The Mighty Angel: Christ Claims His Inheritance
This Parenthesis (Rev. 10:1 – 11:14) comes between the sixth and seventh trumpets. There is a parenthesis between the sixth and seventh seals, trumpets, and bowls. These parentheses are given to provide important details and themes before we get the final judgment in the series. This parenthesis comes right before the seventh trumpet (the appearing of Christ). It gives two reasons why Christ will appear:
- The earth is His rightful inheritance, and He will take what belongs to Him (Rev. 10)
- He has a faithful witness here on earth, and He will come to intervene on behalf of His suffering people (Rev. 11:1-14)
Christ Asserts His Claim Over the Whole Earth (10:1-4)
¶ And I saw another strong angel coming down out of the heaven, clothed with a cloud, and the rainbow upon his head, and his countenance as the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire, v.1 A Strong Angel. This angel is Christ Himself, not as a priest (as the “another angel” in ch.8), but now as a king claiming what belongs to Him. Whenever the Son takes on angelic garb He is retreating from what professes His name, and falling back on what He is as a Divine Person. He is clothed with a “cloud“, which points to the Shakina glory cloud; i.e. the manifest presence of Jehovah, that which can be seen with the eye. The “rainbow upon his head” shows that the end result of the divine mind will be blessing for the whole world. His “countenance as the sun” pictures His supreme glory in government (see Matt. 17:2, Rev. 1:16). However, His “feet as pillars of fire” speak of the manner of His appearing; that He will come treading the path of holy judgment. The figure of a “pillar” is combined with “fire”; showing the ideas of solidity or stability combined with thorough, final judgment.
2a and having in his hand a little opened book. v.2a A Little Opened Book. What is the “little open book”? First of all, it is “open” (not sealed) because its contents have been previously available. We find this in Daniel 12 where the prophet was told “do not seal the book”. The open book is in contrast to the seven-sealed book of judgment that is found in Revelation. It would seem then that the opened book is Old Testament prophecy! It has been opened for many years, but now it is about to be fulfilled. It is “little“ in view of the magnitude of its accomplishment.
2b And he set his right foot on the sea, and the left upon the earth, v.2b His Feet. The angel plants his feet on the inheritance. Revelation assumes we’ve read the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, the place where one stands is often connected with a claim of ownership, see Joshua 1:3. This is why, when the nearer kinsman could not redeem the land, Boaz drew off his shoe to give to the nearer kinsman, confirming the transaction, and showing that Boaz now owned the land. Tradition says that the kinsman would have thrown Boaz’s shoe over the field to signify this change of ownership (see Ruth 4:7-8). See also, Psalm 6:6-8, where the Lord says he will “cast out His shoe” over Edom, showing that Israel under Christ will own the land of Edom in the Millennium. The placement of His feet speak of the Lord’s universal claim over men, over the world.
- His claim over the nations in turmoil (right foot in the sea).
- His claim over the organized nations (left foot on the land).
3 and cried with a loud voice as a lion roars. And when he cried, the seven thunders uttered their own voices. v.3 His Voice. This “loud voice” is the voice of Christ (Psa. 68:33); a voice of majesty and power that demands a response! Just as a lion is known to “roar” over his prey once it is under his feet, so Christ is seen with the land and sea under His feet, uttering this territorial cry to claim His possession. If we read Psalm 2, we find that Christ will ask Jehovah to give Him the nations for His inheritance. The judgments up until the appearing are the “wrath of God”, not the “wrath of the Lamb”. God will pummel the earth with judgments to bring about the proper alignment of things when Christ appears. In this chapter we are getting a beautiful picture of Jehovah’s Son about to take His inheritance! His cry is answered by the heavens. The “seven thunders“ is the full response of united heaven to the cry of the rightful king. It is the seven-fold voice of God’s intervention in judgment; heaven responds “Amen!”
4 And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write: and I heard a voice out of the heaven saying, Seal the things which the seven thunders have spoken, and write them not. v.4 Seven Thunders. The seven thunders are sealed up. The subject of the heaven’s response to its Beloved One cannot be described in human words (John 12:27-28). It is God’s special yet formal affirmation to His Son that He will indeed rule it all.
Christ will Accomplish the Mystery of God (10:5-7)
¶ 5 And the angel whom I saw stand on the sea and on the earth lifted up his right hand to the heaven, v.5 His Right Hand. The angel lifts up his hand to heaven as a sign of two things; (1) heaven’s full authority is about to be invoked (Ex. 9:22), and (2) the angel receives His solemn commission as a dependent servant (Gen 14:22). A servant of God never can speak with as much authority on God’s behalf as when he is walking in dependence on God. We see this beautifully in Christ. Christ has been seated at His Father’s right hand for two-thousand years, patiently waiting until His enemies are made His footstool (Psa. 110:1). He remains perfectly the dependent man, not knowing the day nor the hour when His time of manifestation will arrive (Matt. 24:36). But now the time has come! He rises, as it were, from the throne, and lifts up His hand to receive the commission. The time has come for Him to bring about the accomplishment of the mystery of God.
6 and swore by him that lives to the ages of ages, who created the heaven and the things that are in it, and the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be no longer delay; v.6 No more delay. We have had Christ as the dependent Servant (v.5) lifting up His hand to heaven, and now we have His as the Accomplisher of the purpose of God. Christ makes a promise by God in two aspects: (1) as the Eternal God, and (2) as the Creator, the One who brought this whole “theater” into existence in the first place. The promise is this: “I am going to finish this, and I will do it quickly.” The expression that there will be “delay no longer“ doesn’t mean that clocks will stop, but rather, that there will be no more delay in the complete fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.
7 but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound the trumpet, the mystery of God also shall be completed, as he has made known the glad tidings to his own bondmen the prophets. v.7 The Mystery of God. The “mystery of God” refers to the secret of God’s ways with men; how He has allowed evil to continue, the mystery of the silent heavens. Mysteries in scripture are truths that were previously unknown, but now made plain through the complete fulfillment of prophecy. It will be completed with the seventh trumpet; i.e. the appearing of Christ. But it is very specific; “when he is about to sound”. It could be that it refers to an event just moments prior to the appearing; perhaps the display of “the sign of the Son of Man” (Matt. 24:30)? The accomplishment of this “mystery of God” is something that God made known to the prophets, although its completion then was very distant (Dan. 12:8-9). But even then, the thought of Christ having His rightful place was “glad tidings” to the prophets, as it is to every heart that hungers and thirsts after righteousness. But the accomplishment is now very near (Rev. 22:10)!
How Progress is Made in Prophetic Matters (10:8-11)
¶ 8 And the voice which I heard out of the heaven was again speaking with me, and saying, Go, take the little book which is opened in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the earth. v.8 Take the book. The scene now changes from an objective view of this angel, to a subjective line. We are about to learn some very important lessons for the student of prophecy. God tells John to take the little book from the hand of the angel, who is the Lord. The student of prophecy must take prophetic scriptures in this way; as from the hand of the Lord. The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus (Rev. 19:10). It is not just a series of events, but it is all about Christ! The angel is still standing on the inheritance, with one foot on the land and the other on the sea. When we study prophetic events, we must understand that these events are the steps God will take to give Christ His rightful place.
9 And I went to the angel, saying to him to give me the little book. And he says to me, Take and eat it up: v.9a Eat the Book. John wanted the Angel to just give it to him. The angel doesn’t just give it to John, but he says “take it, and eat it up”. It will require energy on our part to take it (get a hold of it intellectually) and also to eat it up (digest or meditate on it so as to understand it). We must “eat the little book” in order to have an understanding of why God is doing what He is doing. Two lessons I take from this:
- The Book of Revelation is NOT enough to get a hold of prophecy. Revelation is only the tying together of the Old Testament prophecies, and showing us the end of false Christianity. Many have tried to progress beyond this chapter (the events surrounding the appearing) without eating the little book; but the result is disastrous. That is where many speculative interpretations have come from.
- We cannot make progress in prophetic subjects – or any subject for that matter – if we are unwilling to eat the book (Jeremiah 15:16). We have to let the moral import of God’s word sink into our hearts and consciences. Then God can give us more light, and we will be useful servants to communicate that truth to others (v.11).
9b and it shall make thy belly bitter, but in thy mouth it shall be sweet as honey. 10 And I took the little book out of the hand of the angel, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth as honey, sweet; and when I had eaten it my belly was made bitter. vv.9b-10 Results of Eating the Book. When we eat the little book there are two results:
- Sweet in the mouth. When we think about the Lord having his rightful place and blessing the world, it produces joy in our hearts. This is the immediate response, and the taste lingers!
- The belly bitter. When we understand how the Lord is going to do it (through judgment) it will produce sobriety. Our conscience will be affected! It will cause us to pass judgement on everything to do with the flesh. We shouldn’t treat prophecy like chewing gum. Prophesy is in some ways painful… but we need to go on eating.
11 And it was said to me, Thou must prophesy again as to peoples and nations and tongues and many kings. v.11 Next Steps. If we let the moral import of prophecy effect our hearts and consciences, it will prepare us not only for further light, but to be effective servants in communicating the truth we have.