No More Delay!
We can trust God to complete His work.
Revelation(53) (Part of the Jesus Unveiled(51) series)
by Stuart Johns(199) on August 12, 2018 (Sunday Morning(282))
Forgiveness(8), Sovereignty(17), Trust(11)
No More Delay!
“There once was a fellow who, with his dad, farmed a little piece of land. Several times a year they would load up the old ox-drawn cart with vegetables and go into the nearest city to sell their produce. Except for their name and the patch of ground, father and son had little in common. The old man believes in taking it easy. The boy was usually in a hurry . . . the go-getter type.
One morning, bright and early, they hitched up the ox to the loaded cart and started on the long journey. The son figured that if they walked faster, kept going all day and night, they’d make the market by early the next morning. So he kept prodding the ox with a stick, urging the beast to get a move on.
‘Take it easy, son,’ said the old man. ‘You’ll last longer.’
‘But if we get to the market ahead of the others, we’ll have a better chance of getting good prices,’ argued the son.
No reply. Dad just pulled his hat down over his eyes and fell asleep on the seat. Itchy and irritated, the young man kept goading the ox to walk faster. His stubborn pace refused to change.
Four hours and four miles down the road, they came to a little house. The father woke up, smiled and said, ‘Here’s your uncle’s place. Let’s stop in and say hello.’
‘But we’ve lost an hour already,’ complained the hotshot.
‘Then a few more minutes won’t matter. My brother and I live so close, yet we see each other so seldom,’ the father answered slowly.
The boy fidgeted and fumed while the two old men laughed and talked away almost an hour. On the move again, the man took his turn leading the ox. As they approached a fork in the road, the father led the ox to the right.
‘The left is the shorter way,’ said the son.
‘I know it,’ replied the old man, ‘but this way is so much prettier.’
‘Have you no respect for time?’ the young man asked impatiently.
‘Oh, I respect it very much! That’s why I like to look at beauty and enjoy each moment to the fullest.’
The winding path led through graceful meadows, wildflowers, and along a rippling stream – all of which the young man missed as he churned within, preoccupied and boiling with anxiety. He didn’t even notice how lovely the sunset was that day.
Twilight found them in what looked like a huge, colorful garden. The old man breathed in the aroma, listened to the bubbling brook, and pulled the ox to a halt. ‘Let’s sleep here,’ he sighed.
‘This is the last trip I’m taking with you,’ snapped his son. ‘You’re more interested in watching sunsets and smelling flowers than in making money!’
‘Why, that’s the nicest thing you’ve said in a long time,’ smiled the dad. A couple of minutes later he was snoring – as his boy glared back at the stars. The night dragged slowly, the son was restless.
Before sunrise the young man hurriedly shook his father awake. They hitched up and went on. About a mile down the road they happened upon another farmer – a total stranger – trying to pull his cart out of a ditch.
‘Let’s give him a hand,’ whispered the old man.
‘And lose more time?’ the boy exploded.
‘Relax, son . . . you might be in a ditch sometime yourself. We need to help others in need – don’t forget that.’ The boy looked away in anger.
It was almost eight o’clock that morning by the time the other cart was back on the road. Suddenly, a great flash split the sky. What sounded like thunder followed. Beyond the hills, the sky grew dark.
‘Looks like big rain in the city,’ said the old man.
‘If we had hurried, we’d be almost sold out by now,’ grumbled his son.
‘Take it easy . . . you’ll last longer. And you’ll enjoy life so much more,’ counseled the kind old gentleman.
It was late in the afternoon by the time they got to the hill overlooking the city. They stopped and stared down at it for a long, long time. Neither of them said a word. Finally, the young man put his hand on his father’s shoulder and said, ‘I see what you mean, Dad.’
They turned their cart around and began to roll slowly away from what had once been the city of Hiroshima.
[“If We Had Hurried” by Billy Rose, Stories for the Heart, 201-03]
[Show pictures of Hiroshima]
I know that I am very much like the boy in the story, especially when I’m driving
I hate to be delayed behind traffic
It has gotten worse since living here, because my commute is normally walking across a parking lot
I rarely, if ever, get stuck behind another person walking across the parking lot
Waiting for a box of books
Just a couple of weeks ago, I was waiting for a box of books to arrive in the mail
With modern technology, I knew that the box had been delivered
When we returned from Ohio, I expected to find the box on our dining room table where the person who was taking care of our animals and the mail would put it
When we went in the house, the box wasn’t on the table
After talking with the individual who was getting our mail, they told me that the box had not been delivered
I was confused and frustrated by the delay in getting the box of books
I assumed that the delivery service hadn’t left the box and would bring it by on Monday
Well, the delivery service didn’t bring it by, but the next door neighbor did
The box had been delivered on the edge of his car port and had been ruined by the rain
The books were now in a plastic bag – some of them were ruined
The box had been delivered to the wrong house (my name and address were correct on the label)
Most of us don’t like to be delayed
How many of us have waited for hours for a rain delay at the baseball park?
How many of us have waited for hours at the airport for a delayed flight due to weather conditions?
Perhaps some of us have delayed too long in having children and are now not able to have children
Maybe life circumstances caused some of us to delay pursuing higher education and have found that we never went back to get that degree
In some situations, we have waited to purchase something that was on sale and realized later that we missed the sale
We are a culture of instant gratification
We can run out to the store and purchase just about anything
If we can’t find it at the store, Amazon Prime provides us with next day shipping
How many of you remember department store catalogs?
The Sears catalog was the one I remember the most (it was so thick you could use it as a high chair or a step stool)
The one catalog I used most often was Bass Pro Shops
I would fill out the order form, include a check, and then send it by snail mail
I had to wait 6-8 weeks to receive the items I ordered
Those days are long gone
From a human perspective, the return of Christ is the most delayed promise ever. Just imagine the excitement and anticipation of the 1st Century believers who believed that Jesus would return within their lifetime. That’s been over two thousand years ago. The saints under the golden altar have been asking God how long it will be until His justice is served. As we’ll see today, the wait is over. John wants us to understand from Revelation 10:1-7 that...
BIG IDEA – We can trust God to complete His work.
GOD (Revelation 10:1-7)
Angel’s appearance and action (vv. 1-4)
John now sees another mighty angel descending from heaven
This is not the first time that a mighty angel is mentioned
In chapter 5, we see God holding the seven-sealed scroll in his hand and John saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” (Rev. 5:2)
The second mighty angel is mentioned here in Rev. 10:1
The final reference to a mighty angel is found in Rev. 18:21, Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: “With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again.”
These are no ordinary angels if they’re putting one foot in the sea and the other on land and picking up boulders the size of large millstones
Some believe that the mighty angel is Jesus Christ, primarily because of how the angel is described
The angel’s appearance
John uses terms to describe this mighty angel that have also been used of Jesus and God
“I suggest this is an angel of importance who, like Moses in Exodus 24, takes on characteristics of the Lord because he is in the presence of the Lord. This encourages me because the same thing is true for us. If we spend time with the Lord, we begin to sound like Him, look like Him, and act like Him a little more each day.” [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, New Testament, 1720]
PRINCIPLE – God’s glory and attributes are evident in and through those who have been with Him.
Most of us haven’t had the opportunity to see God face-to-face like this mighty angel or Moses who met the Lord in the Tent of Meeting and on Mt. Sinai
But that doesn’t mean we can’t be in His presence
We have the Holy Spirit of God who lives within us
We enter God’s throne room through prayer, worship, and meditating on God’s Word
God speaks to us through His Word as the Holy Spirit gives understanding
It’s fairly evident by the joy and contentment on a person’s face that they have been with the Lord
Do those around you recognize that you have been with God?
Is God’s glory and attributes evident in and through you?
My Next Step Today Is To: Commit to spend time daily with the Lord, so that His glory and attributes will be evident to those around me.
So, what attributes of Jesus and God did this angel reflect?
Robed in a cloud
The form of the word “robed” in the original Greek (perfect passive participle) gives the idea that the angel has been permanently clothed with the cloud
It symbolizes glory, power, and majesty that comes from God
Exodus 16:10, While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud.
Leviticus 16:2, The Lord said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die, because I appear in the cloud over the atonement cover.
Luke 9:34-35, While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”
Daniel 7:13-14, “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory, and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
Acts 1:9-11, After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
The two angels were simply confirming what Jesus had already told His disciples
Jesus explained this to His disciples in Matthew 24:30 when He told them that He would be returning on the clouds of the sky
This mighty angel is reflecting the glory, power, and majesty of God and Jesus
Rainbow above his head
We’ve already seen a rainbow in Revelation 4:3, And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow resembling an emerald, encircled the throne.
Ezekiel sees the radiance and glory of the Lord and describes it like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day (Ezekiel 1:28)
Since the time of Noah, the rainbow has always represented God’s mercy and promise that He will never again destroy the earth by flood
“While the cloud symbolizes judgment, the rainbow represents God’s covenant mercy in the midst of judgment (as it did in 4:3).” (MacArthur, Revelation 1-11, 280).: [Akin, Christ-Centered Exposition, Exalting Jesus in Revelation, 191]
This mighty angel is reflecting God’s mercy
Face was like the sun
Jesus’ face shone like the sun when He was transfigured here on earth (Matthew 17:2)
John described Jesus in Rev. 1:12-16 and we read this about Him in v. 16, In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
We see in these two references that Jesus’ glory radiated from Him as light that looked like the sun
When Moses met with the Lord face-to-face on Mt. Sinai and in the Tent of Meeting, his face would shine so brilliantly that the Israelites asked him to cover his face with a veil (Exodus 34:29-35)
Being in the presence of the Lord caused this mighty angel’s face to shine like the sun
Legs like fiery pillars
This speaks of stability and uncompromising holiness
John describes Jesus in a similar manner in Revelation 1:15, His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace . . .
Most scholars acknowledge that the background for this imagery of God’s guidance and protection come from the Israelites wandering in the wilderness
Exodus 13:21, By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.
Exodus 14:24-25, During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. He made the wheels of their chariots come off so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.”
So, this mighty angel is reflecting the glory and attributes of God and Jesus, because he has been in the presence of God and is now coming down to earth to accomplish God’s will
The angel’s actions
Holding a little scroll
As the angel descends from heaven, John notices that there is a little scroll that is laying open in his hand
Scholars are not in agreement concerning what scroll this is
Some believe it is the same scroll that God had in his right hand in chapter 5 that Jesus takes from Him, as the only One worthy to open it, and begins to break the seven seals as outlined in chapter 6
Others believe it is a different scroll that contains either the contents of Rev. 11:1-13 or some other prophecy that John will be sharing
We are not told what the contents of the scroll are, so it’s best not to speculate, but to continue with John’s description of what this mighty angel is doing
Standing on the earth
The angel is obviously tremendous in size, since he is able to place his right foot in the sea and his left on the land
Colossus of Rhodes
“Ancient readers would have thought of the Colossus of Rhodes, one the ancient ‘seven wonders of the world,’ a 105-foot-high bronze statue of Chelios (the patron deity of the city) built in 280 B.C. and destroyed by an earthquake in 224 B.C.” [Osborne, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Revelation, 395-96]
There was a popular myth that this statue straddled the port and that ships had to navigate between its legs to enter the port [show first picture]
It was most likely set on a pedestal that overlooked the port [show second picture]
The significance of this enormous angel with one foot in the sea and the other on land is that he has authority and dominion over all the earth and that his message is for the entire world
His message is a warning for everyone that will be heard by everyone
The angel gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion
There have been multiple uses of a loud voice in Revelation so far and they have all been described differently
Revelation 1:10, On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, (this is the voice of Jesus speaking to John)
Revelation 6:1, I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!”
All of the references to the loud voices help us understand that the message from Jesus, the living creature, and now this mighty angel, are clear and understandable to those who hear their message
The angel’s shout elicited an immediate response from the seven thunders
The seven thunders are not identified any further than that
The plural is used to describe them (voices, thunders), so there are obviously more than one of them (seven to be exact)
They were sharing something with the mighty angel and with John
Almost every scholar agrees that this is an illusion to Psalm 29:1-11 where God’s voice is described seven different ways as being powerful and awesome
Read Psalm 29:1-11
I know that you all want to know what the seven thunders said, but unfortunately that’s impossible
John is not allowed to record what the seven thunders said
Just when John is about to write down what the seven thunders said, God speaks from heaven and tells him not to write it down – this is in contrast to what he was told to do at the beginning of Revelation (write down everything he sees and hears)
The message from the seven thunders is to be sealed up
This speaks of the sovereignty of God
PRINCIPLE – God knows exactly what needs to be revealed to His people.
We know that Jesus did many other things that were not recorded in the Bible (John 21:25)
God’s Word doesn’t provide all of the predictions about the end times, but it does provide what He wants us to know
“. . . the Bible is sufficient revelation for salvation and life, but it is not exhaustive revelation.” [Easley, Holman New Testament Commentary, Revelation, 174]
I agree with several scholars (Osborne, Mounce, Akin) that the seven thunders probably represented another series of plagues or judgments that God was going to use to bring repentance
I can only imagine how heartbroken God is when people reject Him and refuse to repent
That’s exactly what happens at the end of chapter 9
Read Revelation 9:20-21
We saw God’s heart last week from Peter’s second letter
2 Peter 3:8-10, But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
That’s God’s desire for you!
He wants you to repent (turn from your sins) and seek His forgiveness
God’s forgiveness is available to us through Jesus Christ who willingly died on a cross to take your punishment for sin
Ephesians 1:7-10, In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment – to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
God offers everyone the forgiveness of sins according to His grace (giving us what we don’t deserve)
He did this through Jesus’ blood, our perfect sacrificial Lamb
My Next Step Today Is To: Accept God’s offer of forgiveness of my sins, through Jesus’ perfect sacrifice.
For some of you here today, you’ve heard the Gospel message multiple times and you are still rejecting His forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ
He’s been trying to get your attention through some difficult circumstances in your life, but instead of acknowledging God’s power and sovereignty in those situations, you are blaming Him and rebellion against Him even more
My prayer is that you will recognize God’s attempts to draw you to Himself
He loves you!
Don’t wait until it’s too late
Because God is all-knowing, He realizes that sending an additional seven plagues or judgments is not going to change the hearts and minds of the inhabitants of the earth
The mighty angel makes an oath, declaring that God will no longer delay the removal of His restraining power, holding back the culmination of His righteous plan of judgment
Angel’s oath (vv. 5-7)
As the mighty angel is still straddling the sea and land, he raises his right hand to heaven
This is the normal and common posture for taking an oath
We see this happening in official capacities in our world today
A witness in a court of law taking the oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God
When government officials are sworn in
When those who have completed all the requirements to become citizens of the United States are sworn in
Old Testament examples
Genesis 14:22-23, But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich,’”
Daniel 12:7, 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. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.
The mighty angel swears by God
We’ve already mentioned God’s sovereignty as it pertains to what He has revealed and sealed in His Word
PRINCIPLE – God is sovereign over all His creation.
This principle takes us back to v. 2 where the mighty angel stands over all the earth, representing God’s authority and dominion
Here the angel spells it out more clearly – God is infinite and He is the One who created the heavens, the earth, and the sea, including everything in them
The oath that the angel makes is that there will be no more delay in the unfolding of God’s end-time plan
No more delay
The mystery of God will be accomplished as the seventh angel prepares to sound his trumpet
God’s redemptive plan, that began at the foundation of the world, will finally come to fruition and be completed in its fullness
“From this point forward God will not intervene to give the human race further opportunity to repent. Restraint is to be removed, and the Antichrist is to be revealed (cf. 2 Thess 2:3ff).” [Mounce, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, Revelation, 206]
All of this was told to the prophets of old – it had already been revealed to them
We can trust God to complete His work.
He is working in us right now, through the pleasant and difficult circumstances we are experiencing
It could the death of a loved one
Difficulty at work or at home
Fear about starting school (college, high school, middle school)
Philippians 1:6, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus
Paul is talking to the Philippian believers about their partnership in the gospel
Our relationship with Jesus is what allows us to face the difficulties of this life with confidence, strength, and power
God is trustworthy
Are you trusting Him today for your circumstances?
Perhaps you need express that to the Lord
My Next Step Today Is To: Tell the Lord that I am trusting Him to complete His work in me.
It may be a work of justification (repentance/salvation) for the first time
Or, it may be a work of sanctification (becoming more like Jesus Christ)
Most of us are aware of the bridges that are being repaired around our area. The rural mail carriers are acutely aware of which bridges are being repaired. For those of us who travel north to Carlisle, we know that there will be a delay when we get close to the Appalachian Trail. They have only closed one side of the bridge.
While my desire is that they complete it sooner than later, I know that I can trust the state to complete the work they are started. They will not leave the bridge partway done or totally incomplete. We may not enjoy or agree with the timeframe in which these bridges are being completed, but in most cases they will be completed according to the schedule that has been established.
We can trust that God will complete His redemptive work according to His plan and timing.