God’s hidden plan will be completed: Revelation 10

Previously: There will no longer be an interval of time

The scripture

Rev. 10:1 – Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, surrounded by a cloud, with a rainbow over his head. His face was like the sun, his legs were like fiery pillars, 2and he had a little scroll opened in his hand. He put his right foot on the sea, his left on the land, 3and he cried out with a loud voice like a roaring lion. When he cried out, the seven thunders spoke with their voices. 4And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write. Then I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders said, and do not write it down!”

5Then the angel that I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. 6He swore an oath by the One who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it: “There will no longer be an interval of time, 7but in the days of the sound of the seventh angel, when he will blow his trumpet, then God’s hidden plan will be completed, as He announced to His servants the prophets.”

8Now the voice that I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, “God, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.”

9So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, “Take and eat it; it will be bitter in your stomach, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.”

10Then I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It was as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I ate it, my stomach became bitter. 11And I was told, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages, and kings.” (HCSB)

God’s hidden plan will be completed (v. 7)

The second phrase of special interest in the mighty angel’s oath (the first is that there will no longer be an interval of time) is that “God’s hidden plan will be completed” at the sound of the seventh angel’s trumpet. Note carefully that the angel does not say God’s hidden plan will be revealed, but completed. And he adds, “as He announced to His servants the prophets” (v. 7). In other words, we are not to look for further revelation when the third woe is declared; we are to watch as the Lord reclaims what is rightfully His – the kingdoms of this world. He already has told us this day will come. Now He’s going to fulfill His promise.

As J.F. Walvoord and R.B. Zuck note, “The reference, therefore, is not to hidden truth but to the fulfillment of many Old Testament passages which refer to the glorious return of the Son of God and the establishment of His kingdom of righteousness and peace on the earth. While God’s purposes are not necessarily revealed in current events where Satan is allowed power and manifestation, the time will come when Satan no longer will be in power and the predictions of the Old Testament prophets will be fulfilled. Then all will know the Lord and the truth about Him (Jer. 31:34)” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, Rev. 10:5-7).

The Greek word translated “hidden plan” in the HCSB is musterion and is rendered “mystery” in many other versions. In a Biblical context, musterion often refers to that which is outside the range of unassisted natural understanding, or that which only can be made known by divine revelation. For example, in the Book of Daniel a mystery (Aramaic raz) is a revealed secret, something that cannot be understood apart from divine explanation (Dan. 2:17–47; 4:9). In the New Testament, Jesus uses musterion once in referring to the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven that He explains to His disciples (Matt. 13:11). “Paul uses musterion 21 times, and on each occasion the secret is already known from previous revelation (see Rom. 16:25; Eph. 1:9; 6:19; Col. 2:2; 4:3; 1 Tim. 3:16), or it is explained in the context (see Rom. 11:25; 1 Cor. 15:51; Eph. 3:1–13; 5:32; Col. 1:25–27) – that is, it is no longer a secret” (Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, p. 1163). The final four uses of musterion in the New Testament occur in Revelation (1:20; 10:7; 17:5, 7). In three of these cases, the word is an apocalyptic symbol that needs to be explained, but in the passage in question (Rev. 10:7) we are assured that the “hidden plan” was long ago revealed to the prophets; therefore, we simply await its fulfillment.

So what is this hidden plan?  W.A. Criswell comments, “This universe was not only created by Christ, but this whole, vast world around us was created for Christ. The history of the world ultimately moves to that great consummation when God’s people shall reign with their Lord in the earth” (pp. 201-202). This isn’t news to John, and it certainly shouldn’t be news to us. God has been revealing His eternal plan ever since we fell into sin. And that plan centers around the Messiah. Immediately after Adam and Eve disobey God, He announces His eternal plan for redemption through the “seed of woman” (Gen. 3:15). From that moment forward the Lord has been shedding more light on His plan, and the One through whom it would be accomplished.

To cite just a few out of hundreds of examples, the Lord’s “hidden plan” reveals that the Messiah:

  • Comes from Abraham’s bloodline (Gen. 12:2-3; Matt. 1:1-2).
  • Is a descendent of King David and will sit on his throne (Isa. 9:6-7; Jer. 23:5; Rom. 1:3-4).
  • Is God and has God’s attributes, including eternality (Micah 5:2; John 8:58; Eph. 1:4-13; Col. 1:15-19).
  • Shares the divine name YHWH (Isa. 9:6; Jer. 23:6; John 8:58; Phil. 2:9).
  • Is the Son of God (Ps. 2:7; Prov. 30:4; Matt. 3:17; Luke 1:32).
  • Is a great prophet (Deut. 18:15-19; John 7:40; Acts 3:19-22).
  • Is a priest (Ps. 110:4; Heb. 5:5-6; 6:20; 7:15-17).
  • Has a divine earthly ministry that includes healing (Isa. 35:5-6; 61:1-2; Matt. 11:5; Luke 4:18; 17:12-19).
  • Is sinless (Isa. 53:9; 1 Peter 2:22).
  • Bears the sins of others (Isa. 53:12; Rom. 15:3).
  • Is pierced (Ps. 22:16; Zech. 12:10; Matt. 27:35; Luke 24:39; John 19:18, 34-37), yet His bones are not broken (Ex. 12:46; Num. 9:12; Ps. 34:20; John 19:33-36).
  • Is born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:23; Luke 1:26-35).
  • Is born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matt. 2:1; Luke 2:4-7).
  • Is anointed with the Spirit of God (Isa. 11:2; 61:1; Matt. 3:16; John 3:34; Acts 10:38).
  • Is hated without cause, rejected by His own people, and plotted against by Jews and Gentiles alike (Ps. 2:1-2; 69:4, 8; Isa. 49:7; 53:2; 63:3; Mark 6:3; Luke 9:58; John 1:11; 15:24-25; Acts 4:27).
  • Rises from the dead (Ps. 2:7; 16:10; Isa. 53:9-10; Matt. 28:1-20; Acts 2:23-36; 13:33-37).
  • Ascends into heaven and sits at the Father’s right hand (Ps. 16:11; 68:18; 110:1; Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9-11; Heb. 1:3).
  • Exercises His priestly office in heaven (Zech. 6:13; Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25 – 8:2).
  • Is sought after and accepted by the Gentiles (Isa. 11:10; 42:1-4; Rom. 9:30; 11:11).
  • Will return in power and great glory to complete the “hidden plan” of God (Ps. 96:9-12; Isa. 2:1-4; Dan. 7:13; Micah 4:1-4; Matt. 16:27; 24:27; 26:64; John 14:1-4; 2 Peter 3:8-10; Rev. 19-22).

This is just a brief sampling; many other scriptures could be cited, but these show that God has been revealing His “hidden plan” for centuries through the prophets – a plan of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. And once the seventh angel sounds his trumpet, the final episode of human history will begin. As John declares in Rev. 22:20, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”

Next: Take the scroll and eat it