And now I saw a second angel of sovereign strength coming down from heaven, with a cloud for his vesture, and a rainbow about his head; with a face bright as the sun, and legs like pillars of fire. He carried in his hand an open book. Setting his right foot on the sea, and his left on the dry land, he cried with a loud voice, like the roaring of a lion; and as he cried, the seven thunders of heaven made their voices heard.
And I, when the seven thunders had finished their utterance, was making as if to write it down, when I heard a voice say from heaven, Do not write down the message of the seven thunders, keep it sealed.
Then that angel, whom I had already seen with his feet on the sea and on the dry land, lifted up his right hand towards heaven, and swore an oath by him who lives through endless ages, who made heaven and all that is in heaven, earth and all that is on earth, the sea and all that is in the sea. He swore that there should be no more waiting; when the time came for the seventh angel to make himself heard, as he stood ready to sound his trumpet, God’s secret design, made known by his servants the prophets, would be accomplished.
Then once more I heard the voice speaking to me from heaven, thus: Go and take the open book from the hand of that angel, whose feet are on the sea and on the dry land.
So I went to the angel, bidding him give me the book. Take it, he said, and eat it; it will turn thy belly sour, though in thy mouth it be as sweet as honey. So I took the book from the angel’s hand and ate it; it was sweet as honey in my mouth, but my belly turned sour once I had eaten it. Then he said to me, Thou art to make a fresh prophecy, which concerns many peoples, many races, many languages, and many kings.
Yes, Revelations is a fascinating book, no matter whether one calls it Revelations or Apocalypse.
Clearly the dramas foretold by the prophets have not come to their fulfillment. And, while all has been revealed in Sacred Scripture, we see that the Beloved Apostle, John, the visionary composer of the Book of the Apocalypse, has a new revelation.
The angelic vision is magnificent – fiery head, voice of a roaring lion, astride both the earth and the sea. He has a little scroll – small enough for the visionary to consume. Which he must do.
It tastes like honey, yet is better in his stomach.
How often is the Gospel like this for us? And all of Sacred Scripture in it’s entirety? Proclaiming the Truth is a bitter experience; ultimately freeing and enthralling, yet often as unpleasant as telling someone they may not enjoy the beatific vision. (Which is exactly what an Australian rugby star recently did.)
Be free – Be true – Be bold. We love to hear the Word of God and we love the great consolations of faith. The warm fuzzy feelings, the comforting insights, the inspirations, the closeness to the Lord Jesus Christ made fully present to us in Word and in Flesh.
But living it out is another story entirely. It’s impossible for us to do perfectly, discouraging at times, and brings about what one might charitably call ‘social backlash’.
That’s our calling. Take the scroll and eat it. Live the Word of God in all it’s power, might and glory, to the everlasting honor of the calling which the Lord is giving you.