What does Revelation 10 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
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).
Verse Context:
Revelation 10:1–7 involves a vision John sees between his visions of the sixth and seventh trumpet judgments. John observes a mighty angel descending from heaven with a little scroll in his hand. The description of the angel and the reference to a little scroll remind us of what John saw in chapter 5. In that chapter, Jesus took the seven-sealed scroll from the hand of God. In chapter 10, the mighty angel calls upon the seven thunders, but God forbids John to write the thunders' response. However, the angel tells John that what the prophets predicted will be fulfilled when the seventh angel blows his trumpet.
Revelation 10:8–11 records that the voice John heard from heaven commanded him to take the scroll from the mighty angel's hand. John obeys the instruction and is told by the mighty angel to eat the scroll. Upon eating the scroll, John finds it is sweet to the taste but bitter to his stomach. John receives word that he must prophesy again about many people and nations and languages and kings. The rest of the book of Revelation unfolds what lies ahead for the Gentiles and the people of Israel.
Chapter Summary:
The apostle John reports what he saw after the sixth trumpet judgment. He saw a mighty angel descend from heaven. The angel held a little scroll open in his hand. His right foot rested on the sea and his left foot rested on the land. Next, John heard the mighty angel call out to the seven thunders, but the angel would not allow John to record the thunders' response. The angel promised there would be no further delay: the seventh trumpet judgment would fulfill the words of the prophets. Finally, John is commanded to take the little scroll and eat it. When John obeyed the command, he found the scroll to be sweet to the taste but bitter in his stomach. The angel told John he must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages, and kings.
Chapter Context:
The tenth chapter of Revelation provides an interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpet judgments. Chapter 9 described the fifth and sixth trumpet judgments, which were somehow even worse than the first four, as described in chapter 8. Here the apostle John reports that he saw a mighty angel descend from heaven and place his right foot on the sea and his left foot on land. He predicted that in the days of the seventh trumpet judgment the mystery of God would be fulfilled. God will soon complete His program for Israel and the Gentiles. In the remaining chapters of Revelation, we see how God deals with apostate Israel, Jewish believers, and the unbelieving Gentiles. This chapter is related to Isaiah 42, Jeremiah 33, and Daniel 2:31–45.
Book Summary:
The word ''revelation'' means ''an unveiling or disclosure.'' This writing unveils future events such as the rapture, three series of judgments that will fall on the earth during the tribulation, the emergence of the Antichrist, the persecution of Israel and her amazing revival, as well as Jesus' second coming with His saints to the earth, the judgment of Satan and his followers, and finally, the eternal state. This content, combined with the original Greek term apokalypsis, is why we now refer to an end-of-the-world scenario as ''an apocalypse.''
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