The Mighty Angel And The Little Scroll
November 8, 2015 | Speaker: Bro Jurem Ramos
By now you are familiar with the three sets of judgments that we find in Revelation: the 7 seal judgments, the 7 trumpet judgments, and the 7 bowl judgments. When we were looking at the seal judgments, we encountered an interlude between the 6th and the 7th seals. It was like a pause after wave after wave of disasters coming upon the world as one seal after another is broken. This interlude between the 6th and 7th seals consisted of two visions—the sealing of the 144,000 and the glorious state of the multitude of saints in heaven. This was a new perspective to the otherwise bleak picture of divine judgments on the earth.
Now that we are in the section of the seven Trumpet Judgments, we encounter another interlude between the 6th
and the 7th
trumpets. Like the first interlude, this interlude consists of two visions—the angel with the little scroll in chapter 10 and the two witnesses in chapter 11. Once again, this pause gives us another perspective to the otherwise bleak picture that we see during the Great Tribulation period.
Why do I say that the interludes in the Revelation give us a new perspective to the bleak picture that we find during the Tribulation? Well, because normally, we would imagine that if a person lives during the Tribulation period, then all of his experiences will be negative. I remember that in the early part of the 1980s, when I was a young believer, I watched two of the films about the End Times: Thief in the Night
and Distant Thunder.
After watching those films, I had these wrong ideas that no one or at least very few would be saved during the Tribulation and life was going to be one wave of trouble after another and filled with hopelessness.
This is the reason why God gives these interludes. These interludes encourage and comfort God’s people who are alive during the Tribulation period. God comforts and reassures Christians that He has not forgotten them and that He still controls events and protects His own.
John MacArthur: The purpose for the interlude in 10:1 to 11:14 is to remind all, including those Christians alive at the time these judgments hit the earth, that the Kingdom will come. … [I]t's going to look so black and so bleak they will have gone through the first six trumpets, and it could easily appear as if the whole universe is disintegrating and they're going to get caught up in the fury of it all and they're going to perish with all the rest, and so, there is a respite [interval of relief] here to remind them that God is still sovereign, they are still His people, He knows who they are, and they are going to triumph—hell will not triumph. The world by now, as you remember from the [fifth and sixth trumpets], is literally engulfed in demons that have been belching out of hell itself. Sin has reached proportions never before imagined in human history. And in the midst of this hellish invasion of demons and sin, Christians need to be comforted that all is still in God's control.
Again, there are two visions in this interlude between the 6th
and the 7th
trumpets. Today, we are going to focus only on the first vision, which is found in chapter 10. We will divide this study into two major parts: First, we are going to look at The Mighty Angel
(10:1-7), and then second, we’ll look at The Little Scroll
I. THE MIGHTY ANGEL (10:1-7)
1 Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven
As it does throughout Revelation, John’s words, “I saw,” mark the beginning of a new vision. Following his vision of the first six trumpets, John saw a vision of someone new. A mighty angel comes to the picture. This mighty angel is different from the six angels who sounded the six trumpets. This is not the seventh angel. He is not one of the seven angels that blow the seven trumpets.
Immediately after John introduces this mighty angel he describes his appearance. Before we look at the appearance of this angel, I want first to take some time to comment on his identity. Some commentators believe that the mighty angel here is Jesus Christ because the phrases by which he is described are elsewhere used of deity: he is wrapped in a cloud (cf. Ps 104:3), there is a rainbow over his head (cf. Rev 4:3), his face is like the sun (cf. Rev 1:16), and his legs are like pillars of fire (cf. Exod 13:21–22).
I think that is wrong. This angel is not Christ for several reasons:
- First, John saw this mighty angel coming down from heaven. If this were Christ, then there is going to be a problem because that would imply an additional coming of Christ. So we would have His first coming, and then His Second Coming would be here, and then His third coming later. Nowhere does the Bible say that there are three comings of Christ.
- Second, in Revelation, Christ never appears as an angel, and to present Him as an angel would be inconsistent with John’s purpose in writing this book. Remember that John’s purpose in writing Revelation is the unveiling of Christ. To say that Jesus is this angel is to veil Christ again; it is to hide His identity.
- Third, the Greek word for “another” in the phrase “another mighty angel” is allos, which means “another of the same kind”; it is not heteros, which means “another of a different kind.” This means that this angel is another of exactly the same kind as the rest of the angels. If this angel were Christ, it would not be right to use allos because it would certainly not be true that He was an angel just like all the rest of the angels, because all the rest of the angels were created, but He is uncreated as the eternal God.
· Furthermore it is very strange to think of the Lord Jesus Christ making the oath that the angel makes in verses 5 and 6. The angel stands on the sea, lifts his hand in the air to swear, and then makes an oath. It is very strange to see the Lord Jesus Christ making some kind of an oath like that. · Another point. There’s another strong angel who appears in Rev 18:21 (Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea
.). We are sure that that one is not Christ. If that mighty angel in Rev 18:21 is not Christ, then there is no reason to assume that the mighty angel in Rev 10:1 is Christ. · One final point. Not because a person in the Bible is presented as having godlike appearance that this person is God. We must realize that when a person is physically exposed to the very presence of God, some of God’s glory rub on him. Remember what happened to the face of Moses after coming from God’s presence for many days? Ex 34:29 says, “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai … his face shone because he had been talking with God.
” I believe this happens to angels too. Because angels are exposed to God’s presence for a long time, God’s glory rubs on them. To give you an example, turn to Daniel 10:5-6:
Dan 10:5-6 I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a man clothed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. 6 His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude.
Taken out of context, you would think that this glorious figure is Christ. But put it in context, you will discover that there are even angels who are greater than him. Dan 10:13 says, “The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me…”
This angel admitted that he is not able complete his task without the help of archangel Michael.
And so, in conclusion, there is no need to think that the mighty angel in Rev 10:1 is Jesus although he is described in glorious terms. It could be Michael or Gabriel or any other mighty angel not mentioned in Scripture, but we cannot be sure.
Having introduced this powerful angel, John describes his spectacular appearance:
- He was wrapped in a cloud. That this angel is clothed in a cloud shows his importance and majesty. Scripture speaks poetically of clouds as vehicles God uses to bring Him from one place to another (Is 19:1, An oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, the Lord is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt.). But being clothed with a cloud also shows that his mission is related to bringing judgment. In the book of Revelation, the "cloud" is used of divine appearances related to judgment.
- Rev 1:7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him.
- Rev 14:14-16 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” 16 So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.
And so this angel wrapped in a cloud shows that this angel is an angel of judgment.
- John also saw a “a rainbow over his head.” Like the cloud, the rainbow also reflects the angel's glory. Remember that God’s throne is surrounded with a emerald-colored rainbow. But the rainbow is also a symbol of God’s faithfulness to keep His covenant promises with His people. You will recall in Genesis that after the flood, God gave the rainbow as the sign of His promise never again to destroy the world by water (Gen 9:12–16). The rainbow with which the angel is crowned will reassure God’s people of His mercy in the midst of coming judgments.
This mighty angel’s attire of cloud indicates that there is a coming day, the day of the Lord, when God will destroy the wicked in the fury of judgment, but the rainbow over his head is a reminder that God is going to keep His promise to His beloved that they'll not be swept up in the judgment.
- Next, John notes, “his face was like the sun.” This probably means that the radiance that was coming from the face of the angel was like the radiance from the sun so that it could brighten the earth like daylight. Compare this angel with another one mentioned in 18:1. It says, “After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory.” This angel made the earth bright because of his glory. Again this description of the angel’s face shows the glory and majesty of the angel.
- Next, John described the angel’s legs as being like pillars of fire.
Simon Kistemaker: The imagery of the angel’s legs as pillars of fire refers indirectly to God’s providential care. God protected the Israelites during chilly nights in the desert with the warmth and light from a pillar of fire, and with it He shielded them from the Egyptian army, thus showing His constant nearness and power (Ex 13:21; 14:24)
- Ex 13:21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.
- Ex 14:24 And in the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic,
- Next, the mighty angel had a little scroll open in his hand.
What is this little scroll? John MacArthur thinks that this is the same scroll described in Revelation 5:1, which was taken from the hand of God by the Lamb, and which was sealed with seven seals. I disagree with this view. (Applying the principle found in Act 17:11, let’s follow the example of the Bereans who examined Scriptures to see if these things were so.)
Here are the reasons why I do not think that the little scroll of 10:2 is the same as the seven-sealed scroll of Rev 5:1:
- The phrase “little scroll” was apparently used in order to distinguish this scroll from the one in 5:1.
- There is no definite article before the word scroll in 10:2 that will alert the reader to the previous reference in 5:1. (10:2 says, “He had a little scroll open in his hand”). If this little scroll in 10:2 refers to the scroll in 5:1 then the statement should have been, “He had the little scroll…” This is the case in Rev 10:8 where the definite article appears before the scroll (“Go, take the scroll…”) to show the reader that this is the same scroll that is mentioned in 10:2.
- Unlike the great scroll of chapter 5 that was sealed with seven seals, this scroll in 10:2 is small enough for John to be able to eat it later in 10:10, And I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it.
- The mighty angel next assumes a symbolic position: And he set his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the land (10:2b).
MacArthur: What is the point of all of this? Well Satan had controlled the earth, the sea, he has been the usurper, the prince of this world and now God puts His foot down. He puts his right foot on the sea, his left on the land. Why? Because the earth and all that is in it belongs to the Lord. That's the point. This action then demonstrates sovereign authority in judgment over the whole earth and it's a symbolic anticipation of what will come in the seventh trumpet and the seven bowls.
- In addition to planting his feet in a symbolic pose, the mighty angel called out with a loud voice, like a lion roaring (10:3a).
Loud voices and loud cries appear often in Revelation. The loudness brings special emphasis to what is said by the person. The lion's roar compels the hearer to listen to the words with greater attention and the words that are heard inspires deeper awe.
After the angel called out, an amazing thing happened (10:3b-4):
“When he called out, the seven thunders sounded.” (10:3b).
Ideas from MacArthur:
“Seven” speaks of completeness and perfection. “Thunder” is often a mark of judgment in Scripture (Rev 8:5; 11:19; 16:18; 2Sa 22:14). These seven loud, powerful sounds cry out for vengeance and judgment upon the sinful earth.
But the seven thunders did not merely make a loud noise; they communicated information that John was about to write. Rev 10:4
says, And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write.
In chapter 1 verses 11 and 19 John was told to write what he saw in his visions. He always did this. And so here again, after hearing the message of the seven thunders, he was about to write. But before John could record the message of the seven thunders, he heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.
We are not sure whose voice this is, whether the voice was that of the Father, Jesus Christ, or an angel is not revealed. The command, however, clearly originated from [someone with authority].
The reason John was forbidden to record the message is also not revealed. It may be that the judgment is simply too terrifying to be recorded. Any speculation as to the specific content of their message is pointless. If God had wanted it to be known, He would not have forbidden John to write it. They are the only words in the book of Revelation that are sealed.
This restriction is followed by the angel’s great announcement (10:5-7).
5 And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven 6 and swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it, that there would be no more delay, 7 but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.
In a solemn act, the angel whom John “saw standing on the sea and on the land” (verse 2) “raised his right hand to heaven
”—the standard gesture for taking a solemn vow (Deuteronomy 32:40; Daniel 12:7). To take such a vow is to affirm before God that one is going to speak the truth. That vow indicated that what the angel was about to say was of the utmost importance and truthfulness.
The angel raised his right toward heaven
because it is where God dwells. The angel is vowing before God that he is going to speak the truth.
Note the angels’ description of God when swore. The angel swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it.
That designation of God stresses His eternity and sovereign power in and over all creation and it strengthens and makes more binding the oath of the angel.
The specific content of the angel’s oath was that there would be no more delay.
This was such a great announcement!
· For thousands and thousands of years believers in the true God who have been persecuted for their faith have been asking the question, “Lord, when are you going to bring justice on earth? When are you going to destroy your enemies? When will you vindicate your children? When are you going to bring permanent peace and prosperity on earth? When are you going to reveal yourself and set up your kingdom here on earth?” · When Adam and Eve fell, God already predicted about the coming Messiah who was going to crush the head of Satan (Gen 3:15; cf. Ro 16:20). · According to Jude 14 and 15, as early as Genesis 5, Enoch already prophesied, saying, “ Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” · The OT prophets repeatedly predicted regarding the terrible Day of the Lord when God will take vengeance on His adversaries (Joel 2:1-2; Nahum 1:2; etc.) · The disciples anticipated this time when God will restore all things in their question in Mt 24:3, As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “ Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?
· Again in Acts 1:6 the disciples ask about the fulfillment of God’s purposes for Israel, So when they had come together, they asked him, “ Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?
· Time and time again, Christians of all generations have prayed, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." People wonder when this will be? · Peter spoke of scoffers who say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2Pe 3:4).
· The souls of martyrs under God’s altar who have been slain for the word of God and for the witness they have borne also cry out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Rev 6:10).
The solemn oath of the angel serves as the great announcement or answer to all of those bewildering questions of the saints throughout history:
The angel… swore by Him… that there would be no more delay, but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.
What this means is that when the seventh trumpet is blown, the finale will come. The sounding of the seventh trumpet brings the final judgment. The time of God’s patience will end and the time for the final acts of God’s judgment will be seen. The time anticipated in the disciples’ questions recorded in Matthew 24:3 and Acts 1:6 has come.
The phrase "but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel,
” indicates that the judgment of the seventh trumpet will cover many days. This period of the Seventh trumpet judgment includes the seven bowl judgments (16:1–21), which would appear to require some weeks or months to unfold.
At that time “the mystery of God would be fulfilled.
” Mystery in Scripture refers to truths God has hidden and will reveal in His time. Mysteries hidden in the past that the New Testament reveals include the “mysteries of the kingdom” (Matthew 13:11), the mystery of Israel’s blindness (Romans 11:25), the mystery of the rapture (1 Corinthians 15:51), the “mystery of lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:7), the “mystery of Christ” and of “Christ and the church” (Ephesians 3:4; 5:32), the mystery of Christ in the believer (Colossians 1:26–27), and the mystery of the incarnation (1Ti 3:16). All kinds of mysteries.
The mystery of God of which the angel spoke is that of “the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth
” (Eph 1:10). It is the consummation of God’s plan in bringing His glorious kingdom in Christ to fulfillment. It involves the salvation of the elect and their place in His glorious kingdom and all that goes with that. It includes the judgment of men and demons. The mystery previously hidden refers to all the unknown details that are revealed from this point to the end of Revelation, when the new heavens and new earth are created.
All these will happen so quickly when the Seventh trumpet is blown. This is why in Rev 11:15 we read, “Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”
The announcement that this mighty angel makes here will bring great comfort and hope to believers living during the Great Tribulation period. MacArthur says,
Now remember, at the time this revelation is read by believers in the future, the earth will be full of satanic [attacks] and unparalleled natural disasters, murder, sexual perversion, drugs, sorceries, thefts, all hell dominating human society, here comes the promise that God is going to step in and intervene. To believers living at that time the realization that God’s glorious plan is on schedule will bring great comfort and hope in the midst of judgment.
Right now we live in that delay. Judgment is held back. But somewhere...somewhere beyond the starry sky there stands a herald angel with a final trumpet in his hand. Somewhere behind the scenes that we can see he is waiting to hear the decree of the Lord God Almighty, there is a day, there is an hour, there is a moment, there is an appointed time when that angel shall sound and the world will become Christ's. The mystery of God will be over and God will say to Satan...this is your destruction. God will say to evil...this is your last dominion. And God will say to demons...this is your last liberty. And God will say to godless men...this is your last hope. And God will say to believers...this is your last suffering.
II. The Little Scroll (10:8-11)
The voice John had earlier heard from heaven (10:4) forbidding him to record the words of the seven peals of thunder spoke to him again. Rev 10:8 Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me again.
As he had earlier (1:17; 4:1; 5:4–5; 7:13–14), John again became an active participant in this vision. He left the place of an observer to become an actor in the drama. The voice said to him, “Go, take the scroll that is open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.”
John wrote, “So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll. And he said to me, “Take and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.”
Obediently, John obey and in the vision, he symbolically took this little book out of the angel’s hand and at it. He was like the prophet Ezekiel before him (Eze 3:1-3).
Eze 3:1-3 And he said to me, “ Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. 3 And he said to me, “ Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey.
The act of eating the scroll symbolized the absorbing and assimilating of God’s Word (cf. Ps 19:10; Jer 15:16).
- Ps 19:10 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
- Jer 15:16 Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart,
When John took in the divine words concerning the remaining judgments as the Lord took possession of the universe, he found them both “sweet as honey
” and “bitter
.” Sweet because John, like all believers, wanted the Lord to act in judgment to take back the earth that is rightfully His and be exalted and glorified as He deserved. Yet the realization of the terrible doom awaiting unbelievers turned that initial sweet taste into bitterness.
All who love Jesus Christ can relate to John’s ambivalence. Believers long for Christ to return in glory, for Satan to be destroyed, and the glorious kingdom of our Lord to be set up on earth, in which He will rule in glory while establishing in the world righteousness, truth, and peace. But they, like Paul, mourn bitterly over the judgment of the ungodly. Paul wrote in Ro 9:1-3:
1 I am speaking the truth in Christ —I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit — 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
In keeping with his bittersweet experience, John was told in 10:11, “You must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and languages and kings.”
The use of “again” indicates John was being commissioned a second time (1:19) to write the rest of the prophecies God was going to give him. What he was about to learn would be more devastating than anything yet revealed—and more glorious. He was to be faithful to his duty to record all the truth he had seen and would soon see. The prophecies John would receive would relate to everyone everywhere.
As an exile on Patmos (1:9), he had no opportunity to preach to all nations, but he was to write the prophecies and distribute them, so as to warn all people of the bitterness of judgment to come, and of death and hell. Sinners everywhere may know because John recorded these prophecies that, while judgment is presently restrained, a future day is coming when the seventh angel will sound his trumpet and sin’s dominion will be broken, the freedom of Satan and his demons will come to an end, godless men will be judged, and believers will be glorified.
Let me close with these word from John MacArthur: When I think about the coming of Christ, it has a sweetness, doesn't it to you? It means my Christ is glorified. It means He takes over the world destroying Satan and demons. It means the Kingdom comes, sin is conquered, salvation is revealed, Christ reigns. That's sweet. But it also means blood and wrath and vengeance and judgment and hell. Anyone who loves Christ can sense what John was experiencing here. The blessings of God are sweet, every message of hope, of blessing, of glory, every message of liberty, salvation of goodness, every promise of heaven is sweet. Every touch of love, every kiss of grace is sweet. But oh the bitterness of judgment. And so verse 11 says, "They said to me, you must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings." What does that mean? Warn men, tell them of the bitter, tell them of the sweet. Tell them what's in the seventh trumpet. Tell them what's in the seventh bowl and all the ones preceding it. Tell them to taste the honey and avoid the bitter. He's saying to him...repeat what you've heard to peoples and nations in all languages. That's the call, that's the commission, that's the assignment. So in this wonderful chapter of interlude there is certainly hope. The whole message of consummation to us who have asked the question...how long, O Lord, how long?...is hopeful. Christ will be exalted, the Kingdom come, hope realized, sin dethroned, Satan imprisoned with all his hosts and the earth filled with righteousness, the righteousness of God and Christ on the throne. But oh the bitterness, the price that sinners will pay. Like John we must preach, we must preach. Again, warning people, warning nations in all languages, even people in authority like kings. So [this] interlude of hope with a serious touch of bitterness, [calls[ us to evangelistic responsibility.