Preaching the Whole Counsel of God
We now come to an interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpets, just as there was between the sixth and seventh seals. It consists of two visions, the first in chapter ten, the second in chapter eleven. The first vision is of a mighty angel of magnificent appearance who straddles land and sea and has a little open scroll in his hand. When he lifts his voice, the seven thunders sound in what was apparently an articulate manner, for John was about to write down the words. But he is forbidden to do so. It amuses me that commentators speculate on what was said. Obviously our Lord did not want us to know. We must remember that “the secret things belong to the Lord our God,” and desire not to know more than has been revealed to us, but rejoice that “the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29). The ways of the Almighty are far past our finding out, and the joy of heaven is that we shall have all eternity to learn of Him in the beauty of holiness. So let us leave the seven thunders to themselves. Perhaps one day, we shall hear their voices again.
The angel swears by our Lord that with the sounding of the seventh trumpet, there will be no more delay but that “the mystery of God would be fulfilled.” Then John is commanded to take the little open scroll from the angel’s hand and eat it. He is told that it will be sweet to his taste but bitter to his stomach. And it was. And then he was told, “You must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and languages and kings.”
And herein is described the enormous task given to the preacher. The gospel is sweet to the taste, but often bitter in its proclamation. One can easily see this in John’s case as the revelation he is given is much about God’s impending wrath. But all preachers must preach the entire Bible – the law and the gospel. Salvation implies something to be saved from, and that is the wrath of God that is even now “revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Romans 1:18). And it doesn’t stop with the ungodly; believers too must hear words that can bring sickness to the stomach but that are necessary to apply that they may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. A preacher of God is a physician whose ultimate goal is health, but who also knows that health sometimes requires surgery. And of course, he will have undergone such surgery himself “lest after preaching to others [he, himself,] should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27).