Revelation 10:1-11 Part 1


1) Then I saw going down from the heaven another mighty Messenger having been cloud clothed, the bow above His head, His appearance as the sun, His feet as fiery pillars,

2) and having the little scroll that had been opened in His hand.  Then He placed His right foot on the sea, but the left on the land,

3) and uttered a great sound as a roaring lion.  And when He cried out, the seven thunders uttered their own voices.

4) And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write; and I heard a voice from the heaven saying “withhold the things that the seven thunders uttered.  You may not write them”.

5) Then the Messenger that I saw having stood upon the sea and upon the land raised His right hand into the heaven

6) and promised in the One living into the ages of the ages, Who created the heaven and all that’s in it, and the earth and all that’s in it, and the sea and all that’s in it, that there would be no more delay,

7) but that in the days when the sound of the seventh messenger is to be trumpeted, the mystery of God would be fully accomplished as announced to His Own servants the prophets.

8) Then the voice that I had heard from the heaven speaks with me again saying, “go take the scroll opened in the hand of the Messenger Who is standing upon the sea and upon the land”.

9) And I did approach the Messenger, telling Him to give the scroll to me.  Then He says to me, “take and eat it all; it will embitter your belly, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.

10) So I took the scroll from the Messenger’s hand and ate it all; and it was as honey, sweet in my mouth.  But when I ate, it made my belly bitter.

11) Then they tell me “it is again necessary for you to prophesy about many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.


The guy that first enumerated the chapters and verses of the text has done it to us again.  In an effort to make it easier for folks to find stuff in the Bible, he made life difficult for us in terms of continuity and focus.

Remember our approach to the Scripture (and, since we’re here in the Revelation, especially the prophetic texts)… it’s “covenant continuity”.  So, (we need to keep on reminding ourselves) not only is the Bible a continuous Revelation of God in His history, but so too is the letter before us written in continuity.  It would have been read and preached to the seven Churches “straight through” without any chapters and verses.  No breaks of any kind… not even paragraphs.

Not only those things, but all through the Revelation we have threes and fours and sevens and twelves (just like all the rest of Scripture) – all indicating consistency, sequence and continuity.  And we have clear statements from our Lord, here at the beginning of the Revelation, that “the time is near”, and an urgent prayer at the end for Jesus to come “quickly” – both indicating a specific time-frame in which everything in between is to occur. 

And this is history… God’s history; and it is linear and sequential, and it’s all connected.

But, limited as we are, we can see very little else but what’s right in front of us (an impediment to be sure).  And I’m talking about chapters here.  And as we’ve discussed here many times, terrible things have been done to God’s Word by stripping small portions of it out of 1) its covenantal context and 2) its immediate context (which is that which has preceded it).

Now, it probably seems to you that every progression of the text almost requires us to preach through the whole Bible.  Sometimes it seems to me to be the case!  But we’ve had to restrain ourselves.  And for that reason we’ve probably missed things along the way.  That’s more than probable, actually.   And in those things we are deficient!  Hopefully we’ll be able to fill up some of those as we go through the next thirteen chapters (God willing).

But one thing we can’t do is preach through any of this as if it were sitting in here by itself!  Nothing’s in here all by itself!  It all came from the One Whose mind is the “original”; Whose reason is the original; Whose wisdom is the original, and Whose consistency and integrity are unquestionable.

So we can’t “part it out” into segments or fragments and hope to be coherent in the image of our Creator.  And, besides, great offense to God has occurred, and impairment of the Church has been inflicted, by abstract and whimsical interpretations of provocative morsels in the text.

As if there was no continuity whatsoever in the corpus of God’s Word, and as if there was no context at all, the Revelation has been “parted out”, or “sliced up into pieces”; and then the most intriguing portions are then interpreted as if they are “static”.  And what I mean by that, is that the segments have no particular context or time frame.  The perceived meanings can be used in whatever way one wants them to be used, and in whatever time period one wishes.  So a reader or interpreter here in the twenty first century can pick up the text and read a small portion of it (a chapter, for example) and see it as if it were written yesterday and applicable today!  That’s a static, flat perception, and it leads to the fanciful interpretations of the prophetic Word that we hear all around us every day.

I got an email a couple of days ago from an associate who I really like doing business with.  It was one of those seemingly ever-present “mark-of-the-beast” emails.  I get them with some frequency. And he was freaking out over the “computer-chip-under-the-skin” identification module (bio-chip) that is being touted to replace passports and credit cards.  First it was social security numbers; then it was bar codes; then it was magnetic strips… and every other conceivable conspiratorial scheme relating to Revelation chapter thirteen! 

And it just serves to remind us just how seriously weak the Christian Church is, due to the practice of extracting passages from their covenantal context.  There just seems to be no concept of time and history with regard to Scripture.

Anyway, we’re going to see many more wondrous and intriguing things that John saw and heard as we proceed, all of which are used constantly in the way I’ve just described… and some of them producing neurosis and paranoia in people who see them as currently significant!  That’s what I mean by a “static” concept of Scripture… Scripture’s “value” is somehow its “current significance”.  That’s why folks can open up the Bible and randomly point to a verse, and use it to live their lives that day.  And that’s pretty close to the common, present-day means of interpretation used with John’s Revelation.

So, as we enter this new chapter, let’s be careful that we aren’t influenced by that.  There is a covenantal continuity here – a continuation in history that doesn’t include a two thousand year gap – that must be maintained; for in the apostle’s text there is no break in the continuity of John’s letter.  And it’s the same all the way to the end of the letter.

We begin this morning with verse one and part of verse two.  Here it is again:


1) Then I saw going down from the heaven another mighty Messenger having been cloud clothed, the bow above His head, His appearance as the sun, His feet as fiery pillars,

2) and having the little scroll that had been opened in His hand. 


And this first part of verse two is a great place for us to start, for we get to review what’s come before, and hear again the continuity of John’s letter.

And please notice first that I’ve translated the verb “opened” differently from that which you might find in other translations.  In actuality the others are different, because they don’t translate it the way the Greek verb reads.

It is a singular perfect passive participle in the accusative case, and it is neuter… all referring to the scroll.  It is not “open”; it has been “opened”.  If you were to read the English exactly the way the Greek verb is written, it would sound like this: “and having the little scroll that is presently in a state of having previously been opened.”

Now, if the verse is read (as it usually is) that the scroll is (simply) “open”, then it could lead to the impression that this is just any scroll (or another scroll); and it certainly wouldn’t direct the readers and hearers back to the prophecy of Daniel, and chapters five through nine of the Revelation!  That would be a great loss to one’s understanding!

You remember that Daniel was told to seal the scroll until the time of the end.  Well, the time of the end has come as John sees and hears!  The seals are loosed!

In chapter five of the Revelation our Lord Jesus Christ appears as the Lamb Slain, standing in midst of the throne.  And He takes the scroll as the only One Who can loose its seals, for He, alone, has overcome!

Then (chapter six) the Lamb looses the first seal, and one of the four cherubim shouts “Come!”  And our Lord immediately appears riding the white horse.  He has a crown on His forehead and the bow over His head, riding out “overcoming and to overcome”.

The Lamb then looses the second seal, and the second of the four cherubim says “Come!”  And comes a red horse, its rider following its Leader.  That rider was given a great sword with which to take the peace from the land.

You remember from Zechariah that the four horses and their riders were resting under the shade of a tree; and they had reported that there was peace in the land.  Now, at this given time as John looks on, the second horseman would take it away.  And all of Israel would be full of acrimony… with fathers against sons, and sons against fathers, and brothers against brothers; and there would be no love in families or between neighbors or tribes; but rather distrust and hatred and malice and hostility and acts of violence.  Our Lord warned His disciples of exactly this in Matthew chapter twenty-four.

The Lamb in the midst of the throne then looses the third seal, and the third cherubim commands “Come!”  And galloping forth following its leader comes the rider on the third horse which is black.  This rider has a scale in its hand to measure tiny quantities of grain, for there would be little; and John hears the Voice from the midst of the throne uttering the words directly from the prophets concerning the extreme lack of food and wine due to drought and famine and pestilence in all of the land.

Then the Lamb looses the fourth seal; and the fourth cherubim commands “Come!”  And the fourth horse – “pale” in color – strides forth after its leader, its rider named “the death”, and “hades” following after.  The rider was given authority over the land to produce famine and to kill many, and to bring wild animals from the wilderness to eat the bodies that lay rotting.  The time had arrived for the end of the age… all of it prophesied in great detail.

When the Lamb then loosed the fifth seal John saw the souls, the persons, the blood of those elect of God who had been persecuted and killed by the princes and priests and elders and lawyers of Israel for the Name of Jesus.  And they all cried out for God to avenge their blood – as had been prophesied, and as Jesus Himself had promised!  Please remember that this fifth seal contained the imprecatory prayers of the martyred saints, by which our Lord would execute His judgment upon the apostate nation that had shed their blood.

Then when the Lamb loosed the sixth seal, John sees exactly what is to occur shortly… the “end”, the decreation of God’s heaven and earth Israel – all of which had been prophesied, and about which Jesus had warned His disciples.

He sees a great shaking; the sun is turned off, the moon becomes as blood, the stars fall from the heavens, and the cosmos snaps shut like a scroll from both ends, and everything is moved out of its place.  Israel ceases to exist in the judgment day soon to come.

But the scene that John sees at the loosing of this sixth seal changes quickly then, to that which happens during the forty years just prior to the prophesied decreation.  As is the case all through the Revelation, God reveals great proceedings within great scenes.  It’s His Own perception.  But here John sees the four cherubim standing at the four corners of the land, holding back the decreation of this edenic paradise until our Lord finds, marks and seals every last one of God’s elect from the twelve tribes.  And John sees them all before the throne, along with the host of the heaven, praising God for so great salvation.

Then (in chapter eight) John sees the Lamb loose the seventh (and last) seal.  And all that takes place afterward proceeds from its loosing, for then all the seals of the scroll are loosed; and all that proceeds afterward encompasses the loosing of all seven seals.

And what John sees first, at the Lamb’s loosing of the last seal is our Lord Jesus Christ, appearing as Archangel Michael, as He approaches the altar of incense with all the prayers of the martyred saints.  And their prayers for God’s vengeance to be poured out upon their murderers and persecutors are offered by our Lord from His Own hand.

And then He takes the incense censer from the altar and scoops up coals of fire and brimstone from the lake of fire under the throne; and He pours the fire and brimstone into the land.  And there was a mighty shaking, and lightnings and thunders and sounds.

And the seven messengers before the throne began to trumpet the awesome, vengeful voice of the Lord of Hosts as he responds to the prayers of His elect as offered by the triumphant Son.

And John then sees all of Israel begin to fall apart and disintegrate in the wrath of the Father as the sun and moon begin to darken, and stars begin falling.  And national decadence and ruin and deterioration and spoil take place; and starvation and killing; and plagues and pestilences inflicted by mocking beasts from the pit of hades released to torture and kill… all spoken to Israel by God through His prophet, warning them to repent.

As we finished chapter nine, we read that Israel would not repent, although all seven seals of the scroll are loosed by the Lamb in the midst of the throne.  There is no repentance… but further hardening. 

And here in our text (chapter ten) we read, “having the little scroll that had been opened in His hand”.  And we as readers and hearers of the Revelation must not miss the continuity that’s here.

And neither must we miss John’s description of the One (in verse one) Who he sees holding the scroll that had been opened.  Here it is once again:


“Then I saw going down from the heaven another mighty Messenger having been cloud clothed, the bow above His head, His appearance as the sun, His feet as fiery pillars… and having the little scroll that had been opened in His hand.”


The One Who loosed all seven seals still has the scroll in His hand; and it is the same one as had been previously opened.  And as I take you through the Scripture with regard to this description of the One with the scroll in His hand, John obviously uses many prophetic texts… not only some exact wording, but also a number of clear allusions.  And he also refers to the Gospels (having already been written); and he even recalls his own earlier personal encounter with the One Who he now sees going down from the heaven.

Obviously this is the Lord Jesus Christ in a continuing appearance as Arch-messenger Micha-El (One-as-God) Archangel Michael.  As a kind different from all the created messengers, He is Commander-in-Chief of all the host of the heaven.  As He Himself said, “I have been given all authority in the heaven and upon the earth”.

He is the One Who commands, not only the angelic creatures of the heaven but, the hellish fallen creatures from the pit!  He is the One with the crown and the bow over His head, riding out on the white horse, leading the other three horsemen on their devilish colored horses to their ferocious and vicious work.

He is the One Who arises as the sun – the “light of the world” to command the creatures of the heaven to locate, mark and seal the Father’s elect of Israel before the “great tribulation” swept them into the wrath to come.

His is the work of completing the sanctions against the idolatrous harlot; and, at the same time, constituting the new covenant with all the nations.  In His work He is the Great Prophet, the Faithful Prophet of the Covenant.

And we’re going to look at John’s description of Him in His work here, as the apostle rehearses His glory and His power and authority.  It is a brief description (here in verse one); but it encompasses all the others revealed in the Scripture.  And it is a consistent, covenantal continuation of all of the others, for it is the same Person as the others!

John’s description of the mighty Messenger begins with the glory cloud itself.  So, first, let’s hear from Moses in Exodus chapter forty.  This is at that point that Moses and the craftsmen of Israel had completed the tabernacle as commanded and prescribed by Yahveh at Sinai:


34) Then the cloud covered the tabernacle; and the glory of Yahveh filled the tabernacle.

35) And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of Yahveh filled the tabernacle.

36) Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out.

37) But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up.

38) For Yahveh’s cloud was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.


And then from Leviticus chapter sixteen:


1) Yahveh spoke to Moses after the deaths of Aaron’s two sons, when they had drawn near before Yahveh and died,

2) and Yahveh said to Moses, "Tell Aaron your brother not to come at any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat that is on the ark, so that he may not die. For I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat.


And listen to the prophet Jeremiah as he prophesies the coming of Yahveh in the clouds of judgment against Israel:


11) At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem, "A hot wind from the bare heights in the desert, toward the daughter of my people, not to winnow or cleanse,

12) a wind too full for this comes from me.  Now it is I Who speak in       judgment upon them.

13) Behold, he comes up as clouds; his chariots like the whirlwind; his horses are swifter than eagles – woe to us, for we are ruined!

14) O Jerusalem, wash your heart from evil, that you may be saved.  How long shall your wicked thoughts lodge within you?


And from Ezekiel chapter one as the prophet gazes upon the cloud of Yahveh:


4) As I looked, behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, and a great cloud, with brightness around it, and fire flashing forth continually, and in the midst of the fire, as it were gleaming metal.

5) And from the midst of it came the likeness of four living creatures.


And lastly from Daniel chapter eleven:


13) “ I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven!  He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.

14) Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom one which shall not be destroyed.


All through the older Scripture it is revealed that God is clothed with the cloud in the tabernacle and in the temple.  This, of course, can’t be said of any created messenger.

To be clothed with the cloud is to be clothed with the entire host of the heaven.  It is in fact the created angel/messengers that form the cloud.  And here in our text John recognizes that Jesus Christ, in His appearance as Archangel Michael, is “wearing” the host of the heaven.

Next the apostle writes that the mighty Messenger had the bow over His head.  John has already reported that he saw the bow over the throne of God in the heaven; and he also saw the bow over the rider of the white horse.  And all of these scenes would have reminded him of the prophet Ezekiel’s view of the throne-room in chapter one of his prophecy.

After describing the gleaming expanse of the firmament and the host of creatures, and the cherubim and their chariots, and all the sounds coming forth from the heaven, here’s what he said:


26) And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness as of a man.

27) And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around. And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him.

28) Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around.


All through Scripture there is no other One having the radiance of the bow except Mighty God, Lord of all the hosts, creator of the heavens and the earth.  And that’s Who John sees here.

Thirdly, John sees the face of this “Messenger of another kind”.  And His face was as the sun.  The description is the same as John’s own description in chapter one:


“His head and hair white as wool, white as snow, and His eyes as flaming fire,

 and His feet like burnished brass as in having been fired in a furnace, and His voice as a sound of many waters, and having seven stars in His right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword proceeding out of His mouth, and His face as the sun shines in its power.”


And John was there, as recorded by Matthew in chapter seventeen of his Gospel, when our Lord was transformed on the mount.  Here it is:


1) And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.

2) And He was transformed before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as light.


He is the “sun of righteousness” and “the sunrise from on high”; and Paul says of Him that His face and glory are the “flaming fire” of judgment, which is especially appropriate here since the Faithful Witness, the Great Prophet has appeared to announce the decreation of Israel.

Lastly, John writes, verse one, that His feet were as “fiery pillars”.  Here is some of our Lord’s most complex Revelation of Himself in all of Scripture.

But apparently this is a direct reference to Moses book of the Exodus as the cloud-clothed Lord of heaven and earth appears in the pillar of cloud and fire.  It is His glory cloud.  And it is Yahveh Who “wears” the cloud. 

Yahveh “walked” before His people in the cloud in Exodus thirteen; Yahveh “stood” before them in the cloud in Exodus thirty three; and at the crossing of the Red Sea, Yahveh “stood” in the pillar of smoke and fire between His people and the chariots of Egypt…..all of these indicative of the pillar of cloud and fire being the “legs” and “feet” of Yahveh.

Apparently Solomon, in all of his wisdom, incorporated the two pillars of Yahveh, made of bronze, into the temple on the mount when it was built.

Then in Song of Songs, the Bridegroom is described as having legs as alabaster pillars (same word).

Then, according to the Revelation to Isaiah, written by him in chapter sixty, the ark of the covenant located beneath the enthroned glory of Yahveh is called His “footstool”.  And in chapter sixty-six the earth is also called His footstool by Isaiah; therefore the earth itself is said to have “pillars” in First Samuel chapter two and in Job chapter thirty eight (very important to our understanding of this text).  Hopefully we’ll have much more opportunity to explore this aspect of God’s Revelation of Himself as we go along, for the implications here are of some magnitude.

But as John writes to the Churches, it would have become perfectly apparent to them that the mighty Messenger going down from the heaven, having the opened scroll in His hand, is none other than their Lord Jesus Christ.

And as John continues to write what he sees, the significance of all of this will become clearer to us as we continue next Lord’s Day.