Seven Thunders & An Angel’s Oath

SEVEN THUNDER PROPHECY SEALEDWhen he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down.” (Revelation 10:3a-4)

Seven Thunders – The identity of the seven thunders is not explained, and perhaps John assumes it will be known to his readers.(1) They may be
heavenly voices or God’s voice.(2) God’s voice is often compared to thunder (Psalms 29; Job 26:14; 37:5; John 12:28–29),(3) and seven is the number of completion and perfection. The verse which indicates John was going to write down what they said, suggests that the thunder was more than just noise,(4) or literal peals of thunder.

Prophecy Sealed – John was forbidden to record what the seven thunders said. While Revelation is primarily designed to reveal and not to conceal God’s purpose and future events, some revelation was kept hidden as illustrated by God’s prohibiting John to write what the voices of the seven thunders said.(5) At the time of the end, the things that were sealed in Daniel’s vision were to be revealed. This is not the case with the voices of these thunders. Though they were heard by John, they were not to be recorded by him in this book of Revelation. Perhaps they are so terrible that God in mercy withholds prior knowledge of them. Thus, the Godly are kept from morbid ponderings over the evil to come and the ungodly are not driven by despair into reckless abandon. This also may indicate that besides the terrors that are foretold and not sealed, “the arrows of God’s quiver are not exhausted,” and contains others that are unutterable and more horrifying.(6) Beyond this we are not told why John was forbidden to write what the seven thunders uttered. They are the only sealed thing in an otherwise unsealed book (see Daniel 12:9; Revelation 22:10). While it is tempting to do so, it is pointless to speculate when God chooses to veil His truth (Deuteronomy 29:29).(7)

THE ANGEL’S OATHThen the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said,There will be no more delay! But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.” (Revelation 10:5-7)

Standing on Sea and Land – As noted previously, his stance may suggest his authority as well as the universal scope of his message.(8)

Swear with Right Hand Raised – There is in this part of the vision an allusion to Daniel 12:1–13. It was customary to lift the hand towards heaven when taking a solemn oath, as an appeal to the God of truth. The detailed designation of God as the Creator is appropriate to the subject of the angel’s oath (“the mystery of God will be accomplished”), which can only be brought to pass by the same Almighty power that created all things.

No More Delay – “There will be no more delay” is sometimes translated as “there shall be time no longer.” But this does not appear to be the thought of this passage. The NIV translation appears to be the more accurate one,(9) as the Greek word actually means that the period of delay is over.(10) Thus, it would seem that the judgments under the first six Trumpets are actually further calls to repentance, rather than retribution. The avenging does not take place until the last Trumpet and may be what ushers in the period of the Great Tribulation (last three and a half years). This is the Tribulation that many believe the Church-age Saints will be spared from as they are Raptured (and for them “there shall be time no longer”).(11) This passage is also an allusion to Daniel 12:7, where an angel lifted his hands toward heaven and swore by the one who lives forever that there would be only three and a half more years (mid-tribulation) until the end (and time for all will be “no more”).

Here this angel swears that this time has come, and there is to be no further delay.(12) God, who “is not slow in keeping His promise,” has been delaying His judgments so that lost sinners will have time to repent (2 Peter 3:1–9). Now, however, the delay is over. He will accelerate His judgments and accomplish His purposes. Recall also that the martyred saints in heaven were concerned about God’s seeming delay in avenging their deaths (Revelation 6:10–11). “How long, O Lord, how long” has been the cry of God’s suffering people from age to age, while scoffers have sarcastically replied “where is this coming He promised?” God’s seeming delay in fulfilling His promises has given these very scoffers who deny God’s Word and question His sincerity (2 Peter 3) additional time to repent.(13) But at some point, the final trumpet will sound, and God will bring time to an end. He will, as He promised, finish His program for mankind.(14)

Up Next – The Last Trumpet.

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References

  1. Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Re 10:3). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.
  2. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 10:3). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  3. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 597). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  4. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 10:3). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  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. 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.
  7. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 597). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  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. Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Moore, E., Craven, E. R., & Woods, J. H. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Revelation (p. 220). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  12. Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Re 10:5–6). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  13. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 597). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  14. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 825). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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