Revelation 10 – Part 1

“I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire.” Revelation 10:1

Christian author John Eldredge notes three truths that surface in every good story, including God’s true story of creation and redemption: Things are not what they seem. This is a world at war. We have a crucial role to play.” 1

The book of Revelation depicts a captivating drama in which we can recognize each of the three parts of a great story. First, things are not what they seem. Although we live in the physical realm, an invisible world also exists, which influences our everyday lives. This spiritual world will become increasingly more “visible” in the future. Second, this is a world at war. Since Satan’s successful temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), the conflict has continued. Not only has it infected human history; it also will one day immerse the whole world in deception and destruction. This all leads us to the third element in the book of Revelation: We have a crucial role to play. This battlefield is no place for distant spectators. Our participation as members of God’s redeemed people is essential. 2

Like an intense thriller movie on TV, the book of Revelation has many intense scenes involving God’s defeat of evil leading to the ultimate victory of Christ and His people. Even as victors in Christ, we can be overwhelmed with the severity of God’s judgments in this book. And just as we look forward to commercial breaks amidst the intense scenes in a thriller movie to process what we have seen and prepare for what is next, so God provides interludes in the book of Revelation that give us an opportunity to pause and process what we have just seen and prepare for what is coming.

The first interlude between the sixth and seventh seals revealed God will save two groups of people during the first half of the Tribulation: The 144,000 Israelites alive on the earth (7:1-8), and a great multitude of people from all nations who will die during that time and be taken to heaven (7:9-17). In Revelation 10, a second interlude interrupts the sequence between the sixth and seventh trumpets. 3 The focus shifts, temporarily, from the outpouring of God’s wrath on unbelieving earth dwellers, to the consolation and encouragement of believers. 4

John records, “I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire.” (Revelation 10:1). In contrast to the demonic assault of the fifth and sixth trumpet judgments (9:1-21), John sees a powerful angel of God appear. Some suggest that this “mighty angel” is Jesus Christ. 5 But the evidence for his being simply “another” (Greek: allon = another of the same kind) “mighty angel” is more persuasive(cf. 10:5-6). 6

The appearance of this “mighty angel” makes the previous wicked angels look plain in comparison. This angel is “clothed with a cloud” because of his heavenly origin and his role as God’s messenger bearing a message of judgment (cf. 1:7; 14:14-16; Matthew 24:30; 26:24; Mark 13:26; 14:62; Luke 21:27). 7 “A rainbow was on his head,” signifying God’s faithfulness and mercy (cf. Genesis 9:12-17). Even amid God’s severe judgments, He will show mercy on those who believe the gospel (cf. Hebrews 8:12; Ephesians 2:4-5). 8 The angel’s “face was like the sun,” reflecting God’s glory, and “his feet like pillars of fire” is reminiscentof the pillar of fire manifested by God to protect and guide His people as they fled out of Egypt (Exodus 13:21; 14:19-24).  

2 He had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, 3 and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. When he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices.” (Revelation 10:2-3). This mighty angel “had a little book” or scroll “open in his hand.” The “little book” in the angel’s hand may be different from the scroll that Jesus Christ unrolled (cf. 5:1; 6:1). In contrast with the seven-sealed scroll (biblion) in the hand of the Lamb (5:1), John used a different, and rare, Greek word to describe this “little book” (biblaridion). The tense of the Greek verb translated “open” (ēneōgmenon) is perfect passive, and indicates that someone had already opened it, and it was already unrolled in his hand. It probably represents a new revelation from God (10:2a; cf. Ezekiel 2:9—3:3; Jeremiah 15:15-17). 9 The fact that this angel stood with one foot “on the sea” and one foot “on the land,” suggests that his authority and message apply to the whole world (10:2b).

Next the mighty angel “cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars” to overpower his prey (10:3a). The angel’s “loud voice” indicates that God is about to overpower His enemies. Following the loud voice, John hears the “seven thunders” utter their voices, which symbolize God’s voice (10:3b; cf. Job 37:2-5; 40:9; Psalm 29:1-9; John 12:28-29). Psalm 29 makes this very evident as it contains a seven-fold manifestation of God’s voice in relation to thunder (“The God of glory thunders… The voice of the Lord is powerful… full of majesty… shakes the wilderness…”, etc. – Psalm 29:1-9). What John seems to be saying in Revelation 10 is that God’s promise to bring judgment on sinful humankind will be brought to pass by His unlimited power. Thunder warns people that a violent storm is coming soon. 10

“Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.’” (Revelation 10:4). John was not allowed to write down the judgments which “the seven thunders” (God) revealed which means there are some judgments that would take place during the Tribulation that are not revealed in the Bible (cf. Deuteronomy 29:29).

5 The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his right hand to heaven 6 and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer. 7 but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.” (Revelation 10:5-7). The fact that “the angel” whom John saw took an oath (“raised up his right hand to heaven”) and “swore by” God as the eternal Creator (“Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven… the earth… the sea”) seems to confirm that he (the angel himself) is not God. Lifting the right hand toward God was and is a customary gesture when making a solemn oath (10:5-6a; cf. Genesis 14:22; Deuteronomy 32:40; Daniel 12:7). The little book must have been in the angel’s left hand. 11

Appealing to God as the eternal Creator (“by Him who lives forever ever and ever, who created heaven…the earth…the sea”) answers evolutionary speculation as to the origin of the earth. 12 As Creator God He has the power to bring to pass whatever He wants when He wants to emphasize the certainty “that there should be” no more delay in carrying out God’s plans (“the mystery of God”) which “He declared to His servants the prophets” (10:5b-7) concerning “the kingdoms of this world” becoming “the kingdoms of our Lord” Jesus Christ (11:15).   

Tony Evans writes, With the rapid pace at which descriptions of judgment have proceeded thus far, it may seem surprising that God’s messenger would say there has been a delay! Yet what has been delayed to this point is the full and final outpouring of God’s wrath. Through the judgment of the seven seals (6:1-17; 8:1-5) and the first six trumpets (8:6–9:21), God has been restraining his final judgment to allow continued opportunity for repentance. As Peter put it, the delay is not slowness but patience: ‘The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance’ (2 Pet 3:9).” 13

“When the seventh angel will blow his trumpet in 11:15, it will mark a shift to the end of the tribulation, when the seven bowls of God’s wrath will be poured out on the earth (16:1-21). At that point, the narrative truly will begin rushing toward the return of Jesus to set up His throne on earth. It might seem puzzling that John would announce a rush to the second coming when there are still twelve chapters remaining in Revelation. However, some of those chapters will rehash from a different perspective events already described. Thus far, God has revealed events to come. Beginning in chapter 11, He will focus on personalities involved in those events. These include the two witnesses, the Antichrist, and the false prophet.” 14

Walvoord explains that “the mystery of God” declared to the prophets is not a “reference…  to hidden truth but to the fulfillment of many Old Testament passages which refer to the glorious return of the Son of God and the establishment of His kingdom of righteousness and peace on the earth. While God’s purposes are not necessarily revealed in current events where Satan is allowed power and manifestation, the time will come when Satan no longer will be in power and the predictions of the Old Testament prophets will be fulfilled. Then all will know the Lord and the truth about Him (Jeremiah 31:34). Here again is evidence that the seventh trumpet introduces the seven bowl judgments of God’s wrath described in Revelation 16.” 15

Remember when the martyred Tribulation believers cried out, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:10)? The mighty angel of Revelation 10 loudly announces that God’s response to their prayers will soon come to an end without delay. 16

It is easy for us to avenge the wrongs that have been done to us and to those close to us. Throughout history Christians have endured intense persecution and suffering. The mighty angel reminds us that God will not delay His full and final judgment of rebellious humanity to avenge the wrongs done to His people. Instead of taking vengeance into our own hands, we are to release it to God so He can make things right in His time and way.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us understanding of Your prophetic Word. Thank You for this interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpet judgments expressing Your grace and mercy to those who have yet to believe in Christ for His gift of salvation. The fact that You have delayed the full and final outpouring of Your wrath upon rebellious earth-dwellers shows that You are not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance, that is, change their minds about whatever is keeping them from believing in Jesus, and then believe in Him so they can enter His future kingdom on earth. Every day that passes by is another expression of Your grace which gives underserving sinners on earth another opportunity to get right with You through faith in Jesus Christ. Father, thank You for Your patience toward us, Your sinful children. Please grant us abundant grace to proclaim Your gospel message to a lost world that is perishing without Jesus Christ. Please rescue the unsaved from the horrific judgments that will come upon the earth in the future and from their ultimate judgment in the lake of fire. Forgive us our sins and help us to forgive others, knowing that vengeance belongs to You. In Jesus’ mighty name, we pray. Amen.  

ENDNOTES:

1. Charles R. Swindoll, Insights on Revelation (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary Book 15, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2014 Kindle Edition), pp. 203-204 cites John Eldredge, Waking the Dead: The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive (Nashville: Nelson, 2003), pp. 26-34.

2. Adapted from Swindoll, pg. 204.

3. The last two paragraphs are adapted from Ibid.

4. Tom Constable, Notes on Revelation, 2017 Edition, pg. 118.

5. Ibid., cites William W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary Vol. 2 (Wheaton: Victor Books, Scripture Press, 1989), pg. 597 and Gregory K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text. The New International Greek Testament Commentary series (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., and Carlisle, England: Paternoster Press, 1999), pg. 522.

6. Ibid.

7. Bob Vacendak; Robert Wilkin; J. Bond; Gary Derickson; Brad Doskocil; Zane Hodges; Dwight Hunt; Shawn Leach. The Grace New Testament Commentary: Revised Edition (Grace Evangelical Society, Kindle Edition, 2019), pg. 1534; Constable, pg. 119.

8. Vacendak, pg. 1534.

9. Constable, pg. 119.

10. Vacendak, pg. 1535.

11. Constable, pg. 120.

12. John F. Walvoord, The Bible Knowledge Commentary Epistles and Prophecy, Editors John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, (David C Cook, 2018 Kindle Edition), pg. 164.

13. Tony Evans, CSB Bibles by Holman, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary (B & H Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2019), pg. 2391.

14. Ibid.

15. Walvoord, pg. 164.

16. Swindoll, pg. 206.

Revelation 8 – Part 2

“And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.” Revelation 8:2

Following the opening of the seventh seal resulting in silence in heaven for about half an hour (8:1), John describes what is happening around the throne of God (8:2-6), giving heaven’s perspective on the next series of judgments about to take place on the earth. In this introduction the prayers of the saints play a key role in the launch of the trumpet judgments. 1

And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.” (Revelation 8:2). The Lamb gives “seven trumpets” to “the seven angels who stand before God.” “The fact that these are angels’ trumpets distinguishes them from the trumpet of God (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16) and from other New Testament trumpets (Hebrews 12:19; Revelation 1:10; 4:1).” 2

The word “trumpets” (salpinges) “refers to an instrument of pronouncement, alarm, or call to arms. The New Testament never uses this term to identify a musical instrument. Instead, it refers to its military use, similar to a bugle used on a battlefield. In Revelation, as in several Old Testament passages (Isaiah 27:13; Joel 2:1), the trumpet announces the coming of the day of the Lord.” 3

In these verses, the “trumpets” are used to announce divine judgment(s) in the day of the Lord (cf. Zechariah 1:14-16). They declare war against rebellious mankind on the earth. 4 

To draw the eyes, ears, minds, and hearts of the world to God, heavenly angels will sound a series of trumpets—unmistakable signs of God’s power over the earth. For some the sounds serve as calls to redemption, but for most they will become terrifying reminders of wrath.” 5

“Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.” (Revelation 8:3). During these thirty minutes of reverent silence in heaven, “another angel” acting as priest approached the “altar” holding “a golden censer of incense.”  This saucer-shaped bowl was used in temple worship to hold burning incense, “an aromatic substance made of gums and spices.6

 “In the Old Testament tabernacle a censer made of copper, probably heavy to handle, was used to carry coals from the brazen altar outside the tabernacle to the altar of incense inside. Later, in the temple, Solomon used censers made of gold (1 Kings 7:50; 2 Chronicles 4:22).

“This offering in heaven corresponds to the custom of offering incense on the altar of incense in both the tabernacle and the temple. The censer would hold the coals, and a separate vessel would carry the incense which was to be poured on the coals once the altar was reached. The resulting smoke was typical of prayer ascending before God.” 7

This angel fills the role of priestly mediator like the Old Testament priest (cf. 2 Chronicles 26:18) and adds an element of sanctity and holiness that is pleasing to God (cf. Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25). He reveals that the impending trumpet judgments arise from God’s holy justice and are sent in response to the numerous prayers of godly people in all ages who have prayed for judgment and justice to come on the earth (cf. Matthew 6:10). 8

The offering of incense may also symbolize the earlier impatient prayers of the martyred saints from the Tribulation who cried out to God, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:10). Many of us have been taught that there are three possible answers from God in response to our prayers: “yes,” “no,” or “wait.” In this instance, we see that unanswered prayers are sometimes stored up until God chooses to answer them in His perfect timing and way. 9

“No saint’s prayer is forgotten, but has its effect in due season, in bringing in the Kingdom, that is, our Lord’s return!

“It is the answer at last to ‘Thy Kingdom come’ which the saints of all ages have prayed. No other answer could be given, inasmuch as earth has rejected the rightful King!” 10

Next John writes, “And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.” (Revelation 8:4). The fact that “the prayers of the saints” rise with sweet smelling “incense” suggests it is a pleasant experience for God to receive the prayers of His people. 11 Hence, God prepares to act on behalf of His peoples’ prayers for justice on the earth.

“Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.” (Revelation 8:5). The censer,” previously filled with prayer, is now “filled… with fire from the altar” and is cast to the earth. The ensuing “noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake” are reminiscent of how God manifested His power and presence at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:16-19; Psalm 68:8) and are a forewarning of how God will reveal His power and presence through the trumpet judgments. 12

The time has finally come for God to answer the desperate pleas for justice from His people throughout all the ages. I am reminded of what the Lord said in Deuteronomy 32:35-36: “’35 Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; their foot shall slip in due time; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things to come hasten upon them.’ 36 For the Lord will judge His people and have compassion on His servants, when He sees that their power is gone, and there is no one remaining, bond or free.”

“What a potent force is prayer! The saints go into their bedrooms, close the doors, kneel down, and pray. They spread out before God their petitions, and God hears. The prayers are placed in the scales of judgment.” 13

“So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.” (Revelation 8:6). It is now time for God’s trumpet judgments to begin. “In the heavenly order of things the greatest honour is to be ever ready to be sent on the service of God; and that is the honour these angels possessed.” 14

All the trumpet judgments proceed out of the seventh seal judgment (Revelation 8:1ff). When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, John saw not just one judgment but a whole new series of judgments. There is every reason to conclude that these will follow chronologically. 15

Although some view the seven seals, trumpets, and bowls as parallel and simultaneous, the fact that the seventh seal contains the seven trumpets indicates that the seven trumpets follow the seven seals and that the seven bowls in turn follow the seven trumpets. Also, since the judgments in each series are different and intensify as the Tribulation progresses, the succession view is best.” 16

The trumpet and bowl judgments are the ones that the angel from the east held back until the 144,000 servants of God were sealed on their foreheads (7:3). Therefore, they are more severe than the first six seal judgments. The purpose of these subsequent judgments is to lead hostile unbelievers to repentance, and to announce punitive judgments against hardened unbelievers—but few will repent (cf. Revelation 9:20-21). 17

The coming catastrophic judgments of God during the second half of the Tribulation period are in response to the prayers of God’s people who have prayed for Him to avenge their sufferings (8:1-6). Rather than take vengeance into our own hands when we have been wronged by others, it is best to forgive those who have hurt us and let the Lord deal with them in His time and in His way.

All of us have been hurt and wounded by others, especially those we trusted. From beginning to end, the Bible emphasizes the importance of forgiveness. God even commands us to forgive: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32).

Jesus taught us to pray, 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors… 14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:12, 14-15). Forgiveness is so important because it is connected to God’s forgiveness of us. I cannot enjoy fellowship or closeness with God the Father if I am not willing to forgive those who have hurt me. Being unforgiving connects us to our past hurts and makes it difficult to fully enjoy the blessings of our relationship with God and with other people in the present.

One of the ways we can know we have not forgiven someone is we keep rehearsing bitter and defensive thoughts toward those who have hurt us. We keep going “back to court” in our minds with all the things we wish we had said or want to say to them. 18 God invites us to release the hurt others have caused to us. Forgiveness requires the cancelling of a debt (cf. Matthew 18:21-35). Perhaps the person who has hurt us owes us an apology, justice, money, repentance, restoration, suffering, understanding, etc. God wants us to cancel the debt they owe us.

We may tell ourselves, “If I forgive them, they will get off the hook and there will never be any justice.” But the truth is, only God knows what is just. The Bible says, 17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:17-19). God wants us to do our part to get along with people and live at peace with them. But if they still hold on to a grudge or mistreat us, God says He will deal with them.

There have been many barbaric things done to believers in Jesus throughout the ages. Recently, “The Taliban has been going door to door looking for Christians to kill and unmarried women to take captive. Christians in Afghanistan fear the same genocidal persecution suffered by fellow Christians in Iraq and Syria.

“Christians are hiding in their homes in Afghanistan for fear of what the Taliban will do to them.” 19

Today’s verses remind us that the day is coming when God will respond to the pleas of His people for justice. The horrific trumpet judgments during the last half of the Tribulation will be God’s answer to His peoples’ cries.  

Prayer: Father God, what a privilege for us to see what is happening in Your throne room prior to the trumpet judgments on the earth. The fact that the prayers of the saints rise with sweet smelling incense tells us it is a pleasant experience for You to receive the prayers of Your people. Thank You for reminding us not to try to take vengeance into our own hands when we have been wronged by others. For You will respond one day to the accumulative pleas of Your people for justice. And You will repay those who have brought so much pain to Your people. It gives us peace to know that we can trust You to avenge the wrongs done to us. At the same time, Father, we are reminded that we need Your forgiveness because we have also wronged others. Please lead us to live balanced lives filled with Your grace and truth. Grace to forgive others and truth to remind us we also need forgiveness. In the name above all names, the Lord Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

ENDNOTES:

1. Bob Vacendak; Robert Wilkin; J. Bond; Gary Derickson; Brad Doskocil; Zane Hodges; Dwight Hunt; Shawn Leach. The Grace New Testament Commentary: Revised Edition (Grace Evangelical Society, Kindle Edition, 2019), pg. 1528.

2. John F. Walvoord, The Bible Knowledge Commentary Epistles and Prophecy, Editors John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, (David C Cook, 2018 Kindle Edition), pg. 164.

3. Charles R. Swindoll, Insights on Revelation, (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary Book 15, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2014 Kindle Edition), pg. 176.

4. Tom Constable, Notes on Revelation, 2017 Edition, pg. 105.

5. Swindoll, pg. 176.

6. Ibid., pg. 177 cites J. D. Douglas and Merrill C. Tenney, eds., The New International Dictionary of the Bible, pictorial ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987), pg. 465.

7. Walvoord, pg. 164

8. Vacendak, pg. 1528.

9. Swindoll, pg. 177.

10. Constable, pg. 105 cites William R. Newell, The Book of the Revelation (Chicago: Moody Press, 1935), pg. 121.

11. Tony Evans, CSB Bibles by Holman, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary (B & H Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2019), pg. 2386.

12. Vacendak, pg. 1528.

13. Swindoll, pg. 178 cites John Phillips, Exploring Revelation, rev. id. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1987), pg. 118.

14. Constable, pg. 106 cites William Barclay, The Revelation of John Vol. 2, The Daily Study Bible series, 2nd ed. (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 1964), pg. 50.

15. Ibid., cites Merrill C. Tenny, Interpreting Revelation (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1959), pg. 71 and George Eldon Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John, 1972 reprint ed. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1985), pg. 122.

16. Mark Hitchcock, The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2012 Kindle Edition), pg. 285.

17. Constable, pg. 106.

18. Michael Dye, The Genesis Process: For Change Groups Books 1 and 2 Individual Workbook (Michael Dye/Double Eagle Industries, 2012), pp. 123-124. 19. Retrieved from a November 22, 2021, email from American Center for Law and Justice’s Executive Director, Jordan Sekulow.