Moving on through the Book of Revelation
Revelation 10,11, and12
The central messages of the book of Revelation is that “the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!” (Revelation 19:6) There are few references to specific events or persons of the past, present or future in the book of Revelation. But rather there are “spiritual principles” intended to encourage Christians in every age.
The many symbolic visions in the book of Revelation set forth these main principles: 1) There will be a great time of trouble on the earth at the end of the age. (God’s judgments on a rebellious and sinful world) 2) The living Lord Jesus Christ is victorious over Satan and his allies. 3) The Lamb, Jesus comes again in glory as Savior and Judge. (Revelation 22:12) 4) Satan is defeated and bound. (Revelation 12:7 and 20:1-3) 5) Sin and evil are destroyed and there is a new sinless heaven and earth. (Revelation 21) 6) Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God has won the victory. 7) And, the followers of the Lamb(Jesus) will share in His victory! (Revelation22)
These spiritual conflicts are recorded by John In the book of Revelation. The glorified Jesus allows John in the Spirit to see a series of dramatic visions that show spiritual wars between Good versus evil taking place. John’s visions describe what will happen in the last days. These often-wild visions contain pictures pointing to spiritual realities behind things happening in history. And the symbols point to what is ultimately indescribable. But these visions are not always written down in the order that they take place! And we can’t always understand them.
One of John’s many dramatic visions is one of a mighty angel coming down from heaven clothed with a cloud and with a rainbow on his head. His face was like the sun and his feet are like pillars of fire. The angel has a little book opened in his hand. And the angel sets one foot on the sea and the other on the land. (Revelation 10: 1-2) Bible scholars believe that this indicates that the angel has a message for the whole world.
The angel tells John to take and eat the little book. And when John was eating it, he found the book to be sweet as honey in his mouth. But after he had eaten it, his stomach became bitter. (Revelation 10:9-11) John was told to prophesy to the whole world about the end times message in the angel’s little book.
Some Bible scholars believe that the message from the little book was sweet as honey in John’s mouth because the good news of God’s new sinless heaven and earth where victory over sin and death is finally realized is indeed sweet as honey when we receive it.
But perhaps the little book seemed bitter when it was in John’s stomach since there is a bitter war between the forces of God and the forces of Satan throughout the Tribulation period on earth before the sweetness of victory through the Lamb is finally realized.
John is given another vision. This time John is given a vision of two witnesses during the end times who will prophesy and call out to a world in rebellion against God. The two witnesses will go around witnessing in sack cloth and ashes – representing grief and sorrow. And they will witness for forty-two months or 3 ½ years. (Revelation 11:3) And they will be able to perform some miracles.
Some Bible scholars believe that the whole Tribulation period may be seven years in length because of their interpretation of various prophecies. So, the two witnesses would witness for half of the Tribulation if that were the case. Other scholars do not read the Scriptures as literally. Scripture says: “Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face. Now we know in part, but then we shall know even as we are known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
In describing these two witnesses Scripture says: “These are the two olive branches and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.” (Revelation 11:4) Zechariah, a prophet in the Old Testament also had a vision of two olive branches and two lampstands. It is believed that the two olive branches represented “oil” which is the symbol of the Holy Spirit’s power. Joshua and Zerubbabel, the two “sons of oil”, were witnesses or “bearers of light” for their generation. They were anointed with Holy Spirit power to see to the completion of the temple. (Zechariah 4:11-14)
After when these two end time witnesses in Revelation 11 finish their work, the beast (Satan, or the Anti-Christ) comes up out of the bottomless pit and fights and kills them. Their bodies lie in the streets for the whole world to see, (television?) for three and a half days, and much of the population of the world throws parties and rejoices that God’s two witnesses are dead!
But then the witnesses are resurrected by God just a few days later also for the whole world to see and fear and then the two witnesses ascend into heaven. (Revelation 11:7-14) “And the temple of God is opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant is seen in His temple.” (Revelation 11:19)
John is given yet another of his many visions. This time John sees a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet and a garland of twelve stars on her head. The woman is crying out in labor, in pain to give birth. And then there appears a great fiery red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his seven heads. “The dragon stands before the woman(Mary) who is ready to give birth, to devour her Child (Jesus) as soon as he is born. He is a male Child who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child is caught up to God and His throne.” (Revelation 12:4b-5)
Satan, the dragon, and his angels (demons) are cast out of heaven. (Revelation 12:9-12) The furious dragon persecutes the woman who gave birth to the male Child. (Mary, the mother of Jesus) But the woman is given two wings of a great eagle to fly to a place of safety. And the enraged dragon makes war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Christians) (Revelation 12:13-17) The dragon makes war with us.
These visions in Revelation 10-12 and all of the other visions recorded in Revelation, give us a glimpse of the many spiritual battles being fought by the evil principalities and powers of this world against the Lamb and His followers. The Great Deceiver knows that his time is running out and he is furiously fighting. But the book of Revelation reveals God as the Sovereign Ruler and Judge of the whole cosmic creation.
And because God is in control, right is ultimately vindicated in the face of wrong, justice in the face of injustice and righteousness in the face of unrighteousness. World history is moving on through tragedy and disaster to “a new heaven and a new earth.”