As we continue our journey through the book of Revelation, we have now come to a pivotal moment. All that John has recorded for us in chapters 6-9 has been moving toward this crescendo, as we now arrive at the middle of the seven year tribulation. The first three an a half years, as recorded in chapters 6-9, were described by Jesus in Matthew 24: as the ‘beginning of sorrows’. During this time we have seen God’s judgment being poured out, but because He is long-suffering, not willing that any should perish, the judgments thus far have been ‘in part’. Only a third of the trees, one third of the creatures in the sea, one third of the Sun & Moon smitten. But now, time is up; the season of grace is effectively over, and we will see Jesus send a mighty angel to finally reclaim the Earth, wresting it from the hand of Satan, who has been the ‘legal custodian’ of the Earth from the time of the Garden of Eden to now.
All that we have seen in these chapters is the fulfillment of that which Jesus referred to in Mathew 24:8 as the ‘beginning of sorrows’
“For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ ; and shall deceive many [Rev 6:2]. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars [Rev 6:4]: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom : and there shall be famines [Rev 6:5-6], and pestilences [Rev 6:7-8], and earthquakes, in divers places [Rev 6:12]. All these are the beginning of sorrows… And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations [Rev 7]; and then shall the end come“ Matt 24:5-8.
May you be blessed as you study God’s Word!
And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:
The first thing we are introduced to in the chapter is this mighty angel. This ‘angel’ has caused much debate among Bible scholars. Some say that it must be Jesus, for very good reasons; others say that this is just another mighty angel, again for very good reasons. Whist we will put forward some of the best arguments for and against, we shouldn’t let ourselves become sidetracked and miss the importance of what this ‘angel’ does and says.
In support of the view that this angel is Christ, we note that he is clothed in a cloud, has a rainbow on his head, a face like the sun, feet as pillars of fire; he roars like a lion (verse 2). All of these are characteristic of Jesus as He appears in the scriptures. In Exodus 34:5 / Numbers 11:25 / 2 Chronicles 5:14 / Isaiah 19:1 / Luke 21:27 and Acts 1:19 The Lord is seen clothed in a cloud. In Rev 4:3 we see a rainbow around the Throne. In Rev 1:16 John said that Jesus’ face was like the sun in its strength; and in Rev 1:15 John tells us that Jesus’ feet were ‘like unto brass, as if they burned in a furnace’.
Adding further weight to this view is the fact that in verse 11 this ‘angel’ gives John an instruction very similar to the instruction that Jesus gave John in chapter one verse 11 to ‘prophecy again’, recording what he is seeing.
The thing that almost clinches this view is the fact that in the next chapter this angel calls the two witnesses ‘my two witness’. Would an angel say this? Whose witnesses are they? Surly they are the Lord’s witnesses; so is this not proof that this angel is Jesus?
As it says in proverbs: “The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him” Proverbs 18:17
The key word here is ‘another’, which in the Greek it’s the word ‘Allos’, meaning another of the same kind. Jesus uses this word when He said that He would send ‘another comforter’ in John 14:16. On that occasion Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit, who is of the same type and substance as Jesus; Jesus was literally going to send us someone just like Himself to comfort us when He returned to the Father. It is indeed a great comfort that the Holy Spirit has been given to us forever!
J Vernon McGee comments: “And I saw another strong angel.” Another means that it is another of the same kind. The other strong angel to whom we were introduced was back in Revelation 5:2. There was no argument there; it was not Christ. It is the livery of this angel (that is, the way in which he is garbed) which has led some to identify him as Christ. Though all angels are the servants of Christ, in this final book of the Bible, this is evidently the special envoy of Christ, bearing all the credentials of his exalted position. He comes down out of heaven from the presence of Christ, the One who is in the midst of the throne.”
Here, J Vernon McGee brings our attention to the mighty angel in Rev 5:2 who said: “Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?” Obviously the angel in 5:2 is not Jesus, so it follows that our subject here cannot be Jesus either. It is worth pointing out that the context could also imply that the ‘another’ is not specifically in reference to the ‘mighty angel’, but to the ‘coming down from heaven’, and therefore could refer to the angel that ‘came down from heaven’ with the key of the bottomless pit in the previous chapter. Was John therefore saying that ‘I saw another mighty angel’, which, as McGee says would link this one with the mighty angel in Rev 5:2; or was he saying that ‘I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven’? Thus linking it to the angel that came down from heaven in the previous chapter. Either way we have to conclude that this angel cannot be Jesus.
McGee continues: “And his face was as the sun.” This is his badge of identification. This is the signature of the glorified Christ (see Rev. 1:16). It does not follow that this one must therefore be the Son of God. Moses’ face shone after he had been in the presence of God (see Exod. 34:29). This angel’s face is shining because he has come out from the presence of Christ. You will recall that the raiment of the angels at the resurrection of Christ also shone (see Luke 24:4). The angel of Revelation 18:1 is a light giver, as the sun and moon, yet no one asserts that he is Christ. Also, I take it that this angel in chapter 10 is not Christ, but he is what it says: an angel, another great, mighty angel.
So, as noted, the thought that this angel is Christ comes from the description of the clothing and appearance. However, in the book of Esther when the king wants to honour Mordecai, he seeks the advice of Haman, who thinking that the king wants to honour him, suggests that the king orders that the man in whom the king delights should be dressed in the kings clothes, sat upon the kings horse and with the kings royal crown upon his head be paraded through the streets. This suggestion back-fires on Haman and the king tells him to do all of this to Mordecai the Jew who Haman despised. To all intents and purposes as Mordecai was paraded around the city, he looked like the king – but he was just an ambassador.
Joseph was also clothed in Pharaoh’s apparel to act on his behalf, as an outward symbol that authority had been given to him, and that his voice was now as Pharaohs’ (Gen 41:40-44). There is no reason, given the importance of this angel’s mission in this chapter, that he would not be so clothed in the apparel and authority of the King.
Other details that would seem to show that this is an angel and not Christ are firstly, that in verse 6 this angel swears by Him who lives for ever and ever – which is a title that Jesus gives himself in Rev 1:18. The angel continues: ‘who created all things’ – which according to Rev 4:11 & Col 1:16 is also Jesus. So the fact that it appears that this angel swears by Jesus would strongly suggest that he is not Jesus. Secondly, John does not identify this angel as Jesus as he had previously done in his vision in chapter one. It would be reasonable to assume that as the Lamb of God has been the focus of much of the book, indeed the book is the Revelation of Jesus, that John would delight in recording that He leaves His throne and descends to earth to claim His inheritance if this were so.
The fact that John mentions no such thing is admittedly an argument from silence, but nonetheless significant. On this same theme, John records in chapter one (verse 7) that when Jesus returns in the clouds, every eye shall see Him, which does not appear to be the case here.
Finally in answer to the phrase in chapter 11 verse 3 when this angel calls the two witnesses ‘my two witnesses’, it would appear that he is speaking as a royal emissary on behalf of the King because a few verses later in verse 8 he talks to John of Jerusalem as being ‘where also our Lord was crucified’, thus again it appears from this language that it is not Jesus speaking.
Once again, we must not the identity question take our minds of the message this angel brings!
And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth,
Whilst again it is not free from controversy, it would seem that the little book this angel has in his hand, is none other than the seven-sealed scroll with all of the seals now removed. As we commented back in chapter 5, the scroll appears to be the title deed to the earth. That being the case, it follows that by putting one foot on the sea and one on the land, this angel is claiming the earth and sea for the rightful heir – Jesus Christ.
“This little book, if it is the same as the seven-sealed book, was originally in the hands of the Father in heaven (see Rev. 5:1). It should be noted how it is first transferred to the nail-pierced hands of God the Son. It was given to the Lord Jesus who was the only One who could open it. The breaking of the seven seals opened the book; and the seven trumpets, six of which have already been blown, are still part of what is in the book. After He removes the seals, the Lord Jesus Christ in turn transfers the book to the angel, who gives it finally to John to eat. This is the book of the title deed of the earth, and it contains the judgments of the Great Tribulation by which the Lord Jesus is coming to power. The book is now open, and the judgments are on display. This book is the angel’s authority for claiming both the sea and the earth for Christ.” (J Vernon McGee)
And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.
Lions roar to strike fear into their prey. It is fitting that the inhabitants of the earth, after still choosing to reject God’s offer of salvation in Jesus, are once again made to tremble with the sound of this roar and the noise of the seven thunders that followed it.
And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.
Many have tried to put forward theories as to what the seven thunders said; it is a futile exercise because if God had wanted us to know He would have allowed John to write it down. One interesting point that arises from this is the nearness of these events. At the end of the book of Daniel, he is told the words of the book are ‘closed up and sealed up until the time of the end’ (Dan 12:9). In contrast to this, John is only told to seal up the things that the seven thunders uttered. Everything else is for our understanding and could start to occur very soon.
5 And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven,
6 And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:
Verse six has been misunderstood and therefore misinterpreted by some who have suggested that it is teaching that from this point, all time will come to an end, that there will be no more ‘time’. From the wording of the King James it can be understood why some have interpreted it this way. It is easy to reach such conclusions when a single verse is taken without considering what else the Bible teaches on a given subject. Such is the case here.
The fact that the Millennium (period of 1000 years – and a year being a measure of ‘time’) will follow the events of the Tribulation shows that ‘time’ has to continue to at least the end of this heavens and earth. But even in the New Jerusalem we will find that each tree gives its fruit in its season, which once again implies some form or measurement of time.
So what does this verse mean? Well, we have been building up to a crescendo in the previous chapters as we move toward the mid-way point of the Tribulation, the end of the first 3 ½ years. The judgments have been getting more intense as God gives people every opportunity to repent; but now ‘time has run out’. That is what this angel is saying. The earth and the sea have now been reclaimed for the rightful Heir, and He will set about removing sinners from His earth. In the dramatic stage-play of which the book of Joshua was the shooting script, Jesus will not dispossess the usurpers from the earth as Joshua did the inhabitants of Canaan from the Promised Land. As we will see in the following chapters, Satan will be cast out of Heaven; Antichrist will break his covenant with the Jews and they will in turn flee into the wilderness; Antichrist will also establish himself as the ruler of the world and force all people to worship him and to receive a mark for buying and selling. Because of this, God’s long anticipated judgment will begin. The Great Tribulation, the Day of the Lord, the Time of Jacob’s Trouble – this is it, the final showdown, the wrath of God, 1260 days of hell on earth.
“And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” (Matt 24:22)
“And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?” (Joel 2:11)
But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.
We are almost there – but what a long way around it’s been. Just as Israel could have entered the promised land in a matter of months, instead, because of their disobedience and unfaithfulness it took them 38 years. So Adam and Eve could have overcome the Serpent by their obedience to God and they and their offspring would then have walked in perfect harmony with Him. Instead it fell to the Second Adam to make a way back to God by shedding His blood in our place. (See Ephesians 1:9-10).
Amos 3:7 says: “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he reveals his secret unto his servants the prophets.” God’s plan has all been laid out in advance in the Word of God for any who care to look.
8 And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.
9 And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.
10 And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.
This is the same as happened to Ezekiel (2:3 – 3:14). Prophecy tastes sweet; it excites us and captures our imagination. But when we digest it we begin to realise the horrific consequences for those who do not turn to the Lord and repent. The prophecies that we have studied, and those that will follow as we enter the Great Tribulation, should turn our stomachs as we stop and consider all those who we know personally that don’t know the Lord, who are on a collision course with the wrath of God. Maybe even stop right now and pray for those who you know by name.
Time is running out, we need to be abandoned to God, not living lives of compromise, counting all that we once held dear as loss, being cleansed vessels that He can use every moment of every day. The harvest is great but sadly the real labourers are few.
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God” (2 Peter 3:9-12)
And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
To be continued…