Rev. 10:1 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:
Rev. 10:2 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,
Rev. 10:3 And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.
Rev. 10:4 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.
At this point the narrative of judgments is suspended to provide foundational information to the events to follow (as was done in chapters 4-5).
John sees another (different) mighty angel/messenger come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud, a rainbow is on his head, his face is as the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire (Rev. 1:15). David Stern, a Messianic Jew and author of the Jewish New Testament Commentary, indicated that “feet cannot be pillars (columns), but legs can. John was probably thinking in Hebrew, which uses one word for both feet and legs.” The rainbow is again a sign that during this awful time of tribulation on earth, mercy is still available; salvation is still possible.
As you continue reading in this chapter and follow the pronouns, by the time you come to Rev. 11:3, it seems to identify this angel as Jesus (“my two witnesses…”). There are other places in the scripture where the pre-incarnate Jesus is referred to as the angel of the Lord:
When talking to Hagar – Genesis 16:10 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.
When talking to Abraham re his willingness to sacrifice Isaac – Genesis 22:15-16 And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son.
When appearing to Moses – Exodus 3:2 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
In the angel’s hand is a little book that is open. He sets His right foot on the sea and His left foot on the earth. I would assume this to be a symbolic gesture indicating that what He is about to read from the book will affect the whole earth (land and sea). He cries out with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth, and when He cries out, 7 thunders speak. I think this is a reference to Jesus as the lion of the tribe of Judah.
Revelation 5:5 “And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.”
John is forbidden—by a voice from heaven, not the angel—to write what he heard the 7 thunders say, so it is futile to speculate. I tend to think that the crying out of the mighty angel and the expression of the 7 thunders were one and the same.
“when he had cried” v3 – The Greek for when includes while as a possible choice, and I think it seems to be the better choice.
Listed below are some other references regarding the voice of the Lord.
Hosea 11:10 They shall walk after the LORD: he shall roar like a lion: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west.
Joel 3:16 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.
Amos 1:2 And he said, The LORD will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.
There is an interesting cross-reference in Psalms re the voice of the Lord and thunder.
Psalm 29:3-9 The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon. He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn. The voice of the LORD divideth the flames of fire. The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the LORD maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory.
The picture seems to be of a voice that speaks with power, authority, force, and supernatural strength and knowledge—a voice that reverberates with divine power and truth.
Obvious question—Why would the Holy Spirit inspire John to write that he heard something and then not allow him to reveal what he heard?
Rev. 10:5 And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven,
Rev. 10:6 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:
Rev. 10:7 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.
There are also other places in the scripture where God swore by Himself since there is nothing of more value or power to swear by.
Genesis 22:16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son.
Isaiah 45:23 I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.
Jeremiah 22:5 But if ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself, saith the LORD, that this house shall become a desolation.
Hebrews 6:13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself.
What does He swear? “…that there should be time no longer.” God is outside the dimension of time. The dimension of time belongs to man. The meaning of this verse seems to tie directly to the next verse. It is an indication that the mystery of God (His complete plan of redemption and establishment of His kingdom on planet earth) should be finished, should come to pass, should unfold on the world scene just as He had foretold through His prophets. This has been a mystery since the full truth could not be understood until the appropriate time in the ages of mankind had come.
Evidently, when the angel with the 7th trumpet begins to blow, this will usher in the “great tribulation.” It is interesting that the word days (plural) is used to describe the voice of the 7th angel. This supports the concept of the 7 vials being considered a result of the 7th trumpet, which would in turn support the concept of the 7 trumpets being a result of the 7th seal.
Rev. 10:8 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 from heaven speaks to John again. It tells him to go and take the little book from the hand of the angel.
Rev. 10:9 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.
Rev. 10:10 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.
Rev. 10:11 And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
I keep reminding myself that John was the beloved disciple and had a special relationship to Jesus. I also know that he would never have presumed to try and take the book had it not been for the authority from heaven directing him to do so. Also, Jesus was quite willing to hand the book over. In fact, as He gives the book to John, He then instructs John to eat it. He warns John that even though it may taste sweet, it will make him sick to his stomach as he begins to digest its contents. The contents, I believe, spoke of God’s glorious victory and reign (sweet to the taste), but also of the terrible things that would have to happen on earth before He took His throne in Jerusalem (made the belly bitter).
This is not a new concept. Ezekiel had a similar experience.
Ezekiel 3:1-4 Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness. And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them.
Obviously, asking John to eat the scroll is an expression telling him to absorb the contents. Just as with Ezekiel, John is then told to go and share the message—Ezekiel with the people of Israel and John with many peoples, nations, tongues and kings. John is still prophesying through the written word today. This is as intended from the beginning of the revelation. He was commanded to write (Rev. 1:19) and then he was told what not to write (Rev. 10:4). The whole purpose of the Revelation was to enlighten the churches and tribulation saints on a need to know basis as determined by the Father until Jesus returns as King.