Summary: The strong angel gives John a "little book"; single message on Revelation 10
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).