Don’t Abuse God’s Mercy

The first entry in this series can be found here.
The previous entry can be found here.

Nine (maybe even ten?) hours into Peter Jackson’s epic movie trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, the ring has been destroyed, Sauron has been defeated, and the surviving members of the fellowship have been reunited.

The End

Right?

Wrong. There are another thirty minutes of “conclusion.” One after another after another.

When you’ve already had to go to the bathroom since the showdown at the Black Gate, these multiple conclusions make you mutter, “Hurry up already!”

In our text today, John warns us ahead of time that there is more to come after what could be termed “the end.” John writes Revelation 10:1-11,

Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, surrounded by a cloud, with a rainbow over his head. His face was like the sun, his legs were like fiery pillars, and he had a little scroll opened in his hand. He put his right foot on the sea, his left on the land, and he cried out with a loud voice like a roaring lion. When he cried out, the seven thunders spoke with their voices. And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write. Then I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders said, and do not write it down!”

Then the angel that I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. He swore an oath by the One who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it: “There will no longer be an interval of time, but in the days of the sound of the seventh angel, when he will blow his trumpet, then God’s hidden plan will be completed, as He announced to His servants the prophets.”

Now the voice that I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, “Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.”

So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, “Take and eat it; it will be bitter in your stomach, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.”

Then I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It was as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I ate it, my stomach became bitter. And I was told, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages, and kings.”

Again, like i mentioned last week, this passage occurs in the midst of the second “woe.” As such, we must remember that detail to properly understand it.

The demonic horsemen (9:13-21), the promise of the imminent end of the world (10:1-7), the deadly earthquake (11:13), and the seemingly never-ending nature of world history (10:8-11) are all to be understood together.

When it’s all taken together, the relationship is clear: Trust Christ before it’s too late!

This passage can be broken into two sections. The first is verses 1-7, where we learn that the end is nearer than we think; the second is verses 8-11, where we learn that the end is still not yet. When we put the two together, we learn that God is still showing mercy, so don’t take His mercy in vain.

The end is nearer than we think (10:1-7)

The simple fact of the matter is that this passage describes another set of judgments, like the seals and trumpets. It is possible to understand these as secret judgments that God simply ordered John to keep hidden, despite their literal occurrence at the end of history.

However, more likely, given the passage’s thrust, this is a sign that God relents from these judgments. This is because of what the angel says in 10:6-7, swearing by God–an oath that is most solemn and cannot be false.

“There will no longer be an interval of time, but in the days of the sound of the seventh angel, when he will blow his trumpet, then God’s hidden plan will be completed, as He announced to His servants the prophets.”

The seventh trumpet will mark the end of history (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16). But what does John mean by “as He announced to His servants the prophets”? It means that the Old Testament prophets knew that a trumpet would signal the end of world history. And this is no more clearly seen than in Isaiah 27:13.

On that day
a great trumpet will be blown,
and those lost in the land of Assyria will come,
as well as those dispersed in the land of Egypt;
and they will worship the Lord
at Jerusalem on the holy mountain.

Revelation has made it clear on several occasions that all the nations will be present in eternity worshiping God (cf. 5:9; 7:9; 10:11). Isaiah explains that all nations includes even those most hostile to the people of Israel (Egypt and Assyria; cf. Isaiah 19:24-25). The day that this happens—the day all nations worship God together in unity—is the day the last trumpet is blown.

We await this day. We look forward to the end of the world. It will be a day when all wrongs are made right. It must be! How else can all nations—nations who have historically warred with each other—be united in the same location, worshipping God? This is the awesome, majestic power of the God we serve.

So the end of the world will be described in 11:15-19. And it is promised here, in 10:1-7. This means that the end of history is sooner than we think. No one knows the day of Christ’s return (cf. Matthew 24:36-44), but the fact remains that His return is imminent (read: soon; cf. Revelation 22:20), so you need to be ready.

The end is still to come (10:8-11)

God relents regarding the thunder judgments. The end of the world (final trumpet) is imminent, but John is commissioned to continue prophesying. This means that the end is not yet. We can see this by looking at the layout of the book of Revelation.

  1. Introduction (1:1-20)
  2. A Portrait of the Church (2:1-3:22)
  3. The History of the Church (4:1-11:19)
  4. (Unexplored Territory [12:1-22:21])

As is evident, we are not even halfway through this book. By the time we finish the seventh trumpet (11:15-19; two entries from now) we will be 11 chapters in with 11 chapters to go.

As will also be clear, chapter 12 seems to signal a significant break in the flow that we have been following since 4:1. This is a sign that even though the end could happen at any time, for all we know, human history could continue for another thousand years.

I think this is why the angel tells John what he does in verse 9.

So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, “Take and eat it; it will be bitter in your stomach, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.”

The truth of what the angel delivers to John to internalize would be sweet to declare, but it would be sour the more he thinks about it.

For those of us called to declare God’s Word, it is an unspeakable joy. Nothing compares to explaining God’s Word to others and helping them see the implications of it for their lives. At the same time, sometimes the messages of Scripture are hard. Sometimes we’d prefer someone else is given it to declare (cf. Jeremiah 20:9; Exodus 4:13-14).

John had a fantastic vision of the resurrected Jesus (1:10-20). John was also “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (cf. John 13:23). John was also suffering for Christ on the island of Patmos (cf. Revelation 1:9). This is why the message would be bitter as he thought about it. Jesus wasn’t returning as soon as John had hoped.

As long as we are reading Revelation, Christ has not yet returned. This is a reason to praise the grace and mercy of God. There is still time to be saved. “Today is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

The Revelation—chapters 1-9, chapters 11-22, and 10:1-11 too–is the Revelation of Jesus Christ. All of it reveals Him. It isn’t a road map for the end of the world as much as it is a call to repent and believe the Gospel. Proof of this is that four people can sit down with Revelation and come away with four different “road maps” for the end of the world. However, when you go to this book seeking to better know Jesus, the result is a more unanimous interpretation.

The angel in verse 1 is described as coming from God’s presence. The description given of him is comparable to the depiction of God in 4:3. The reason for this is because God’s glory is contagious (cf. Exodus 34:29-35). We must spend time with God. This book primarily aims to help form us into Christ’s image, not to help us understand current events (or future events).

This is why Revelation 10 exists. It throws a monkey wrench in our timeline of the end of the world, and simultaneously shows us that God is gracious.

Do you know this gracious God?

He revealed Himself in the person of Jesus 2,000 years ago. He died on the cross for our sins, taking the judgment we deserved—separation from God—so that we could be forever united to Him by grace through faith. He rose from the dead three days later because death couldn’t hold Him. Death only has power because of sin (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:56), and Jesus had no sin.

Place your faith in Him today!

Spend your life getting to know Him better. There’s no more fulfilling task in this life!

We know the end of the story (or we will by the end of chapter 11), so rather than taking it upon ourselves to map out exactly how it works, let’s spend our time in the presence of the King. He will be faithful to transform us into His likeness (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:18).

In this with you.

Soli Deo Gloria
Solus Christus
Sola Scriptura

Thanks for reading.

The next entry can be found here.

2 thoughts on “Don’t Abuse God’s Mercy

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