Bible Commentary on the
The Angel and the Little Scroll
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:
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,
3 And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.
4 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.
5 And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven,
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
11 And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
In the first chapter of Revelation, Jesus was seen in heaven walking among the candlesticks or churches. Here in chapter ten, He is seen standing on earth and communicating details about His church of the last days. So we have a mighty Angel, bringing a mighty message from heaven. The Angel was clothed with a cloud. To be clothed with a cloud suggests that this message would be obscured, or not understood at first. This is the only Angel in the Book of Revelation to be clothed with a cloud.
AND I SAW ANOTHER MIGHTY ANGEL COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN, CLOTHED WITH A CLOUD: AND A RAINBOW WAS UPON HIS HEAD, AND HIS FACE AS IT WERE THE SUN, AND HIS FEET AS PILLARS OF FIRE:
We have just finished studying about the seven Trumpets. The Seventh Trumpet has shown that the eternal kingdom of Christ will be established over all the kingdoms of the earth (Rev. 11:15). The Sixth Trumpet took us to the middle of the nineteenth century, to be more exact to 1840. Then we jumped over Revelation 10 and most of
Revelation 11 to briefly mention the Seventh Trumpet. Now we go back to see what happened after 1840. Chapter 10 tells of events that are now history.
And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven clothed with a cloud
As you read this verse, the description of the mighty angel reminds us of the description of Christ in
chapter 1. Thomas Scott says, "This mighty Angel must be either Christ Himself, or an emblematical display of His glory" (Explanatory Notes on Revelation). As Christ is the true leader of the church, it would seem certain that He is the mighty Angel spoken of here.
And a rainbow was upon his head
The Rainbow is an everlasting reminder of God's covenant promises, for the Rainbow is a symbol of the Everlasting Covenant. Away back before man was placed on this earth, God and Christ made a covenant that in the possibility of Sin entering into this world, and there was always that possibility, seeing that man was made a free moral agent with the power of choice, that Christ would be prepared to Redeem mankind. The Rainbow above the throne is a token of the mercy of God toward the repentant sinner.
And his face was as it were the sun
The Sun suggests brightness and power, also righteousness. As a symbol of brightness this is well described in
Matthew 17:2, "And was transfigured before them and His face did shine as the sun and His raiment was white as the light." As a symbol of righteousness, Malachi uses this expression when speaking of Christ.
Malachi 4:2 says, "But unto you, that fear my name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings…" Zechariah speaking under inspiration, prophesied of the coming Redeemer that He would "give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death..." (Luke 1:79). The Sun is a very fitting symbol of power and righteousness.
And his feet as pillars of fire
Fire is a purifying agency, in the Scriptures a symbol of cleansing. The special message of this chapter was designed to purify and cleanse the church.
The Time of the End spoken of here began in 1798, which was the close of the 1260 days or years mentioned so often in the books of Daniel and Revelation. Also at the Time of the End "many shall run to and fro". These words suggest a speeding up of travel and means of transportation. There would be another important development, "and knowledge shall be increased." And wonderfully this has come true, for in every field of learning, amazing discoveries have been made. However it is on the closed book which is now open that the prophecy focuses its attention.
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 he had in His hand a little book open
The fact that this book was open suggests that previously it was closed. There is only one book in the Bible which was a closed book, that is at least until the time of the end. We read about it in
Daniel 12:4, "Thou 0 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."
By the way, not all of the book of Daniel was a closed book, the first few chapters are mainly historical. It was the prophetical part of Daniel which was closed, that part dealing with the 2,300 days or years. Seeing that the book of Daniel was a closed book till the Time of the End, then it would quite natural to expect that at the Time of the End it would be opened. The fact that the book is now opened, means that Daniel's prophecies concerning last day events would be understood.
It is interesting to notice what one well known writer says on this subject, "The books of Daniel and the Revelation are one. One is a prophecy, the other a revelation; one a book sealed, the other a book opened."
And he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth
It was at the close of the second Woe, in 1840, that this angel with the open book of Daniel, set one foot on the land and one on the sea. The fact that the Mighty Angel stands upon both the sea and the land, suggests that this message is of world wide extent. In the Holy Scriptures, the sea and the earth are used repeatedly to designate the world as a whole.
Setting His right foot on the sea, and His left upon the dry land, shows the part which He is acting in the closing scenes of the great controversy with Satan. This position denotes His supreme power and authority over the whole earth. The controversy has waxed stronger and more determined from age to age, and will continue to do so, to the concluding scenes when the masterly working of the powers of darkness shall reach their height. Satan, united with evil men, will deceive the whole world and the churches who receive not the love of the truth.
AND CRIED WITH A LOUD VOICE, AS WHEN A LION ROARETH: AND WHEN HE HAD CRIED, SEVEN THUNDERS UTTERED THEIR VOICES.
And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth
This angel appears to be identical with the first angel of
Revelation 14. Both angels have a special message to proclaim and with a loud voice. Both use similar language for they draw attention to the Creator as the One who made heaven and earth, the sea and the things that are therein. They both have messages concerning time, one saying that time should be no more, and the other proclaims that the hour of God's judgment has come. By crying with a loud voice, the Mighty Angel demands attention, for His message is a great importance to mankind.
And when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices
Berkeley's translation makes this a little clearer, "And as he shouted, the seven thunders raised their voices" (Rev 10:3). As we have already noticed, the number 7 plays a very important part in the Book of Revelation.
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.
And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write
John understood the voices of the seven thunders and their messages, and he was just going to write down what he had heard when he was told not to. We are not told just what the seven thunders represent, most likely they are angel messengers. The four Living Creatures with their strange symbolic appearance were cherubims or angels, and possibly the seven thunders could be similar.
And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not
The fact that John was told to seal up the things which the seven thunders utter, suggests that these were messages which related to the future, and it was just a little premature to be revealed at this time. One Bible commentator mentions that they were events which took place under the first and second angels messages of
AND THE ANGEL WHICH I SAW STAND UPON THE SEA AND UPON THE EARTH LIFTED UP HIS HAND TO HEAVEN.
In ancient times, when a person made an oath they signified it by raising the hand.
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:
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
As the angel lifted up his hand, which was customary in making an oath, he made it in the name of the Creator, the Living God. The Scripture tells us that there is no greater, to confirm an oath, than God.
Hebrews 6:13 says, "For when God made promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no greater, he sware by Himself…"
That there should be time no longer
The time mentioned here as being no longer, is not referring to the end of this world's history when time runs out. Neither does it refer to end of man's probationary time mentioned in the Book of Revelation. Rather it is prophetic time. The year 1844, the concluding date of the 2,300 years, is the last and final prophetic date. There is no other after it. God in His Wisdom has seen fit to leave numbered time right there.
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.
But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound
The sixth Trumpet has brought us down to the middle of the nineteenth century, it finished in the year 1840. It was at this time that the great Advent movement had its beginnings. This is the story of Revelation chapter 10. There is a pause between the sixth and seventh Trumpets, just to remind us that God's temple is still in heaven and despite the terrible things transpiring on earth. God is still there, and that He has those on earth who are ready to do His bidding.
The seventh Trumpet, as in the case of the Seventh church and the Seventh Seal, begins in time, and extends into eternity. In this seventh Trumpet, John was shown that Christ Himself will step in and take over the rule of the nations.
It was in 1844 that the seventh angel began to sound, and under this 7th Trumpet are included all events from that time on right through the second coming and on to the Millennium, the destruction of the wicked and the establishment of the new earth. It is a solemn thought to consider that we are living in the time of the sounding of the 7th Trumpet, we have come a long way down the stream of time from the beginning of the last and final Trumpet.
The mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to His servants the prophets
As we studied the 7th Trumpet in earlier notes, we noticed that the mystery of God is the Gospel. Paul makes this clear in
Ephesians 6:19, "And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the Gospel." It is a mystery; how that God could love fallen sinful beings to such an extent that He is prepared to allow His Son to die for them. The Gospel is a Mystery, there is no question about that. God in His great love for mankind, is ready to accept a man or woman into His heavenly family not as servants, but as sons and daughters, a real blood relationship. There is no closer tie than blood relationship, and God is ready to bestow this honour upon us if we accept His Son's sacrifice on our behalf.
The word mystery means a secret but not in the sense that it cannot be understood, but is one of those heavenly secrets God has revealed to the prophets to pass on to His people. That is why it says in
Amos 3:7, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." According to this text, the Gospel is going to come to its end, it will not go on for ever, but when man's probation hour closes then the doors of Salvation will close.
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.
And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said
This most likely is the voice which had forbidden John to write down what had been declared by the seven thunders.
Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth
As the representative of the Church on earth, it is rather fitting that John should be involved. Also John would be able to experience a little of the bitter sweet experience of the great Advent movement. Whether John fully comprehended the meaning of all that he was asked to do might be a little doubtful, however his reactions were typical of those who would be involved in these situations.
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 went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book
John is anxious to take the book from the hands of the angel. Obviously he is quite impressed by now that this little book has something of great value to God's people. In this scene John is acting out the part of those who would so earnestly study the prophecies of Daniel at the setting of this prophecy, that is, during the years of 1840 to 1844.
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
To eat the Book means to digest its meaning and to understand its massage. Notice the words of Jeremiah in
Jeremiah 15:16, "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart..." Yes the little Book was sweet to the taste, but it was bitter when digested. The sweetness of the Book was the message of Christ's return. As the prophecies of Daniel were studied and especially the 2,300 days, there were many who were convinced that the Lord's return was very close.
"Like the great Reformation of the sixteenth century, the advent movement appeared in different countries of Christendom at the same time. In both Europe and America men of faith and prayer were led to the study of the prophecies, and, tracing down the inspired record, they saw convincing evidence that the end of all things was at hand. In different lands there were isolated bodies of Christians who, solely by the study of the Scriptures, arrived at the belief that the Saviour's advent was near" (The Great Controversy by EG White, p.357).
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.
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
God's messages are often like that! David testified that was how he found them.
Psalm 119:103 says, "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" There could not be a sweeter message than the Lord's return and that is what those earnest believers lived and hoped for.
And as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter
This verse pictures the bitter disappointment of those Adventists when Christ did not return on October 22, 1844. They had tasted the sweetness of the message, the world had never before witnessed such evidence of brotherly love, sacrifice and devotion. God had raised up men like Joseph Wolff, a Jew of Germany, who went forth as a missionary to the world. Edward Irvinq and seven hundred ministers of the Church of England began to preach prophecies of Christ's near return. Lacunza, a Jesuit priest in South America; Bengel, a minister of the Lutheran Church in Germany; Gaussen of Switzerland; and little children in Scandinavia: all united their voices in proclaiming the message of a soon coming Saviour. William Miller in America, a Baptist, who became a leading expositor of the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation.
To those who had so earnestly carried the message, in many cases against very strong and determined opposition, it was a bitter blow. Hiram Edson, one of those who went through the great disappointment wrote these words, "Our fondest hopes and expectations were blasted, and such a spirit of weeping came over us as I never experienced before. It seemed that the Loss of all earthly friends could have been no comparison. We wept, and wept, till the day dawn" (The Midnight Cry, pp, 247).
AND HE SAID UNTO ME, THOU MUST PROPHESY AGAIN BEFORE MANY PEOPLES, AND NATIONS, AND TONGUES, AND KINGS.
Though John's eating of the roll had ended in bitterness, Christ's reassuring words to the prophet are that he must prophesy again. The Disappointment was a real bitter pill to swallow. In the days and weeks and months that followed, the large majority of those who had been a part of the Advent movement vanished like the morning mists. The tens of thousands ardent Adventists were reduced to small groups who met in barns, living rooms, and wherever they could.
Thou must prophesy again before many peoples and nations, and tongues, and kings
It is true that many of those ardent Adventists renounced their faith and turned away from the Word of God. But the disappointment drove others to a deeper study of the Word of God. William Miller in explaining
Daniel 8:14, "Unto two thousand and three hundred days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed", said that the earth was the sanctuary and the cleansing of the sanctuary was purifying of the earth by fire at the coming of the Lord. The Adventists were mistaken in regard to the event that was to take place at the close of the 2,300 days.
It may seem strange but the Disappointment was a blessing. True there ware many who cast away their confidence in God's Word, others who were moved by fear, but were half hearted and quickly went back to the lives they had been living before. But the test revealed the real faith of those who were genuine and really loved the Lord's appearing. As they studied the Scriptures, once again they discovered their error and the truth was brought home to their hearts.
They must prophesy again
More and more they came to realise that it was a message for the world. That it was to be proclaimed 'before many people'. How true! The Advent message has spread out far and wide, from country to country, bringing the good news that JESUS is coming soon.