I'm often asked the question why does God allow evil to continue. Why does God allow Satan to run wild seemingly unchecked? Why doesn't He do something about it and destroy him? And that's a question that bugs all of us, bugs every person. It bugs kids as they ask their parents, daddy, mommy, why does God and it's funny to watch parents try to answer those kinds of questions. But basically stated, if there is a God and He is holy, then why doesn't God intervene dramatically? Why doesn't He just stop all of the carnage and all of the confusion and if God loves His own people then why does He let His own people suffer as happens in so many cases? Elie Wiesel who was a Jew and spent his teenage years at Birkenbach concentration camp run by the Nazis, when he was in the camp, it did such a number on him, it bothered him so much because of the things that he saw, too horrible to repeat, and one biographer wrote, "For him [that is Elie Wiesel] Nietzsche's cry expressed in almost physical reality--God is dead. The God of love, the God of gentleness, the God of comfort, has vanished forevermore. And how many pious Jews have experienced this death? On that day horrible even among those days of horror when a child watched the hanging of another child who, he tells us, had the face of a sad angel. He heard someone behind him groan, "Where is God? Where is He? Where can God be now?" Phillip Yancey, in one of his books, says there are three questions that lurk in all of us and many times we don't ask them because we think they're too unspiritual to ask. Question number one, he says, is God unfair? Secondly, is God silent? And third is God hidden?
Why doesn't God stop Satan's enterprise? When will Jesus come and make the world the way He wants it to be, the way He said it would one day be? Why aren't the wicked destroyed? Why aren't the righteous avenged? When will God break His seeming silence? When will God speak up above the din of wickedness in the world? Well all of those questions are really answered in the book of Revelation. And they're all tied to what the prophets predicted as the Day of the Lord. And it's all connected, really, to this seventh trumpet. Before the seventh trumpet is even sounded, in verse 7 of chapter 10, it says, "in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets." We're starting to see a pattern. If you've been with us from the beginning of Revelation, you probably have seen it. There's a pattern in God's judgments laid out in the book of Revelation. We have six judgments, a pause, and then a seventh judgment. There were six seals that were broken off of this scroll that was unraveled when the Lamb took the scroll from Him who sits on the throne. Six judgments followed and then there was an interlude. We read about a few chapters back, it says there was silence in heaven for a half an hour. And there was a break in the action and then we followed with the seventh. And now again we have a long break, an interlude, that takes up chapter 10 and part of chapter 11. It's a parenthesis. We're also going to see it in the following judgments when there are 7 bowls poured out. There will be six, a pause, and then a seventh. In that pause, there are a number of things that go on. First of all, it's a parenthetical statement. If you're an author or you write something and you put something in parenthesis that which is in parenthesis is additional information. It will help you understand what you're talking about. It adds a little more stuff to the story.
Also, this as an interlude is simply a break. There's so much action going on that God, in His graciousness, gives it to John in terms of judgments and then a pause which refreshes before the seventh. It's like you're holding your breath and then there's a break and you go, Whoosh, a commercial--finally! And then back to the action once again. And also this proves another point about how God judges. God is not filled with vengeance. It's not like He can't wait to destroy the world. But God always mixes, or tempers, His judgment with mercy. There's always a mixture of both. It was the prophet Habakkuk who noticed that God was pouring out His judgments upon the nation of Israel as well as the other nations. And he prayed, O God, revive Your work in the midst of years. But he said in judgment, or in wrath, remember mercy. And God has followed that as a pattern. He keeps His work going and part of His work here is judgment. But it's mingled with mercy. Now all of this centers around a messenger in chapter 10, an angel is introduced in verse one. And I've called the name of this message, "A Big Angel with a Little Book." We'll see that he's a big angel because he has one foot on the land and one foot on the sea, that's how John sees him in this vision. He is a mighty angel. Big messenger. And in the first four verses we have a description of this messenger followed by a declaration of this messenger followed finally in the last several verses the directions that are given by this messenger to John.
Let's begin by reading the first few verses at the description of this messenger. "I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire. He had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. When he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices. Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them." The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to heaven and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer, but in the days of sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets. Then the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, "Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth." So I went to the angel and said to him, "Give me the little book." And he said to me, "Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth." Then I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter. And he said to me, "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings."
We have a description of this unusual messenger called a mighty angel. Now there are lots of angels in Revelation. In fact, 60 different times angels are referred to in this book. And that's not even counting the seven angels to the seven churches in chapters 2 and 3. Angels are unusual beings and they have to do with us. The writer of Hebrews in the beginning couple chapters talks about angelic beings and he says, are not these angels ministering spirits sent forth to minister to us who are heirs of salvation? They're like God's army doing God's bidding upon the earth for God's people. now I think we probably go through the day without even thinking much about angels except when we see them in little stores and you can buy them for a few dollars or there's a magazine article about them. but they are very present and they work with God's people. and you ought to keep in mind that there are a lot of them. the Bible tells us that a third of all the angels fell with Satan in the rebellion and so often we focus on that, oh, there are a lot of demons! Well if one third fell that means two-thirds did not. So they're outnumbered--the good against the bad. And these angels are sent forth to minister to God's children who are heirs of salvation and probably it won't be till we get to heaven that we realize the full extent of what angels have done for us. I just think of my activities from mountain biking to skateboarding to motorcycling to traveling to war zones in the world and I think every time I move the angels probably have little walkie-talkie's, Heitzig has left the building. It's like they have to scamper because they think this guy's nuts. We better keep an eye on him.
In Revelation 10 it's a striking angel. It's not a trumpeting angel like we have seen. It's just called another mighty angel and the description of this angel sounds so much like Jesus Christ's description already that many scholars have thought this is simply Jesus Christ. Now it shouldn't disturb you that He's called mighty angel. The word angel simply means a messenger. And in the Old Testament, Jesus often shows up as the Angel of the Lord. This appearance of Christ in the Old Testament in some form and He is worshiped as Lord in those passages. But notice his description. It says, he is coming down from heaven clothed with a cloud. So often God is seen with clouds. The psalmist said that God's clothing is the clouds. Jesus said and you will see the Son of Man coming with the clouds and with great glory, in Luke chapter 21 and Matthew 24. And also in Revelation 1, John sees Jesus, the Alpha and the Omega, in the same way we read behold, He is coming with the clouds and every eye will see Him. Next it says that a rainbow was on his head. The poet Wordsworth said whenever I see a rainbow my heart leaps up for joy. I'm sure John must have leapt a little bit for joy when he sees a rainbow. Remember the rainbow was given after the Flood as a token reminder of God's promise. This is the token of My faithfulness that I will no longer destroy the earth by a flood. And there's such a roller coaster of emotions in the book of Revelation, it's like up and down and judgment and then finally John sees this vision and there's a rainbow. It must have brought comfort to him.
Remember the last time we saw the rainbow in Revelation? It was where? Around the throne of God. And now this messenger has the rainbow around his head. He's coming with all of the authority of God. The covenant of God and Jesus came to establish a new covenant based on His blood. And so this could fit, that this possibly could be Jesus. His face, it says, was like the sun and his feet like pillars of fire. Now again that sounds like the vision of Jesus Christ in chapter one. John wrote about that. He said His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And he said His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace of fire. Moreover in verse 3, he cried with a loud voice as when a lion roars. Joel predicted that the Lord would roar from on high. Jesus, in Revelation 5, was called the Lion of the tribe of Judah. That's a possibility. It could be that this is Jesus Christ, we don't know for sure. It could be that he is seen as this kingly messenger and John sees him and describes him as thus. If it is, it's intriguing because so often and I've grown to really dislike it, Jesus is depicted in so many of the artist's renditions as sort of an emaciated wimp. Have you noticed that? Frail and thin and gaunt and small and shrunken and it really defies the Scripture. When Jesus was buried they brought 100 pounds of spices and aloes and myrrh to bury Him and the Law required that you would bury a person with up to half the body weight of such elements. Must've been a substantive man and think, He walked from Galilee down to Judea and up those hills. Listen, we get tired when we go on a tour bus up those hills. This is hard! And when Jesus was being arrested in the Garden and the soldiers came to Him and Jesus said, who do you seek? They said Jesus of Nazareth. He said I am He. And they fell backwards in His presence. So this could be Jesus, we're not certain. It could be another angel, just another mighty angel, nondescript. It could be Michael whose name means 'who is like God'. Certainly he's a mighty angel and John knew the difference between angels and the Lamb. It would make sense that it could be an angel. There's another giveaway as to the identity not being Jesus Christ and that is he uses the word 'another'. I saw another angel. And there were a couple possibilities of a word he could've chosen. He chose the word which means another of the same kind. I saw another angel of the same kind, a mighty angel. Had it been Jesus he probably would've chosen the word heteros which means another of an entirely different sort. So it doesn't matter. It's simply a symbolic anticipation of what's coming. A mighty angel has his feet down. God is putting His foot down, so to speak. Satan is having his heyday, the earth is going haywire, for so long God has been patient but now the angel, in anticipation of the seventh trumpet, and the seven bowls, steps forward.
In verse 7 we read that there are seven thunders or peals of thunder that articulate a message. They uttered their voices, I was about to write but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them down." This is sort of like a seven-gun salute from the skies making an announcement as the angel takes the book as he puts his foot on the sea, foot on the land, these seven thunders but they utter something. There's only one problem. We don't know what they uttered. It's not revealed. And inevitably as is human nature our first question is what did he say? The answer is you'll never know until you get to heaven and if God chooses to reveal it to you there, you'll know. It's funny there are volumes written on what the seven thunders uttered but it doesn't tell us. It can only be speculation. It's kind of frustrating. Have you ever had somebody say, tell you a story, they start getting into it and they tell you about someone or something and then they go, oh never mind. And you go what? Oh, forget it. I don't think I'll tell you. That's so unfair--tell me! You've got me going now! That's sort of the feeling we get as we read this text. They utter their voices and John hears it and he's about to write and the voice says, scratch that. Don't write it. Seal it up. It's interesting. this is the only time in Revelation where he is told to seal up something and not reveal it. It sort of defies the idea of revelation which means to unveil or disclose. Here he's told to close it up. Here's the point. There is a time when God doesn't want to tell you everything. Now we can wonder, what about God and why this and what is this, we would be much better off worrying about the stuff that is revealed, that is unsealed, than worrying and writing about what is sealed and not revealed.
A lot of times we have questions--why God questions. God, why did You allow that? Why would You do this? Why does a God of love? On and on and on. And we try to answer these questions. We speculate and that's all it is, is speculation. First off, God doesn't owe us an explanation, does He? He's God. Who are we? You owe me an explanation! Oh really? And then I wonder if we had an explanation if it would help all that much. When somebody dies, for instance, God why would You allow that person to die? Why if You're a God of love would this happen? We ask those questions. But think for a moment. What if God told you why? What if God faxed you? Here is My rationale for taking your loved one to heaven. That's not going to really take away the pain of loss. You don't need a reason--you need a resource. You need strength and help to make it through because you still have that loss. And there are certain things that we're unable to comprehend about God. That's just the way it is. The text that sort of ties all this together is Deuteronomy 29:29 that says, the secret things belong to the Lord but those things which are revealed belong to us and our children, that we may do the words of this Law.
I don't know if some of you remember the 60s television series called Father Knows Best. That's the banner I'd like to write over this. Father Knows Best. And He has not revealed this to us as a lot of stuff He doesn't reveal to us. Remember Jesus said to His disciples, I have many things to share with you but you just can't bear them now. You can't handle it. And because I love you, I'm not going to tell you what it is. J.I. Packer wrote, "We should not pry into God's secrets. We are to be content to live with what He has told us. Reverence excludes speculation about things that God has not mentioned in His Word. We must be content not to know what the Scripture does not tell us." A man went up to Dwight Moody. He was that famous evangelist years ago in Chicago, Illinois, and he came up with Bible in hand and he showed him a difficult passage, showed it to Dwight Moody and said, "Mr. Moody, how do you explain that?" Moody said, "I don't explain it." He goes, "Well let me put it this way. How do you interpret this?" He said, "I don't interpret it." "Well how do you understand it?" "I don't understand it." "Are you saying you don't believe it?" "No, I believe it. That's the point. I believe lots of things that I do not understand." Which of you completely understands the Trinity and you're satisfied with your understanding of it? I'm not. I believe it. It's all over the Scripture. How many of you understand and grasp the concept of eternity? No time. I don't but we believe it, we hold tenaciously to it even though these things aren't completely revealed because we are finite.
Now look back at verse 7. We come to now the declaration of this messenger. The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised his hand to heaven. Presumably his right hand, that would be the idea in the Bible, and in his left hand, the book, and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, earth and the things that are in it, the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer. He is taking a solemn oath and what he's doing by this is simply affirming the certainty of these words. It's as if he's saying in picturesque language, you can take this to the bank. This is real stuff. This is truth. And notice the emphasis on God's character. It says He lives forever and ever. In other words, this is certain because God is not bound by time or space. It's also the emphasis on God as the Creator. Now think: the earth, the sea, the freshwater, trees, a lot of the environment has been trashed and now the angel puts his foot on the land and on the sea, God's creation, swears by the Creator of the sea and the land and the sky, as if to say this is God's creation. You have been worshiping God's earth, God's creation, instead of God and now God is taking it over because He is the Creator. Now at this point not only in this text but in a lot of other texts, at this point this idea of creation and the author belabors the point, this is part of the vision that God is the Creator of the earth, the sky, the sea. At this point, unbelievers will say, ok, I part company with you. I can sort of believe in a god who maybe wound things up or used evolution but I don't believe in Creation, special Creation that makes us unique as some Christians say. The origin of the universe has been the object of dispute for generations by philosophers and theologians and scientists. How we got here. Evolution is the basis of many philosophies, is the basis of atheism. There is no creation thus there is no Creator thus there is no God. It's the basis, or one of the bases, of Nazism by Adolph Hitler and Marxism, Communism. But it is a theory and the Bible does speak of creation, not evolution. You say what do you mean it's a theory? We're told in school it's a fact. Well you're not told the truth because the very heart of scientific law, of the scientific method, is the reproducibility of experiments. That's how you verify it. You watch something over and over again and you make a description of that thing or that method or that process. And since it's impossible to repeat the origins of the universe over and over again and observe it, and since there's no one that we know who was alive then, who's alive now except the Creator, who revealed, it is a theory. And it's a flimsy theory. I mean, think of it. At first there was nothing. And then it exploded. I like to think of it like this. Whenever you see a thing, there must be preceding thought. And wherever there is a thought, there must have been a thinker to think that thought. Now I could tell you this building, after millions of years, just oozed out of Osuna Road. It did--really! Explosions happened and millions of years, it really is astonishing, but here it is. Well you would quickly search for the blueprints to prove me wrong. You would say, no, here are blueprints. There is a designer with a brain. He had a thought and he made this thing into existence by his drawings. He designed it. It reflects design.
And so we look at this universe and it also reflects incredible design. As it is written about here, the sky, the earth, the sea, balance. And yet people say it just happened. Fortuitous occurrence of accidental circumstance--just happened. It just so happened that the earth is 93 million miles from the sun, just so happens that the sun has a surface temperature of 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit and if we were a little closer we'd burn up, if we were a little further we would frost, we would freeze to death. It just so happened that the earth is tilted on its axis 23 1/3 degrees that just happens to give us a beautiful balance of four seasons and if that was kilted a little bit differently there would be masses of vapors traveling north and south creating huge continents of ice. It just so happens that we're at this incredible density in our atmosphere of carbon dioxide and oxygen and if we were a little bit thinner than those meteors that often disintegrate as they hit our atmosphere would plummet to the earth. Just so happens that the moon is at that ripe distance and if it was any distant, tides would inundate the land. Now that wouldn't affect us out here but if you had oceanfront property it would affect you. Question is then, and I've talked to many people about this, I had some background in the medical community, and I'd have conversations with people about this, why do people with bright minds look at verse six and say that's just not true. But evolution is true. Here's my theory. My theory is that intelligent people believe in it because they believe intelligent people believe in it. It's politically correct. If you stand up and you say, I'm a creationist, they go, what an idiot. Everybody knows that there's no such thing. And so it's chic intellectually to believe it. There's a second more profound reason. If you acknowledge the possibility that evolution is wrong than you also acknowledge the possibility that we were created. And if you open that door, that means there's a Creator and if there is, you are accountable to Him. Oops. Don't like that. Better come up with another theory. There's even a more profound reason and that is sin blinds the minds of those who do not believe, the Bible says. And thus other alternatives are sought.
But verse 6 is to the point. The things that are in it that there should be delay no longer. The word delay is the word chronos, time, and some translations say that there would be no longer time. Here's the point. Time's up, God is saying. I've had enough. I've been patient. I have delayed and now the time has run out. And it's all tied to verse 7: "In the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets." You remember what those martyred souls prayed under the altar? How long, O Lord, until You avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth? How long will You take? Why the delay? Now that's a good question, you know, we don't like to articulate those questions but remember Jesus told His disciples in the Last Supper, they're gathered together, they're wondering what's going to happen, He said, hey, don't worry, don't let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God believe also in Me. In My Father's house there are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go, I'll come back. I'll receive you to Myself that where I am there you may be also. Now when He said that they were going, yeah, ok, good, when? He spoke that 2,000 years ago. I'm going to come back! Great. As soon as Jesus rose from the dead the disciples came to Him and do you remember the question they asked Him? Will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? Remember Jesus' answer? It's not for you to know the times of the season which the Father has put in His own authority. They thought it would happen any moment. Jesus taught His followers to pray, Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. How many prayers have been answered or have been uttered where Lord, come! Do something! Generation after generation has prayed that prayer and yet, as yet it hasn't been answered.
Finally we see here it's over. There is no more delay. The mystery is finished. Again, before we move on, we see the hesitancy of God. Because He's a God of longsuffering, incredible patience. He doesn't act immediately. He waits a long time so that people might turn their lives over to Jesus Christ. But now it's curtain time. Judgment is about to fall. In verse 7 the mystery, it says, is finished, that the prophets spoke about. I think this is the mystery of the silence of God. The prophets all spoke, one day God's going to speak from heaven. He's going to roar from heaven. There will be a day of cataclysm. There will be a day of judgment. God will intervene in human history and God will judge the earth. And many times the prophets have predicted this but it seems that since they predicted it, there's been this long delay. It hasn't happened. Satan has run wild, sin has gone rampant. And it's left people wondering, why the delay? Walter Scott, the statesman, poet in England, once said, "Does it not seem strange that Satan has been allowed for 6,000 years to wrap and twist his coils around the world and to work evil and spoil and mar the work of God? Is it not a mystery why God, the God of righteousness and holiness, allows evil to go unpunished and His own people to be crushed and broken on every hand? Truly this is the mystery of God. God bears with evil until the hour of judgment arrives when He will avenge the cry of His elect and come out of His place to punish the wicked. Evil now tolerated and allowed will be openly punished. The mystery is at an end. Christ is about to reign." That's the mystery.
Right now we're living in that delay. But there's an angel poised somewhere beyond the starry host. And one day he will blow that seventh trumpet and God will say, it's over. The fat lady just sang. And He will say to the devil, it's over for you. You're toast. This is your destruction. And God will say to the demons, your dominion is over and God will say to the unbelievers, this is your last hope. And God will say to believers, this is your final suffering. And Paul said the way I figure it the glory that we're going to find is so much better than the suffering, so much greater, that the sufferings aren't even worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us. But there's been a long pause. Finally here we see, in the future, in Revelation 10, it comes. Now let's quickly look at this last segment, the directions of this messenger. In verse 8, "Then the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, "Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth." So I went to the angel and said to him, "Give me the little book." And he said to me, "Take and eat it," that sounds strange, "And it will make your stomach bitter," well, if you ate a book, it probably would, too, "But it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth." Then I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter. And he said to me, "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings."
Apparently this little book is the rest of the message of the future that John will write. It's not the same scroll that was in the hand of Him who sits on the throne in Revelation 5. That was called in Greek biblion; this was called biblidarion, a small little book or a scroll. It's the rest of what he's going to prophesy about kings and nations. You say, yeah but that sounds weird. You're in a vision and the angel says, hey, have a book, eat it, little Tabasco. And yet we say the same thing right? We say man this book was so good I couldn't put it down--I devoured it. It simply means to take in a message, to assimilate it completely. Jeremiah said, Your words were found and I did eat them and they were to me the joy and the rejoicing of my heart. David said in Psalm 119, How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth. Jesus likened the Scriptures to bread; man shall not live by bread alone but every word of God. Peter likened the Scriptures to milk. He said, as newborn babes crave the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby. Now all of this reminds us of our responsibility to not just read the Bible but to feed on the Bible. Not just to underline a verse or even memorize a verse. John was not instructed, here, read this. Here, memorize this. Here, speak this. He said, eat it. Take it into you. Let it become a part of your life. And there's a difference, isn't there? I'm reminded of an agnostic professor who was sort of a smart alec, anti-Christian and he went to visit the Fiji Islands on vacation and he saw this one tribe and this tribe had flourished. He had noticed that missionaries had come years before and gave the gospel to these people and this college professor went up to the chief of this tribe and said, you know, I just want to say, I'm very sorry that you put up the missionaries from the west who destroyed your culture and fed you the line about Jesus dying for sin and giving you the Bible and every intelligent person today knows that it's just not true. The chief of the tribe who was converted and was a Christian said, you know, right over there is a rock, and he pointed to it and had the guy look at it. He said, that is where we used to crush the skulls of our enemies. And you see next to it that oven? That's where we roasted them for dinner. And were it not for those missionaries or the love of Jesus Christ that changed us from cannibals to Christians, you would've been our dinner by now. And at that moment in time that agnostic professor was thrilled that they not only read Bible but they ate it--lest they eat him. it was their very food; it changed their culture. It converted them.
The Word of God must become a part of us. When it becomes a part of us then we can share it with others. At first it says it was sweet and then it was bitter once he digested this message. It became bitter, sour, in his stomach. Which sounds very much like Ezekiel's experience. In chapter 2, God gave Ezekiel a scroll, also in a vision, told him to eat it, written on it were lamentations, mourning, and woe. In chapter 3 it says He caused me to eat that scroll and He said to me, son of man, feed your belly and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you. And so I ate it and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness. Now what does it mean it was sweet at first and then it was bitter? Simply this. The sweetness was that Jesus Christ would reign when this is all over. The whole point is this is the revelation of Jesus. He's going to take over the earth. What was bitter is all of the stuff that would happen until that time came. It's a bittersweet message. The only alka-seltzer to all of the judgments that would come, the bitterness, the only sweetness is that Jesus would reign in the end. And that evil would be done away with. Now the Word of God is like that, isn't it? Do you find it both bitter and sweet? I do. Is it all sweet? It seems that we only underline the sweet things. But it's filled with both. There are times we read it and we feel good and joyful and assured. At other times it rebukes our behavior and makes us a little bit agitated so that we would change. Paul said that the gospel is the aroma of life to some and the aroma of death to others. The same gospel that brings certain ones to heaven brings others to hell. It's bitter and it's sweet. But if you're a faithful Christian, you will read all of it. You'll feed on all of it. And you'll declare all of it. And I would go a step further. Anybody who's a faithful minister would preach all of it. Not just, well, I'm going to come up with a sermon to make you feel good so you'll give more and come back next time. Paul said I have not shunned to declare to you all of the counsel of God. Charles Spurgeon wrote, many people when they hear a sermon say, how'd you enjoy it? If you always enjoy sermons the minister is not a good steward. He is not acting wisely who deals out nothing but sweets. God's people need that the Word should at times be medicine to them. there are times when I read the Bible and it's like, oh yes, I need that assurance, that promise. There are other times I read it and it's like I tell the Holy Spirit, hey, bug off, quit poking around in my heart. But He uses the Word of God to do that.
Let's kind of end with the question we started with. God why the delay? Why have you allowed Satan to reign and sin to abound? Why the delay in Your action? Here's the answer: because God is incredibly patient and longsuffering and doesn't want anybody to perish but all to come to repentance. That's why. That's why. Think about it from God's perspective. God could destroy, wipe out, every wicked person who causes suffering. Or He could patiently wait for even them to turn to Him. if you possess all love and all mercy and all grace and all patience, as God does, what would you do? It's hard to answer that because we don't. we just say, get 'em, God! Why did You allow this? God is patient. And here's the bottom line. Really, God created us but with a choice. That's the catch--with a choice. And for God to give us a choice, He must then honor that choice. And if we say, I don't want God, I want this, He's gotta honor that choice. That's part of love. So for God to stop everything that we do would not be love. He has to allow those choices to continue--up to a point. And that includes the freedom to defy God and reject His love. If you say, I want nothing to do with Jesus, God will say, I honor that. It's your choice. When I was in high school there were some girls that I wished I could've hypnotized. They were cute and they didn't take a liking to me so I thought, wouldn't it be great if I could just hypnotize them and say, come to me. Kiss me. And they would say, yes master. I thought that would be cool. But would it? It wouldn't be real; it wouldn't be volitional; it wouldn't be of their own free choice. God could've made automatons. He could push a button: praise the Lord, I love Jesus. That wouldn't be love. That's mechanics. And so God gave a choice and said, here are the consequences of this choice and here's this choice and the consequences of that. You can choose to love Me or you can reject My love and I will honor either one. But I will be so longsuffering before I act. One day I'll put My foot down on the sea and on the land and I'll say, it's over. Enough is enough. My patience has run out and there are bitter things to come, though a sweet ending. If you have not received Jesus as your Savior and if you refuse that He will be forced to one day be your Judge. Because it's your choice. He'll honor that choice. Better by far to make Him your Savior and let Him take the judgment of your sin upon Himself which is why He went to the cross.