July 28, 2016

Lucky Charms and Honey Combs

by Jesse Johnson

lucky charms and honey combs.001

One of the most overwhelming figures in Scripture is the giant angel that John encounters in Revelation 10. Between the sixth and seventh trumpet judgements, after witnessing the death of 1/3 of the earth but while waiting for the ministry of the two witnesses, John’s vision is interrupted by a figure with no parallel in the Bible.

This angel descends from heaven, and lands with one foot in the water and one foot on the land. He towers over the earth, and raises a hand up into the heavens. His feet are on fire, and he wears a rainbow like a crown of glory.

He has divine characteristics. For example, he is clothed in the clouds—an idiom which in the Old Testament is reserved for God himself (Psalm 97:2; Job 38:9).  He is holding the scroll in his hand, which back in Revelation 5, only Jesus was worthy to open.

Yet the angel is not divine. He too is a created being, and he swears his allegiance to the one who made him (Revelation 10:6). Perhaps he is the angel of the Lord, or some other angelic leader revealed for the first time in Scripture. We don’t know who exactly he is—John never did ask him for his ID.

But this angel had some instructions for John. He told John that the prophecies of the Old Testament were about to be fulfilled before John’s eyes. With the final trumpet comes the final unveiling of all prophecy, just as God “had preached to his servants the prophets.”

He then told John to take the scroll—which by now had been shrunk—and John was to follow Ezekiel’s example and eat it. The Old Testament often used the concept of eating something as an idiom to mean “really think about it,” similar to how we say “let me digest that.” But if John was hoping the angel was idiomatic, he was disappointed. The imposing figure compelled John to physically eat the book.

John in turn found that it was sweet in his mouth, and bitter in his stomach.

Then the voice form heaven sounded to John again, and sent him on his way to finish recording the prophecy.

What are we to make of this sweet scroll given by an angel dressed in a rainbow?

Frist, that Scripture is sweet to the one receives it. John, like Ezekiel, found that the message of the scroll was rewarding and pleasing. The message of God’s wrath poured out on earth has a certain saccharine appeal to those who are forgiven by it. God’s plan to avenge the wrongly murdered includes the knowledge of how he will also rescue the godly from his judgement.

This is why Jeremiah wrote, “Your words were found and I ate them, and your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jeremiah 15:16).

But this truth comes with a corollary: Scripture is bitter, because it promises justice. God may save his church, but he will also open up the pit of hell. Angels will blow the trumpets, but demons will attack the world. It is sweet that Jesus’ blood cries for forgiveness, and it is sour that Abel’s blood cries for vengeance. Both cries will be answered by God.

We pray that God’s kingdom would come, and we pray that God would avenge the death of martyrs. How sweet it will be when those prayers are answered! But justice is likewise sour because anyone with a even a semblance of empathy must recoil at loss of life incurred in the Day of the Lord.

Third, evangelists must own both of these truths. For John to continue prophesying to the “nations, languages, and kings” (10:11) he has to internalize the bitter-sweet truths or the scroll. How sweet it is for people to turn to Christ and be saved, but how bitter it is for them to reject the truth.

The angel who towered over the earth also bent down to deliver God’s word. What an image—the word from heaven delivered to those below, who can eat it and then deliver it to the world.

The evangelist must really believe in the joy that comes at forgiveness, and the terrible truths of hell must leave us feeling sick. If you are unmoved at these truths, its can only be because you have not digested the truths of this scroll.

Jesse Johnson

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Jesse is the Teaching Pastor at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA. He also leads The Master's Seminary Washington DC location.
  • Jane Hildebrand

    Hi Jesse, you mentioned that the little scroll in the angel’s hand in chapter 10 was the same scroll we saw in chapter 5, only now shrunken.

    I’m not sure how that can be since the scroll of chapter 5 is one of judgment held by God and opened only by the Lamb, and the other is of prophecy given to John with the charge, “You must prophecy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings” which I assume led to the recording of the rest of the revelation. Thoughts?

    • It’s the same scroll, because of the use of the article in Greek, before describing it. It’s identifying a previously understood scroll, and really the only option is what we saw in chapter five. Also, the scroll from chapter 5 is likely the title deed to the Earth, and it contains the descriptions of the judgments by which the Lord will reclaim it for himself. That is alluded to in Daniel 12, as well. That fits very nicely with what you see here at the end of Revelation 10 and carried out for the rest of the Book of Revelation.

      • Jason

        I’m assuming you’re talking about the definite article in verses 8-10, which in the ESV is translated “the”. However, were they incorrect in translating it “a” in verse 2? If not, the definite article certainly proves the later verses are talking about that same book as verse 2, but that verse 2 is likely the first reference we have of the book.

      • Gary V

        I agree that the scroll in ch. 5 probably represents the title deed to Earth. Once the seven seals are broken on the outside of the scroll, then the contents of the scroll comes into force–the trumpets and bowls of God’s judgments, i.e., the Day of the Lord.

  • Jason

    Honeycombs, because the kids just pick the marshmallows out of Lucky Charms… Oh, that’s not the topic of this particular post after all.

    While I’m not sure that the scroll Christ opened is the same one in chapter 10, the point you’re making doesn’t depend upon it.

    The thing that I’ve always wondered about this particular chapter is: “What is the significance of the angel standing in water and on land, and does it help explain the same language in chapter 13?”

    • It demonstrates that this Angel has authority over the other six trumpets. Those first trumpets struck the fresh water, the salt water, and the land. By standing over both this Angel is demonstrating his authority over the judgements. That’s also alluded to with the fire from his feet. As well as the rainbow over his head which should remind us of chapter 4 in the emerald rainbow there.

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