IN THE END OF REVELATION chapter 9 we saw the announcement of the sixth seal causing the release of the four winds by the river Euphrates, which caused the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 A.D. through the barbarian invasions. Now we have a brief pause and see another vision placed in between the blowing of the sixth trumpet and the seventh trumpet. This vision of John provides valuable information and indicates a momentous change is about to occur in the course of history and great drama of mankind after the fall of Rome and the completion of the Ecumenical Councils described in chapters 8 and 9. That is, after the announcement of the sixth trumpet and the fall of the old Roman Empire, there would be the establishment of new nations and empires. We are stopped to pause and reflect the meaning and significance of this event. As we will see, there are strong correlations of the text in Revelation chapter 10 to that of Daniel chapter 12.
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:” – (Revelation 10:1, KJV)
John sees another angel come down from heaven who has a rainbow upon His head and who’s face is radiating like the sun. There is no question about the identity of this angel. This angel is identified with the one “who for us men and our salvation came down from heaven, incarnate by the Holy Spirit.” The Word of God, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The identity is confirmed by first his face which shown like the sun, for he is the Light of the World and the Sun of Righteousness. Secondly, he has a rainbow upon his head, symbolizing the New Covenant of God given to man with the salvation and promise of eternal life. He descends with a cloud in a similar way in which he ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. His feet are made of fire in such a way that is similar to the earlier vision in the Apocalypse where he saw him walking with the seven golden candlesticks with his feet “like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace.”
“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, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.”– (Revelation 10:2-3, KJV)
Another significant identifier pointing the mighty angel’s identity to being Jesus is through his roar sounding like a lion, that is the lion from the tribe of Judah and the offspring of King David. He set his foot upon the earth and the sea to indicate where the change of empire was set to occur. As noted previously, “earth” represents the civilized peoples of the Roman Empire and the “sea” represents the barbarian, wilderness and desert regions outside of the Roman Empire. The Lion roars to indicate that he hungers for the salvation of the peoples within the earth and the sea, and through the Word of His mouth as the roar of a lion, the Gospel and New Covenant message is preached in order to capture and rule all nations with a rod of iron. When the lion revealed through his cry upon the cross, the mystery of salvation of man was finally revealed and announced by the seven thunders, who are the seven spirits of God who burn like torches around the throne of God.
“And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.” – (Revelation 10:4, KJV)
It appears that John understood the discussion and mystery of the seven thunders and was about to pass along that information to us, but was prevented from doing so. While this information was beneficial to John in understanding the activities and shaping of future history, this information would not have beneficial for us and could have had unintended or disastrous consequences. John was told to seal up the words of seven thunders until the appropriate time for discernment and interpretation. Knowledge is sealed when it is forbidden and could be harmful, and unsealed at the appropriate time when it is of benefit to us. The mystery of the Apocalypse was not to be fully understood at the appropriate time, and thus the reason that many fathers of the Church and earlier commentators were unable to penetrate the full meaning of the book.
The command given by the seven thunders is the identical request given to the prophet Daniel: “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (Daniel 12:4, KJV). At the time that Daniel was given detailed events about the future, he was told to “seal” or encrypt their meaning using intentional vague symbolism of the original text. And when would the mystery of God finally be revealed and unsealed? We are given the answer again later in Daniel: “For a time, times and a half of a time, when the dispersion shall have been accomplished, they shall known all these things” (Daniel 12:7, Septuagint-Eng.). So then, we see there is a time for sealing of knowledge and a time for unsealing of knowledge so that it would benefit the target audience. These things are unsealed by God at the appointed time and not by man. We are not greater than the fathers of the Church before us, but with the grace of the Holy Spirit combined with the instantaneous access to information in today’s world, biblical scholars are in a better position than ever before to achieve the proper decoding of passages. This is primarily due to the increased sharing of books and manuscripts and information in a time and place within history when “knowledge shall be increased.” We cannot “unseal” the knowledge without the assistance from God, and we cannot prevent the spread of the knowledge once it has been unsealed.
“And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, 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:”– (Revelation 10:5-6, KJV)
This sworn testimony and oath is given by the angel of the New Covenant is very critical and helpful to understand the great dramatic scene which is about to unfold in human history. When Christ makes and oath, it is eternal and guaranteed. When the statement is made under oath, it relates to a matter of significant importance. This angel of the New Covenant swears the oath as a witness to the living eternal God that “there should be time no longer.” This oath and sworn testimony is the similar oath given to Daniel by the same preincarnate Christ clothed in linen on the waters of the Tigris river in the book of Daniel: “And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” (Daniel 12:7, KJV). The identity of the two oaths in Daniel 12 and Revelation 10 is the evidence and basis for concluding the same identity of the speaker in both cases. Daniel refers to the man being “clothed in linen” and John refers to the same person as “the mighty angel.” Again, notice the same oath is sworn in both cases. What is the event marking of the transition to the final fulfillment of the consummation with “time no longer”? We are given that answer in the next verse.
Daniel 12:7 – Man Clothed in Linen on the Tigris River
“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.” – (Revelation 10:7, KJV)
The days of the voice of the seventh angel announced by the man clothed in linen in Daniel is limited to “a time of times and a half of a time,” or 1260 years. This period is the time that man is under the dominion of Satan where evil will increase, and man will be guilty of greater crimes, war and genocide than ever before. This period of the days of seventh angel will arrive with the founding of two new empires on the world scene. During these days of wrath God will provide the last vials of wrath until the blowing of the seventh trumpet as the days come to a completion. After the days of the voice of the seventh angel come to a conclusion, that is after the 1260-year tribulation period ends, the mystery of God will be accomplished and the fullness of the kingdom of God will come to the earth. This was foretold through his prophets beginning with the old testament prophets, St. Paul and St. John, and also then foretold through the early Church fathers and Byzantine and Orthodox prophets of the middle ages. The prophets announced that the kingdom of God will finally be established after the completion of the 1260-year period, when the Church will defeat all heresies and spread to all nations as the Bride of Revelation will be proclaimed as the True Apostolic Faith following the last and final eighth ecumenical council. After the completion of these days, during which the dispersion of Christians and unbelieving Jews will be completed, then God’s hidden mysteries will be revealed to us, and the knowledge that has been sealed since the days of Daniel will be made known. This is the sworn testimony proclaimed by the man in linen in Daniel chapter 12 and once again in Revelation chapter 10.
“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.” – (Revelation 10:8, KJV)
Christ called John to take the open little booklet which contained knowledge of the future and the 1260 days of the seventh angel. These days represent the time period of the middle ages from the fall of the Roman Empire to the barbarian tribes until the enlightenment and modern era. The future events in this period of prophesied in the little book would be what John would write about in the next eight chapters from the testimony of the two witnesses until the fall of Babylon.
“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. 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.”– (Revelation 10:9-10, KJV)
The knowledge of the little book at first give John the satisfaction of the mysteries of the prophecies spoken about in Ezekiel and Daniel, and the fulfillment of the Gospel message he received from Christ concerning the coming of the Kingdom of God at the end of the “times” and “days” when there would be no more persecution. The more John is curious about the knowledge of the future, the more excited and delighted he was about this information he received as he opened the book. However, upon the realization of learning content contained within the book, John became saddened and depressed by the gut-wrenching information. This sadness that John felt was similar to the sadness that the Christians would experience during this time period. And the joy he experienced upon reading the book is the same joy the Christians will experience upon the completion of the days.
“And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.”– (Revelation 10:11, KJV)
The knowledge given by the voices of the seven thunders was to remain sealed and known only to John. But, the knowledge of the open book which was explained to John was to be shared and given to us. This knowledge of the future concerns the shaping of history and the nations after the Fall of Rome. This is the period called the Middle Ages where we have two great empires that would rise and have an impact on the course of Christianity in this era. This would be the rise of the Islamic Caliphates in the East and the Papacy and Holy Roman Empire in the West. Both of these empires would last for 1260 years. Just as we saw Revelation chapter 8 and 9 revealed significant events in the course of the history of Church, Chapters 11, 12, 13 and 16 also will closely match with key historical events of the Church.