After the sixth trumpet as sounded, John saw another angel coming down. Verses 1-3 describe the angel.
“Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, and his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire. 2 He had a little scroll open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the land, 3 and called out with a loud voice, like a lion roaring. When he called out, the seven thunders sounded.”
The description of this angel as mighty, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, face like a sun and legs like pillars of fire, sound like God to me. His description sounds like Jesus. Whether this angel is Jesus or not I do not know. Before coming in the flesh as Emmanuel, Jesus appeared to men as The Angel of the Lord. But since His birth in Bethlehem, He has not appeared that way to men. But still this description is reminiscent of other descriptions of the Lord. In Matthew 17:1-8 when Jesus is transfigured before John, James and Peter on the mountain top, John describes Him in verse 2, “and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.” Revelation 4:3 describes a rainbow encircling the throne. His legs are like pillars of fire, the way God manifested Himself to Israel as He led them through the dark in the wilderness. (Exodus 13:21). The mighty angel may not be Jesus, but He does represent God’s will, scripture, and sovereignty proclaimed. He might be the personification of The Holy Spirit. He might be one of an elite rank of mighty angels such as the one who asked, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” (Revelation 5:2). But who he is, is not the most important part, it is that he speaks with God’s authority, that he holds God’s word (the little scroll) in his hand, and that what he says is a proclamation of God’s will. Verse 4 reads,
“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.”
We don’t know what the seven thunders are, what events they will include or where the events will take place. We know that if the Lord decided we didn’t need to know them right now, then we do not. We could venture that they are worse than the trumpets, but what good would that do? We could hope that they are beautiful and wonderful surprises in store for us, but how would that help? What we know is that there is more. What we know is that whatever the circumstance we can persevere, rejoice, and be content because God is with us. We cannot allow trials, suffering, and tribulation nor exaltations and abundance to slow or stop our walk. Romans 12:9-13 read,
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
Romans 5:3-5 reads,
“ Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Philippians 4:12-13 reads,
“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
The seven thunders are not for us to know. We don’t know what the mighty angel said but we know what the Word of God says. Verses 5-7 continues the vision.
“And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on 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, that there would be no more delay, 7 but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.”
The mighty angel made an oath by The LORD and His creation that all that had been prophesied, planned, and promised would be fulfilled. An oath is a big deal and we are warned not to make them because we have no power to ensure we keep them. Matthew 5:33-37 Jesus says,
“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil”
The words this angel speaks are God’s words, His oath, His promise to us, “it will be completed.” God’s spoken yes, no, or will always becomes and is. The whole world and everything in it is His. 1 Chronicles 29:11-12 reads,
“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. 12 Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.”
Verses 8-11 read,
“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 and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” 10 And 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 And I was told, “You must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and languages and kings.”
What does it mean that the scroll is sweet in John’s mouth and bitter in his stomach? Compare this to Ezekiel 3:1-4 and 7
“And he said to me, “Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey. 4 And he said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with my words to them.
7 But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart.”
John had the great privilege of receiving God’s word. It is a privilege we enjoy as well. It is wonderful, happy, and exciting to know God, hear His voice and words, and understand the Gospel. But very often those who we are to preach it to, do not want to hear it. It is difficult to tell someone to repent or change. It is hard to shine a light in someone’s darkness. It is hard to tell a brother he has a speck in his eye. I know it is tough to say, but I have been told about the plank in my eye and I was happy to hear it, so I could remove it. But many people, especially those who need the word the most desperately will not be happy to hear it, they won’t listen. But God doesn’t make their probable response an excuse not to speak the words He gave us nor share the Gospel. God told Ezekiel to go and speak His words. He told John, “You must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and languages and kings.” And He tells us, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20).
I leave you with this exhortation from Paul. 2 Timothy 4:1-5 says
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”