Deeper Christian Life Ministry – Search The Scripture For Sunday, January 24, 2021 (Lesson 984)
Topic: The Mystery Of God And Its Fulfilment
MEMORY VERSE: “And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings” (Revelation 10:11).
TEXTS: Revelation 10:1-11
1 And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:
2 And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth,
3 And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.
4 And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.
5 And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven,
6 And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:
7 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.
8 And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.
9 And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.
10 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.
11 And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
This chapter highlights events between the sixth and seventh trumpet. The sounding of the seventh trumpet will signal the final overthrow of all kingdoms opposed to the reign of God on earth. Then, He will reign without a rival in righteousness forever and ever (Revelation 11:15). Although many will be saved and washed in the blood of the Lamb as they place their faith in Christ at the opening of the six seals, many others will still remain hardened in their sins. The judgments God unleashes on the inhabitants of the earth through the breaking of the seals will not produce repentance, fear of God or faith in Christ that should result in transformation of life. This is the condition of many in our world today. It is dangerous to toy with divine warning or judgment.
In this study, the attention of Apostle John is for a time turned from the condition of hardened men to this new vision concerning the mystery of God. This parenthetical vision is a pause before the blowing of the final trumpet in Revelation 11:15. John saw a mighty angel coming down from heaven with a little book in his hand. He stood on the land and the sea and announced that there will be no more delay. The mystery of God which had been declared to God’s servants the prophets, will soon be accomplished, fulfilled and finished. At the end of the chapter, John was commanded to eat the sweet-bitter little book and given the mandate to proclaim God’s revelation to “many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings”.
DESCRIPTION OF THE MESSENGER OF GOD
(Revelation 10:1-4; 1:1,2,15,16; Exodus 3:2-4; Psalm 97:1-6; Revelation 11:1; 5:2; 8:3; Ephesians 1:20-22; Isaiah 31,4,5; Deuteronomy 29:29)
“And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven”. This angel was distinct in many ways. One, his appearance was unique: He came down from heaven, draped with the clouds and having the rainbow for his diadem. This describes his grandeur and lasting merciful disposition. Since the time of Noah when God gave the rainbow as a mercy covenant token, He has always related with humanity on the basis of “keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments” (Daniel 9:4; Romans 10:13). Two, His countenance was beyond the ordinary: His face beamed like the light of the sun while His feet appeared as pillars of fire. This is reflective of His strength, stability and the terrible judgment at hand (Acts 17:31). It reinforces the fact that the greatness of God’s mercy does not cancel the fact that He will judge sinners who refuse to repent. Three, the angel “had in his hand a little book open”. This indicates that God’s dealing with humanity is based on His written word, the Bible.
It is the universal standard by which human actions or inactions are weighed in all ages.
Four, He stood one foot apiece, on both land and sea. This depicts His possession, overriding influence and power over the entire components of the world. Christ, our Saviour, Lord and King is soon to possess all the creation of God, all of earth, land and sea, the whole universe (Deuteronomy 11:24; Joshua 1:3). This is further amplified by His declaration which came with a tone of finality: “there should be time no longer” (Revelation 10:6). This is a reminder that every rebellion, obsession and transgression must come to an end. Five, His hand was lifted up to the height of the stars. Six, He spoke and the regions of the firmament echoed with the mighty accents “as when a lion roareth”. Seven, He swore by Him that liveth forever and ever. This implies that the angel in this study is Christ, our Lord and King. This can be further appreciated when we consider His declaration: “And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy…” (Revelation 11:3). However, it needs be noted that the Lord forbids swearing among New Testament saints (Matthew 5:34-36; James 5:12).
Question 1: Discuss the significance of the attributes of the mighty angel in this study.
“And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.” Apostle John was not permitted to write the words uttered by the seven thunders, thus making it a mystery. A mystery is an inexplicable event that arouses curiosity. Though being Omniscient, there is nothing mysterious to God; He sometimes decides to keep certain things as mystery to His creatures because He knows the limits of knowledge that is beneficial to us (Acts 15:18; Deuteronomy 29:29). While God wants us to aspire and explore our world, make progress in virtually every field of life, He sets limits and forbids certain areas of interests. Such include the depths of Satan and certain information He Himself decides to keep as mystery for a set time. Actually, some kind of knowledge could be harmful and destructive. For instance, God forbade Adam and Eve from eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. When they disobeyed, they possessed a knowledge that resulted in their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, and extended the punishment to their descendants. A divine restraint is often expressive of God’s love and it serves for our good. Besides, it expresses His sovereignty. Therefore, it is unwise for man to go beyond what is revealed in the Scriptures. We must avoid being thrilled by contra-biblical materials, facts, notions or concepts from books, pamphlets or messages sponsored by satanic agents or patrons (Genesis 3:7-19; Deuteronomy 12:30; 1 Timothy 6:20,21; Revelation 2:24).
DECLARATION OF THE DELAYED MYSTERY OF GOD
(Revelation 10:5-7; Deuteronomy 32:39,40; Ezekiel 20:5,6,15; Acts 14:15-17; Daniel 12:6,7; Romans 11:25-27; 16:25-27; Ephesians 3:3-11)
“And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer” (Revelation 10:5,6). This mighty Angel lifted his hands and took an oath, calling heaven to witness. He swore by Him that lives forever and ever that there will be no more time. This implies that there shall be no more delay in the execution of God’s program for the world. The mystery of God is the purpose of God which had been concealed, and which had not been fully communicated to man.
Question 2: Question 2: Explain what is meant by the mystery of God and what should be the attitude of believers to it.
This mystery is the divine purpose concerning the destiny of the world. It has always been expected that God should avenge the saints and punish the unrighteous. When the souls of martyred saints expressed expectation of divine vengeance on the wrongs committed against them, the Lord had asked them to be patient until a later time when the world is ripe for judgment (Revelation 6:9-11; 2 Thessalonians 2:7; Revelation 14:14-20). The delayed sentence has emboldened sinners to do more evil (2 Peter 3:9; Ecclesiastes 8:11). But now, the mighty divine angelic Personality declares “…that there should be time no longer” because their just retribution is near.
Two, it is the setting up of God’s kingdom. We have been praying, “Thy kingdom come”. When is that going to happen? It is a mystery. The kingdom will be totally taken over by God. Three, it relates to the reign and dominion of Christ on earth. We are looking forward to the time this would happen. Four, it is the establishment of righteousness on earth. He will make an end of sin and establish righteousness on earth. Five, it is the overthrow of Satan and all his works – the end of all evil. This mystery had been progressively revealed to the prophets.
It is a signal that the current concept of time as reflected in our changing forms, seasons, growth and various other mutations would be no more. Time would be swallowed up by eternity. This would imply an unending fixation of status, hopelessness of expectation of mercy for those condemned to hell, and an impossibility of reversal of destiny or fortune for the justified in heaven (Luke 16:26; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10). It promises comfort for the godly and condemnation for the unrighteous. A natural consequence of this is the need to make informed decision that would better one’s lot in eternity. Sinners must confess and forsake their sins, and accept Christ as Lord and personal Saviour while saints must renew their commitment and fervour to serve the Lord acceptably.
Question 3: Question 3: Explain the implication of the angelic declaration that there should be time no longer
DIGESTING AND DECLARING THE MESSAGE FROM GOD
(Revelation 10:8-11; Ezekiel 2:8-10; 3:1-4,10,11; Jeremiah 15:16,17; Isaiah 3:10,11; Job 23:12; 2 Corinthians 2:15-17; Colossians 3:16; 2 Timothy 4:2- 5)
Apostle John, in the vision, was commanded to “go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth”. Given the book, he was commanded to “eat it up.” Eating up a book connotes reading, studying, understanding, thoroughly assimilating the contents of the book. “And it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.” The message in the book will produce a sweet-bitter experience for John and those who are to hear it. There is sweetness, joy and delight in receiving and embracing the doctrines of God’s word. Yet, as those who receive the Word with joy begin to live by it, persecutions and trouble follow, representing “bitterness”.
Actually, the privilege of divine revelation can be enlightening; the prospect of its provisions and promises can be elevating. But the realisation of its implication on one’s unrepentant relatives, neighbours and the world at large can be disturbing. This is the common experience of prophets and virtually every minister of God down the ages.
Question 4: Question 4: Explain the bitter and sweet experience as they relate to God’s revelation to a believer.
This revelation has a very strong resemblance to the account contained in Ezekiel 2:9,10; 3:1-3. Whatever joy or delight John had when he received the message of the judgment of the world and the reign of Christ, the delivery and proclamation of divine wrath and fury is a bitter experience – eternal “bitterness” and suffering for sinners. As a consequence of possessing the book of divine revelation and eating and digesting its contents, he is now sent and commissioned to proclaim the divine truth to people on earth. Digesting God’s word is a necessary precondition for proclaiming it. As we are favoured to know and experience the truth of the Word, we must preach and declare that truth to “many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings” without fear or discrimination.
All believers who have received and believed God’s revealed, eternal truth must “preach the gospel to every creature.” Having been transformed through the power of the gospel, we must make concerted effort to reconcile the lost to the Saviour.
Question 5: Question 5: What should be our responsibility to sinners as we read about the punishment of God on them?