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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

The mighty angel and the little scroll (Rev. 10)

Following on from the sixth trumpet, which informed John of the powerful forces ranged against humans and of the refusal of humans to repent of their sins, he observes the arrival of a mighty angel with a little scroll in his hand. 

Who is this angel? He is clothed with glory (wrapped in a cloud), he is connected to the covenant that God made with the earth (a rainbow – the sign that God gave to Noah that the earth would not be destroyed again by a flood), his face shines like the sun (as did the face of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration) and his powerful legs look as if they are on fire (which could be similar to how Jesus is described in Revelation 1 with his  feet of burning bronze). 

Older commentators, such as the author of the comments on Revelation in Matthew Henry’s commentary, said that mighty angel was Jesus. Later commentators are not so sure, yet it is possible for us not to be so sure about the later commentators.

Moreover, this mighty angel is in complete control of creation (one foot above the sea and the other foot above the land). His very loud voice brings a response from seven thunders, although John is not allowed to record what they said. Instead he observes this mighty angel announce that the purpose of God is about to be completed (during the time of the seventh trumpet, which when blown would indicate the second coming of Jesus – 11:15). Both the control of creation and the management of time would suggest that the mighty angel is Jesus.

John heard a voice from heaven instructing him to take the little scroll out of the mighty angel’s hand. When he did so, the angel told him that the scroll would taste sweet, but then would have a bitter effect. The eating was followed by a form of re-commissioning in which John was informed that he would yet speak in a prophetic way to all classes of people. This must have seemed very unlikely at the time, given that he was in exile in Patmos for his commitment to Jesus.

Maybe those who say that the mighty angel is not Jesus are right, and maybe they are wrong. It does look as if John, in the midst of the awful visions he had received about the troubles that will happen in divine providence, was sent a special message that he still had a place to fulfil in the spread of the kingdom. And would it not be like Jesus to give another vision of his glory to his imprisoned servant when he was re-commissioned!

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