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Revelation chapter 10

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What does Revelation chapter 10 mean?

This chapter is brief, introducing an interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpet judgments. The interlude consists of two main events. Here in chapter 10, John sees a "mighty angel" and is instructed to symbolically eat a little scroll. At the beginning of chapter 11, John is tasked with measuring parts of the temple and provided with further end-times prophecies.

This chapter begins by describing a "mighty angel." He holds in his hand a "little scroll," distinct from the scroll of God's judgment described in chapter 5. Based on this passage, some interpreters believe the "mighty angel" is actually Jesus Christ. Others suggest the "mighty angel" is the archangel Michael. In either case, this being calls out and the result is the sound of "seven thunders" (Revelation 10:1–3).

What follows is a rare instance where God explicitly instructs someone—John, in this case—not to reveal what He has seen and heard. Whatever message was contained in the voice of the seven thunders, that information is not to be included in John's writing. This is an important reminder: that God alone knows everything which is occurring. We are not meant to know all things, and we cannot claim to know all things—either about the end times, or any other subject (Revelation 10:4).

This passage also reminds us that God, in the present day, is restraining the influence of evil (2 Thessalonians 2:7) and holding back on judgment (Revelation 7:1–3). He exhibits patience for the sake of our salvation (2 Peter 3:9). At some point during the end times, however, God will no longer hold back. There will be no more delay, and the catastrophes of the great tribulation will happen according to their own "natural" timeline. God's merciful restriction of evil, and loving hindrance of judgment, will end (Revelation 10:5–7).

John is then given a highly symbolic order: to eat the small scroll being held by the mighty angel. This echoes a similar instruction given to the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 2—3). The initial acceptance of God's word is "sweet," knowing it is communication from God. And, the ultimate message is one of reconciliation and peace. However, mankind's process of reaching that peace involves judgment, mayhem, and death. This is the "bitterness" of preaching a "sweet" gospel to the world: knowing that those who reject God will face His terrible wrath. As part of that bitter obligation, John is required to continue to deliver prophecy about many different things (Revelation 10:8–11).
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