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The. .Bible > A Commentary on the Book of Revelation (Chapter 10) A Little Book and the Seven Thunders

A Commentary on the BOOK of REVELATION

Or, A Disclosure From Jesus Christ
About What Must Shortly Come To Pass

by Tom Stewart

Chapter 10

His Name is called the Word of God.


Chapter 10: A Little Book and the Seven Thunders

The Book of Revelation is a book of angels, since about a fourth of all mention of angels in Scripture, occurs in the Apocalypse. God's purpose for the Revelation is "to shew unto [Jesus Christ's] servants things which must shortly come to pass" (Revelation 1:1). Angels have been appointed to deliver messages of comfort, warning, and judgment throughout this disclosure of future events, i.e., "He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John" (1:1). The "mighty angel" (10:1) described here is "another" (Greek, allon) angel of the same kind previously described around the Throne of the Almighty, i.e., "And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the Book, and to loose the seals thereof?" (5:2). This "mighty angel [came] down from Heaven" (10:1), which is the presence of God-- known in the Apostle Paul's epistles as the "Third Heaven" (2Corinthians 12:2) of which "eye hath not seen" (1Corinthians 2:9). The Earth's atmosphere would correspond to the First Heaven; and, the planets, stars, and beyond would correspond to the Second Heaven. "And He brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and He said unto him, So shall thy seed be" (Genesis 15:5).

This angel is
"clothed with a cloud" (10:1), indicating the presence of God, i.e., "And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of Man" (14:14). The "rainbow [that] was upon his head" (10:1) speaks of the glory of God. "As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD" (Ezekiel 1:28). "His face was as it were the sun" (10:1) symbolizes the authority of the angel. "And God made two great lights; the greater light [the sun] to rule the day" (Genesis 1:16). "And his feet as pillars of fire" (10:1) alludes to the strength of the angel. Pillars are central and foundational to supporting a structure. "And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars [literally, supports], perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision" (Galatians 2:9).

The "mighty angel" (10:1) holds a "Little Book open" (10:2), indicating that the information contained therein is from God and that the Apostle John was given access to the "open" Book. "Surely the LORD GOD will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7). Both "sea, and... Earth" (10:2) are under his feet, indicating that the angel has been given dominion over the entire Earth, i.e., with his message. The same idea of dominion is portrayed by the One Hundred Tenth Psalm, concerning the LORD Jesus Christ. "The LORD said unto my LORD, Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool" (Psalm 110:1).

The Apostle John's vision of this angel must have had the "larger-than-life" feeling of seeing an exaggeratedly large angel straddling the sea and Earth.
"Is any thing too hard for the LORD?" (Genesis 18:14). When the LORD speaks to us by His Word, by His Providence (our circumstances), through a dream, or a vision, He knows exactly what things to emphasize to make His point. "And [Jesus] needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man" (John 2:25). Providence, dreams, and visions are subject to be interpreted by the Word of God. "To the Law and to the Testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no Light in them" (Isaiah 8:20). The True Saints have the Infallible Holy Spirit to direct them in interpreting the Word of God; and, they have the Word of God to evaluate all dreams, visions, or prophecies. "But the Anointing [literally, Unction-- which is the Holy Spirit] which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same Anointing teacheth you of all things, and is Truth, and is no lie, and even as It hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him" (1John 2:27). And, these Last Days are prophesied by the prophet Joel to be a time that the Saints will prophesy, dream dreams, and see visions. "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions" (Joel 2:28).

In Scripture and in the common vernacular, the lion is associated with kingly, regal power. "The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favour is as dew upon the grass" (Proverbs 19:12). Only days before our LORD's crucifixion, He prayed, "Father, glorify Thy name" (John 12:28). The response from the Father was a voice from Heaven, saying, "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again" (12:28). "The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to Him" (12:29). The response to the roaring of the "mighty angel" (10:1) was the uttering of the voices of the Seven Thunders (10:3), which seems to be another series of Judgments like the Seals, Trumpets, and Vials. John's bitterness-- "as soon as I had eaten it [the Little Book], my belly was bitter" (10:10)-- caused by the Tribulation Week Impenitents' rejection of the LORD's Judgments, supports the position that the Seven Thunders are another series of Tribulation Judgments.

Seven times in the Twenty-Ninth Psalm does the Psalmist mention the Voice of Jehovah. This is a clue to the identity of the Seven Thunders.
"3 The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters. 4 The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. 5 The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon. 6 He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn. 7 The voice of the LORD divideth the flames of fire. 8 The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh. 9 The voice of the LORD maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in His temple doth every one speak of His glory" (Psalm 29:3-9). How the Voice of the LORD will be manifested, will reveal the identity of the Seven Thunders.

The Apostle John was instructed, like Daniel to not reveal the vision that he had been shown, i.e., "Seal up those things which the Seven Thunders uttered, and write them not" (10:4)-- probably because, like Daniel, the visions were intended for those who lived at the "time of the end" (Daniel 12:9). "26 And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days... 4 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. 9 And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the Words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end" (Daniel 8:26; 12:4, 9).

The drama of this scene involves only three elements-- the angel, the Earth, and the sea. Lifting "up his hand to Heaven" (10:5), the angel positions himself upon the sea and the Earth to make a pronouncement unto all. "22 And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of Heaven and Earth, 23 That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich" (Genesis 14:22-23).

Christians are instructed not to make rash oaths nor to profanely swear, i.e., "But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by Heaven, neither by the Earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation" (James 5:12). But, this does not preclude a True Saint or this "mighty angel" (10:1) from making an affirmation "by Him that liveth for ever and ever" (10:6). The Third Commandment of the Ten Commandments is "Thou shalt not take the Name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh His Name in vain" (Exodus 20:7). To vainly use the Name of God is the wicked and profane swearing of the godless, who use the Name of God to damn one another, or when the worldly punctuate their speech and rants with exclamations of the Name of Jesus Christ, with no thought of Christ's holiness or exaltation, i.e., "who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen" (Romans 9:5).

What does it mean that
"there should be time no longer" (10:6)? It appears that the angel is saying that time is concluded for certain events to be completed, i.e., "Time is up"-- much as a teacher would tell the test takers to put down their pencils at the end of a standardized test. The concept of eternity is founded upon the nature of God. "For thus saith the High and Lofty One That Inhabiteth Eternity, Whose Name is Holy; I dwell in the High And Holy Place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones" (Isaiah 57:15). The phrase describing the LORD God, "that liveth for ever and ever" (10:6), literally means, "that lives to the ages of the ages". Eternity is not the cessation of time, but that time proceeds without ceasing. "The Eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the Everlasting Arms: and He shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them" (Deuteronomy 33:27). Time is up, but for what?

The expression "the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound" (10:7) refers specifically to the Seventh Trumpet Judgment (11:15), which sounds approximately 8-9 days before the End of the Tribulation Week. [See our Tribulation Chart ---New Window for a graphic representation of events.] At the Seventh Trumpet Judgment, the "Mystery of God should be finished" (10:7). But, what is the Mystery of God? "This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church" (Ephesians 5:32). The Church of the Living God (1Timothy 3:15) is the Mystery of God, that is made known by the preaching of the "Mystery of the Gospel" (Ephesians 6:19), and is revealed when the Pre-Wrath Rapture and Resurrection of the Just takes place toward the End of the Tribulation Week. "51 Behold, I shew you a Mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the Last Trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (1Corinthians 15:51-53). [See our article, "The Seventh Trumpet and the Second Rapture Or, The Last Trump and the Pre-Wrath Rapture" ---New Window , to see an attempt to reconcile the Pre-Tribulational and Pre-Wrath Raptures.] Sometime between the sounding of the Sixth Trumpet Judgment (9:9-21) and the Seventh Trumpet Judgment (11:15), the Seven Thunders (10:3-4) are revealed.

God instructed John to "take the Little Book which is open" (10:8), signifying that the Apostle John was being given a private viewing of the Seven Thunders. John was especially set apart for the privilege of fulfilling the words of the Resurrected Saviour. "22 Jesus saith unto him [Peter], If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou Me. 23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple [John] should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" (John 21:22-23). Knowledge is granted to those who abide in loving obedience to the LORD Jesus. "He that hath My Commandments, and keepeth Them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him" (14:21). The Apostle John was known as the "disciple whom Jesus loved" (21:20), and was evidently granted this preview of the Seven Thunders. But, why?

In obedience, John goes to the angel and makes his request, "Give me the Little Book" (10:9). The angel responds to John with further instructions. "Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey" (10:9). This is reminiscent of the prophet Ezekiel's experience. "1 Moreover He said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. 2 So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that roll. 3 And He said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness... 14 So the Spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the LORD was strong upon me" (Ezekiel 3:1-3, 14). Ezekiel's "bitterness" (3:14), like John's (10:9), was not bitterness against God or His Providence, but was against sin and the impenitence of his hearers. Any other kind of bitterness is against God, and is sin. "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice" (Ephesians 4:31).

True to the angel's words, the Little Book was "sweet as honey" (10:10) in John's mouth, but it "was bitter" (10:10) in his belly. Like all of God's Word to His Children, it is the choicest sweetness to the soul. "9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the Judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb" (Psalm 19:9-10). The Promises of God are "exceeding great and precious" (2Peter 1:4), the Grace of God is more than "abundant" (2Corinthians 4:15), and the Love of Christ "passeth knowledge" (Ephesians 3:19).

But, the results of the Ministered Word are bitter in their effect upon unwilling hearers-- such as these whom the Seven Thunders will judge during this last part of the Tribulation Week-- because they speak to them of judgment.
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!" (Luke 13:34). Even the Apostle John, who will return toward the End of the Tribulation Week to administer the Seven Thunders (10:11) and deliver this message to unwilling hearers, will be faced with the bitterness of their rejection and impenitence. "15 And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by His messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because He had compassion on His people, and on His dwelling place: 16 But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised His Words, and misused His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy" (2Chronicles 36:15-16).

Some have said that this promise, "Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings" (10:11), has already been fulfilled by the spread of the New Testament Scriptures, including the Gospel of John, the Epistles of John, and the Revelation. Certainly, the promise has been fulfilled in some measure. But, the fact that the Apostle John was shown the contents of the Little Book and was told not to divulge it to the readers of this Apocalypse (10:4), indicates that John will be back at a future time in the Tribulation Week to make plain to all exactly what he was shown. "The secret of the LORD is with them that fear Him; and He will shew them His Covenant" (Psalm 25:14).

The Seven Thunders represent the powerful Voice of the LORD (Psalm 29) through the mouth of His prophet John the Beloved. The Seven Thunders are also a powerful series of Judgments, purposefully left undescribed in the Apocalypse, to make the secret Judgments of the Almighty even more weighty.
"Who shall not fear thee, O LORD, and glorify Thy Name? for Thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before Thee; for Thy Judgments are made manifest" (Revelation 15:4). God will always most wisely and judiciously mete out His Judgments for the maximum effect. "With my soul have I desired Thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek Thee early: for when Thy Judgments are in the Earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness" (Isaiah 26:9). With this unexpected series of Judgments of the Seven Thunders, the "terror of God" (Genesis 35:5) will be upon the world.



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