The eleven short verses of chapter ten are parenthetical between the sixth and seventh trumpet judgments. It begins with an angel who is apparently quite large, as he places “his right foot on the sea and his left on the land” (10:2), who cries out with a loud voice. At the same time, John hears “seven peals of thunder” (10:4) which communicate something that John is forbidden to record. So there is a sure example of something God does not want us to understand.
Apparently, however, that particular event signals the end of a long delay to the finishing of the “mystery of God…as He preached to His servants the prophets” (10:6-7). That must be reference to all that was foretold in the Old Testament about “the day of the Lord.” Although the final pouring out of God’s wrath upon the earth had been delayed for a long time, nothing will be able to stop it when the seventh angel sounds. This is the beginning of the end.
The book that John then ate was symbolic of the words he would prophesy concerning all that would occur after the seventh angel sounded his trumpet, what we will be reading in the remainder of Revelation. Although that book was sweet in his mouth, it was bitter in his stomach, perhaps symbolizing the bittersweet quality of the message. We’re all looking forward to the inevitable end of things, but who is looking forward to the final judgments that precede Jesus’ wonderful return? And once He has returned, there will never be another opportunity for mercy and repentance, which is why, according to Peter, Jesus has delayed His return for so long:
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up (2 Pet. 3:9-10).
I’m glad the Lord was patient with me!