Friday, June 9, 2017

Hoping for redemption

I guess I've almost been writing a post a month over here, so I'll try to keep it up.

I'm just going to type out some scriptures next to each other.  I hope this is not an inappropriate use of scripture, picking portions and looking at them together.  In the process, I'm leaving some sections out, but not because I am am trying to ignore or subvert them, only because I want to focus attention on the parts I am putting down here.

Here we go:

For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened . . .
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.  They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness . . .
slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.  Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.  God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

(From Romans 1:21, 28-29a, 30-31 and 2 Timothy 2:24-26, all from the ESV)

Highlights that I pray from the Lord's Prayer (I pray the whole prayer, but I linger on these):

Hallowed be Your Name 
May all of us, including the rebellious, recognize who You are and revere you -- Psalm 33:8, "Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere Him." (NIV)

Your will be done.
Do your will.  Lead lost souls to repentance.  Illuminate truth.  Reveal the futility of sin and the wonder of Your grace and glory.  Tear down idols, and replace hearts of stone with hearts of flesh.  Subjugate the enemy.  Do whatever it takes to bring Your victory into the hearts of men.

Deliver us from evil.
You are the Great Deliverer.  Our battle is against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Deliver us, Lord, for You are our only hope, and our hope is in You alone.  May Your unfailing love triumph in the hearts of our lost loved ones.  You have told us to take heart, for You have overcome the world.  Oh, God of peace, crush Satan under our feet (Romans 16:20).  Grant the repentance that leads to freedom from sin.  Oh please, deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the Power.
Your power created the heavens and the earth.  Your power raised Jesus--after He was crushed by the cumulative sins of all humanity--raised Him from the dead and seated Him in heaven on the throne.  Your power is at work in believers through your gift of the Holy Spirit.  Your power purifies.  It can undo the effects of sin and death.  You are the only one who was able to touch a leper and heal him, instead of being infected by him. Your power can do all things, and Your power can raise a sinner up from the miry clay, set him on a solid rock, and give him a new song to sing.  You are Lord.  You are God.  You are in me.  Give me courage and confidence to go forth in Your power, without fear, and bring Your light to dark places, Your truth to the deceived, and Your salvation to the perishing.

Thank you that You forgive.  Thank you that You are patient to wait for people to come to repentance.
Thank you for Your goodness and faithfulness.  Thank you, Jesus.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The flaw in amillennialism

Amillennialism makes sense on a whole lot of levels.

The idea that the church age, the age of the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised to send, is the Millennium during which the Lord reigns in victory . . . this idea works.  It's simple, it follows, it's cohesive on nearly every level.  Jesus came, triumphed at the cross, and now reigns in victory with the saints who are seated with Him in the heavenlies--this is all perfectly in accord with scripture.  Believers who die in this present age are immediately with Jesus, reigning until the coming of the New Heaven and the New Earth.  The Holy Spirit is loosed in the world, illuminating truth, convicting and teaching in ways unprecedented throughout history.  The church has access to the full power of God through His Spirit.  The age of the church is the age of the Holy Spirit, which is a triumphant time of God's power going out.  It makes so much sense.

Except for Revelation 20:3 --
"He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended . . ." (NIV)

As far as I can tell, Satan is still effectively deceiving lots of people.

Is "deceiving the nations" any different from deceiving individuals?

Is there any way we could think that nations are not deceived in this present age?

I'm thinking about this because I am so sick of the way the enemy lies, and people believe the lies.  I'm sick to death of truth being hidden.  Yet, the truth is hidden.  People have to seek it.  People have to want it.

It is a cold, rainy May day, and these are not my favorite thoughts.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Gospel in the Epistles

I've had it on my heart for a long time to do a particular homework assignment.  I want to find where the gospel is explained in each of the epistles.   This will not be an exhaustive list.

Here we go:

*Romans 5:1-11

1 Corinthians 6:11, 14, 19-20 
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
*1 Corinthians 15:1-8

*2 Corinthians 5:14-21

Galatians 1:3-5
*Galatians 4:4-7

*Ephesians 1:4-8
(and pretty much all of Ephesians 2)

*Philippians 2:5-11

*Colossians 1:13-23

*1 Thessalonians 5:9-10
1 Thessalonians 4:14

2 Thessalonians 2:13-17  ?

1 Timothy 1:12-17

2 Timothy 1:8-11

*Titus 3:3-7

Philemon ?

Hebrews (so many!)
9:11-15, *24-28

James 1:18 ?

1 Peter 1:18-21
1 Peter 2:24
1 Peter 3:18

2 Peter 1:3-4 (slightly more clear in other translations)

1 John 4:10 (there are more in this book--quite a few, really--I think this one is clearest)

2 John ?

3 John ?

Jude 21 ?

Some of these proclaim the full gospel more clearly than others.
It would be interesting to consider what aspects of the gospel each of these scriptures highlight and emphasize, and then synthesize an understanding of how they work together in stereo.

That would make a long blog series, or maybe even a book.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The three sixteens

This is a compilation of verses with a positive message that stands alone without heavy dependence on context, with the reference numbers 3:16. (James 3:16 and Revelation 3:16 can also stand alone, except that their message is not positive and thus lacks balance, although I guess you could say that I lack balance in choosing only the positive verses.  That's fair.  Consider yourself apprised.)

--All quotes are from the NIV--

Matthew 3:16
As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water.  At that moment heaven was opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on Him.

Luke 3:16
John answered them all, "I baptize you with water.  But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

1 Corinthians 3:16
Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple, and that God's Spirit lives in you?

Galatians 3:16
The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed.  The Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed," meaning one person, who is Christ.

Ephesians 3:16
I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being.

Colossians 3:16
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing songs, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

2 Thessalonians 3:16
Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way.  The Lord be with all of you.

1 Timothy 3:16
Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great:
He appeared in a body,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory.

2 Timothy 3:16
All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

1 John 3:16
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

An explanation

I almost never write here anymore.

This may be indicative of a change in me.  Used to be, I kept my faith over here, and my life on my Memoirs blog.  These days, my faith and my life are inextricably bound up together, and I think that is a good thing.

It's not that my faith and my life weren't joined before.  It's just that I tried to keep this blog more for devotional and teaching purposes, and the Memoirs blog was more of a personal divulgence.  But just as reading the Bible developed a taste in me for the Bible as vastly superior to any other book, so it has come to pass that there isn't much of anything worth writing about in life apart from how God is working.  At any rate, I see God in every aspect of my life more clearly now, and the scriptures keep flowing into my Memoirs, and when I am finished writing there, it doesn't seem that there is much more to be said here.

It is interesting to me that my faith writing has invaded my life writing, and not the other way around.  I choose to believe that this is a good thing, bequeathed by a good source.

I will keep this blog, because there are some things that I consider resources here, writing I would like to preserve for my own reference.  I hope and pray that a person who happened upon this blog could explore it and find the way to salvation.  So I will leave it, in hopes that it might bear fruit someday, like a stunted apple tree, a late bloomer.

If the Lord wills, I will be back.

Monday, January 25, 2016

More about Revelation, a sort of overview of the first half

A few years ago, I wrote about creation on this blog, and received the following comment from a friend of mine who is a pastor.

I once read a book called "The Science of God," by Gerald Schroeder, a Jewish physicist and theologian. I don't agree with everything he says, but he points out (perhaps similarly to Shawn) that time is relative. He says that if you measure the age of the universe by the rate of the flow of time on Earth today, it's almost 15 billion years. But if you measure it by the rate of the flow of time for the universe as a whole at the moment that matter emerged after the Big Bang (called "quark confinement"), the universe is almost but not quite seven days old. That would mean we're actually still living in the sixth day of creation. That would mean that Gen. 2:1-3 actually describes the future—that everything is still being built into what is "very good." It would explain why Jesus worked to improve human life on the Sabbath after the pattern of his Father (John 5:17). It would mean that what the author of Hebrews says about the Sabbath rest is more than a metaphor (Heb. 4:1-11).
(The author of that comment is Cory Hartman, and if you are interested, you can read his blog here.)

The idea that we are still in the sixth day, and that the seventh day is the culmination of all history, when redeemed creation will exist eternally in the presence of God, when the saints enter God's perfect rest (see Hebrews 4)--this is very interesting to me.

I think it fits with the way the seven seals and seven trumpets unfold in Revelation.  In both cases, there is a gap before the seventh, and the seventh arrives with the fully revealed presence of God.  In the gap, it talks of how the elect are saved.  (I haven't gotten to the seven bowls yet, but they are a bit different--there isn't so much of a gap between 6 and 7, although the seventh still demonstrates the revealed presence of God, very similarly: thunder, lightning, earthquakes.)

If you read Genesis carefully, between chapter 1 and chapter 2, it seems to tell all the way through to the seventh day, but then to go back and rest on the sixth day (Genesis 2:4--review Cory's comment above regarding Genesis 2:1-3).  In this sense, Genesis never really explicitly comes back out of the sixth day, almost as though it sets up the rest of what follows throughout scripture as part of the sixth day, until we get to Revelation 21-22 (and of course some allusions to The End by Old Testament prophets).

Have you ever had the chain of a necklace get knotted up on you?  When this happens to me, I have to lay out the necklace on a smooth, flat surface, put on my very best reading glasses, and use two straight pins, one in my right hand and one in my left.  I gently work at the knots of the necklace with the pins, sticking the pointed tips into the thickest parts of the knots and pulling carefully outward to try to tease out the tangles.  Sometimes I have to do this for quite a long time before anything loosens enough for me to be able to see how the knots are tied up, and therefore how to go about undoing them.  Sometimes I feel as though I'll never get it.

Over the years, as I have read and tried to study Revelation, I've often felt like I was at the beginning stages of trying to untangle a particularly fine metal chain.

Although I am still far from figuring it out, recently I've been feeling as though I'm starting to make some progress, starting to see how some things fit together.

I think it is important to read with a view to the circular nature of Hebrew rhetoric.  While there is undeniably a sense of crescendoing chaos as we hurtle towards the Last Day, there is also a great deal of repetition in Revelation.  I think we can quite safely break The End down to only a few events, and not perhaps the complicated and sometimes convoluted timeline that some pull out of this book.

Currently, in my BSF study, we have arrived at Revelation 12, and Revelation 12 has always been a signpost to me that this book is not a sequence of chronological events along a timeline.  In Revelation, sometimes we are looking forward to the future, sometimes we are looking backward at the past, and sometimes we are in the present.  Sometimes a symbol may stand for a very specific and particular thing, and sometimes a symbol might stand for a universal idea or be one picture of what may, throughout history, be a recurring event.

Here are what I think are the defining themes of Revelation:

(1)  Jesus is Lord.  Jesus is Victorious.
I base this first on Revelation 1, where the first verse states that this is the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Revelation 1:4-8 proceeds to tell who Jesus is, what He has done, and what He will still do in the future.  Revelation 1:9-20 describes John's vision of Jesus, and Jesus' instruction for John to write this message for the churches.  Revelation 1 lays this foundation, but theme of Jesus as our victorious Lord recurs again and again throughout the book.

(2)  There will be a Last Day.
The corollary to this point is that, at the Last Day, it will be the end, and too late to change one's mind.
This idea is implicit in the letters to the seven churches (in Revelation, chapters 2-3).
Another way to state it is: Be Ready!
But also, for the faithful who actually are ready, the message is :  Hold Firm!
To those who are drifting into disobedience, the message is:  Repent!

(3)  The faithful will live forever in eternal glory with the Lord.
By the marvelous grace of God, this truth is highlighted at the beginning of the visions, in chapters 4-5.  Personally, I think the Lord does this to build our hope and confidence before showing us what difficulties we may be called to face before we arrive at our prize.  Revelation encourages God's people to trust in God's promises and to hope for the future.

(4)  Those who are unwilling to repent, who reject Christ's offer of redemption and eternal life, will be cast out (Revelation 2:22, 20:15).
This is not our favorite thing to think about.  It is frightening and sorrowful.  However, God warns us and gives us time to repent, because of His great mercy and grace.  This is part of why the book of Revelation is so important.  It is a warning, a call to action.

(5)  There will be suffering, trials and tribulations for God's people on earth, but nothing can compare to the everlasting paradise we will gain when we get home to Jesus.
I do not think that these trials and tribulations are necessarily specifically matched to historical events, or revealed to us in a particular order to help us draw up a timeline for predicting the date of the Lord's return, although they might be.  However, I think the point we should be sure to take away is this: We will experience difficulties, but they will be controlled and limited by our sovereign God, and we can be completely assured that He will save His people in the end, providing eternal comfort and joy.

(6)  Satan, sin and death will one day be completely destroyed, never to come back and mess with us, ever again.
Revelation 20:10 is one of my favorite verses.  The tempter, the accuser, the father of lies will be cast away, and we will be free of him and safe for ever after.  No more pain or sorrow or fear or danger or waste or loss.  Amen!

(7)  Perfect fellowship between God and humankind will be restored, and God will make His dwelling with His people, among us.  We will be in God and God will be in us.
Ages ago, there was a golden ark hidden in the most interior room of the tabernacle, a perfect cube of a room, draped in curtains and too holy for anyone to enter.  The death of Jesus tore the veil away, and the Holy Spirit now resides in every believer.  But after the Last Day, perfect fellowship with God will be restored, the City of Our God will be the perfect cube (replacing, or fulfilling, the Holy of Holies), and we will all live within Him and see Him face to face while He will provide our light (this is from Revelation 21 and 22; I am not making it up).  I think we cannot understand much of what this will entail, being mortal and finite as we are, but I have faith that it will be marvelous beyond anything anyone has ever been able to imagine (1 Corinthians 2:9).  We'll have constant, uninterrupted access to the Lord.

I think that just about anything we come across in Revelation can be categorized under one of these seven themes.

Revelation 1 -- Jesus is Lord

Revelation 2-3 -- There will be a Last Day

Revelation 4-5 -- Jesus is Lord

Revelation 6 -- There will be suffering, There will be a Last Day

Revelation 7 -- The faithful will live in eternal glory with the Lord, Perfect fellowship with God will be restored

Revelation 8-9 -- There will be suffering, Those unwilling to repent will be cast out

Revelation 10  -- Jesus is Lord

Revelation 11 -- There will be suffering... but nothing cam compare to the everlasting paradise

Revelation 12 -- There will be suffering, Jesus is Lord

If I get a chance to write about this again, I would like to discuss the inter-relatedness of chapters 10-12.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

... more thoughts on Revelation 10

This saga began here.

I apologize for the scatteredness of these posts.  Honestly, when the connections and understanding dawned on me, I was awake nearly an entire night, thinking through it all.  It is simple, yet complicated.  I wanted to explain my thoughts as simply as possible.  How I hope and pray that someone will bear with me and hear me out.

It seems to me that one of the biggest mistakes people make, when they study Revelation, is in assuming that it is all written out in a chronologically sequential order.  That assumption is probably based on our western mindset; it's how Americans and Western Europeans approach things.  One, two, three, you know.  Steps in order.  Ordered points leading to a conclusion.  To us, it seems the right way to do something.

I've read Revelation a number of times, probably at least six times.  Now, reading something and understanding something, those are two very different things.  I've studied Revelation, and portions of it, a few times.  Some of the studies have made more sense to me than others.  But, whether reading or studying, I've noticed something.  Certain themes, images and phrases keep rolling around and coming back again in Revelation.  For instance, the twenty-four elders keep falling on their faces, overcome with worship for Almighty God.  This happens in Revelation 4:10, 5:8, 7:11, 11:16, 19:4 (and in 1:17, John himself fell at the feet of Jesus, as though dead).  Now, certainly the awesome presence of the Lord could (and most likely will) cause this kind of worship to happen repeatedly in eternity.  However, I think we can also consider the possibility that this climactic moment of worship is, in fact, one climactic moment of worship--at the culmination of all that God has accomplished in Christ--that is so significant and stunning that the visions continually revert to describing it.

I say this because my understanding is that Hebrew rhetoric, unlike western rhetoric, is not linear.  Hebrew rhetoric is circular.  In Hebrew rhetoric, one considers a point, and then one circles around and considers the same point from a different angle, and again and again, until myriad angles have been examined.  This being the case, I think we ought to be very cautious before we plunge into Revelation assuming that it is written in a linear, chronological sequence.  No matter what else you may or may not agree with me on here, nobody can deny that Revelation 12 is out of sequence, a flash back in time.  Revelation 12 clearly describes the incarnation of Christ.

The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour the child as soon as it was born.  She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule the nations with an iron scepter.  And her child was snatched up to God and to His throne.
Revelation 12:4b-5 (NIV)

If Revelation 12 is "out of sequence," why would we assume that the rest of Revelation is all (or mostly) in chronological order?  Perhaps rather than event-following-event-following-event along a timeline, we may be dealing with just a few major events, examined from multiple angles.

If this is the case, then I think it could be quite possible that Revelation 10 is a vision John was given to help him (and us) understand more deeply who Christ is, the grandeur and deity of the Christ whom John had pledged his life to follow while He was on earth as a man.

In my previous post, I explained how--after I had been frustrated by trying to figure out Revelation 10, but at a time when I was thinking about something entirely different--the Lord led me to Luke 9:21, where Jesus told his disciples not to tell anyone who He was.  That reminded me of Revelation 10:4 when John was told not to write down what he had seen.  This connection was a huge clue to me: this chapter could be all about Jesus.  Revelation is, after all, "The revelation of Jesus Christ," (Revelation 1:1).

In my previous post, I proceeded to work through Revelation 10:1-3, verse by verse, trying to show through cross references how this idea could be supported.  I'll continue to work through the chapter that way, beginning by finishing what I was trying to say about Revelation 10:3.

Revelation 10:3a (NIV)
... and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion...

Jesus is the Lion of Judah, in fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy.  This was even mentioned earlier in  Revelation, in a clear reference to Jesus Christ.

Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep!  See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed.  He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals."
Revelation 5:5 (NIV)

Revelation 10:3b (NIV)
When He shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke.

Seven is the perfect number, complete, fulfilled.  God's presence on earth is often accompanied by thunder and lightening.  The voices of the seven thunders in Revelation 10:3b immediately make me think of the voice of God at the baptism of Jesus--

When all the people were baptized, Jesus was baptized too.  And as He was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in bodily form like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."
Luke 3:21-22 (NIV)

And it also makes me think of how God spoke at the Transfiguration--

Jesus . . . took Peter, James and John with Him and went up onto a mountain to pray.  As He was praying, the appearance of His face changed, and His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightening . . . [A] cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.  A voice came from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to Him."
from Luke 9:28-29, 34-35 (NIV)

Revelation 10:4 (NIV)
And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, "Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down."

This is where I first began to see that this might be a passage about Jesus, when God led me to Luke 9:21 (NIV)--"Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone."

The same command followed the Transfiguration, recorded in both Matthew and Mark--

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, "Don't tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead."
Matthew 17:9 (NIV)

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
Mark 9:9 (NIV)

Revelation 10:5-7 (NIV)
Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven.  And he swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said, "There will be no more delay!  But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound the trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as He announced to His servants the prophets."

Rather than blathering on and on with my own words, I'm just going to give you some scriptures to read, and you can do your own reflecting on how they might relate to this passage.

So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be, and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.  The one who sent me is with me, He has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases Him."
John 8:28-29 (NIV)

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, He said,
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
with burnt offering and sin offering you were not pleased.
Then I said, "Here I am--it is written about me in the scroll--
I have come to do your will, O God.
Hebrews 10:5-7 (NIV)

Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified."
John 12:23 (NIV) 

"Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say?  'Father save me from this hour'?  No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.  Father, glorify Your name!"
Then a voice spoke from heaven, "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again."
John 12:27-28 (NIV)

Father, the hour has come.  Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify You.  For You granted Him authority over all people that He might give eternal life to all those You have given Him.
John 17:1-2 (NIV)

He went away a second time and prayed, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done.
Matthew 26:42 (NIV)

When He had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished."  With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
John 19:30 (NIV)

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ.
Colossians 2:2 (NIV) 

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,
according to his eternal purpose that He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ephesians 3:10-11 (NIV)

(Actually, that Ephesians reference may also shed some light on what is going on in Revelation 11, too, but I'm not dealing with Revelation 11 today.) 

Revelation 10:8-11 (NIV)
Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me once more: “Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.”
So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, “Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but ‘in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.’

I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. 
Then I was told, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.”

I feel that this part of the chapter is much easier to understand if we view the preceding verses as a revelation of the deity and perfect ministry of Christ.

If the little, open scroll is the prophecy of the life and times of Jesus Christ, and the vision is confirmation that Christ accomplished all that the Father sent Him to do, then for John to eat the little scroll would be for him to share in the life and ministry of Jesus.  John had done and was doing exactly that.

It gives special meaning to the opening of John's gospel when we see it this way:  

In the beginning was the Word.  And the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:1 (NIV)

The Word is the scroll, and the Word is Christ.

To know and follow Christ is unutterably sweet, but also painful in this lifetime.

When Jesus was a baby at the temple, Simeon told Mary:

"This child is destined to cause the rising and falling of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.  And a sword will pierce your own soul, too."
from Luke 2:34-35

Jesus tried to explain about the duality of weeping and rejoicing in the Christian life, before He went away:

Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.
John 16:20 (NIV)
Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
from John 16:22 (NIV)

The end of Revelation 10, as it ushers into Revelation 11, discusses the time of weeping that Christ's followers will face.  But Revelation never leaves us there.  Indeed, it seems to me that God so mercifully desires the encouragement of our hearts, that He had John start out with visions of the culmination of glory in the throne room of heaven (Revelation 4-5) before He even began to reveal any of the intermediary difficulties.

The last verse here, Revelation 10:11, gives John the directive to go and prophesy about many peoples, nations, languages and kings. Now is the time to prophesy. Earlier, while Jesus was on earth, John had been told not to tell people what he had seen until after Jesus had died and risen again, but all that has now been accomplished. The time has come to bear testimony, to trust God and bear His gospel to the nations regardless of the risks. Revelation 11 will develop more on the theme of bearing testimony.

This, to the best of my ability, is my understanding of Revelation 10.  

I will leave you with one of my all-time favorite verses.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 (NIV)