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Bible: What Do Revelation 10 and Ezekiel 2-3 Teach Us About the Significance of "Scroll Eating"?

Updated on September 15, 2016

A Young Apostle John


The Word of God


The Existence of Angels

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Revelation 10 and Ezekiel 2, 3: Scroll-Eating (John and Ezekiel)

The Angel's Appearance

The apostle inserts another parenthetical episode (10:1-11:14) before resuming his main narrative with the seventh trumpet (11:15; “the third woe”).

At this point, John encounters “another mighty angel” whom he describes as

(1) descending from heaven;

(2) riding on a cloud;

(3) wearing a rainbow on his head;

(4) having a luminous face and fiery-red feet (v. 1).

[In the Older Testament “clouds” oftentimes symbolize the conveyances of heavenly personages; the New Testament also refers to them in the same manner (Acts 1:9); a "rainbow" points to a promise of survival. Compare Genesis 9:12-16].

The Angel Swears an Oath

Holding a little scroll open, the angel plants one foot on the sea and the other on the land, possibly signifying his authority over both the nations and Israel (v. 2).

His lion-like voice prompts a thunder-like response which communicates revelation to John—revelation that the angel commands the apostle to seal up and not write down (vv. 3-4).

He (“the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land”) assumes an oath-taking posture and swears by the eternal Creator of the universe that the end of the Great Tribulation, the Revelation of Christ, and the millennium will finally come after the seventh trumpet sounds (vv. 5-7).

[Ryrie interprets “the mystery of God would be finished” as the revelation of truth concerning God Himself which He will disclose when the Millennium begins (New Testament Study Bible, 469).]

God: "Eat the Scroll, John"

After John hears this proclamation, he attends to another heavenly voice that tells him to take the scroll out of the angel’s hand.

The apostle requests the scroll from the angel who readily gives it to him, but also tells him to eat it (vv. 8-9b; cf. Ezek. 3:3).

Informed that it (or its contents) would taste sweet in his mouth but would sour his stomach, John follows through with the act and finds the angel’s words to be true (vv. 9c-10).

[Though God’s word is pleasant to “eat,” oftentimes its message speaks of judgment—something that is never easy for anyone to stomach.]

The angel tells the apostle that he must repeat this prophecy—a message that concerns “many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings” (v. 11).



The Content of the Messages

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Ezekiel 2:6-7--3:27

Yahweh: "Eat the Scroll, Ezekiel"

Yahweh exhorts His spokesman with a personal word: "Do not be afraid of them."

In verse six He gives him this encouragement three times; neither they, their words, nor their looks should prevent him from speaking God's words to them (vv. 6-7).

Admonishing Ezekiel not to be like the people, that is, rebellious, the LORD commands him to "eat the scroll" (vv. 8-9; cf. Rev. 10:8-11).

He even shows the prophet what the "scroll'' contained; specifically, what message he should speak to Israel (v. 10).

Ezekiel 3

Yahweh repeats His command to the prophet to eat and speak (v. 1).

Ezekiel, therefore, obediently opens his mouth, and God "feeds" him the scroll (v. 2).

As he chews it, he remarks how sweet God's word is in his mouth; the LORD encourages him to fill his stomach with it.

[This phrase undoubtedly means that Ezekiel should "feast" on His word and even ''digest" its contents, so that he might fully comprehend their import (v. 3)].

God again repeats His command for the prophet ("son of man") to speak to Israel (v. 4; cf. 2:1, 3, 6, 8; 3:1-3).

Yahweh makes much of the unresponsiveness of His people in comparison with what would happen if He sent Ezekiel to a "people of unfamiliar speech and hard language" (vv. 5-7).

But, at any rate, He assures the prophet of His enablement to stand up to Israel's rebelliousness (vv. 8-9).

One senses God's earnest and urgent desire for Ezekiel to learn His word and go to His people with it (vv. 10-11).

So ends Ezekiel's first encounter with Yahweh, for the Spirit lifts him and takes him away amid a mighty doxology and other loud sounds coming from the living creatures (vv. 12-14).

While among the captives at Tel Abib, he experiences emotional "disturbances" for a week (v. 15).

At week's end, God informs His spokesman of his new, solemn responsibility as watchman to warn Israel about its wickedness (vv. 16-17).

He gives Ezekiel four circumstances wherein this responsibility fell:

(1, 2) If he warns the transgressor, whether he be wicked or righteous, he will deliver his (Ezekiel's) soul;

(3, 4) If he fails to warn him, God will "require his blood" at the prophet's hand; that is, God will chasten Ezekiel in some way (vv. 18-21).

[Note that the wicked man does not repent regardless of how the prophet behaves.

But the righteous man may indeed repent at his warning, and thus save his life and the prophet's skin, too].

Yahweh and His man meet in the plain and Ezekiel again beholds God's glory (vv. 22-23).

After the Spirit revives the prophet, who has swooned again, He directs him to hide from those who would arrest and bind him (vv. 24-25).

To prevent His spokesman from reproving the people, the LORD tells him that He will make him mute until the time He chooses to use him (vv. 26-27).


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