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Revelation 10:8–11

“I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it. It was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter. And I was told, ‘You must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and languages and kings’” (vv. 10–11).

John learned in Revelation 10:1–7 that God is delaying the fulfillment of His plan no longer, that history proceeds as the Lord has ordained it and that all will occur according to His sovereign will.

Note that this does not necessarily mean that everything would be consummated immediately. After all, we are still waiting for Jesus’ return. Importantly, what might seem to be a delay to us, is no real delay for God. When He speaks of not delaying, He does not mean that the time until the end will be short from our perspective but only that we are living in the last great era of redemptive history. In fact, we have been living in that era since the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. The last days began then, as Peter tells us in Acts 2. We are living in the final part of history, the era between redemption accomplished in Jesus and consummated in His return. Furthermore, and not to deny what we have just said, God’s pledge not to delay the end any longer might have a more specific reference in this case to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. If so, then the imminent judgment mentioned thus far in Revelation took place when Rome conquered the Holy City two thousand years ago, and we await the return of Christ to judge the living and the dead.

We saw in Revelation 10:1–7 that the angel announcing the imminent judgment brought with him a “little scroll” (v. 2). Much debate has ensued regarding the relationship of this scroll to the scroll with seven seals first introduced in chapter 5. Some have denied that the two scrolls are identical, for the scroll of chapter 5 is not called a “little scroll.” However, it’s possible that the word “little” in Revelation 10 was later inadvertently added by a copyist. Therefore, it’s likely that there is a close relationship between the two scrolls.

More significantly, John in today’s passage eats the scroll brought by the angel (10:8–11). This recalls the call of Ezekiel, wherein the prophet ate a scroll of judgment before proclaiming its contents (Ezek. 2–3). John has been telling us about the breaking of the seals on the scroll in Revelation 5 and the judgments unleashed. In other words, he has been proclaiming truths associated with that scroll. Thus, the scroll of Revelation 10 is most likely the scroll of Revelation 5, which John consumes in order to proclaim.

The scroll John eats is sweet to the taste but bitter to the stomach (10:8–11). For John to receive the words of God is a privilege, even when those words announce a bitter judgment on the world.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Dr. R.C. Sproul frequently remarked that believers are to believe and teach everything the Word of God says—not what we want it to say, but what it actually says. Sometimes this can be a difficult experience, for people do not always want to hear the hard words of Scripture and may oppose us. But to proclaim and live by all of God’s Word is ultimately sweet, for those who believe all the words of Scripture have eternal life.


For Further Study
  • Psalm 19:7–11
  • Jeremiah 36
  • Mark 6:1–6
  • Hebrews 10:5–7

The Angel Brings a Scroll

Measuring the Temple

Keep Reading Truth

From the November 2020 Issue
Nov 2020 Issue