I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire. He had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. When he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices. Revelation 10:1-3
Who Is This "Strong Angel"?
Today we enter into Revelation Chapter 10, which is referred to as a parenthetical chapter. In short, there are scenes of action as we have seen in Revelation 6, 8 and 9, and breaks in the action or parenthesis in chapter 7 and now in chapter 10.
There are many points of difference in interpreting the Revelation. There are many different views of the timing of events such as the Rapture, the identity of the Person on the throne in Revelation 4, whether the locust/scorpions are literal or are perhaps machines of war and so on. We see such a diversity of opinion in reading Chapter 10 and identifying the "mighty angel"; some identify him as Christ, while others as a special angel. There are many quality scholars on both sides of the aisle on this one, and it is again one of those things that should not cause division among Christians. That being said, I do believe this is not Jesus Christ, but instead is a special angel.
While there are many similarities to the appearance of Jesus to this "mighty angel" (strong angel, NASB), there are many reason why we should not consider this, which we will discuss today and tomorrow.
The identity of this person as "another mighty (strong) angel". First, while it is true that Jesus made pre-incarnate appearances in the Old Testament (Gen 16:10-13; Ex 3:2-6; 23:20; Judg 6:11-18), Jesus no where is mentioned as an angel in the New Testament. Why? In the Old Testament, He had not yet gained bodily form, but in the New Testament Jesus was born as a human (Matt 1:23) and was the Word become flesh (John 1:14, 18). Jesus would not appear as an angel because He is the God-man, both God and Man at the same time.
Second is that this vision occurs on Earth. Jesus will not come back to Earth until the end of the Tribulation period (Revelation 19).
Third, is the misconception that because Jesus is shown with these attributes (clothed in a cloud, face like the sun, rainbow around the head, feet like pillars of fire) in Revelation Chapter 1 means that this is Jesus. While this would be the natural assumption at first glance, we must take the entire body of evidence into account. When Moses came off of the mountain after his visitation in the presence of God, his face had to be veiled because the people could not look at him (Exodus 34:29-35); it was because Moses was in the presence of the Lord.
Fourth, this is not the only incidence of the term "strong angel" (mighty angel). This same term is used in Revelation 5:2; in fact, the term angelos (angel, messenger) is used some sixty six times in Revelation and does not refer to Jesus.
The Attributes of the Strong Angel
Coming down from heaven--In short, from the very presence of God. As mentioned yesterday, when Moses came off of the mountain his face shone and people could not look upon him, and he had to wear a veil. Let's think about that for a moment, the lesson learned here. The more we are in the presence of God in prayer, in worship in the Word, in praising Him in song, the more we show others Jesus. I think we can learn a lesson from this "strong angel" as his mere appearance reflected the Lord and how we can in our manner reflect the attributes of God. In other words, people see God in you.
Clothed with a cloud--Clouds are most often a sign of impending judgment in prophecy, and this is the case here.
Rainbow was on his head--This reflects the vision of God the Father on the throne in Revelation 4 with the exception that this rainbow (iris--complete circle) is in full color not with the greenish tinge. The rainbow is a sign of the promise of God to Noah. This angel is bringing forth the continuation of judgment promised to the martyrs under the throne (Rev 6:9-11).
Feet like pillars of fire--a reference to Revelation 1:15, the feet of fire are indicative of the judgment of God.
He had a little book in his hand--it is tempting to view this "little book" as a different book altogether from the scroll in Revelation 4 and 5; "but that reasoning overlooks the fact that biblaridion is the diminutive form of biblion, and that biblion is also used to refer to the little book in 10:8. Rather than distinguishing this book from the one in chapter 5, the diminutive form merely adds a further description of it in this vision". (MacArthur) This book is open, which "reveals the counsels of God" (Robert Thomas).
And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, angel is huge in size according to most scholars.
"That the angel put one foot on the sea and the other on the land shows his massive size from the perspective of John's vision. Since no limitation is given in describing the sea and land, this action of the angel demonstrates God's sovereign authority to judge the entire earth" (MacArthur)
Here is another thought--Jesus is God in human flesh, and not in giant form. In other words, this is another reason why this "strong angel" would not be Jesus.
He had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. When he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices.
Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them." Revelation 10:2-4 (NKJV)
Some Things To Which We Just Aren't Privy!
The end of verse three we see how this "strong angel" cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. This angel speaks in a very loud voice--and the lion represents Jesus as being a King, with this angel being first in His presence and then speaking on His behalf. The rest of this section of Scripture deals with what follows.
The number seven is a number that is most prominent in Revelation, being used sixty six times from my count. This would make sense as it is "a sacred number to the ancient Hebrew people. The word is used often in the Bible to symbolize perfection, fullness, abundance, rest, and completion. (Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary). In short, it is "God's number". Ed Hindson in his "Revelation: Unlocking the Future" Commentary notes that "the seven thunders may be taken from Psalm 29:3-9, where the "God of glory thunders". The sevenfold description of God's voice is: 1) over many waters; 2) Powerful; 3) Majestic; 4) Breaks the cedars; 5) Hews out flames of fire; 6) Shakes the wilderness and 7) Makes the deer to calve." Succinctly, God's Word is powerful, and we see that power unleashed with the shout and cry of the angel here.
Just the other night, we had a thunderstorm at our place, and I was downstairs in my den at my computer. A huge peal of thunder shook the house, and I got a summons to come up stairs by my wife. Our recently acquired dog, Hemi, a good sized, full grown labrador/weimaraner mix had climbed up on top of my son who was laying on the couch, and was sitting on his shoulders! Truly, thunder does command the attention of man and beast!
Here in verse four, we see how there are things that John heard but was told to "seal up" these things he had heard in the seven thunders. This is not the first time this has happened in Scripture; Daniel was told do the same (Daniel 12) and Paul was forbidden to reveal what he saw in the "third heaven" (2 Cor 12:2-4). This is a bit unusual, as there are so many things that are revealed in Revelation; the very word for this book in Koine Greek is apokalupsis which means
"appearing, coming, lighten, manifestation, be revealed, revelation" (Strong's), but it is the revealing of Jesus Christ.
It is important to remember that the Bible will tell you everything you need to know while here on earth. However, there are some things that we just are not privy to--just yet. In fact, there are many wonders that we will experience in Heaven with Jesus!--JH
The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to heaven and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer, but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets. Rev 10:5-7, NKJV
If you have ever been in a court of law, either as a spectator or as a participant, you have been "sworn in." This involves you placing your hand on a Bible, and raising your right hand and swearing that what you will state in your testimony is "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God". We promise before God that we will do just that; it is the one instance where we can give an oath without violating the specific command about oaths (let your yes be yes, and your no, no; Matt 5:37, James 5:12).
Here is another reason why this "strong angel" cannot be Jesus. Jesus would not swear an oath. Why would He have to? His own word is a testimony unto itself, and He would only swear by Himself (Hebrews 6:13-18). If anything, He would swear by Himself. Also, we see in this passage a statement that shows that God created all things. Jesus was at creation, and He Himself created all things (John 1:1-3).
So what then is this angel testifying to? That there would be "no delay" (not that time would be no more, KJV) meaning that all of these judgments would be executed and be over soon.
The mystery of God is not about some mystery novel, but instead the revealing of a truth that was not fully understood prior. For instance, we read in the Old Testament that the Gentiles would be part of salvation, but it was not revealed that it would be through the church that all men could be saved. The mystery of God is spoken of by Jeff Lasseigne in his "Unlocking The Last Days" commentary: The mystery spoken of here in Revelation refers to the last days, the second coming of Christ, and the establishment of his kingdom".
This foretelling or revelation of these truths were to his prophets in both the Old and New Testaments. Interestingly, the Greek word for declared is the word euannelizo, a variant of the word from which we get evangelist, evangelism and gospel. In other words, it all ties together.
When you and I witness to our lost friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers or even our enemies, we are declaring God's revealed truth to them. How important a calling we have!
Then the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, "Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth." So I went to the angel and said to him, "Give me the little book." And he said to me, "Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth." Then I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter. And he said to me, "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings."
Rev 10:8-11, NKJV
Sweet and Sour
I love chocolate milk. Yup, I really do. But the only way that I can drink chocolate milk is if I eat something else with it. For some reason, as much as I love the taste of it, it gives me an upset stomach.
The voice from heaven, most likely God, tells John to take the book from the angel and eat it. Yes, it does sound strange, but this is not the first time that this happened in the Word of God. In two other instances, men in the Bible are either told to or eat it (Ezekiel 3:3, Jeremiah 15:16).
What then does this mean? When we eat something, first we chew it over. In Psalm 1:2, the psalmist finds "his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night". The Hebrew word for "meditate" means to "chew it over", much like a cow chewing it's cud. If you take a moment next time you are driving past a pasture field and see a chow chewing, one gets the idea that the cow is thinking things over. Such is the case with the man of God, we chew over the Word of God.
John is told and finds out that the book is sweet as honey in his mouth. When we chew over the Word of God, we find that it is sweet to the taste. It is "sweeter than honey and the honeycomb" (Psalm 19:10). It satisfies the soul. It soothes the tired, hurting soul. We see how the Word of God is a benefit to us and to the saint of God.
However, it can be bitter as well, and upset your stomach. How? Two ways come to mind. First, when the "rubber meets the road" and we see how we are to live by God's Word, we often find it hard to live by. Our old sinful nature still wants to dominate, and wants to control. Our old nature wants to be in charge and in pride, does not want to relent.
But the main meaning here is this: we can see here in The Revelation of Jesus Christ that hard, tough times are coming to those that do not know Jesus Christ. We can find sweet and enjoy our salvation in Jesus Christ, but at the same time it should make us upset that many that we know--if the Rapture were to occur right this very second--would face the horrors of all of these judgments and an even greater horror of an eternity apart from God in Hell.