Little Scroll - Prophesy

OVERVIEW - The trumpet plagues did not produce repentance by humanity. Something else is neededRevelation 10:1-11

Scroll and map - Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash
The trumpet plagues did
 not produce repentance by the “inhabitants of the earth.” If anything, they only hardened hearts even further.  Something else was needed to complete “the mystery of God.” The narrative now takes a new direction. Rather than another plague, John is commissioned to prophesy to the “nations and kings of the earth.” This results in the “measuring of the Sanctuary” and the prophetic ministry of the “two witnesses” - [Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash].

At the start of the vision, the “little scroll” is fully “opened,” meaning its contents are ready to be implemented.
  • (Revelation 10:1-7) – “And I saw another mighty angel descending out of heaven arrayed with a cloud, and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as the sun, and his feet were as pillars of fire, and he was holding in his hand a little scroll, opened; and he set his right foot upon the sea and his left upon the land, and cried out with a loud voice, just as a lion roars. And when he cried out, the seven thunders uttered their own voices. And when the seven thunders had spoken, I was about to write and I heard a voice out of heaven, saying, Seal up the things which the seven thunders have uttered and do not write them. And the angel whom I saw standing upon the sea and upon the land lifted up his right hand unto heaven and swore by him that lives unto the ages of ages, who created heaven and the things that are therein, and the earth and the things that are therein, and the sea and the things that are therein, delay, no longer shall there be; but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, as soon as he is about to blow his trumpet, then shall be completed the mystery of God as he told the good-news to his servants, the prophets.”
This mighty angel is called “another” (allos) to distinguish him from the seven angels that sounded the trumpets. His description uses terms from the first vision of the “Son of Man,” having “feet like burnished brass, a voice like many waters and his countenance like the sun.” This angel also has a rainbow over his head, which is reminiscent of the “rainbow round about the throne” - (Revelation 1:15-16, 4:3-4).

The “mighty angel” is linked to Jesus, the Throne, and to the “sealed scroll.” He is the same “mighty angel” who asked previously, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to break its seals?” - (Revelation 5:1-12).

Little scroll” translates the Greek term biblaridion, the diminutive form of the noun rendered “scroll” elsewhere in the book. It is also called simply the “scroll” or biblion - (“Take the scroll opened in the hand of the angel”). It is identical to the same “sealed scroll,” though now it is “opened.”

Possibly, it is called “little” in comparison to the “mighty” angel who held. The angel was large enough to straddle land and sea.  Presumably, in the vision, he appeared quite large.

The picture draws on the passage from the last chapter of Daniel, a vision of two angelic figures standing on either side of the Tigris River. One asked, “How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?” A “man clothed with linen” was standing “on the waters of the river” where he raised his right hand to swear by him who lives forever and answered - “For a set time and times and a half, when the dispersion of a part of the holy people is brought to an end, then will come to an end all these things.” Daniel did not understand and was told the words are “closed and sealed until the time of the end.”

In John’s vision, the “scroll” lies open on the hand of the angel - The seven seals have been broken. In contrast to the scroll in Daniel, this one was no longer sealed.

The “mighty angel” roared like a lion and “seven thunders uttered their voices.” John was commanded not to write down what he heard. In contrast to the contents of the scroll, the words of the seven thunders were “sealed.” Unfortunately, nowhere in Revelation is this sevenfold series of thunders described. What did these voices say and why was John not allowed to record what he heard?

Based on events so far, a plague featuring thunder would be the expected next step in response to the “inhabitants of the earth” that refused to repent after the first six plagues. But their refusal demonstrated that another approach was necessary, therefore, the series of plagues ceased.

The arrival of the “opened” scroll means “there will be delay no longer.” The time had arrived to finish the “mystery of God,” just as soon as the seventh trumpet sounded. This was according to the “glad-tidings announced to His servants, the prophets.”

Stopwatch - Photo by Veri Ivanova on Unsplash
Photo by Veri Ivanova on Unsplash

Delay” translates the Greek noun kronos. The statement answers the question of the martyred “souls under the altar” in the
fifth seal. They asked how long it would be before God judged the “inhabitants of the earth,” and were told to rest “yet for a little time” (kronos) for the full number of martyrs to be assembled. In chapter 10, that time had arrived, the hour to gather the full number of witnesses and complete the “mystery of God” - (Revelation 6:9-11).

His servants, the prophets.” Elsewhere, “servants” refers to the Christians of Asia and followers of Jesus in general. Here, “the prophets” is in apposition to “his servants,” which further identifies them. The exact same phrase occurs only once more at the seventh trumpet when “the dead are judged and that you should reward your servants, the prophets.”
  • (Revelation 10:8-11) – “And the voice which I had heard out of heaven, I again heard talking with me; and saying, Go, take the opened scroll that is in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land. And I went away to the angel, asking him to give me the little scroll; and he said to me, Take it, and eat it; and it shall embitter your belly, but in your mouth shall be sweet as honey. And I took the little scroll out of the hand of the angel and devoured it; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey, and when I had eaten it, embittered was my belly. And they say to me, It behooves you again to prophesy unto peoples and nations and tongues, and many kings.”
John found the scroll both sweet and bitter. It contained both promises and suffering for the witnesses. The passage alludes to the book of Ezekiel when the prophet was told to eat a roll that he found sweet as honey in his mouth. In that case, there was no mention of bitterness. Ezekiel was told to “go speak to the house of Israel” after consuming this roll. In contrast, John was told to prophesy to nations and kings - (Ezekiel 3:1-4).

The “peoples and nations and tongues” is a common label in Revelation. However, the voice now adds “kings” to the list, presumably, the same group elsewhere labeled the “kings of the earth” - (Revelation 16:12-14, 17:2, 17:14-15, 18:9, 19:18).

While the “kings of the earth” are most often hostile to the “Lamb,” at the beginning of Revelation, Jesus is declared the “ruler of the kings of the earth,” and later, the “king of kings.” In the end, the same group is found in “New Jerusalem.” Despite their past hostility, witness must be borne before the “kings of the earth” - (Revelation 1:5, 19:6, 21:24).

John was told he must “prophesy.” This Greek verb occurs only once more when it is applied to the “two witnesses” empowered to prophesy “a thousand two hundred and sixty days clothed in sackcloth.” That vision presented graphically just how the commission given to John would be fulfilled.


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