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The Roaring Messenger

Revelation 10:1-4
Then 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. When 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.' (NIVUK)

Just to remind ourselves: we are at the point in the Revelation when the sixth angel has blown the sixth trumpet to announce the death of a further third of the world's population, and only half of the people are left alive. But Revelation 9:20-21 sees that, despite the severe and insuperable plagues, people continued to spurn God and refused to repent – while continuing their arrogant self-sufficiency and demon worship. The seventh trumpet is yet to be sounded (Revelation 11:15). In this intermission of Revelation 10:1-11:14 there are two dramas: the angel and the little scroll (Revelation 10:1-11), and the two witnesses. These give further background information to the meaning of the seven seals and seven trumpets.

The first question from today's verses is: who is this mighty angel? Some have suggested that the angel is Jesus. He is pictured wearing a cloud as a coat, his face is like the sun and his legs are fiery pillars. That is somewhat like the description of the Son of Man in Daniel 10:6 and of Jesus in Revelation 1:12-16. Also, a rainbow surrounds him - God's covenant sign of grace amidst judgement (Genesis 9:13-16). However, Jesus is not an angel (Hebrews 2:5-9). The 'mighty angel' of Revelation 5:2 is distinct from the Lamb (Revelation 6:1). The 'mighty angel' appears again in Revelation 18:21 as the agent of God's judgement of anti-Christ civilisation and the avenger of the martyrs, with the roar of divine power. So this angel is given great authority over the land and sea in the service of the Sovereign God, and bears some of the insignia of Christ (Revelation 1:15, 16; 4:3), but is neither Father God nor Jesus Christ.

What is the scroll? Although it is called 'little' in verse 2, it is a 'scroll' in verse 8; letting us assume that this is the same scroll from which the Lamb broke the seals (Revelation 6:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12; 8:1). The scroll would eventually be passed to John (Revelation 10:8) to share with the world … and, in reading Revelation, we are a part of that plan. The mighty angel roars like a lion creating reverberating thunderclaps to announce the judgements of God. But they are so dreadful, John was commanded not to record what they said.

What does this mean for us? Once God has revealed His purposes, they are no longer secret. But some things are not for human beings. Deuteronomy 29:29 says, "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children for ever, that we may follow all the words of this law." The Book is now open. The Lord will bring the unrepentant to account. The church will be vindicated. God's Word will be done. What a comfort to believers in distress who are tempted to think that the Lord has forgotten them, and for those who wonder if they can keep following Jesus in the face of persecution. Today we will do well to pray for believers, who we may never meet until Jesus returns, but are now suffering because they love Jesus.

Father God. Thank You that You will bring in Your kingdom and all who resist You now will not be able to resist Your power when You take action. Forgive me for caring so little about the embattled and suffering church throughout the world. Please help me to develop a healthy prayer life for people and countries where the gospel has no public approval. Please comfort Your people with Your Word, and strengthen them to keep on trusting in Jesus. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams