Question of the Day: Why was the message given to John in this chapter both bitter and sweet?

John was allowed to see many things in this book that are a mystery to us, and will be so until they are unfolded before our eyes. Many events cannot and will not be explained to us until they happen, but the final result of those events (recorded in Chapters 21-22) will do two things for us: first, it will help us understand all of the prophecies of the Scriptures in full; second, it will end the wickedness of mankind and the satanic hosts in the “lake of fire and brimstone”, and the establishment of those who, thou they don’t deserve it, will reign in righteousness forever with Jesus Christ, their Lord.

Today we come to the tipping point when events will begin to unfold that will end satan’s rule through man here on earth. Here are the words of this chapter: “And I saw another very powerful angel come down from heaven. He was clothed with a cloud, a rainbow was around his head, his face was as bright as the sun, and his feet were like columns of fire. In his hand was a little scroll that was open. And He set his right foot on the oceans and his left foot on the dry ground, and cried out with a loud booming voice that was like the loud roar of a lion. And when he spoke, seven successive claps of thunder were heard. When the seven claps of thunder had sounded off, I got ready to write down what I saw, but a voice from heaven interrupted me, saying, ‘Seal up those words that the seven thunders just gave—do not write them down!’

“Then the angel that I saw standing on the ocean and the dry ground, lifted up his hand to heaven and swore by Him who lives forever and ever (see Daniel 12:7)—the One who created the universe and all that is in it—including the oceans and all that are in them, that time shall no longer be. However, in the days that the seventh angel sounded, the mystery that shrouds God is now to be completed, and He has revealed this mystery to His servants—those who are prophets.

“The voice that I heard from heaven spoke to me again, and said, ‘Go and take the little scroll out of the hand of the angel who is standing on the ocean and the earth.’ So I went to the angel and said to him, ‘Please give me the scroll.’ And the angel said to me, ‘Take it and eat it, and it will turn your stomach over, but it will taste as sweet as honey to you.’ I took the book out of the angel’s hand and ate it—completely—and the angel was right; it was sweet as honey to my taste, but turned my stomach over it was so bitter. And the angel said to me, ‘You must prophesy again and again before many people, nations, language groups, and kings of the earth.’”

John had a fascinating experience here: Almighty God had just declared that “time would be no longer” and that “the mystery that shrouds God is now to be completed”. These words indicate the opening salvo of the wresting of the power of this world from Satan and his hosts and from the age of man’s dominance, and the turning over of this world to Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Now wouldn’t that make any believer rejoice? Yes, and no! and that is the bitter and the sweet.

The bitter would be for believers—either in heaven or on earth—watch the world destroyed, and with that destruction all of those who had defied God and taken the mark of the beast, that is, all unbelievers. In that crowd would be many who we have known who thought they were Christians, had tried to convince themselves and even the Lord that they were, but were told “Depart from Me; I never knew you.” That for a believer would be very bitter. But for the believer there is one more thing that would be bitter: we know that “but for the grace of God go I!” They are getting what I deserve! That is bitter!

But what about that which is sweeter than honey? We have all longed for the day when all evil is finally put down and righteousness is allowed to reign, and we know that we will be part of that event. To a believer, that would be the sweetest thing that could ever happen here on earth—especially since it involves the exaltation by God of our Lord Jesus Christ to rule this world in righteousness. What a different place this world could be if righteousness reined instead of the awful wickedness that permeates everything here on earth and destines it for destruction. Now that is sweet!

Prayer: O God, we look forward to this event when Your patience and longsuffering attitude toward man is over and You set up righteousness and holiness to reign here on earth. It will be an earthshaking event, and not wonder it was revealed to John that this event was pivotal. We long for the sweet—the establishment of Your reign here on earth in the Person of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord! Amen! David B. Virts has written a book called “Knowing, Seeking Worshiping — a study of the character of God.” It is available by calling 615-945-0611.

David B. Virts has written a book called “Knowing, Seeking Worshiping — a study of the character of God.” It is available by calling 615-945-0611.