Then I saw another mighty angel….~REVELATION 10:1
We come to our next interlude. And like the chapter 7 interlude which came after the sixth seal was opened and before the seventh, this one comes after the sixth trumpet is blown and before the seventh trumpet. And also like the chapter 7 interlude, this one is a two-parter, with chapter 10 being the first part, and 11:1-13 being the second part.
Let’s dig in to chapter 10.
John sees another strong or mighty angel come down from heaven. This is no ordinary angel, as you can clearly detect from the description in the first few verses (in picture form above). The description vividly matches that of none other than the risen Christ Himself. I agree with the interpreters who say that what we have here is “angelomorphic Christology”. How fun is that to say?? The point is not that the risen Christ was an angel and thus created, but rather to associate the risen Christ with the Angel of Yahweh who is God. The Angel of Yahweh visited people in the OT and was the form God took during those visitations. [for example: Exodus 3:1-6]
This “mighty angel” is holding a small open scroll in His left hand which is most likely the scroll from chapter 5 which had those seven seals ripped off and is, therefore, open. The angel figure having his right foot on the sea, and his left on the land connotes sovereignty over all of creation, another reminder that God is ultimately in control of everything.
When he shouted, the seven thunders answered with their own voices. (v.3) The seven thunders could be the very voice of God, with an allusion to Psalm 29–which is a very cool Psalm. Or they could be powerful, heavenly beings.
Just as John is about to write down what the thunders say, he is told by a voice from heaven to seal up what they said and to not write it down. Most say that they were probably uttering another round of sevenfold judgments to come, parallel to the sets of seven seals, trumpets, and bowls, but not to be revealed. This would be in keeping with the four sets of seven judgments of Leviticus 26 that God says He will send against His people if they disobey Him. As one scholar puts it, “The command to seal up what they said interrupts the movement toward increasingly devastating judgments, showing that they represent threats that are not to be carried out.”
Then the angel whom I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right toward heaven and swore an oath by the One who lives forever and ever…(v.5) This is a very direct allusion to Daniel 12:7, some of it pretty much verbatim, where Daniel is referring to “the man clothed in linen.” And what was the oath? That there would be no more time (v.6), or literally “time shall be no longer.” Everything (history and God’s mystery) will be “completed” or “finished”.
Here’s some of professor of New Testament G.K. Beale’s great words on God’s mystery being completed in verse 7: “When the seventh angel sounds his trumpet, the prophecy of Dan. 11:29-12:13 will be fulfilled and history will come to an end…The fulfillment of the prophesied gospel is occurring, and will continue to occur, in a mysterious and unexpected manner from the human perspective….This mystery is that of the cross…John is told that the “latter days” prophecies to Daniel have now begun, and that this has been set in motion through the ‘mysterious’ manner of Christ’s death and resurrection. That is, the prophecy of God’s defeat of the evil kingdom is being ironically fulfilled by this evil kingdom’s apparent physical victory over Christ and the saints.”
The voice from heaven speaks to John again, telling him to go take the scroll from the angel’s hand. So he goes up to the risen Christ in angel form who also tells him to “take it.” This shows us that God’s revelation is not forced on anyone, but must be taken. Then he tells John to eat it, and it tastes like sweet honey in his mouth, but felt bitter in his stomach, just as the angel had promised (and just as Ezekiel was told by God to eat a scroll and it was sweet as honey in Ezekiel 2:8-3:3). The eating of the scroll indicates complete identification with it, ingesting it into your very life and being. It is sweet because it is God’s word, and a privilege to be His messenger. It is bitter from unrepentant response and the judgment it foretells.
Now that John has digested the contents of the scroll, he must now make its contents known to others. This is his recommissioning from the Angel of Christ to prophecy again about many peoples, nations, languages, and kingdoms (v.11). The verb “Prophecy” does not refer only to predicting future events, but also to providing God’s revealed perspective on what is happening in the present.
This RIPPLE has been more along the lines of a traditional Bible study, so I’d like to leave you with one of the very excellent “suggestions for reflection” which Beale provides at the end of each section of his commentary:
On the divinity of Christ. As presented here (10:1-6) and in many other places in the book, the divinity of Christ is a major and consistent theme in Revelation. The divine angel of the Lord, identified often in the OT with Yahweh, is here also identified with Christ, for which idea the commentary provides much support. Has a shallow reading of Revelation, with a focus on misguided eschatology, drawn us away from its presentation of the exalted Christ? What has drawn us to focus on (often poorly understood) eschatological timelines and miss the heart of the book, which is the glory of God and of Christ?