The Mystery Of God Accomplished
Key Verse 10: 7
“But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.”
Between the sixth trumpet (9:13-21) ad the seventh (11:15-18) there seems to be another intermission like the intermission that separated the sixth seal from the seventh seal. (7:1-17) During this second interlude the event recorded once again reflects God’s delay in inflicting the full wrath which was soon coming upon the earth. The seven seals on the scroll had already been broken unleashing a series of judgments on the earth and the people of the earth. Then six of the seven trumpet judgments had also been blown unleashing even greater judgments on the earth and its people. The prophesy clearly shows us that God had not yet unleashed the full measure of his wrath on this world. God had been waiting for people to repent of their sins and turn to him, but they don’t. So we have an intermission here in this chapter before the 7th trumpet judgment comes to bring an end to the present world. Here we also have a vision of heaven and of God working all things to bring about his kingdom.
Read verses 1-2. “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. He 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.” This was John’s vision during the intermission before the sounding of the 7th and last trumpet of judgments (11:15). He saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, and this angel comes with a cloud, and has a rainbow above his head. His face was like the blazing of the sun, and his legs were like pillars on fire. And he was holding a little scroll which lay open in his hand. Some say that the description of this angel is that of Christ himself for he bears some of the image of Christ upon him. But in truth he cannot be Christ Jesus himself because Christ Jesus sits at the right hand of God and is the One directing all events that are leading towards to the great end of all things, and the coming of his Kingdom. Therefore he is as John tells us “another mighty angel” of heaven come down to do God’s will upon the earth. Notice that he also holds a little scroll in his hand. And that too is an issue of debate. Some say that this is a different scroll than the scroll with the seven seals on it. But it seems that it is the same scroll which the Lord Jesus was alone worthy to take form the hand of God, and break its seals. The scroll in this mighty angel’s hand seems to be open, and it may be because the seals have already all been broken such that the scroll is now fully open. This scroll of judgment was passed on from the hand of God to the hand of Christ, and now it turn it had been passed to the hand of the mighty angel who came down from heaven at God’s command.
What did the angel come down from heaven to do? Look at verse 2 again. “He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land.” This is a confirmation of what is soon to happen when the 7th trumpet is finally sounded. In revelation 11:15, the words are as such: “The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.’” So when the mighty angel planted his feet, one on the land and the other on the sea, he was claiming the entire earth as the possession of our God and Christ. This is nothing new, but it must happen this way. Our Lord Jesus often spoke of this. He tells us a parable in Luke 20 about an owner of a vineyard who rented his vineyard to tenants and went away for a long time. On occasion he sent his servants to collect fruit form the tenants, but the tenants abused the servants whom the owner sent and sent them back to the owner empty handed. The owner then thought to himself that if he would send his son to them, they would receive him well. But when they saw the son, they said to one another that this was the heir, and so they killed him. Jesus said this parable for many reasons, one because he was the Son of the Owner of the vineyard whom the tenants would eventually kill. But he also told this parable to indicate that vineyard we live in does not belong to us but to God. It is God who created this world and everything in it. All things belong to him. And we are but tenants. And all things, whether our possessions or even our lives belong to God. There are still people who think that they own property on this world, and others who think that they own other things. There are those who think that their lives belong to them. But we cannot escape the great truth of God that all things on this earth, whether property or life is rented to us by the author of all life— who is Christ the creator God. When the time comes for this mighty angel to plant his feet on the land and on the seas and stretch his body upwards towards the heavens, it will be time to return all things to the rightful owner. On that day no human being will be able to hold on to anything anymore, neither property nor life, for all things belong to God and must be returned.
Read verse 3-4. “And he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. And 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.’” Once the angel put one foot on the land and the other on the seas claiming all things for Christ and his kingdom, he also gave a loud shout like the roaring of a lion. At that moment the voice of the seven thunders spoke and said something that all heaven could hear, even John who was witnessing all these things. It is generally agreed that this was the voice of God himself for God’s voice is likened to the sound of thunder. But whatever God said in response to the angel’s loud shout is not known and will not be known until the time of the end. John heard what God had said with the voice of seven thunders, but just when he was about to write down what he heard a voice from heaven telling him to seal up what the voice of the seven thunders had said, that he was not to reveal it nor write it down. We do not know why John was not allowed to reveal what the voice said, and it is fruitless to even speculate. But suffice it to say that God’s wisdom is beyond our grasping and therefore we are sure that God in his wisdom has a good reason for sealing up some things from being written down in the book of revelation. And without knowing what the voice of the seven thunders said, it is hard to put together a concrete revelation of future events that are to happen, like some would like to do or have done!
There are things that are not for us to know, but for only God to know. It is like those who always want meanings and reasons for everything that happens in this world or in their own lives, and they want that God should reveal it to them. But God need not answer every question we have. He need not oblige every time we have a problem with why this or that is happening in the world or happening to us. People become bitter when they do not understand the reason of their sufferings. Some even abandon or neglect God when things do not make sense in their lives. They think that if they had sacrificed all to the glory of God, then God is obliged to reveal to them at least the cause of things that have turned their lives sour or bitter. God is not on trial here. God need not explain to me why things may have gone wrong in my life. It is my duty to seek God and to honor him in each and every situation in my life, even in the most trying times of my life, and not to question his wisdom. When a voice commanded John to seal up and not write down what the voice of the seven thunders had said, John didn’t ask questions, he simply obeyed. He obeyed not because he was forced to obey under pressure. He obeyed because he knew that God is sovereign and that God in his wisdom has reasons to do things that are beyond John’s understanding. I pray that in our times of trial we may not become bitter at God when he chooses not to reveal to us reasons and meanings to things that must remain hidden for now.
Read verses 5-6. 5 “Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said, ‘There will be no more delay!’” This is a glorious scene. The angel who will eventually claim all things to God’s possession, now lifts up his right hand to heaven and he swears by the Creator God himself. In other words, he swears by Jesus for the Bible tells us that Jesus is the Creator God himself. No one should ever swear by God, for it is not our place to swear by God at all. Jesus had commanded us to let our yes be yes and our no be no, and no more. But here we see the mighty angel swear by the Creator God. And he swears that there will be no more delay. Delay in what? In judgment, for he had promised the saints who souls rested below the throne of God that the time to bring justice to them for all that they suffered for Christ’s sake is near. God loves his people so much. It is amazing that he has promised them justice. God is a kind and loving God not wanting anyone to perish. He is a gentle God who sent his Son Jesus to suffer and die for the sins of his enemies. But he is also the righteous judge who has promised that the day will come when all who have suffered for his name’s sake would be rewarded. They would also be avenged for all that they had to suffer for his sake.
It is truly worthwhile to suffer for the Lord Jesus and for his gospel than to suffer in this world for perishable things. People suffer for the wrong things. They suffer to make money. They suffer to be promoted at their jobs. They suffer to make a little room for sinful fun in their lives, to do what they want to do, they suffer much thinking that if they get what they want they would be happy. But the end result is that they suffer the consequences of all that they pursue in this world. So it is always better to suffer for Christ instead. That suffering is worthwhile. Even when we suffer for Christ and his kingdom we know that God has not abandoned us to suffering for his name. That he has promised the saints that he himself will reward them and that he will give them justice in his own time. When the angel swore by the Creator God, he did so because he had no one greater to swear by. It is a confirmation that what he promised will not be delayed any longer. We must remember this that God has promised and has sworn many things for us who love him. He has promised salvation and eternal life. And other glorious things as well. But they will all happen in God’s time. So we must not be impatient but patiently wait on God’s promise to come true in his time.
Read verse 7. “But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.” These words are glorious. They are a promise that is yet to come true. The angel declares that at the time when the final trumpet is sounded, the mystery of God will come to pass, just as it had been promised to all his servants in history. What is this mystery he is talking about? There are several mysteries that the Bible talks about. There is the mystery of godliness. Here is what Paul tells us about it. He says: “Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.” (1 Tim 3:16) This is a glorious mystery that is no longer mystery to us. The mystery that God took human form and lived among men, and was sacrificed for the sins of humanity and was risen form the dead, and was also preached among the nations so whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. This is a beautiful mystery, that God should humble himself to take the form of a man and suffer and die on the cross for the sins of men. Such love is beyond our comprehension. It is not longer a mystery because we know about it, but it will always remain a mystery of why God loved me so much that he was willing to sacrifice all so that I might not die in my sins but live forever in holiness with him.
This mystery is also related to the mystery of including us as heirs together with Israel in the inheritance of the saints. Paul says in Colossians 1:26-27. “The mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” How glorious it is that God from the beginning of time has chosen even the Gentiles to share in the riches of the blessings he gave his own people Israel. And the greatest of these blessings has been the coming of Christ Jesus to the world, the Savior of mankind. So the mystery has been revealed that Christ is not only the Christ of Israel, but the Christ of the whole world of which we are part of. God’s mystery was that he wanted to save all his people, Jews and Gentiles alike, and so the gospel was preached among the gentiles and has come to us by that same promise. But there is yet another mystery hidden here that is of great importance to us. The mystery which is “Christ in you, the hope of glory”. This is the mystery that Christ has not only died for our sins, but that he has come to live in our hearts, and to offer us hope beyond hope of glory. We were destined for condemnation, but he destined us for glory, for change, for life, to be with him now and forever, and to be changed into his own image.
There is another mystery. The mystery Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 15. He says: “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.” This is the mystery that will be unraveled the day God changes us according to his promise from bodies that are weak and sinful to heavenly bodies. It is the mystery of life swallowing up death. It is a sure hope for the faithful that the day will come when God will take away this weak and sinful body of ours, and will give us a new body, at the sound of the trumpet. This is not the trumpet of judgment, but the trumpet that will finally announce that we no longer are perishing bodies subject to sin and death, but that we will be heavenly bodies that dwell with God and his Son forever in his kingdom.
Perhaps the mystery of God that the angel is proclaiming its accomplishment here is the mystery that will bring all things under Christ. In 1 Cor. 15:24 Paul tells us: “Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.” Perhaps the angel is talking about that time when all things must submit to Christ Jesus, the final coming of the kingdom of God when all things shall be made new and all people shall live under his rule forever and ever. Jesus taught us the importance of this mystery when he taught us to pray like this: “Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) So we should make this prayer our very own and pray that his kingdom come and his will be done. Amen.
Read verses 8-11. 8 “Then 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.’ So 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.’ I 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. Then I was told, ‘You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.’” Amazingly the heavenly scene now involves John the apostle and the spectator in the heavenly vision. The voice of seven thunders commands him to take the open scroll from the angel’s hand. And when John went to ask the angel for the open scroll, the angel gives him a command and a prediction. He commands him to take the scroll and eat it. And he also predicts to him that the scroll will taste sweet in his mouth, but will turn his stomach sour. In history prophets like Ezekiel and Jeremiah were asked to eat the scroll upon which the word of God was written. The taste was sweet in their mouths, but the scroll’s contents were sour because they pronounced judgment— just like the scroll John was told to eat also pronounced the judgments of God upon the unrepentant world.
But we can gather other precious gems form these verses. We learn three things. We learn that the word of God is sweet to our mouths. We learn that the word of God is also purging to our souls. And we learn that we too must proclaim the word of God to nations and people. Jesus Himself is the Living Word of God. His Word is life. He told us that he is “The bread of life” which came from heaven. (Jn 6) When we partake of Jesus’ words, we know that his words are sweet to us, for the word of Jesus always gives us hope and blessing. At the same time we know that his words are also purging to our souls leading us to examine our hearts deeper than we ever have. So when we eat Jesus’ words, no matter how sweet they are to our ears, they are also purging to our souls. We must receive them with faith. We must receive them with humility. At times they convict us and lead us to repentance. Repentance is not sweet but often sour. In repentance we must cut off areas in our lives that are making us sin, or that are in conflict with the teaching that Jesus gives us. When we do not repent, our hearts remain sour and bitter and we lose the sweet taste of God’s word in our mouth and hearts. Why else did the angel command John to do? He commanded him to prophesy to the nations. He would prophesy the word of God. It is also our obligation to tell the word of life to the nations. It is Jesus’ commission to us that we should “go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” May God enable you to eat his words regularly. May the word of God you eat be sweet to your ears and in your mouth. May it also continue to purge you until you are made whole in Christ Jesus. And may you obey God’s command to serve his word to the whole world. Amen.