Revelation
1-11 The Opened Little Book
The Opened Little Book

1I 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; 2and 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; 3and 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. 4When 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.” 5Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven, 6and 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, 7but 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. 8Then 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.” 9So 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.” 10I 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. 11And they *said to me, “You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.”

A new parenthesis begins here between the sixth and seventh trumpet that runs from chapter 10:1-11:13. In this parenthesis your eye is focused on a certain part of the earth, actually to Jerusalem, because all important decisions will be made there. There the feet of the Lord Jesus will stand on the Mount of Olives when He comes from heaven. In the first part of the parenthesis, which is chapter 10, a clear light beam breaks through between the dark clouds of the judgments, as a consolation.

V11I 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;. Again John sees “another angel”. That you also read in chapter 7 (Rev 7:22And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea,) and chapter 8 (Rev 8:33Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne.). In chapter 8:3 the Angel is the Lord Jesus. It is also a “strong” angel. You read that too in chapter 5 (Rev 5:22And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?”) and in chapter 18 (Rev 18:2121Then a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “So will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer.). There it appears to be a common angel. When you read what the characteristics are of this ‘other strong Angel’ there is much to be said that it is about the Lord here.

He comes down ”out of heaven”, His dwelling place. Here He as it were, makes a first step in the direction of the earth. He is “clothed with a cloud”, the symbol of God’s glory. “The rainbow … upon His head” indicates that God will fulfill His covenant with the earth through Him (Gen 9:1616When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”). “His face was like the sun” reminds us that God shows all of His glory and sovereign authority in this Person. “His feet like pillars of fire” indicate that the way He operates is the path of holy judgment over sin.

V22and 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;. The Lord Jesus has “a little book which was open” in His hand. It is a different book from the one you have seen in chapter 5, which was closed, sealed with seven seals which have been broken in the meantime. In that book the counsels of God are written regarding the whole creation. This book is smaller. It seems to contain God’s plan with the city of Jerusalem. That will be made clear in the next chapter.

This little book is not closed. It doesn’t need to be opened like the book in chapter 5. Regarding Jerusalem, there are no sealed events. What the future of Jerusalem will be, has been told to us in the Old Testament prophecies. Nevertheless the future of Jerusalem is related with the taking into possession of the whole earth by the Lord Jesus. That is symbolically presented in standing “on the sea” and “on the land” (cf. Jos 1:33Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses.).

V33and 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 He has taken in His place on the land and on the sea He cries “with a loud voice”. The crying of His voice sounds like the roaring of a lion. He is the Lion from the tribe of Judah (Rev 5:55and one of the elders *said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”). His roaring is a sign that He is ready to claim His right on the earth (Jer 25:30-3130“Therefore you shall prophesy against them all these words, and you shall say to them,
‘The LORD will roar from on high
And utter His voice from His holy habitation;
He will roar mightily against His fold.
He will shout like those who tread [the grapes],
Against all the inhabitants of the earth.
31‘A clamor has come to the end of the earth,
Because the LORD has a controversy with the nations.
He is entering into judgment with all flesh;
As for the wicked, He has given them to the sword,’ declares the LORD.”
; Joel 3:1616The LORD roars from Zion
And utters His voice from Jerusalem,
And the heavens and the earth tremble.
But the LORD is a refuge for His people
And a stronghold to the sons of Israel.
: Amos 1:22He said,
“The LORD roars from Zion
And from Jerusalem He utters His voice;
And the shepherds’ pasture grounds mourn,
And the summit of Carmel dries up.”
). In response to that the seven thunders let their voices to be heard. They express their agreement from heaven with His rights, which He will claim through judgment.

V44When 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.”. When the voices of the seven thunders are faded away, John wants to write down what he has heard. But then he hears a voice from heaven saying that he was not to do that. That is an exception for what he had done up to now, for he wrote everything down each time he had seen or heard something. It is not said why in this case he was not allowed to do that.

V55Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven,. Then John sees how the Angel Who was standing on the sea and on the earth was raising His right hand to heaven. This is the usual gesture when someone swears an oath (Deu 32:4040‘Indeed, I lift up My hand to heaven,
And say, as I live forever,
; Dan 12:77I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, as he raised his right hand and his left toward heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time; and as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people, all these [events] will be completed.; cf. Gen 14:2222Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have sworn to the LORD God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth,).

V66and 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,. John could hear how the Lord Jesus is swearing by God as the Everlasting and Creator. He Himself is everlasting and the Creator, but He is seen here as Man. God has created the three territories (heaven, earth and sea) with everything in it and on it, but which all got into the enemy’s hands. In this description the whole material universe is included, from the furthest galaxies to the creatures of the deepest sea that had never been perceived by anyone. Everything comes from God’s hand and not by the way of development (evolution).

The Lord Jesus swears that He will restore all things to the honor of God. He has created everything by His power and by His power He will bring everything to the purpose determined by Him. The end of this evil age will not be delayed any longer; the evil age will last just a short time more. All things will be accomplished soon. Only one trumpet is left. It will come in the next verse. When that one sounds the waiting time will be over.

V77but 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.. The seventh trumpet announces the last judgments, which are judgments that herald the coming of the Lord without further delay. Then the mystery of God will be completed. A mystery is something that has not been manifested for a certain time and therefore could not be known in that time. The people of God learn to know that mystery when God reveals it, while it remains a mystery for the world. Only when the mystery is fulfilled, the world will learn to know it.

Here the mystery consists of the ways that God in His government goes with the world, what nobody can comprehend. In that government God sometimes allows the evil to flourish and the punishment may take a long time, while believers are persecuted and receive no reward. This hidden government of God is nearly over. Then He will reveal how and why He has operated in that way.

To God’s “servants the prophets”, who know this government, it is a ‘good news’, just like the word, which is translated with “preached” literally indicates. They have heard it from God and have passed it on. The believers have accepted their prophecy in faith and it has given them guidance and strength in their lives. To the people of the world it is still a mystery. But when Christ appears the mysteries of God will be revealed by Him. It will be visible for them and they will acknowledge it (Rev 1:77Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.; 2Thes 1:9-109These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,10when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed.).

V88Then 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.”. John is appealed to do something. He has to take the book out of the hand of the Angel. In this way he becomes from being spectator to a person who is involved. It is an example for you not only to be engaged with the future as a subject of study, but that what you read and learn about the future also has an effect in your life.

V99So 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.”. John does what he is told to. He goes to the Angel and tells to Him to give him the little book. It looks a bit strange that John is giving an order here to the Lord Jesus. But John does nothing more than the voice from heaven had said to him. The answer of the Lord Jesus also shows that He is not a subordinate of John. It is not simply said that He gives the little book, but He orders John to take the little book.

Then He gives him the order to eat it and says also what will happen to him when he does. By taking the little book and eating it, it becomes a part of John himself, of his inner man (Eze 2:8-3:38“Now you, son of man, listen to what I am speaking to you; do not be rebellious like that rebellious house. Open your mouth and eat what I am giving you.”). In that way he will receive strength for the work that is still to be done by him. The Lord Jesus also tells to John how the little book will taste. When he eats it, it will be both bitter and sweet, bitter in his stomach and sweet in his mouth. The tastes bitter and sweet characterize the acts of God. In the history bitter comes first and then followed by sweet.

V1010I 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.. It happens just like the Lord Jesus has said. Only, here the sweet taste in the mouth is mentioned first and afterwards the bitter in his stomach. In the experience of John the sweet taste comes first and then the bitter one. When you read and study the Scripture you get the sweet taste first of all God’s plans. But when you allow those portions to sink in your heart you also experience the bitterness of the way God’s plans are being realized.

In other words: when you learn about God’s ultimate goal with creation, you will first of all experience the sweetness (Psa 119:103103How sweet are Your words to my taste!
Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
; Jer 15:1616Your words were found and I ate them,
And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart;
For I have been called by Your name,
O LORD God of hosts.
). But the ways of government which lead to that goal are not sweet, but bitter, due to the resistance of man. Reading about all God’s wonderful plans with Israel gives a sweet foretaste of the millennial kingdom of peace. But when you see what sufferings these people will have to go through, it gives a bitter taste.

The same goes for the coming of the Lord Jesus. When you consider that He is coming soon and that you will meet Him in the air it is sweet for the faith. At the same time it gives also a bitter taste when you consider what the coming of the Lord Jesus means for everyone who has refused and rejected Him. It means that they are lost forever.

V1111And they *said to me, “You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.”. John may have thought that the end was now. But he has to continue passing on the future events that will touch all nations of the world. By the eating of the little book he has been made suitable for that (cf. 1Kgs 19:88So he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God.). Each service that the Lord asks of you has to be preceded by the eating of His Word. He cannot use you before that.

Now read Revelation 10:1-11 again.

Reflection: Why is it important and necessary to ‘eat’ the Word? What do you experience as ‘sweet’ and what as ‘bitter’?


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