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Bible Commentaries

William Newell's Commentary on Romans, Hebrews and Revelation
Revelation 10

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-11

Chapter 8: No Longer Delay!

And I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, arrayed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire; and he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left upon the earth; and he cried with a great voice, as a lion roareth.

We may call this angel the herald angel of the great things that belong under the seventh trumpet, as seen in Revelation 11:15-19. The great burden of this angel's message is that "there shall be delay [The translation of chronos by the word "time" is impossible, as well as unreasonable, in view of the context. We know that after our Lord's coming back to earth in chapter 19 there will be one thousand years of His reign with His saints on earth (Revelation 20:4-6) and after that "a little season," before the earth and the heaven flee away at the Great White Throne judgment.] no longer" (Revelation 10:6, R.V.). The angel of chapter 10 is not Christ, but His messenger sent to announce a most solemn crisis.

This angel in chapter 10 really introduces chapter 11, with God's two witnesses prophesying at Jerusalem; the great view of God's plans concerning Israel, and Satan's opposition, of chapters 12 and 13-in fact all these great events described in Revelation 11:18. (Read this verse most carefully, for its importance is great.)

Let us return now to the beginning of chapter 10. "Another strong angel … a little book." This is in plain reference to the strong angel of Revelation 5:2 who also speaks of a book.

Note at once that John's position in chapter 10 seems to be on earth (as it undoubtedly is in chapter 11), for he sees the angel coming down out of heaven.

That this angel is merely such, and not Christ Himself, as some maintain, seems to me fully evident. Over sixty times angels are mentioned in The Revelation apart from the "angels" of the churches; and they are always seen in service to Him who is opening the seals of the book of judgment. For the Master of the house to take the place of one of the servants at a time such as we are now considering is wholly incongruous. The more we study the book of The Revelation the more we become impressed and over-awed at the dignity and authority conferred on these beings called angels (Greek-messengers).

We need not, therefore, be surprised at the description of this angel in Revelation 10:1 -"arrayed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire." He is not sitting upon the cloud as the "one sitting like unto a son of man" of chapter 14. "Jehovah maketh the clouds his chariot." But this angel was "arrayed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head." Here we are again taken back to Genesis 9:1-29 as in Revelation 4:3. God is about to call earth to account for breaking the everlasting covenant, of which the rainbow was the token (Isaiah 24:1-23). This angel's face "as the sun" and his feet "pillars of fire" declare the supreme, searching, fixed character of his message. Of the angel who announces the final doom of Babylon it is written in chapter 18:1, "the earth was lightened with his glory,"-yet no one supposes him to be the Lord!

His right foot upon the sea, and his left upon the earth.

The sea often seems in Scripture a distinct province, with a responsibility and judgment distinct from that of the earth. In the issue of the seventh angel's message introduced by this present angel, we find at the time the dead are judged, that the sea will give up the dead which are in it, before the human dead held by death and Hades are given up (Revelation 20:13). What the sea covers, no man knows, though it has been surmised, and that from certain Scriptures, that other than human remains are covered by its depths. We know that Satan was a murderer "from the beginning" (John 8:44), and that demons seem to be disembodied spirits ever seeking abodes, as Satan's angels do not. At all events, the sea is covered by judgment, as this angel's position shows. He cried "as a lion roareth." Compare Isaiah 21:8 where the watchman "cried as a lion." He represents Him who will shortly "roar from Zion" (Amos 1:2).

And when he cried, the seven thunders uttered their voices.

And when the seven thunders uttered, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying, Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

We remember "the God of glory thundereth" (Psalms 29:1-11) and Job 26:14, "How small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?"; and Job 37:5, "God thundereth marvellously with his voice; Great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend." Indeed, in Psalms 29:1-11 is a striking commentary on the seven thunders of The Revelation. Beginning with verse 3 "The voice of Jehovah is upon the waters: The God of glory thundereth," we have "the voice of Jehovah" repeated exactly seven times!

It is characteristic of that presumption which belongs to error that Seventh Day Adventism professes to tell us (and that through a woman!) the very things which the seven thunders uttered: although God commanded John to seal them up and write them not.

It is well to observe, that what the seven thunders uttered is the only part of the whole book of Revelation which is sealed (see Rev 22:l0). There "is a perfect, mighty, secret operation of God's power in judgment, as well as in salvation (read Deuteronomy 29:29). Probably some day we will understand this sealed message. John did: he was about to write!

And the angel that I saw standing upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his right hand to heaven, and sware by him that liveth forever and ever, who created the heaven and the things that are therein, and the earth and the things that are therein, and the sea and the things that are therein. [This phrase is repeated three times, once in connection with each sphere of creation, as emphasizing the Creator's rights as Creator, to proceed in judgment as He pleases.]

With the little book open (Revelation 10:2) in one hand he lifts up his right hand to heaven, and announces a solemn oath by Jehovah the Creator. It is plain here again that this angel is not the Lord Himself; for when God took oath, "since he could swear by none greater, he sware by himself" (Hebrews 6:13). Now Christ is Himself the Creator, but this angel takes oath by other than himself.

There shall be delay no longer! We are entering upon a new phase of divine judgments. In chapter 5 John wept much because no one appeared able to take at all the book of judgment, or even to look upon it. The Lamb then took the sealed book. Upon the opening of the first six seals, dire results followed among men: and again, after the seventh seal, six of the seven trumpets brought direct visitations from heaven upon impenitent men. Now, however, solemn oath is taken that in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then is finished the mystery of God, according to the good tidings which he declared to his servants the prophets.

This expression, "the mystery of God," in this connection seems to indicate all those counsels and dealings of God made known by Him to and through the Old Testament prophets, concerning His governmental proceedings with men on earth looking always toward the establishment of the kingdom in the hands of Christ.

When Christ comes to take the kingdom, there will be no mystery, but, on the contrary, manifestation. "The earth shall be full of the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea"-that is, universally and compulsorily (Isaiah 11:9). It is important for us to remember that we are ourselves still in the days of "mystery." If a man would walk godly, there is "the mystery of godliness" by which he walks, unknown to the world (1 Timothy 3:16); those who would walk "lawless," must at present walk in "the mystery of lawlessness," for God is not yet allowing "the lawless one" to be revealed, but restrains (thanks be to Him!) (2 Thessalonians 2:1-17).

But when the seventh angel sounds, all this will be finished, and there will be open manifestation of all. So we shall expect Antichrist to be brought forth; Israel to be hated and persecuted by all nations, and Satan universally worshipped, for he is the god of this age! And we shall expect God to manifest His anger. He will do so, and fully-"in the days of the voice of the seventh angel." "Delay no longer," then, is the word that governs things-let us hold this fact in mind, from this seventh angel onward.

And the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard it again speaking with me,

and saying, Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel

that standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.

John is evidently, in spirit, upon the earth here. Also, that the voice should come from heaven to him, anew emphasizes the fact that the holder of the book is not Christ, but, as is said, simply an "angel." It is again brought to our attention that this little book is "open," not sealed; so that when the Seer has taken, eaten, and digested it, the revelations will all be such as can be understood from "the prophets" of the Old Testament, whose writings already have lain before men, "open," for a long time.

And I went unto the angel, saying unto him that he should give me the little book. And he saith unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but in thy mouth it shall be sweet as honey. 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 when I had eaten it, my belly was made bitter.

God's words, to one who loves them, are always sweet, as David says, "sweeter also than honey and the … honey-comb." Jeremiah said, "Thy words were found, and I did eat them." But, while to Jeremiah, God's words became "a joy and the rejoicing of my heart," to John, upon digesting this little book, they became bitter.

Its contents were such as, when pondered and understood, were of anguish to the prophet. It evidently contained the revelation found in chapter 11 concerning the future awful "Sodom and Egypt" spiritual state of Israel (Revelation 11:8) and the Remnant's experiences under the rage of Satan and his vassals, in chapters 12 and 13.

They say unto me, Thou must prophesy again over

many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.

Now this is exactly what John goes on to do, ending up with the ten kings allied with the Beast: their career and doom, in chapters 13, 17, and 19.

"They," who told John he must thus prophesy, we may surmise were heavenly "watchers" (as in Daniel 4:13; Daniel 4:17): for the mind of God as to earthly judgments and prophetic programs is well known by those dwelling in the light of heaven (compare Revelation 7:13-14; Revelation 11:15; Revelation 21:1; Revelation 22:9).

And now, let us reflect upon the fact that blessing to earth's nations waits upon the condition of Israel, the elect nation. Christ will come, and "will turn away ungodliness from Jacob" and the receiving into favor of national Israel, will be as "life from the dead" for "the world": as Paul so clearly sets forth in Romans 11:26; Romans 11:15; and James, in Acts 15:16-17; as also all the prophets.

But these same prophets with one voice witness that before Israel can become a joy in the whole earth, they must first taste the full bitterness of rejecting their true Messiah. The "false shepherd" must come. Apostate Israel will make a "covenant with death" and a treaty with God's great enemy. The last state of "Israel after the flesh" will become "worse than the first."

But the counsels of God are ever settled and His word faithful. So that we shall see the Lord in Revelation 11:1-19 commanding John to measure "the Temple of God," with its altar and worshippers-even when the nation is apostate and the city "as Sodom"!

And the heavenly mind regarding Israel sees her as in Revelation 12:1; though her future experience on earth will be terrible (Revelation 12:13-16). And a remnant will stand upon Mount Zion to sing heavenly praise! (Revelation 14:1-5)

The two great prophets or "witnesses" whose testimony preserves Israel from doom, and lays the foundation of the fear of the Lord in the remnant, will now be considered.

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Newell, William. "Commentary on Revelation 10:4". William Newell's Commentary on Romans, Hebrews and Revelation. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wnc/revelation-10.html. 1938.

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