An Angel With a Tiny Scroll

INTRODUCTIONThen I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. (Revelation 10:1-3a)

This section of Revelation is viewed as a parenthetical between the sixth and seventh trumpets, and introduces the middle of the Tribulation period. According to Daniel 9:27, this is likely the time that the
anti-Christ breaks his covenant with Israel and reveals his true self in all his satanic fury. Two special witnesses minister during the first three and one-half years (Revelation 11:3) of the Tribulation, while the Jewish remnant is protected by God during the last three and one-half years (Revelation 12:6, 14). During the last three and one-half years, the anti-Christ achieves world-wide authority (Revelation 13:5). This corresponds to Satan being cast down to earth for three and one-half years and the beginning of intense persecution of believers (Revelation 12:12). Jerusalem is also trodden down by the Gentiles for three and one-half years (Revelation 11:2).

The seventh trumpet introduces the seven bowls of God’s wrath, and the last three and one-half years of tribulation (“the wrath of God”) will get underway.(1) Just as the interlude between the sixth and seventh seals assured the recipients of Revelation that the people of God would be safe from the destructive effects of God’s wrath, between the sixth and seventh trumpets readers are once again reminded of God’s protective hand on His people. But in the trumpet interlude we also learn that God’s protection during these days of tribulation does not mean isolation. The people of God must bear a prophetic witness to the world.(2)

Another Mighty Angel – Some see this heavenly messenger as the Angel of the Lord, in other words Jesus Christ.(3) Jesus often appeared in the Old Testament as “the Angel of the Lord” (Exodus 3:2; Judges 2:4; 6:11–12, 21–22; 2 Samuel 24:16). This was a temporary manifestation for a specific purpose, separate and distinct from His New Testament incarnation.(4) John had seen and heard a “mighty angel” once before (Revelation 5:2), and the same Greek word is here translated as another “mighty” angel. While all angels excel in strength (Psalms 103:20), some apparently have greater power and authority than others. This “mighty angel” has some of the characteristics that belong especially to the Lord Jesus.

Robed in a Cloud – God is often identified with clouds (“He makes the clouds His chariot” Psalms 104:3). God led Israel by a glorious cloud by day (Exodus 16:10), and dark clouds covered Sinai when the Law was given (Exodus 19:9). When God appeared to Moses, it was in a cloud of glory (Exodus 24:15; 34:5). A cloud received Jesus when He ascended to heaven (Acts 1:9). When He returns, it will be with clouds (Revelation 1:7). Here the mighty angel is “robed in a cloud.

Rainbow – We first saw the rainbow around the throne of God in Revelation 4:3, now it sits like a crown on the head of this messenger. The rainbow was God’s sign to mankind that He would never again destroy the world with a flood. Even in wrath, God remembers His mercy (Habakkuk 3:2). Whether this angel is Jesus, he bears the authority of God’s throne.

The Sun, Fiery Pillars, Voice Like a Lion – The fact that the angel’s face is “like the sun” corresponds to the description of Jesus Christ in Revelation 1:16. His legs “like fiery pillars” correspond to the Lord’s description in Revelation 1:15. His voice “like the roar of a lion” is suggestive of Revelation 5:5.

The Scroll – The “little scroll” contains the rest of the prophetic message that John will deliver to “many peoples, nations, languages and kings.” Since Jesus was the only One worthy to take the scroll and break the seals (Revelation 5:5), it seems logical to conclude that He is the only One worthy to give His servant the rest of the message.

Apart from these implicit characteristics of the angel, there is no direct evidence or explicit identification of the angel as other than another mighty angel (Revelation 5:2), perhaps Michael the archangel.(5)

Little Book (Scroll) – In contrast with the seven-sealed scroll held by the Lamb (Revelation 5:1), this “angel” held a small scroll. This scroll apparently contained the angel’s written order for the mission he was about to fulfill.(6) The description of it as a “little scroll” is suggestive of size, not importance. It was certainly small enough to be consumed.(7) This scroll is open, whereas the one in Revelation 5:1 was sealed. We see from Revelation 10:9–11 that this is a book of prophecy, with verse 7 implying that the contents of the book were previously declared by the prophets. Since the Old Testament prophets did not speak to the Church, these prophecies likely relate to Israel, the Jews, and Jerusalem. This theme is exactly what we find in Revelation chapters 11 and following. Perhaps this little book is also the sealed message of Daniel 12:4, 9, now unsealed and about to be fulfilled.(8) Others claim, that since the voices of the seven peals of thunder were sealed, God has not seen fit to reveal the contents of this scroll.(9)

Feet on Sea and Land – Later in Revelation the beast with seven heads (the anti-Christ) will arise out of the sea (Revelation 13:1), while the beast with two horns like a lamb (the false prophet) will arise out of the earth (Revelation 13:11). Here, with his right foot on the sea, and his left on the earth, this mighty angel claims both land and sea as belonging to God. The time is near when it will be cleared of these usurpers.(10) The stance may suggest the mighty angel’s authority as well as the universal scope of his message.(11) The angel’s posture is also that of a conqueror taking possession of his territory. He is claiming the entire world (see Joshua 1:1–3). Of course, only the victorious Savior could make such a claim. The anti-Christ will soon complete his conquest and force the entire world to submit to his control. But before that happens, the Savior will claim the world for Himself, the inheritance that His Father promised Him (Psalms 2:6–9).(12)

Up Next – Seven Thunder Prophecy Sealed.

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References

  1. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 824). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  2. Sloan, R. B. (1998). The Revelation. In D. S. Dockery (Ed.), Holman concise Bible commentary (p. 674). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
  3. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 825). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  4. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 954). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  5. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 954). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  6. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 954). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  7. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 10:2). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  8. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 825). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  9. Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 1900). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
  10. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 574). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  11. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 10:2). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  12. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 597). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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