Revelation chapter 10 is one of my favorite chapter’s within the Revelation. Within this chapter we get a glimpse into the type of messenger that God is raising up and is going to raise up in the final generation to carry the message of His soon coming Kingdom. We also get a glimpse into the both the life of the messenger and the specific commissioning that John receives to preach and prophesy this message that God has entrusted with him.
If we continue to use the model of breaking down the structure of the Revelation that we started with all the back in Chapter 4 of this study, Revelation 10 is the 2nd Parenthetical (explanation) chapter in the Revelation. What’s also very interesting about Revelation 10 is the entire chapter is given to John’s encounter with the mighty angel and the scroll in his hand. This chapter is nearly the direct middle of the Revelation and I think that it’s very strategic how it interjects this experience with the angel and the scroll and stresses the importance at the close of this chapter of John continuing to deliver this message to those that will both listen and reject it.
The other important thing that Revelation 10 does is it gives us insight into what kind of end-time messenger God is going to raise up throughout the earth to carry the whole counsel (bitter/sweet) of God. The open scroll that John receives in his hand contains both the bitter/sweet reality of the Word of God. It’s never been either or but always both and when it comes declaring God’s Word. This chapter reaffirms God’s steadfast and eternal commitment that His Shepherds are those who have both been impacted and are committed to declaring the bitter/sweet message of the Kingdom. And lastly, Revelation 10 reminds us that there are no shortcuts when it comes to the preparation of the messenger. They must eat and fully digest the scroll the God.
The Mighty Descending Angel (Revelation 10:1-3)
Here in Revelation 10 John seems to be back on the ground as he witnesses this angel descending down to the earth. The Revelation is a roller-coaster account of John’s experience and vision as sometimes he is caught up in the Spirit and other times he’s in the Spirit but on the ground. Revelation 10 is one of those on the ground experiences. John stats in Revelation 10:1-3 that “I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feel like pillars of fire. He had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. When he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices.” What a glorious vision that John encounters here.
In John’s account of Revelation 10 the entire experience is given to this mighty angel mentioned above and the scroll that’s in his hand. For this very reason I believe that the way the angel came to John and the various things said about him are essential in understanding what God’s telling John both for his day and in our day. The specific, and intentional way that this angel visited John tell us three primary things.
Firstly, we see that he was coming down from heaven. This is a statement about the wisdom that comes from above which is heavenly and it’s opposed to the devil’s wisdom which comes up from the earth (James 3:13-18). We will see this contrast of heavenly wisdom versus earthly wisdom later on when we look at Revelation 13 and the Antichrist. Secondly, we see that this angel is described with seven different adjectives. I believe that what John seen describing this angel as he’s descending give us insight and clarity into what type of messenger God has raised up and is continuing to raise up across the earth.
Firstly the angel is described as being A Mighty Angel. I believe that this speaks about the people of God operating in the power of the Holy Spirit, specifically at the end of this age. We know that the crisis at the end of this age is going to be great, but so also is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. God is going to make a worthy bride prepared for a worthy city, and He’s also going to create a worthy bride to face and oppose a filthy bride and her global ruler, the Antichrist.
Secondly, John seen that the angel was Clothed In A Cloud. This speaks about the shekinah glory of God resting upon the people of God in a discernible and tangible way. Clouds throughout the Old Testament spoke of the Glory and His manifest presence (Ex. 14:19; Song of Songs 3:6). The angel is described by John as being covered in the glory of God. Thirdly, the angel had A Rainbow On His Head. We know from Genesis 9:13 and Revelation 4:4 that the rainbow throughout the Bible speaks of God’s eternal covenant of mercy. In Genesis 9:13 it was given to Noah and Revelation 4:4 it was seen around God’s throne and above God’s head. This lets us know that not only does God delight in mercy, but His end-time messengers and those messengers throughout history are those that are filled with mercy. The message of judgment within the Revelation is truly a message of mercy. If people will repent and turn to God He will forgive them and accept them into His Eternal City. His judgments are redemptive in nature and filled with mercy, in hopes to spare people from the Lake of Fire.
Fourthly, His Face Was Like The Sun. From this I gather that a burning heart produces a bright countenance. Those whose heart have been impacted by the Great Bridegroom God can’t help but to reflect externally, what’s burning internally. Jesus’ eyes in Revelation 1:14 are like flames of fire because His heart is burning. Jesus called John the Baptist the burning and shining lamp. He was burning on the inside which caused him to shine on the outside (John 5:35; Revelation 4:3;22:17).
Fifthly, the angels Feet Were Like Pillars Of Fire. I believe that this speaks and represents God’s fierce commitment to crush sin and rebellion. Through the Bible God’s feet are pictured as being like burnished bronze, or like fire. God is a God of justice and His end-time messengers will be those filled with the message of justice that He carries in His heart for the nations. Jesus is the Great Liberator and the Opener of the door to all those that are held as captives, both spiritually and physically. The people of God throughout history and globally at the end of this age will be a people who fully agree with His judgments and the justice of His heart (Malachi 3:2; Revelation 1:15;2:18).
Sixthly, John describes the angels Feet Being On The Land And On The Sea. This is a clear indication that the coming eschatological move of God is going to be global and not local. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 was a local outpouring, but God’s prophetic promise from Joel 2:28-32 which Peter quoted on the day of Pentecost wasn’t totally full filled, just partially. The outpouring that they experienced was a local one, but what God is going to do at the end of this age with His Church is going to be a global outpouring. This is why the angels feet are on both the land and the sea. It’s all encompassing.
And seventhly, this angel Cried Out Like A Roaring Lion. I believe that this speaks of a present and yet increasing prophetic spirit that God is going to give the body of Christ in the days leading up to His return and in the season of His return. The Church is going to be praying and preaching from a prophetic spirit that will reveal not only the future, but mainly the heart of God (Amos 3:8; Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:14-21).
The third thing that we learn from this angel is that he’s holding an OPEN book in his hand. The word book that’s used here is a Greek word called Biblion and it simply means little scroll, a writing or Bible. This is the same word that we use when speaking of the Bible. Now, I personally believe that this little book that’s open in the hand of the angel is the same scroll from Revelation 5:1 that was in the Father’s right hand. And I also believe this angel to be the same angel from Revelation 5:2 that John heard making the large declaration “…who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose it’s seals?”
In this journey of covering the Revelation as best as I can, there have been many things that I have had to leave out because they aren’t totally important to the overall storyline of the Revelation. There are many theories about numbers, people, historical events and many other such things that are fascinating but not totally central to our study. But what I am about to explain here is something that totally shocked me when I discovered it and I want to share it with you whether it relates to the overall storyline or not. It’s just plain amazing in my opinion.
In Revelation 5:1 John sees that there is a scroll in the Father’s right hand. And in Revelation 5:2 John hears a strong angel give a challenge to those in heaven, on the earth and under the earth. And here in Revelation 10:1 we see that mighty angel is coming down from heaven to the earth and is covered in the glory of God. The word used to describe the STRONG angel of Revelation 5:2 and the MIGHTY angel of Revelation 10:1 is Strong’s Greek word #2478 and it simply means strong and it’s the same Greek word used in both instances.
Now going all the way back to Revelation 1:1 we see John opening the Revelation by stating “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God (the Father) gave Him (Jesus Christ) to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John.” Now here is where my mind was blown. I have read Revelation 1:1 many times but had never tied it in with Revelation 5 and Revelation 10. But here within these two chapters I believe that we get to see the fullness of what Revelation 1:1 was saying. So here it is; the Father in Revelation 5:1 possessed the scroll until Jesus took it from the Father’s hand in Revelation 5:7. And in Revelation 10:1, after the seals have been broken off, Jesus gives the now opened scroll to an angel (the same angel as Revelation 5:2) who gives it back to John in Revelation 10:9-10 thus fulfilling what John wrote in Revelation 1:1. I love the Bible and the many hidden mysteries within it.
The Sovereignty Of God Over The Affairs Of Humanity (Revelation 10:4-7)
John’s experience with this angel continues as John pens another portion of his encounter. In Revelation 10:4-7 John writes “Now when the seven thunders utter their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them. The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to heaven and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer, but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.”
When this strong angel which is the same angel from the opening of this chapter cries out, John hears seven thunders utter their voices. As soon as these thunders utter their voices John starts to write but is quickly instructed from a heavenly voice, which I assume to be God’s that he shouldn’t write anything but rather seal it up. No regarding what these seven thunders are, I am not even going to speculate. Many commentators and people who have studied the Revelation vary on their thoughts and I am going to leave mine out, simply because I don’t have any.
Now we see that this angel is standing on both the land and the sea which I believe to be a direct contrast to the Antichrist of Revelation 13 and the Harlot Babylon of Revelation 17-18 who are both pictured as being on the land and the sea. The angel is wanting John to know that even though a evil, tyrannical systems emerges on the earth and is seemingly filling the globe with it’s message of tolerance and hate, God is from above and not below is still seated over all things eternally not temporarily like the beast and his global system.
These verses have helped me greatly understand that even though life in this age progressively deteriorates, even into depths that the human race has never seen God is the one who created everything in heaven, on earth and under the earth. What John seen in this angel as it was descending and the Person in heaven (God the Father) that He swears by will give the end-time Church confidence for bold, public proclamation in the face of certain physical death. The only way that the people of God will preach the message of Jesus, the Cross, freedom from sin and His soon coming Kingdom, is if they are empowered by the Holy Spirit and they see rightly who’s seated upon that Great Eternal throne of Glory in Heaven. Though suffering mighty be their lot, they will see suffering as a better option than separation from Christ eternally.
Open Scroll And John’s Command To Eat It (Revelation 10:8-11)
The remainder of Revelation 10 is nothing short of apoplectic but within it there is such powerful application for us today and for those in the future that will have to stand and rightly declare what God has said in His word. Things are about to get weird for John. John receives this command in Revelation 10:8-9 “Then the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth. So I went to the angel and said to him, give me the little book. And he said to me, take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.”
What’s even crazier about this situation that John is facing, is that it’s not the first time it’s happened in the Bible. This very same thing happened with Ezekiel in Ezekiel 3:1-4. The situation actually mirrors John’s encounter here in Revelation 10 that I can’t help but contrast their encounters. Here is there experience contrasted;
- Revelation 10:8-11 Ezekiel 3:1-4
- The little book A scroll of a book
- Take and eat the book Eat this scroll
- Sweet as honey in the mouth Sweet as honey to eat
- Belly was bitter Belly was bitter
- You must prophesy Speak to Israel
You can see for yourself that their experience’s were virtually the same. It’s also clear to see that neither Ezekiel nor John, who were both seasoned prophets had any idea how bitter the Word of God was when it was fully digested. This has huge implications for us today. We must not shrink back from the more challenging aspects of the Word of God but approach them with the same intensity that we approach the more likeable portions. We must eat and fully digest the Word of God in order to deliver it to others in a right and complete fashion.
The reason why God instructs both Ezekiel and John to eat the scroll is because God doesn’t have robotic prophets. God only has prophets with human hearts and human emotions. They are relational prophets made in the image of a relational God. These aren’t simply windup prophets. God doesn’t just wind them up and set them loose. They are humans, fill with human emotions and this is why God takes them through the trouble of allowing both the sweet and bitter reality of the Word of God to touch them and physically change them.
John now begins to eat the scroll in Revelation 10:10 as he says “Then I took the little book out of the angels hand and are it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter.” As soon as John first tastes the scroll it’s very sweet to his mouth, but as it’s fully digested it becomes severe bitterness in his stomach. The two-fold nature of the scroll unfolds it’s clear impact upon John’s heart; extreme joy and extreme pain. What’s locked up within both Ezekiel and John’s encounter here is a pattern or a template for every end-time forerunner that wants to carry God’s heart to the nations. That heart is Jesus’ message has always been filled with both positives and negatives.
Today in the body of Christ, specifically in the West and many ministries that I have personally been a part of the Shepherds and messengers are diminishing one facet of the scroll, which I believe to be a grave error. What I mean by diminish is that we are leaving out one part of the equation or the other. It’s very important that we don’t diminish the sweetness of redemption and justice in a sin ravished world. But it’s equally important that we also don’t diminish the severity of God’s judgments and the trouble that’s coming to the human race. Without either one of those facets we are preaching an incomplete message. God’s passion was to show us through both Ezekiel and John that He is committed to having both of those realities preaching in the earth.
We too, just like John, have to preach the “bitter sweet” message of the entirety of the Bible. The introduction to our faith and our enjoyment of Christ is sweetness, but the global dynamics and pressures that we will face awaiting our redemption are severely bitter, both for us, other Christians and the untold billions that don’t yet know Christ. Beloved, the Bible isn’t a story writing by a great heavenly Santa Claus, but by a loving Father who disciplines those that He loves. We must recommit to carrying the fullness of God’s word to this generation and the generations yet to come.
And lastly, John receives a powerful commission upon the full digestion of the scroll. The angel says to him in Revelation 10:11 “And he said to me, you must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues and kings.” What I have come to understand is that John’s mannerism’s, his heart posture before God and man, and his understanding of the two-fold nature of God (Blessing and Judgment) would become a template for every person that would read the Revelation after him. This is why God takes an entire chapter and devotes it solely to John’s encounter with this angel and his commission to take this two-fold message to the nations. Before John would be commissioned to preach, pray and prophesy he would first be commanded to fully consume God’s word.
I believe that before God’s sends His messengers out, He, like John, first commands them also to eat from the Word of God. And what’s true for John is also true for us. We must take John’s experience to heart and begin giving ourselves to eating the scroll and fully digesting it’s contents so that we, like John can rightly share it with others. Let’s John’s encounter be the spring board into your own encounter with the Lord through the written Word of God.