I have been writing a book on the Tribulation and blogging it. I am now up to the end of the Trumpet judgments. I am now beginning an interlude (Rev. 1-11:14) that comes between the sixth and seventh Trumpet of Revelation, Part one. You may want to follow along in your bible.
Just after John saw and recorded that a third of mankind was killed by the locust creatures and that those who survived do not repent, he suddenly saw a mighty angel coming down from heaven. We will look now at the identity of this angel and a few other things that God wants to tell His people in this second interlude. God’s intention here is to give them a short break in order to encourage and comfort them and to remind them that He is in control and will ultimately bring them victory. We will look at this interlude (which is tied into the fifth trumpet) in the following nine parts.
Revelation 10:1. I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire;
Some scholars insist that this angel is Christ because of his glorious and Christlike descriptions. But there is one obvious clue that shows us that it cannot be Christ. The Greek word translated “another,” describing this strong angel, means one of the same kind—that is, a created being. And because of his glorious portrayals and that he is said to be a “strong angel,” he is no doubt one of the most high-ranking angels, on the order of someone like Gabriel or Michael.
The first two descriptions of him, that he is “clothed with a cloud” and that a “rainbow was upon his head,” is certainly a God-like description; for in Psalm 104:3, and in Isaiah 17:1, God is pictured riding on the clouds; and in Revelation 4:3 we read that a rainbow surrounded the throne of God.
The next two descriptions are equally God-like and glorious: “his face was like the sun and his feet like pillars of fire.” This reminds me of the description John gave of Christ in Revelation 1:14-15: “His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace.” Hence, both His head and His feet glowed with the glory of God.
But these glorious depictions do not in any way tell us that this being could not be an angel; for God created the angels to be like Him and to reflect His glory. And even Moses, being a man, produced a glow on his face after being in the presence of God (Ex. 34:29).
Verse 2-4. and he had in his hand a little book which was open. He placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land; 3 and he cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars; and when he had cried out, the seven peals of thunder uttered their voices. 4 When the seven peals of thunder had spoken, I was about to write; and I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken and do not write them.”
Here is an interesting set of verses with some questions. The first obvious question is, what is the little book that the angel holds in his hand? Well, I don’t think we can know for sure, but I think it contains the events that are to come upon the earth—to prepare people for what is to come. And when he begins to announce what is to come, he starts to roar like a lion—signifying that what is to come is quite terrifying and powerful; so I think the roar is a roar of God coming though the angel demonstrating that God’s powerful wrath is soon coming.
Then he apparently revealed to John the next set of judgments called the seven peals of thunder. And Scripture tells us that John was set to write these down and reveal them to us, but a voice from heaven said to John, seal these things up; do not write them down.
If you are like me, you probably would like to know what these judgments are and why they are secret. I guess we will just have to wait and see.
Verses 5-7. Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven, 6 and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, WHO CREATED HEAVEN AND THE THINGS IN IT, AND THE EARTH AND THE THINGS IN IT, AND THE SEA AND THE THINGS IN IT, that there will be delay no longer, 7 but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets.
Here it seems that this strong angel is somehow involved in the Tribulation events—that he is leading these events; because he is here taking an oath to God that “there will be delay no longer.” I show my ignorance here; I really don’t know how much the angel is involved; but I think he a partner with God in all the events, even if he is just announcing What God alone will do. Nonetheless, he declares that there will be no more delays; that is, that the last of the judgments will occur and then the mystery of God will be revealed. And these things will be announced just as the seventh angel blows his trumpet.
The mystery then will be revealed in the seventh trumpet. And we will see that it is the revealing of God’s new kingdom and all that it entails. This mystery was declared to the prophets vaguely, and we can read what is written for ourselves. But soon it will be fully revealed when He comes (for more context on this mystery read Acts 1:6; Matt 6:10; 24:3; Eph. 1:9-10).
Verses 8-10. Then the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard again speaking with me, and saying, “Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the land.” 9 So I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book. And he said to me, “Take it and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” 10 I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and in my mouth it was sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter.
As we pointed out earlier, the little book represents the judgments that remain in the Tribulation. And when the angel told John to eat it, and that it would at first be sweet to the taste, and then, when he digested it, it would be bitter (giving him a stomach ache), this would be the proper response to God’s judgment. That is, the sweet taste would be the delightful taste of God’s Word—that it is good and sweet, as the Psalmist writes, “How sweet are Your words to my taste” (Ps. 119:103)! But then when John sees how God’s wrath is poured out on those who reject Him, there will be a bitter and aching feeling in his stomach—just as God is grieved over sin.
Verse 11. And they said to me, “You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.”
It is unclear who is speaking to John. The NASU translates it they. But the KJV and others translates it he—being the angel. Nonetheless, John was told that he must continue to warn all the earth’s people about the judgments coming in the seventh trumpet and the seven bowls.