John beholds in vision another mighty Angel come from Heaven, he hath a Book in his Hand. At his crying aloud, seven Thunders make their Responses. He swears by him that liveth forever and ever, that Time should be no longer. John is commanded to take the Book from him, and to eat it.
(1) 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: (2) 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, (3) And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices. (4) 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.
This is a short but highly interesting Chapter. Between the sounding of the sixth and the seventh trumpet, Christ appears to John in vision, to prepare his mind for the relation of certain events, yet to be accomplished. And we may suppose both from Christ's coming, and coming as a mighty Angel or Messenger of his own dispensation, it is of the highest signification, I beg the Reader to look at what is here said with the utmost attention, and remark, with me, some few of the striking particularities, distinguished both in Christ's Person, and the purpose of his coming.
And, first. His Person. John describes him as a mighty Angel. Mighty indeed, for he is, as the Prophet, ages before his incarnation, spoke of him by the Spirit of inspiration; His name (said he) shall be called Wonderful, counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, Isaiah 9:6. And who can question these things, when he hears this mighty Angel, as in the next Chapter, declaring that he will give power to his two witnesses to prophecy, Revelation 11:3. Who hath witnesses but God, Isaiah 43:10-12. What Angel ever talked of his witnesses? Yea, more than all, who giveth the power to prophecy, but God? Must not that man be hoodwinked indeed, that reads this scripture, and yet questions Christ's Godhead? The whole world, infidels as well as believers, are compelled to acknowledge that Christ is the speaker, when he saith, I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophecy. And who can give a spirit of prophecy to the prophets, but the Lord God of the prophets; or what shall their prophecies be witnesses of, but of Him, to whom all the prophets give witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him, shall receive remission of sins? Acts 10:43. Oh! wretched men, deniers of the Godhead of my Lord! Well will it be for you, if the Lord peradventure should give you repentance to the acknowledging of the truth, that ye may be recovered out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will, 2 Timothy 2:25-26. Kiss the Son lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in. him, Psalms 2:12.
Secondly. This mighty Angel is said to come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. By which I apprehend, that as he came to publish very awful things, such as, that time should be no longer, and, as the next Chapter declares, the slaughter of his two witnesses; it was intended to show, how dark and cloudy, for a while, would be the dispensation now about to take place in the Church, at the close of the sixth trumpet, and before the opening of the seventh. Clouds and darkness are said to be round about him; while righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne, Psalms 92:2. Reader! ponder this well. Remember the sixth trumpet is still here operating, when Christ was thus seen. The witnesses are not slain. Perhaps the most awful times, which ever took place in the Church of God, since the foundation of the world will then be. And if so, what are those men dreaming of, who talk of evangelizing the whole earth, whom God hath not evangelized, and who run unsent, whether the Holy Ghost hath forbidden or not, as in the case of the Apostles, when he himself ordained them they were not suffered; to preach the word in Asia and Bithynia, Acts 16:6-7.
Thirdly. Though Christ was clothed with a cloud, perhaps, as I before remarked, it meant to intimate awful dispensations were coming on, yet we find the rainbow was still upon his head. Sweet and precious token to all his dear people. The same bow, which at the destruction of the old world, God said he would set in the cloud, in token of his everlasting Covenant, is still there, and must be there forever. Jesus is the whole of it. And all clouds, and all afflictions, which drown Egypt in destruction, and everlasting darkness are to the Lord's Israel, messengers of sanctification and safety. Oh! how blessed is it, to behold our Jesus, God's rainbow, in every cloud. As God cannot look to the Church in any way, or in any direction without looking through the rainbow which encircles the whole throne, so neither to his people, will he look but in and through his dear Son. Reader! keep this all along in view. This mighty Angel, this precious Almighty God-Man, the Lord Jesus Christ John saw, had a rainbow upon his head. So is he now. So will he everlastingly be. He comes as the bow of the Covenant; yea, be is the whole Covenant, And as God our Father always beholds the Church in, and through him, so do the Church behold God our Father, always and only in and through Him.
Fourthly. Beside these manifestations of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are told, that his face was as it were the Sun, while his feet were pillars of fire. Perhaps to intimate, that while the Church was about to be brought into fiery afflictions, and in which we know from history, numbers of Christ's dear members were burnt at the stake for their adherence to him, yet, the Lord's face would shine upon them, with a continued sunshine of love. He would lift up the light of his countenance upon them, and give them peace. Reader! do you know anything of the history of your own country? Remember, the reign of this sixth trumpet hath been many hundreds of years. Oh! what numbers of the blessed reformers, burnt for Christ's sake in the time of persecution in this land, went in chariots of fire to glory, who, from the light of Christ's countenance shining upon them, during the time of their martyrdom, declared, that the passage at the stake in the deepest suffering, became like a bed of roses to their spirits! And remember the reign of the sixth trumpet is not ended. Yea, the two witnesses which are to be slain before it be passed, have not yet been brought forth in the street of spiritual Sodom and Egypt for slaughter, Revelation 11:8. When they are, Jesus will be again seen by faith, by them, though clothed with a cloud, and his feet as pillars of fire; yet, with his glorious rainbow upon his head, and his face shining with ten thousand times greater glory, than the sun in love and grace, and with the sweetest countenance of complacency upon them. Oh! the preciousness of Jesus!
But the subject goes on. John saith that this mighty Angel had in his hand a little book open. In the former vision of the ministry of the book, which the same glorious Person, was then said to have taken out of the hand of him that sat upon the throne, the book was sealed. And he, and he alone, was found worthy to open it. That had been then opened, and the purport of it appears to have been now in a great part fulfilled, under the ministry of seals and trumpets, But now, before the final accomplishment of the trumpets, Jesus comes to his servant again. And now he tells him, and his Church through him, that when the sixth trumpet shall have run fully out, and the seventh trumpet comes to be sounded, there shall be time no longer: Christ's complete reign on earth shall begin, and the kingdoms of this world, shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever, Revelation 11:15.
But though this will be the final consummation, and the mystery of God concerning his Church upon earth shall then be finished, yet, as great events are to take place, in the world, and in the Church, from that period in which Christ thus appeared to his servant John, before the whole is closed, the Lord brings in his hand an open book, and which John is to eat, that is, to receive the contents of it in his mind, and which are to be made known to the Church, by way of comforting the Lord's people, during the long periods yet to expire, before the accomplishment of the whole. So that here opens a new and distinct prophecy, concerning the great things of God: And though the subject is one and the same, of this whole Book of the Revelation, yet, from the opening of this Chapter, in which Christ appears to prepare his servant's mind for new prophecies on the subject, we may be on the lookout, for other plans of divine teaching, besides the ministry of seals and trumpets; and to learn from the pouring out of vials, God's further revelations to his Church. The new series of prophecies opens with the beginning of the twelfth Chapter. This, and the intermediate one, the eleventh, are designed as preparatory to it.
There is somewhat very sublime, in what is said of Christ setting his right foot upon the sea, and his left upon the earth. Probably to intimate his sovereignty over all. For as he came from heaven, where all angels, principalities, and powers are subject unto him, so here; by those acts, he denotes, his Almighty power upon earth, as the Prophet hath described him, his dominion being an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom from generation to generation. He doeth, saith the Prophet, according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, what doest thou? Daniel 4:34-35.
And what Majesty is expressed, under the words of crying with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth. He is called indeed, the lion of the tribe of Judah, to intimate the sovereignty in his Israel. And the answer of the seven thunders is very sublime also, as if making responses to their Creator. Some have considered those thunders as figurative of kingdoms, and some have supposed by them is meant, ministers of the Gospel, sometimes called Boanerges, or sons or thunder, I do not presume to determine upon it. One thing, however, is remarkable, that John, when those thunders answered Christ's voice, thought himself called upon to write, as if, while thunders echoed to the Lord, well might his servants. But, as all that was now doing, was only preparatory to what John would be taught, he was commanded to wait, until better informed what to write of, when the Lord Jesus came to teach him.
(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 forever 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: (7) 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 cannot read what fellows, of the Lord Jesus lifting up his hand to heaven, in a way of solemnity, and swearing to the truth of what he was about to deliver, without being struck with the sublimity of the whole. Let the Reader figure to himself Christ as God-Man, with one foot upon the earth, and the other on the sea, to imply (as hath been before observed) his supreme authority, and then hear him swearing by him that liveth forever and ever, and created all things, that there should be time no longer. Who less than God could so determine? And who but God could accomplish such a purpose? We read in another scripture, that when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself. And that this was God our Savior who thus swore to Abraham is most evident, as may be seen by looking at the account. It was God, it is said, that called upon Abraham to offer up his son a burnt-offering. And it was the angel of the Lord that called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, by myself have I sworn, saith the Lord. See Genesis 22:1-2; Gen_22:15-16. And the Holy Ghost confirms the whole in the scripture before quoted, Hebrews 6:13. Can anything be more plain than that in the whole transaction it was God our Savior who is all along spoken of? And who, indeed, should it be but Him? He is the only visible Jehovah through all the scripture. No man hath seen God at any time. In the invisibility of his essence, as God, it is impossible to see him. But one only begotten Son, who lay in the bosom of the Father, and from that bosom came forth in our nature, he hath declared him, John 1:18. See Hebrews 6:13. and Commentary. Hence, therefore, in this oath, that there should be time no longer, we behold Christ acting in his high character of Mediator, and in the name of the whole Godhead, confirming by oath, the counsel of his will.
The days of the voice of the seventh angel were to take place before the period Christ swore to should come on, when time should be no longer. The mystery of God was first to be finished, that is, the mystery of those wonderful events concerning the Church of God, in relation to those anti-Christian powers which opposed Christ, the Eastern and the Western heresy. But not the mysteries of God finished, or made known, in relation to that mystery of the Three sacred Persons in the Godhead, the mystery of God and man in one Person, and the mystery of Christ being one with his Church. These things are never to be finished, neither can be in their very nature so explained, as to be no longer mysterious. The meaning evidently is, that the period will come, under the seventh trumpet sounding, when the powers of darkness, whose opposition to Christ is now so mysterious, shall be finished, and the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.
(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. (11) And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
This is a very interesting part of this chapter. John is ordered to go to Christ, and to take out of his hand the open book. Now observe. When Christ took the book from the hand of his Father, it was sealed. He, and He alone, can open to us the decrees of God. I am the way, saith Christ, and the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me, John 14:6. Had not Christ come forth from God, to make known God, never should we have known the way to God. But when John, or any man, takes the book from Jesus, it must be opened to us or we shall never understand it. Reader! except Jesus gives the book, opened by himself, to those who minister in his name; and except Jesus by his Spirit ordains them; ministers, as they call themselves, or as they are called of men, had better never have ran to the service. Popes, bishops, or prelates, not sent of Christ, will have a woeful account to give in, the end of the day. I have not sent these prophets, (saith the Lord,) yet they ran; I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied, Jeremiah 23:21.
What a lovely view is here given of John! Immediately, on command, he went to Christ. To whom shall the Lord's servants go but to their Master? From whom can they receive their authority, or their instruction, but from Him? Sweetly Peter, who knew this, said, Lord! to whom shall we go, thou hast the words of eternal life And what John saith of the sweet taste of the book, and the bitter effects afterwards, is fulfilled in all God's servants, who minister in his name, as well as in the hearts of those who are ministered unto. When first the word is received, in joy of the Holy Ghost, with much affliction, by reason of our conscious sense of sin, everything we hear of Christ, and feel of Christ, is sweet. But when persecutions come on, and the conflicts of flesh and spirit are at the height, bitter are the seasons of trial. And what it is with the faithful followers of the Lord, in their private life and conversation, such, in an eminent degree, is it with the ministers of Christ in their public ministry. Oh! who shall say what soul exercises he goeth through, both for himself and people, while laboring in the word and doctrine; that is, faithful to God and to souls? Lord! do thou give to thy servants grace, that in all things they may approve themselves ministers of God!
Oh! thou Almighty Angel, whom John saw coming down from heaven! Give me, by faith, to behold thee with the delightful rainbow upon thine head, in token of the everlasting Covenant! Lord Jesus! whatever clouds or darkness thy divine dispensations are clothed with, still never will my faith despond, as long as Jesus appears to my view with his rainbow. Though the Church be in the fiery furnace, and clouds and darkness all around, yet while God my Father is beholding his Church through Christ, and in Christ, the bow in the cloud; and while Jesus's face towards his people is as the sun in divine grace, and love, and favor, and the Church looking to Christ, and in Christ, and through Christ to God, all is well.
Blessed Lord! thou hast sworn, while taking possession of heaven, earth, and sea as thine, that the hour is hastening when time shall be no longer. Oh! then prepare thy Church, prepare thy people for this great day of our God! Lord, in thine own time, which is the best time, finish the mystery of God, in breaking down all the powers of antichrist, and thereby finish the mystery of iniquity, which now so much opposed thy pure Gospel.
Lord! give me the same spirit of obedience as thy servant John. Make me to eat and digest thy saving truths. Let all be sweet in thee, however bitter in the world, from flesh and blood. Kings, and nations, and tongues, shall hear thy prophecies, and all thy people shall praise thee.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Revelation 10". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Easter