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Bible Commentaries

Wallace's Commentary on the Book of Revelation

Revelation 10

IV

THE MYSTERY FINISHED

(Chapters 10:1--11:19)

Here an interval in the immediate progression of the trumpet visions was introduced before the sounding of the last trumpet by the seventh angel. It was an intermission consisting in an order of intermediate episodes in the nature of correlative visions incident to an intervening period between the soundings of the sixth and seventh trumpets. This dramatized interlude conforms to the pattern of the apocalypse by the inter-relation with the interval of time between the openings of the sixth and seventh seals.

As there was a prolonged pause of ominous silence immediately followed by an interfolded revelation in the sounding of the trumpets before the final disclosures of the seventh seal, so preceding the final pronouncement of the catastrophe of the last trumpet there was an intermediate period of epic events.

V.

SUMMARY OF THE SEVEN SEALS

It will be remembered that the seven trumpets were within the seventh seal. When the seventh seal was opened, seven angels appeared, having seven trumpets; in the hand of each angel, a trumpet. The significance of the sounding of the trumpets was to signal the commencement of the impending events which had been revealed by the opening of the seals.

(1) The first trumpet --chapter 8:7--was the signal of devastation, signified by the smitten earth, indicating divine judgments on the land of the Jewish powers.

(2) The second trumpet- -chapter 8:8-9--was the signal of the smitten sea. Casting the burning mountain into the sea signified the divine judgments on the sea power, the Roman monarchy, burning with the lust of war; the destruction of the power of the sea beast persecutors to make war against Christ.

(3) The third trumpet --chapter 8:10-11--was the signal of smitten rivers, which signified by the great burning star the fall of the rulers, as spent meteors, from their former dominion; and the dissipation of the source of their power was symbolized by the drying of the fountain which supplied the river which flows through its channel.

(4) The fourth trumpet --chapter 8:12-13--was the signal of the smitten sun, signifying the darkness that would settle over the Jewish state in the divine judgments to descend on Jerusalem, bringing an end to Judaism.

(5) The fifth trumpet --chapter 9:1-12-was the signal of the fallen star, personified in a degenerate leader of impious forces, designated as an army of locusts from the smoke of the pit, and symbolizing the invasion of Judea by terrifying armies led by Satan personified in the persecuting emperor--the resulting calamities of which brought to pass the first of the three woes enumerated by John.

(6) The sixth trumpet- -chapter 9:13-21--was the signal of loosing the four angels, the imperial agents which had been restrained from hindering the messengers of Christ until the true Israel of God was sealed " of all the tribes of the children of Israel.” The spiritual Israel was symbolized by the hundred forty-four thousand--the holy seed. With the completion of this mission of “sealing the servants of God,” the suspension period was declared ended, and the four angels of destruction were loosed to proceed with the encompassing desolation of Jerusalem.

(7) The seventh trumpet --chapters 10-11--was the signal of the finale, “in the days of the voice of the seventh angel”--the last days of the political Jewish state and the dispensation of Judaism--accompanied by the testimony of the two witnesses as necessary to establish testimony. It symbolized the two-fold mission and work of the prophets and apostles in the unfolding of the scheme of redemption, begun by Old Testament prophets, but completed by New Testament apostles, and fulfilled in the church. The tragic calamities surrounding these representatives of the church marked the passing of the second woe and the immediate pronouncement of the third woe in the sounding of the seventh trumpet, ending in the conquest of the kingdoms of the world by Christ the conqueror.

Verse 1

The seven thunders--10:1-6.

This angel from heaven here designated as another mighty angel is a reversion to chapter 5:2 where the first strong angel made the loud proclamation concerning the sealed book, asking “who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?’ Here in the hand of this second mighty angel is the open book, no longer sealed, or closed, the seven seals of it had also been opened and proclaimed -- Rev_5:5 . [Scroll down for identification of this angel]

1. Clothed with a cloud : This angel was wearing a cloud as apparel, or a garment, and was arrayed and encompassed with the phenomenal majesty of a heavenly messenger. He was invested with the credentials of divine authority, which his vestures symbolized. ( Exo_16:10 ; Exo_33:9 ; Num_11:25 ; Psa_18:11 ; Mat_17:5 ; Luk_21:27 ; Rev_1:7 ) This display was not for the execution of judgment, but rather to be clothed and attired with the glory befitting his portfolio and comparable to his commission. Compare the similar symbols of official robes in Exo_40:34-38 and Lev_16:2 , and the “woman arrayed with the sun” in Rev_12:1 of the next scene.

2. A rainbow upon his head : The rainbow is the symbol of divine covenant. ( Gen_9:12-17 ) It represented assurance against judgment, promise of help, a pledge of divine presence. ( Eze_1:28 ; Rev_4:3 ; Rev_10:7 ) It was a sign that this angel was a messenger of mercy, not of judgment, bringing good tidings, not evil forebodings.

3. His face as the sun : The sun is the light of the universe and is the source of all physical radiance. Seeking a term of grandeur and splendor to portray the One to come, the prophet Malachi selected the flaming orb of the day, and likened the Redeemer to the “sun of righteousness.” ( Mal_4:2 ) What the sun is to the solar system, Jesus Christ is to the soul. The rise of this sun of righteousness presaged a new day. With its appearance the darkness vanished and turned to day, the tomb itself yielded to his power and surrendering to his orders, released its seal. One mighty to save had come, who was the Redeemer of men, who brought to nought the power of death and of the devil to deliver all who through the fear of death were subject to bondage. ( Heb_2:14-15 )

This angel clothed with a cloud, with a face as the sun, was the herald of the “Sun of righteousness” who would turn the night of persecution into the day of victory. ( 2Co_4:6 )

4. His feet as pillars of fire : The feet are symbolic of the messenger. “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things.” ( Rom_10:15 ) “I turned my feet unto thy testimonies.” ( Psa_119:59 ) “And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” ( Eph_6:15 )

The feet of this strong angel were as “pillars of fire"-- like the pillar that led Israel ( Exo_13:21-22 ) out of Egypt, and was always the symbol of the presence and the guidance of the angels of God. ( Exo_14:19 ; Exo_23:20 ; Exo_32:34 ) Describing the feet of this angel as “pillars of fire” denoted that his feet were illuminated with divine guidance to give light to them that sat in darkness and in the shadow of death. ( Luk_1:79 )

The identity of the mighty angel--10:1; 11:3; 12:7; 14:1, 14; 19:11.

1. The open book of 10:8-11 is the sealed book of 5:1. The Lamb took that book from the One who sat on the throne--5:7. After the opening of the seals, the book was given to John, thus identifying the angel of chapter 10 with the Lamb of chapter 5.

2. The description of the angel of chapter 10 corresponds to that of the Son of man in chapter 1.

3. He appears as Lord in chapter 11:3, exercising a power and authority not ascribed to created beings.

4. The representation of Christ under various figures and forms interspersed in the apocalypse agrees with his presentation as an angel rather than arguing against it. He is the Son in chapter 1. He is the strong Angel, in chapter 5: l-2. He is the Lion in verse 5. He is the Lamb in verse 6. In chapter 6:2, He is the Rider; in 14: 1, He is the Lamb on Mount Zion; in verse 14, He is the Son on the cloud; and in 19:11, He is the Rider of white horse again. In these premises, arguments that the Christ could not be symbolized by an angel appear to be without foundation.

5. It is consistent with the purpose of the interlude that he should appear not as a judge, or king enthroned, but as the sun-countenanced, rainbow-crowned angel of the covenanted people.

Verse 2

5 . In his hand a little book opened : This book in chapter 5:7 was “sealed and no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth was able to open it.” (Chapter 5:2) But the “Lion of the tribe of Judah”--the Lamb in the midst of the throne--“hath prevailed to open the book and to loose the seals thereof.” (Chapter 5:5) It was therefore no longer sealed, no longer a mystery, but now an open book. When it was sealed it seemed large. Unknown things are greater in seeming proportion than the things that are known. They become simplified and minimized in proportion to the knowledge of them. When the seals within the book were loosed, or revealed, it became an open book, and it was a little book compared with knowing and not knowing its contents.

6. Right foot upon the sea . . . left foot upon the land: The land and the sea were the territories of their persecutors. Later the Jewish persecutors of Palestine were described as “the beast of the land” and the Roman persecutor was designated “the beast of the sea.” The sea beast was said to exercise authority over the land beast, based on the universal sway of Rome’s power. But the mighty angel stood with one foot on the land, the other on the sea, declaring his power over both as Lord of the land and of the sea.

Verse 3

7. A great voice as a lion roareth : The Lamb in the midst of the throne, once slain, who was the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who had conquered to open the book and loose its seals, now came as the “mighty angel” to announce the near end of the things in the book; and when his “loud voice” heralded the angel’s proclamation, seven thunders uttered their voices , as signs of revolutionary events that would presage the end.

Thunder was regarded as the voice of God. ( Job_37:2 ; Psa_18:13 ; Psa_81:7 ; Isa_30:31-32 ) Thunder attended the inauguration of the law. ( Exo_19:16 ) When the people heard God’s voice, they said it thundered. ( Joh_12:29 ) It was a symbol of divine power in the executions of vengeance on evil-doers. ( 2Sa_2:10 ; 2Sa_22:14 ; Isa_29:6 ) And that was its significance here.

Verse 4

8. Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered and write them not : The book of seven seals was opened, and its seals were loosed; the trumpets of the seven angels were sounded; but the seven thunders were sealed up and John was commanded to write them not. The things which the seven thunders uttered and which John was ready to transcribe, related to the things of the future not disclosed in the seals nor proclaimed in the trumpets, neither contained in the vials yet to be poured. They were things outside the realm of revelation, beyond all human knowledge or finite information. The sealing up of the thunders signified that there is a category of the infinite in God’s dealings with men and nations which can never be revealed. Much therefore, after all the seals were loosed and all the trumpets had sounded and all the woes were pronounced and all the vials poured, must remain enfolded and unrevealed.

There are in the nature of things of the infinite and the hereafter not within the scope of God’s revelation to man. It is in keeping with the principle revealed to Moses, that “the secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” ( Deu_29:29 ) There are things connected with the counsels and purposes of God, and the reasons for his dispensations with reference to them, which are hidden in his own bosom, not to be pried into by any man or order of men. What the voices of the seven thunders uttered cannot be known, and for any man to undertake to explain what John was forbidden to write, would be presumption. The voices of the thunders evidently belonged to that region of “visions and revelations of the Lord” to which Paul referred as “unspeakable words not lawful for a man to utter.” ( 2 Corinthians_12:1-21 :1-4 ) The command of the voice from heaven to seal up and write not, with no conditions, restrictions or limitations of time has in it a finality that prohibits the explanation that makes the voices of the thunders the mystic symbols of imperial edicts and papal bulls of the medieval centuries, and the continuous revelation of the history of Christianity to the end of the world.

Verses 5-6

9. That there should be time no longer : The words of finality spoken by the angel required that they be sealed with the binding force of an oath. In the Old Testament God is said to have sworn by himself. ( Gen_22:16 ; Isa_45:23 ; Psa_110:4 ; Psa_89:35 ; Psa_132:11 ) In the New Testament Peter refers to God having “sworn with an oath” to David. ( Act_2:30 ), and Paul declares in Heb_6:18 that God “confirmed by an oath” his immutable counsel, in which it was “impossible for God to lie.” So if the voice from heaven was Christ himself, or “another mighty angel” there was nothing inconceivable or incompatible that he should sware by the eternal Creator of heaven itself, and the earth and the sea, “and the things that therein are.”

Standing on the sea and the earth, as if to survey the full sweep of all human powers, Roman and Jewish, the angel proclaimed that there should be time no longer. The time for the seventh angel to sound the seventh trumpet was near, and the culminating events would be no longer delayed. This angelic proclamation did not refer to the end of all time, but rather to the end of the events signified in the vision. The word time here means delay, the time, or delay, of these events was about to end. In chapter 6:9-10 the souls under the altar cried “how long, 0 Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” In the response to this prayer, in verse 11, “it was said unto them that they should rest yet for a little season”--that is, wait for a time, until the vision “should be fulfilled.” That “little season” was about to end with the approaching proclamation of the seventh angel, the time should be no longer. The prayer of the martyrs for avenging judgment was about to be answered and would speedily come with no more delay. In chapter 8:3 the prayers of all the saints are seen superadded to the cry of martyrs. The visions of the seven seals and the seven trumpets, with their intermissions, have been unfolded, and the vision having reached “the days of the seventh angel” there should be no more delay.

Verse 7

The days of the seventh angel--10:7.

1. Days of the voice : This was a reference to the end of the Jewish state ( Mat_24:3 ), which was politically the end of the old Jewish dispensation, the days when the last trumpet was about to sound the note of doom-- when he shall begin to sound --hence, in the days of the last events fulfilling these visions. They were fulfilled in that generation as foretold by the words of Jesus to his disciples. ( Mat_23:36 and Mat_24:34 )

2. The mystery of God finished : This mystery of God is that divine plan of Eph_1:9-10 , which was to reach its fulfillment “in the dispensation of the fulness of times,” and here the reference is to the “finish” of all events connected with its success. ( Mat_24:14 ) And it was accomplished for Jesus said, “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world as a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”

In verse 31, of this discourse of Mat_24:1-51 , the Lord said that after these events of the destruction of Jerusalem he would “send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet” to “gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” These statements in Matthew and Revelation are parallel in meaning and alike had reference to the universal expansion of the kingdom of Christ, after the fall of Judaism and the end of the Jewish state. The destruction of Jerusalem, the demolition of the temple, the downfall of Judaism, and the end of Jewish state, which politically and practically ended the Jewish dispensation, were all a part of the divine mystery. The Mosaic law had been “nailed to the cross,” “abolished” and “taken away”; but the Jewish state continued, and in that sense the Jewish dispensation functioned, until “the days of the voice of the seventh angel” which sounded the final doom. This was all in and part of “the mystery of God," the divine scheme of things, which was “finished” in the culmination of these events.

3. As declared to the prophets : These things were all declared to the Old Testament prophets and witness borne in the prophecies to their fulfillment. ( Rom_16:25-26 ; 1Pe_1:10-12 ) These were the things that were “manifested in last times”--the end of the Jewish world. ( 1Pe_1:20 ) The old prophets contemplated all of the things pertaining to the kingdom of Christ, both of its inauguration and its expansion. ( Gen_49:1 ; Isa_2:2-5 ; Mic_4:1-4 ; Dan_2:42-45 ; Dan_10:14 ; Zec_14:1-21 ) The revelations made known to the prophets were a declaration in advance of the things to come--a witness to them--and found fulfillment in the events herein disclosed.

Verses 8-10

The eating of the little book--10:8-10.

1. The voice from heaven : The voice again is the voice of verse 4; and from heaven identifies it with the voice from midst the throne, chapter 9:13. It was the voice of direct authority from God, not through any agents, angels, creatures, elders or mediaries of the visions--but from God himself.

2 . In the mouth sweet--in the belly bitter . The symbol of eating a book is found in the apocalypses of Ezekiel, with the same effects as described in this vision. ( Eze_2:9 ; Eze_3:7 ; Eze_3:14 ). The eating of this little book was in the mouth sweet as honey, as the precious flavor ascribed to the words of God. ( Psa_19:10 ; Jer_15:16 ) The effects of eating the book were both sweet and bitter.

John said: In my mouth sweet--in my belly bitter. The assurances and promises of victory and of reward were “sweet as honey.” The contemplation of such triumphs produced the sweetness of joy and rejoicing; but the realization of the awful pronouncements fraught with fearful woes, turned the sweetness to bitterness in the belly, by reason of further contemplation on the tragic sufferings and sorrow, trials and tribulation they all would be called upon to endure in faithfulness, even in martyrdom, to receive the promised crown.

Verse 11

The commission to evangelize--10:11.

1. Thou must prophesy again : Here is the clear indication that John survived the Patmos revelation. He survived the castastrophe of Jerusalem, to go among the nations, peoples, tongues, kings, proclaiming the passing away of the old things of Judaism and the end of the old system, preaching again the word that concerns the people of all nations. He would himself fulfill Mat_24:31 .

2. Before peoples, nations, tongues and kings : To apply the expression prophesy again to the further things in the Revelation does not fit the language used by the angel, before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.” The statement is comparable to the words of Jesus to Saul on the Damascus road in that commission to be executed by Paul, the apostle, recorded in Act_9:15 : “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.”

Furthermore, to make prophesy again mean to continue what he was then doing, and in the same way, would be a disregard for proper use and meaning of words. The passage indicates that John left the scene of these visions and became an active evangelist in many countries, among many peoples and tongues.

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
Bibliographical Information
Wallace, Foy E. "Commentary on Revelation 10". "Wallace's Commentary on the Book of Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/foy/revelation-10.html. 1966.