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Revelation Chapter 10

Revelation chapter 10 introduces a new scene: "and I saw another mighty angel ..." From 10:1 to 11:14 seems to be a parenthetical section between the sixth and seventh trumpets (second and third woes). The chapter is often remembered as the chapter describing the mysterious "little book." We will look at what that little book could be and its significance. Also mentioned are the seven thunders which apparently John heard as voices but was then told not to write their messages. Again, there are various theories as to the meaning of the symbols in this chapter. Let's take a look.

A Mighty Angel

"And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:" (Rev 10:1)

What could "clothed with a cloud" mean? There are verses which associate clouds with angels. Here is one of the first such references:

"And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them:" (Exo 14:19)

In typical Hebrew parallel structure we have:

First Part of Verse
Second Part of Verse
the angel of God the pillar of cloud
which went before the camp from before their face
went behind them stood behind them

So the cloud and the angel are associated. Here is a verse referring to the Son of man (Jesus) coming to the Ancient of Days (the Father):

"I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him." (Dan 7:13)

The word "they" seems to refer to the clouds which is logical if those clouds are angels. There is a verse which definitely associates clouds with movements of God and His throne:

"Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind:" (Psa 104:3)
"Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne." (Psa 97:2)

Note that this is the Son coming to the Father. When the Son ascended to heaven it was with clouds:

"And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight." (Acts 1:9)

Then, when He returns the second time, it will also be with clouds and it will be with all the holy angels:

"And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." (Matt 24:30)
"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:" (Matt 25:31)

"A rainbow as was upon His head" in verse 1 is associated in other scripture with the throne of God:

And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake" (Eze 1:26-28)

"His face was as it were the sun." Similar wording is used in other places:

"His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude." (Dan 10:6)

"His feet as pillars of fire:" Other verses in Revelation describe His feet as brass or as brass burning:

"And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength." (Rev 1:15-16)
"And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;" (Rev 2:18)

In Exodus God is described as going before Israel in a "pillar of fire." One can almost imagine that He is walking before them and His legs are pillars of fire.

"And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people." (Exo 13:21-22)

It seems this mighty angel is the Son of God Himself. It is scriptural to refer to Jesus as an angel as shown in the study on angels.. The clouds, of course, are a reference to multitudes of angels.

The Little Book

"And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth," (Rev 10:2)

It also makes sense that this "angel" holding the open book is Jesus as we saw in chapter 5 that He was the One found worthy to open the book. So He has opened it and now, in chapter 10, He holds it open.

The book was already opened by the removing of the seals in chapters 6-7, why is he now holding it open again? Could it be to ask someone to take a second look?

"But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." (Dan 12:4)

A few verses later, Daniel was again told that the words were for the time of the end:

"And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end." (Dan 12:9)

The next verse is connected and what happens there?

"Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand." (Dan 12:10)

Daniel the little book

Many are purified, made white; this is described in the latter half of chapter 7.

That little book could also be the book of Daniel based on its size. To the right is a diagram showing the number of words in the writings of each of the prophets with the minor prophets grouped together as was commonly done:

What is the significance of this mighty Angel setting His feet upon the sea and the earth? It could be to show that He has ultimate control over the affairs of earth. Both sea and earth can also be shown in scripture to represent people. In the end, He will win the victory over His enemies.

Seven Thunders

"And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices." (Rev 10:3)

The roaring of a lion is used elsewhere in scripture in reference to the voice of God:

"They shall walk after the LORD: he shall roar like a lion: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west." (Hos 11:10)
"The lion hath roared, who will not fear? the Lord GOD hath spoken, who can but prophesy?" (Amos 3:8)

Thunder, in scripture, is also often associated with the voice of God:

"The LORD thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice." (2 Sam 22:14)
"God thundereth marvellously with his voice; great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend." (Job 37:5)
"The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail stones and coals of fire." (Psa 18:13)
"The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters." (Psa 29:3)
"Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him." (John 12:28-29)

The fact that this voice is "as when a lion roareth" suggests that this being is the one being in scripture who is referred to as a lion - Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah.

"And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof." (Rev 5:5)
"And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not." (Rev 10:4)

As these thunders are related to the voice of God, they must be important messages. However, we are not given the content as John was told to "write them not." This is similar to what Daniel was told.

"But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." (Dan 12:4)

In Daniel's case, details were written but the meaning was sealed until it could be understood in the proper end-time setting. Evidently, there are some things that John heard that it was better for us not to know, at least not until a perhaps-more-appropriate time.

No More Waiting
"And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:" (Rev 10:5-6)

To lift up the hand is common in the giving of an oath:

"And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:" (Gen 14:22-23)
"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." (Dan 12:7)

Perhaps that sounds strange that Jesus should sware by the Creator when He Himself created all things (John 1:1-3). However, Hebrews clearly relates a time when it says that God swore by Himself:

"For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself," (Heb 6:13)

"Time no longer" is rendered in most versions something like "no more delay" or "no more waiting." "No more delay;" if this was the answer to a question, what would the question be? Perhaps something like "how long?" What do children often say on a long road trip? Parents often hear: "how much longer?" or "are we there yet?" Have we recently, in Revelation, seen a question like that?

"And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" (Rev 6:10)

The question is how long until judgment? Are you starting to ask that question more often yourself? In my understanding, many end-time events are connected to God's appointed times. As we approach each spring and fall I find myself wondering if something significant will happen this time; at Passover/Unleavened Bread or at Tabernacles.

The Mystery of God

"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)

This verse is pointing forward to a point later in the narrative (Rev 11:15) when the seventh angel actually does sound. (The first six angels sounded in chapters 8 and 9.) The phrase "when he shall begin to sound" suggests that the sounding will cover a period of time.

"The mystery of God" is not so much something God is trying to hide as something He is trying to make known, especially to His followers:

"And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:" (Mark 4:11)
"And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:" (Eph 3:9)
"To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:" (Col 1:27)
"That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;" (Col 2:2)
"And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." (1 Tim 3:16)

Think of it this way. What is a mystery novel all about? - something mysterious. But what always happens by the end of the book? - it is revealed.

"Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:" (Rom 16:25-26)
"Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:" (Eph 1:9)
"Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:" (Col 1:26)

His Servants the Prophets

"His servants the prophets" have been identified in chapter 7 as the 144,000.

"Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads." (Rev 7:3)

God' servants are also called His prophets:

"... And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints. (Rev 11:18)
"Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." (Amos 3:7)

Of course, God's prophets would include many who, in the past, functioned in the prophetic role. So will the end-time 144,000 all be prophets? What is a prophet - one who speaks for God. As the story of Philip in Acts:

"Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot." (Acts 8:29)

Philip was directed to speak for God and I think the 144,000 will have many similar experiences as they are open to God directing them in their work for Him.

Eat the Book

"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." (Rev 10:8)

If someone offers you a book, what would you think their intent is? Wouldn't it be that you take a look at it? Read it? This is an indication that the little book or the understanding of it is to be opened. Remember how anxiously heaven waited for the unsealing of the scroll in chapters 4 and 5?

"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." (Rev 10:9)

Daniel the little book
More than a million Canadians devour this roll
for breakfast every day.

This sounds like a strange command - to eat a book. However, we use this as an expression. Recently, even on a Globe and Mail news stand, there was a picture of a rolled up newspaper with a similar message:

Scripture uses this comparison in other places as well:

"Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts." (Jer 15:16)
"Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness. ... Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears." (Eze 3:1-3, 10)

The passage above from Ezekiel likens eating the roll to receiving the words into the heart which is what the figure of eating the roll is referring to. It also makes the comparison of pleasant words to honey. In fact, Ezekiel chapters 2 and 3 have many comparisons to Revelation 10. Pleasant words are elsewhere compared to honey:

"How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" (Psa 119:103)
"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." (Rev 10:10)

The message was, at first pleasant but it didn't turn out as expected and was therefore bitter.

The book of Daniel was studied intently in the 1800s and it lead to a great reformation and revival. The Second Advent movement included many people who began to look with eager anticipation for the return of Jesus.

The Millerite movement (named for William Miller, a Baptist preacher) of the early 1840s settled on October 22, 1844 for the Second Coming. It is interesting that they settled on that date because they understood it to be the Day of Atonement (a Biblical feast day) that year. Here is what one writer connected with this early advent movement said about the experience:

J.N. Loughborough

"In the early part of the season some of our brethren in the north of New Hampshire had been so impressed with the belief that the Lord would come before another winter, that they did not cultivate their fields. About the middle of July ... others who had sown and planted their fields were so impressed with a sense of the Lord's immediate appearing, that they could not, consistently with their faith, harvest their crops. Some on going into their fields to cut their grass, found themselves entirely unable to proceed, and, conforming to their sense of duty, left their crops standing in the field, to show their faith by their works, and thus to condemn the world, This rapidly extended through the north of New England." (J. N. Loughborough, The Great Second Advent Movement, p158)

Obviously, they were disappointed; the Second Coming didn't happen.

"And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings." (Rev 10:11)

"Prophesy again" - about what? The sanctuary was a big part of their new understanding and was a major component of their post-disappointment message.

Perhaps the "prophesy again" was related to a later proclamation of the message of the seven thunders at an appropriate time, still future from now:

"And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not." (Rev 10:4)

Obviously, whatever the seven thunders uttered was not understood in 1844; their contents having been sealed in John's time. I doubt if they are understood even now, well over 150 years later.

Those in the advent movement of the mid-19th century had a tremendous religious experience aided, no doubt, by the urgency they felt from their expectation of the time of the Second Coming. Unfortunately for them, they misunderstood the timing. There is an experience yet to come to God's people as the event really does approach.

It could well be that what the seven thunders proclaimed will relate to the experience Of God's people in the last days as they give the three angel's messages that we will study in Revelation 14. While there will be a sweetness in their experience as they look forward to their Saviour's return, they will be doing their work amidst most bitter opposition.  

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The Greek has multiple words for forgiveness? God forgives (charizomai) whether we ask or not. Receiving forgiveness (apheimi) is by our choice.
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