An exposition of Revelation 10:1-11:19. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, September 14, 2008.
Courage often is in short supply when you find yourself overwhelmed by circumstances. When your world falls in on you and trouble comes from every side, standing tall and courageous is next to impossible. Oh not in the beginning. Your first response will be to stand your ground and fight. But battling a relentless foe is exhausting. When you fight off wave after wave it begins to take its toll. Before long you begin to wonder if there is any chance for victory. That must have been where the churches of Asia Minor were when they heard there was a letter from John the beloved. The bishop of Ephesus had written to encourage and inspire them to faith and faithfulness in the midst of persecution, struggle and trial. His writing is preserved for us in the book of Revelation the best known and least understood of the biblical writings. Without question it is the most discussed book of the Bible. Throughout the centuries scholars, experts and laymen have argued its interpretation. With its vivid images and strange symbols it has spawn some wild interpretations. It is not an easy book to understand and thus wisdom would allow for a great range of interpretation. Good and godly men have seen things differently. It is not a simple matter of all those who believe the Bible see it this way and those who reject the Bible’s authority see it that way. Nor is it a matter of those who interpret it literally seeing it like this and those who spiritualize it see it like that. The truth is men who equally love and cherish the Scripture see it differently. Men who equally believe in a literal interpretation find themselves at odds with one another. I’m convinced that the nature of apocalyptic literature and the context of John’s writing hold the key for interpretation. Apocalyptic literature is intended to encourage and inspire. Written during times of severe trial and hardship it says, “Hold on. Be of good courage – things are not as they seem. Deliverance is coming. Victory is assured.” That was the message of the Lord of the Church to his struggling saints. That, in turn, is His message to saints throughout the ages as we await His return and the end of the age. It is my contention that this book meant something to those who first received it. For God to come to a group of struggling saints who feel they are on the verge of annihilation and say, “Hey cheer up I’ve got some good news for you.” And then give them a message not about their current crisis but something that will happen at the end of time thousands of years in the future would be cruel! That is my problem with the “futurist” interpretation of the book. That is those who say chapters 1-3 relate to the churches of Asia Minor – everything else is about that seven-year period at the end of the age. Some of them even argue that chapters 1-3 are not about what was happening then but rather are an outline of the church age. I don’t buy that. I do believe that the book of Revelation deals with the end of the age and the return of Christ but it does in the context of saying something very practical and faith building to the folks in Asia Minor. Our text this morning is found in Revelation chapters 10 and 11.
Text: Revelation 10:1-11:19
Chapters 10 and 11 form an interlude – a brief pause in the action to take a breath and get our bearings before moving on. The first interlude followed the breaking of the 6th seal. There we were reminded of God’s care for His own in the midst of tribulation. God marks/seals His own – this is His divine protection; and we are reminded of the blessed hope – our being in the presence of God with a great multitude in glorious worship. Following that interlude we are warned that God’s consuming wrath will fall. The 7 trumpet judgments reinforce that. That is where the second interlude comes in. Between the 6th and 7th trumpet we are given insight into the activity of the church in the throes of suffering and the world’s rage. Again I see the 7 seals, the 7 trumpets and the 7 bowls of wrath covering the same period of time from various perspectives but with a growing intensity. This section reminds us that…
Thesis: Hope and courage in the face of genuine suffering and sever trial demand a
divinely inspired vision of the power and triumph of the Gospel.
Courage in the face of sorrow and trouble demands a firm grasp of the strength and power of the Gospel. (10:1-7)
Faithfulness in proclaiming the Gospel demands we embrace and feast upon Gospel truth. (10:8-11)
Steadfastness in Gospel ministry demands we recognize the inevitable struggle and eventual triumph of the Gospel. (11:1-19)