revelation 10-12

Day 1

Chapter 10

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.”


The angel in verse 1 is one of the good guys.  He’s got his own rainbow – back in chapter 4 God has a rainbow. It’s a symbol and reminder of God’s promises – his covenant.  This angel is a very impressive character. He is not some harmless figure with a harp and wings. You wouldn’t stick this bloke on the top of your Christmas tree. He is huge and powerful and he doesn’t just stand on the land and the sea, John says he plants his feet on them, like a sumo wrestler taking up his position – like a massive tree, immovable. He gives a loud shout like the roar of a lion. He is majestic and powerful and ferocious. When he speaks the whole world hears, both the land and the sea, and this mighty being is but a servant of the living God! As he shouts, we’re told that the voices of the seven thunders speak, but John is not allowed to record what they say. It’s telling us that there are other things going on in this world; there are other forces at work and there are parts of God’s plan that we know nothing about. God tells us what he wants but some things he keeps to himself.  We serve a big God. The angel says “there will be no more delay.  But in the days when the 7th angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished…”

The full plan of God will be seen when the 7th trumpet sounds.  It’s all over by then.  But there are some things going on first.  We come to the 7th trumpet at the end of Ch. 11.

Now this huge angel has a small scroll in his hand and John is told to go and take it. The angel says, “Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” In a number of places the Bible talks about God’s word being as sweet as honey.

The gospel is Oh so sweet. It speaks of grace and love and forgiveness. Sometimes that can sound really syrupy and weak, but the gospel of grace is a thing of power. Remember the awesome power and majesty of God back in Chapters 4 & 5! Look at the might of the angel here in Chapter 10. Our God is not some weak-willed people-pleaser. His forgiveness comes from his mighty power and fierce love. Real forgiveness is one of the hardest things in life to pull off. It takes incredible strength to forgive someone – or incredible self-understanding because forgiveness is possible only when we realise who much we get it wrong at times and how much we fall short and how often we need forgiveness.  When you are privileged to see forgiveness in the flesh it is a thing of great wonder and beauty. We know that because we know the results of forgiveness from the receiving end.  We know what a relief it is to be forgiven when we’ve wronged someone. We know what a huge weight it can take off our shoulders. We know what it’s like to be free from guilt.

Let’s be like our Father in heaven and be people who can forgive, not because forgiveness is squeezed out of us, but because love overflows.  



Lord God, I stand in awe of you amazing forgiveness. Make me like you. Amen




Day 2

Chapter 10

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.”


Remember all those “Good news/bad news” jokes from years ago? Chapter 10 is one of those good news/bad news things, or as the passage itself puts it, sweet and sour. The message about Jesus is called the gospel and the gospel means “Good news”, but have you noticed that the gospel is not all good news? The gospel is so sweet! It sets us free. It gives us life forever.  It gives us heaven. It gives us Jesus in the here and now. Furthermore, the gospel has been the giver of live even to those who don’t want it – even those who are opposed to it have benefitted from it. For instance, the gospel is responsible for education for all, the sanctity of human life, hospital care, old aged pensions, welfare, the abolition of slavery, equality, democracy, the pursuit of science, and much of what is good about our culture. Those things were brought about by the Christian gospel.  I recommend this book “How Christianity changed the World” by Alvin J Schmidt, if you’d like to check all that out.  The gospel has changed our world for the good.

It is so sweet.

However, the gospel is also bitter. It’s bitter in a couple of ways.

It’s bitter in that the proclamation of the gospel is always followed with persecution and suffering for those who proclaim it.  That’s what the first 3 chapters of Revelation are all about. Jesus himself said “Follow me and it’s going to cost you.  You’d better be ready and willing to pay the price.”  [Luke 14:31] He tells those who are thinking about following him that people will hate them because of their allegiance to Him. Even the members of our own family will hate us. He tells us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and in that way follow him. It’s not all a bed of roses!  Just watch whenever Christians speak up publicly in support of Biblical values.  Just watch the reaction! Watch the vilification. Watch the intolerance. We can see that throughout our world where Christianity is illegal, or discriminated against.

It’s not all goodness and light. But it’s so worth it, isn’t it?  Forgiveness, peace, love, joy …all ours in Christ.

It’s also bitter in that it when it’s proclaimed it will make some people even more determined to stand up against God. The gospel is attractive to some and repulsive to others. When some people hear it, they are just hardened in their opposition.

And you never know just how any one person will respond. We shouldn’t be surprised when some people jack up when we mention Jesus.  It’s part of the work of the gospel. In fact the good news, the gospel, is not just an offer of rescue – the other side of the coin is that it is a declaration of judgment. It condemns as well as rescues.

2 Corinthians 2:14-15 says, “15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.”

The gospel divides. It is offensive to so many. It is confronting. We make a mistake when we change it to try to make it acceptable. The gospel is about God’s love and grace, but it is also about the righteous judgment of God, after all the gospel is about rescue, salvation, and that means being saved from something. Changing the gospel includes leaving bits of the message out, like the need for repentance and the certainty of judgement.



Gracious Father, spread the sweet aroma of the gospel far and wide and use me in that process. Amen




Day 3

Chapter 11


11 I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, with its worshipers. 2 But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. 3 And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4 They are “the two olive trees” and the two lampstands, and “they stand before the Lord of the earth.”[a] 5 If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. 6 They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.

In chapter 11 John is told to measure the temple and to count the worshippers there.

When you buy land you get survey done so that you know exactly what you’re buying and what is yours and what is not yours.  Friends of mine had a survey done and found that their neighbour had built her house on their land.  John is told to carry out a survey.

This same measuring and counting thing goes on in a couple of other places in the Bible as well for the same reason.  God is putting his boundary markers around what is his so that no one will trespass onto it.

The inner sanctuary seems to represent the genuine worship of God. There were a few words to describe the temple in Jerusalem. The Greek word for that part of the temple is the same word used in Eph 2:21 where Paul tells us that the Christians are joined together in the church to become a holy “temple” [ inner sanctuary] of the Lord. 

God will protect his church. Christians still suffer severely, we’ve seen that throughout the book of Revelation, but they will be kept eternally safe. Their souls will be protected from destruction.  They will not lose their eternal life. But God is not going to protect the outer court – those who only pay lip service to him. Those who are in the greater temple but not really part of it. 

And Jerusalem is going to be trampled underfoot for 42 months, it says. The enemies of God’s people will have their way for a set period of time. 42 months, 1260 days in the next verse, and a time, times and a time and a half referred to in 12:14. It all refers to the same time span – 42 months.

It’s a reference back to the book of Daniel and also to what Jesus says in Luke 21:24, when he talks about the time when the temple courts will be trampled by the gentiles until the time of the gentiles has been fulfilled. Revelation 12 makes it pretty clear that it covers the time from Jesus’ death and resurrection until the judgment day. The 42 months is the age of the gospel; the age of the troubles and persecutions and judgment – that is, the time from the death and resurrection of Christ – the age we live in now. 


Then we come to part of the book that is really confusing – confusing in that there are at least 13 different explanations for the role of the two witnesses and what it means. Two witnesses appear and prophesy, or preach the gospel, for 1260 days, or 3 and a half years again. They breathe fire out of their mouths if anyone tries to stop them and they have the power to bring on drought, turn the waters to blood and bring plagues. After 3 and a half years they are killed by the beast from the Abyss.  Their dead bodies lie in the streets for 3 and a half days and the world celebrates their death, but then they are raised from the dead and taken up into heaven.


Some people want to argue that there will be two real life men who will do this and it will all literally happen.  It may be so, all things are possible, but I think there is a different explanation. The witnesses are called “lampstands” and “olive trees”. Back in chapter 1 the lampstands are churches. In Zechariah 4:2 two men are given the title of olive trees and that is because God is going to bless his people through the office these two officials.  I think the best way of taking this reference is that the 2 witnesses represent the church. That seems to fit well with the fact that Jerusalem is symbolic – it symbolises evil in 11:8, and the scroll is symbolic for the message of God. Further, when the beast attacks these witnesses  in v 7 the actual words are “Makes war” against them and that seems to imply that it’s not just two people but a much larger group – the church. 

This is the age of the proclamation of the gospel and it runs parallel with the age of the great tribulation. In the midst of the tribulation and the judgment and the suffering the church is not to just endure and hang in there.  The church is to take the offensive.  The church is to proclaim the good news of Jesus, “and the gates of hell will not be able to stand against it.” [Matthew 16:18]. The church is to “display the manifold wisdom of God to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.” [Ephesians 3:10].



Lord God, empower your church to take on the powers of darkness by spreading the good news, and give me the courage and opportunities to do likewise. Amen




Day 4

Chapter 11

7 Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. 8 Their bodies will lie in the public square of the great city—which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt—where also their Lord was crucified. 9 For three and a half days some from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. 10 The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth.

11 But after the three and a half days the breath[b] of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. 12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on.

13 At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

14 The second woe has passed; the third woe is coming soon.


As we saw yesterday, we live in the age of the gospel.

There are two witnesses because the Bible itself says that there needs to be two witnesses to establish the truth. They are protected by God, invincible until their job is done.  The church has continued to proclaim the gospel and to survive and prosper despite all the attempts through history to destroy it. The business about fire from their mouths and ability to cause drought and turn water into blood and bring disease is reminiscent of the two great prophets of the Bible, Moses and Elijah. The church stands in the shoes of these great messengers of God as it preaches the good news. That is our role now. We are to be messengers of God. We are to take every opportunity to tell people about Jesus. Do you know what to say if someone asks?

Then the beast kills the witnesses. That’s a shock!  It will look like God’s people, the church, is finished. People will gloat and celebrate over what they think is the destruction of the church. It’s not that hard to imagine is it, people gloating over the destruction of the church. They do it today. It may be that it’s referring to a time yet to come, or it may refer to various attempts to wipe out the church down through the centuries – the Roman Empire tried it.

The Emperor Diocletian took a good shot at destroying the Christian church.  He celebrated what he thought was his victory when he struck a medal bearing the inscription “the name of Christians being extinguished.”  He erected a pillar in Spain that had the inscription “Diocletian for having everywhere abolished the superstition of Christ and extending the worship of the gods.”


In recent times The USSR tried it. China is trying to do it, Islamic states throughout the world are trying to do it right now. But after a short time, here described as three and half days, the church is resurrected [v 12].

Then they (the two witnesses) heard a loud voice form heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they went up to heaven in a cloud while their enemies looked on.”  That is the final day.  That is the end of all things, when the Lord takes his people to be with him forever. It’s followed immediately by the 7th trumpet and “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.”

“then God’s temple in heaven is opened” it says in verse 19. Again we come to the end of the cycle. 

The church is on earth to proclaim the goodness of God in a condemned world.  We need to be living out and speaking out the good news. Pain and suffering and trouble shouldn’t surprise us. We are to be a colony of heaven, an outpost, here on earth. People should walk into our doors and experience a little of what they will experience in heaven. Now that’s a challenge to rise to!



God of heaven an earth, make your church that outpost of heaven and show me how to do my part. Amen






Day 5

Chapter 12

12 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. 4 Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron sceptre.”[a] And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. 6 The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.

I’ve never run a marathon, but I’ve paddled in a canoe marathon - the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic, 111kms overnight from Windsor to Brooklyn. The first two times I attempted it I didn’t finish. I finally completed the race on my third attempt, when I found that the trick is to persevere. I made up my mind that I was going to finish no matter what. When I felt like giving up, I just kept going. That year I got chafed red raw under my arms and on my chest, got a repetition strain injury to my thumb and forearm, got an ache in my rear that really hurt, I ached all over, got depressed, felt sick in my stomach and absolutely exhausted, but I finished.  I couldn’t stand when I got to the finish line and my support crew had to help me out of the kayak.

The only way to finish the race is to realise that all those things and more are going to happen and that you just have to push through them. When you start to feel the pain, you tell yourself, “That’s par for the course – that’s what paddling a marathon is all about.  Get over it and keep going.” You have to persevere.

That is John’s bottom line in the book of Revelation.  He tells his readers what it will be like to run the marathon race of the Christian life and what to expect and he encourages them to push on and persevere. The Christian life is not a sprint.  Sprinters are show ponies. It might hurt but it only hurts for a few seconds.  Anyone can put up with that!  The gun goes off and a few seconds later it’s all over. In a marathon it doesn’t matter about the start – it’s how you finish that matters. Starting is easy!

The book of Revelation runs in cycles.  In chapters 4-6 we have judgment Day at chapter 6:15 and following. “for the great day of their wrath had come, and who can withstand it.” In the following verses we have the great multitude in heaven round the throne of God.

Then in chapters 8-11 we have another cycle with the seven trumpets and that ends round chapter 11 verse 15 verse 18 at the end of the seven trumpets with the words “the time has come for the judging of the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name , both small and great and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” Then God’s temple in heaven is thrown open. That’s a pretty clear description of the judgment day, wouldn’t you say?  The chapters we’re looking at today, chapters 12 and 13, begins with the birth of Jesus and ends in chapter 14 verses 14-16 with judgment. It tells of Jesus crowned and ruling and an angel reaping bunches of grapes representing people and throwing them into the winepress of God’s wrath. 

Chapter 12 starts with the vision of a spectacular women. She gives birth to a boy who is to “rule all the nations with an iron sceptre.” Psalm 2 you’ll tells us that is a description on the coming Messiah.  There is a dragon who we’re told in verse 9 is Satan waiting for the child to be born so that he can kill it. Some people say that the woman is Mary, but it can’t be as the woman is taken away for safety for 1260 days, the period spanning the suffering of God’s people and God’s judgment on the world.  So far that period of time has run for 2000 years. The woman is God’s people in both the Old Testament period and the New Testament, namely the church.  The Church is called the bride of Christ in the Bible. This lines up beautifully with what was said back in chapter 11 where the two witnesses, who symbolised the church, are kept safe for 1260 days as they spread the good news about Jesus. We are living in the gospel age. Here the woman symbolising the church, is kept safe from the evil one for the same period of time.  Chapter 12 is going back over the ground from chapter 11 but from a different viewpoint.

Revelation puts a premium on the church. It does not talk of believers other than as part of the community of the church. Church may not be all that we want it to be, but that is not the point. She is the bride of Christ. She is the central to the purposes of God. She is Christ’s intended home for every believer.



Father, you placed me into a community of faith. Give me the grace to love it and take my intended place within it. Amen