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Go and Proclaim

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That people will not listen - does not remove our obligation to speak the gospel anyway.

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Also Read: Ezekiel 2:1-3:11

They won’t listen! – Teach them anyway.

Like chapter 7 in the book of Revelation, chapters 10-11:14 are often considered parenthetical. But Not so fast. Since Revelation 11:14 declares the ending of the second woe – we need to look at it through a unified lens. Chapter 9 ends with the non-repentance of humanity; which leads me at least to the question: Why bother preaching the word of God if nobody is listening? Why call for repentance if none repent? Why explain the gospel if no one comes down the aisle? Indeed. These are precisely the questions that Old Testament prophets like Ezekiel and Jeremiah asked. (See Ezekiel 2:5-7 and Jeremiah 6:17, 7:25-27). And this is precisely the answer that God gives in the vision of Revelation to John.
That people will not listen - does not remove our obligation to speak the gospel anyway.
If we take a look at our passage today we can break it up after verse 4 and 7 to give us three sections each separated by the word, “then”.
Revelation 10:1-4 The Angel and the Thunders
then
Revelation 10:5-7 The Oath and the End
then
Revelation 10:8-11 A sweet and bitter gospel
Let’s stand and read from the screen Revelation 10:1-11
Revelation 10:1–11 NASB95PARA
I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire; and he had in his hand a little book which was open. He placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land; and he cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars; and when he had cried out, the seven peals of thunder uttered their voices. When the seven peals of thunder had spoken, I was about to write; and I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken and do not write them.” Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things in it, and the earth and the things in it, and the sea and the things in it, that there will be delay no longer, but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets. Then the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard again speaking with me, and saying, “Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the land.” So I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book. And he said to me, “Take it and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and in my mouth it was sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter. And they said to me, “You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.”

The Angel and the Thunders

Revelation 10:1-4
John’s attention shifts to see another strong angel. The description is interesting.
The first “strong angel” comes in Revelation 5:2 (there will be another in Revelation 18). That angel introduces us to the problem of the sealed scroll as he seeks for someone worthy to break the seals and open the book (biblion). Now, here again we see another strong angel and this one is holding a little book (biblaridion). Both of them cry out with loud voices, and this one is described in words and images that are normally associated with God himself. In part this is why John is careful to describe him as “another angel” and to note that he swears in the name of God (verse 6). Both are ways of marking for us that this is not Jesus, though it seems many commentators seem confused by the description.
Angels, it appears, as you read through scripture come with many varied descriptions. The branch of theology dealing with them, Angelology is interesting but quite limited.
Max Lucado very helpfully likens angels to whale watching. They occasionally break the surface in marvelous power and a display of glory, and at other times they simply blast their mist into the air as they breathe and then the whale rolls over and with a flick of a massive fluke disappears again below the surface leaving us merely to guess at where they’re going; and wondering if we shall see them again.
Compared perhaps to other angels, this one is a particularly strong angel. He comes down out of heaven (rather than falling like an evil angel).
After this things get complicated.

Clothed with a cloud

He is clothed with a cloud – We might remember in Exodus 19:9-19 God descends in a pillar of Cloud to protect his people from seeing him as he reveals himself on Mt. Sinai. There is something to be said here – as we’ll see in a moment that this angel is veiling his glory.

A Rainbow Hat

The rainbow is upon his head. Almost every commentator seems only to see the description of God’s glory in Ezekiel 1:26-28 as relevant here where the glory of God, like the attempted explanations of “likeness” in chapter 4 is described as being “as the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance.” (Ezekiel 1:28). But look at the image please in verse 1. The rainbow is upon his head, not surrounding him. There is something different going on here.
The rainbow is a specific symbol of God’s decision not to flood the earth again in order to destroy all life (Genesis 9:8-17). There is a specificity here that ought not to be avoided This angel, strong as he is, is governed and guided or otherwise marked by God’s gracious promise to withhold judgement in a specific form. The rainbow is a visible reminder of God’s grace in the midst of sin. It is very appropriate then that God calls for the symbol of the rainbow to announce that time is up.

Face like the sun

His face is described as “like the sun.” This is one of the reasons that most commentators want to identify the angel with Jesus. Jesus is described this way (Matt 17:2; Rev 1:16). Jesus is not referred to as an angel or messenger in the book of Revelation elsewhere, and this angel is called “another strong angel” both are very good reasons not to see it this way. But let us not forget Moses, who in Exodus 34:29 (See also 2 Corinthians 3:7-17 ) came down from Mount Sinai after talking with God and who did not realize that the result of him being in the presence of God was that his face shone. As a result everyone was afraid of him so that Moses took to wearing a veil over his face when he was not talking - so as not to frighten everyone – even as our angel here veils his glory by being clothed with a cloud.
And so this angel, with face shining like the sun, clothed in clouds, and topped with The Rainbow stands with feet like pillars of fire.

Feet Like Pillars of Fire

Once again this is often the language given to describe the glory of God (similar Revelation 2:18). In this instance it does describe the power and glory of this strong angel. In The Exodus account let me only quickly remind you of the Pillar of cloud by Day and the Pillar of Fire by night that both guided and protected the Israelites throughout their journey.
Everything about this angel displays God’s glory. There’s a good reason for that. He has something in his hands. By the way take note very briefly that the Israelites understood that Angels helped to bring the word of God to Moses (see Hebrews 2:2).

A Little Book

In his hand was a little book that was open. We will revisit this book in a few moments. Just as the first strong angel in chapter 5 reference a scroll or a book, so this one also comes with a little book. Keeping in mind what we’ll see in a few moments, it at least has to be small enough for John to eat (See Revelation 10:1-11; Ezekiel 2 &3; Jeremiah 15:16).
Unlike the seven sealed scroll, this little book is accessible. It is a message for everyone as shown by where he stands with his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land. Symbolizing if you will a message for the whole earth – Jew and Gentile alike.

Silence the thunder

The angel cries out with a loud voice like the other one in Revelation 5:2 does. When he does so: “the seven peals of thunder” say something, but John is not allowed to record it.
While I have often imagined this was some kind of “Date stamp” that people would recognize, I doubt that. This would indicate that God somehow lost some control of the thunders who said something they shouldn’t. That’s not realistic. In the sovereignty of God they said something for John to hear, but not for us to know. The same thing happened to the prophet Daniel (Daniel 8:26, 12:4, 9). A very similar type of non-revelation-revelation is made to the Apostle Paul who says in 2 Corinthians 12:4 that he was caught up into heaven and who heard “inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak”. As it was with Paul’s description so also it is very likely here true of John that the seven thunders revealed something that John and only John needed to know.
Whatever the seven thunders said; we are being taught that Revelation as a book is an incomplete look at God’s plan for the end. We do not have all the information here.
The things God reveals are for us. The things he does not reveal are not.
Deuteronomy 29:29 NASB95PARA
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.
Once again this drives home the point that Revelation isn’t meant for you to fill up a chart, it is meant to encourage the church in hard times. If you come merely looking to comprehend the end, you are missing what Revelation says to you today: Endure, Trust, Be Faithful, Jesus will come and set all things in order.
Psalm 46:1–3 NASB95PARA
God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah.
In other words, even if it seems the world is ending, Christians have a refuge in God. He will judge sin. He will hold his saints. He will equip the broken and make the lost his child. And we shall bear his word to the nations.
The arrival of this angel is spectacular and points us to the power of God, and to His mission for us - not in unending knowledge of the end of days - but in the purpose of God to save through his servants explaining the gospel to lost sinners like ourselves.

The Oath and the End

{Revelation 10:5-7} The angel assumes an oath taking stance that we see often enough in scripture. His oath is clear: Time is up. There will be no more delay. As it has so often, 2 Peter 3:3-4 once again rises to my mind as I consider that thus far, all of the delay has been redemptive. But that moment has passed.
2 Peter 3:3–4 NASB95PARA
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”

The End and the Trumpet

We are told that the seventh angel will sound and in the days - that is in the midst of the period of time ushered in by his sounding: the mystery of God is finished. That is to say all the promises of God will come to pass.
Biblically speaking a mystery is something previously unknown that God then reveals.
Job 12:22 declares that God reveals mysteries. And Paul declares that the great mystery for the Colossians was “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:26-27)
And just a few verses later Paul clarifies again that the great mystery is Christ himself (Colossians 2:2). But there are many other mysteries spoken of in Scripture, including the mystery of Jews and Gentiles together in Ephesians or the mystery of lawlessness of 2 Thessalonians 2:7 and the mystery of Godliness which is Christ in 1 Timothy 3:16.
Rather than seek to identify the one mystery this is pointing to, it seems rather more likely that all that is not yet clear will become clear - even as we read in a parallel thought that in Christ all of the promises of God find their yes and amen (2 Corinthians 1:20). God has spoken throughout all of scripture through his prophets concerning the mystery of Christ and in the days of the last trumpet all shall be revealed.
The Seventh angel will sound and Christ will come in those days just as Paul told the Corinthian Church...
1 Corinthians 15:52 NASB95PARA
in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
Here is the clearest description of the timing of God’s kingdom and Christ’s return you are going to get in the Bible.
God’s kingdom is initiated when the seventh Angel sounds. Or to put it more bluntly, the rapture of the church is connected not to the start of the tribulation period, but to the season of the seventh trumpet of Revelation “In the days of...” that final trumpet. Even that gives us some leeway because it is not when the trumpet sounds, but in the days that the trumpet sounds. Nevertheless what it ought to do is make our hearts hungry with the cry: Come Lord Jesus!

A Sweet and Bitter Gospel

But what shall we do? Shall we only look to that day and ignore the world that is burning around us? Shall we foolishly waste the opportunity to bring redemption to the lost? No. And that is what is envisioned in the final section as John is told to eat the little book.
Eating a book seems awfully strange, but then again this is Revelation so… eat the book. Like nearly everything else in Revelation this is tied to the Old Testament. The imagery is right from Ezekiel 3:3 and Jeremiah 15:16.
In Ezekiel it was a component of God’s commissioning of the prophet to go and speak to the house of Israel with God’s words (Ezekiel 3:4). In Jeremiah it was a component of separation from those who rejected God’s word. And so it is here.
John, as a prophet is given this book to ingest and is once again (v 11) sent to prophesy. We might add in observation of the last 9 chapters: But they won’t listen.
The book of Revelation frequently enough has shown us that God will turn up the volume of judgement in order to draw people to himself. But they will not listen.
But listen carefully: That people will not listen - does not remove our obligation to speak the gospel anyway.
John is told that when he eats the book it will be as sweet as honey in his mouth - just as Ezekiel was told. But in his stomach it will turn bitter.
Sure enough (Verses 10-11), John takes the little book and eats it. Much like Jeremiah’s experience, the word is sweet in his mouth, but it turns his stomach bitter. God’s word is always thus.
A lot of commentary ink is spilled trying to identify the contents of the book. It’s the whole gospel, it’s the whole Bible, It’s just a part, it’s these or those chapters of Revelation. Friends, identifying the book is not the point. As it was with Ezekiel, as it was with Jeremiah, the book or the scroll symbolizes the prophet’s message given by God. He must imbibe it, and he must deal with both the joy of God’s word, and the immense sorrow that it contains for those who reject our God.
John must keep prophesying. And note to whom. Thus far John has been prophesying judgement against peoples, nations, languages, and kings. But he has also prophesied salvation regarding every language, people, and nation (Revelation 7:9).
John’s prophecy is one of salvation to the repentant and judgement upon the unrepentant.

Conclusion

Those who love the Lord are encouraged and strengthened by the word of God which brings life. But the word of God also brings with it judgement for those who reject Him. Thus the very same word that brings salvation and joy to the believer also pronounces non-salvation for the unbeliever, and this is bitter for us as we love Christ and must face the bitter reality that not many among those to whom we speak will turn to Him.
And we must speak the gospel even if they will not listen.
That people will not listen - does not remove our obligation to speak the gospel anyway.
In the middle of the crowd there may be one who hears the word of Christ, who believes with a heart of repentance and who goes on to change the world.
How about you? Are you listening and believing? Are you Sharing and Loving?
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