Chapter 17

An Open Scroll

INTRODUCTION

In contrast to the messages given to the prophet Daniel which were sealed up, the scroll handed to John is open. John is told to give the message to the world. What does it say?

SCRIPTURE

A bitter sweet scroll

Rev. 10:1 Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. 2He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, 3and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. 4And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, "Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down." . . .

8Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me once more: "Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land."

9So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, "Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey." 10I took the little scroll from the angel's hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. 11Then I was told, "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings."

[The answer to the scroll puzzle can be found from a parallel story found in the book of Ezekiel.]

Ezek. 1:26 Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. 27I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. 28Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell face down, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

Ezek. 2:1 He said to me, "Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you." 2As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. 3He said: "Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day. 4The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, `This is what the Sovereign LORD says.' 5And whether they listen or fail to listen --for they are a rebellious house --they will know that a prophet has been among them. 6And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house. 7You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. 8But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you." 9Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, 10which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe.

Ezek. 3:1 And he said to me, "Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel." 2So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. 3Then he said to me, "Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it." So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. 4He then said to me: "Son of man, go now to the house of Israel and speak my words to them. 5You are not being sent to a people of obscure speech and difficult language, but to the house of Israel-- 6not to many peoples of obscure speech and difficult language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely if I had sent you to them, they would have listened to you. 7But the house of Israel is not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for the whole house of Israel is hardened and obstinate. . . . 14The Spirit then lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness [sourness] and in the anger of my spirit, with the strong hand of the LORD upon me.

COMMENTARY

Let's look at the parallels between Ezekiel's vision and John's vision.

Ezekiel's Vision

bulletA being comes surrounded by a rainbow.
bulletA opened scroll is given to Ezekiel to eat.
bulletThe scroll contains prophecies of lament, mourning and woe.
bulletThe scroll was sweet as honey to eat.
bulletThe scroll was bitter in the stomach.
bulletEzekiel was to give the message to the children of Israel.
bulletThe Israelites were living in rebellion against God.
bulletThe words of warning given would not be heeded by the Israelites.

Johns' Vision

bulletA being comes surrounded by a rainbow.
bulletA opened scroll is given to John to eat.
bulletBy implication and the vision's location within the three woes: The scroll contains prophecies of lament, mourning and woe.
bulletThe scroll was sweet as honey to eat.
bulletThe scroll was bitter in the stomach.
bulletJohn was to give the message to the nations of the world.
bulletThe nations of the world are living in rebellion against God.
bulletThe words of warning given would not be heeded by the world.

Could we rewrite Ezekiel's vision to accommodate what John saw?

1 He said to me, "Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you." 2As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. 3He said: "Son of man, I am sending you to many peoples, nations, languages and king, to a rebellious world that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day. 4The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, `This is what the Sovereign LORD says.' 5And whether they listen or fail to listen --for they are a rebellious race --they will know that a prophet has been among them. 6And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house. 7You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. 8But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like the rebellious world; open your mouth and eat what I give you." 9Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, 10which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe.

1 And he said to me, "Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to many peoples, nations, languages and kings." 2So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. 3Then he said to me, "Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it." So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. 4He then said to me: "Son of man, go now to many peoples, nations, languages and kings and speak my words to them. . . . 7But they are not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for the nations of the world are hardened and obstinate.

The obstinacy of mankind is declared in the sixth trumpet.

Rev. 9:20 The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshipping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood --idols that cannot see or hear or walk. 21Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.

The response of mankind to the fourth and fifth of the last plagues further reveals the obstinacy of the nations of the world and a refusal to acknowledge and glorify God.

Rev. 16:8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. 9They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him. 10The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony 11and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.

A planet in rebellion. Once perfectly created by a magnanimous God. Blighted by sin through man's own choosing. Destroyed once by water at the Flood, and soon to be cleansed by fire.

Why will not the world repent? Why will not the warnings be heeded?

Is it because of selfishness, pride, a hardness of heart that refuses to acknowledge a Creator God? A God who only asks that they live in accordance with His commands and decrees and in harmony with one another?

REPENT FOR
THE KINGDOM OF GOD
IS NEAR!

John's prophetic message rings through the ages, dulled only by man's persistent refusal to believe, to turn from their wicked ways and thus be saved.

Words of lament, mourning, and woe. For the whole world. The second woe is past, the third woe is coming.

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