Anticipating the Final Trumpet (Rev. 10:1-11)
Between the breaking of the sixth and seventh seal there was an interlude in chapter seven where John was given a vision of the church militant and triumphant. The saints on earth are promised protection from the harm of the judgments and given a vision of their future reign in glory.
Following that same pattern, we have another interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpet. This interlude transitions from the demonic forces that were unleashed during the fifth and sixth trumpets, to the scene in heaven where John is prepared for the vision of the final trumpet. During this preparation, he receives more words of prophecy that he is re-commissioned to proclaim. And 11:1-13 provides a vision of the church’s witness throughout this age.
John and the church have an important role to play in the eschatological timeline. John’s testimony of his vision in Revelation prepares and preserves the testimony of the church. While the judgments of the seals, trumpets, and bowls are taking place, so is the vital witness of the church which are the means God uses to preserve and gather his saints.
The focus of chapter ten is John’s role. Although John had the unique calling of apostleship, the message and the commission he received are relevant to the church.
We remain in a position of anticipating the second coming of Christ which is contained in the seventh trumpet. In the meantime, this passage teaches us three ways to strengthen our faith as we await the blast of the final trumpet.
Read Rev. 10:1-11
CONFIRMED BY THE DISPLAY OF GOD’S POWER (1-4)
The power of God is displayed by this mighty angel. He is majestic and overwhelming in size and brightness (v.1). The combination of symbols remind us of the vision of the Son of Man (Rev. 1:7, 14-16) as well as the throne of God (Rev. 4:3). This is no ordinary angel. He reflects divine power, glory, and the splendor of heaven.
- The cloud speaks of divine presence
- The rainbow speaks of God’s mercy
- The sun speaks of His holiness
- Fire speaks of divine judgment
In the book of Judges, the angel of the Lord was most likely a preincarnate appearance of the second person of the Trinity. In Revelation, it was the Lamb who was worthy to take the scroll and to break its seals. And now we see this angel holding an open scroll (v.2).
Is this the same scroll that had been sealed? This is the only time we read of a “little scroll”. But, it might be considered little because it is in the hands of a mighty angel. Also, “scroll” and “little scroll” are used interchangeably here (v.8). This appears to be the same scroll, or a smaller version of it, thus it probably contained more revelation of God’s sovereign plan including judgment and salvation.
“Angel” literally means “messenger” (Mal. 3:1). This angel’s role is to serve as John’s messenger, bringing him fuller revelation. I agree with Greg Beale and Joel Beeke who see this as a theophany of Jesus Christ. All the components of deity are present.
Christ is pictured by the mighty angel’s domineering presence as well. One foot is planted on the land and the other is on the sea. This is emphasized three times (2, 5, 8). He possesses universal authority over all creation, and his mission extends to cover the globe. Upon Christ’s resurrection, He received “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18). In Daniel’s vision, the Son of Man ascends to the throne of the Ancient of Days and receives dominion “that all peoples, nations, and languages, should serve him” (Dan. 7:13-14). We see more allusions to the fulfillment of that vision in Rev. 10:11.
The angel’s roaring voice informs all the inhabitants of the earth and leads to the sounding of the seven thunders (vv.3-4). Both the lion-like roar and the sound of thunder suggest a proclamation of judgment (Amos 3:8; Exod. 9:23-34; 1 Sam. 7:10).
But John was told to seal up what the thunders said and not to write it down. Why would that be? Daniel was also told to seal the words of his book “until the time of the end” when they would be revealed (Dan. 8:26; 12:4, 9). Similarly, these words are to remain a mystery to the readers, but they ensure us that God’s plan has been established and nothing can thwart it.
This vision reflect the Christ all mankind must come to know. Christ will descend in fiery judgment, but his shining face and accompanying rainbow remind all creatures that grace and mercy are available in Him alone.
This vision provides John with a visible expression of Christ’s authority. When we know God is all-powerful we are confirmed in our commitments to know and follow Him even though we don’t have all the details. The content that has been sealed up should not cause us to question God. Rather, we are pleased to know whatever our Sovereign Lord has chosen to reveal.
The confirmation John received from the display of divine glory and power encouraged him to be…
CONFIDENT IN THE FULFILLMENT OF GOD’S MYSTERY (5-7)
The angel takes a typical posture of giving an oath with his right hand raised to heaven. Sometimes prophets raised both hands, but the meaning is the same. Daniel saw a man who raised both of his hands “toward heaven and swore by him who lives forever…” (Dan. 12:7). John makes further allusion to this passage in the next chapter suggesting the fulfillment of what left Daniel confused (Dan. 12:8).
This mighty angel, in Revelation, swore by God that there would be no more delay. This too is consistent with his divine quality. God can do no better than to swear by Himself in establishing His covenant promises (Gen. 15; Heb. 6:16-18).
According to v.7, the days of the final trumpet would fulfill what the prophets announced (εὐαγγελίζω). The prophets literally proclaimed the good news of Christ’s first and second coming. However, the primary focus of its fulfillment here is upon the bitter news of God’s judgment upon those who reject the gospel’s message.
The first six trumpets have not shown us the consummation of God’s redemptive history, but the seventh will. We are seeing the same pattern that we saw in the seals. This is another cycle tracing events that cover this present age and lead up to the second coming of Christ. The final trumpet marks the final judgment.
This language of “mystery” does not mean that the subject matter is beyond comprehension or that only particularly gifted individuals will have the ability to perceive it. It simply refers to the detailed understanding of redemption that was obscure in the Old Testament, but has been made clear by Christ and the New Testament. It is the mystery of the gospel that has been revealed (Rom. 16:25). It is the mystery of God’s redemptive will that has been “set forth in Christ” (Eph. 1:9-10).
The revelation of the gospel should grip our hearts and strengthen our confidence in God’s sovereign plan. We have seen the partial fulfillment of those promises in Christ’s first coming which exhorts us to further patience in awaiting the full consummation. The seventh trumpet will be the fulfillment of the prophetic promises of God’s final judgment and salvation.
The one who “lives forever and ever” and created all things is capable of accomplishing all His holy will (v.6). We learn the mystery of that will in the whole counsel of God’s Word. This is what grounds us and guards us against worldly thinking. The church is all too prone to compromise with the latest cultural fad.
Some of you have asked where we stand on various hot button issues. Most of you know that we have stood firm as a denomination on gender and sexuality issues, but there are concerns surrounding the Revoice Conference that took place in a PCA church in St. Louis, Missouri. We took some positive steps to address that at this year’s GA and I believe more will be done when we gather again next year. I have voted and will continue to vote for decisive and corrective action.
Others are concerned that the church has adopted social justice issues that are influenced by secular ideas. Critical race theory and intersectionality have no business guiding how the church addresses racial reconciliation. An ad interim committee of the PCA GA produced a report last year that was helpful in some ways, and possibly confusing in others. These are things that the leadership of this church is paying attention to.
We are in a culture war. And too often the church fights as if we have already lost. But, passages like this remind us that our hope does not lie in a transformed culture, but in a Savior who transforms.If our confidence rests fully and finally upon Him and His Word, we will not be swayed by the latest secular agenda.
When confirmation is coupled with confidence we will be…
CONVICTED BY THE PROCLAMATION OF GOD’S PROPHECY (8-11)
8-10 God instructs John to take the scroll from the angel. The angel instructs John to eat the scroll, telling him it would be bitter in his stomach and sweet in his mouth. John eats the scroll and it was just as the angel told him.
There is a parallel passage in Ezekiel (3:1-3) where the prophet is told to eat the scroll of God’s words of judgment. In his mouth it was sweet as honey, but it also became bitter in his stomach (Ezek. 3:14).
Jeremiah had a similar experience of eating God’s word (Jer. 15:16-18). The taste was initially delightful to him. However, as soon as he began to proclaim the words of prophecy, the people rejected him and Jeremiah became bitter.
The sweetness of the “little scroll” implies the delight that Jeremiah experienced, but the bitterness implies the scroll also contains words of judgment and suffering that are difficult to proclaim. The Church must faithfully preach the gospel truth even when they know it will lead to persecution of various kinds.
That is what John was called to do (11). He would have to continue to prophesy “about many peoples and nations and languages and kings.” In fact, it might be better to replace “about” with “against”. John’s commission was challenging.
Requiring John to eat the scroll, which contained the final proclamations of God’s plans, ensures that he is thoroughly familiar with God’s word and brought to a right conviction about their truth. Apart from that firm conviction, he would not have the backbone needed to withstand the pressure.
If John had to be convicted by the message he was commissioned to proclaim, then his audience is meant to be convicted by that same message. Like John, we ought to be convicted to proclaim this message to “many peoples and nations and languages and kings.” No one is too far off or too high up for the gospel to have an impact in their lives.
This passage convicts us to know God’s promises to the point that we will not be tossed around by every wind and wave of false teaching. The fifth and sixth trumpets warned us of the spiritual warfare that doesn’t just occur out in the corrupt world, but also infiltrates the Church. Let us possess Berean-like diligence in reading and studying the Scriptures to see if what we hear is true. When some teaching veers off course, let us hold fast to the truth with full conviction!
Let us not only prize wisdom, but let us prize lives that reflect the Christ who provides us such wisdom. When we feed upon the Word of God, may we seek the Spirit’s help to plant that word deep into our hearts, where it will take root and bear the fruit of transformed lives.