The Angel with the Little Book Page 2 of 5 (series: Lessons on Revelations)
by John Lowe
And a rainbow was upon his head
In chapter 4 the rainbow was “round about the throne” (4:3); here it is upon the head of the Mighty Angel. We know that the rainbow is the symbol of God’s everlasting covenant with the earth (Genesis 9:12-13). Therefore we would not expect any one other than the Divine Person to wear it upon His head. Ezekiel saw the rainbow as part of the glory of the throne of God (Ezekiel 1:28). Just as the cloud is indicative of the coming storm of wrath in divine judgment, so the rainbow is indicative of divine mercy in the midst of judgment, an evident symbol of security for the believing ones. In the Old Testament, the rainbow is a sign that God would never again flood the earth (Genesis 9:12-16). Yet this sign is meant to remind people of how God saved and judged people at the same moment. God protects His own when conditions in the earth are at their worst.
His face was as it were the sun
John says that “His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength” (1:16). On the Mount of Transfiguration, “His face did shine as the sun” (Matthew 17:2); an expression of unveiled glory. It was the same when Saul of Tarsus met Him on his way to Damascus (Acts 9:3; compare 26:13). It would seem that the Mighty Angel is He whom the prophet described as “the Son of righteousness” (Malachi 4:2). On the other hand, though many Bible scholars believe that this is His badge of identification; the signature of the glorified Christ (Revelation 1:16), it does not follow that this one must therefore be the Son of God. Moses’ face shone after he had been in the presence of God (Exodus 34:29). This angel’s face is shining because he has come out from the presence of Christ.
His feet as pillars of fire
John saw “his feet like unto fine Brass, as if they burned in a furnace” (1:15). His legs and feet are like pillars of fire—the pillars speaking of strength and the fire of judgment—which means He has the power of judgment within Him. These are the feet of majesty all set for the judgment of the earth.
2 And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth,
And he had in his hand a little book open
In verse 2 we learn that this Mighty Angel had in His 7hand a little book—open. This is the same book (seven-sealed scroll; the title deed to the earth) mentioned in chapter 5, when John “wept much” because no one could be found worthy to open the book; but One Was found—the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Lord Jesus Christ. The reason I say it is the same book is because a book of symbols would be confusing if it had a detail in chapter five appear again in chapter 10 with another meaning and without some explanation. Here in our present Scripture the book is open and the Mighty Angel is holding it in His hand. He stands with one foot upon the land and the other foot upon the sea.
And he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth
The full significance of this action is not stated anywhere in Scripture. We do know that the sea and the land stand for the sum total of the material universe. I take it that the action of planting the feet down, one foot on the earth and the other on the sea is equivalent to claiming both the earth and the sea as His possession. “For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof” (1 Corinthians 10:26, 28). If you can envision the scene that John is describing you may agree with me that this is a huge figure, so huge that He can stand astride the sea with one foot on land and the other on the sea. I am reminded of the passage in which God said to Joshua, “Every place that the soul of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses” (Joshua 1:3; Deuteronomy 11:24). The Mighty Angel is “the Lord of all the earth” (Joshua 3:11), for “all things were created by Him, and for Him” (Colossians 1:16). When He shall set His feet upon the land and the sea He will express His intention of taking possession of that which is His. In the Old Testament such an act signified taking possession of that place (Deuteronomy 11:24; 1:3). But One Bible scholar says, “It is an act befitting the character and office of Christ, but hardly a created angel.” Christ
came to have dominion over all creation; therefore all things must be put under His feet (Psalm 8:6; Hebrews 2:8).
Satan will assert his claim to the earth, but when Christ puts His foot down He will take possession of His own property and subdue all assaults of the enemy. Thank God, Satan’s control of God’s creation is fast coming to a close. The whole earth now groans and travails (Romans 8:22), but one day the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters now cover the sea. Those mighty feet standing on the land and on the sea testify to the Lord’s enemies that there is no need for further resistance. Who can stand against two tremendous columns of fire?
This is not His final coming, for other things must take place first. What we have here is the formal assertion by Him of His right to reign. This claim has already been acknowledged in Heaven (Revelation 5); now it is asserted on earth. He claims dominion over the entire world—river, sea, and shore; the Gentile nations and Israel. The Lord is about to act, but He will act in compliance with the mind and will of God. All unfulfilled prophecies and promises will now come to pass.
3 And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.
And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth
His cry sounded like a lion’s roar. Here is the mighty voice of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5; compare Hebrews 7:14). He is asserting Himself prior to the carrying out of judgment. Elsewhere in Scripture the lion’s roar was a symbol of eminent judgment. Hosea prophesied, “They shall walk after the Lord: He shall roar like a lion: when He shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west” (Hosea 11:10). Joel added his prophecy, “The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of His people, and the strength of the children of Israel” (Joel 3:16). Amos said, “The Lord shall roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Caramel shall wither” (Amos 1:2). “Their roaring shall be like a lion, they shall roar like young lions: yea they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and shall carry it away safe, and none shall deliver him” (Isaiah 5:29). The lion roars when he is about to make his last leap upon his victim. In a loud voice to be heard over all the earth Christ asserts His right to rule and His intention of accomplishing it.
This further identifies the Mighty Angel. This is the voice of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. And He cried—uttering the words set down in verse 6. It is a cry of power and victory—not a cry of fear or distress. The lion fears no beast. He is king of the jungle, and his roar is feared by all other beasts. This cry was an announcement of the looming immediate judgments upon the enemies of God and the wicked that will inhabit the earth at that time. And while he cried or was crying—at the same instant, heaven answers with the wondrous words of the next clause.
And when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices
Thunder is a recognized type of God’s voice in judgment (1 Samuel 7:10; Psalm 18:13). Personality is attributed to these “seven thunders.” Everything is in sympathy with the Lamb of God. These mighty thunders utter messages that are intelligible—they speak words. John heard what they said—and when the time comes in reality, the seven thunders will speak words that earth’s dwellers will fully understand. It will be a message in tones of thunder. We use a public address system to amplify voices when we want to be heard—but God needs no amplification. He can speak like mighty thunder—and He WILL when the time comes!
The substance of these awesome peals of thunder is not indicated. The number seven is suggestive of the completeness and finality of the Angel’s mighty sayings. We see these seven thunders in psalm 29 where “the voice of the Lord” goes forth seven times as thunder. When the Father spoke from Heaven to the Lord Jesus on earth, we are told that “The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered” (John 12:28-29) even though Jesus understood a message. Here in Revelation 10, the seven thunders are the judgment thunders of God.
John heard what the thunders said, and when he was about to put into writing what he heard, a voice from heaven said: “Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not. (10:4).