The Angel with the Little Book Page 4 of 5 (series: Lessons on Revelations)4
by John Lowe
7 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.
But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound
Christ is saying in the midst of the tribulation that there is one more 3trumpet judgment. Time will continue long after this event, but what He says is that when the seventh trumpet sounds, all evil in the earth will be put down without further delay. Sin has been reigning, and righteousness has suffered throughout man’s day on the earth, but now things must change. There must be a reversal of this order. The Mighty Angel’s affirmation means that the hour has struck.
The mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.
This clause indicates that all the counsels and covenants of God concerning His governmental dealings over man and the earth, made known through the penmen of Holy Scriptures, will be consummated. When Christ comes to reign, there will be no more mystery, because mystery will give way to manifestation. “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). When the Mighty Angel asserts His rightful claim to the earth, the program of God in judgment will reach its completion without delay. For centuries men have been saying, “My Lord delayeth His coming” (Matthew 24:48), while others have scoffingly said, “Where is the promise of His coming?” (2 Peter 3:4). But God is not slack concerning any of His promises.
The great mystery of our age has been the so-called silence of God in the face of prevailing wickedness. Sin has stalked around the earth unashamedly without much divine intervention. But one day the judgment of the Almighty will be laid upon the world. Then we shall know why He permitted Satan and sin. The mystery of the struggle between light and darkness, good and evil, will be made known in that day. I confess that at times I have been baffled, and even troubled, by questions in my own mind as to the strange providential ways and dealings of God. But I know that I must wait in patience until that day when the mystery will be made known. That which is now unknown will then be revealed.
Here we must exercise care so as not to confuse the coming judgments of God with the mysteries of Christ (Matthew 13) and of Paul (Romans 11:25; 1 Corinthians 15:51; Ephesians 1:9; 5:32). The secret here in the Revelation refers to what had already been made known by God to the Old Testament prophets. The great secrets concerning Christ and His Church were confined to the New Testament prophet, the Apostle Paul. But all will be fulfilled in their respective times.
Let me list the seven mysteries:
1. The mystery of God’s will (Ephesians 1:9).
2. The mystery of an iniquity (the devil in flesh (2 Thessalonians 2:7).
3. The mystery of godliness (1 Timothy 3:16).
4. The mystery of God (Colossians 2:2).
5. The mystery of the seven stars (Revelation 1:20).
6. The mystery of the woman on the beast (Revelation 17:7).
7. The mystery of Israel (Romans 11:25).
These mysteries are distinct from the mystery of God in our present passage . . . they denote something previously unknown but now revealed. The “mystery of God” is usually understood to refer to the gospel message, though it could have to do with God’s plan to punish all evildoers and to usher in the kingdom of His Son, but it could have an even broader meaning than that. The mystery mentioned in Revelation 10:7 will be unfolded at the time when the Mighty Angel, the Lord Jesus, will stand with the earth and the sea under His feet, and His hand raised toward God’s throne.
In the Bible, the word “mystery” refers to divine secrets, a truth hidden to those outside the family of God but revealed to God’s people by His Word (Matthew 13:10-12). The mystery of God has to do with the age-old problem of evil in the world. Why is there both moral and natural evil in the world? Why doesn’t God do something about it? Of course, the Christian knows that God did “do something about it” at Calvary when
Jesus Christ was made sin and experienced divine wrath for a sinful world. We also know that God is permitting evil to increase until the world is ripe for judgment (2 Thessalonians 2:7; Revelation 14:14-20). Since God has already paid the price for sin, He is free to delay His judgment and He cannot be accused of injustice or unconcern.
Paul wrote about two different mysteries. First: “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and shares together in the promise in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3:6, see also Romans 11:25; 16:25). The second mystery about which Paul wrote: “God’s secret plan has now been revealed to us; it is a plan centered on Christ, designed long ago according to His good pleasure. And this is his plan: At the right time He will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in Heaven and on earth” (Ephesians 1:9-10). This second mystery is about to be revealed with the final trumpet.
The Angel utters a famous, and more or less puzzling statement—“there should be time no longer” (10:6); or, as some understand it, “There shall no longer be any interval of time, any further delay.” This declaration, coupled with the assertion of verse 7—“The mystery of God should be finished—convince us that the purpose of this vision and especially of these utterances, is to prepare us for the final pouring out of God’s judgments, the close of the end of the age, and the destruction of the enemies of the Lamb. “The mystery of God” will be revealed and finished as the events of the final half of the Apocalypse develop. Significant aspects of this mystery have already been revealed through the prophets, but much remains that will be understood only when the events take place.
8 And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.
When the Mighty Angel appeared, “He had in His hand a little book” (10:2). There it was closed; here it is open in the hand of the One worthy to open it. What does the little book contain? Nothing short of divine revelation. It is the Word of God. Its message is that portion of divinely-revealed truth which pertains to the final judgments and the second coming of Christ to reign. This little book might be the same seven-sealed book described in chapter five. Some teachers believe it to be the writings of Daniel, which God told him, must be sealed up until “the time of the end” (Daniel 12:9). There are others that insist that the little book contained the information in the rest of Revelation. And there is also the idea that it contains God’s purposes as achieved by the Lamb; the little scroll presents a version of those purposes that will be accomplished by the church. It may be futile to speculate as to the content of a book which no one ever read before John ate it. At any rate, we know it is God’s Word, the mighty agent He uses in disclosing His sovereign purposes. There are other theories held by modern bible scholars, such as, it contains a very special message to the church to get on with the business of publishing the gospel to the ends of the earth and someone has suggested that the little book (sealed scroll) was the Old Testament (at least it’s prophetic oracles) to which Jesus supplied the key for interpretation. Then the little book would be the message of Jesus, open and universal. The little book is never mentioned again. Obviously, “ate it” (10:10) meant that John completely mastered the message.
John was commanded to take the little book out of the hand of the Mighty Angel—and he obeyed immediately—but when he did so the angel said: “Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey” (10:9b). The imagery here is kind of vague; however, the angel may be talking about sin. Sin tasted sweet like honey but was poison because it led to judgment (Proverbs 5:3-4; Numbers 5:23-31); but the sweetness here is the Word of the Lord (Proverbs 24:13-14), and the bitterness is the bitterness of judgment that John must proclaim.