And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. –Revelation 5:1-5
As John described the dramatic scene of the opening of the book, he described how that the book in the hand of God was originally sealed closed and no one could open it. Finally, Jesus showed up, took the book from God’s hand and began to open it. As each of the seven seals was unfastened, a different judgment was issued forth from heaven on the inhabitants of the earth. In the final seal, seven trumpets began to sound one at a time issuing seven more distinct judgments.
When we arrive at Revelation 10, we are between the sixth and the seventh trumpet. In the fifth and sixth trumpet judgments, God released a demonic force of millions to wreak havoc on the population of the earth. Now, while the world writhes in calamity, John sees another vision. It is almost as though he is taking a brief interlude between the horrors of the sixth trumpet and the terrors of the seventh.
In John’s vision, a bright and beautiful angel comes down from heaven and stands on the earth. Some commentators speculate that this figure could be Jesus, but I don’t really see John making that point. Rather, this mighty figure comes to the earth as an angel, a messenger, to declare the end of all God’s judgment. It is not over yet, but he declares that the end will be coming soon. The last judgments are being readied and will shortly be poured out on those who writhe in unrepentance.
There are two interesting details worth noting. First, as John beheld this angel coming down and establishing his message, there was the sound of seven thunders that came from the sky. As John began to write what he heard from those seven thunders, a voice stopped him and made him keep from writing. What in the world could John have heard? The entire book of Revelation is filled with awe-inspiring details, what details could possibly be kept back from being written? Was it something that was too terrible? Was it something that would be too confusing? No matter what it was, God chose to not reveal it yet, but on that day, the revelation will be made plain.
The second detail worth noting is the book. In Revelation 5, there was a book that was sealed closed and no one could open it until Jesus showed up. After Jesus took the scroll from God, he began to open one seal after another. Now, in Revelation 10, there is an “open” book that is brought to John. It seems by the word choice that is used to describe the book that John is given, that this is the same book that we saw a few chapters earlier. Now, John was told to take the book and eat it. This is very similar to what Ezekiel was told to do in Ezekiel 3. John, like Ezekiel, takes the word of God in and finds it pleasing at first. However, after the reality of God’s impending judgment sets in, John’s stomach was turned. The task of declaring the upcoming judgment of the seventh trumpet would not be a pleasant thing.
Reflect: What specific words used in regards to the Revelation 10 book would make us think it was the same book as the one in Revelation 5?