Introduction – Revelation 10:1-5
In an informative interlude between the sixth and seventh Trumpets (Revelation 10:1–11:15) John sees “another angel” (Christ) holding a little open book. It is assumed that it had been closed and is now open to study and understanding.
This “angel” being clothed with a cloud suggests His divinity. The rainbow strongly affirms His covenant promises and grace during this intense time. His sun-like face is a divine insignia that His presence has come to earth in a special mission. Therefore:
- Christ is represented, symbolically, as arriving on planet earth.
- He is bringing a special message that had been sealed.
- Though Satan’s character is still on exhibit, He will temper its expression.
Christ stands on the sea and earth. By Revelation 10:8 that stance has been reported three times!
- This portrays a time when He has assumed a unique authority over the whole earth. A transition in time has arrived!
- Placing a foot on something indicates sovereignty. His sovereignty over sea and land tells us that He has taken special control over Satan’s kingdom!
In 13:1 (NIV) the dragon stood on the shore of the sea, waiting for the leopard-like sea beast to emerge to give it power, his throne and authority! This occurs after Christ has already begun to assert these special prerogatives over the world.
Later, an earth beast arises that speaks like the dragon and has the same authority as the first beast. All this is sequentially interesting. God permits Satan measured control with those minions in rebellion. Several times it is noted that their ability to function “was given” to them, even restricted to forty-two months, especially related to the antichrist sea beast power (e.g., 13:5)! God’s sovereign authority is in evidence.
Commensurate with all this association with Christ’s global stance is that open book in His hand (10:2). This suggests that it has timely information that must penetrate the whole world!
In Revelation 10:
- Christ’s feet were pillars of fire, which is a metaphor for judgment of unbelievers.
- This imagery is one of Christ standing as a judge over the unbelieving inhabitants of the earth. One purpose for His “coming down” from heaven is judicial, distinctly related to a specific period of time.
- His “loud voice” intimates that whatsoever He says will be heard globally.
- That “little open book” is destined to become a “meal” for the seer! That is uniquely for God’s people. His mission has a dual purpose.
A time of divine judicial work is about to commence (noted in 11:1). Might this be the reason that the First Angel’s Message cries: “The hour of his judgment has come”? (Revelation 14:7).
This interlude follows a divine judgment narrative occurring during the first four Trumpets. That is followed by amazing insights into Satan and his minions in Trumpets five and six. An accelerated conflict between right and wrong is in evidence.
- An interlude introduces added information that God wants us to be aware of in light of or associated with what has previously been shown! It also anticipates future associated issues!
- The flow of information, beginning with the casting of coals to the earth (Revelation 8:5) and the Trumpets, underscores, again, the message that divine judicial activity is anticipated and time is running out. The time to bring to earth its final appeal to repent has arrived.
This may seem difficult to see, but, once again, a similar message is on display in the first of the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14. The gospel appeal encircles the earth again with the urgent warning that “the hour of His judgment has come”! Then in the second and third declarations is a description of what brings God’s judgments – culminating in the most fearful description of heaven’s wrath in the Bible!
That Little Open Book
It has been the assumption of numerous scholars that this is the same document as the seven-sealed scroll of Revelation 5:
- Both books are to be opened.
- Both are held by Christ.
- Christ is likened to a lion (5:5, 10:3).
- Both seem to be allusions to Ezekiel 2.
- Both are associated with a “strong angel” who cries out.
- Both are associated with God who lives “forever and ever” (5:13, 10:15).
- In both visions someone approaches a heavenly being and takes the book from His hand.
- Both scrolls seem to deal with the destiny of peoples, nations, tongues and tribes/kings (5:9-0, 10:11).
There are serious questions, however, that overshadow the above parallels!
- The word biblaridion (G) used here means “little book” (Revelation 10:2).
- Later, the “little book” is referred to as a book (biblion) (10:8), which simply means that its diminutive idea is retained and it is a simpler way to refer to it.
- The “little book” is introduced without a definite article, suggesting that John is seeing it for the first time.
- The seven-sealed book of chapter 5 is opened sequentially, seal by seal. The sixth Seal relates to the seventh Vial Plague and Christ’s Second Coming. The scroll can’t be opened until after the seventh Seal is broken. The little scroll here in Revelation 10 is eaten before the last three and a half years of earth’s history commences (11:2-3).
- John has chosen to use the word biblaridion here and nowhere else. The word biblion is used twenty times elsewhere, including descriptions of the seven-sealed scroll.
The little book or scroll is introduced in Revelation 10:2 – but plays no role in the immediate scenes that follow except that it remains in Christ’s hand. Finally, in verses 8 through 11, it becomes a dominant part of the narrative.
It is assumed that it is in His left hand because He raises His right hand in verse 5.
- Normally scrolls that are partially open require the use of both hands to keep them open or unrolled.
- The “open” identity word does not mean that it is unrolled, but implies that it is unsealed. It can now be studied and understood.
Probing Deeper into that “Book”
While in that authorative stance over the world and holding this unsealed scroll, Christ does something very dramatic. He makes an oath with God! This introduces new and stunning information relative to this document.
- This oath is a direct inference to Daniel 12:7, where Christ takes a similar oath when part of Daniel’s narrative is sealed! There, a timing prophecy was introduced in response to Daniel’s question, “How long will it be till the work of the antichrist ends?”
- “And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he [the antichrist] shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished” (Daniel 12:7). Whenever that period ends, the work of the antichrist will end!
Here is what John now hears Jesus say:
- “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!’” (Revelation 10:6 – NIV). That relates to that three-and-a-half year period.
- Divine oaths are found elsewhere in the Old Testament (Amos 6:8, Ezekiel 20:5, Genesis 22:16, Exodus 32:13, Isaiah 45:43, Jeremiah 49:13). But – this oath directly relates to Daniel and is a prophecy that a “delay” or tarrying time is about to end!
Both Daniel and Revelation references are declarations regarding a prophetic period. Daniel: It lasts three and a half years, then Michael will stand up and God’s people will be delivered. Revelation: That period is now about to begin. This is amazing!
The electrifying buildup by John regarding Christ addressing the Creator of all things is followed by a simple but profound substance to His oath:
- Time will be no longer delayed. The specifics regarding that time period are shortly expressed in two ways to John: 42 months and 1260 days (11:2-3, respectively).
- These “appointed times” are about to begin. (They parallel each other.)
- Daniel notes that persecution would end at the terminus of that time.
This announcement is an answer to the question of the martyrs (Revelation 6:10) – “How long?” That, in turn, relates directly to the queries of Gabriel (Daniel 8:13) and Daniel (Daniel 12:6) – both “How long?”!
The prophecy in Daniel 11:29 to 12:13 concerns the end-time action of the antichrist, the suffering and persecution of God’s people, the destruction of that enemy, the great tribulation and the establishment of His kingdom (12:1).
Daniel notes (12:7) that after this “times, time, and half,” God’s prophetic plan would “be completed.” The occurrence of the phrase “it will be completed” in Revelation 10:7 portrays the influence of Daniel’s reference. Amazingly, this same period is also noted in Revelation 12:6, 14; 13:5.
- “When the seventh angel sounds his trumpet, the prophecy of Daniel 11:29–12:13 will be fulfilled and history will come to an end; that is, God’s purposes in history will be completed, so that no more time is needed in this historical epoch for him to execute such purposes ...”
- What was indistinct to Daniel and John is now made understandable to us.
The “angel” (Christ), here in Revelation 10, is announcing that the period that leads immediately to the end of that history has arrived. This means that the contents of the scroll are a fuller revelation about that apocalyptic period at the end of history found in Daniel.
“In the Scriptures are presented truths that relate especially to our own time. To the period just prior to the appearing of the Son of man, the prophecies of Scripture point, and here their warnings and threatenings pre-eminently apply. The prophetic periods of Daniel, extending to the very eve of the great consummation, throw a flood of light upon events then to transpire. The book of Revelation is also replete with warning and instruction for the last generation. The beloved John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, portrays the fearful and thrilling scenes connected with the close of earth's history, and presents the duties and dangers of God's people. None need remain in ignorance, none need be unprepared for the coming of the day of God.” Those “prophetic periods” relate to Daniel 12.
Challenge: Decipher what was in that little, unsealed book.
“The things revealed to Daniel were afterward complemented by the revelation made to John on the isle of Patmos. These two books should be carefully perused. Twice Daniel inquired, How long shall it be to the end of time? ‘And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand…. But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days [Daniel 12:8-10, 13].” Expositor White related the unsealing of Daniel to the end of time.
“It was the Lion of the tribe of Judah who unsealed the book and gave to John the revelation of what should be in these last days. Daniel stood in his lot to bear his testimony, which was sealed until the time of the end, when the first angel’s message should be proclaimed to our world. These matters are of infinite importance in these last days, but while ‘many shall be purified, and made white, and tried,’ ‘the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand.’"
Read Revelation in connection with Daniel. Teach these things.”
The Sealed Daniel Record
Daniel was written in two different languages: 1:1–2:4a and 8:1–12:13 are in Hebrew and 2:4b–7:28 is in Aramaic. The second Hebrew section contains unique areas that were sealed, categorized under the “ha hazon” visions. The classic summation text:
- Gabriel speaking: “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4).
- Messiah speaking: “And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end” (Daniel 12:9).
Contextually, Daniel 11:29–12:13 is a block of end-time texts that are clearly included in that sealed portion. But – are there other areas within the Hebrew narrative that are part of this vision? After an intense rendition of a ram and a rough he-goat battle and a terrifying little horn story in Daniel 8:2-12, Gabriel told Daniel:
- “So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision” (8:17).
- “And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be” (8:19).
Those stories are related to the eschaton and, more specifically, to a fixed time (moed – H) that is translated as an “appointed time.” That period of time is picked up once again by the angel Gabriel: “And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed” (Daniel 11:35).
Expositor White had insight related to the link between Revelation 10 and Daniel 8 through 12:
“The book that was sealed was not the book of Revelation, but that portion of the prophecy of Daniel which related to the last days. The Scripture says, ‘But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.’ When the book was opened, the proclamation was made, ‘Time shall be no longer.’ The book of Daniel is now unsealed, and the revelation made by Christ to John is to come to all the inhabitants of the earth. By the increase of knowledge a people is to be prepared to stand in the latter days.”
Again, the segregation of this portion is easily done through two Hebrew words translated as “vision”: ha hazon (the vision) and mareh (vision). It was the final rendition of the ha hazon that Gabriel said was to be sealed until the “time of the end.”
That ha hazon encompasses, in segments:
- The rough he-goat’s attack on the ram (Daniel 8:2-8)
- The rise and persecution of God’s people and church by the little horn antichrist (Daniel 8:9-12) with explanation (8:17-26b)
- The detailed review of kings, two rises of the antichrist, close of probation and the deliverance of God’s people (Daniel 10:14–12:4).
- By inference (Daniel 12:5-13 – with those timing prophecies)
In summary, the unsealed book Christ is holding details the final phase of the war between Christ and Satan, the incredible horrors of the antichrist, the difficult experiences God’s people will soon face and the final victory of God’s amazing plan – all that is in Daniel. Revelation embellishes many of these areas – but the foundational record is in the ha hazon portion of Daniel.
What was distant and misunderstood by Daniel is open to John so much so that he eats that book. But its application is also for a distant time when the gospel work will be finished. Though there is an eschatological inauguration of this open book with John, its interpretation was apparently found within the seven thunders of 10:3-4. He is barred from revealing their content. His eating of the book became symbolic for us to now use that portion of Daniel to be His witnesses and apparently grasp what was in those thunderous voices!
- “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” (Revelation 10:10).
- “And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings” (Revelation 10:11).
In the middle of this fascinating apocalyptic prophecy John is given a message that suddenly invites deeper thought:
- “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” (Revelation 10:7).
- We are in an information interlude (Revelation 10–11:13). The seer has presented the narrative of the first six Trumpets (Revelation 8–9).
- But – in light of the open book that is yet to be eaten, what does this mean?
The seventh Trumpet won’t sound until 11:15. God has a notice, a bulletin, to decipher before it is eaten! What is that “mystery of God”? Contextually, we know that God’s purposes in history will be complete.
One must review a strange series of end-time questions in prophecy and their context:
- The little horn antichrist is winning (Daniel 8:9-12). Gabriel, that elevated heavenly angel, poses a question to Christ; “How long” until you vindicate your name and your people (Daniel 8:13)? (The Hebraic meaning.)
- The Vile Person, later, the King of the North, is winning (Daniel 11:30-44). Daniel, the seer whom God loves, poses a question to Christ: “How long” until you vindicate your name and your people? (The Hebraic meaning.)
- The martyrs under the fifth Seal are perplexed (Revelation 6:9-10). They cry with a loud voice: “How long” until you vindicate your name and your people? (The implied Greek meaning.)
Contextually, Gabriel, Daniel and the martyrs could not understand some mystery. Satan appears to be winning. God’s people are suffering. God’s name is being tarnished. “God, how long will this go on?”
- Coalescing the Daniel and Revelation messages to this point: The “kingdom of evil will not be defeated until it finishes defeating ‘the power of the holy people.’”
- God’s people are winning spiritually. This has been depicted in many areas to this point:
- There are overcomers, especially in the Smyrna and Philadelphia churches.
- The sealing process of the 144,000 in Revelation 7 is under way.
- Then the sealed are even noted in Revelation 9:1-11.
“John, before you eat that book, be aware that the saints are faced with persecution, difficult trials, even martyrdom. The work will, however, move forward. This may be a deep mystery, but deliverance and victory will come at the end! My name will be vindicated!
- This is the same ironic “mystery” that Christ experienced.
- Christ was a “faithful witness” (Revelation 1:5) unto the Cross. “How long, God, until the time is fulfilled?”
Christ’s resurrection represents the victory, deliverance and future resurrection of the saints noted by Daniel:
- “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book” (Daniel 12:1).
- “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2).
“Before the crown must come the cross. Not the inauguration of Christ as king, but the decease to be accomplished at Jerusalem, is the subject of their conference with Jesus. Bearing the weakness of humanity, and burdened with its sorrow and sin, Jesus walked alone in the midst of men. As the darkness of the coming trial pressed upon Him, He was in loneliness of spirit, in a world that knew Him not. Even His loved disciples, absorbed in their own doubt and sorrow and ambitious hopes, had not comprehended the mystery of His mission.”
“We may strengthen our faith and quicken our love by going often to the foot of the cross, and there contemplating our Saviour’s humiliation. Behold the Majesty of heaven suffering as a transgressor! Spotless purity, untarnished righteousness, did not shield Him from falsehood and reproach. He meekly bore the contradiction of sinners against Himself, and yielded up His life, that we might be forgiven and live forevermore. Are we willing to follow in His steps?
“Those who are in earnest to win the crown of eternal life need not be surprised or disheartened because at every step toward the heavenly Canaan they meet with obstacles and encounter trials….
“The Saviour knows what is best. Faith grows by conflict with doubt and difficulty and trial. Virtue gathers strength by resistance to temptation. The life of the faithful soldier is a battle and a march. No rest, fellow pilgrim, this side the heavenly Canaan…. But John in holy vision beholds the faithful souls that come up out of great tribulation, surrounding the throne of God, clad in white robes, and crowned with immortal glory. What though they have been counted the offscouring of the earth? In the investigative judgment their lives and characters are brought in review before God, and that solemn tribunal reverses the decision of their enemies. Their faithfulness to God and to His Word stands revealed, and Heaven's high honors are awarded them as conquerors in the strife with sin and Satan.” 
- Most interesting, Revelation 11:1-13 focuses on the challenge of the witnesses.
- But all ends gloriously with an eternal reward for the saints and judicial action against the wicked (11:14-18).
The “mystery of Godliness” here strongly suggests that it includes the principle of a “cross before the crown”!
The Prophetic Commission
John’s commission is an echo of the commission of Ezekiel (2:8–3:3). This Old Testament prophet was commissioned to be an emissary to “a rebellious nation” (2:3-8). He was commanded to eat a scroll (3:1) which divinely “accredited” his prophetic mission.
- In first person, John says: “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” (Revelation 10:10).
- “The idea of consuming the word of God occurs often in the OT. Psalm 119:103 says, ‘How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth’ (cf. Ps. 19:10; Prov. 24:13-14), and Jer. 15:16 states, ‘When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight.’ Therefore, to ‘eat’ the scroll means to take its message to heart, to internalize the prophecy and put it to work in one’s life.”
The act of eating suggests many things to scholars, from memorizing its contents to fully understanding its messages. It was sweet – wonderful to understand what God inspired Daniel to write! Why then bitter?
- Ezekiel was told that his scroll’s diverse messages would be rejected (Ezekiel 3:4-7).
- That becomes our clue here with John. It will bring rejection, and persecution will follow.
Within the narratives of Ezekiel and John, eating of the “written word” brings “new light” – new information. It is so important that it also prepares them to be a select messenger or witness at that key period of time!
“New light will ever be revealed on the word of God to him who is in living connection with the Sun of Righteousness. Let no one come to the conclusion that there is no more truth to be revealed. The diligent, prayerful seeker for truth will find precious rays of light yet to shine forth from the word of God. Many gems are yet scattered that are to be gathered together to become the property of the remnant people of God. But light is not given simply to be a strength to the church, but to be shed upon those who are in darkness. The people of God are to show forth the praises of Him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvelous light. Christ has said of his people, ‘Ye are the light of the world,’ and it is the mission of light to shine out and illuminate the darkness.”
“Then I was told, ‘You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings’” (Revelation 10:11 – NIV).
- John has been commissioned on two previous occasions (1:10-20, 4:1-2). There is, however, an issue here. Many scholars strongly conclude that it is against these people (not “again”)!
- The divine imperative is to prophecy against the peoples, nations, tongues and kings.
- “And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles” (Matthew 10:18).
This suggests a universal scope of pending judgment against these groups as a final warning message. This is actually embellished later within the three angels’ messages:
- “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb” (Revelation 14:9-10).
- Ten earthly kings, along with the whole world, are firmly brought to the forefront in Revelation 17:11-12 – who rebel against God through the antichrist’s “wine.”
- “And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication” (Revelation 17:1-2).
- This is why the content of that scroll and the Three Angels’ Messages are to be a final warning against their “fornication.” What “spiritual adultery” might that be? That “little book” details the apostasy and resistance against God found in Daniel 8–12.
This heralds a change in the end-time status for God’s people. There is a distinct preparation for the final work depicted in Revelation 11:2-7a. That mission now demands that one address the wrath of God and His pending judgment. This prophetic role duplicates the myriad examples in the Old Testament, such as from Noah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. An air of urgency accompanies this message because time is running out – only three and a half years are left. Even Satan knows his time is short (Revelation 12:12).
With both Ezekiel and Daniel, eating the books came as divine imperatives to witness. The contents brought pleasantness and then bitterness, in that sequence. This led to another command by God to let the world know that divine judgments are pending. That is heralded in the third angel’s message.
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EndTime Issues…, Number 209, January 4, 2018