The Book of Revelation with commentary by Dr. Henry M. Morris and paintings by Ramona Lowe
The paintings are a work in progress and the finished pieces are highlighted in red on Page 2

Page 76

The End Not Yet

     Although the consummation is sure, and the end glorious, John must still wait longer.  The martyred saints in heaven must wait also (Revelation 6:9-11), as must the persecuted saints on earth.  Furthermore, those who are redeemed, both those already in heaven and those still on earth, must still wait to receive their own inheritance, even as the Lord Jesus Christ still defers to take full possession of His.  They can share to a degree in its privileges and responsibilities even while waiting, however, and this seems to be the theme of the next scene.

Revelation 10:8.     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.

     This great voice from heaven speaks again to John, now for the third time (Revelation 4:1; 10:4), instructing him now to take what seems to be a most presumptuous action.  The mighty angel, still standing astride land and sea, still thereby claiming right of ownership of all things, the one who had just proclaimed the imminent consummation of all God’s purposes in creation – that is the one whom John is commanded to approach and from whom he must take the book.

     The book is still open and still in his outstretched hand, evidently the same hand which had just been lifted up to heaven with the oath of certain consummation.  The “booklet,” as noted above, seems most likely to represent the particular lot of Christ’s inheritance which is to be awarded to John and, in principle, representing also the appropriate share for each believer.

     In the parallel section in Daniel to which we have been referring, that prophet also awaits an inheritance.  The Book of Daniel closes with exactly such a promise.  “And he said, Go thy way, Daniel…. till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days” (Daniel 12:9, 13).  In analogous fashion, long ago did Joshua (whose name is the name as “Jesus”) divide up God’s promised inheritance in the land of Canaan, apportioning by lot the sections for each tribe and family (Joshua 19:51).

Revelation 10:9.     And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book.  And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. 

     John, quick to obey the voice from heaven, no matter how presumptuous it might seem, immediately approached the angel to request the book.  After the rapture, believers will all have glorified bodies like that of Christ (Philippians 3:20, 21), and thus will be able to move rapidly across space in whatever direction desired, as well as to see and hear events at great distances.  Our present bodies are so constructed as to be governed by present physical force systems – gravitational forces, electromagnetic forces and nuclear forces.  The resurrection body of Christ, however, although real and physical, was not so constrained.  He could move quickly from earth to heaven and pass through walls.  Presumably, since we shall be like Him (1 John 3:2), we shall also have such capabilities.  John, translated forward in time in such a state, could thus move from heaven to earth as commanded.  He “went unto” the angel in this way.

     The angel (that is, Christ), receiving his request for the little book, will immediately give it to him.  It is, after all, his inheritance.  However, there are serious consequences; it involves sober and bitter responsibilities, as well as great blessings.

     He is instructed by the angel to eat the book, seemingly a most strange command.  Yet he would recognize this as something familiar to the experience of other prophets before him.  David had said that God’s Law was “sweeter also than honey” (Psalm 19:10), and another psalmist had likewise compared God’s words to honey (Psalm 119:103).  Jeremiah 15:16 gives similar testimony.

     Ezekiel was given a “roll of a book” to eat, a book containing “lamentations, and mourning, and woe.”  When he ate it, as commanded, it was sweet as honey to the taste, though its message was bitter, and would embitter all Israel against him, as God’s prophet (Ezekiel 2:8-34).

     Not only the prophets, but every faithful witness of God through the ages can testify to similar experiences.  The Word of God and the teaching thereof are a great joy, sweeter than honey, a rejoicing of the heart to the one who truly knows and serves the Lord.  But others reject it bitterly and seek to oppose and destroy its testimony, sometimes even slaying those who bear its witness.

     And if this situation has been true in former ages, it will be more so than ever during the tribulation period, for all those servants of Christ who are still living on the earth at that time.  John, however, represents the raptured saints in heaven, who no longer can be harmed by human persecutors.  The roll he eats thus represents his own inheritance, in particular, not the words of the Lord in general.

     Even so, as a glorified joint-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17), he must also “suffer with him,” even in the responsibilities of the inheritance. This is why the title scroll is wonderfully sweet to the taste but bitter to the belly.  Joint-heirship with Christ involves not only reigning with him but also judging with Him.  We must participate – at least in observation, if not in implementation – in the remaining judgments, climaxed when we come to earth with Him at Armageddon (Zechariah 14:5; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Jude 14; Revelation 19:14).

     The Lord will have no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23; 33:11), and neither shall we.  He is long-suffering, and so we should be, but the time will come when the wicked must be judged.  Whether those remaining unconverted are friends or loved ones or merely the great multitudes for whom Christ died and whom we should have sought to win, they must finally be judged.

     And evidently, beginning at this midway point in the tribulation, when John (representing us) receives and appropriates to his own life the title-deed of his inheritance, all the resurrected saints must participate with Christ in these final judgments.  “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” (1 Corinthians 6:2).  This will be a necessary, but bitter, bitter experience.

     “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand; to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron: to execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints.  Praise ye the Lord” (Psalm 149:6-9).

     That is not all.  The martyred tribulation saints will finally be resurrected; “and judgment was given unto them” (Revelation 20:4) as well.  Then all the saints, from before and during the tribulation “reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6).  Each overcoming believer “shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father” (Revelation 2:27).  Yet another duty of judgment follows this.  “Know ye not that we shall judge angels?’ (1 Corinthians 6:3). 

Revelation 10:10.     And I took the little book out of the angel’s 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. 

     Sharing in Christ’s inheritance will not be all sweetness and joy, at least not until after the final judgment.  This symbolic act of eating the little book was given to stress vividly to John, and to all other believers as well, the true bittersweet nature of the great honor of sharing in His inheritance.  We will know, in that day, after the resurrection and our own purging at His judgment seat (1 Corinthians 3:11-15) both the full demands of His righteousness and the great depths of His mercy and love.  As we participate in the necessary judgments of fallen angels and unrepentant human beings, we will fully acquiesce in their justice but also weep with Christ when they die.

     Note that the roll turned bitter as soon as it was eaten.  This indicates further that both the sweet and the bitter aspects of the joint-inheritance were to begin immediately.  The first half of the tribulation period apparently, as far as the raptured saints are concerned, will be a time of observation and preparation for their service.  The second half will require full participation.

Revelation 10:11.     And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

     The Lord Jesus Christ finally, in the person of the rainbow-crowned angel, issues a final word to His servant John.  After viewing the awful judgments of the seals and trumpets, then seeing the Lord descend from heaven to assert His heirship over the earth, and finally hearing the roaring proclamations of the seven thunders, John might well have assumed his more immediate ministry of writing in a book what he had seen (Revelation 1:11) was about ended.

     But the task was only half finished.  He must not only participate in the bitter judgments yet to come, but write about them as well.  He, of course, was writing “what he had seen” – that is, history.  But to those who would read what he had written, it would be prophecy.

     Therefore, he must take up his pen once again.  The word “before” (Greek epi) is better rendered simply “of.”  There were still many peoples, nations, languages, and rulers about whom he must write, those who would be the climactic objects of the cumulated wrath of God through the ages.  In spite of all the devastating plagues, there were still multitudes of people in the world, and these were all uniting for one final, desperate assault against God.  Further, there were still many witnessing Christians alive, and many unsaved who might still somehow be reclaimed, with hearts not yet irretrievably hardened.  He must write of these also – possibly even for these, as they might yet read the Scriptures in these closing days.

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