CHAPTER TEN is a parenthesis between the sixth and seventh trumpets. As with the opening of the seventh seal, a delay of two scenes takes place before the blowing of the seventh trumpet. This chapter is a precursor to the last three and one-half years of the Tribulation Period—the most awful holocaust of terror, suffering, violence, and catastrophe the world will ever see (Matthew 24:21).
Chapter ten echoes Daniel 12:7-12 and Ezekiel 1-3. Here God’s sovereign control over the events serves to encourage and comfort His people in the midst of demonic trepidation. This chapter contains an unusual angel, act, answer, announcement, and assignment.
ANOTHER MIGHTY ANGEL (10:1-3). If the angel of chapter five is Gabriel, then this angel could be Michael, whose name means “like God.” This could explain some of his characteristics. Both Gabriel and Michael appear in Daniel’s prophecy. The sevenfold description of this angel might indicate he is an envoy of Christ or Christ Himself (cf. Daniel 10:5-7; Revelation 1:12-16):
1. He was robed in a cloud = glory or chariots of God (Psalm 104:3)
2. With a rainbow above his head = God’s covenant faithfulness
3. His face was like the sun = righteousness (Revelation 1:6)
4. His legs were like fiery pillars = judgment (Revelation 1:15).
5. His voice as a lion roaring = the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5) or Christ ready to devour His prey (Isaiah 31:4-5; Jeremiah 25:29-36; Hosea 11:10-11; Joel 3:16; Amos 3:8)
6. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land = message for the whole world
7. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke = undisclosed judgments.
It appears that God’s presence, authority and power are being pictured by this mighty angel. The adjective “another” (allon) could imply one of the same kind; that is a created being. On the other hand, this book also reveals the person of Jesus Christ. Jehovah Witnesses erroneously teach that Jesus Christ is the Archangel Michael. Most Historicists, Preterists, Idealists and Futurists hold this mighty angel is Jesus Christ. Christ will come in the clouds (Revelation 1:7) as He ascended hidden by a cloud (Acts 1:9). Significantly, God makes the clouds His chariot and rides on the wings of the wind (Psalm 104:3).
A LITTLE SCROLL (10:2) is the seven-sealed scroll (Title Deed to the Earth) the Lamb received from God the Father in Revelation 5. The fact that it lays open in His hand shows the seven seals have been broken. Some hold this little scroll is the Book of Revelation or the Bible, while others think it is the OT prophecies.
VOICES OF THE SEVEN THUNDERS (10:3-4) are interpreted by historicists as the seven crusades or seven wars between the Reformation and the sounding of the seventh trumpet at the French Revolution. The sealing up of prophecy is an unusual act for this Apocalypse (cf. Revelation 22:10). Christ directs John concerning what to write and not to write (cf. Revelation 1:11, 19; 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 12, 14; 10:4; 14:13-14; 19:9; 21:5).
STANDING ON THE SEA AND ON THE LAND (10:5) since the prophecies relate to both land and sea.
RAISED HIS RIGHT HAND TO HEAVEN (10:5) signifies an oath or a solemn vow (cf. Daniel 12:7). The patriarch employed similar language:
But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath (Genesis 14:22).
However, Jesus taught that humans should avoid such language in Matthew 5:34-35:
But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.
Here the announcement is based on the authority of God’s promise.
THERE WILL BE NO MORE DELAY (10:6) signifies that the time the disciples visualized has come (Matthew 24:2; Acts 1:6); the martyrs’ blood shall be avenged (Revelation 6:9-11); and the end has come (Daniel 12:1). Historicists hold this is the last opportunity for the papal church to return to God before coming under His judgment.
THE MYSTERY OF GOD (10:7). Mystery denotes a hidden or secret thing, purpose or counsel, not obvious to the understanding that is made known. Here the secret counsels of God are revealed concerning the circumstances surrounding the end of Satan’s rule on earth and the establishment of Christ’s kingdom.
My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:2-3).
Jesus taught His disciples:
The knowledge of the secrets [mysteries] of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them (Matthew 13:11; cf. Amos 3:7; Ephesians 3:7-13; Romans 11:25-32).
God’s purposes in Christ will be accomplished, just as He announced to His servants the prophets. The kingdom described and prophesied throughout the OT is a literal earthly kingdom. The Jews had their eyes so filled with the picture of the literal kingdom that they rejected Jesus Christ because His spiritual kingdom did not fit into their idea. The kingdom of heaven/God is a present, spiritual reality (Romans 14:7) experienced by new birth (John 3:3), yet the future literal kingdom of the world over which Christ will reign (Revelation 11:15).
Preterists believe “the mystery of God” refers to the predominantly Jewish nature of the Church that ended with the destruction of the Temple.
Idealists only see this mystery as the spiritual kingdom in Christ (Colossians 2:2; Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:3-6).
THE MYSTERY OF GOD FINISHED (10:2). “But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then is finished the mystery of God” is a literal translation of the Greek. It is not a sharp piercing cry, but a long drawn out judgment. In the days of the seventh trumpet, Satan, filled with fury, will wreak havoc on the earth and sea (Revelation 12:12), until he is seized and bound (Revelation 20:1-3). His capture will occur when Christ comes and overthrows the kings and nations of this world (Revelation 16:16-21 19:17-21; cf. Romans 16:25-26).
THE LITTLE SCROLL—TAKE IT AND EAT IT (10:9-11) illustrates the consumption (assimilate and appropriate the contents) of God’s Word prior to its proclamation as seen with the prophet Ezekiel.
And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. He then said to me: “Son of man, go now to the house of Israel and speak my words to them (Ezekiel 3:1-4).
“Sweet as honey” might result from the answering of the Martyrs’ prayers. The prophetic revelation tasted sweet in John’s mouth because of its promise of vengeance and redemption, but it turned sour in his stomach because of its predictions of impending wrath. At first, the prophecies of this book are sweet as honey until one understands the terror they hold. The future is sweet but the immediate is bitter! A distastefulness of heart is a prerequisite to the proclamation of God’s judgment and wrath.
John is told to warn many peoples, nations, languages and kings of the bitterness to come. They are to be forewarned that God’s longsuffering ceases; this present evil age (the time of the Gentiles) terminates; and His King will be installed on God’s holy hill of Zion (Psalm 2).
Historicists think what happens with John typifies the ministers of Reformation, who are charged to preach the Gospel to the many nations and languages. The papal church’s grand ministry was not preaching the Gospel but the performance of rites and ceremonies.
Preterists connect the eating of the scroll to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 because Ezekiel’s prophecy was about the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. The order to John to prophesy concerns visions of the fall of Rome in the second half of Revelation.
Idealists view the receiving of the Gospel as “sweet as honey” to the taste with resulting persecution as bitterness (“turned sour in the stomach”). The prophecy John received earlier in this book, He is ordered to tell to the world.