Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Mighty Angel

1 Then I (John) saw another mighty (strong) angel coming down from heaven, surrounded (wrapped) by a cloud, with a rainbow over his head. His face shone like the sun, and his feet (legs) were like pillars of fire. 2 And in his hand was a small scroll that had been opened. He stood with his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land. 3 And he gave a great shout like the roar of a lion. And when he shouted, the seven thunders answered. 4 When the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write. But I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Keep secret (seal) what the seven thunders said, and do not write it down.”

5 Then the angel I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand toward heaven. 6 He swore an oath in the Name of the One who lives forever and ever, who created the heavens and everything in them, the earth and everything in it, and the sea and everything in it. He said, “There will be no more delay. 7 When the seventh angel blows his trumpet, God’s mysterious plan will be fulfilled. It will happen just as He announced it to His servants the prophets.”

8 Then the voice from heaven spoke to me (John) again: “Go and take the open scroll from the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.” 9 So I went to the angel and told him to give me the small scroll. “Yes, take it and eat it,” he said. “It will be sweet as honey in your mouth, but it will turn sour in your stomach!” 10 So I took the small scroll from the hand of the angel, and I ate it! It was sweet in my mouth, but when I swallowed it, it turned sour in my stomach. 11 Then I was told, “You must prophesy (proclaim) again about many peoples, nations, languages, and kings. Revelation 10:1-11 (NLT)

Revelation chapter 10 is approximately the midpoint of John’s great vision of the future. As a review, Revelation chapters 6 through 19 describe three series of judgments: seven seals (chapter 6), seven trumpets (chapters 8 and 9), and seven bowls (chapters 15-16). In Revelation chapters 8 and 9, John revealed the second series of God’s judgments with the trumpet judgments and God’s six disastrous events with six trumpet judgments. In chapter 10, readers are expecting God’s seventh trumpet to sound. Instead, Revelation 10 along with chapters 11 through 14 provides the second interlude or interruption in John’s great revelation (unveiling or apocalypse) of the future. Revelation chapter 7 was the first interlude between the sixth and seventh seal judgments, and this first interlude contained two interrelated visions of the church triumphant. There will be no additional interlude with the final seven bowl judgments (the final series to come).

In the second interlude, John saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven (Revelation 10:1). John had previously seen and heard a mighty angel in his throne room vision at Revelation 5 (see Revelation 5:2). A cloud and a rainbow surrounded this mighty angel (Revelation 10:1). Moreover, this angel’s face shone like the sun, and his legs and feet flashed with fire (Revelation 10:1). The mighty angel held open in his hand a small scroll – not the scroll of destiny from Revelation 5 (Revelation 10:2; see also Revelation 5:1-14). This angel was so mighty that he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the earth, indicating that his words and authority deal with all the earth – land and sea (Revelation 10:2). The mighty angel gave a great shout that sounded like the roar of a lion and seven thunders crashed their response to the angel’s loud shout (Revelation 10:3).

Some biblical commentaries have taken the mighty angel to be either God or Jesus Christ. Like God on His throne, the mighty angel is surrounded by a rainbow (Revelation 10:1; see also Revelation 4:3). Similar to God and the Son of Man, this mighty angel came with a cloud, and his face shined like the sun (Revelation 10:1; see also e.g., Exodus 16:10; Exodus 19:9; Psalm 104:3; Revelation 1:7, 16). The mighty angel’s legs and feet flashed with fire similar to the glory of God’s presence in the wilderness and Jesus’ feet (Revelation 10:1; see also Revelation 1:15; Exodus 13:21-22; Exodus 14:24). Moreover, the angel’s voice called out like a roaring lion similar to the Lion of Judah (Revelation 10:3; see also Revelation 5:5). However, most biblical scholars reject the mighty angel as either God or Jesus. Since Revelation 1:1 describes an angel sent by Jesus Christ to deliver God’s revelation to John, many biblical commentaries see this mighty angel as simply “another” great angel coming from the very presence of God. 

As mentioned previously, when the mighty angel called out with a loud shout, seven thunders sounded (Revelation 10:3-4). John was about to write down what the thunders said, but he heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down” (Revelation 10:4, ESV). The book of Revelation does not reveal why the heavenly voice forbids John to write what the seven thunders said. Revelation is otherwise an “unsealed” book for the world to hear and know (see Revelation 1:3, 11, 19; Revelation 22:10). Nevertheless, the instruction to seal up what the thunders said was also given to the Prophet Daniel (see Daniel 8:26; Daniel 12:4, 9) and the Apostle Paul (see 2 Corinthians 12:4).

Then, the mighty angel lifted his right hand to heaven and swore by God who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and everything in it and the earth and all that it contains and the sea and its inhabitants, that there should be no more delay (Revelation 10:5-6). The mighty angel declared that when the seventh angel blew his trumpet, then God’s great and mysterious plan originally announced to His servants the prophets will finally be fulfilled (Revelation 10:7).

Then, John heard the voice from heaven speak to him once again saying, “Go and get the unrolled scroll from the mighty angel standing there upon the sea and land” (Revelation 10:8, TLB). The scroll was a special message from God to John. John approached the mighty angel and asked the angel to give him the scroll (Revelation 10:9). The mighty angel said to John, “Take and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey” (Revelation 10:9, ESV). John took the scroll from the mighty angel’s hand, and ate the scroll (Revelation 10:10). Just as the mighty angel had previously said, the scroll was sweet in his mouth, but the scroll gave John a stomachache when he swallowed the scroll (Revelation 10:10). This scene reminds God’s people that the Word of God contains sweet promises but also contains bitter warnings and prophecies of judgment. Faithful believers of God will declare all of God’s Word (Acts 20:27) and not weaken the message of God simply to please people (2 Timothy 4:1-5).

Importantly, many biblical scholars see in Revelation chapter 10 the renewing of John’s call to be God’s prophet. Similar to the Prophet Ezekiel’s call experience in Ezekiel chapters 2 and 3, God renewed John’s call to be His prophet. John eating the scroll meant to incorporate God’s Word as part of John’s inner being (see also Jeremiah 15:16; Ezekiel 2:8-3:3). The angel’s directions to John should remind God’s people of our responsibility to embrace the Word of God and make God’s Word part of our inner being. In other words, God’s people must not just read the Holy Scriptures but receive God’s Word as a living part of our whole hearts! God’s Word is bread (Matthew 4:4), milk (1 Peter 2:2), meat (1 Corinthians 3:1-2), and honey (Psalm 119:103).

Then, the mighty angel told John, “You must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and languages and kings” (Revelation 10:11, ESV). The mighty angel ordered (commissioned) John to prophesy once again because his work was not yet completed. John must continue to declare God’s Word to the peoples, nations, tongues, and kings (see Revelation 5:9).

ESV Study Bible, English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).
Loyd, Melton, Ph.D., Senior Professor of the New Testament (Due West, SC: Erskine Theological Seminary, 2016).
Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary –New Testament (Victor Books, 1989).

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