Peeling the Onion: Revelation 10

After six angels’ trumpet blasts, And the ensuing troubles and tribulations in earth, Today the scene shifts in the vision – What do you see?

I visualize the angel, descending through and with clouds and rainbow, Into the scene on earth, Rather than the celestial court frame of vision.

Picture the Colossus of Rhodes – one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, destroyed long before John’s vision. Picture the Statue of Liberty, Or Cristo Redenter towering over Rio de Janeiro Harbor entry markers, each time.

But suspend disbelief, and imagine such a figure straddling land and sea, proportionately scaled to your vision of seven lampstands, seven angels of seven churches in Asia Minor. sketch it on a map of the region!

Remember your image from chapter 1, the first Thursday? How did you visualize that figure with the golden sash, two-edged sword? I tend to merge the images – do you?

The angel’s announcement is like seven thunders, not to be recorded in a book – A bit like prohibiting photography, or cultural appropriation or exploitation of woe.

The announcement Is of the imminent blast of the seventh trumpet, culmination of the four horsemen, seven seals, and seven trumpets. It’s a dramatic pause. If broadcasted on television, there would be a break for ads here! Yet, we are not at the end of the revelation, but rather, approaching its midpoint, the ‘centre of the onion’, the midpoint of the ’ark cruise’, with no land in sight!

The disembodied voice Last heard by John in the celestial vision tells him to take the scroll from the figure’s hand and eat it. John asks for it, and it is proffered (how does scale work in your dream state?) The angel warns John – It will be bitter in his stomach, but sweet as honey in his mouth.

This metaphor for how a prophet relates to text is not original here – familiar from the major prophets 21st century hermeneutics relish this stuff, from McLuhan’s ‘medium is the message’ to distinguishing the signifier from the signified, the explicit reference to book and to scroll, linked to aural and oral communication.

l’d rather we find our own words – words sweet in our mouths, though bitter in our stomachs as we try to construe, to make sense, to interpret and translate, and to apply old wisdom to relieve our ignorant fears with relevance to current and imminent events. We do not read a prediction, irrelevant for 2000 years, but waiting all that time to be applied to Donald Trump! We read something of the shape and taste, not living by bread alone, but be every word of God , even where it’s hard to stomach or digest In contrast with sweet rhetoric or homiletics.

Finally, note how the prophecy is universal, to many nations, peoples, languages, kings - not just for the '144,000' saved. I find chapter 10 an interlude. On the brink of ‘hell breaking loose’ positioning John (and us) between the apocalyptic poles of threat and promise – ‘we ain’t seen nothing yet That’s my 500 word quota for the day…

1 Then I saw another powerful angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in cloud, with a rainbow over his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were pillars of fire.  

2 In his hand he had a small scroll, unrolled; he put his right foot in the sea and his left foot on the land  

3 and he shouted so loud, it was like a lion roaring. At this, the seven claps of thunder made themselves heard  

4 and when the seven thunderclaps had sounded,  I was preparing to write, when I heard a voice from heaven say to me, 'Keep the words of the seven thunderclaps secret and do not write them down.'  

5 Then the angel that I had seen, standing on the sea and the land, raised his right hand to heaven,  

6 and swore by him who lives for ever and ever, and made heaven and all that it contains, and earth and all it contains, and the sea and all it contains, 'The time of waiting is over;  

7 at the time when the seventh angel is heard sounding his trumpet, the mystery of God will be fulfilled, just as he announced in the gospel to his servants the prophets.'  

8 Then I heard the voice I had heard from heaven speaking to me again. 'Go', it said, 'and take that open scroll from the hand of the angel standing on sea and land.'  

9 I went to the angel and asked him to give me the small scroll, and he said, 'Take it and eat it;  it will turn your stomach sour, but it will taste as sweet as honey.'  

10 So I took it out of the angel's hand, and I ate it and it tasted sweet as honey, but when I had eaten it my stomach turned sour.  

11 Then I was told, 'You are to prophesy again, this time against many different nations and countries and languages and kings.'   

1And I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire. 

2He held a little scroll open in his hand. Setting his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, 

3he gave a great shout, like a lion roaring. And when he shouted, the seven thunders sounded. 

4And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.’ 

5Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and the land raised his right hand to heaven 

6 and swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it: ‘There will be no more delay, 

7but in the days when the seventh angel is to blow his trumpet, the mystery of God will be fulfilled, as he announced to his servants the prophets.’ 

8 Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me again, saying, ‘Go, take the scroll that is open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.’ 

9So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll; and he said to me, ‘Take it, and eat; it will be bitter to your stomach, but sweet as honey in your mouth.’ 

10So I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it; it was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter. 

11 Then they said to me, ‘You must prophesy again about many peoples and nations and languages and kings.’