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Apr 14 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Revelation chapter 10



Welcome and Prayer: Nancy Lopez

Welcome friends!               Grace and Peace to you!

This past week I had a little cold.  I say little because I was really only sick for a few days.  There was something going around where we live; my friend said it lasted seven days for her, and she said, “Your immune system is probably better than mine.”  That got me thinking about immunity in a broader sense.  We know that a healthy immune response is developed when we’ve been exposed to something and get through it.  I’m wondering if that correlates with our faith. 

If we have experienced doubt, disappointment, or confusion, for instance, could navigating through that build our faith so we don’t have a such a heightened allergic—”all-hands-on-deck”–reaction next time around?  I don’t think, then, that it’s necessarily a bad thing if we’re exposed to something hard, if it causes our faith in God to grow.  I know that I, for instance, used to be very reactive to disapproval; but I know that someone else can’t tell me who I am. Our bodies recognize an invader, something that doesn’t belong; and I think our souls do too. When we are allergic, we overreact.  When we’re immune, the invader is fought off mostly without our awareness of it.  Our relationship with God may include being broken, disheartened—and, well, sometimes miserable.  How could these help to enlarge our capacity and build our immunity to foreign invaders of our souls?

Remember what James said,  “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

So, here’s your wellness tip from Nurse Nancy today. Drink lots of water, create space for silence, and if you’re exposed to something unpleasant, maybe you’re just building your immunity to critics, naysayers, and fearmongers.

Let’s pray:  Lord, we confess that we are prone to fleeing, fighting, or some other form of over-reaction.  Let it be that we walk through everything with you, so that you can mature us and form us into people of the Way.  When we repent, will you forgive us.  When we train, will you build us up.  What seems bitter–make it as sweet as honey to us.  Grant us to be strengthened in you, that the mystery of our own souls would be fulfilled, and that we would confidently stand before many in your name.  Amen

Morning Talk: chuck smith, jr.

Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, and his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire. He had a little scroll open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the land, and called out with a loud voice, like a lion roaring. When he called out, the seven thunders sounded. And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.” And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven and swore by him 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, that there would be no more delay, but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets. Revelation 10:1-7

Intro: I get the feeling that when we read the book of Revelation,

We tend to watch each scene unfold from a safe distance
– I don’t think it was meant to read this way,
• we’re supposed to feel a threatening closeness
• we’re drawn into the dream – it’s our collective nightmare
– John was certainly more than a spectator
• characters approach him, converse with, and engage him
◦ in this chapter he’ll be told to take and eat what he has been shown
• we do not merely read the Revelation, we encounter it
◦ we go on an adventure through this fantastical other-world

Initially, there was the scroll with the seven seals
– after the sixth was opened, there was a long break before the seventh seal was opened
• and what happened with the seventh seal was significantly different from first six
◦ so now, there are seven trumpets that sound, and another break between the sixth and seventh
(this break includes all of chapter ten through to chapter 11:15)
◦ again, there is significant difference in what happens when the seventh trumpet sounds
• each series of sevens seems to overlap – like newsreels of the same event, but from different angles
◦ what is happening is the reverse of the creation story
◦ this is the destruction of heaven and earth – the end of the world
– the seventh day of creation is different from the first six days
• the seventh day is holy and a day of rest
• that is the pattern of this section of Revelation (all way to chapter 16)

What happens during this break before the seventh trumpet?

I think it can best be expressed by a verse from Deuteronomy:
The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law (Deut. 29:29)
– here in Revelation 10, by a dramatic display, we will learn that God has secrets
– soon we are told his mystery will be “fulfilled”
• that God’s project through the millennia of human history will at last be seen and known as it comes about

The last scene of chapter 9 was that of a smoldering landscape

As the survivors were burying their dead, they persisted in doing wrong
– in John’s next vision, he sees a mighty angel descending to earth
• the impression John gives us of the angel’s appearance:
◦ is brilliant light – his face shines like the sun, even legs bright as fire
◦ and above his head, light is refracted into a rainbow of color
• John notices the angel has a scroll in his hand,
◦ that it is “little” and it is “open” (not like the previous scroll that was closed and sealed with 7 seals)
– the angel sets down with his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the earth
• in chapter 13, a satanic beast will rise out of the sea and another demonic beast will rise out of the land
• before that, here is this might angel whose feet on the sea and earth already indicates his dominance
◦ in the book of Joshua, after Israel’s first major conquest, five Canaanite kings were brought to Joshua
He summoned the leaders of the army and told them, “Come near; put your feet on the necks of these kings.” . . . And Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous. For thus the LORD will do to all your enemies against who you will fight” (Jos. 10:24-25)
◦ that is how I understand the angel’s stance on the sea and earth

What happens next I do not think is easy to understand
– when the angels speaks, his voice is the roar of a lion
• and then, either in response to his voice or as a loud echo, “the seven thunders sounded”
◦ I’m pretty sure that “seven” indicates full volume
• but when John was about to write what he heard the thunders say,
◦ he was told not to write it – which is unlike the little book that was already written on and open
– so why this build-up and all the fanfare, just to shut us out? Why even mention the seven thunders?
• my guess is that God wants to make it clear to us, there is far more to know than what we’ve been given
◦ if it what they said would have been helpful for us, then it would not be kept from us
Jacques Ellul, “For it must not be forgotten that the Word is revealed only to the extent that it is useful to [humans].”
◦ and St. Peter wrote,
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who call us to his own glory and excellence (1 Pet. 1:3)
• some people have an unhealthy interest in the supernatural
◦ various cultures have devised occult means to pry into the unknown
◦ the Scriptures warn us away from all of that
there’s more darkness and deception in those practices than light and truth

John’s attention is drawn back to the angel

In swearing an oath, a person would raise their hand (Ps. 106:26, etc.)
– we still raise right hand today – as do presidents when they are inaugurated
• the angel’s sworn oath is that
there would be no more delay, but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled
• God has been working out a plan since the beginning
◦ it has been hidden from us – that’s what mystery means; something hidden or secret
◦ mystery in the New Testament does not mean uncanny, or spooky, or a puzzle to solve
– previously, some mysteries had been revealed
• for instance, Paul’s insight regarding Jesus, which was
according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations (Ro. 16:25-26)
. . . the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known . . . in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit (Ep. 3:3-4)
• but here the mystery is not “revealed,” but “fulfilled”
◦ we will realize God’s plan as it unfolds in our world

The ongoing drama becomes even more personal for John
Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me again, saying, “Go, take the scroll that is open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.” So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll. And he said to me, “Take and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” And I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it. It was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter. And I was told, “You must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and languages and kings.” Revelation 10:8-11

The same voice from heaven that told John not to write what the seven thunders said,
– now instructs him to go and grab the open scroll from angel
• when he does this, the angel tells him to take it and eat it
◦ consuming God’s word is a familiar metaphor
I have not departed from the commandment of his lips
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food (Job 23:12)
Your words were found, and I ate them,
and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart (Jer. 15:16)
◦ Ezekiel was given similar instructions to those John received
“Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey (Eze. 3:1-3)
– I dug up an old meditation from 1999, that I wrote on this verse
My med: “God’s word had to enter him, not as information feeding into his brain, but as a life force which his body assimilated so that it became a part of him and energized him. There is a great deal of Bible study going on, but too little meditation, too little ingesting of God’s word. We have lots of information, but not as much transformation.
Read the Bible, but also feed on it. Taste its sweetness. You savor bits of insight, the discovery of connections between texts, and word studies that reveal a variety of meanings. Let what you receive sit with you for awhile. Let it digest until it becomes a part of you, and then you must live it. That is when it turns bitter. That is the hard part of receiving God’s word. Bible study can be fun. Living the truth can be bitter. Giving God what his word requires of us can bring unwanted changes, deprive you of comforts, take you where you do not want to go, show you things you don’t want to see, and upset your entire world.”
• after eating the scroll, John is given a job to do (v. 11)
• and we’ll leave him there for now

Conclusion: A few weeks ago, Jim suggested a title for these talks

“A Document of Spiritual Direction”
– if so, what must we learn to continue our spiritual journey?

  • We must accept the fact that there are doors we cannot open
    I want a far more vivid awareness of God’s presence, something almost tangible
    But God has not chosen that for me, and I can’t manufacture it
    I’ve had to accept this closed door
  • On the other hand, we must make the most of the doors he has opened
  • We must receive the Scriptures as our necessary spiritual diet
    Be with what we read long enough to digest it, break it down, and draw nutrition from it
  • We must live it, do it, speak it when given the opportunity
    Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and truth (1 Jn. 3:18)
  • What is the message that has been given to you?
    Write it down somewhere
  • How are you going to deliver it?

This is our homework – and it will keep us busy for a lifetime

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