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A Study by Frank W. Dowsett.
Having now concluded our studies on the Second Woe, or Sixth Trumpet, we note that the description of the Third Woe, or Seventh Trumpet does not proceed immediately. The continuity of the account of these Woes is interrupted by the description of two other major events which were yet to take place within the Israel nations prior to the completion of the Second Woe, and the commencement of the Third Woe or as it must be more importantly recognised as The Seventh, or Last, Trumpet. This Seventh Trumpet is referred to in chapter 10 verse 7, but its actual occurrence is not recorded until we reach chapter 11 verses 14 & 15, which will be the subject of chapter five of this study.
The first of these two events separating the last two woes or trumpets is found in Revelation chapter 10;
And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud.And a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire.
And He had in his hand a little book open. And He set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth. And when He had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.
And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.
And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven,
And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer.
But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.
And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.
And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.
And I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it up. And it was in my mouth sweet as honey. And as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.
And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings."
Now before going into any specific detail, we should note that this chapter is divided into two sections. Verses 1 to 7 describe a mighty angel descending from heaven. The description can fit no one other than our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. It was the very same Person whom Daniel saw in his vision as recorded in Daniel 12:5-7. He was ‘clothed with a cloud’ as recorded in Rev. 1:7. He had ‘a rainbow upon His head’ as described in Rev. 4:3, and Ezek. 1:28. ‘His face shone as the sun’, as described in Rev. 1:16 and Matthew 17:2. And ‘His feet were as pillars of fire’ as described in Rev. 1:15. All these descriptions agree perfectly with those applied in the other references to our Lord Jesus Christ. So the fact that He Himself appeared to John in lieu if sending an angel must surely alert us to the significance of what was about to be revealed.
We note firstly that these first seven verses constitute a cameo of a specific historical event which was to take place from that time right up until the sounding of the seventh, or last, trumpet, by which time we are informed, "the mystery of God will have been finished, or completed and accomplished." Within this period there are two specific items to which our attention is drawn. The first is "a little open book" which is held in the hand of the Mighty Angel. But before the details and significance of this "little book" was revealed to John, the details of a further period of history timed to occur prior to the sounding of the Last Trumpet, was revealed to John. These details are designated as "Seven Thunders", and they were proclaimed to John with a voice so loud and positive that it resembled the sound of the roaring of a lion. But then a most unusual thing happened. Just as John was about to record the message contained in these "Thunders", in the same way as he had done when he received the previous messages related to the seven churches and seals and trumpets, he was commanded not to write down what these seven Thunders revealed, but to seal up their message. And nowhere in the remainder of the entire Book of the Revelation is this seal referred to as being broken or opened. It must then be obvious that the message of these Thunders was not intended for general consumption or understanding, particularly at that time. But two things stand out very clearly. Firstly, they covered certain events which still had to happen within God’s Israel people between the presentation of the "little open book" and the sounding of the final Trumpet, and secondly, that there must be certain servants of God to whom these details would be revealed, referred to by the prophet Daniel in Dan. 12:10 as "the wise who would understand"". If this conclusion is not correct, then one wonders why the Lord even mentioned the Seven Thunders in the first place. Unless some further information not revealed here was going to be revealed to certain people at some stage prior to the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet and the end of this age, then the whole subject becomes totally redundant. Whilst I have my own convictions on what this additional information and understanding is, I am certainly not going to be dogmatic about offering what would undoubtedly be branded as pure speculation by those who are not prepared to study the Word of God for the purpose of being ranked among those whom God designates as "the wise". If God saw fit not to reveal these details at the time when He gave the Revelation, then I’m certainly not going to be presumptuous enough to claim some form of special revelation now. Whether or not what I am suggesting is correct or not will be up to the reader to decide, and for the Lord to judge. But the astute student might like to consider certain statements made through His prophets such as;
"Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy (Israel’s) way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths."(Hos. 2:6).
"And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not. I will lead them in paths that they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. They shall be turned back. They shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye are our gods.
Hear ye deaf, and look, ye blind, that ye may see.
Who is blind but my servant? or deaf as my messenger that I sent? Who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the Lord’s servant. Seeing many things, but thou observest not. Opening the ears, but he heareth not."(Isa. 42:16-20).
"For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fulness of the nations be come in.
And so all Israel shall be saved, as it is written, There shall come out of Zion a Deliverer, and shall turn away godliness from Jacob. For this is My covenant with them, when I shall take away their sins." (Rom. 11:25-27).
Daniel was informed by the Mighty Angel that the completion of this age would occur following a period of three and a half times, or 1,260 years (Dan. 12:7). I believe, as do several other writers, that the fact that the angel is specifically recorded as holding up both his right hand and his left hand indicates a doubling of this time factor, giving an actual time period of ‘seven times’, following which, "the power of the holy people would be scattered". On the other hand, John was informed by the same Mighty Angel that following the events depicted by the Seven Thunders, there would be "no more ‘time’ ". The word ‘`thunders’' as used here, according to Strong’'s #7481 and #7482 means "To be violently agitated - To irritate with anger". Could this be a reference to Israel’s ‘Seven Times’ of punishment? Is this the information that John was commanded not to reveal at that time, in conformity to the statements recorded above by the prophet Isaiah and the apostle Paul? In any event, our Lord swore by His own Name that these hitherto hidden and unrecognised events would culminate in the sounding of the voice of the Seventh Angel, of which we will study more later.
So in the second section of this chapter, following the incident of the sounding of the Seven Thunders, the Mighty Angel specifically drew John's attention to the "little open book" which was in His hand. He was told to eat, or digest it. And just as he was forewarned, whilst it was pleasant to the taste, that is, whilst it appeared outwardly to be a pleasant experience, once it had reached his stomach, the full ramifications and sufferings of what it really represented in what was to transpire brought agony and revulsion to him. For the "little Book" which was specifically stated to be "open", was the symbol Jesus used to represent the great Protestant Reformation which was about to break upon the world.
For over 1,000 years, the Word of God had been a closed book. The Church of Rome had seen to that. They had translated the Bible into Latin, and those who couldn't understand Latin, which was nearly everyone, was unable to read it, and so had to depend on what the clergy taught them as to its meaning. So the Bible was a closed book for centuries. And of course added to this was the fact that the Church of Rome was not actually teaching, or practising Christianity at any rate. The whole Romish teaching was the simple process of immersing Baal worship into a solution of Christian phraseology, and passing this anti-God religious system off on the poor unsuspecting people as God's Word. But when the printing press was invented in the 15th century, the wheels started to fall off their blasphemous deception.
John Wycliffe had already translated the Bible into English in the year 1382. In 1516, Erasmus published his famous Greek translation of the New Testament, and this paved the way for the translation of God's Word into several other languages. It is an interesting fact that following the invention of the printing press, one of the first books to be printed, rather than hand copied on to vellum as had previously been done, was the Bible. How times have changed. Today it’s difficult to convince people just to read the Bible. How would you like to sit down and painstakingly copy out the entire Bible by hand, letter by letter? Sometimes we just don't fully appreciate the blessings of God which we now take so much for granted.
Mr. Howard B. Rand, LLB., a great teacher of God’s Word, and a man who was mightily used of God, writes in his book "Study in Revelation" in regard to John Wycliffe;
"He assailed the false teachings of the Church of Rome, and the dogma of transubstantiation. (The teaching that the bread and wine of the Mass becomes the actual body and blood of our Lord) The influence of his teachings in England became widespread and made him the champion of National Rights as against foreign aggression. The Bulls issued against him by Pope Gregory XI in 1377 were never enforced . . . John Huss, a Bohemian reformer who became Dean of the Philosophical Society of the University of Prague was greatly influenced by the writing of Wycliffe, and because of his teachings he was excommunicated . . . The Council of Constance, . . after years of wrangling and vain debates, adjourned without the decision of a single question except that Huss and Jerome of Prague should be burnt at the stake as heretics. It was Huss who has the honour of having been the intermediary in handing on from Wycliffe to Luther the torch which kindled the Reformation."
Martin Luther was a German reformer of the 16th century. He became so indignant at the abuses of the Church of Rome with its false teachings and its sale of indulgences, that he finally broke from the church on the question of its authority and nailed his now famous ninety-five theses to the door of the Church at Wittenburg. These theses became the foundation of what became Protestant doctrine. He finally married a nun who had been one of nine nuns who had emancipated themselves from their religious vows as a result of his teaching.
The printing press became God's instrument by which the Word of God spread like a flame through England and Europe. The Bible at last became the book of the common people, whereas it had previously been a very bulky book, chained to the pulpit, written in a foreign language, and available only to the clergy.
Thus the dogmatic ties which had bound the people to Rome had now been severed, and the doctrines of the Protestant faith had become that of the land. But naturally enough, Rome was not happy at this situation, to say the least. Her chance came with the accession to the English Throne of Mary Tudor who set about to make a reconciliation with the Pope. Times certainly haven’t changed. So in order to strengthen their position, the Catholic Church arranged for her marriage to Philip II of Spain. This commenced a reign of persecution in England with many sincere followers of Christ gladly suffering martyrdom for their faith. Some of the most well known of these martyrs were Archbishop Crammer, Latimer and Ridley, names which present-day Christians have probably never heard of. It was Latimer who cheered his companion Ridley amidst the flames, exhorting him to "Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day light such a candle by God's grace in England as I trust shall never be put out".
Following the death of Mary, who had no children, Elizabeth I came to the throne of England. She brought to bear every force under her power to restore the Protestant Faith to her land, and quite naturally, the anger of the Papacy was once more aroused. Isn’t it strange that whenever the supposed "True Christian Church" of Rome takes over, it’s always only the Christians who are persecuted. It certainly makes one think. After Mary's death, her husband Philip II of Spain tried unsuccessfully to marry Elizabeth. Upon her rejection, he returned to Spain determined to invade England in order to restore the land back to Rome. He assembled what was then an enormous fleet of some 129 vessels which became known as the "Invincible Armada". This Armada set sail for England on the 29th May, 1588, and as history has now recorded, was destined never to return. A destructive storm arose which scattered the Spanish vessels right around the shores of England, Scotland and Ireland. In acknowledgment of God's deliverance, Queen Elizabeth I had a special medal struck containing the words, "He blew with His winds and they were scattered". This marked not only the end of the famous Armada, but the end of the Spanish Empire which then fell into virtual obscurity. The promise of God had again been justified, as recorded in Isa. 54:17;
"No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper. And every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord."
Thus God’s Israel people, now firmly settled in the "Isles of the West", reformed and freed from the chains of Rome, were able to get on with the task of spreading the Word of God throughout the entire world, and carrying on their God-given responsibility of being a blessing to all the families and nations of the earth and being His witness to the very fact that He is indeed the only God, as recorded in Isaiah chapter 43.
(To be Continued.)