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Chapter Four of this Commentary
The Sixth Trumpet of Revelation 9
Also called "the second woe."
Chapters 8, 9, 10, and 11 of the
Book of Revelation
Scene 4 | Revelation 10:1-11
The Seven Thunders
Proclamation of the End of Time
The Little Scroll that Sweetens,
“And I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire. 2 He held a little scroll open in his hand. Setting his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, 3 he gave a great shout, like a lion roaring. And when he shouted, the seven thunders sounded. 4 And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and
do not write it down.’ 5 Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and the land raised his right hand to heaven 6 and swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it: ‘There will be no more delay, 7 but in the days when the seventh angel is to blow his trumpet, the mystery of God will be fulfilled, as he announced to his servants the prophets.’ 8 Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me again, saying, ‘Go, take the scroll that is open in the
hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.’ 9 So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll; and he said to me, ‘Take it, and eat; it will be bitter to your stomach, but sweet as honey in your mouth.’ 10 So I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it; it was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter. 11 Then they said to me, ‘You must prophesy again about many peoples and nations and languages and kings.’”
"Go, take the scroll that is open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.’ So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll; and he said to me, ‘Take it, and eat; it will be bitter to your stomach, but sweet as honey in your mouth.”
Painting by Ted Larson. All rights reserved. email@example.com
Note. Not all the events and details of Scene 2 as depicted in Revelation 10 are included in this Commentary, rather only those I have selected.
I. The vision of the “seven thunders.” "And when he shouted, the seven thunders sounded." Revelation 10:3. The one who “shouted” is "another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head."
A. "...what the seven thunders have said" is not revealed.
"And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.’" Revelation 10:4
B. What reason would there be in having “the seven thunders” appear on the celestial stage of visions and revelations if the apostle John, the only human listening, is forbidden to write down what they say? “…do not write it down." Since no reason is given, we are left to reflect and theorize, if we desire to, on the significance of this sudden alarming opening act of Scene 4 of the Sixth Trumpet.
"Seven thunders sounded.” Their powerful “voices” reverberate through the heavens, surely impressing, perhaps startling and striking fear into anyone who hears. Actually, it might be said that,
though we do not have the text of their words, what they are would be a proclamation in and of itself. They are “seven thunders,” and thunder, if it is very loud, can cause atmospheric commotion on a vast scale in the audio spectrum.
(1) Thunder is produced when lightning occurs. Lightning and thunder signify the formation of storms, especially supercell cloud systems, tornados, and hurricanes. Lightening may also be seen when volcanos irrupt.
(2) The thunderous sound of the powerful voices of the Seven Celestial Thunders in the context of the Sixth Trumpet might imply, so I think:
Great moral and spiritual “storms” unleashed in the world during the “little while” that transpires between “the three plagues” that the two hundred million riders bring and the consummation of the wrath of God. “Storms” even worse than those of previous times.
To be sure, this interpretation would harmonize perfectly with other prophecies of Revelation regarding the terrifying conditions projected for the very last days that precede the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
II. The proclamation of the "mighty angel" about the fulfillment of the “mystery of God” and the end of time.
“Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and the land raised his right hand to heaven and swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it: ‘There will be no more delay, but in the days when the seventh angel is to blow his trumpet, the mystery of God will be fulfilled, as he announced to his servants the prophets.’"
A. The clear and precise expressions of this proclamation fix exactly the fulfillment of the “mystery of God” and the consequent end of time itself.
1. When will both events take place? "…in the days when the seventh angel is to blow his trumpet." In the very midst of the scenes of the Sixth Trumpet, this solemn, portentous announcement is made, thus closely linking the Sixth Trumpet with the Seventh on the timeline.
What happens when the Seventh Trumpet will be blown is set forth in Revelation 11:15-19. Key phrases indicate both the fulfillment of the mystery of God and the ending of time for earth and its inhabitants. For example, “your wrath has come, and the time for judging the dead, for rewarding your servants… and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” These events and many related ones are covered in Chapter Two of this Commentary where seven series of the prophecies and visions of Revelation are identified and studied in detail.
The clause “There will be no more delay,” (NRSVA. New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised) is rendered “there will be no more waiting,” in other versions, while still others, such as the KJV, KJ21, DRA, and RGT, translate “there should be time no longer.” However this clause is to be understood, the fulfillment of the “mystery of God” when the Seventh Trumpet sounds is decisive for fixing exactly not only that fulfillment but also, concomitantly, the end of time, an observation fully supported by the other six texts of Revelation on the end of the physical, material world.
The “dimension of earthly time,” one of the most fundamental parameters of our existence as human beings, very definitely does not continue forever, time without end. “Time” as we know and experience it every minute of our lives, once we reach the intellectual development that makes it possible for us to appreciate
it, will be absorbed in the eternity of God. It will be no longer!
Behold, here, one of the great truths proclaimed in this Scene 4 of the Sixth Trumpet. It does, effectively, establish the point on the timeline when the material universe will cease to be, and with it, the dimension of material time.
2. With the ending of material time, necessarily and ineluctably, all things belonging to this material creation also come to an end. This is exactly what the Holy Spirit teaches in 2 Corinthians 4:18.
“Because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.” Many versions translate “temporal,” some, “transient.”
Are the sun, the rest of the stars, and galaxies seen by human eyes? Is the planet Earth seen? Is the physical human body seen? Then, they are temporary! “…what can be seen is temporary… temporal… transient.” It belongs to the dimension of material time and will cease to exist when time itself is no more.
When the events of the Seventh Trumpet, the Seventh Seal (Revelation 6:12-17), the Sixth and Seventh Bowls (Revelation 16:12-21), and those occurring when the Rider of the White Horse comes (Revelation 19:11-21), have all taken place, then material time itself will come to an end. This means that planet Earth and all the works thereof, together with the rest of the material universe will all come to a conclusive and eternal end.
These texts and facts render null and void all the arguments of religious people, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose theology asserts that planet Earth will continue existing eternally.
B. When all these events conclude, not only does material time itself end its steady, inexorable march through material realms but “the mystery of God will be
fulfilled.” That is, all that the Creator God programmed for humanity and the material universe will also have concluded. A divine plan so grandiose and so encompassing that it is virtually incomprehensible for the great majority of human beings, especially for the carnal-materialistic-secular-atheistic who do not love or value divine truth.
“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
III. In this Scene 2 of the Sixth Trumpet, the vision of the "little scroll" that sweetens, then makes bitter, continues to be played out before our astonished eyes. The “mighty angel… had a little scroll open in his hand.” Revelation 10:2. After the apostle John heard the voices of the “seven thunders” and the proclamation about the consummation of the “mystery of God” and the consequent end of time, he is instructed to go himself to the “mighty angel… standing on the sea and on the land” and take the open scroll from his hand. Imagine! John himself is ordered to play a role in the stupendous scene, and he does! In spirit. He talks with the angel and takes the scroll.
“So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll; and he said to me, ‘Take it, and eat; it will be bitter to your stomach, but sweet as honey in your mouth.’ So I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it; it was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter.” Revelation 10:9-10
A. The consensus of students of Revelation is that the "little scroll" is the Bible, in particular, the New Testament, "the living and abiding word of God." 1 Peter 1:23-25
1. Many things in the Bible are said to be “sweet as honey,” such as: The divine truths. Celestial wisdom. The good news of pardon, reconciliation, and salvation. The precious and very great promises. Sound advice and
opportune consolation. Some of the Psalms. Some of the proverbs. Pronouncements of blessings such as the Beatitudes, etc.
2. Nevertheless, dedicating one’s self unconditionally to doing the will of God can often result in tribulation for the spirit and perhaps suffering to the physical body, even persecutions, physical as well as mental, emotional, and psychological, including violent death.
"The cross" is not lacking in the life of the servant of God fully consecrated to the works of his spiritual Kingdom. In this respect, the “little scroll” is “bitter.” However, this condition, though it last even for years, is, comparatively, temporary. Because “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” 2 Corinthians 4:17
B. I think it also plausible that the "little scroll" may symbolize the Book itself of Revelation.
1. The complete Bible is not exactly a “little scroll” but a rather large tome. Even the New Testament, composed of twenty-seven books and letters, is considered a sizable book.
2. On the other hand, the prophecies and visions received by the apostle John on the island of Patmos compose a literary work that could reasonably be classified as “little.”
3. Let us suppose that the “little scroll” is, indeed, the Book of Revelation. In that case, the "Seven Blessings” found in it, the scenes of celestial praises, the visions of the New Jerusalem and the Paradise of God, the promises of eternal consolation and felicity, plus the prophecies and declarations that assure the final triumph of God, Christ, and the church over all satanic forces, would, of a truth, be "sweet as honey."
In contrast, the revelations of fearsome beasts, one with seven heads and ten horns, the other with two horns and a mouth that speaks like a dragon, a great scarlet dragon with seven heads and two horns that gives his power and authority to the beasts, war in heaven, a little horn that becomes powerful, replacing other horns, a great harlot drunk with the blood of the
saints, the Great Babylon, mother of harlots, seven terrible plagues, and three more brought from the East by two hundred million riders on the same number of horses with lion’s heads, Armageddon, mass destruction by earthquakes, judgments on the evil who are cast into Hell, etc., certainly do make bitter the stomach of any Christian, of any just person, sensitive to the suffering caused to the innocent and the overwhelmingly tragic consequences hardened, unrepentant sinners bring on themselves. Scenes of this nature can result in bitter, burning “indigestion” in the innards of the mind, heart, and spirit of upright people.
Expressing this strong, unforgettable metaphorical symbolism of the “little scroll” in another way, we may say that the knowledge of the future that the Book of Revelation provides "sweetens" and satisfies the understanding. But the fulfillment of the prophecies that announce destruction and death do, for a certainty, “make bitter,” because the sensitive soul suffers mentally, emotionally, and spiritually when it witnesses the sad and violent end of the multitudes of the irredeemably rebellious humans.
IV. After the apostle John had eaten the “little scroll,” the mighty angel then said to him: “You must prophesy again about many peoples and nations and languages and kings.” Revelation 10:11
A. The global reach of the prophecies of Revelation is highlighted in the clause “many peoples and nations and languages and kings.”
1. John does not prophesy for just one nation, for example, Israel. He does not prophesy for only one nation or empire, for example, the Roman Empire. His prophecies would not be fulfilled in just
one king, for example, Nero. On the contrary, he prophecies “about many peoples and nations and languages and kings.”
2. The thesis of commentators and teachers of Revelation who apply its prophecies exclusively to the Roman Empire argue that that Empire was composed of many peoples, nations, languages, and kings. They are correct, at least in part, since the Romans, beginning in central Italy, gradually took over the entire Mediterranean world, as well as large portions of Europe, Asia, and Africa.
However, politically, the Roman Empire was just one entity among many additional ones that existed beyond its boundaries. For example, Persia, part of Germany, China, Japan, India, Mongolia, the Huns, the Bulgars, the Rus, and some kingdoms of Africa such as the Numidian Kingdom. https://www.ancient-origins.net/ancient-places-africa/numidia-0014821 Plus, the powerful and highly developed empires of the Inca, Aztecs, and Maya in the Western Hemisphere.
I think it logical to assume that great numbers of the inhabitants of the rest of the world during the twenty-five centuries that the Roman Empire existed, in one form or another, would look upon that Empire as a single, particular political entity among many. Especially, the throngs of peoples who were enemies of Roma. Of course, the myopic and unhistorical belief that “the Roman Empire ended in 476 CE” (Common Era, or Christian Age), complicated by the fiction of a “Byzantine Empire,” which was, in truth, the Eastern Roman Empire, as any serious student of history knows, scrambles the reasonings and interpretations of those for whom “Revelation was fulfilled by 70 CE,” or “Revelation was all fulfilled by 476 CE.” A treatise on “The Duration of the Roman Empire and the Fiction of a Byzantine Empire” is available on this site.
So then, when the mighty angel says “many peoples and nations and languages and kings,” I would deduce he would be contemplating multiple political, independent entities, each with its own particular identity and sovereignty.
a) The adverb “many” backs up, albeit circumstantially, this conclusion, since it seems more reasonable to use it in reference to multiple, independent entities than to a single one composed of conquered peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.
b) Additionally, and much more convincingly, the prophecies of the Sixth Trumpet are, according to all relevant parameters, for the “little while” that immediately precedes the Second Coming of Christ, and that means the Roman Empire does not even figure in the scenario! For it came to a practical end in 1555 EC, as the renowned historian Edward Gibbon explains, and to a definitive one in 1806 EC when the last Holy Roman emperor was forced by Napoleon to abdicate his throne.
c) A similar expression in the vision of the “angel” that had “an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth” supports our conclusion. Revelation 14:6. Proclaim it to whom? “… to every nation and tribe and language and people." Atention is called to the phrase “to EVERY NATION.” Not to just one nation or empire but “to EVERY NATION.” Effectively, then, to “all the world… to the whole creation,” just as Jesus Christ ordained in the Great Commission. Mark 16:15-16. Both phrases are synonymous with “…every nation and tribe and language and people," and these are found in “all the world.” Most certainly, not just in the Roman Empire or the nation of Israel as it was in the 1st century.
The apostle John would prophesy “about many peoples…” of the time frame in which these particular prophecies would be fulfilled, specifically, that of the “little while.”
d) Another relevant expression is found in Revelation 17:15. “The waters that you saw, where the whore is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages.”
When we identify the “great whore,” we will see that she sits not only on the Roman Empire but also on many other peoples and kingdoms. Once this interpretation is confirmed, it will constitute another solid evidence in support of the explanation we have
developed for “many peoples and nations and languages and kings.”
B. The phrase “many peoples and nations and languages and kings” is also a key element in another principal aspect of the prophecies of Revelation, to wit: A large number of them have to do, precisely, with political-religious entities not limited, by the salient characteristics of their nature and actions, to just Israel or the Roman Empire.
Satan’s manipulation of them. Their interaction with apostate religion, especially in the case of the “great whore.” Revelation 17
The evil use they make of planet Earth for their selfish interests. The time comes "for destroying those who destroy the earth." Revelation 11:18
The punishments they suffer brought by the “destroying angels.” Psalm 78:49
Their rebellion against the Sovereign God, by whose will and authority they exist (Romans 13:1) and their eventual final destruction. Revelation 19:11-21
C. "You must prophesy again" signifies that John had already proclaimed some prophecies about the peoples, nations, kings, etc.
1. As a matter of fact, political-secular-religious entities, together with all the unconverted subject to them, are often the subject of the visions and prophecies of Revelation, as is fully brought to light in this Commentary.
2. With reference to prophesy “again,” the angel’s words begin to be fulfilled right away when John records prophecies about the gentiles who “will trample over the holy city for forty-two months” (Revelation 11:2) and the "peoples and tribes and languages and nations” of the “little while” will kill the two witnesses-prophets, not even allowing them to be buried. Revelation 11:7-13
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Category. Revelation: Its Ongoing Relevancy and Fulfillment. Commentary.
Revelation 10:6. Going out into the FUTURE to the LAST DAY of TIME. Looking back at planet Earth in the 20th and 21st centuries.