Revelation 10 Commentary: Little Book

Posted by Samuel Kadyakale  |  at  05:45 1 comment

Please click here for the previous study on Revelation 9 Commentary: What the Bible Says About the Rise of Islam.
Revelation 10:1-4: And I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire. And he had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the land, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. And when he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices. Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them."

We can know very definitely when this angel comes down with this message, for it is all included in the sounding of the sixth trumpet. The seventh trumpet does not sound until we come to chapter 11, verse 15. Therefore it is clear from what we learn in chapter 9 mat the things described in this chapter must take place after 1840.

The exact fulfilment of the prophecy of the downfall of the Ottoman Empire on that date greatly strengthened the faith of those who over a hundred years ago were interested in the prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation. The foundations on which they built their prophetic faith remain solid for us.

This other "angel" symbolizes the proclamation of a great message to the world, based on the teachings of a "little book" which John especially notices is now "open." What book can this be? We read that an angel long before had told the prophet Daniel to "shut up the words, and seal the book" which he had written, "until the time of the end" (Daniel 12:4).

We ask, when did the "time of the end" come? The answer is: at the close of the Dark Ages of persecution. We find the evidence in Daniel: "Some of these of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end" (Daniel 11:35). This time of persecution was enforced by the apostate church or churches during the 1260 years of papal supremacy, which period ended in A.D. 1798 (see Revelation 12:6, 14; 13:5). Thus it seems clear that the "little book" which was opened after 1798 was the Book of Daniel. It suddenly captured the attention of Christians everywhere.

Again, we see how accurately the prophecy was fulfilled. In many parts of the world a deep interest in the study of the books of Daniel and Revelation was then awakened. Not only was the British and Foreign Bible Society established in 1804 to publish the Bible to the world, but people everywhere began to sense the meaning of its prophecies. They discovered the amazing truth that they were living in the "time of the end," and that the coming of Jesus was near at hand.

The message was proclaimed on "sea and land," with a "loud voice, as when a lion roars." The attention of the world was arrested, and people everywhere listened in amazement to the message that Jesus was soon coming, possibly even in their lifetime. Great tents were purchased which were pitched in city after city, where hundreds and thousands gathered to hear the solemn message from the Book of Daniel that the 2,300-year prophecy of Daniel 8:14 was to be fulfilled in 1844. Not since the days of the apostles had the Holy Spirit worked so mightily in turning thousands to repentance.

Especially after 1831 when William Miller began to preach, the message went forth with unusual power. Men even sold their farms and houses to obtain money with which to print tracts and books to circulate the message. Youth and little children were converted. This was the time of the "Philadelphia church" (see Revelation 3:7-12).

But there was something mysterious which God's people were not to understand completely at that time. What the seven thunders uttered, John was not to write. The church was to learn it only by experience. A test of their faith was to be involved:

Revelation 10:5-7: And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his hand to heaven and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer, but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets."

The word translated "delay" is kronos in the Greek, which means measured time. Why did the angel declare so confidently that "there should be delay [kronos] no longer"? Because the Book of Daniel said so!

In Daniel 8:14 we read the prophecy which reveals when "delay" should be no longer. The work of God should begin its final phase in the earth: "For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed." A day in prophecy representing a year (see Ezekiel 4:6; Numbers 14:34), these 2,300 years began in 457 B.C., and ended in A.D. 1844.

It was this prophecy which a few years before 1844 was opened to the understanding of many Bible students in different parts of the world. The amazing fulfilment of the prophecy concerning the Turkish Empire on August 11, 1840 gave great impetus to the preaching, and convinced thousands of its truthfulness.

The word "time" must be understood as meaning prophetic time of the Bible, and not the continued passage of time in human history. This is clear from verse 11 of our chapter, where the prophet John (representing the church) is told that a great world-wide work is yet to be accomplished for "many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings." This must be done after the close of the last prophetic time prophecy in A.D. 1844. But there can be no measured prophetic time after the close of the 2300 year prophecy. From then on, the end is always imminent, its time dependent on the preparation of God's people.

The angel proclaims mightily, "In the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished." What is the "mystery of God"?

In Ephesians 1:9, 10, Paul tells us that God's purpose to gather together all things in Christ is the "mystery of His will." In chapter 3:3, 6 he adds that this "mystery" includes the gathering of the Gentiles as "fellow heirs, . . . and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel." The "mystery of God" is therefore God's great work of gathering out of a sinful world His true people, in preparation for the second coming of Christ.

Paul explains the "mystery" even more clearly in Colossians 1:27, 28: "The riches of the glory of this mystery" is "Christ in you, the hope of glory . . . that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." The great battle between Christ and Satan can never be finished until Christ has a people who follow Him "wherever He goes," who are "without fault before the throne of God" (Revelation 14:4, 5).

Because this work has not yet been fully accomplished, sin, sorrow, and death still curse this unhappy world. "For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now." "For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God." (Romans 8:22, 19) This glorious work of making a people "perfect in Christ Jesus" is a result of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary, spoken of by the angel to Daniel.

This is the greatest, most important work being done in the world today. It is a priceless privilege to cooperate with Christ in His great final work of salvation.

But those who love the Bible must learn a bitter lesson:

Revelation 10:8-11: Then the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, "Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth." And I went to the angel and said to him, "Give me the little book." And he said to me, "Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth." And I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter. And he said to me, "You must prophesy again about [before, KJV] many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings."

There was something very "bitter" about this experience for the church. John in vision shares it with them. Those who proclaimed that the sanctuary should be "cleansed" in 1844 understood the time prophecy correctly. There was no mistake in their reckoning of the beginning or the end of the 2,300 years. But they did not understand what is the true meaning of the event, the "cleansing of the sanctuary." They thought this referred to the second coming of Christ to this earth at the close of human history. They did not know the true Bible teaching of the sanctuary in heaven, where Christ is our High Priest. They did not know "the cleansing of the sanctuary" requires a different phase of the ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary, as prefigured in the types and symbols of the Old Testament sanctuary.

Of old, the Hebrew high priest entered the typical Most Holy apartment on the Day of Atonement, to "cleanse" the sanctuary. Truly, a most important cosmic event was to take place in 1844; but these sincere people did not understand what that antitypical event was.

To expect the second coming of Jesus and the end of sorrow, sin, and death in 1844 was an experience to the church as "sweet as honey." These people loved the Lord Jesus, as a bride loves her husband. It was a sweet and joyful thought to them that soon they would be united with their Lord Jesus Himself, nevermore to part from Him.

But Jesus did not come in 1844. Those who loved Jesus were bitterly disappointed, just as the disciples of Christ were disappointed when He was crucified on the cross and buried in the tomb. But this great disappointment included a part of God's purpose of love for His people. They learned not to trust the opinions of men in explaining the Bible, but to search the Scriptures more carefully to know precisely what the Word teaches.

They soon learned the reason for their disappointment. The "sanctuary" to be "cleansed" is not this earth destroyed by fire, but the sanctuary in heaven where Christ had entered the second apartment to complete the final phase of His work as High Priest. Then they realized that a world-wide work was yet before them, and that they must "prophesy again" to "many people, nations, tongues, and kings."

This book published for you to read is a part of that great work which is proclaiming the message world-wide.

For a detailed, well researched and easy to read commentary on the book of Revelation I urge to buy a copy of Revelation of Jesus Christ: Commentary on the Book of Revelation This verse-by-verse commentary offers a text-focused and Christ-centered approach to the book of Revelation. Appropriate for personal study and as a college and seminary text, this volume provides both in-depth notes and lay-oriented exposition for use by scholars, students, pastors, and laypeople. An ever-increasing interest in the prophecies of the Apocalypse has resulted in deeper understandings which are introduced in this updated edition. 

Ranko Stefanovic is professor of New Testament at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. He holds a Ph.D. degree from Andrews University and is a well-loved teacher, popular speaker, and author of scholarly articles.

Please click here for the next study on Revelation 11 commentary: The Two Witnesses.

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