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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Revelation 10

 

 

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Introduction

CHAP. X.

A mighty strong angel appeareth, with a book open in his hand; he sweareth by him that liveth for ever, that there shall be no more time. John is commanded to take and eat the book.

Anno Domini 96.


Verses 1-11

Revelation 10:1-11. I saw another mighty angel come down, &c.— St. John, in the conclusion of the last chapter, having touched upon the corruption of the Western church,proceedsnowtodeliversome prophesies relating to this lamentable event: but before he enters upon this subject, he, and the church with him, are prepared for it by an august and consolatory vision. Another mighty angel came down, described somewhat like the angel or Personage in the last three chapters of Daniel, and in the first chapter of this book. He had in his hand a little book; (Revelation 10:2.) this little book ( βιβλαριδιον ), or codicil, was different from the βιβλιον, or book, mentioned before, ch. Revelation 5:1 and it was open, that all men might freely read and consider it. It was indeed a codicil to the larger book, and properly comes under the sixth trumpet to describe the state of the Western church after the description of the state of the Eastern: and this is with good reason made a separate and distinct prophesy, on account of the importance of the matter, as well as for engaging the greater attention. The angel set his right foot upon the sea, &c. (Revelation 10:2.) to shew the extent of his power and commission; and when he had cried aloud, seven thunders uttered their voices. St. John would have written down those things which the seven thunders uttered, but was forbidden to do it, Revelation 10:4. As we know not the subjects of the seven thunders, so neither can we know the reasons for suppressing them; and to pretend to know either, is to be wise above what is written. Then (Revelation 10:5-6.) the angel lifted up his hand, &c. like the angel in Daniel 12:7 and sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, the great Creator of all things, that there should be time no longer, or rather, that the time should not be yet; but it shall be in the days of the seventh trumpet, that the mystery of God shall be finished, and the glorious state of the church be perfected, agreeably to the good things which he promised to his servants the prophets, Revelation 10:7. This is said for the consolation of Christians, that though the little book describes the calamities of the Western church, yet they shall have a happy period under the seventh trumpet. St. John is then ordered to eat the little book, as the prophet did, Ezekiel 3:3 upon the like occasion: and he ate it up, (Revelation 10:10.) he thoroughly considered and digested it, and found it to be, as he was informed it would be, Revelation 10:9. Sweet as honey in his mouth, but bitter in his stomach. "The knowledge of future things at first was pleasant, but the sad contents of the little book afterwards filled his soul with sorrow." These contents, however, were not to be sealed up like those of the seven thunders; this little book was to be published, as well as the larger book of the Apocalypse; and as it concerned kings and nations, so was it to be made public for their use and information. Sir Isaac Newton observes, that this description of an angel coming down from heaven, Revelation 10:1 is in the form in which Christ appeared in the beginning of this prophesy; and it may further direct us to understand this mighty angel, of Christ; that he appeared having a little book open in his hand. He also observes, that by the earth the Jews understand the great continent of all Asia and Africa, to which they had access by land; and by the isles of the sea they understood the places to which they sailed by sea, or the several parts of Europe; and here in this prophesy the earth and sea are put, according to him, for the nations of the Greek and Latin empires.


Verse 10

Revelation 10:10. And ate it up, &c.— See Jeremiah 15:16. Our blessed Saviour uses the same metaphorical expression with the prophet and St. John, when he speaks of himself as the bread of life, in many passages of the sixth chapter of St. John's Gospel. The author of the Observations on sacred scripture remarks, "that, delicious as honey is to an eastern palate, it has been thought sometimes to have produced terrible effects. So Sanutus tells us, that the English who attended Edward I. into the holy land, died in great numbers as they marched in June to demolish a place; which he ascribes to the excessive heat, and their intemperate eating of fruits and honey. This, perhaps, may give us the thought of Solomon, according to the literal sense, when he says, It is not good to eat much honey, Proverbs 25:27. He had before, in the same chapter, mentioned, that an excess in eating honey occasioned sickness and vomiting; but if it was thought sometimes to produce deadly effects, there was a greater energy in the instruction. However that may be, this circumstance seems to illustrate the prophetic passage before us, where the book is said to be in the mouth sweet as honey, but bitter after it was down; producing pain bitter as those gripings which the army of Edward felt in the holy land, from eating honey to excess: for of such disorders as are the common effects of intemperance with regard to fruits in those climates, Sanutus appears to be speaking; and the bloody flux, attended with violent pains in the bowels, is well known to be their great complaint." See Observations, p. 161.

The prophesy before us was to reveal the providences of God during the period of the seventh angel; in which, as there was a revelation of great opposition to true religion, and persecution of the faithful professors; so was there also a revelation of divine protection during the time of trial, and of the sure accomplishment of the promised glorious and happy state of the church in the end. The meditation of such a state of providence might well occasion a mixture of joy and grief in the apostle's mind, as it is likely to do in the minds of all who so understand and consider it

Inferences.—If other parts of this chapter should seem to be less pregnant with important practical instructions, perhaps the design was, that we might be engaged to fix our entire and undivided attention on the awful words of this illustrious angel; whose appearance is described in colours so exceedingly beautiful and striking; with the radiance of the sun streaming from his countenance; the variegated colours of the rainbow encircling his head; of a stature so vast and majestic, that he at once bestrode the earth and the sea; with his hand solemnly lifted up to heaven; with a voice awful as thunder, appealing to the venerable name of God, the Creator of the heavens, of the earth, of the sea, and of all their various inhabitants, in order to add the sanction of an inviolable oath to a declaration, which in itself, from such a divine messenger, was worthy of absolute and entire credit; a declaration, that time should be no longer: which is a certain truth, in the most sublime and interesting sense of which the words are capable. Time, as distinguished into days, and weeks, and months, and years, by the revolution of the heavenly luminaries, when the most replendent of these are extinguished in their orbs, as they quickly will; when the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood; time shall then, I say, be absorbed in an immeasurable eternity. And O, what an eternity! An eternity, either of perfect and inconceivable felicity, or hopeless and remediless misery.—But, besides this general construction, there is an important sense in which the proclamation of this celestial herald shall be fulfilled, with regard to individuals; that time shall be no longer; the time of divine patience in waiting upon us; the time in which we shall be continued under the sound of the gospel, and the offers of mercy, and the means of salvation; the time in which we shall be conversant with these scenes of mortality, and with the persons who are here most familiar to us, at least in the present circumstances of their being. The period, during which we are to inhabit this earth, and enjoy our spiritual advantages, or our worldly possessions and pleasures, is confined within very narrow limits. The oath of this mighty angel is, perhaps, just ready to be accomplished, and time is closing, and eternity is opening upon us. O that we may consider time and all its concerns as very shortly to vanish, that our thoughts and our cares may be directed more and more to our own eternal interest, and to that of our fellow-creatures! The Judge is even at the door: let us endeavour therefore to be ready, let us improve every transient moment to the purposes for which it was given us; and in these views of the brevity of time, and the importance of preparing for eternity, let us detest all the pleasures and allurements of sin; for they will soon appear like the mysterious morsel of the apostle, bitter as wormwood in the belly, though with deceitful and fatal indulgence we may, for a few moments, have rolled them, like a sweet morsel, under our tongues; vainly desiring to prolong those pleasures, which can serve only to add more keen and exquisite sensibility to our future pain.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, Another vision intervenes between the sixth and the seventh trumpet, as before between the sixth and seventh seal.

1. A glorious angel, even the same divine Personage whose voice was heard before, giving the angels their commission, (chap. Revelation 7:2.) comes down from heaven clothed with a cloud; and around his head the rainbow glowed, the token of his mindfulness of his covenant with his faithful saints, even in the darkest ages: his countenance was like the sun, cheering the hearts of his people; and his feet as pillars of fire, firm to support the interests of his sacred cause, and terrible to tread down her enemies. In his hand he held a little book, the last volume of the roll which he had opened, and was about to reveal the contents of it; and, setting one foot on the earth, and the other on the sea, to intimate his universal dominion, he uttered his voice loud as the lion roars, and instantly seven mighty thunderings, the emblems of the judgments about to follow, echoed back the sound. Being about to minute down the articulate denunciations uttered by these thunders, St. John is restrained by a voice from heaven, saying, Seal up those things, and write them not.

2. The angel that stood on the earth and on the sea, then lifted up his hand to heaven, and, with a solemn oath, sware by the great Creator of all things, that there should be time no longer; but that when the time, and times, and half a time, (Daniel 12:7.) are expired, the 1260 years of the reign of Antichrist, then an end shall be put to the Anti-christian tyranny for ever; and that within the period of the seventh trumpet, the mystery of God should be finished, his design of grace accomplished, and his great salvation spread from pole to pole; as of old had been shewn to his prophets, (Daniel 7:25-27; Daniel 12:6-7. Zechariah 14:9.)

2nd, The same voice which he had heard from heaven,

1. Commands him to go and take the volume out of the angel's hand, who stood on the earth and sea, who gave it to him, and bid him eat it up, and digest the awful contents therein revealed; telling him, that, though sweet in his mouth, it would make his belly bitter; desirable as it was to know the events of futurity, yet the awful desolations about to come upon the earth, and the sufferings of the church, could not but inwardly grieve and afflict him.

2. The apostle obeyed, and found the word true which had been spoken; sweet as the book was in his mouth, even as honey, his belly was made bitter as gall, and the burthens he foresaw deeply afflicted him; but he must not conceal the secrets communicated to him; he is commanded to prophesy concerning the events which must successively come to pass before many people, and nations, and tongues, and kings. Note; Preachers must first themselves digest, and be deeply affected with, the truths which they deliver to others.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Revelation 10:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/revelation-10.html. 1801-1803.

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Saturday, December 7th, 2019
the First Week of Advent
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