Monday, January 19, 2009
Revelation 10:1 - 11
In chapter 10, we again discover a parenthesis similar to the one in chapter 7. Between the sixth and seventh seal judgments, there was a lull before the storm. Now we experience a break between the sixth and the seventh trumpet blasts. The study of this parenthetical period continues through chapter 11, verse 14.
Verse 1: And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire.
This angel is Christ. Remember, Christ was and is eternal. In fact, He was before the angels because He created them. For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him (Colossians 1:16). Thus, I believe that such Theophanies and Christophanies were appearances of Christ throughout the Old Testament, usually in the form of angelic manifestations. This angel of Jehovah has always acted and worked as a deity. Proof? Isaiah 63:9: In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.
On three occasions to this point in time, we have observed this angelic messenger in action. In chapter 7, verses 2 and 3, He holds back the tides of judgment for a special hour of grace. In chapter 8, verse 5, He stands as the messenger of the covenant, pouring out the fire of judgment upon the earth. Now He appears again in the text before us. In the first appearance, He is a prophet, in the second, a priest, and now, in the third, He appears as a King. This is the threefold ministry of the Saviour. Hence, this angel is Jesus. As He comes down from heaven, He is clothed with a cloud, has a rainbow upon His head, exhibits a countenance that shines like the sun, and has feet like unto pillars of fire. What do these attributes signify?
First, Christ, in His deity, is usually surrounded by a cloud: Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne (Psalm 97:2). Bickering Israel witnessed the glory of the Lord [appearing] in the cloud (Exodus 16:10). When God gave Moses the Ten Commandments of judgment, He descended in a thick cloud, and immediately the Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud...And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount (Exodus 19:9,16). At the completion of the tabernacle, a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34). This was the cloud of the Lord (Exodus 40:38). On the Mount of Transfiguration, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him (Matthew 17:5). When Christ ascended to heaven, a cloud received him out of their sight (Acts 1:9). And as He departed He said, they shall see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory (Luke 21:27). When He returns, He will come with clouds; and every eye shall see him (Revelation 1:7).
Second, the God of all eternity made a covenant with Noah, placing a rainbow in the sky as a symbol of His mercy. The rainbow pictures mercy in the midst of judgment. Ah! Who but the Lord could wear it?
Third, Christ is often pictured as One who has a shining face as unto the sun. In fact, Saul of Tarsus met this One whose countenance was and is light: And as [Saul] journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus (Acts 9:3-5).
Finally Christ's feet as pillars of fire picture judgment, as we saw in chapter 1, verse 15.
Verse 2: And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth,
This verse pictures Christ preparing to take control of the earth and sea, which have always been rightfully His. He created them, for all things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made (John 1:3). When Christ came to take control 1,900 years ago, He was rejected, crucified, and buried, but He rose again. Since then He has been at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for His people (see Hebrews 7:25). At a given moment He will rise from the throne and make a request. The picture is presented in Psalm 2:6-8. God says, Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree. Then Christ says, The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Immediately the Father asks His Son to make a request, saying, Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. At the granting of the request, the Lord Jesus sets His right foot upon the sea and His left foot on the earth, and He unrolls the scroll (or book) which contains the record of the judgments He plans to unleash.
Verse 3: And [he] cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.
This is the cry of the Lion of the tribe of Judah (see Hebrews 7:14). Immediately prior to executing the judgments listed in the book, He cries loudly (or roars as a lion) to warn of impending danger. Other portions of Scripture also speak of His roaring when He comes as the Judge of the universe. Hosea 11:10 states: They shall walk after the Lord: he shall roar like a lion: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west. Joel 3:16 adds: The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. Again, Amos 1:2: The Lord will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem.
When the Lord roars, seven thunders utter their voices. Though thunder is usually associated with judgment, no attempt will be made to explain the meaning, since God forbids it in verse 4.
Verse 4: And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices,! was about to write: and! heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.
Well, someday we will know! For the present, however, God commands that this one portion of Scripture be kept secret.
Verse 5: And the angel which! saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven,
Verse 6: And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer [or literally no waiting period].
Here we see our God taking an oath. Though this is forbidden in our dispensation of grace, it was not under the Law age of Moses and will not be during the Tribulation and Kingdom periods. This oath is by the eternal Creator, based upon His creation of heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things contained within them. The oath is that time should be no longer or, more accurately, that there should be no more delay. The time has come for the seventh trumpet blast and nothing can stop it or hinder its execution. There will be no further waiting.
Verse 7: But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.
The seventh angel does not sound at this point, but rather in Revelation 11:15. When he does, all the warnings of the prophets concerning judgment will be fulfilled. Then the mystery of God will be finished, and the Tribulation hour will end. At that time the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9). When this knowledge floods the land, the mystery disappears.
The Old Testament prophets could not understand all the scriptures concerning this mystery. They could not see God's timetable as we can. First Peter 1:10,11 describes their situation. The text states: Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when [he] testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. This glory has to do with the return of Christ to earth to establish His millennial kingdom. Though the prophets knew this would happen-as evidenced by their many predictions-they did not clearly foresee the 2,000-year interval between the time of Christ's rejection and the establishment of His kingdom. Still their writings reflected the fact that a suffering Sayiour preceded a ruling King, as can be seen in Psalm 22:14-16. This is Christ, speaking prophetically concerning His suffering and crucifixion: I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
Again Isaiah mentions a cross preceding the crown in chapter 53, verses 4 through 6: Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
The centuries have now passed and, in our study, we are presently at the moment in history when the mystery of God is finished. The final pieces of the puzzle have now fallen into place. The prophetic time clock has struck midnight, or the zero hour. There will be no further delay. The final trumpet is ready to sound and the Tribulation hour is about to come to an end. There is great rejoicing as the heavenly host proclaims the joyous news. Listen to them: The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever (Revelation 11:15).
Some may find it strange that the Tribulation hour ends in chapter 11-especially in light of the facts that chapters 18 and 19 contain seven more bowl judgments and the Lord Jesus Christ does not return until chapter 19, verses 11-16. The answer? Chapters 12 through 19:15 run concurrently with the judgments already discussed. They are a repeat of chapters 6 through 11. Actually, the simplistic outline of the Book of Revelation should be as mentioned in chapter 1, verse 19: the past-chapter 1; the present-chapters 2 and 3; the future-chapters 4 through 22, with chapters 5 through 11 and 12 through 19:15 running neck and neck.
Verse 8: And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.
At this point John is told to take the book out of the hand of Christ, who stands upon the sea and upon the earth. This he does.
Verse 9: And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.
The little book John is commanded to take is either all or a portion of the Word of God dealing with the judgments. John obeys.
Verse 10: And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.
This verse pictures a devouring of God's Word assimilating it through study and personal application. At times it is both sweet and bitter. The Prophet Jeremiah stated: Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart (Jeremiah 15:16). The psalmist also declared in Psalm 119:103, How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Now John, following the angel's instructions, also finds the Word of God sweet as honey. This is because he can see the light at the end of the tunnel. As he reads the prophecies, he envisions the established kingdom, the Bride sitting beside the Bridegroom, and the peace and prosperity prevalent in the land with Satan bound and sin abolished. What sweetness! What blessing! Yet, as John learns of the remaining judgments still to be released, the Word becomes bitter in his digestive tract.
How true for us today! How precious is the good news of the gospel. Jesus loves sinners. He shed His blood for the remission of sins. By trusting in Christ, one obtains eternal life, yea, he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life (John 3:36). However, this message becomes a bitter pill to swallow when one realizes that the rejection of the beautiful gospel appeal brings judgment, for he that believeth not shall be damned (Mark 16:16). Get in on the honey! Believe and be saved! It's for all! For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13). This bittersweet message is now about to be propagated by John.
Verse 11: And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
John does this, as we will discover in the remaining chapters. He is faithful unto the end, proclaiming both the good news and the bad, presenting both the sweet and the bitter. He warns of the remaining judgments-the seven bowls or vials, the Great White Throne Judgment, and the dissolution of the present heavens and earth. May we be found as faithful in proclaiming all of God's Holy Word. For God commands that we preach the Word: Be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine (2 Timothy 4:2).