Thunder Was Heard But We’re Not Told One Word…And a Sweet Scroll Made Bitter
Revelation Ten, a Waltz:
“Then I saw another mighty angel
coming down from heaven,
wrapped in a cloud,
with a rainbow over his head,
and his face was like the sun,
and a his legs like pillars of fire.
He had a little scroll open in his hand.
And he set his right foot on the sea,
and his left foot on the land,
and called out with a loud voice,
like a lion roaring.
When he called out,
the seven thunders sounded.
And when the seven thunders had sounded,
I was about to write,
but I heard a voice from heaven saying,
“Seal up what the seven thunders have said,
and do not write it down.”
And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea
and on the land
raised his right hand to heaven
and swore by him who lives forever and ever,
who created heaven and what is in it,
the earth and what is in it,
and the sea and what is in it,
that there would be no more delay,
but that in the days of the trumpet call
to be sounded by the seventh angel,
the mystery of God would be fulfilled,
just as he announced to his servants the prophets.
Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me again,
saying, “Go, take the scroll
that is open in the hand of the angel
who is standing on the sea
and on the land.”
So I went to the angel
and told him to give me the little scroll.
And he said to me,
“Take and eat it;
it will make your stomach bitter,
but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.”
And I took the little scroll
from the hand of the angel
and ate it.
It was sweet as honey in my mouth,
but when I had eaten it
my stomach was made bitter.
And I was told,
“You must again prophesy
about many peoples
Conjecture can be poison, but I cannot help myself. I am assuming that the apostle John was depressed after the revelation of chapters 8-9. We know he was depressed in chapter 5, verse 5, do we not? Remember he began to “weep greatly,” because no one was found worthy to open the scroll. This is not conjecture, the text emphatically explains this. Yet no such testimony is given after chapter 9. While in the spirit though, John tells us that he wept when no one was found worthy to open the scroll. We have to assume that God had intended him to weep, based on how God revealed these things to him. But then something wonderful happens–John is comforted–he is told to stop weeping. Jesus is worthy to open the scroll.
In the same way, the revelations contained in chapters 8-9 are depressing. 1/3 of mankind is killed but still the rest do not repent. Now don’t get me wrong, John was a superstar–yet a brother in tribulation–hand picked by the Lord to have this revelation, and we know he was in the spirit. However, he was still a human being–this news appears devestating because it is. I believe John was on a rollercoaster of emotions and was intended to be; like the early church; like us. Aside from John’s testimony, the context also suggests this. Let’s review: Seven seals are being open, the first of which releases 4 horsemen bringing conquest, wars, famine and death. Then the fifth seal reveals those martyred for Christ. The sixth seal reveals kings and commoners attempting to hide from the wrath of the lamb. They ask the question, “who can stand?” It is all very depressing but then there is an interlude in the action and John is comforted by the sight of the multitudes of people from every tongue, tribe and nation, worshiping in heaven.
But then thunder, lightning and earthquakes resume. And at the opening of the seventh seal, seven angels with seven trumpets are revealed as God is turning up the proverbial heat. At the sounding of the trumpets, a third of the grass is burned, people are killed, waters are made bitter and Satan and his angels are released. By the sixth trumpet’s sounding, three woes are revealed, Satan, death and destruction follow. Woe to say the least; it’s depressing. John was depressed, I am depressed, the first century church was depressed–it’s only natural. In fact, I argue that it is supernatural. Again notice the context. After the sixth trumpet’s sounding there is another, comforting interlude; that is chapter 10.
John saw another (literally, another of the same type, so most likely not Jesus himself) strong angel coming from heaven. Let’s look closely at the description:
- Surrounded by a cloud
- Rainbow above his head
- Face shining like the sun
- Legs like pillars of fire
- Holding a little scroll
It definitely sounds like Jesus and I think that is exactly the intent–more on this later. I do not believe that this is Jesus himself–the description is close but the wording is wrong, the timing is wrong (seventh trumpet hasn’t sounded, the last woe hasn’t come to pass, etc.), and most importantly, Jesus isn’t referred to in this way in the rest of Revelation. Remember how Moses’s face had shone like the sun after he was in the presence of God? Remember Gabriel in Luke 2 stated, “I stand in the presence of God?” I am refraining from further conjecture–assuming that this is Gabriel, but it is possible. Whomever the angel is, he came from heaven and we would assume he would reflect Christ’s glory. Again, more on this later.
We now must zoom in on what the strong angel does–he stands with one foot on the sea and one on the land, with a little scroll in his hand. I absolutely love this and hope you do as well; first, what does angel literally mean? Correct; it means messenger. The messenger comes with two messages. The first is contained within the little scroll and the second contained in his lion like voice. Problem: when he speaks, the thunders sound but John is told not to record what he heard–and that leaves us frustrated. Be honest, you deeply desire to know what John heard. However, that revelation was intended for John, and only John. We are not to know–we can’t even guess. If someone tells you that they’ve figured it out, run. Yes, this text is meant for comfort and it does, but the specific revelation John heard, but is told not to write, was only for him. He records that it happens to let the reader know that while God has revealed much, he hasn’t revealed it all. Yet the strong angel’s actions reveal the great power, sovereignty and comfort of God.
In chapter 9 we see Satan, four angels and a huge army waging war on the unbelievers–evil swallows up evil. It is depressing. Nevertheless, in chapter 10 we see a mighty angel from heaven, standing on the land and the sea. God is showing us his sovereignty. A created being of his, stands on the land and the sea, demonstrating that it is God who is in control. He created the land and the sea and everything in them. The angel is strong and is like the fallen angels in that he was created by God but the context tells us that he is powerful and faithful. He has been in God’s presence and therefore is a reflection of him. The other fallen angels have been cast out and are not described in the same way, they reflect evil. The contex is clear though, God still has authority over them, demonstrated by the single, strong angel who stands on the earth, clothed with heaven.
That’s comforting. In the same way, it is comforting to us that the strong, cloud clothed, rainbow surrounded, face shining, legs blazing, scroll carrying, lion voiced angel, “raised his right hand to heaven and swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it, that there would be no further delay.” Again, I believe this to be an angel, not Jesus because he swears by Jesus. The truly exciting and comforting thought is this: the strong angel is described in a way that the fallen angels are not. Powerful, feet of fire, voice like a lion–it appears that the faithful angel is stronger than the devil–how much more so is the Creator? Chapter 10 is perfectly placed to remind us that God is in total control. He comforts John and to a lesser degree, us–remember John was given more information the we are given.
Honestly, we should be sobered by this. One may well say that we lack information to know all of God’s plan. That is very true–we’re not supposed to know and that is made clear to us. I’ll use one example; date setters. If we’re missing the revelation from the strong angel, that sounded like a loud lion roaring, that caused seven thunders, how could one possibly know the date, or even the decade? Many have tried and failed, that alone should be enough for us to dismiss every word they’ve spoken. They clearly do not understand the context of Revelation nor the concepts. Turn off TBN.
The angel had a little scroll, and similar to Ezekiel, John was told by Jesus in heaven, to take the scroll from the angel and eat it–message number 2. Does the scroll represent the book of Revelation? I think it represents the entire Biblical account. It’s why we see a similar situation in Ezekiel. Certainly though, it does remind one of the prophecies especially–sweet in the mouth but bitter in the stomach. In fact, it reminds of Revelation 8-10. John is also told he must continue to be a prophet. I believe this is the point of the entire interlude. That the message, while bitter and difficult, is also sweet and comforting.
Chapter 10 is a very important chapter. Mostly because it provides desperately needed comfort. It shows God’s absolute sovereignty and kindness. Yet it also serves to shut up those who prophesized falsely, setting dates, claiming to have eternal insight into the second coming. If nothing else, let’s be comforted knowing God is in control and date setters are not. We need to stop buying their books and donating to their cause…money.