Revelation 10

“Another Strong Angel” v1, This most certainly is not Jesus. The angel of Jehovah in the Old Testament is called an arch-angel in Jude v9 and is also called “one of the chief princes” in Daniel 10:13. So the strong angel here and in Rev. 5:2 could be one of those Chief Princes also.

“The Little Book”, v2, Ezekiel had a similar experience, Ezk. 2:8-3:3. It was his expression of commitment to the message he was given. To eat something, showed full acceptance in this case, John was accepting his responsibility to tell the message, live it and relay it onwards to many nations. There is no indication he needed to do a personal journey around the Empire. Jeremiah was appointed as a prophet to many nations, but he did not journey like Jonah was called to travel, see Jeremiah 1:5-10. Instead, John’s responsibility was fulfilled by finding others, to take what he was delivering to them. Secular history records that John died in Ephesus, so it seems he was released from his banishment on Patmos and would send forth this recording of the Revelation onwards. This necessitates disciples to commit to what the Apostle John wrote, which may be why John closes Revelation with a warning against changing any of the contents, Revelation 22:18-19. Do we feed on the word of God? It is food, see John 6:45-58, Hebrews 5:12-14, 1st Corinthians 10:4, 12:13.

“7 Peals of Thunder Uttered Their Voices”, v3, The content of the thunderous judgments of God are not described, nor are the contents written down, but they are sealed up, indicating clearly, that God has no  intention of revealing their details to the early church. But what is clear is that His judgments are victorious against any future enemies even after the Roman Empire falls. What enemies has the church faced in recent history? God has always kept some things to himself and his silence is to be respected, Deuteronomy 29:29. However, there is no denying that persecution is real today, we must realize that God will judge our persecutors and we should rejoice along with other Christians who have suffered before us, Matthew 5:10-12. We do not face an enemy as big as the Roman Empire, but we do face enemies. God is saying in these 7 thunders that his judgments are just as effective now as they were then, see Romans 12:20.

“Standing on the sea and on the land, raised up his hand”, v5. Being both on the land and sea is clearly telling us that the oath the Angel takes, applies to every soul in heaven and on earth, (Daniel 12:7) His hand upheld indicates that he is aware of being in full view of God on the Throne.

“Delay no longer”, v6. The only delay the saints were suffering, was the time in which God was giving the general public throughout the Empire to repent in the face of His judgments. This proves that God loves our enemies and that we should be praying for their repentance, even when it seems most unlikely, Matthew 5:44 & 2nd Timothy 2:25. Today we should remind ourselves of how many lost souls have neglected and procrastinated on the call of Jesus Christ, only to find themselves ushered into the presence of the Almighty unprepared.

“Sounding of the 7th Angel”, v7. Within the 7th trumpet comes the totality of God’s judgment, displayed as His wrath is poured out of the 7 bowls, Rev. 16. For the Christians, these days are long and hard, but for John it is seen as coming after a delay. When God’s judgment is finished, the Christians can see the glory of the good news as victorious. As promised, this Revelation has a blessing and the church is victorious, Rev. 1:3.

“Go & Take…take it and eat”, v8-9, Just as John was to show his own voluntary initiative in accepting responsibility, so we also should volunteer to go and pass on this message, Mat. 28:18-20. The strong angel did not give John the little book, John was told to take it! Have you taken the initiative to feed on His word? God never forces anyone to eat.

“your belly bitter…your mouth…sweet”, v10, It symbolizes the sweetness of being blessed and privileged to receive original oracles, but it’s also bitter because John too will feel the suffering the church must endure through God’s wrath against the evil Roman Empire they physically live within.

“many peoples & Nations”, v11, the church can not pretend to live separate from the world, when God punishes them, John will feel for them, it’s a bittersweet experience to know that your victory means that others suffer so much. The same pain is felt by Jeremiah, see Jer. 25:15-30, as he watches Judah fall.

Revelation 9

The three woes in 8:13, find meaning in the next three (5th, 6th & 7th) Trumpets. 9:12 & 11:14.

5th Trumpet, The Judgment of God upon the Empire’s Cultural values/ethics. The fallen star, v1, alludes to a ruler over locusts. Satan is a type of ‘god’, 2nd Corinthians 4:4. The locusts are an apt description of the sin of immorality and it’s painful consequences.

“from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace…Then from the smoke came locusts” v2-3, Abraham set eyes on a scene something like this from Genesis 19:28 after Sodom & Gomorrah were destroyed. Of course Satan would rule over immorality and it’s deadly consequences, Rev. 9:11. How would you like to face multiple outbreaks of diseases without antibiotics and/or modern medicine?

Imperial Rome had many afflictions, from catastrophic plagues to sexually transmitted diseases. The Antonine Plague, possibly the most widespread and catastrophic outbreak of disease in Rome’s Empire, was named after the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, because it occurred during his reign. Historical sources suggest that Roman soldiers returning from battles in Mesopotamia spread disease, which lasted from 165-180 AD. Based on the written observations of fever, diarrhea, and boils by the Greek physician Galen, historians infer that smallpox caused the plague. Including substantial deaths within the army, the outbreaks decimated an estimated two thirds of the Roman population, killing almost 9 million people. Another disease, Mentagra, notably thought by the Imperial Romans to be spread by kissing, was a skin disease most commonly starting on the chin and moving on to the entire face and sometimes other body parts. The aesthetic factor was very ugly, the disease was not deadly but Romans ironically went as far as scar-inducing cauterization to rid them of the abhorrent disease, it made many of them wish they were dead, as they faced multiple outbreaks of diseases within 15 years and have no antibiotics and/or modern medicine? 9:6, 10.

“not to harm”, v4, Jesus was very clear about his disciples suffering persecution, but he also said to his apostles they could trample on snakes and their poison wouldn’t hurt them, while rejoicing that their names are written in Heaven, Luke 10:19. Logically, if STD’s were at the center of this judgment, and Christians truly lived a sexually pure life, avoiding things like the Roman Baths of their era, then you can see how some disease would have been avoided, but spiritual protection must be realized fully during the onslaught of plague and they must accept this spiritual reality as fully as when the Hebrews received it physically. Christians are protected spiritually to the same extent as Hebrews were protected physically from the plagues of Egypt! see Rev. 7:3.

6th Trumpet, God’s judgment upon the Empire’s Military,  4 Angels “bound at the great river Euphrates”, v13-14. “mounted Troops & horses” are often a symbol of war itself, v16-17. 200 million troops, is a big army!

This number echoes from Psalm 68:14-19 numbering God’s army as victorious, but here in Revelation it could be used in reference to the armies against Rome’s Empire as victorious. East of the Empire lay Rome’s greatest threat, Persia! Other armies took advantage of Rome’s eastern weak front. The big division in the Empire was Constantinople, establishing the Eastern Roman Empire. From there on, it began to crumble. The lion headed horses with tails like snakes, are a sure indication that the armies (Vandals, Goths, Franks & Turks) against Rome are full of power and deception. Terrorism is real for the Romans, and you can hear clearly the Eagle’s second woe in this 6th Trumpet, as they watched their military might weaken in defeat. On August 9, 378AD, an army of Goths led by Fritigern rose and attacked the Romans. Two-thirds of the Eastern Roman army were killed. Ammianus Marcellinus called it “the beginning of evils for the Roman empire then and thereafter.” . Between 406-419AD the Romans lost a great deal of their Empire to different German tribes. The Franks conquered northern Gaul, the Burgundians took eastern Gaul, while the Vandals replaced the Romans in Hispania.

“did not repent…did not repent”, v20-21, The purpose of these Judgments (trumpets) upon the Empire was not fully recognized by most unbelievers, just as in the days of Moses, Pharaoh and the Egyptian army were destroyed. God and His children in Christ were proven victors.

Revelation Chapter 8

7th Seal, Revealing seven trumpets. Seals concealed a revelation of the future but revealed news (truth) when opened. But a trumpet spoke of warning in activated war or judgment. Notice each trumpet only destroys a fraction of what it is sounded against. The ungodly people the judgment is directed against are meant to pay attention and repent, but they do not. Trumpets are obvious reminders of the plagues against Egypt in the days of Moses, so it is in the days of the persecuted Church. Every 1st century Christian reading this would see the parallel. In v3-5, we see the reason for the judgments, the Christian’s cry of “how long”, 6:10, was heard and acted upon. Our prayers have an effect. God’s power is seen at the right time. These judgments came upon the world because Christians cried for vengeance and also because God loves his children. In 9:20-22 we see what their end purpose is.

“silence…half an hour” v1, Hours in the Bible often speak of an important decisive action (1st Jn 2:18) some kind of work that changes everything, therefore an hour that is halved may lead us to think that something real significant is about to happen, a bit like the purpose served in a drum roll before an important person arrives.

“golden censer” v5, an eighth angel at the altar attends to sanctified prayers of Christians which appeared before God’s Throne in 6:9. This is the only appearance of the censer in the entire revelation, and it is the reason for the half hour of silence. When the angel throws the burning censer to earth, it represents God’s answer to Christians’s cry for help. Censers are explained best in Numbers 16:11-18. The angel represents Christ’s intercessory position in our prayer, He is the only mediator between God & the physical church, 1Tm. 2:5, but in this vision, Christ is opening the seal, The Father is on the Throne and our prayers are sanctified & answered!

“7 angels with 7 trumpets” v2-6, The significance of this lay in Numbers 10:1-10, they were used to call a congregation and also to enact the assembly to set out camp. Secondly they were used to alarm the troops of Israel before war, Thirdly they were a call to bring God’s children into remembrance before God in their Feasts annually. Therefore trumpets in Revelation tell us that we are never forgotten before God as they go though the pain of martyrdom and suffering in the crossfire of war, we must stick together and use real fellowship to grow and fight with the spiritual sword, the Bible. 1st Cor. 1:9, Gal. 2:9, Php. 2:1-3, 1st Jn. 1:7. We should never tolerate fellowship with the enemy, Rev. 18:4.

1st Trumpet, God’s war upon the Roman Empire’s agriculture/economy, v7

2nd Trumpet, God’s war on the Empire’s commerce, allies/trade with provinces, v8-9

3rd Trumpet, God’s war on the Empire’s religion, v10-11

4th Trumpet, God’s war on the Empire’s political leaders, v12

5th Trumpet, God’s war on the Empire’s cultural values\ethics, 9:1-12

6th Trumpet, God’s war on the Empire’s military, 9:13-21

7th Trumpet, God’s war resulting in victory, 11:15

When God shows the water is polluted in v11, it’s a sign that sin is mingled in what should help provide life, meaning that what appears to be healthy (religion) is actually deadly. Jeremiah 23:14-15 gives a good use of “wormwood”, and Amos 5:7-8 is wormwood’s description of God controlling the enemies own demise with whatever the enemy thinks/believes is good. Remember Exodus 15:22-25 shows that only God can sweeten polluted waters, making false religion change/repent!

The Three Woes, v13, the symbol of Rome’s Imperial rule itself, the eagle, speaks of it’s own shame in judgment upon itself. This emphasizes how deep the destruction of Rome is from God, as it’s own citizens are fully aware of how hypocritical, beastly and frightfully condemned they all are. This makes the church look like a very good place to be, even during a painful time of it’s history. The idea of each Trumpet only harming a third of whatever it warred against, is a reminder that this will be a long & painful war the church will experience, and just as in the days of Moses & Pharaoh, the Egyptians were destroyed and God’s children were proven powerful, but the enemy did not recognize real repentance, evil will linger even in the face of God’s judgment & destruction until the ultimate end and the glory of victory is delivered

Revelation 6:12-7:17

6th Seal, The fall and destruction of the Roman Empire throughout the known world, is a result of the wrath of the Lamb conquering over the world’s Government. A great change in Government is how Isaiah describes the sky vanishing in Isaiah 34:2-5, as well as Jeremiah’s staggering earth and shaking mountains, Jer. 4:23-25, both describing Judah’s fall & change in government. Words of judgment may not be taken literally in Zeph. 1:2-4 but the outlandish language is used to describe the judgment of Judah losing it’s government. This may be rooted in the act of God disturbing Mt. Sinai in establishing the law of Moses, changing the Government of his people, which resounds to this day, echoed in Micah 1:3-6.

“Fall on us and hide us…the wrath of the Lamb” v15-16, The epitome of Old Testament prophecy is seen from Psalm 110:4-7, about the wrath of the Lamb being fulfilled in the conquering Conqueror from the 1st seal’s white horse Archer. If we are on the winning side throughout all this conflict, we best be in Jesus with Christians that are more than conquerors, experiencing his love, Romans 8:37-39.

“Who Can Stand?” v17 The answer unfolds in Chapter 7, God’s four angels show judgment being placed in them and are holding back, yes personifying the winds of judgment from 6:13. Wind is used in the O.T., to show God’s deliverance through judgment, remember the Hebrews salvation was the Egyptians destruction, Ex. 14:21-28. The wind is used as a term for judgment against idolatry in Isa. 57:13 & Jer. 18:17. But from the east in John’s vision comes an angel of mercy, the very place where wind would bring judgment. This is consistent with the symbol of wind being both judgment and God Himself as the Spirit, Ac. 2:2 & Jn. 3:8.

“Rising of the Sun…Seal of the Living God” v2, This claims that the judgment to come is God’s judgment, He is providing security & identity for everyone sealed. A very important point to remember about God’s Judgment is: “ALL SUFFERING IS NOT THE JUDGMENT OF GOD”, This is why Ezekiel 9 is important in understanding why the righteous suffered in Ezekiel 21:3-4. Just because we are caught in the cross-fire, doesn’t mean we are not on the winning side. The spiritual warfare we are in does not guarantee our physical safety, but it does guarantee our inner spiritual safety, victory and life! This is the purpose of the seal in Ephesians 1:13-14. Tertullian wrote appx. 210AD, “if the rains don’t come, Christians are blamed, if too much rain comes and Tiber river overflows, Christians are blamed”. Temporarily that might be the way they and maybe us live but it is not the reality in which we are sealed. The effect of this seal is an eternal reality of victorious peace.

“Bond-Servants” 7:3, Here we have two pictures of bond-servants for two reasons. Firstly they are 144,000 in v4 to show the historical faithfulness of God to his children and secondly they are the great multitude no one can count, v9 to show the future fulfillment of God’s faithfulness. Depending upon your own faithfulness to God, you know whether or not you are a “bond-servant”, an adopted child servant, Romans 8:14-17.

Notice the listing of the 12 Tribes, from Judah being first, not Reuben, signifying that this is Spiritual Israel, without “Dan” because of their saturation in idolatry (Judges 18) replaced by Joseph. There is no Ephraim because of their idolatry, (Hosea 5:9-11) replaced by Levi which had no physical tribal land but are listed here.

“a Great Multitude” v9-17 resembles the festive feast of Tabernacles with it’s palm branches and song of salvation, v10 is very reminiscent of this Feast which has so much rejoicing within Jerusalem annually.

“The Great Tribulation” v14-17 Is God’s way of describing the battle every Christian soldier should be involved in, Eph. 6:10-17. The Hebrew writer described his readers as Christians which “had not struggled with sin to the point of losing blood”, Heb. 12:3-6. But this was about to change and 1st Peter 4:17 is a clear indication of the judgment of God beginning with the house of God. When it falls on humanity in general, the saints will suffer along with sinners while God’s winds of judgment sweep across the Roman Empire. Always remember that during God’s judgment, his faithful children are sealed survivors, look at Noah, Lot and Joseph as a few examples, Gen. 7:1-16, 19:15-17, 45:7, but we Christians are more than conquerors with living waters and every tear wiped away. He is the God of all comfort, 2nd Corinthians 1:3-11 & Luke 16:19-31.