no real introduction this time (if I think too hard I might stay out of
this book altogether) let's just dive in and allow the Lord to speak to
Verses 1-3: "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: 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, And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices."
What a wonder. This magnificent creature is surely the messenger of Christ. Friends, we really don't need Hollywood today to stir our imaginations. It's all right here in the Word of God. This is amplified by the fact that all this is true. It is hard to accept, but this is not a mere prediction of the future. It is our future! We can accept or reject, but we cannot change it. What He has written He will bring to pass. There's something else, too. This message was sent not just to the Apostle John, but to you. This chapter reveals that this revelation was sent, very personally, to you. Take another look at this angel. God is trying to get your attention!
Verses 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.
Maybe this is poor interpretation on my part, but now that God has gone to such lengths to get our attention, the very next thing He says is that He won't tell us what the seven thunders uttered. I don't know about you, but I'm naturally curious. Something in me wants to know what this secret is. When I look at this entire Book of Revelation, I really would like to instantly know exactly what it all means. But God is not coming to us on those terms. He started this world, and He is the only One who can end it. It will be on His terms. Now we see through a glass, only partially. But one day face to face (see I Cor. 13). It's not that we're too stupid to understand. I don't believe it has anything to do with knowledge. It's just that we're not ready. I suspect that what is really lacking is love. When I can love as He loves, then I'll be ready to know what He knows. For now, I'll have to trust that He'll bring me into this eternal future. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up (see I Cor. 1:1).
Verses 5-7: "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: 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."
Though the Lord will not reveal all to us, look how profitable it is just to read on a few more verses. We see that part of the mystery is that God will end time. If we love Him enough to study His word, He can reveals many things to us. And we do need to know about the coming Kingdom, if we plan on being part of it. Perhaps, without time, there won't be stress in our lives. Certainly there will be no end to living. God is right, I'm ashamed to admit it, but I'm just not ready to know all this stuff. Let's get real honest for a moment. Isn't it difficult to think of any other world than the one we're in right now? But we must begin to think outside of this box, beloved. This world is dying. And along with it, so are we.
John gets some instructions from the heavenly voice. This is the voice
of Christ. John had known Jesus as a man on earth. John reports that at
the last supper he rested his head on Jesus. Sometimes John is referred
to as the "Apostle of Love." Still, I believe that this heavenly voice
is speaking not just to John personally, but to all who love the Lord today:
Verse 8: "...Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel..."
Some scholars think that this little book is the "Book of Life" which appears earlier in the Revelation (see Rev. 5). I disagree. I believe that this little book represents the Word of God, what we call today, the Bible. So maligned, so patronized, so ignored, so ritualized. But when studied in faith the little book brings life. John makes his move:
Verse 9a: "And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book."
Christ is calling you to study His Word today. The cold intellectual approach won't do. No, if you want your Bible to be more than just paper and ink you've got to approach the angels, face heaven, and ask for help before you proceed. If you seek with your whole heart and are patient and loving toward God, you will be rewarded:
Verse 9b: "And he (the angel) said unto me, Take it and eat it up."
We must remember the manna fed to Israel in the days of Moses. And the Savior who said, "eat, this is my body." This is not a casual call. We must live on the Word today, or the Church will not survive. Signs of spiritual malnourishment are everywhere.
Verses 10: "And I took the
little book out of the angels 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."
There is a sweetness to the Scriptures. Some quotes are very pleasant. Some have appeared in greeting cards, and rightfully so. But when we eat the word, we get more. Motivated, alarmed, shocked. Yes, this world is dying. All around us the light of God painfully reveals the darkness we live in now. This passage isn't really saying that John got a tummy ache. The "belly" speaks of the emotions. When you really let it in, the Word will move you. And old John, the Apostle of Love, was starting to feel the impact of this revelation. The message was miraculous and glorious, but it gave him a heart ache as well. Sometimes at our church meetings we sing an old hymn, "When we all get to Heaven..." Many times I have felt sick when I hear those words. The truth is we will not all get to Heaven. I say this now with tears. I can remember a time when I could not love or care about others. Then I ate the Word.
Verse 11: "And he (the Heavenly
voice) said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and
nations, and tongues, and kings."
John's part in all this was not to personally go out and save the world. He was an old man, suffering in exile when he received this message. He did his part by writing it all down and passing it on. And now it comes to us, as intended by God. As I said at the beginning, it is for us. It is for you as much as for John, the Apostle of Love. From Genesis on, beloved, the entire Bible is specifically addressed from God to you. Receive it, accept it, let it change you. Eat it.
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