Revelation Chapter 10

Go to Verse 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Verse 1

And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:

"And I saw"

In Revelation 10:1 - 11:14 we turn temporarily from the narration of the seven trumpets in order to view two prophetic scenes relative to the cause of God. This insertion of parenthetical information between the presentation of the sixth and seventh trumpets follows the pattern set in the presentation of the seven seals.

The first scene to which we are directed points to "the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound" (Revelation 10:7). Since the sixth trumpet extended to the year 1840 (See comments on Revelation 9:15), we should expect the events of chapter 10 to occur immediately after that date.

The story of the two witnesses, told in chapter 11, begins with the "1260-day" or "42-month" period.

We must remember that the scenes in Revelation do not always apply chronologically. Sometimes, for the development of the thought, the chronological order is reversed. This is the case in Chapters 10 and 11. One indication of this is found in a comparison of Revelation 10:11 with Revelation 11:3. In the earlier verse a commission is given to "prophesy again." This indicates that prophesying has already taken place at some time before. This commentary takes the position that the earlier prophesying is referred to in Revelation 11:3. The story of the two witnesses in Chapter 11 concludes with their ascension to heaven in a cloud (verse 12). And that is precisely where our attention is focused as the events of Revelation 10 begin (See Revelation 10:1). View the flow diagram of these two chapters here. The narrative in Revelation begins at the top of the diagram, but the chronological starting point is actually at the bottom.

"Another mighty angel"

The identifying characteristics of this "angel" reveal it to be none other than Jesus Christ. Prophecy often pictures Jesus enveloped in clouds (Daniel 7:13; Acts 1:9; Revelation 1:7; 14:14).The rainbow over his head, matching that only which is above His Father's throne (Revelation 4:3), is a token of the covenant of peace (Genesis 9:13; Zechariah 6:13) which is between them both. His face was as it were the sun (Compare Revelation 1:16), for He is the Sun of righteousness (Malachi 4:2). The description of His feet should be compared with the symbolism used in Revelation 1:15.

"Come down from heaven"

A very special revelation would be given to mankind, and Jesus Himself was to direct the work.

Verse 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,

"A little book open"

In Daniel's last vision he was instructed, "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." Daniel 12:4. The prophecies of Daniel would be sealed from men's understanding until the time of the end. Then they would be opened, and knowledge of the prophecies would be increased.

The prophecy of Revelation 10 points to the time of the end when at last the little book of Daniel is presented open to the world. This prophecy describes what was to take place when the world would come to an understanding of Daniel's prophecies. As noted in the comments on verse 1, this would happen in the early 1840's.

"And he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth"

The sea and the earth are symbols designating the Old World and the New in the early 1800's. The fact that the angel stood upon both hemispheres with the open book of Daniel indicates that the prophecies contained therein would at that time be brought to the attention and understanding of people around the globe.

This prediction was dramatically fulfilled in the great 19th century worldwide religious awakening. The entire revival centered upon the study of Bible prophecy, focusing on the prophecies of Daniel, specifically the 2300-day prophecy in Daniel 8:14 of which Gabriel had said, "Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision" (verse 17).

In 1798 the book of Daniel received little attention by Christians. By 1812 the study of prophecy had begun in England. It soon took hold throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. Soon more than a hundred writers from a wide variety of denominations were interpreting Bible prophecy. As if loosed by the hand of a prophetic clock, scores of men, representing over a dozen nations on at least four different continents, independently and simultaneously began predicting the imminent fulfillment of the 2300-day prophecy.

Verses 3, 4

And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices. And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

"Seven thunders"

The seven thunders contained details which God chose not to reveal to the church. As a result, at the time to which this prophecy pointed, God's people would providentially lack a certain bit of information. Only thus could the prophecy be fulfilled as foretold.

Verse 5

And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven,

"Lifted up his hand to heaven"

This Messenger, whom we have identified as Jesus Himself, here ties His mission to the final vision of Daniel, at the conclusion of which He had given this very sign. See Daniel 12:7.

Verses 6, 7

And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer: But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.

In Daniel 12:7 Jesus had declared that after the specified time period, "all these things [the sealed prophecies in the book of Daniel] shall be finished." Now in Revelation 10, holding before the world the open book of Daniel, He announces that the mystery He had declared to the prophets was finished. That is, as of the beginning of the sounding of the seventh trumpet.

The sixth trumpet extended to the year 1840 (See Revelation 9:15), and the seventh trumpet began sounding right after that. Two prophecies in Daniel extended to the 1840's. The 1335-day prophecy (Daniel 12:12) pointed to the year 1843, and the 2300-day prophecy (Daniel 8:14) pointed to the year 1844. No prophetic time periods extended beyond 1844. So after 1844 when the 2300-day prophecy was finished, prophetic time would be no longer.

The seventh trumpet is described in Revelation 11:15-19. In the days of the voice of the seventh trumpet God's kingdom is made up. The seventh trumpet covers a long period of time, from 1840 until after the 1,000 years of Revelation 20. This is the period during which the great controversy between Christ and Satan reaches its climax. It is during this period that Christ's true subjects are sealed, and the kingdom of God gains complete and entire sovereignty in the world.

Verse 8

And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.

"The voice which I heard from heaven"

This was the voice which had instructed John to seal up the things uttered by the seven thunders.

"Spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book"

Biblical prophets were often instructed to act out prophecy while in vision. As John participated in this enacted prophecy, he would be illustrating the experience to which the prophecy pointed.

Verse 9

And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.

"Take it, and eat it up"

"Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart." Jeremiah 15:16.

To "eat" the word of God (the book of Daniel in this case) is to receive it. John was about to illustrate the experience God's people would have as they received the open book of Daniel at the end of the prophetic time periods in 1843 and 1844.

Incidentally, John was not the only prophet to whom a voice came in vision instructing him to eat something. Compare Peter's vision.

Verse 10

And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.

"It was in my mouth sweet as honey"

"How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" Psalm 119:103.

The prediction here was that the opening of Daniel's prophecies in 1843 and 1844 would initially produce a most sweet experience. This proved to be exactly the case. Here is the story:

Although the experience we are about to relate was felt to varying degrees by believers around the world, the most remarkable fulfillment of this prophecy took place in the United States.

In eastern New York state, next to the Vermont border, there lived a Baptist farmer by the name of William Miller. In the year 1816 he began a systematic study of the Bible, using only a Cruden's Concordance for help. His rule was to read everything the Bible says on a topic, and allow the Bible to be its own interpreter. He found that prophetic symbols are usually explained by the Bible itself, and that history unfolds the fulfillment of prophecy.

Miller's attention eventually began to focus upon the 2300-day prophecy of Daniel 8:14. He found that the 70-week prophecy of Daniel 9, given to Daniel in response to his prayer for God's mercy on behalf of His sanctuary (mentioned in Daniel 8:14), provides the starting point for the 2300 days and explains its first 490 years. This led Miller to the unavoidable conclusion that the 2300 years would end sometime around the year 1843. Further study eventually pinpointed the date of October 22, 1844. (See comments on Daniel 8:14 for an explanation of this important prophecy.)

Miller accepted the popular assumption that the sanctuary to be cleansed at the end of the 2300 days was the earth, and that its cleansing would be accomplished by the second coming of Christ. By 1818 he had come to the conclusion that this world's history would come to an end "in about twenty-five years." But before telling it to the world, he spent thirteen more years intensely studying every detail of the prophecy. The one part he apparently did not challenge was the popular identification of the cleansing of the sanctuary with the end of the world.

In 1831 Miller became convicted that God was calling him to preach. Struggling with the conviction, he told the Lord that if he was invited, he would share what he had been studying. Within half an hour, a knock on his door brought an invitation for him to preach the next day. And so, speaking first in the small towns and villages, and then in every major city in America, William Miller, with hundreds of ministers from all the major denominations who had accepted the message, proclaimed the tidings that Jesus was coming.

Thousands of publications heralded the great event, and hundreds of thousands of people attended the meetings. This 19th century Advent movement became the greatest religious revival in the history of America. People across the country waited in confidence for Jesus to return on October 22, 1844.

Those who accepted the message considered the year 1844 the happiest year of their lives. Their hearts were full of glad expectation. No news could have been sweeter. Jesus was coming. And so, the opening of Daniel's prophecies produced an experience that the Revelator characterized as "sweet as honey."

"And as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter"

The disappointment of those who expected Jesus to return on October 22 was bitter indeed. They had staked everything upon His return. When the day passed, and they realized they would have to continue longer in this world, they were utterly heartbroken, and they wept with bitter tears. To this day the experience has been known as the Great Disappointment.

Verse 11

And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

"Thou must prophesy again"

God did not intend to leave His people in despair. He had led them this far, and He had a work for them to do for which this experience was to prepare them. They would be called upon to take a prophetic message to many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.

After the disappointment, the majority of those who had joined the Millerite movement abandoned their confidence in the prophetic periods which had led them to the October 22 date. But a small group went back to their Bibles to learn why Jesus had not come. They found their experience exactly foretold in Revelation 10, and they saw the commission to prophesy again. As they continued reading into chapter 11, their attention was drawn in the first verse to the temple of God which in verse 19 was opened in heaven. As they studied Hebrews 8 and 9 in connection with Leviticus 16 they discovered that the Old Testament Day of Atonement prefigured a cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary in the last days, and that it was this cleansing to which the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14 pointed.

And their message has gone to many peoples and nations and tongues and kings. That small group, whittled down by the disappointment as was Gideon's army before its mission, now numbers more than 10 million people in virtually every country of the globe. Their prophetic message which was to go to every nation and kindred and tongue and people is outlined in Revelation 14:6-12.