David Peterson / General
Revelation 2023 / Bible; Word of God; A Witness / Revelation 10:8–11
Sermon Type: Textual-Topical
Proposition: The mission of the church is to proclaim God’s words as his prophets. We do so by making the message our own, recognizing some will believe and others will not.
1. Recap 3 cycles of 7
2. Another interlude focused on the church
Recall that Revelation 7 was an interlude between the sixth and seventh seals and pictured the church, militant and triumphant. Now we come to an interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpet blasts. This interlude also deals with the church—this time with the church and its mission and final destiny.
These cycles of persecution and calm will continue until the end, with each cycle foreshadowing the final persecution of the church and its final triumph (WITL: Worthy Is the Lamb, Revelation Bible Study, Concordia)
3. Focus is on our mission
I. We are Stewards of the Word (Revelation 10:8)
1. We are to prophesy. Like Ezekiel and the prophets of the OT.
In the previous revelations concerning the first six trumpets, the vision focused on the evil and misery that will flourish in the world during the New Testament age until the Last Day. Now we are to focus on this period from a different perspective—that of the people of God and their activity in the world. While the focus before was on Satan and the mischievous work of his followers, now the emphasis is on God’s activity of divine grace through His people on earth. (WITL)
2. The Word has the primacy. The Bible assumes God is able to address us by his word.
A Christian university student shared a room with a Muslim. As they became friends, their conversation turned to their beliefs. The believer asked the Muslim if he’d ever read the Bible. He answered no, but then asked if the Christian had ever read the Koran.
The believer responded, “No, I haven’t, but I’m sure it would be interesting. Why don’t we read both together, once a week, alternating books?” The young man accepted the challenge, their friendship deepened, and during the second term he became a believer in Jesus.
One evening, late in the term, he burst into the room and shouted at the longtime believer, “You deceived me!”
“What are you talking about?” the believer asked.
The new believer opened his Bible and said, “I’ve been reading it through, like you told me, and just read that the Word is living and active!” He grinned. “You knew all along that the Bible contained God’s power and that the Koran is a book like any other. I never had a chance!”
“And now you’ll hate me for life?” queried the believer.
“No,” he answered, “but it was an unfair contest.”
Citation: Floyd Schneider, Evangelism for the Fainthearted (Kregel, 2000); quoted in Men of Integrity (March/April 2001)
Dr. Rosalind Picard, founder and director of the Affective Research Group at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), was once convinced that she didn’t need God or religion. So, she declared herself an atheist and dismissed believers as uneducated. But as an educated person she figured at least she should read the Bible. Picard said, “When I first opened the Bible, I expected to find phony miracles … and assorted gobbledygook. To my surprise, the Book of Proverbs was full of wisdom. I had to pause while reading and think.”
She read through the entire Bible twice. She said, “I felt this strange sense of being spoken to. Part of me was increasingly eager to spend time with the God of the Bible, but an irritated voice inside me insisted I would be happy again once I moved on.”
In college, another student invited her to his church. The pastor got her attention when he asked, “Who is Lord of your life?” She said:
I was intrigued: I was the captain of my ship, but was it possible that God would actually be willing to lead me? After praying, “Jesus Christ, I ask you to be Lord of my life,” my world changed dramatically, as if a flat, black-and-white existence suddenly turned full-color and three-dimensional. But I lost nothing of my urge to seek new knowledge. In fact, I felt emboldened to ask even tougher questions about how the world works.
Today, I work closely with people whose lives are filled with medical struggles. I do not have adequate answers to explain all their suffering. But I know there is a God of unfathomable greatness and love who freely enters into relationship with all who confess their sins and call upon his name.
I once thought I was too smart to believe in God. Now I know I was an arrogant fool who snubbed the greatest Mind in the cosmos—the Author of all science, mathematics, art, and everything else there is to know. Today I walk … with joy, alongside the most amazing Companion anyone could ask for, filled with desire to keep learning and exploring.
Rosalind Picard, “An MIT Professor Meets the Author of All Knowledge,” ChristianityToday.Com (3-15-19)
3. People perish for a famine of the word
According to a 2017 study by Lifeway Research, about half (53%) of the 1,000 American’s surveyed have read none, or very little, of the Bible. Bible IQ notes the Lifeway research results are consistent with other Biblical research. By all measures, this translates to a crisis – a biblical illiteracy crisis! (Lifeway website)
II. We are Called to Internalize the Word (Revelation 10:9)
1. We are to be people shaped by the Bible
Eating the scroll symbolizes reading and internalizing its message. We receive the Word, take it to heart, and then proclaim it. (WITL)
In a recent book titled Faith For Exiles, David Kinnaman and Mark Matlock looked at what separates young people who grew up in church and remain actively engaged in their faith and those that are no longer committed to core Christian beliefs and behaviors.
One thing they noticed is that “resilient disciples,” their name for the ones who stayed committed to core principles of the faith, experience far greater joy and intimacy with Jesus.
Compared to those that simply attend church, “resilient disciples” are far more likely to say that their relationship with Jesus brings them joy (90% vs. 48%), shapes their whole life in body, mind, heart, and soul (88% vs. 51%), and impacts the way they live every day (86% vs. 49%).
They also have a richer prayer life. Resilient disciples are more likely to say that time with Jesus reenergizes their life (87% vs. 46%), reading the Bible makes them feel closer to God (87% vs. 44%), listening to God is a big part of their prayer life (78% vs. 48%), and prayer does not feel like a chore but a vibrant part of their life (64% vs. 39%).
David Kinnaman & Mark Matlock, Faith for Exiles: 5 Ways for a New Generation to Follow Jesus in Digital Babylon (Baker Books, 2019), pp. 42-44
2. It means reading it
In an interview, actor Anthony Hopkins said that when he gets a movie script, he reads through it between one hundred and two hundred times before production. He makes notes in the margins. He scribbles and doodles and imagines how it would look on stage or screen. By the time Hopkins is finished, that script is internalized. He knows his character. He knows his (and everyone else’s) lines. He’s able to improvise, and he’s a personification of the script.
If a Hollywood actor reads a script a hundred times, why can’t I read a book in the Bible a hundred times? Here’s an example. Nancy selected the book of James and started reading it over and over. James takes fewer than ten minutes to read. As Nancy got into the project and the days passed, she began to see how certain themes emerged and repeated in the book. She began to get a sense of the author’s personality and convictions. Nancy became so familiar with this epistle she could think through it with her eyes closed, and she began looking at her everyday life through the practical lens of its contents.
Source: Robert Morgan, Reclaiming the Lost Art of Biblical Meditation: Find True Peace in Jesus (Thomas Nelson, 2017), pages 61-62; Original source: Sean Macauly, “Anthony Hopkins Interview,” The Telegraph (1-31-11)
3. How? Some simple steps.
III. The Twofold Effect of the Word (Revelation 10:10)
1. The Word will have two reactions
That the scroll was sweet indicates joy in the promises of God. The Gospel of Jesus Christ itself is sweet and glorious. But the scroll also contains a word of judgment; its proclamation is often followed by bitter persecution and rejection.
We are to proclaim the Word of God to all people before the end of this age after which it will be too late for people to repent. The Gospel of the kingdom will be preached to all nations before the end will come.
The Word of God proclaimed by His faithful witnesses is one of life or death; “fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies” (Revelation 11:5; see also Matthew 16:19; 18:18–20; John 20:21–23). It is the Word of Christ that will be the standard of judgment at the Last Day; those who reject the Gospel thereby bring upon themselves their own condemnation (see John 12:48). Revelation 11:5–6 alludes to power given to Elijah (1 Kings 17:1; 2 Kings 1:10–11) and Moses (Exodus 7:14–21). Even as God raised up Moses and Elijah to be His witnesses in their respective generations, so in every generation He raises up faithful witnesses to proclaim His message. Even as He empowered Moses and Elijah to perform great marvels in order to accomplish their mission, so He gives His people today power and protection to fulfill their purpose as Christians in an unbelieving world (Revelation 11:6). As surely as Jesus has come to earth to live, die, and rise again to pay for the sins of the world, He empowers us to witness with boldness and confidence the Good News of the salvation He freely offers.
Unbelievers break out in celebration over the death of the church because they were tormented by the church’s message of repentance and forgiveness which called them to renounce their sins, their heresies, and their seeming control over their own lives. With the church dead they figure they can live as they please with no one to challenge them.
Who has this Book and reads it not
Doth God himself despise;
Who reads but understandeth not,
His soul in darkness lies.
Who understands, but savors not,
He finds no rest in trouble;
Who savors but obeyeth not,
He hath his judgment double.
Who reads this Book, who understands,
Doth savor and obey,
His soul shall stand at God’s right hand,
In the great judgment-day.
My Old Bible
Poet: Edmund Pillifant
Though the cover is worn,
And the pages are torn,
And though places bear traces of tears;
Yet more precious than gold
Is the Book, worn and old,
That can shatter and scatter my fears.
This old Book is my guide;
‘Tis a friend by my side;
It will lighten and brighten my way;
And each promise I find
Soothes and gladdens my mind
As I read it and heed it today.
To this Book I will cling,
Of its worth I will sing,
Though great losses and crosses be mine
For I can not despair,
Though surrounded by care,
While possessing this blessing Divine.