Chapter 10

Introduction

We have just finished the sixth trumpet event in the previous chapter, but we won’t see the seventh trumpet event until we are near the end of the next chapter (Rev 11:15). The text in this chapter and the first part of the next chapter represents the “trumpet interlude“. It is placed between the sixth and seventh trumpet events just as the earlier “seal interlude” was placed between the sixth and seventh seal events.

This trumpet interlude complements the trumpet events by looking at the trumpet time period (the time, times, and half a time) as a whole, just as the seal interlude complemented the seal events by looking at the seal time period (the 70th Week of Daniel) as a whole. Since the trumpet time period encompasses the 42 months of great tribulation, we should expect this trumpet interlude to make reference to this time frame, and indeed it does. In fact, it makes multiple references (both direct and indirect) to 42 month (or 1260 day) periods. These 42 months of the trumpet period constitute the second half of the seven-year seal period.

Commentary

The Trumpet Interlude

1I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire; 2and he had in his hand a little book which was open. He placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land; 3and he cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars; and when he had cried out, the seven peals of thunder uttered their voices. 4When the seven peals of thunder had spoken, I was about to write; and I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken and do not write them.”

v1 I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire – This majestic description suggests that this angel is about to speak with great authority, and rightfully so since he is making a proclamation on behalf of God. Recall that there was another mighty “proclaiming” angel mentioned in Rev 5:2, who called out for someone worthy to open the scroll that was in God’s hand. We will see another mighty angel in Rev 18:21 who proclaims the violent fall of “Babylon”. The proclamations by these mighty angels serve to convey information to us about God’s purposes in the end times.

v2 he had in his hand a little book which was open – This “little book” (or “little scroll”) is not the same as the seven-sealed scroll that was introduced in Rev 5:1 and handed to Christ in Rev 5:7. The purpose for this little scroll is made apparent in verses 8-11 below.

v2 He placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land – His stance suggests that the proclamation he is about to make impacts the entire world.

v3-4 3he cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars; and when he had cried out, the seven peals of thunder uttered their voices. 4When the seven peals of thunder had spoken, I was about to write; and I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken and do not write them.” – The angel gives a shout, and then John hears the voices of “seven thunders”, which seem to come as a response to the shout. It is not clear what these “thunders” are. Possibly, they refer to the same thunder and rumbling sounds (which are sometimes depicted as voices) that we see elsewhere in Revelation (Rev 4:5, Rev 6:1, Rev 8:5, Rev 11:19, Rev 14:2, Rev 16:18, Rev 19:6).

Whatever the thunders said in verse 3, John heard it, but he was instructed to not write down what he heard. Therefore, the words spoken by the seven thunders shall remain a mystery and it is unwise to speculate about what they said. However, since their words are not revealed, it raises a question: What purpose is there for even mentioning them at all?

Conceivably, one purpose might be to make allowance for unspecified major developments during the great tribulation. That is, this may be a way to inform Christians that the great tribulation may include some major events that are not revealed in scripture.

The Angel’s Oath

5Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven, 6and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, WHO CREATED HEAVEN AND THE THINGS IN IT, AND THE EARTH AND THE THINGS IN IT, AND THE SEA AND THE THINGS IN IT, that there will be delay no longer, 7but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets.

This angel raises his hand, swears by him who lives forever, and declares that there will be no more delay, and that all the things preached by prophets will be accomplished with the seventh trumpet event. We know that this event is coming up next because we have finished the first six trumpet events.

Importantly, the account of this angel is very similar to another account given in the last chapter of Daniel, shown below:

Dan 12:7: I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, as he raised his right hand and his left toward heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time; and as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people, all these events will be completed.

There are four great similarities between the angel of Revelation 10, and the angel of Daniel 12:

  1. Both angels raise a hand (or hands) to heaven.
  2. Both swear by Him who lives forever.
  3. Both make an oath regarding a time delay.
  4. Both announce that all things will be finished when the the time delay ends.

I don’t believe that this similarity can just be a coincidence. Both passages are in the context of the end times, and both passages refer to a time delay that precedes the completion of prophecy. We may conclude that both angels refer to the very same time delay, which is the period of time called time, times and half a time. The only difference is this:

  • The angel in Daniel 12 is giving his oath before the delay (saying that the delay called “time, times, an half a time” must come before all things will be finished).
  • The angel in Revelation 10 is giving his oath after the delay (saying that the delay is now ending, and all things spoken by the prophets will now be finished in the seventh trumpet).

Thus, Revelation is making an indirect reference to the time, times, and half a time here within the trumpet interlude. This supports the claim that the trumpet period correspond to the time, times, and half a time. Shortly, we will see more references to this duration of time (42 months and 1260 days).

v7 but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets – The fact that all things that God preached to the prophets will be finished in the seventh trumpet is a strong confirmation of the view that the seventh trumpet must encompass the bowl judgments (as described in the Overlapping Model presented in Revelation Overview), because the prophets definitely spoke about the things in the bowl judgments, specifically when they spoke about the Day of the Lord.

John Called to Prophesy

8Then the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard again speaking with me, and saying, “Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the land.” 9So I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book. And he said to me, “Take it and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” 10I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and in my mouth it was sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter. 11And they said to me, “You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.”

v9 So I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book. And he said to me, “Take it and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” – Oddly, John is told to eat the “little scroll” that the angel was holding. As he does so, he feels the sensation of both sweetness and bitterness.

The great significance of this rather strange experience by John is that it closely parallels the similar experience had by the prophet Ezekiel when he was called to be a prophet to Israel: Ezek 3:1-3  1Then He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” 2So I opened my mouth, and He fed me this scroll. 3He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.” Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth.

Then a few verses later, after having been told that Israel would not listen to him, Ezekiel felt bitterness: Ezek 3:14 So the Spirit lifted me up and took me away; and I went embittered in the rage of my spirit, and the hand of the LORD was strong on me.

The similarity between these two strange “scroll-eating” experiences means that Revelation is drawing a parallel between Ezekiel’s calling and John’s calling. We see John’s calling in the next verse:

v11 And they said to me, “You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.” – This scroll-eating experience shared by Ezekiel and John calls attention to the similarity of their purpose:

Who should hear the prophecy:

  • Ezekiel was called to prophesy to the nation Israel, concerning the persecution they were facing from the kingdom of Babylon (Ezek 3:4).
  • John was called to prophesy to the churches, concerning the persecution they will be facing from many nations and kings (Rev 10:11).

The message of the prophecy:

  • Ezekiel’s message was to warn Israel that the attack from the kingdom of Babylon is due to their failure to represent Him faithfully (Ezek 3:17, 27, 8:6, 21:2, 19, 24). However, Ezekiel also spoke of restoration afterwards for those who endure (e.g. Ezek 37:24-28).
  • John’s message is to inform the churches that the attack from the kingdom of Antichrist (which is metaphorically called “Babylon” in Revelation) shall be due to their failure to represent Him faithfully (as indicated by the rebukes to the churches in chapters 2 and 3). However, John also speaks about restoration afterwards for those who endure (Rev 12:11, 21:3-4).

The points in common:

  • In both cases, the prophet is called to prophesy to those who are God’s representatives on earth.
  • In both cases, the calling of the prophet involves eating a scroll with sweet and bitter aspects.
  • In both cases, the dire consequences came (or shall come) to pass (represented by bitterness).
  • In both cases, the opposing kingdom falls into ruin, the people are restored and purified, and God is glorified (represented by sweetness).

But John was an old man imprisoned on Patmos. How was he supposed to prophesy to the churches throughout the earth? By writing of this, the book of Revelation! (Rev 1:19).

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