Thursday, May 14, 2020

Teaching Notes Book of Revelation - Chapter 10

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Teaching Notes Book of Revelation - Chapter 10

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Quarantine Day 62.  Thursday.  This needs to end.

Hugh C. Wood, Atlanta, Georgia

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Revelation 10

New International Version

The Angel and the Little Scroll

10 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. 2 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, 3 and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. 4 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.”

5 Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. 6 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! 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.”

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.”

9 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.’[a]” 10 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. 11 Then I was told, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.”

Revelation 10:9 Ezek. 3:3

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Bible Project
Revelation 1-11

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The Angel with the Little Book
Verse 1
1And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud, and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire.
Commentary: The description of this angel in particular in interesting because it draws on images from several other places. Firstly, the cloud image quite possibly refers to the dream-like quality of John's revelation. The rainbow part of the description refers back to God's covenant with Noah. By using this symbol, John is emphasizing the fact that the goal of the plagues and judgments is to cause people to repent and come back to God. John's reference to the face like the sun, hearkens back to the way in which John described Jesus at the beginning of the Book of Revelation. The legs life pillars of fire evoke imagery of the pillar of fire that led the Israelites out of Egypt and through the wilderness. So far 2 angelic beings are marked as mighty or strong. The first angel identified as mighty appears in Revelation 5:2. There may be some significance or distinguishing mark about "mighty angels" versus John just using the term angel. In Revelation 5, the angel is a revelatory angel that acts as a messenger between God and man, carry critical information to pass on. This also poses the question of whether or not there is some sort of hierarchical system among the angels in Heaven. There has also been some suggestion that the mighty angel is in fact Christ, however there seems to be no good reason why the author would then identify the figure as an angle instead of Christ. The imagery of the angel complete with rainbow, a face like the sun, and legs which were as pillars of fire seems to suggest that this figure is a positive one rather in contrast with the graphic descriptions of other figures in Revelation which bring death.

The rainbow image associated with the avenging angel can be interpreted as an allusion to an older apocalyptic act by a vengeful god -- the rainbow was the symbol of the covenant between god and Noah. Witherington imagines that this then, is a sign of hope of salvation for a godfearing few.

Verses 2-3
2And he had in his hand a little book open, and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, 3and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars, and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.

The fact that the angel is on both land and sea shows that this message is for everyone in heaven, on earth, and hell. It also shows that both land and sea are under the authority of this mighty angel. This open book can be contrasted to the scroll mentioned in Revelation 5, as this book is opened and exposed, revealing things to come to John.It speaks of the coming of Christ, the millennium kingdom, the heavens, and the final judgement. It is also interesting that this little book, or scroll, is already opened, as opposed to the previous scrolls that had all been sealed. The idea of the open book suggest that there is no secret hidden inside to reveal. The cry with a loud voice is a term that is mentioned multiple times in the book of Revelation and may be a typical oratorical communication used to convey critical messages by the heavenly beings. The planting of feet on the sea and dry land shows that Jesus has authority over all of the earth. This also shows that he inherets the earth as being Messiah.

Verse 4
4And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write, and I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.”

The Lord showed John a glimpse of what the end of time would bring. As John is getting ready to write about this, the Lord tells him to not write a thing. Many have said that John was shown a vision that no one else was as a means to comfort John during troubled times. Therefore, showing him a glimpse of what will happen on Judgement day gave John some relief.

This passage is especially interesting since John is instructed to not write something down, which seems counter to the rest of the book. This shows that his purpose was not, in fact, to write down everything, but only to write down what he was directed to. This makes his purpose, and the purpose of the book, much more specific. It is not meant to be all encompassing, but instead it only conveys very specific information. In other words, the book is intended to be incomplete, instead of a full record of what will come. It is not for John, or his audience to know everything.

As a syntactical point, this is first instance in the text in which the author indicates that he is recording all of these things. The voice is an example that John is to only record what he is instructed, and not what he is experiencing. Within the frame of the narrative John displays, it is now shown that these events transpire, and John records them journalistically. It is still uncertain if these images are poetic, prophetic, allusions to the past or present, or any of the other varieties of interpretations.

Verses 5-7
5And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven 6and swore by him that lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, and the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be time no longer, 7but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he will begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he has declared to his servants the prophets.
Commentary: In this translation, the mighty angel proclaims, "there should be time no longer." As many commentaries suggest, this phrase with the Greek word "chronos" (generally translated as "time") should not be interpreted literally. In other words, time will continue to exist; it will not fold or dissolve into eternity. Instead, this proclamation can be understood as an answer to the question posed by saints under the altar in Revelation 6:10. They essentially ask, "How much longer until God's judgment is carried out?" Here we see the mighty angel responding to that cry. Other translations suggest that the angel announces, "There will be no more delay." This seems to indicate that the sounding of the seventh trumpet is imminent. The mystery of God refers to all that has previously been revealed and is leading up to the end. Some believe that he is referring to "mystery of God" because man is uncertain and unable to tell what God will do next.

The confusion that may have occurred at the beginning of the chapter about who the "strong angel" is has now been cleared up. Although there are parallels that can be drawn between the "strong angel" and Jesus Christ, this passage clears that blurry line up. The angel being Jesus is really limited when John states "and the angel;" while it is indeed a unique angel, it is most certainly not Jesus Christ.

John Eats the Little Book
Verses 8-10
8And the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again, and said, “Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which stands upon the sea and upon the earth.” 9And I went to the angel and said to him, “Give me the little book.” And he said to me, “Take it and eat it, and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be sweet as honey in your mouth.” 10And I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth, but as soon as I had eaten it, my stomach was bitter.
Commentary: The "little book" or little scroll, is mentioned earlier in the chapter. There are many interpretations of the angel's stance. The angel's dominion may be over land and the sea, this expression could be used to show that the message is applicable to everyone, or the angel may truly be a mighty or large angel. The phrase "Take it and eat it" is a parallel to the verses found in Ezekiel 2 & 3 (vv 8-3:3) in which a man is also given a scroll and is instructed to eat it, the taste of which he describes as sweet as honey. The reasoning behind eating the book and the significance of the bitter feeling, but sweet taste is widely debated and merely speculatively interpreted. Some believe the bitter coupled with sweetness demonstrates the grievous feelings that John would experience with the revelation of the impending destruction and state of the world intermingled with sweet or future hopeful events for the righteous. Ezekiel was instructed, almost 700 years earlier, to eat the scroll and deliver the message to the people of Israel, so John is most likely intended to deliver the message also. He was most likely intended to deliver the second half of the tribulation because chapter ten takes place just before the second half.

C. Koestler has speculated that this little scroll is an overture to the bloody denouement of Revelation, serving as John's further prophesies. John here sheds his role of observer and becomes an actor. That the scroll is initially sweet and ultimately bitter suggests a final hopelessness and discomfort that is contradicted elsewhere in the book. This image seems to undermine the central concern of Revelation -- that though god's judgement is violent and fearful, it is a required step toward salvation.

The idea of eating scrolls or other sacred scripture is found elsewhere in the Bible. In the ancient Hebrew context there was not a separation between the physical and the spiritual like we have in modern times. For example, the same word for heart was used to describe their ancient conception of the abstract concept of the mind and at the same time for what we know now to be a cardiac muscle. So when the writer says to "eat" the scripture he is more or less saying to read it, memorize it, and to absorb it. In general, the symbolism is meant to give the reader an idea of how important what is written on the scrolls is.

Verse 11
11And he said to me, “You must prophesy again before many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.”
Commentary: This is a contrasting statement to John being told earlier that he should not write something down. It also exemplifies that John is not seeing these visions to record everything he senses, but more-so to write down what God has specifically told him in order to get a certain point across. This also adds to the idea that this work is incomplete and not an exact chronology of what the apocalypse is supposed to entail.

The term "must" is the closest translation to the Greek verb for divine necessity. John has no other choice because this is God’s implicit will. John is called to be a prophet by God, he is expected to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the message of God. The term before is from the Greek word epi, meaning against.

The next 10 chapters is focused on the wrath of God and the fulfillment of His promise, bringing justice, and God’s judgment of his people.

The Last part of this verse “many peoples and nations and tongues and kings” defines the audience of Johns prophecy, it is a list of four ethnic groups, it is the third time of seven times that it is mentioned in the book of Revelation. (Fun fact: never in these 7 times is the order of the nations, tongues, kings, and peoples in the same order. Perhaps this shows that John focused on universality, or is just a fluke)

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Here are Old Testament Citations Relevant to Revelation 10

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Here is Daniel 12

Daniel 12 New International Version (NIV)
The End Times
12 “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise[a] will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. 4 But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.”

5 Then I, Daniel, looked, and there before me stood two others, one on this bank of the river and one on the opposite bank. 6 One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?”

7 The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, “It will be for a time, times and half a time.[b] When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.”

8 I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, “My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?”

9 He replied, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are rolled up and sealed until the time of the end. 10 Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.

11 “From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. 12 Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days.

13 “As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.”

Daniel 12:3 Or who impart wisdom
Daniel 12:7 Or a year, two years and half a year

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Here is Ezekiel 2 and 3

Ezekiel’s Call to Be a Prophet
2 He said to me, “Son of man,[a] stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” 2 As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.

3 He said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me to this very day. 4 The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ 5 And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them. 6 And 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 be terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people. 7 You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. 8 But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious people; open your mouth and eat what I give you.”

9 Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, 10 which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe.

Ezekiel 2:1 The Hebrew phrase ben adam means human being. The phrase son of man is retained as a form of address here and throughout Ezekiel because of its possible association with “Son of Man” in the New Testament.

Ezekiel 3
New International Version
3 And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat.

3 Then 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.

4 He then said to me: “Son of man, go now to the people of Israel and speak my words to them. 5 You are not being sent to a people of obscure speech and strange language, but to the people of Israel— 6 not to many peoples of obscure speech and strange language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely if I had sent you to them, they would have listened to you. 7 But the people of Israel are not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for all the Israelites are hardened and obstinate. 8 But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. 9 I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people.”

10 And he said to me, “Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you. 11 Go now to your people in exile and speak to them. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says,’ whether they listen or fail to listen.”

12 Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me a loud rumbling sound as the glory of the Lord rose from the place where it was standing.[a] 13 It was the sound of the wings of the living creatures brushing against each other and the sound of the wheels beside them, a loud rumbling sound. 14 The Spirit then lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness and in the anger of my spirit, with the strong hand of the Lord on me. 15 I came to the exiles who lived at Tel Aviv near the Kebar River. And there, where they were living, I sat among them for seven days—deeply distressed.

Ezekiel’s Task as Watchman
16 At the end of seven days the word of the Lord came to me: 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18 When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for[b] their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 19 But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.

20 “Again, when a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before them, they will die. Since you did not warn them, they will die for their sin. The righteous things that person did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 21 But if you do warn the righteous person not to sin and they do not sin, they will surely live because they took warning, and you will have saved yourself.”

22 The hand of the Lord was on me there, and he said to me, “Get up and go out to the plain, and there I will speak to you.” 23 So I got up and went out to the plain. And the glory of the Lord was standing there, like the glory I had seen by the Kebar River, and I fell facedown.

24 Then the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet. He spoke to me and said: “Go, shut yourself inside your house. 25 And you, son of man, they will tie with ropes; you will be bound so that you cannot go out among the people. 26 I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be silent and unable to rebuke them, for they are a rebellious people. 27 But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you shall say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ Whoever will listen let them listen, and whoever will refuse let them refuse; for they are a rebellious people.

Ezekiel 3:12 Probable reading of the original Hebrew text; Masoretic Text sound—may the glory of the Lord be praised from his place
Ezekiel 3:18 Or in; also in verses 19 and 20

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Hugh C. Wood, Atlanta, Georgia

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

(c) Ben Witherington III, Revelation, Cambridge University Press: New York, 2003.

Witherington, Ben. Revelation. Cambridge Univeristy Press, 2003.

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