Many commentaries that I read list Revelation 10 as a parenthetical passage, meaning they don’t think it relates to the sounding of the trumpets in particular, or at least at that exact point in the chronology. I stumbled across a possibility which I believe has merit. Revelation chapter 10 is not a detour, but it actually helps develop the events that occur during the sounding of the trumpets. Instead of being parenthetical, let’s say it is epenthetical. I believe in days gone by that meant although the subject was slightly divergent, it helped to develop the overall progression of thought being offered.
During the sixth trumpet, four powerful angels are released from the Euphrates River. They have the purpose of slaying one third of mankind, but immediately after this, we have the description of a terrible army which slays one third of mankind. I believe that the angels are acting from a spiritual standpoint and the army is acting from a physical standpoint, so it is the same one third that gets slaughtered. This army consists of 2 million horsemen. As this army slaughters one third of mankind, the other two thirds do not repent of their wickedness. But what happens to this 2 million strong army after they kill one third of mankind? Revelation 10 will partially help us understand what happens.
In the face of this advancing army, the Mighty Angel descends to earth. I believe this Mighty Angel is Jesus Messiah for two reasons. First, He lifts up His hand to heaven and swears by Him that lives forever and ever. This was reserved for God alone to do. I take my cue from Deuteronomy 32:40. This is in the midst of a Messianic passage as well. Deuteronomy 32 is describing how God will provoke the nation of Israel to jealousy by the Gentiles in the last days, 32:21. As Israel is being persecuted during this “day of calamity”, 32:35, the LORD decides to enact vengeance on their behalf. This Messianic figure digs through His treasure chest to find just the right tool to use: vengeance, 32:34-35. He waits until His people, Israel, have absolutely no power left; then He intervenes on their behalf, 32:36. It is at this very point that the Messianic figure lifts up His hand to heaven to take an oath that He lives forever and ever, 32:40. This figure also claims to have the power to bring to life and to put to death, 32:39. Surely the resurrection is in view here. Those that have been chasing the nation of Israel to exterminate them will now be dealt with, 32:42. When the enemies of the nation of Israel have been dealt with, this is an occasion for Gentile nations to rejoice for God’s faithfulness to His people, 32:43. Here is the picture of Gentile nations rejoicing alongside the nation of Israel in the Messianic Kingdom. This is how the Apostle Paul saw this passage as well, Romans 15:10, read about it here.
So here is this Mighty Angel in Revelation 10 descending to earth in the face of this advancing army. The army as of this point has only been destroying one third of mankind. After the Mighty Angel descends and takes the oath of Deuteronomy 32:40, the army will meet its doom since the Messianic figure of Deuteronomy 32 is this Mighty Angel.
The second reason that I believe this is Jesus is because this Mighty Angel roars like a lion which results in seven thunders. Let’s examine the thunder first. Psalm 18 prophesied that a Messianic figure would descend from heaven, His voice would thunder, and would further slaughter his enemies at that time, see Psalm 18:6-14. This poetic language was meant to portray the coming of the Messiah in power and glory. The phrase that “The LORD also thundered in the heavens” is at the very point in time which we have previously seen, the time of vengeance against the enemies of God. This vengeance is described in detail in 18:37-42. As in Deuteronomy 32, this also leads into a time when the Gentile nations come into a right relationship with this Messianic figure. 18:43 speaks of the Gentiles serving this Messiah even though they previously did not know Him. They obey Him, 18:44, and that seems to be the occasion for praises to be sung among these Gentiles in 18:49. The King/Anointed One has been shown great deliverance throughout this experience, 18:50. So again, it is the nation of Israel with Gentiles alongside of them submitting to the Messiah within this Messianic Kingdom. That’s how the Apostle Paul saw this passage as well, Romans 15:9, read about it here.
So here is this Mighty Angel in Revelation 10 descending to earth as an army is on the march. Then this Mighty Angel roars which results in seven thunders. The imagery of Psalm 18 is invoked which ensures that this army, although mighty in earthly strength, will be dealt with according to the outline in Psalm 18. The seven thunders guarantee the complete destruction of any who gather against the Messiah.
Joel 3 gives the third witness from the OT since it records that the LORD will roar from Zion, Joel 3:16. (Note that Hosea 11:10 states that the LORD shall roar like a lion and Amos 1:2 states that the LORD will roar from Zion, but neither of these is as precise as Joel 3 with the timing of the event.) Joel 3 contains a summoning of Gentile nations for war because of their treatment of the nation of Israel, 3:2-3. Any tool that they can use as a weapon will suffice, 3:9-10, as these weak Gentile nations proclaim themselves to be strong and assemble in the place of the LORD’s choosing, 3:11. A judgement will be issued in the valley of Jehoshaphat, 3:12, or valley of decision, 3:14, as imagery of a harvest before a winepress is invoked to picture the judgement upon these Gentile armies which have gathered, 3:13. At this point in time, in the face of armies which are gathering at the predetermined location, the LORD roars from Zion, 3:16. The heavens and earth shaking seem to be a direct result of this roar from the LORD. Deliverance is implied as God promises to be the hope of His people Israel. From this point on, no foreigner will be allowed to trample through Jerusalem as they have up to this time, 3:17.
So here is this Mighty Angel in Revelation 10 descending to earth and roaring like a lion as a 2 million strong army slaughters one third of mankind. This brings in the fulfillment of Joel 3 which would cause us to see this multitudinous army from God’s point of view, namely as appointed for His purposes and doomed to destruction. Even though they are multitudes, multitudes, it is truly the valley of the LORD’s decision. He has roared and He will reap, casting into the winepress whomever He chooses. It is interesting to note that at the beginning of this entire episode that one of the elders told John that the Lion of the tribe of Judah had prevailed, but John never once saw a lion. In fact, in the entire book of Revelation the Messiah never appears as a lion, except in this case in Revelation 10 where the Mighty Angel roars like a lion.
What would be the purpose of this roaring and thundering? I would say it could be a battle cry. It could be an announcement of judgement. It could be a warning to anyone in the army that they must turn back or face certain doom. It most likely coincides with the proclamation that at the seventh trumpet there will be no more delay, Revelation 10:6-7, as He has previously declared to the prophets. Which prophets would the mighty angel be referring to? We have just examined three passages which match almost identically with this one, and there are scores of others just waiting to be discovered.
The Mighty Angel descending to earth, roaring like a lion, thundering from the heavens, and taking an oath give us an amalgamation of three specific OT prophecies, and many other inferences could be made as well. The 2 million strong army is directly related to why the Mighty Angel descends at this point in the prophecy.
After John takes the little scroll out of the hand of the Mighty Angel and eats it, John is informed that he will prophesy again. This is a reference to the retelling of the sequence of events all over again as described beginning in Revelation 12. Although the seventh trumpet brings this age to a close and leads into the time when the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of the Messiah, there is much more information regarding the great tribulation, the antichrist, the gathering of the armies, and the actual slaughter which occurs which John will see in detail. So although the doom of the armies which are marching during the sixth trumpet have their fate sealed when the Mighty Angel descends, and it is implied that they are defeated at the seventh trumpet, John will see it in much greater detail because of the promise contained in the little scroll.
Remember in Prince Caspian when Lucy and Aslan are standing on the bridge? Remember Aslan’s roar? I don’t think it even comes close to how the true Lion’s roar will sound on that day. Even after the actual roar, it takes seven thunders to completely unfold the meaning of that roar. Until that day, the thunders are sealed. But for now, we can take comfort that all will be revealed in due time.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman