CHAPTER 10 The Angel of the Oath and the Little Book
Sanctions of the Covenant continued
"The lion roars: who is not afraid? Lord Yahweh has spoken: who will not prophesy?
(Yahweh to the prophet Daniel)" 'But you, Daniel, must keep these words secret and keep the book sealed until the time of the End.'"
(Daniel to God and God's reply) " 'How long until these wonders take place?' I heard the man speak who was dressed in linen, standing further up the stream: he raised his right hand and his left to heaven and swore by him who lives for ever, 'A time and two times, and half a time: and all these things will come true, once the crushing of the holy people's power is over.' I listened but did not understand. I then said, 'My Lord, what is to be the outcome?' 'Go Daniel, he said. 'These words are to remain secret and sealed until the time of the End. Many will be cleansed, made white and purged; the wicked will persist in doing wrong; the wicked will never understand; those who are wise will understand. From the moment that the perpetual sacrifice is abolished and the appalling abomination set up..."
-Daniel 12:4 & 7-11 (Yahweh's instructions to the prophet Daniel concerning the visions he received in the 6th century BC prior to the return of Israel from in exile Babylon).
"And now to Him who can make you strong in accordance with the gospel that I preach and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, in accordance with that mystery which for endless ages was kept secret but now (as the prophets wrote) is revealed, as the eternal God commanded, to be made known to all the nations, so that they obey in faith.." –Romans 16:25
"You have surely heard the way in which God entrusted me with the grace He gave me for your sake; He made known to me by a revelation the mystery I have just described briefly, a reading of it will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. This mystery, as it is now revealed in the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets, was unknown to humanity in previous generations: that the gentiles now have the same inheritance and form the same Body and enjoy the same promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel." –Ephesians 3:2-6
As this prophetic book unfolds we may see events in our time reflected in the symbolic imagery of John's revelation that point to the Second Advent of Christ but just as what was revealed to John was anchored in the prophecy and events of the destruction of the First Temple in 586(7)BC as was revealed to Ezekiel, so may these events, historically fulfilled in the destruction of the Second Temple in 70AD, connect us to the Second Advent of Christ.
But it is important to remember these descriptions of disasters in Revelation (sun, moon, and stars turning dark, water turning to blood etc.) are symbolic just as they are in Ezekiel's message of Yahweh to Egypt prior to 586(7)BC (ie message of Feb/Mar. 585BC 32:7-8, "When I extinguish you I shall cover the skies and darken the stars. I shall cover the sun with clouds and the moon will not give its light. I shall dim every luminary in heaven because of you and cover your country in darkness" declares the Lord Yahweh. 11-14 "...I shall let their waters settle and make their rivers glide like oil.."(14)); and in Isaiah (ie 13:9-11, 19; 24:19-23; 34:4-5), and in Joel (2:10, 28-32),in Matthew (24:29) and in Acts (2:16-21) when there was no record of such a natural phenomena on such a huge scale. Imagery like the failure of light from sun, moon, and stars for example, has always been used in the prophets to depict the fall of nations and national rulers not as a literal natural phenomena. Water may have actually turned to blood in the plague on Egypt in Exodus but the reference to water turning to blood in Revelation and the imagery of the other plagues and other destructive events in Revelation are meant to connect us to the other Old Testament events and to remind us WHY they happened and that John is witnessing God's judgment falling on those who stand in opposition to God in the same way as those prior judgments. If 1st century Christians had looked for literal instead of symbolic fulfillment of the signs, they would have missed the warning of the destruction of Jerusalem.
Just as we had an interlude between the 6th and 7th Seals, we now have an interlude between the 6th and 7th Trumpets. This interlude will continue from chapter 10 through chapter 11. In the previous two chapters we discussed that the primary symbolic connection between these 7 Trumpets is the 7 Trumpets that sounded the destruction of Jericho, the stronghold of the Canaanites which kept God's people from their inheritance, the Promised Land. Now, Jerusalem, symbolically the new Jericho, is keeping God's New Covenant people from their promised inheritance, the New Covenant, the Kingdom of heaven on earth = the Universal Church. And just as the power of God, not the Israelites, brought down the old Jericho, so too will God bring about the destruction of Jerusalem a city also symbolically connected to Sodom and Babylon in the blowing of the first 6 Trumpets.
At the end of chapter 9 it was revealed to John that neither God's mercy nor His discipline would bring those who suffered through the destruction of Trumpets 5 &6 to repentance. Those who were not killed in the destruction of the invading army would not repent and turn to God. Instead they "..refused either to abandon their own handiwork or to stop worshipping devils, the idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood that can neither see nor hear nor move. Nor did they give up their murdering, or witchcraft, or fornication, or stealing." (9:20-21) The Greek word which the New Jerusalem scholars have translated as "witchcraft" is pharmakon . The literal translation is 'drug.' It is the word from which we get our word pharmacy. In their practices of the 'magic arts' the people were inhaling drugs.
Could the people of Judah and Jerusalem be involved in idol worship as well as these other mortal sins? There is a parallel to this revelation to John in Ezekiel. Turn to Ezekiel and read chapter 8. Just prior to the first destruction of Jerusalem priests in the Temple as well as others were involved in idolatry and witchcraft.
Remembering that the literal translation of Rev. 9:21 concerns the use of drugs in the "magic arts, look at Ez. 8:17c "..look at them now putting that branch to their nostrils." These men were inhaling smoke to put them into some drug-induced trance as part of their practice of witchcraft. Question: What similarities do you see between the practices of the people of Jerusalem in 586/7BC and the practices of the people of 70AD?
Parallel Ezekiel and Revelation passages:
Ezekiel 12:24-28 and Rev. 10:7: No More Delay- the time for waiting is over!
Ezekiel 3:1-3 and Rev. 10:8-10: The Eating of the Little Scroll sweet as honey
Ezekiel 25-32 and Rev. 10: 11: The Prophecy Against the Nations
Please read Rev. 10:1-7: The Angel of the Oath
Verse 1: "Then I saw another powerful angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in cloud, with a rainbow over his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were pillars of fire."
Some scholars interpret this figure as another angel/messenger or as one of the 7 Angels of the Presence. But this is obviously another vision. Other scholars interpret this "powerful" angel as Christ. The Scriptural evidence that supports this interpretation is powerful, and the key to understanding the connection to Scripture lies in the description of this figure.
Question: How is this personage described? Can you name 5 attributes or characteristics?
As you can see, all of these images are related to Christ. Then too, there is support for this figure John sees as Christ in the passage from the prophet Daniel that Jesus Himself quoted to the high Priest at His trial. Jesus connects Himself to the Glory-Cloud when he quotes Dan. 7:13: "But I tell you that from this time onward you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven." (Matt. 28:64 and Dan. 7:13). Finally, compare this description of the figure in Rev. 10:1 with the description of Christ in Rev. 1:13-16 and the description of God on His throne in Ezekiel 1:25-28. The next verse also gives a clue to the identity of this powerful angel/messenger that supports the interpretation that He is Christ.
Verses 2-3 "In his hand he had a small scroll, unrolled; he put his right foot in the sea and his left foot on the land, and he shouted so loud, it was like a roaring lion."
Question: What is unusual about this scroll as opposed to the scroll with the seven seals?
Answer: It is described as small and unsealed, and open!
Question: What two phrases in this passage point to Christ as this powerful angel and what passage does it recall in Revelation? Answer: 1). He is holding a scroll as He did in Rev. 5ff (we will learn more about the scroll in verses 8-11), and 2). His shout is "like a lion roaring." This shout should remind us that Jesus is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah as He is identified in ch 5:5. The loud voice or great shout also recalls the great voice or sound that issued from the Glory-Cloud in Ex. Chapter 19 when God came down in the Glory-Cloud on Mt. Sinai. The shout "like a lion roaring" also recalls Amos 3:8 "The lion roars: who is not afraid? Lord Yahweh has spoken: who will not prophesy?"
Notice how the angel/Christ is standing. "sea and land" is usually an Old Testament formula for the entire earth. Who else except Christ has dominion over the entire earth? But another important aspect of His posture is that it indicates that He is standing on Israel/Judea (the land) and on the gentile nations (the sea). This will be revealed as we continue with verses 5-7.
Verse 4 "At this, the seven claps of thunder made themselves heard and when the seven thunderclaps had sounded, I was preparing to write, when I heard a voice from heaven say to me, 'Keep the words of the seven thunderclaps secret and do not write them down.'"
Here we have another group of 7s to add to our list!
This passage reminds us that John is not just "hearing and seeing" but he is also writing everything down as he was commanded to do in 1:19 "Now write down all that you see..." It is very important that for the first time John is commanded not to write down what he has heard!
Question: Why did the 7 thunderclaps sound? Answer: Perhaps they were responding to the sound "like a lion roaring" : the Voice of Christ!
Question: Where do the thunders come from? Answer: Some scholars have suggested that the 7 thunders represent the response of the host of heaven to the voice of Christ but the thunders could also be the voice of God the Holy Spirit (7 being the number usually represented as spiritual perfection and related to God the Holy Spirit in the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit represented as 7 lampstands in Rev. 1:13. For Old Testament passages that refer to God's voice like thunder see Psalms 29. "Yahweh's voice over the waters, the God of glory thunders; Yahweh over the countless waters, Yahweh's voice in power, Yahweh's voice in splendor.."(29:3) and Ex. 19:19 "Moses spoke, and God answered him in the thunder." I do believe that we have in this passage a clear manifestation of the Trinity in the 3 voices: the lion (God the Son), the 7 thunders (God the Holy Spirit), and the voice from heaven (God the Father).
But, when I read this passage, the burning question for me is: WHAT DID THE THUNDERS SAY and WHAT IS WRITTEN ON THE SCROLL?? I will not have the answer to the question of what the 7 Thunders spoke in this life (unless Christ comes again before my time is completed on this journey) because before John can write down what the 7 Thunders said he hears a voice from heaven saying: "Keep the words of the 7 thunderclaps secret and do not write them down." But there is a prophet who may help us to understand what was written on the scroll and that is the prophet Ezekiel. But before we deal with the mystery of the little scroll let's answer the question why was John told not to write down or reveal the secret of the 7 Thunders.
Question: Can you recall an Old Testament prophet who was also told not to write down or reveal a secret that would take place in the future? Hint: read Daniel chapter 12. What is Daniel told to do in verse 4? Who is the man dressed in linen in verse 7 and what is he doing? Why is Daniel told to seal the book? See verse 9. What similarities do you see between the secret of the 7 Thunders in Revelation and the secret Daniel is commanded to seal up? Answer: As in the book of Daniel, these must be future events; not events soon to take place within the lifetime of the prophet. The other events revealed to John that must be sent to the 7 churches we are told are 5 times are "soon to take place" (Rev. 1:1; 1:3; 1:4; 1:9; 22:8). This for me is further evidence that the events of Revelation up to this point are events that took place during John's lifetime; events that were fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. The events of future that would come beyond John's time had to be kept a secret just as the events of the sealed book in Daniel were events to take place in the distant future beyond Daniel's time and therefore had to be kept secret... I think the secret of Daniel was the first Advent of Christ and the establishment of the universal New Covenant Church. Can John's secret of the 7 Thunders be the mystery of the 2nd Advent of Christ?
We will come back to the mystery of the little scroll in verses 8-10.
Verses 5-6 "Then the angel that I had seen, standing on the sea and the land, raised his right hand to heaven, and swore by him who lives forever and ever, and made heaven and all that it contains, and earth and all it contains, and the sea and all it contains.."
Question: What action of the angel/messenger reminds you of an action by the "man dressed in linen" in Daniel chapter 12? (By the way, white linen is the garment of a priest and is the garment Jesus wore to the Last Supper)
Many of the scholars who do not believe the angel is Christ point to verse 6 as a proof text. Their premise is that God does not swear oaths to man; only man swears an oath to God. Not according to the Old Testament! And remember the creation of a Covenant requires oath swearing! Here are some of the passages I have found where God swears an oath:
-Gen 22:15-18: God's Covenant with Abraham: "The angel of Yahweh called Abraham a second time from heaven. I swear by my own self, Yahweh declares, that because you have done this, because you have not refused me your own beloved son, I will shower blessings on you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars of the heaven and the grains of sand on the seashore. Yours descendants will gain possession of the gates of their enemies. All nations on earth will bless themselves by your descendants, because you have obeyed my command." This promise didn't come to pass until Christ established the New Covenant in the worldwide, universal (Catholic) Church. St. Paul said that all of us who accept Christ as Savior become spiritual sons of Abraham! Romans ch 4. Paul also talks about how this promise to Abraham was fulfilled in the New Covenant in Christ in Galatians chapter 3
-Num. 32:10-11: God swearing an oath to bring judgment on an unfaithful generation: "Hence Yahweh's anger was aroused that day and He swore this oath, 'No man of 20 years and over, who left Egypt, shall set eyes on the country which I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for they have not followed me absolutely..."
-Deuteronomy 32:40 "I shall raise my hand to heaven, and I say, as surely as I live for ever, when I have whetted my flashing sword, I shall enforce justice.." the raising of the right hand is an act of oath-swearing.
-Heb. 6:13-17 (referring back to Gen. 22:18) "When God made the promise to Abraham, He swore by His own self, since there was no one greater He could swear by: 'I will shower blessings on you and give you many descendants.' Because of that, Abraham persevered and received fulfillment of the promise. Human beings, of course, swear an oath by something greater than themselves, and between them, confirmation by an oath puts an end to all dispute. In the same way, when God wanted to show the heirs of the promise even more clearly how unalterable His plan was, He conveyed it by an oath.." Zechariah, father of John the Baptist, refers to this promise of God's covenant oath in Luke 1:73 "This is the oath He swore to our father Abraham.."
-Daniel Chapter 12: 1-13; especially note 12:7 (the man in linen)"He raised his right hand and his left to heaven and swore by him who lives for ever, 'A time and two times, and half a time; and all these things will come true, once the crushing of the holy people's power is over.'" This chapter of Daniel is prophecy of the end of the great Tribulation and the promise of the resurrection. Verse 11 reads "From the moment that the perpetual sacrifice is abolished and the appalling abomination set up..." Question: What was the perpetual sacrifice? Answer: the daily sacrifice of the 2 lambs. That animal sacrifice ended in terms of relevance the moment Jesus gave up His life on the cross, but it ended physically on the 9th of Ab 70AD when the Romans destroyed the Temple. Remember the reference to the 3 ˝ (a time and two times, and half a time) and the reference to Michael the archangel in verse 1. We will hear of Michael again in Rev. 12. Daniel was told "These words are to remain secret and sealed until the time of the End." 70AD was the End for the Old Covenant Jews.
Let's continue with the references to God's oath swearing:
-Ezekiel 16:59 & 17:19 Yahweh speaking to Jerusalem: "I shall treat you as you have deserved for making light of an oath and creaking a covenant, but I shall remember my covenant with you when you were a girl and shall conclude a covenant with you that will last forever." (17:19) "So, the Lord Yahweh says this: As I live, I swear it: my oath which he has disregarded, my treaty which he has broken.." (speaking of the king of Jerusalem).
-Ezekiel chapter 20:5 refers back to Num. Ch 14 and Deut ch. 32. "...On the day when I chose Israel, when I pledged by word to them.."( by oath swearing).
As you can see, God does swear an oath when He makes a covenant and this is what is happening in Rev. 10:
The angel(Christ) swearing the oath that there will no longer be any delay is an announcing, with the blowing of the 7th Trumpet, that all is now ready. The time has come to fulfill the New Covenant and Christ is now swearing the Oath of the New Covenant as God had sworn the Oath of the Old Covenant. The Hebrew word to swear an oath is to "7 oneself" which underscores the importance of the repetition of the 7's in Revelation. The 7s are related to oath swear and Covenant. Look back at Rev. 10:6-7 where the mystery of God will be fulfilled...it will be fulfilled in the establishing of the Covenant sworn by Christ. The oaths that Christ has sworn are revealed to us in the Sacraments. Question: Our word 'sacrament' comes from the Latin 'sacramentum.' What does the Latin word mean? Answer: OATH.
Question: What oath did the angel/messenger swear? What is the New Covenant? For your answer read verse 7
Verse 7 " 'The time of waiting if over; at the time when the seventh angel is heard sounding his trumpet, the mystery of God will be fulfilled, just as he announced in the gospel to his servants the prophets.'"
Amos 3:7 "No indeed, Lord Yahweh does nothing without revealing His secret to His servants the prophets. The lion roars, who is not afraid? Lord Yahweh has spoken, who will not prophesy? I think this connection between Rev. 10:7 and Amos 3:7 with the secret revealed to the servants of God and the roaring lion is more evidence to help identify the powerful angel as Christ. And then we have what Jesus told His disciples in Mark 4:11 "To you is granted the secret of the kingdom of God..."
Question: What is the "mystery" (mysterion in Greek) the secret of God that will be fulfilled when the 7th angel blows the 7th Trumpet which will usher in the Kingdom of God on earth? Hint read Romans 11:25-26; 16:25-27; Ephesians 1:9-10; but especially Ephesians 2:17-18 and 3:1-13 (3:3-5) "He made known to me by a revelation the mystery I have just described briefly'a reading of it will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. This mystery, as it is now revealed in the Spirit to His holy Apostles and prophets, was unknown to humanity in previous generations: that the gentiles now have the same inheritance and form the same Body and enjoy the same promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel." The mystery is that gentiles are now called back into the Family of God and united with the physical descendants of Abraham have become adopted heirs through the blood of Christ. With the revelation of the mystery "the time of waiting is over!" Now is the time for the New Covenant to be fulfilled. And when was that mystery revealed? In the 1st century AD!
Read verses 8-11
Verses 8-10 "Then I heard the voice I had heard from heaven speaking to me again. 'Go', it said, 'and take that open scroll from the hand of the angel standing on the sea and land.' I went to the angel and asked him to give me the small scroll, and he said, 'Take it and eat it; it will turn your stomach sour, but it will taste as sweet as honey.' So I took it out of the angel's hand, and I ate it and it tasted sweet as honey, but when I had eaten it my stomach turned sour." Some translations used the word "bitter" instead of sour.
Verses 8-11 contains what is known in Hebrew as a prophetic 'ot, i.e. a dramatic, prophetic symbol that is in keeping with Old Testament prophetic tradition. Prophets like Zedekiah (ie 1Kings 22:11-12), Jeremiah (ie. Ch 13 and 16), and Hosea (ie Ch1:2-7) were commanded by God to perform an 'ot in connection with different aspects of their prophetic ministries but the prophet who employs the 'ot most frequently is Ezekiel. We already referred to the burning of his hair and dividing it into thirds in connection with the one-third destruction prophecies of the 6 Trumpets but in Ezekiel chapter 2 the prophet performs the 'ot of eating a scroll. Please read Ez. Chapter 2.
Focusing on Ezekiel ch 2:8-15: Ezekiel eats a little scroll that tasted sweet as honey but had written on it "lamentations, dirges and cries of grief." The eating of this scroll was followed by the prophecies of the destruction of Jerusalem in 586BC. John's act of eating the little scroll that tasted sweet as honey is set in the same prophetic setting of the destruction of Jerusalem but in 70AD.
Another important observation is that Ezekiel's scroll tasted sweet but the contents, what was written on the scroll, was bitter (lamentations, dirges, etc.). In John's case the scroll turned sour or bitter in his stomach. Jerusalem (like the Jerusalem of Ezekiel's time) indulged in the "sweetness" of forbidden sins but the consequence, as John demonstrates, it that what seems sweet turns to bitterness. The initial "sweetness" of sin and the "bitterness" of its consequences is a concept found in Proverbs 20:17 and Job 20:12-14. Perhaps the words written on John's scorll were the same bitter prophecies as Ezekiel's scroll: the Covenant judgment/destruction of Jerusalem.
Dr. Massyngberde-Ford in her commentary on this passage suggests that the key to interpretation of both Ezekiel's scroll and John's scroll in Rev. 10 may be found in Numbers 5:12-13 which is the Law of testing a wife accused of adultery. In the test she is forced to drink water in which a scroll containing a list of her adulterous sins had been ground up. If she were guilty, the water would turn bitter in her stomach. It was called the "ordeal by bitter (sour) water." The connection would be that Israel (Judea/Jerusalem) had been the unfaithful wife of Yahweh who had sinned in adultery through idol worship and now through the "ordeal of bitter water", symbolized by the scroll, she has been found guilty and the punishment is death. There is also oath-swearing in the "ordeal of bitter water", and Dr. Massyngberd-Ford compares the oath of the "ordeal of bitter waters" to the angel/messenger's oath swearing. She also points out the chiastic structure that John has used to emphasize the bitterness of the scroll in verse 10:
A -eat it, it will turn your stomach sour (bitter)
B –but it will taste as sweet as honey
B –I ate it and it tasted as sweet as honey;
A –but....my stomach turned sour (bitter).
Numbers 5, Ezekiel 3, and Rev. 10 are the only Biblical texts that refer to the words on a scroll being eaten. This interpretation is supported by the fact that the adulteress theme will be continued in Rev. chs 11, 12, 14, 17, & 18. Could it be that the 7 Sealed document of Rev. chapter 5:1 is the New Covenant/marriage document between Christ and His bride the Church and the little scroll the condemnation/ Covenant lawsuit against the adulterous Old Covenant bride Judea/Jerusalem? Jerusalem and the Temple must be destroyed: Hebrews 9:8 "...the Holy Spirit means us to see that as long as the old tent stands, the way into the holy place is not opened up..." As long as the Temple stands the way into the presence of God for the New Covenant Church is not opened up.
But it wasn't only Judah and Jerusalem that Ezekiel was called to prophesy against. In Dec. 589BC-Jan 588BC (just a year and a half before Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians if the destruction occurred in 587BC...a year more if the year was 586BC) Ezekiel received his last prophetic announcement of the siege of Jerusalem (Ez. Ch. 24), and then in chapters 25-32 Ezekiel is told to prophecy against the nations of the Ammonites, Moab, Edom, Philistia, the cities of Tyre and Sidon, and the nation of Egypt. This command to prophesy against the gentile nations is repeated to John in verse 11.
Verse 11 "Then I was told, 'You are to prophesy again, this time against many different nations and countries and languages and kings.'" Under the Old Covenant the gentile nations were excluded from the Covenant between the Old Covenant Church of Israel (the Bride) and Yahweh. But now all the gentile nations will be included in the New Covenant...they are no longer exempt from the Law of the Covenant because they too have been offered to receive God's gift of salvation through the New Covenant in the blood of Christ. The "mystery" has been revealed.
One of our class members has told that she was having a difficult time keeping track of the historical "main players" in the Jewish Revolt of AD66. For a list of the "main players" in the Jewish Revolt look for "Biographies of the Revolt" in the Chart section.
Recently I had a request for evidence that Jesus was a historical personage, but the request was for non-biblical sources. That is not difficult. There is more evidence for the historical proof of Jesus' existence than there is proof for the existence of Pontius Pilate! If you are interested, look for the title "Historical Evidence" in the Chart section.
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