God’s special messengers will be “shattered” by all that is involved in giving the last message to the world. This experience of suffering while ministering for the sake of the captives in Babylon is symbolized by eating a little book that was sweet at first but then became bitter. “And 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 which stands on the sea and on the earth’. And I went to the angel and said to him, ‘Give me the little book.’ And he said to me, ‘Take it and eat it; and it will make your belly bitter, but it shall be in your mouth as sweet as honey.’ And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey. And as soon as I had eaten it my my belly was bitter. And he said to me, ‘You must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues and kings” (Revelation 10:8-11).

The fact that the angel told John “You must prophesy again implies that the prophetic messages of the little book will be given more than once. Although no previous prophesying has been mentioned in chapter 10, an obvious candidate is mentioned in Revelation 11:3, “And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” John is a symbolic representative of the "two witnesses" who bring God's messges to the world. These texts show that the two witnesses will "prophesy" for 1,260 "days." fter the 1,260 days are over they will eat the bitter-sweet book, and then they will "prophesy again."

The “two witnesses” did “prophesy in sackcloth” during the 1,260 years of the Dark Ages. God's underground "remnant" shared the light of the Old and New Testament, resulting in the Protestant Reformation. As this period was finishing, the understanding of end-time prophecies began to increase as the contents of the "little book" began to be revealed. In 10:1-7 The Seven Thunders we saw that the "little book" contains information about the meaning of prophetic events, including prophetic time periods found in the Book of Daniel. “The words [were] closed up and sealed till the time of the end”, but at that time “the wise shall understand” (Daniel 12:9,10). In the symbolic words of Revelation 10, diligent students of the scriptures "took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it."

In concrete terms, what happened was that an understanding of the great prophetic periods developed during the Philadelphia era, which began in the late 18th century. This time frame coincided with the end of the 1,260 years of papal persecution (see 12:12-14 The Woman in the Wilderness) and the beginning of the “time of the end” (see 3:8 The Open Door). At that time Bible students who led out in the Millerite movement searched out the meaning of the cleansing of the sanctuary (the 2,300 day prophecy of Daniel 8), the 490 years of probation given to the Jewish nation (the “seventy weeks” of Daniel 9) and the 1,260 years of papal oppression (the “time, times and half a time” of Daniel 7).[1] As they taught about these important prophecies and their relationship (as they understood it) to the Second Coming of Christ, a tremendous spiritual interest and excitement was generated (the book “was in my mouth as sweet as honey”). Much of the interest was because they confused the Second Coming of Christ with the cleansing of the sanctuary (which was to take place in 1844 according to the 2,300 day prophecy).[2]

The message itself was much more comprehensive than simply finding some dates for the prophecies. The Day of Atonement was brought into focus, calling for a radically different relationship with God and deep searching of heart. But when Jesus did not come as expected and they were faced with ridicule and rejection, they were bitterly disappointed (“it will make your stomach bitter”).

But God had not finished His revelation to the world. Even though there had been a great disappointment, God's faintful messengers "must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings." In other words, there was to be a similar prophetic movement but with a much more extensive, worldwide audience. The experience of the earlier messengers was a “type”[3] of the experience the 144,000 will have during the time of trouble. Again they will have a message based on prophecy. It will be the comprehensive message that has been sealed in the “Seven Thunders.” Besides the earlier understanding of the great time propheices of Daniel, there will be a focus on "the everlasting gospel" (Revelation 14:6), Jesus' comprehensive end-time prophecy in Matthew 24 including the abomination of desolation, the mysterious time prophecies of Daniel 12, the mark, number, name, and image of the beast of Revelation 13, the “three angels’ messages” of Revelation 14, and the great harlot/scarlet beast vision of Revelation 17. The understanding and sharing of these messages will be “sweet as honey” as the faithful messengers experience the joy of witnessing for the Lord with the latter-rain power of the Holy Spirit making their witness compelling and effective. But the deadly reaction of “the beast” and his followers, as outlined in chapters 11 and 13, will “make [their] belly bitter.”

In spite of the opposition of the beast, they “must prophesy again before many peoples, nations, tongues and kings.”[4] They will give the message of Revelation 18 with “great authority,” exposing the Babylon politico-religious system (“Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen and has become a dwelling place of demons”) and calling the people of the world to “come out of her, my people, that you do not partake of her sins and that you do not receive of her plagues” (Revelation 18:1-4). In the face of deadly opposition it will seem to them that they are risking their lives in vain, but in the end their witness will accomplish its purpose—a "great multitude" will "come out."

This experience finds its parallel in Ezekiel 2 and 3. In those chapters the prophet was given a message that was directed to God’s people who had been captured and taken to Babylon.[5] The captives were hopeless and hardened by their experiences in Babylon, just as God's weak followers in end-time “Babylon” will be hopeless and hardened by Satan’s fierce attacks during the trumpet plagues. God told Ezekiel, “I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation…for they are impudent and stubborn children…and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God'...You shall speak My words to them whether they hear or whether they refuse” (Ezekiel 2:3-7, 3:8,9).

Just like the message in Revelation 10, the message given to Ezekiel was depicted as words he would eat which would initially be sweet. “Now when I looked, there was a hand stretched out to me; and behold, a scroll of a book was in it…Moreover He said to me, ‘Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go speak to the house of Israel…So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness…Moreover He said to me: ‘Son of man, receive into your heart all My words that I speak to you, and hear with your ears. And go, get to the captives, to the children of your people, and speak to them and tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord God’, whether they hear, or whether they refuse” (Ezekiel 2:9,10, 3:1-3, 10,11).

Ezekiel's ministry in Babylon prefigured the experience the 144,000 will have as they “go…to the captives.” Chapter 11 tells more about their awesome experience as they deliver the final call to the world to repent and be saved.

[1] See chapters 3:8 “the Day of Atonement” and 12:12-14.

[2] See appendix 5 for details about the 2,300 day prophecy. Briefly, the prophecy is in Daniel 8:14 “For two thousand three hundred days: then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.” From the prophecy of seventy weeks in Daniel 9 it was clear that these were prophetic days (a day for a year) and the starting point for both prophecies could be determined “from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem” which took place in 457 BC. Two thousand three hundred years extended to 1844, and the date Oct. 22 was fixed upon as it was the date of the Jewish Day of Atonement that year. The Millerites assumed that the cleansing of the sanctuary referred to the cleansing of the earth by fire at the Second Coming of Christ. The passing of the date was termed “the great disappointment”.

[3] A type is “a symbol of something in the future, as an Old Testament event prefiguring a New Testament event…to represent prophetically, foreshadow, prefigure” Random House Webster’s Dictionary, 1997.

[4] The preposition “before” is the Greek word “epi” which can be translated as almost any preposition, including, as the New King James Version renders it, “you must prophesy again about many peoples”

[5] See Ezekiel 3:15, 11:24,25.