The Little Book and the second woe

The Little Book of the Revelation - Tenth in a series

Which Scripture verses comprise the Little Book?

The angel of Chapter 10 swore that the mystery of God will have been fulfilled when the seventh trumpet sounds, which occurs at Rev. 11:15. (Rev 10:7). The tenth chapter ends with John taking the Little Book out of the angel’s hand, eating it and noting its effect on his person.

  • 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 when I had eaten it, my belly was made bitter. And they say unto me, Thou must prophesy again over many peoples and nations and tongues and kings. (Rev 10:10-11)

The contents of the Little Book are therefore only verses 1-14 of Chapter 11.

  1. And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and one said, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.
  2. And the court which is without the temple leave without, and measure it not; for it hath been given unto the nations: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
  3. And I will give unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
  4. These are the two olive trees and the two candlesticks, standing before the Lord of the earth.
  5. And if any man desireth to hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth and devoureth their enemies; and if any man shall desire to hurt them, in this manner must he be killed.
  6. These have the power to shut the heaven, that it rain not during the days of their prophecy: and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with every plague, as often as they shall desire.
  7. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that cometh up out of the abyss shall make war with them, and overcome them, and kill them.
  8. And their dead bodies lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.
  9. And from among the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations do men look upon their dead bodies three days and a half, and suffer not their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb.
  10. And they that dwell on the earth rejoice over them, and make merry; and they shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwell on the earth.
  11. And after the three days and a half the breath of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them that beheld them.
  12. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they went up into heaven in the cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
  13. And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell; and there were killed in the earthquake seven thousand persons: and the rest were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.
  14. The second Woe is past: behold, the third Woe cometh quickly.

We see something new with the Little Book narrative. The destruction it describes ends with at least some people giving glory to the Lord.

In other similar catastrophic scenes we read that those who did not die also did not repent (Rev 9:20-21, Rev 16:9, 11), but this group is shown to have a change of heart: they feared and they glorified God. (Rev 11:13)


Is the Little Book included with the events of the sixth trumpet? Or is it a separate account whose span on the timeline is not made clear?

In that its events precede and force the announcement of the second woe (Rev 11:14), it would seem to be within the time frame of the sixth trumpet. This is so because the fifth trumpet events marked the first woe (Rev 9:12). However, some of its contents may relate to an overall time period whose start point is unclear.

A time period of forty-two months, that is, three and a half years, or 1260 days in the Little Book relates to 1. the time that the two witnesses testify (Rev 11:3) and 2. the time that the gentiles trample the holy city (Rev 11:2).

We previously noted that this time period is the same as that of the reign of antichrist (Rev 13:5) and for the protection of the Jews (Rev 12: 6). Specifically, the reign of the antichrist and the trampling of the outer courts takes place for ‘forty-two months,’ and the testimony of the two witnesses and protection of the Jews lasts for ‘1260 days.’ Why this difference? The witnesses and the marked Jews are coupled and the antichrist and destruction are. That’s logical.

The Lord maintains a witness for his kingdom and gospel throughout the time that the Antichrist reigns, an amazing accomplishment! Nothing is too hard for the Lord.

This time period may start before the breaking of the seventh seal (Rev 8:1), maybe even with the opening of the first one (Rev 6:1), overarching in its reach.

We could see the Little Book as a story within a story with its own special message, one which is lifted from the core document to focus our attention on a particular prophecy and mystery which must be traced a verse at a time, which we will begin to do in the next post.

The second woe may be worse than the third

Does the earthquake that kills seven thousand men and topples a tenth of the city define the second woe? (Rev 11:13) That would seem strange in that one-third of mankind were killed during the sixth trumpet events (Rev 9:18), a much larger number. So, perhaps the suffering this woe describes could relate to a larger reason than the earthquake destruction. Perhaps this woe mourns the end of the possibility for salvation!

The Seventh Trumpet announces the end— no more time, only judgment (Rev 11:15). But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets. (Rev 10:7)

The second to last trumpet; comparisons

The Little Book of the Revelation - Ninth in a series

At a very precise moment in time, the sixth angel sounds and is told to loose the four angels that are bound in the great river Euphrates. (Rev 9:13-14)

  • And the four angels were loosed, that had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, that they should kill the third part of men. (Rev 9:15)

These call forth an army of two million with immense destructive power. They kill a third of the population on the earth! Yet, the rest of those on the earth who are not killed “by these plagues” (Rev 9:20) did not repent of their murders, sorceries, fornications nor thefts. There is no woe associated with this scene.

This seems to indicate that no Christians are on the earth. Or, did John mean: ‘The rest of those on the earth’ who were not marked for safety as were the 144,000, nor the Christians, who need no mark for they are covered by the blood of Jesus and already have eternal life?

It could be that John’s focus is on the unrepentant ones, but others are still in the periphery.

One need not murder or steal to be numbered in this group; only being an unrepentant fornicator or someone who pursues palm reading or other occult practices would classify a person among the murderers and thieves.

Is this sixth trumpet sounding the call to Armageddon? Not yet. The ‘trumpet’ judgments of Chapters 8 and 9 fall short of the annihilation of the ‘bowl’ judgments of Chapter 16 that commence following the blast of the seventh trumpet.

It is instructive to compare these two series of destructions. At first reading, the seven bowl judgments seem similar to those announced by the trumpets. But on closer inspection, we see that there are differences— the bowl judgments are much worse!

1 And the first sounded, and there followed hail and fire, mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of the earth was burnt up, and the third part of the trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. (Rev 8:7) And the first went, and poured out his bowl into the earth; and it became a noisome and grievous sore upon the men that had the mark of the beast, and that worshipped his image. (Rev 16:2)
2 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; and there died the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, even they that had life; and the third part of the ships was destroyed. (Rev 8:8-9) And the second poured out his bowl into the sea; and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living soul died, even the things that were in the sea. (Rev 16:3)
3 And the third angel sounded, and there fell from heaven a great star, burning as a torch, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of the waters; and the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter. (Rev 8:10-11) And the third poured out his bowl into the rivers and the fountains of the waters; and it became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters saying, Righteous art thou, who art and who wast, thou Holy One, because thou didst thus judge: for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets… (Rev 16:4-7)
4 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; that the third part of them should be darkened, and the day should not shine for the third part of it, and the night in like manner. (Rev 8:12) And the fourth poured out his bowl upon the sun; and it was given unto it to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat: and they blasphemed the name of God who hath the power over these plagues; and they repented not to give him glory. (Rev 16:8-9)
5 COVERED IN PREVIOUS POST — And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven fallen unto the earth: and there was given to him the key of the pit of the abyss. And he opened the pit of the abyss; and there went up a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And out of the smoke came forth locusts upon the earth… (Rev 9:1-3) And the fifth poured out his bowl upon the throne of the beast; and his kingdom was darkened; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they repented not of their works. (Rev 16:10-11)
6 COVERED ABOVE, IN THIS POST — And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the horns of the golden altar which is before God, one saying to the sixth angel that had the trumpet, Loose the four angels that are bound at the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, that had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, that they should kill the third part of men… By these three plagues was the third part of men killed, by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone, which proceeded out of their mouths. (Rev 9:13-21) And the sixth poured out his bowl upon the great river, the river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way might be made ready for the kings that come from the sunrising. And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits, as it were frogs: for they are spirits of demons, working signs; which go forth unto the kings of the whole world, to gather them together unto the war of the great day of God, the Almighty… And they gathered them together into the place which is called in Hebrew Har-Magedon. (Rev 16:12-16)
7 And the seventh angel sounded; and there followed great voices in heaven, and they said, The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ: and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, who sit before God on their thrones, fell upon their faces and worshipped God, saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who art and who wast; because thou hast taken thy great power, and didst reign… And there was opened the temple of God that is in heaven; and there was seen in his temple the ark of his covenant; and there followed lightnings, and voices, and thunders, and an earthquake, and great hail. (Rev 11:15-19) CATACLYSM — And the seventh poured out his bowl upon the air; and there came forth a great voice out of the temple, from the throne, saying, It is done: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunders; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since there were men upon the earth, so great an earthquake, so mighty. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and Babylon the great was remembered in the sight of God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And great hail, every stone about the weight of a talent, cometh down out of heaven upon men: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof is exceeding great. (Rev 16:17-21)
The bolded words are to show a distinction between the judgments, between one-third and all, as the text makes clear.

The correlations between the seventh trumpet and the seventh bowl are:

  • God is in his temple
  • There are thunders and lightnings and voices
  • There is an earthquake
  • There is great hail

However, the seventh bowl judgment earthquake was greater than any other the earth had ever known, dividing the great city into three parts, and causing the fall of all other cities. Also, Babylon is punished, every island is washed out of sight, the mountains are no longer in view, and the hail storm is epic with every stone weighing about 100 lbs.

And men blasphemed God because of the plague of hail.

The numerous similarities of the seventh trumpet and seventh bowl judgments may depict that the final judgment is in view as soon as the seventh trumpet sounds. The trumpet gives a preview.


Whether trumpet or bowl judgments, the mayhem and pain experienced does not lead to repentance. However, an exception is found in the Little Book immediately preceding the sounding of the seventh trumpet. We will read there that some of those afflicted do experience a change of heart.

We have outlined the events leading up to the Little Book contents, reviewing the chapters preceding it. The chapters that follow it are also related to its message, and we have reviewed some content from them.

Of course, the focus of this blog series is the Little Book, and we will not review or summarize the entire book of the Revelation. In the following posts of this blog series we will explore the contents of the Little Book.

Time to think

The Little Book of the Revelation - Eighth in a series

Chapter 8 begins with the breaking of the seventh seal followed by one-half hour of silence. Seven angels standing before God’s throne are given seven trumpets, and another angel comes near to the golden altar that is before His throne. This angel has a vessel full of incense, a censer (like a bowl), and the incense is combined with the prayers of God’s people. These are mixed with fire from the altar and cast upon the earth.

Why are the prayers of the saints mixed with ‘much’ incense? (Rev 8:3) Would it be because our prayers are so often unguided by the Holy Spirit and in need of purification from self interest— a bad smell?

  • The first angel sounds his trumpet and a third of the earth and trees and all the green grass are burned up. (Rev 8:7)
  • The second angel sounds and a great, blazing mountain-like object is thrown into the sea which becomes blood, destroying marine life and ships. (Rev 8:8-9)
  • The third angel sounds and a great star, ‘Wormwood,’ falls on a third of the rivers and springs, turning them bitter so that people are poisoned. (Rev 8:10-11)
  • The fourth angel sounds and a third of the sun, moon and stars are darkened, so that a third of the day and the night are without light. (Rev 8:12)

There will be three more trumpets associated with three woes.

At the start of Chapter 9 the fifth angel sounds. John sees a star fall from heaven to earth “and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.” The ‘star’ angel opens the pit and smoke and strange locusts emerge. Their role is not to further hurt the earth but only to torment those men who are not marked by God’s seal in their foreheads, for five months. This is the first woe.

  • And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven fallen unto the earth: and there was given to him the key of the pit of the abyss.
  • And he opened the pit of the abyss; and there went up a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.
  • And out of the smoke came forth locusts upon the earth; and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
  • And it was said unto them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree, but only such men as have not the seal of God on their foreheads.
  • And it was given them that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when it striketh a man.
  • And in those days men shall seek death, and shall in no wise find it; and they shall desire to die, and death fleeth from them.
  • And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared for war; and upon their heads as it were crowns like unto gold, and their faces were as men’s faces.
  • And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions… (Rev 9:1-12)

Who or what are the locusts?

Here, let us consider the rich symbolism in the Revelation. Across the centuries, its readers and preachers have struggled to discern whether certain figures are men or symbols. Reading commentaries is a way to travel across time and gain perspectives on historic movements which seemed to fit the events described by John.

In Chapter 1, we saw golden candlesticks and stars which Christ identifies as churches and their angels.

‘That woman Jezebel’ of the church of Thyatira (Rev 2:20) was not a woman named Jezebel but one who modeled the behavior of Ahab’s wife who cut off the prophets of Israel and frightened Elijah out of his wits. (Books of Kings)

There are the riders on the four horses, but whom do they represent? Are they not forces of evil led by the one on the white horse who is the Antichrist? Which antichrist? Is he a spirit or a real man? And, more pertinent to this study, is he the beast or the false prophet?

We are clear on the person of Jesus who is seen by John throughout the book, but in one verse (Rev 5:6) he is seen as a lamb, and some have written that the angel of Revelation 10 is Christ.

The Revelation and its unique symbolism challenge the mind to understand what is being said. All agree that no one can fully understand the many descriptions and visions of the people, creatures and events in the book.

Thus it is when we read of locusts emerging from a pit, we see them as demons; but is their torture of men physical or might it be a mental torture? Are they military drones on a mission? Or could they picture the truth that Shakespeare presented in MacBeth— that remorse which isn’t true repentance is a far worse taskmaster than any actual, cruel overseer? They do have the familiar markings of men and of beasts that speak of vanity, aggression, biting and devouring.

C.S. Lewis wrote in the Screwtape Letters, “There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human’s mind against the Enemy. He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.”

In his book, the enemy is God, who wants us to consider our ways and make decisions to follow in his footsteps. Satan instead draws our thoughts away from deciding and doing, to questions about potential consequences and whether they will be so terrible.

One thing is very plain in the Revelation: the consequences for those who hate God and his ways will be beyond grim or devastating. They will be indescribably horrifying. Make no mistake.

Perhaps the machinations of remorse, grief, regret, anger, hatred, self-loathing (temporary) and other such mental tortures are the provocations of the locusts of Chapter 9. If so, God is reaching out to fallen man. There is no statement here that none repented.

And what of the symbolism of ‘five months’—the length of time that the locusts torture the rebellious people? It is one month short of a half year, and this brings to mind the three and a half year period that defines the time of:

  • the antichrist’s reign (Dan 7:25; Rev 13:5)
  • the protection of Israel by God (Rev 12:6, 14)
  • the gentiles trampling on the holy city (Rev 11:2)
  • the testimony of the two witnesses (Rev 11:3)

Could there be a time for remorse, an opportunity for reflection, mental self examination, also at times called ‘prayer,’ and for repentance, before the beginning of the three and a half years?

Would there be only a month left before the start of a new phase of judgment beginning with the sixth trumpet?

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