Summary: When God breaks His Silence
Revelation 10:1-2a, “Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, surrounded by a cloud, with a rainbow over his head. His face shone like the sun, and his feet were like pillars of fire. And in his hand was a small scroll, which he had unrolled.”
I saw (eidon) (4:1;7:1,9;15:5;18:1;19:1) marks the beginning of a new vision. Here we shall examine the Angel and the small scroll. Some have said that this angel refers to Christ but this cannot be, because Christ would never swear as we shall see later by Himself on Himself in any matter or fashion. This has to be seen here as another angel more than likely the same angel mentioned in the trumpet. This is strengthened by the fact that throughout Revelation John gives a specific name to Christ such as Alpha and Omega to show that it is in fact Christ that is speaking. This is strengthened further because to add another Second Coming is not in according with biblical descriptions of the Second Coming (Matthew 24:30;25:31;2 Thess 1:7-8)
Having thus introduced the angel we thus gain an understanding from Exodus of John’s imagery. Robed with a cloud would refer to the power, majesty and glory and the fact that this angel comes bringing judgment. Clouds are associated with the second coming of Christ in judgment (1:7;14:14-16;Matthew 24:30; Mark 13:26;14:62; and Luke 21:27). Marvin Vincent points out about the rainbow (Iris) that, “The Greek goddess who personified the rainbow, and served as a messenger of the gods. In classical Greek iris was used to describe any bright halo surrounding another object, such as the circle surrounding the eyes on a peacock’s tail, or the iris of an eye.” Here thought it is best seen as describing the many colored rainbow surrounding the angel’s head that reflects his splendor. The cloud symbolizes judgment, the rainbow represents God’s covenant mercy in the midst’s of judgment. God gave the rainbow as sign of His covenant with His people never to destroy the world by water (Gen 9:12-16). The rainbow is used here to demonstrate God’s compassion to the believers here who are being persecuted. Malachi 3:16-4:2 demonstrates this same sort of dual covenant promise of mercy to His people in the midst’s of judgment. His face like the sun (18:1) could refer back to Moses (Exodus 34:29-35) or to the fact that the Shechinah glory of God “who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Tim 6:16), for He said to Moses, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live! (Ex 33:20). The background of Exodus is here used to describe the angels feet. It draws back imagery that the angel’s legs would recall the pillar of fire and cloud that gave both protection (Exodus 14:19,24) and guidance (Exodus 13:21-22) to the children of Israel in their wilderness journey. As Farrer points out, “The description of the angel fits his message: the bow recalls God’s promise through Noah, the pillar of fire God’s presence in the wilderness, and the scroll the tablets of stone.”
Little scroll (biblaridion) is different than the one mentioned in chapter 5 in the sense that the one mentioned in chapter 5 is referring to the seals, trumpets and the bowls being unleashed upon mankind. This scroll here is symbolic since John was to eat it which is shown here by this phrase which lay open in his hand. The little book lying open in this angel’s hand refers to the divine judgment that is yet to come.
Revelation 10:2b-3, “He stood with his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land. And he gave a great shout, like the roar of a lion. And when he shouted, the seven thunders answered.”
That the angel’s feet are planted with his right foot on the sea and his left food on the land shows God’ sovereign authority to judge the entire earth (7:2; Exodus 20:4, 11; Psalm 69:34), which He will soon take back from the usurper, Satan. Paul wrote, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains” (1 Cor 10:26). The shout of the roar of a lion brings to mind imagery from Jeremiah 25:30, “The LORD will roar from on high; he will thunder from his holy dwelling and roar mightily against his land. He will shout like those who tread the grapes, shout against all who live on the earth.” Seven speaks completeness, finality and perfection. Thunder is often a harbinger of judgment in Scripture (8:5;11:19;16:18;1st Samuel 2:10;2ndSamuel 22:14; Psalm 18:13; John 12:28-30) .
Revelation 10:4, “When the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write. But a voice from heaven called to me: "Keep secret what the seven thunders said. Do not write it down."