Read the Passage: Revelation 10
Reminder: The book of Revelation is structured around seven parallel sections, each describing the time between Jesus’ first and second comings. These sections can be delineated into chapters 1–3, 4–7, 8–11, 12–14, 15–16, 17–19, and 20–22.
Angel Revealed (10:1–3)
After the sounding of the first six trumpets in Rev. 8–9, we might expect John to describe the seventh and final trumpet in Rev. 10. Yet, just as was the case between the sixth and seventh seals (cf. Rev. 7:1–17), so here there is an interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpets. Indeed, the seals appear in John’s second narration of the story of history and the trumpets appear in John’s third re-telling of the cycle of history. Note that the corresponding interludes are additional evidence that the seals and the trumpets, and later the bowls, are parallel events, not consecutive. In Rev. 10:1–7 John describes seeing an angel, standing on the earth and waters, holding a little book, and crying out with seven thunders. This angel is actually meant to encourage John’s readers, as he conveys God’s sovereignty over the entire world, as well as over the future judgment of the wicked.
Observe that the “might angel” (Rev. 10:1) that John sees here is the second strong angel that John has seen (cf. Rev. 5:2). Furthermore, the description of this angel hints at the fact that this angel is, in all likelihood, the Angel of the Lord, who is Christ Himself. To elaborate, Scripture links various parts of the description of the mighty angel in this passage with God, including the angel being wrapped in clouds (cf. Dan. 7:13; Rev. 14:15–16), the presence of a rainbow on his head (cf. Ezek. 1:26–28; Rev. 4:3), the angel’s shining face (cf. Matt. 17:2; Rev. 1:16), and his feet being like fire (cf. Exod. 19:9–19; Rev. 1:15). Additionally, the power of this angel, which is alluded to in Rev. 10:2–3, 5 reveals his sovereign nature. Moreover, John notes that this angel has book, which as we’ll see below, is related—if not identical—to the book in Ezek. 2:9–3:3 and the scroll earlier described in Rev. 5:2–7.
Thunders Uttered (10:4–7)
Interestingly, when the angel speaks, John is prohibited from recording his words. This is similar to Daniel’s experience at Dan. 8:26; 12:4, 9, and is in contrast to John’s later experience at Rev. 22:10–11. The idea here seems to be that some aspects of God’s will are hidden and are not meant to be known. Indeed, God has not revealed all things to mankind, and He is under no obligation to do so. What God chooses to reveal, He does on His own timetable and for His own glory (cf. Rev. 22:10). Thus, the content of the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and the seven bowls is revealed in this book; however, the content of the seven thunders is concealed. While the content of the seven thunders is not recorded, we can note that thunder is often associated with judgment in Scripture (cf. 1 Sam. 7:10; Ps. 29:3; Isa. 29:6), which parallels the seals, the trumpets, and the bowls.
Message Revealed (10:8–11)
In Rev. 10:8–11 John is told to take the scroll from the angel and to eat it. John obeys, noting that the scroll was sweet, but made his stomach bitter. This harkens back to the experience of Ezekiel. In Ezek. 2:9–3:3 we read, “And when I looked, behold, a hand was stretched out to me, and behold, a scroll of a book was in it. . . . So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. . . . Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey.” The scroll represents the Word of God. Recall the words of the psalmist, “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Ps. 119:103). The idea communicated here is that John must internalize the gospel message and spread it. Indeed, the gospel is sweet to the one who accepts it; yet, oftentimes the sharing of the gospel is accompanied by suffering and persecution, for it is rejected by many.
Many times during His ministry, with John present, Jesus taught that the gospel ministry will result in persecution. For example, at John 5:20 we read Jesus’ exhortation to His hearers, “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.” Recall that as John received the message recording in the Book of Revelation, he was writing from exile in Patmos. John certainly needed no reminder about the cost of following Jesus, yet the message here would likely have been a great encouragement to him. All followers of Jesus need to be reminded that Christ’s call is not to cast off your cross and to follow Him; rather, Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).
- How frequent are angelic visitations in Scripture? What are some commonalities between various appearances of angels in the Bible?
- Why do some Christians bristle at the teaching of God’s sovereignty? Does the idea of God’s sovereignty concern or comfort you?
- Do you trust God enough to follow Him even if He keeps his purposes from you? What is the difference between God’s sovereign will and His moral will?
- Are you ever tempted to measure the success of your ministry by visible signs such as the acceptance of the gospel?
- What does it mean to take up your cross daily? What has it cost you to follow Jesus?