Revelation 10

Chapter 10

Another "mighty" angel signals a significant event. His descent from heaven is to act on earth. But this was is in the image of God and with a lion's roar - therefore either Christ himself or an angelic representative of Christ (cf. 1v15-16).  As the Lamb is mentioned throughout probably the latter, but perhaps the most supreme angel there is. Christ himself will not descend to earth until his return. The cloud signifies the presence of God, the rainbow his mercy and impending judgment towards the earth, his face like the sun his glory, and his legs as pillars of fire, his holy presence in leading the Israelites from Egypt. This contrasts the idea of idols that cannot walk. God can, and he is leading his people to the new creation in a new Exodus, having brought plagues on those who have persecuted them. We should note here too, that being pictured with some of God's own attributes, we are seeing yet again that Christ is one with him.
     v2: In his hand the angel has a "little scroll." The only other scroll mentioned is that of the 7 seals, taken from God's hand by Christ and then systematically opened. As this one is described as "open" in the angels "hand" it is almost certainly the same one or derives from it. Further parallels with chapter 5 confirm this. But John eats this one as a precursor to prophesying its words. So it may be "little" because it contains the aspects of the last things he is to pass on. This is supported by the thunders then being singled out as exempt from his revelations. The fact it the original scroll is opened further implies the 7 trumpets are encompassed within the seventh seal. With the seventh about to be sounded we finally see the see the scroll opened. As this marks the end of history we must conclude the contents of the seal record the details around the return of Christ - the final judgment and everlasting rest.
     We have seen land and sea in the judgments. They represent the earth. To have a foot on each shows sovereignty - that of the Lion of Judah to whom the obedience of the nations comes. So he calls put like a lion and 7 thunders sound in a way that imparts information to John. Quite possibly they are the voice of God or other mighty angels (6v1, 19v6, Ps 29). Thunder implies judgment. One presumes this is like the 7 seals and trumpets imparting information. But as John is about to record what he hears he heard a voice from heaven (perhaps Christ) telling him to seal up what he has heard and not write it down (contrast 1v19). Echoing Daniel 12v9 this may communicate that there are other events of judgment that will take place at the "end" that are not made known to us. We cannot therefore expect everything at the end to find a prediction in scripture. More likely given what follows, the sealing up may well be a way of saying God will not send those judgments and so delay the end further. Previously, being sealed up has certainly kept judgments from taking place (ch. 6). If this is correct, it stresses God's concern that his people's tribulations don't carry on unecessarily. The preordained time he gives people to repent is tempered by his concern his people enjoy their redemption. History will not continue endlessly. God's patience will come to an end.
     v5: The mighty angel then takes a solemn oath - signalling it is taken by God who created everything to be impacted by the events of the book. The path is that after the sounding of the sixth trumpet there will be no "delay." In the "days" preceding the seventh trumpet call the "mystery" would be fulfilled just as prophesied. There's much here that is critical to understanding the book: (1) The accuracy of prophesy is upheld in testifying that the delay in history is not error in what was predicted. Revelation therefore works like the book of Daniel. As history progresses those who once read the temporal ambiguities prophesy as about to be fulfilled start to wonder at its delay, and so God reveals something of the events that must take place first. Certainly "soon" could speak of events near in time to the first readers (1v1, 3v11). But the delay Daniel predicted was hundreds of years and Christ spoke of his return as "soon." So this doesn't require a short period but only that the end is certain and potentially imminent. (2) We see God's great purpose in the delay of having the mystery of God fulfilled. In the wider context this must surely refer to his purposes in redemption and judgment previously hidden in the scroll - ie. Christ's victory over evil and salvation from all peoples. It is therefore an apocalyptic version of Paul's mystery that Jew and Gentile are united together through the gospel (Eph 3v6). (3) The extent of the delay itself showing that it stretches to the return of Christ (11v15-18), meaning that the trumpets do not lead up simply to the destruction of Jerusalem or Rome as preterist argue. Indeed, the idea of delay suggests largely futurist reading of the book with a focus on progression to and the events of the end. (4) The days of the seventh trumpet also argue for a chronological reading at least of the trumpets - and perhaps the seals too.
     v6: Now the voice of God or of the Lamb (cf. v4) speaks from heaven again. He is to take the scroll. This passes then like a baton from God to Christ to the angel to John. What dignity for a mere man. The repetition of the angel standing on the sea and land keeps in mind the scroll reflects the sovereignty of Christ. John perhaps assumes the angel didn't hear the voice so he tells him to give him the scroll. His experience is that of Ezekiel 3v3: As the word of God it was sweet to taste - after all, it promised the redemption of God's people. But because it's message was one of judgment and brings rejection, this one was also bitter to the stomach.
     As Ezekiel was immediately commissioned to speak God's words we should understand this scroll as containing the words John is immediately commanded to prophesy (v11). The words are about "many peoples and nations and languages and kings" - the theme of chapters 12-19 if not the rest of the book (almost all references to these come in what follows, cf. 11v9, 17v15-17, 18v4). It seems then that we are to conclude this is the content of this mini-scroll. In short it describes the battle with Satan and Christ's ultimate victory overy him, which must be why it was so serious when none could be found to open its mother scroll. But now the 7 seals of the original are open it's contents can be revealed to the comfort of the Saints.

     Before we move on we must note the fulfilment of Daniel 12 here. There too, an angelic being raises a hand to heaven and swears. He then declares the figurative time until the end that will be picked up later in Revelation, noting it will be when the "shattering of the power of the holy people" comes to an end. Like in Revelation his purpose is to build perseverance. And he speaks of those who make themselves white and of resurrection. Daniel 11 also describes a wicked king with chariots and horsemen, who devastates many countries - whilst some others are protected. This could correspond to the details of the sixth trumpet (9v13-17). Key however, is the note that knowledge of "the outcome of these things" has been "sealed" until the time of the end. One cannot but see the 7 seals as the unsealing of this knowledge. And so with John's coming prophecy it is finally being revealed!