Revelation like any other book in the Bible has been divided into chapters and readers need to be reminded that at times these divisions can disrupt or break the continuity of the story being told. One such division is that between Chapter 10 and Chapter 11.
Let's take a look at what is taking place at the end of Chapter Ten:
8 And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.
9 And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.
10 And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.
11 And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
All Seventh Day Adventists understand that this eating of the little book by John symbolised what would happen to God's church in the process of trying to understand the prophecies recorded by Daniel in the Old Testament.
William Miller in 1831 publicly declared that Jesus Christ's second coming would take place before or during 1843 according to his understanding of Daniel's prophecy in Daniel 8:14. The cleansing of the sanctuary was in fact the cleansing of the earth at Christ's return when he would also take home to heaven those prepared to meet him.
But alas the predicted event did not come to pass! The SDA church believes that this event is referred to by John in Revelation 10. Just like John, William Miller and those that believed in his declaration that Christ would come in 1843/4 'ate the book' of Daniel and in their mouth it was as 'sweet as honey' but it became 'bitter' in their belly once consumed. The bitterness William and his followers experienced was very real as the day they expected Christ's return passed uneventfully and their sweet as honey hopes were dashed.
John the Revelator recorded his experience of eating the book for Wiiliam Miller and those that would come out of the disappointment with a desire to truly understand the little book of Daniel, the word of God and the prophecies contained therein.
The final verse in Revelation 10 is very important. It's significance needs emphasis and revisiting because its true meaning and message has been buried under the tradition and wisdom of men - this verse and the correct understanding of it will help those who believe in Christ's imminent return to fulfill its commands. This verse is the forgotten verse that we all need to understand.
Revelation 10:11 And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
What message is God giving us in this verse? It is broadcast loud and clear: 'Thou must prophesy again'!
This verse is connecting Revelation 10 to the flow of prophecy from the pen of John that continues in Revelation 11. The chapter break artificially inserted between chapter 10 and 11 should not prevent us from seeing where John and the revelation of Jesus Christ desires us to go.
1 And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.
The command to prophesy again is given and the very next command to John is to 'Rise, and measure the temple of God...'. This command to measure could be interpreted as a command metaphorically to judge according to any rule or standard, to estimate according to the Thayer defintion of the Greek : G3354- Original: μετρέω - Transliteration: metreō - Phonetic: met-reh'-o. This verse reveals the judgement entered into by Jesus Christ at the conclusion of the prophecy of Daniel 8:14. At exactly the same time as the disappointment took place when Christ did not return as William Miller had believed the high priest and saviour of mankind entered into the most holy place to begin the judgement of mankind and also continue his ministration for those living at this time.
Hebrews 9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
The message to 'Prophesy Again' continues to expand from this point forward. The judgement message is a fundamental truth that those seeking to enter the kingdom of Christ need to understand. One day this judgement will come to an end and mercy and salvation will be closed to those who have ignored the pleadings of Christ and His holy spirit:
2 Corinthians 6:2 - "behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."
The emphasis on 'prophesying again' now has greater impetus. Your life will appear before the heavenly judgement bar and the urgency to accept the salvation Christ freely offers must be declared "before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings."
3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
Revelation Chapter 11 then continues the 'prophesy again' focus after the judgement
interlude and describes the prophesying of God's two witnesses in sackcloth for a thousand, two hundred and three score days.
The question arises here : Do we now go back into history and apply this passage to the periods of time identified historically beginning at 538 AD and ending in 1798? Is this when God's witnesses will 'prophesy again' in sackcloth? Note that this sudden reversal into history to explain this passage does not flow with the procession of events and prophetic announcements made in Revelation 10 and continuing in Revelation 11.
Ellen White was inspired to write:
Let all who would understand the meaning of these things read the eleventh chapter of Revelation. Read every verse, and learn the things that are yet to take place in the cities. Read also the scenes portrayed in the eighteenth chapter of the same book. 21LtMs, Lt 158, 1906, par. 8
Yet Ellen White prior to writing the above statement in the book The Great Controversy Chapter 15: The Bible and the French Revolution applies large sections of this chapter to the time of the French Revolution. Does this mean she is a false prophet? No! But it does mean she did receive further light connected with the chapter in 1906 - 18 years after her original application to 1798 and historical events prior.
With Ellen White's more recent revelation about the application of Revelation 11 to events to take place in the future we can now see the prophetic meaning of verse three come to life. In the cities around the world prophesying again is going to take place. It will be in sackcloth and it will be during a time period of one thousand two hundred and sixty days - literal days!
This period of time is not the same period of time referred to in Revelation 12 -
6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
Note that the woman or God's pure church fled into the wilderness during this time period.
In the time period specified in Revelation 11 we know that these events will be taking place in the cities and God's people will be prophesying in sackcloth. The time of Elijah's prophesying was also for a similar time period:
James 5:17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
This same period is referred to in Revelation 13:
4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. note
6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
The dragon and beast power combination in Revelation 13 makes war with the saints as they obey the command to prophesy again to people, kindreds, tongues and nations. No wonder it is described as prophesying in sackcloth in Revelation 11. The witness’s lives will be at stake. It will be a matter of life and death for those giving the message and those hearing the messages too.
This period also corresponds to the time Daniel specified in Daniel 11 and 12:
Daniel 11:44 But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.
This is Daniel's reference to the King of the North and his absolute ire and hatred for the messages he is troubled by from God's two witnesses.
Daniel 12:7 And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished
A final supporting reference for the one thousand, two hundred and sixty day period states that this period will end once the King of the North has scattered the power of the holy people.
What does Ellen White state about this period and the other time periods referred to in Daniel that extend to Christ's second coming? :
In the Scriptures are presented truths that relate especially to our own time. To the period just prior to the appearing of the Son of man, the prophecies of Scripture point, and here their warnings and threatenings pre-eminently apply. The prophetic periods of Daniel, extending to the very eve of the great consummation, throw a flood of light upon events then to transpire. The book of Revelation is also replete with warning and instruction for the last generation. The beloved John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, portrays the fearful and thrilling scenes connected with the close of earth's history, and presents the duties and dangers of God's people. None need remain in ignorance, none need be unprepared for the coming of the day of God. RH September 25, 1883, par. 6
The command to 'PROPHESY AGAIN' is clear. God's witnesses will prophesy of his soon return and expose the sinister and dark plots of the dragon, the beast and the whore of Revelation 17. It will be done in sackcloth. The disappointment of Revelation 10 is behind us and knowing what lies ahead we will be given power to prophesy again. The loud cry will sound - with truth as our sword and faith as our shield we will be enabled to attract and draw others to the mercy and salvation of God.