Eating God’s Words
Revelation 10. A mighty “angel” descends from heaven, interrupting the action once again.The description of this angel is similar to one that Ezekiel the Prophet saw as he was inaugurated as a prophet (Ezek. 1:26-28). Ezekiel sees somebody on a flying throne, surrounded by a rainbow, and whose legs radiate light in the colours of fire. Ezekiel even falls on his face before this majestic being. John’s vision is similar enough that it suggests that his visitor is God Almighty Himself, rather than a simple angel. This “angel” is answered by thunder when he speaks, and his feet rest on both the land and the sea, as though the earth really were his footstool. [The land and the sea will return in Chapter 13 as the provenance of the beasts. This shows that God rules over even their dominions.]
Depending on the context, the term angelos may mean either a messenger or a being of angelic type. John the Apostle is well-known for his love of double-entendres (puns or using both meanings) of words. Marion notes that only God seems to have the right to swear under the New Covenant. He is shown to swear in His own name numerous times in the Old Testament, particularly with regard to establishing covenants, so is possible that this is happening in v. 6. This is probably [though by no means certainly] a vision of Jesus glorified as “Son of God” who is acting as the Messenger or “Word” to John.
After the “messenger” speaks, a voice from heaven tells John not to record what the thunders respond. The “messenger” then swears the oath by God’s name that all will be revealed when the seventh trumpet blows.
He is handed the scroll, and told to eat it (v. 8-11). It would taste like honey as he eats it, but be sour in his stomach. This is also similar to Ezekiel 3:1-4. This is the final act of Ezekiel’s commissioning as a prophet to Israel. John, on the other hand, is sent to prophesy “before” or “about” “many peoples, nations, languages and kings.”
It is important to note that, though Ezekiel was a contemporary of Daniel, he did not travel in the same circles as the [eventually] powerful Judean nobleman. He was a captive at the fringe of the Babylonian Empire, not at its centre. John was in a similar postion, a captive of the Roman Empire on the Isle of Patmos. He is writing to a community under Roman persecution from his imprisoned state. There is no “Daniel” in Rome to temper that Empire’s harsh treatment of its Christian population.
In other words, Chapter 10 is about the commission of John the Apostle as John the Prophet to an exiled Christian remnant under the oppression of the Roman Empire. John’s message, though intended for edification of the church, would eventually be used as a witness to all of the nations of the world who dare to abuse God’s people. His message would be preserved, as was that of Ezekiel. This chapter legitimizes John’s call to a prophetic ministry by comparing him with Ezekiel in the manner and nature of his calling. The words of the scroll become internalized in John, to be spoken as the Spirit moves him. As Ezekiel prophesied about judgment on both God’s people and their invaders, so John prophesies about judment on both the church and its persecutors.