw the city and tower the children of man had build and confused their language and dispersed them all across the earth because they were all one people with one language and nothing would be impossible to them.
There are some good things about unanimity and some bad things about unanimity. The bible teaches us a lot about living in peace with one another, being of one accord, one mind, acting together as a single undiversified whole. This is good unless, we are going the wrong way, being like minded in evilness instead of righteousness. When we are united in righteousness, we become a powerful force for doing good in the world, pursuing the glory of God and the benefit of others. When we are united in evilness, how great is that evil force in the world! God dispersed men for their own good since every inclination of their heart was evil all the time. It was for this very reason that God had destroyed the world by a flood and preserved Noah and his family alone. (Gen. 6:5, 8:1) God’s confusing of men’s language and tongues and dispersal of them across the earth was to preserve and protect them from themselves. Being of one heart, one mind, one spirit, one will for an earth-dweller with other earth dwellers who live as mighty hunters for the provisions of flesh and all its lusts for power, possessions, passions, popularity and positions is not a good thing. It makes for a very corrupt world that pursues and chases its own tail in its love for itself.
This judgment and destroying of the world by the Flood all came at the same time, God said his spirit would not strive after man forever and shortened man’s life span from almost 1000 years to 120 years. (Gen. 6:1-3) Methuselah the son of Enoch, Noah’s great grandfather, being the oldest lived 969 years. (Gen. 5:27) This was after the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive and they took as their wives any they chose. (Gen. 6:2) The same ones that Jude speaks of in Jude 1:5-8 when he says”
“Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day – just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.”
Here we see the severe judgment of the fallen angels who forsook their position and indulged in sexual immorality and unnatural desires with the daughters of man compared to men likewise indulging in sexual immorality and unnatural desire with other men in homosexual relationships as in Sodom and Gomorrah that served as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
I bring this to mind so that you might remember what kind of world was immediately before and after the flood because history has a habit of repeating itself. As Ecc. 1:9 says, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” In the initial 2000 years of the world between the chapters of Genesis 1-6 we can see a small snippet of what the world was like before the flood. We are not given much information but we know enough to know that it was a world full of sexual immorality, a world of full of demonic activity between fallen angels and the daughters of men, a world of unequally yoked marriages that where joined together not as God chose but according to how they chose, it was a world of unanimity where the people spoke one language and every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
In these last days of Revelation, before the great judgment we are seeing the same dynamics. A growing rise of sexual immorality and unnatural desires, a growing rise of demonic activity as all hell breaks loose, a growing rise of unequally yoked marriages, a growing rise of unanimity of people all across the world and nations, through the internet, traveling, cell phones, shared media. Nations are no longer as separated as they once were but are merging together. We once again see a world-city beginning to rise.
“The name Babel denotes the world city where men become dispersed into nations, as the name Jerusalem denotes the city of God, where they are again brought together as one family. As the name Jerusalem obtains this sense in the light of prophecy, so is the name give to Babel, no matter whether with or without the design of the first namer, a significant hieroglyph of that judgment of God which was interwoven in the very origin of this world-city, and of that tendency to an ungodly unity which it has ever manifested.”- Lange
“Babylon is not just historic Babylon but stands for everything that is hateful and odious to God. Babylon is every culture that is proud, arrogant, destructive, violent and wasteful. Babylon is every city, which sets itself up against the kingdom of God.” – Unknown
“In essence all the rest of the world had become a third world to Babylon. Babylon was enriched but the price was the destitution of other countries and peoples of the world. The impoverishment of the world and its natural resources meant nothing to Babylon as long as she could have her little niceties and her obscene luxuries.” – Robert Linthkin.
“Throughout the bible, Babylon is a symbol of the city which is anti-God. Literally the name means ‘gate to God’. The Babylon disease leads a city to build towers that breach heavens gates. “Move over God, we’re coming up,” might be their motto. – Ray Bockie
“The history of the world is a conflict between two great cities. The city of man and the city of God. “- Augustine, Tale of Two Cities
“According to Augustine, scripture unfolds the history of two distinct groups of people. Each having a distinct origin, development, characteristics and destiny. These are two cities or societies. The earthly city has its highest expression in the city cultures of Babylon and Rome. The other is the church, composed of God’s elect. The former is destined to pass away but the latter is blessed by God and is to last forever.” – James Boy, Summary of Tale of Two Cities by Augustine
1 Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven.
John sees another mighty angel coming down from heaven. There are many commentators who believe this mighty angel is Jesus. We seem to be running into this a lot lately every time a mighty angel is seen many commentators immediately exclaim. “Look, here is the Christ!”
Once again, I would have to say, No, not yet this isn’t the Christ, he’s still coming but it won’t be long now for this angel represents him putting his foot down on the earth and saying. “Enough!” Have you ever had a parent come into your room as child, when you may have had some friends over and was being a little loud and everything was completely chaotic and they stood there for a time before you even noticed them and then all of a sudden you hear a loud voice that thunders, “Enough!” as they put their foot down? This is kind of the concept we see tonight only on a much greater scale. God is putting his foot down on earth and saying, “Enough!” This is the day we have all been waiting for. We have all been whispering, “How long O Lord before your justice reigns before you avenge your loved one, before you put your foot down on wickedness and crush it forever beneath your feet? How long?
It is a joyous moment and grievous moment all in one. If there was ever another moment in silence in heaven and on earth, I think this would be it. Perhaps it is. We do not have a timescale, an orderly sequence of events for all of the visions we are seeing. Perhaps the opening of the 7th seal when there was silence somehow corresponds and links itself to this one as we come to the blowing of the 7th and final trumpet. It has not been blown yet. We just finished the sixth trumpet last week and now we are in another heavenly intercession, taking a break from the wrath of God being poured out before that 7th and final trumpet is blown in Revelation chapter 11:15. At the blowing of the seventh trumpet we see the Lord’s victory take place.
“Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15)
With all the praise and loud voices we read about now in heaven, we are once again reminded of the great joy and shouting that occurred after the priests had blown their trumpets for the final time after circling the city seven times until the seventh day in Joshua 6. The walls of the city of Jericho fell down now in God’s perfect timing on the seventh day, not from the last blowing of the trumpets but from the shouts of joy of the Israelites such will be the shouts of joy in heaven when the blowing of the last trumpet causes the walls of Babylon, the walls of this world, to fall for the final time.
Revelation 11:16 continues to tell us that then the twenty four elders fall down on their faces and worship God at this time saying, “We give thanks to you, O Lord God Almighty, who is and was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations raged but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and the saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.” (Revelation 11:17-18) Then God’s temple on heaven is opened and the ark of his covenant is seen within it and there are more peals of thunder and flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder and an earthquake and heavy hail. After another interlude of looking at the antichrist more closely, we will come to the seven bowls of God’s judgment being poured out.
So in a sense we have come to the end again, as we came to the end with the opening of the sixth seal and saw the beginnings of God’s wrath and the outpouring of his final sevenfold judgments against those who would not repent. John’s vision paints the events for us again in yet another way to view them. We have reached the end and God is putting his foot down. Soon that final trumpet will blow, the sky will be rolling back like a scroll and the arc of the covenant, the arc of God’s promise will be seen as God’s holy temple is revealed.
It’s my opinion there is deadening silence here before the final storm. We saw the restraints of the seals being removed, we saw the trumpets of warning being blown, we saw that people still would not repent and now we see God finally putting his foot down in a way that probably causes the earth to quake from its weight.
This is an angel. The text says “Then I saw another mighty angel” The only time Christ was referred to as an angel was when he was preincarnate. John knows who Christ is and says he sees another mighty angel; this angel is like the angel he saw before in chapter eight. It’s another, in addition to the previous. We know there is no other being like Christ so this cannot be Christ. John sees an angel and it is indeed mighty from his description.
He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. 2 He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land,
With a description like this, you can see why he could easily be mistaken for Christ. He is indeed mighty and he has a heavenly appearance as Christ. There is no mistaking where he is from or whose side he is on. As Christ’s representative in a sense we can say this is Christ, but it’s not Christ, it’s his messenger.
First I want you to see how large this angel is if you haven’t already noticed. He has planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land. This tells you a little bit about his size. He is massive. I was sitting by the window at Angelina’s restraint the other evening for a friend’s surprise birthday party. As we waited for him to arrive I looked out the bay window at Lewisville Lake and the shore and the clouds above it and thought how massive this angel must be in order to be able to stand on the shore and the sea at the same time. The text says he was clothed with the clouds and had a rainbow over his head. I think this also goes to describing his enormousness if you would picture this angel standing with one foot on the sea and one foot on the land with the clouds surrounding him like clothing and a giant rainbow being someplace where the top of his head would be. That is pretty massive.
Verse one also tells us that his legs were like fiery pillars. So imagine two giant columns of fire supporting him probably representing that he stands in judgment.
His face was like the sun. His appearance was brilliant and radiant as a source of light itself. This like Moses is like one who has been with God such was his glory.
Having a rainbow over his head tells us that God’s Arc of the Covenant is above his head. He is under it. He is a bearer of God’s promise and once again shows us after seeing the bad angels in the last angel whose side this angel is on. His being clothed with the cloud not only tells us a bit of his size but also of his heavenly covering. It is a distinct uniform that identifies him as being from heaven. It also conveys a little bit of mystery regarding his person but not what he is, or where he is from or who sent him. Like many angels’ appearances in the bible, we are not given a name; we don’t need to know a name because it’s not about him. He stands for Jesus.
Not that we need a name but there is a very strong possibility that this is the great arch angel Michael some say it is Gabriel. Turn with me to Daniel 12. In speaking about the time of the end and we will consider both. In Daniel 12:1, we are told:
“At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. 4 But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” (Daniel 12:1-4)
Daniel goes on to describe seeing two men clothed in linen standing on the bank of the stream. In answer to Daniel’s question of time of when this will all take place, one of the angels raise his right hand and his left hand toward heaven and takes an oath swearing by him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times and half a time, and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be finished.
5 Then I, Daniel, looked, and behold, two others stood, one on this bank of the stream and one on that bank of the stream. 6 And someone said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream, “How long shall it be till the end of these wonders?” 7 And I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream; he raised his right hand and his left hand toward heaven and swore by him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time, and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be finished. 8 I heard, but I did not understand. Then I said, “O my lord, what shall be the outcome of these things?” 9 He said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end. 10 Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand. 11 And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days. 12 Blessed is he who waits and arrives at the 1,335 days. 13 But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.
We see a lot of similarities between this promised appearance of Michael who has charge over the Israelites and Revelation 10 when we see a mighty angel put his foot down holding a now open scroll that was intended for the time of the end. In scripture there are not too many angels mentioned by name. Gabriel and Michael are the only two Gabriel is mentioned twice. He appears twice to Daniel in the book of Daniel to bring him understanding of his revelations and he appears twice in the book of Luke, once to Zechariah and once to Mary bringing them good news regarding the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. Gabriel appears be a mighty messenger of revelation.
Michael on the other hand is said to have charge over a people, Israel. (Daniel 12:1) We know he is called a great prince and Daniel 10:3, 21 along with Daniel 12:1 refers to him as the chief prince who contends at Daniel’s terrifying vision of man’s side against the prince of the kingdom of Persia in Daniel 10. The only other times Michael is mentioned is in Jude 1:9 when he is referred to as an archangel and he is contending with the devil over the dispute about Moses body.
But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” (Jude 1:9)
And in Revelation 12:7 where he is fighting against the dragon with his angels and the dragon and his angels are fighting back.
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. (Rev. 12:7-8)
This tells us as a chief prince and archangel, Michael has other angels beneath him. He is a warrior. We always see him contending with Satan, arguing and fighting against him on behalf of God’s people the Israelites.
The bible speaks of principalities and powers that we wrestle against. Principalities are territories ruled by princes and that is what we see described here as we look at Michael the arch angel fighting other principalities that belong to Satan.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Eph. 6:12)
This could be Michael standing in judgment with the open scroll in his hand. It could be Gabriel holding the opened scroll delivering it to John. Or it could be another mighty angel as John said. If it was one of these two mighty angels it is possible that John would have named them specifically instead of saying another mighty angel since John states Michael’s name in chapter twelve recognizing him. He knows exactly which angel is fighting the dragon.
Either way, we know this angel stands on behalf of Jesus Christ and is awesome in appearance that you could mistake him for Jesus. Don’t you wish that was true for us? Don’t you wish that we could be so heavenly, so like Jesus, that others would mistake us for Jesus and be confused by our not being Jesus?
Compare Revelation One’s description of Christ and Daniel 10 with this angel’s appearance.
2 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength (Revelation 1:12-16)
I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. 6 His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude. (Daniel 10:5-6)
Some commentators say this description found in Daniel 10:5-6 is an angel, Gabriel but others hold it is a preincarnate vision of Jesus Christ. I tend to side with the latter because in Daniel 8:16 and Daniel 9:21 Gabriel appears to Daniel to make known his visions and Daniel recognizes him. “the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight.” When it comes to this appearance which comes later, Daniel describes this man who appeared before in great detail as if he had never seen him before. Daniel never describes to us Gabriel. There is something different about this man dressed in linen and his eyes that were like flaming torches. However, it was this man who fights against the King of Persia and was delayed twenty one days before reaching Daniel with his revelation and who Michael was the only one who contended by his side. Is it Jesus? In Joshua chapter 5:13-15 we see a preincarnate appearance of Jesus as the commander of the army of Yahweh who comes to Joshua before they go to battle against Jericho marching around it seven times to its defeat. We know it to be the preincarnate Jesus because Joshua falls down and worships him and Jesus allows it and responds, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” And Joshua did so.
In the hand of this large angel we see that he is holding a little scroll that lays open in the palm of his hand. Most commentators believe that this is the same scroll that has just been opened with the seven seals now loosed or at the very least an abridged version since it appears so small. The reason for its small size is one because it lies in a very large angels hand and two John is going to be told in a few verses down to take and eat it. He would not be able to take and eat it, if the scroll was dimensional to the angel’s massive size. It would be like telling John to eat a building.
Now remember this is apocalyptic literature which is rich in symbolism and concepts like dreams more than it is literal. The main idea here is the concept that is being communicated to John through this vision. If you back away from all the details and look at this passage right now the main concepts that stand out right now is the very large awesome appearing angel standing on earth with his head in the heavens holding a little open book. He has his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land showing that is presence and authority is everywhere. If he was just standing on the land we would want to know what portion of the land he was standing on, whose kingdom and we would try to place him and limit him to coming against that kingdom instead of coming against the entire world in judgment. If he was just standing on the sea we would want to know where is he going. The sea is more of a desolate place, where the land is a more populated place. This angel is both places. On the sea, on the land and in the heavens all at the same time. In a sense it is like God’s judgment that came out of the first four trumpets that affected the land, the sea, the rivers and the heavens. All domains and regions of the earth were affected by these judgments. His standing on the land and the sea at the same time communicates both his size, power and his authority over all the earth and all people. We can’t limit him as easy to just one portion of the earth.
3 and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke.
A king’s wrath strikes terror like the roar of a lion; those who anger him forfeit their lives. (Prov. 20:2)
If the angel’s size did not go our attention and put fear in our hearts, his roar definitely will. It says he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. The concept being communicated here is that it is loud, frightening, fierce, angry and ready for attack shout from the heavens. This is similar to the universal battle cry or war cry that men shout before entering into a battle intended to evoke aggression and action in their comrades, boosting their own morale and to intimidate their enemies to such an extreme degree that they would prefer to avoid the confrontation all together and turn and run instead. In order to accomplish this, battle cries have to be as loud as possible and historically have been amplified by drums, horns, bugles, trumpets, bag pipes and other acoustic devices. War cries can be seen as the warming up phase before the physical violence of war. The confederate army was known for their battle cry which is often called the “Rebel Yell” or “Texas Yell” and is said to have sounded something like a screaming cougar although some portray it as a “Yee-Haw!” Historically men have shouted various slogans and mottos. Some famous ones are:Remember the Alamo! – Texan volunteers vs. Mexico. ‘Heaven at last!’- Crusaders ‘For the Motherland!’-Red army ww2.
‘Hooah!’-Us army. Oorah! – United States Marine Core ‘Geronimo!’-101st Airborne Division, US Army. “Let’s Roll!” – Civilian battle cry of hijacked passenger jet from 911
If you may picture the battle cry from the movie Braveheart or remember the motivating battle cry from the movie 300: “This is where we fight! This is where they die!” used when the king of Sparta rallies his army against the Persians. And in response 300 Spartans shout out in response to his war cry, “HA-OOH!”
Here we see this massive angel giving a massive war cry and he receives a massive response from heaven, seven thunders replied back. Wow! What a battle cry to have heaven answer back!
Do you want to know what the battle cry was?
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.”
We aren’t told. We know the angel sounded like the roar of a lion but the heavenly host said in return is not shared with us. I am led to think it is a slogan or a motto of some sorts, like perhaps, “Worthy is the Lamb!” because whatever heaven said, it said in unison and it was understandable because John was about to write it down before God told him to seal it up and not to write it down.
Many commentators say that this is another set of seven judgments, especially in when comparing to Leviticus 26 and the 4 separate sevenfold judgments of God that are poured out on the disobedient who refuse to repent. Some commentators believe that God changes his mind in pouring out this judgment and seals it up instead or we just don’t get to know what this set of seven judgments are. The fact is we don’t know, and there yet remains some mystery of God’s judgment that we are not privy too.
But I’m wagering that this is heaven’s responding battle cry in answer to the mighty archangel about to wage war. As we read about the chief prince and Archangel Michael having angels under him, I’m thinking that this mighty angel has a mighty force behind him that is ready to wage war. Heaven is prepared and waiting to rush forward with its myriad and myriads of angels. The seven thunders sounding is a sign of heaven’s complete and perfect allegiance behind this angel and it is indeed meant to intimidate its enemies and raise morale for God’s saints.
5 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!
Here we see this massive angel coming under a position of taking oath as he raises his right hand and swears by God, describing him as “him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it.” Today there are many idols and gods; by this description you cannot be mistaken who he is referring to.
As creator of the heavens, the earth and the sea, and all that is within them, God has the right to judge all of creation. Once again this ties in with our interpretation of the angels giant size having one foot on the land, one foot on the sea and his head in heaven as communicating his judgment is coming against the entire earth, all its domains and realms and all its creation.
The angel raises his right hand and swears that, “There will be no more delay!” I am a notary. I am a public officer appointed by a government official to witness signatures on affidavits, take depositions and administer oaths. When I witness a signature that requires an oath, the question asked is, “Do you swear, that the information contained in this document is true?” Or if you have ever watched a witness being sworn in or had to give a deposition you may remember them having to raise their right hand and place their left on the bible and answer, “Do you sear (or affirm) that the testimony you are about to give in this matter is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth (so help you, God)?”
This helps us put into context that this angel is swearing before heaven and to God as he raises his gigantic right hand that there will be no further delay. No further postponements. No further detainers. God’s judgment is coming. That which must take place is about to take place.
This is a reminder to us that God’s judgment will take place. It may seem way off in the future and as if it is delayed and never going to come. This would have been a great encourager to the original readers of this book in John’s day, the first century Jews who were suffering great persecution. If you remember, the purpose of is apocalyptic literature to encourage its readers and listeners that victory is coming.
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.”
This is the other half of the massive angel’s sentence. For us this is a reference to Revelation 11:15 where the seventh angel blows his trumpet and there were loud voices in heaven saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”
The Blowing of the Last Trumpet
51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks are to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Cor. 15:51-58)
The Mystery of God Accomplished
There is much of God’s ways and work that is a mystery to us. This reminds us that God is accomplishing his purposes and one day his purposes will no longer be a mystery to us. One day we will understand what God has been up to.
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— (1 Cor. 2:9)
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child; I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Cor. 13:8)
There are several mysteries mentioned in the bible. The book of Daniel is full of mysteries, mysteries that God revealed to Daniel in visions of things to come and in helping to understand visions of the kings. I love how Nebuchadnezzar praises God in Daniel 2:47 saying, ““Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.”
The book of Revelation itself that we have been reading is somewhat of a mystery that God has been revealing to us regarding the time of the end. Like the book of Daniel it is full of mysteries that God is unveiling to us.
Mystery of the Gospel
Then we also have the mystery of the gospel which has been hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. All this has been a great mystery of God that he has accomplished.
the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:26-27)
o for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, (Eph. 6:19)
25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith (Romans 16:25-26)
The Mystery of Israel’s Salvation
Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. (Romans 11:25)
The Mystery of the Transfiguration
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed (1 Cor. 15:51)
Just as he announced to his servants and prophets.
As we have been studying the book of Revelation, we have seen many times God revealed these same mysteries of the last days and the coming of Christ, to his servants the prophets, Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Joel, Jeremiah, Zephaniah and I am leaving several out.
As Amos 3:7 says: Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets
8 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.”
Then John is told to take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land. The angel has not moved. He is still occupying his position. John goes to him and asks for the scroll. The angel hands it to him and tells him to take it and eat it and warns him that it will turn his stomach sour or bitter but in his mouth it will be as sweet as honey. And John takes it and eats and finds the angels words to be true. The scroll was sweet in his mouth but turned his stomach sour. It made him sick.
This parallel’s Ezekiel 2:
2 He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” 2 As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.
3 He said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me to this very day. 4 The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ 5 And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them. 6 And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people. 7 You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. 8 But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious people; open your mouth and eat what I give you.”
9 Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, 10 which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe. (Ezekiel 2)
And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat.
3 Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.
4 He then said to me: “Son of man, go now to the people of Israel and speak my words to them. 5 You are not being sent to a people of obscure speech and strange language, but to the people of Israel— 6 not to many peoples of obscure speech and strange language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely if I had sent you to them, they would have listened to you. 7 But the people of Israel are not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for all the Israelites are hardened and obstinate. 8 But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. 9 I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people.”
10 And he said to me, “Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you. 11 Go now to your people in exile and speak to them. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says,’ whether they listen or fail to listen.”
12 Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me a loud rumbling sound as the glory of the Lord rose from the place where it was standing. 13 It was the sound of the wings of the living creatures brushing against each other and the sound of the wheels beside them, a loud rumbling sound. 14 The Spirit then lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness and in the anger of my spirit, with the strong hand of the Lord on me. 15 I came to the exiles who lived at Tel Aviv near the Kebar River. And there, where they were living, I sat among them for seven days—deeply distressed. (Ezekiel 3:1-15)
I love books. I devour a lot of books, so many sometimes that I often get indigestion by taking in too much at a time. I have to back off for a time and let what I have already read settle in. Writing about them helps me. There are some books that I eat that are just really hard to digest, they turn my stomach sour. Reading about young girls being sold in the slave market for sex trafficking rings is one type of these books that just turns my stomach. They make me nauseous. Revelation is also much like that. It still turns my stomach in many ways thinking about my loved ones and family that may have to face such great tribulation.
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psa. 119: 103
They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb – Psa. 19:10
I have found its promises to be sweet. An end to sin. An end to injustice. Seeing Christ face to face. Christ reigning forever and ever and ever. No more separation. No more tears. No more death. No more pain. No more devastation. No more injustice. No more evil. No more lust. No more loneliness. No more mystery. More love. More righteousness. More peace… More joy. More Christ. But the other side of those promises for those who will not follow him now is bitter, so bitter. No more chances. No more joy. No more peace. No more life. No more love. No more contentment. No more rest. No more mercy. No more grace. More pain. More suffering. More darkness. More separation. More loneliness.
The gospel and this prophecy for the Last Days are sweet to our mouth, but after we have digested it and its implications, its judgments it turns our stomach sour. Even Daniel in his visions writes, “Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly alarmed me, and my color changed, but I kept the matter in my heart.” (Daniel 7:8) It is difficult to digest what waits those who refuse to return to God.
This leads to the commissioning of a minister and a prophet like Ezekiel. There is a great responsibility that comes with the eating of God’s word. John is commissioned much like Ezekiel is commission to go and tell and John is sent and we are sent to the same kind of people who Ezekiel is sent to, a rebellious house, who refuses to listen. Who probably will not listen to us, to the gospel but we are told to go anyway. These are the angel’s final words to John in this chapter. “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.”
So too we must prophecy. We must tell others about Jesus regardless of wither they listen. It may at times appear that our efforts our wasted but any effort can never be wasted when the consequences of not saying anything is so great. I ran across a couple of quotes that brought me great comfort this weekend in reminding of this truth as I struggled with trusting in God for the salvation of a loved one who I cannot reach with the gospel but so desperately want to be saved. I still share the gospel with him when I am given opportunity but he doesn’t want to hear it and my efforts seems so wasted that I want to give up even trying, but I can’t. This lesson this week encourages me this week in knowing and reminding me that sharing the message of the gospel is like this. So often I feel as if something is wrong and the gospel message is not working because it should have had some seen effect by now. But we are sent to share the gospel time and time again regardless of the response we receive.
The answer to our prayers may be coming, although we may not discern its approach. A seed that is underground during winter, although hidden and seemingly dead and lost is nevertheless taking root for a later spring and harvest. – Bickersteth
Delayed answers to prayer are not only trails of faith; they also give us opportunities to honor God through our steadfast confidence in Him even when facing the apparent denial of our request. – Charles H Spurgeon.