Revelation Chapter 10: the little book or scroll, the "mighty angel," and the seven thunders - parenthetical details revealed between the events of the second and third woes.
Chapter 10 provides an intermission after the description of the events of sixth trumpet (the second woe) to give us more details about what is happening during the execution of the Lord’s judgments on Earth and what it all means. It presents the transition from the last half of the seven years, which includes the Great Tribulation of the Saints and the execution of the trumpet judgments of Yehovah ("the LORD"), to the events at the end of the seven years, which include the sounding of the seventh trumpet, the celebration in Heaven of the reign of Satan and his incarnation, the anti-messiah, being replaced by the reign of Yehovah and His incarnation, the true Messiah Yeshua, over the “kingdoms of this world,” followed by the pouring out of the bowls of wrath on the enemies of Adonai ("the Lord") and His people (the third woe). In other words, the purpose of Chapter 10 is to alert the reader that the events that follow the sounding of the seventh trumpet are categorically and significantly different than the events that precede the sounding of the seventh trumpet.
10:1 I saw still (a) another mighty angel (b) coming down from heaven, (c) clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire.
a. This is the second of three “mighty” angels who appear in Revelation. The first was at 5:2 and the third will be at 18:21. Each has a significant role to play in the events of the Final Seven Years: the first, drawing attention to the One who was worthy to open the sealed book (scroll); the second (this angel), setting the stage for the sounding of the seventh trumpet and the final plagues of the judgments of Yehovah; and the third, executing the final destruction of modern, prophesied Babylon.
b. The appearance of this angel is similar to the that of the awesome angel who appeared to Daniel (Daniel 10:5-8) and who told Daniel to seal the book of prophecy until “the time of the end” (Daniel 12:4). His appearance, including coming clothed in a cloud (in this vision, John is on the earth), is also very similar to that of the One like the Son of Man (the Messiah) here in the Revelation (1:13-15). So, it would seem that this angel is a direct representative of Adonai Yehovah in giving to John some important details of the Revelation.
10:2-7 He had (a) a little book open in his hand. And he set (b) his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and cried with (c) a loud voice, as when a lion roars. When he cried out, (d) seven thunders uttered their voices. Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard (e) a voice from heaven saying to me, "Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them." The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land (f) raised up his hand to heaven 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, (g) that there should be delay no longer, but (h) in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of [Yehovah] would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.
a. This is a book or scroll smaller than the one which reveals the events of the six seals and the trumpet judgments of God (5:1). It is already open. Perhaps the size of the scroll indicates that it contains fewer events or events that occupy a shorter period of time than the events that precede the blowing of the seventh trumpet.
b. The planting of one foot on the sea and the other on the land may indicate that the implications of what the angel is about to reveal will affect all the people of the world (the events of the six seals and the trumpet judgments will result in the death of about two-thirds of Earth’s inhabitants). The sea may represent the tumultuous, pagan people of the world, as in 13:1 and 17:15, and the earth may represent organized religion (which seems to be the implication of “earth” in 13:11). Also, the Greek for “earth” (ge) is translated “land,” as in the “land of Israel” (Matthew 2:20). Organized religion would include Christianity and Judaism.
c. If the angel represents Yeshua, the Lion of Judah (5:5), then what he utters is the roar of the Lord.
d. As also is mentioned in 4:5, 8:5, 11:19, 16:18, and 19:6, thunder appears to be associated with the power of Yehovah. Here, the seven thunders seem to represent the awesome power of the Wrath of the Elohim ("God") in executing His perfect, complete judgment of the world.
e. As though the angel is overridden, John is commanded from Heaven not to write—to seal up—the utterances of the seven thunders, apparently indicating that they portend the terrible “last plagues” of the wrath of Elohim (15:1), the details of which are not yet ready to be revealed (note the nowhere are the trumpet judgments called plagues of the wrath of Elohim).
f. The angel, apparently in response to the voice from Heaven, with the little book in one hand, raises the other hand toward Heaven and utters a binding oath . . .
g. That there will be no more delay in the execution of the (final) plagues of the wrath of Elohim (the bowls of wrath). This may be a response to the cry of the martyrs under the altar: “How long, O [Yehovah], holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth” (6:10).
h. The KJV and NKJV translations of this sentence are not clear and complete. The Greek word (euallegizo) translated “declared” means “to bring good news or glad tidings.” A better translation of the statement might be: “The hidden plan [revealed only to those who have “eyes that see and ears that hear”] of [Yehovah], the Good News that was communicated to the prophets, is to be brought to completion as soon as the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet.” This statement makes it clear that there is something special about the seventh trumpet judgment. It announces the events of the seven bowls of wrath in which the “hidden plan” of Yehovah (to destroy this evil, corrupt world so that His Creation may be restored to its original state under the reign of the true Messiah—“the restoration of all things”—Acts 3:21) is “brought to completion.” The seven bowls which contain the “last plagues of [or comprising] the Wrath of [Elohim]” (15:1), are poured out after the sounding of the seventh trumpet, completing His plan to destroy this present world and its evil inhabitants (cf. 16:17-21), the anticipation of which prompts worship in Heaven “of our [Adonai] and of His [Messiah]” for bringing His plan to completion (cf. 11:15-19). The Day of Yehovah ("the LORD"), including His Wrath, which will occur after sounding of the seventh trumpet, is explicitly foretold many times in the Old Covenant Scriptures (Isaiah 2:12; Jeremiah 46:10; Joel 2:1; Amos 5:18; Obadiah 1:15; Zephaniah 1:14; Zechariah 14:1; Malachi 4:5 [one example from each of these prophets; there are many others]) and mentioned several times in the New Covenant Scriptures (Acts 2:20; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 1:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10).
10:8-11 Then (a) the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, "Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth." So I went to the angel and said to him, "Give me the little book." And he said to me, (b) "Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth." Then I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter. And he said to me, (c) "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings."
a. Some have suggested that, because of his appearance, the “angel” is the Messiah, but this passage clearly indicates otherwise: John obeys the voice from Heaven and tells the angel to give him the book. The angel is subservient to both the One who speaks from Heaven and to John. He is just a representative and a messenger of Yehovah (The literal meaning of the Greek word for angel, aggelos, is “messenger.”)
b. John was told to eat the book - to consume its contents, which were apparently the revelation of the seven thunders, and was told that those contents would initially taste sweet but would then become bitter, which, when he ate the book, he discovered was true.
c. In the context, the contents of the book appear to be a revelation of the final plagues of the Day and the Wrath of Elohim still to come after the parenthetical details of Chapters 11-14 are revealed, the seventh trumpet has sounded, and “the mystery of [Yehovah] is finished” (10:7). The Day of Yehovah is sweet news to the Redeemed but bitter to those who are perishing. And John is told that he must prophesy again about the people of this world. So, the contents of the seven thunders and of the little book reveal the plagues of the Wrath of Elohim that are poured out after the seventh trumpet has sounded, the carnage of “Armageddon,” the terror of the Great White Throne Judgment, or all three. They may also, in the same way that the sweetness and bitterness of the contents of the scroll that Ezekiel ate foretold the destruction of Jerusalem (cf. Ezekiel 2:9-3:3; 4:1-3), refer to the destruction of Jerusalem which, at the end of the Final Seven Years, will become, spiritually, like Sodom and Egypt (cf. 11:8, 13; 16:19).
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Common English translations of Hebrew and Messianic terms used in this commentary:
Yehovah - the LORD or GOD
Yah - I Am (the short form of Yehovah)
Elohim - God
El - God (the short form of Elohim)
Adonai - my Lord or Master
Yeshua - Jesus
Followers of Yeshua -
Messiah - Christ
Assembly of Followers of
Yeshua - the Church
Antimessiah - Antichrist
BBM - Before the Birth of
the Messiah (rather than
BC or BCE)
ABM - After the Birth of the Messiah (rather than AD
For a complete explanation of Hebrew terms used, go to Important Terms and Concepts.
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