Dual Recipients

Audio Version

What do a distasteful beverage, a clueless customer, an immature child, an impolite host, a triumphant conqueror, and an attentive listener all have in common? Not much, except that through John, Jesus used all six of these illustrations in quick succession to depict, correct, and inspire the Church of Laodicea and its Messenger (see Revelation 3:14-22).

The Messenger of the Church of Laodicea is like a distasteful, disgusting beverage, neither hot nor cold, which (or who) is at real risk of being spat out. 

The Messenger of the Church of Laodicea is like a completely clueless customer who must first be informed of his or her embarrassing lack of discernment, and then be advised as to what he or she actually needs to acquire. 

The Messenger of the Church of Laodicea is like an immature (and perhaps naughty) child in need of firm correction and discipline from a loving disciplinarian. 

The Messenger of the Church of Laodicea is like an impolite host who leaves an invited (and very important!) dinner guest waiting and knocking at the front door. 

The Messenger of the Church of Laodicea might eventually be a triumphant conqueror.

And anyone hearing Jesus’ message to the Church of Laodicea and its Messenger should be an especially attentive listener. 

Suffice to say, to deliver his message to the Church of Laodicea and its Messenger, Jesus used a lot of short sermon illustrations. 

But I ought to make an aside. Why do I insist on being so wordy? Why do I keep referring to the Messenger of the Church of Laodicea, when I could cut out the extra three words and simplify it to just the Church of Laodicea? Good question. And the answer is this: I want my readers and listeners to catch what gets otherwise omitted, almost every time, in English-speaking settings. Grammatically, it is very clear that Jesus is not addressing the whole congregation of believers at Laodicea — at least, not immediately and directly. Jesus is not speaking directly to the Laodicean church en masse. He is instead speaking first and foremost to someone who is the individual messenger of the church.

But why does that matter?

It matters because the grammatical onus of the passage is clearly on an individual, on the individual messenger, who must personally make necessary personal and corporate changes. This messenger is probably otherwise and more commonly known as the pastor. When the messenger or pastor makes necessary personal and corporate changes, the whole congregation will be better as a result. Thus Jesus’ message indicates that good church leadership matters, and that church leaders sometimes need words of correction — even public correction.

Alternatively and admittedly, the messenger could possibly be understood as a collective singular. While this is a more abstract concept, it basically means that the collective church is personified as a single individual. Maybe this is how we are supposed to understand it. Maybe. But it begs the crucial question of why the singular-collective ambiguity would be used there in the text at all. Jesus could just have spoken to the churches using plural pronouns and plural grammatical forms in general. It is easy to do and would have been much simpler, if indeed the whole church is intended. But no, singular pronouns and singular forms are always used, as if Jesus is speaking to an individual person (which I contend, he is). Therefore, the consistent use of singular grammatical forms points to an intended individual recipient, who is best understood as the leader of the church. (Yes, I do wonder why this grammatical point is so hard for English speakers to accept. It is there for the finding.)

But then again, there is an even better and more nuanced way to understand Jesus’ message to the Messenger at the Church of Laodicea. We can and should read it as applicable to both the individual messenger and the entire congregation. Jesus’ message is meant for both an individual leader and for an entire congregation. Yes, Jesus is speaking most immediately and primarily to an individual messenger, who holds a position of ecclesiastical leadership. But Jesus is also speaking indirectly to the whole congregation. Since the message is supposed to be read publicly, the congregation is meant to overhear it, and take it to heart as far as it applies. If the shoe fits… the listeners should each wear it together. Thus the onus is not entirely on the individual leader. It is also on the congregation, personally and corporately. When we hear and read the Message to the Church of Laodicea in particular, and the Messages to the Seven Churches in general, we do well to keep this intended duality in mind. With each of Jesus’ messages, two recipients per church are intended: the individual leader and the whole congregation. We should strive to keep each of the recipients in view, without forfeiting one for the other.  

Perhaps another time we can look at Jesus’ interesting illustration of an impolite host, who leaves an important dinner guest (that is, Jesus himself) waiting and knocking at the front door.

Why Frogs?

Why Frogs? Audio Version

In Revelation 16:13-15, our vision narrator John sees three unclean spirits like frogs jump, or perhaps, ooze out of the mouths of the abysmal, evil pseudo-trinity. Whether they emerge simultaneously or each in turn, these three unclean frog-like spirits slip from the mouth of the serpentine Dragon, from the mouth of the despotic Beast, and from the mouth of the pretentious Pseudo-Prophet.

Revelation’s listeners are informed that the three unclean frog-like spirits are demonic spirits who perform something called signs. But exactly what sort of signs do they perform? We are not told, so we are left to wonder and to speculate. Their signs will probably seem astonishing and even miraculous. At the very least, they will be persuasively compelling. The three sign-performing frog-like unclean spirits will go out and abroad to summon, beguile, and gather a massive military coalition from here, there, and everywhere, on orders from the world’s mesmerized political leaders. And thus, having been persuaded, beguiled, and lured by the three frog-like spirits, the Kings of the Earth, along with their minions and massive armies, will assemble for the renown Battle of Armageddon, the fearsome climatic battle of battles to end the age. The Battle of Armageddon coincides with the Great Day of God, the Almighty. 

And then, a sudden, unexpected parenthetical interruption in Chapter Sixteen occurs. A Voice interrupts this sweeping, bewildering, awesome narrative to forewarn Revelation’s readers and listeners, “Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be seen, shamefully exposed.” 


Question, questions, questions — for inquisitive interpreters, this passage prompts not only awe and bewilderment, but also a bunch of questions.  

So where do we even start? What are we to make of all the elements in this passage? How are we to comprehend it?

For my purposes in this blog-cast, I want to focus narrowly on the frog-like unclean spirits. The most immediate question I wish to address is this: Why are the unclean spirits said to resemble frogs? I ask that on the assumption that no details go wasted in the Book of Revelation. If a detail is there in the text, it is never incidental or unimportant. Every detail in Revelation is intentional and has meaning. Every detail in Revelation conveys part of a message. Of that, I am thoroughly convinced.

Why, then, are these three unclean spirits said to resemble frogs? 

One possible reason why these unclean spirits are likened to frogs is because frogs are noisy nocturnal creatures. Frogs are croaking creatures of the night. Frogs become especially noisy as daylight fades and darkness falls. Similarly, these three unclean spirits will be especially active and clamorous at the end of the age. I find this reason somewhat persuasive.

A second reason why these three unclean spirits might be likened to frogs is because of the role that frogs play in the pagan mythologies of both Greece and Egypt. In ancient Egyptian mythology, frogs were associated with fertility and with the afterlife. In Hellenistic mythology, frogs were associated with the underworld and Hades. Consequently, the link between frogs and evil spirits would have come as no surprise to Revelation’s first listeners, most of whom were very familiar with pagan mythologies. While interesting, this reason is not satisfactory in and of itself, because other mythological creatures could have been referenced just as readily. However, it does lend persuasive weight to some other reasons.

A third reason why the three unclean spirits are likened to frogs is because of how frogs are featured in the account of the Ten Plagues on Egypt. The Plague of the Invasive Frogs is the second of the ten plagues (see Exodus 8:1-15). Very significantly, by means of their secret arts, the Egyptian magicians could somehow replicate the Plague of the Invasive Frogs. Using demonic sorcery, they could fabricate the same sign. They fabricated frogs, or, more likely, coaxed them from the Nile’s swamps, irrigation canals, and fields. The magicians matched Moses with the same miraculous sign, or something very, very similar. But then they were done. That was it. The fabrication of frogs was the grand finale of their imitative ability. After the plague of the frogs, the Egyptian magicians could replicate no more. Instead, when they attempted to replicate the third plague, the Plague of the Pesky Gnats, the Egyptian magicians had to admit defeat, and informed Pharaoh (in Exodus 8:19), “This is the finger of God!”

This, I believe, is the key interpretive connection we are supposed to make. By means of their unclean frog-like spirits, the abysmal satanic pseudo-trinity will fabricate miraculous signs that will be very, very convincing. They will sway and persuade people — including very important people in high government positions — with displays of astonishing power. Yet like the Egyptian magicians of old, the satanic pseudo-trinity will actually be limited in their powers.

If this is indeed the correct interpretation, I should mention that you might not be present here on Earth when all this occurs. I hope not to be here. I hope you won’t be here, either. Do you remember the Voice in Revelation 16:15 that says, “Behold, I am coming like a thief…”? That voice is Jesus speaking. One way to make sense of his out-of-nowhere narrative interruption is to interpret it as an urgent forewarning to his listeners and readers. It is a forewarning that includes the prospect of an escape. He is coming like a thief. Many people will not anticipate his coming and will not be ready. They will be (to use a dread phrase) left behind. But those who are ready and waiting — those who are awake and dressed — they will escape all the horrors, the deception, and the suffering that will occur during the tumultuous period of the Seven Bowls of Wrath. 

All of this assumes that the Seven Trumpets and the Seven Bowls of Wrath are distinct and successive periods of time, with the Seven Trumpets of Conquest coming first and the Seven Bowls of Wrath following. In my interpretation of Revelation, I do go with that assumption. And I will argue that what separates the Seven Trumpets from the Seven Bowls is the return of Christ and the resurrection/rapture of the Church. But to explain that particular chronology requires a blog-cast (or two or three), and thus must wait for another time.

Mouth, Twenty Two Times Over

Audio Version

In the Book of Revelation, you can distinguish the godly from the ungodly by what comes out of their mouth, or goes into it. Do not take my word for it, though. Study it out for yourself.

Matters of the Mouth

But I will help you. You might do a book-wide word study. As you might expect, one key word you need to study is mouth. In Revelation, the word mouth appears twenty-two times. To save you a lot of time, I will list every instance now:

1:16 2:16 3:16 9:17 9:18 9:19 10:9 10:10 11:5 12:15 12:16 (twice)

13:2 (twice) 13:5 13:6 14:5 16:13 (three times) 19:15 19:21

Here is the word in Greek.

Now I will list in narrative order whose mouth is referenced, and what is said or done:

1. Christ – who has a two-edged sword coming from his mouth.

2. Christ – who will fight against the heretic Nicolaitans with the sword of his mouth, unless they repent.

3. Christ – who might vomit out the lukewarm messenger from the Church of Laodicea.

4. The Chimæra Cavalry – from the mouths of whom come fire, smoke, and sulfur (reminiscent of and probably referential to the judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah – see Genesis 19:24-29).

5. The Chimæra Cavalry – who slay a third of humanity with the fire, smoke, and sulfur that comes from their mouths.

6. The Chimæra Cavalry – who have power in their mouth and in their serpent-like tails.

7. John, the Narrator – in whose mouth the small scroll will be as sweet as honey.

8. John, the Narrator – in whose mouth the small scroll was as sweet as honey.

9. The Two Martyr-Witnesses – from whose mouth comes fire, which devours their enemies.

10. The Dragon-Serpent Satan – who hurls water like a river from his mouth, in order to sweep away the woman, the mother of the male child Christ.

11. The Earth – which opens its mouth to swallow the river hurled from the mouth of the dragon.

12. The Dragon – whose mouth-hurled river of water is swallowed by the mouth of the Earth.

13. The Beast from the Sea – whose mouth was like a lion’s mouth.

14. The Beast from the Sea – who has a mouth like a lion.

15. The Beast from the Sea – who was given a mouth to utter arrogant words and blasphemies.

16. The Beast from the Sea – who opens his mouth in blasphemies against God, his name, and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven.

17. The 144,00 Soldier-Saints — in whose mouth no lie is found, for they are blameless.

18. The Dragon – from whose mouth three unclean frog-like spirits proceed.

19. The Beast – from whose mouth three unclean frog-like spirits proceed.

20. The False Prophet – from whose mouth three unclean frog-like spirits proceed.

21. Christ – from whose mouth extends a sharp sword, with which he strikes the nations.

22. Christ, the Rider on the White Horse – who slays the armies of the Beast and the Kings of the Earth with the sword from his mouth.

In Revelation the Dragon does not emit fire.

Here are some of my observations and interpretations:

Notice that a sharp double-edged sword comes from Jesus’ mouth. A reference to Isaiah 49:2 and Hebrews 4:12, the sharp double-edged sword is the Word of God, and is alternatively a surgical tool or a lethal weapon.

Fire comes from the mouths of the Chimæra Cavalry and from the mouth of the Two Martyr Witnesses. Fire most often symbolizes the Holy Spirit of God in Revelation. The fiery imagery probably references Deuteronomy 4:24 and Hebrews 12:29, both of which say that God is a Consuming Fire. Thus the Holy Spirit might well be the deadly, devouring fire that issues from both the Chimæra Cavalry and the Martyr Witnesses. If so, the Cavalry and the Witnesses could be one and the same entity, that is, the Church. That which issues from the mouth of the Church consumes or devours its enemies. This notion definitely does not work if taken literally: The Church does not and should not go around physically incinerating its opponents with fire. However, it does work if taken figuratively: When we are faithful witnesses, we do bring an ego-exterminating, life-transforming, Spirit-empowered message. Yes, we do. At least, we ought to.

The small scroll is the unique revelation contained in the Book of Revelation. This, in particular, is what John was given to internalize, to write, and to narrate. The small scroll reveals what the end of Daniel conceals, that is, important details about and instructions regarding the eschaton, the end of the age.

The dragon-serpent Satan does not breathe fire. On the contrary, he spews or, more literally, hurls water from his mouth. Is that because the dragon wants to extinguish transformative flame of the Spirit? Yes, I believe so. The dragon-serpent wants to quench the fire of the Spirit.

The Earth opens its mouth and swallows the river of water from the dragon-serpent. Historically, Satan’s attempts to silence and to kill the servants of God has often been frustrated by obedient, courageous acts of earthly concealment. Sometimes the scriptures have been buried or hidden away. Sometimes the messengers of God have hidden themselves in the wilderness or underground. Sometimes innocents have similarly been protected from would-be assailants.

The Beast from the Sea has a mouth like a lion. He utters arrogant boasts and blasphemies. This hubris means that the evil political autocrat of the hour will invariably resort to deception, coercion, violence, and destruction. Every generation has at least one such antichrist. An ultimate antichrist, known in Revelation as the Beast from the Abyss, will be someday be revealed. This antichrist will be particularly intent upon and adept at silencing the Church.

The 144,00 soldier-saints are shown to be blameless by what comes from their mouths. This is the Church at rest in heaven and in victory. These are the elect saints who have already completed their course. These are those who have overcome the Dragon by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and by loving not their lives, even unto death (see 12:11). These are the same victorious saints who will return to Earth someday with Christ.

The Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet comprise an end-times pseudo-trinity. In chorus and conjunction, the three will somehow emit three unclean frog-like spirits from their mouths. I have to admit that I do not understand exactly what this means, other than to say that this pseudo-trinity seems to deliver a particularly potent, deceptive final message or call.

And finally, we circle back to the conquering King of Kings, Jesus Christ, who ultimately overcomes and slays his enemies with the sharp sword from his mouth (19:20-21). The fact that Christ removes his enemies ought not surprise us. And given Christ’s actual and utter righteousness, that fact should not even bother us. It is as it ought to be. He is entirely good and deserving. Therefore, no one should stand in opposition against him. As the King of Kings, Christ must eventually rid his kingdom of all would-be rivals, and eliminate all his enemies. The only question is how a rebel meets his or her end. Will an individual rebel die in submission to Christ’s word or die in defiance to it? Will you voluntarily die to yourself in contrite surrender to the Word of God? Or will you go down asserting your own righteousness in defiance to Christ? The first sort of death, though it does indeed entail death to the ego, turns out to be not much of a death at all. The one who dies in voluntary submission to the Word of Christ does not suffer complete personal annihilation, but instead emerges a transformed person. Those who have yielded to Christ will testify that their submission to his authoritative word was well worth the temporary pangs of death. Alternatively, the second sort of death — the unyielding, defiant death — is a much deeper death, where no hope of escape is mentioned, and the certainty of exacting punishment is assured. In the end, no one will oppose Christ any longer. If Christ were in any way unrighteous or unworthy, that claim would be entirely disturbing and unnerving. But Christ is altogether good and righteous. He is wholly deserving of our allegiance and of our ready submission. Someday Christ will subdue and eliminate all his enemies. That is very good news.

Wonder Woman

Audio Version
Interpretive Minds Want to Know: Who is this Wondrous Woman?

As a rule and whenever possible, I use Scripture to interpret Scripture. That’s especially true with the Book of Revelation. Revelation is constantly referencing prior Scripture. Once an interpreter gets a hold of that fact, interpretation of Revelation becomes a matter of looking back to the scriptural allusions and references, and then connecting the dots into a coherent design. 

Following Galatians 4:21-31, the Astronomical Wonder Woman in Revelation Chapter Twelve should be interpreted as the Covenant of Promise. In Galatians 4 the Apostle Paul is arguing for the primacy and superiority of the Covenant of Promise over against the Law of Moses. God’s covenant with Abraham comes before and is better than God’s covenant with the Nation of Israel. Both Christ and the Church are born from the Covenant of Promise. As Christians, we are not Children of the Law of Moses, but Children of the Covenant of Promise. Allegorically, She is our Mother. We are the seed of one covenant, not the other. We are children of promise. We are children of The Promise — the ancient promise to elderly Abraham and Sarah (see Genesis 15:5-6; Genesis 18:10-15). Therefore, Revelation Chapter Twelve draws directly upon Paul here.

Am I wrong to suggest that Revelation Twelve might be alluding the a Pauline illustration? No. In fact, it is quite likely that Revelation would draw upon a known New Testament allegory. Galatia was not far from the Roman Province of Asia. By the time Revelation was written and circulating, the Churches of Asia were familiar with all of Paul’s epistles. Moreover, I believe Revelation also alludes to the Book of Ephesians and the Book of Colossians.

Galatia was right next to the province of Asia.

So, that’s how I interpret the Woman of Revelation 12: She is the Covenant of Promise, which ultimately becomes the New Testament.

Death, Good and Bad

Audio Version
Will the Church last?

Try a counter-intuitive approach. Sometimes, surprisingly, it works. Go the opposite direction you might otherwise be inclined to go. Counter-intuit it. Sometimes the best way to approach a confusing passage or theme in Revelation is to flip it upside down or inside out. Sometimes the best interpretation of a passage in the Book of Revelation will first feel a bit weird and unlikely. It will initially confuse you. At first glance, it will not make sense.

Case in point: Death. Death is not always what it seems in Revelation. Death is not always what you might assume it to be.

In Revelation, death is sometimes good. By Revelation’s counter-intuitive reckoning, death is sometimes desirable. Go ahead and wish someone dead. Metaphorically, death is sometimes not just a good thing in Revelation, but the best possible outcome. No, not every time, but yes, death is sometimes exactly what we want. That is because death can symbolize conversion. And if that is a correct interpretation, know that other important New Testament passages say approximately the same thing (for example, Colossians 3:3).

So you’re not convinced? No, I did not think you would be. To use a cliché, the proof is in the pudding. You need to actually look at some key passages to see it there.

But first, let me explain my thought process. The reason I started to suspect that death might not be what it seems in Revelation — that it might sometimes be good — is because I noticed the potentially positive role of fire, especially in the series of Seven Trumpets. If fire is symbolic for the spoken Word of God, as I came to believe, then death by fire might not mean physical incineration, but spiritual purification. The proclaimed Word of God has the inherent power to kill or purge what is wrong within a person, and the power to inspire what is right and good within a person.

Just as baptism is a sacramental symbol of death and resurrection (as seen elsewhere in the New Testament, such as Colossians 2:12), so fire is a narrative symbol of the effective spoken Word of God (in Revelation). The spoken Word of God kills sin within the sinner and yet inspires holiness. That is my line of interpretive reasoning. And it works, if and when you read Revelation accordingly.

At the beginning of Revelation 9, the reader will come across the fifth trumpet and a demonic locust swarm. There is no question whatsoever that the locust swarm is entirely evil, for the passage points out that their king is the Angel of Abyss (see 9:11). Notably, the locust swarm cannot kill, but can merely torment (see 9:5-6). But what does that lack of lethality mean, exactly? From what I determine, our interpretive options are to understand it either literally or metaphorically. Literally, the evil locusts might not be able to physically kill anyone. That is one option. Metaphorically, the evil locusts might not able to spiritually transform anyone. That is another option. But which is right?

Keep in mind that I am arguing that death is good, in this specific context.

Then the next trumpet sounds, the sixth trumpet, and with it comes another motley crew. Surely this fearsome, mutant cavalry is just as bad or worse than the last horde, since they kill a third of mankind (see 9:15). Almost every interpreter I come across believes just so: these are bad guys. But wait. Just how does the cavalry kill? They kill with fire — fire from their mouths. Exclamation mark. What if the fire is not literal, but spiritual? What if the fire is the spoken Word of God? What if the cavalry is actually good and not bad? If fire-breathing is consistently good in Revelation, then this strange army must be good, and perhaps the death of a third of mankind means the conversion of a third of mankind. Exclamation mark. Please consider the possibility.

Is this just wishful thinking? Or might I be on the right trail?

To conclude Chapter Nine, we read that the rest of humanity, those who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent (see 9:20-21). Think about that statement in light of how I suggest the passage be interpreted. I would say, “Exactly, and of course not.” Of course the rest of humanity did not repent, because if they had repented they would be counted among the fire-consumed dead. The dead are the repentant. The dead were those killed by the fire, that is, by the spoken Word of God. The rest, by default, are the unrepentant.

Keep in mind, I am arguing that death is good, in this particular context.

Now I am going to explain when death is not good in Revelation, because sometimes death does refer to physical death, which is not good at all. 

In Chapter Eleven, we read about the Two Witnesses, otherwise and just as accurately known as the Two Martyrs. Curiously, the Two Witnesses have the ability to consume would-be assailants with fire from their mouths. This fire kills their would-be assailants (see 11:5). Yes, I do read this metaphorically. The Two Witnesses, who represent the faithful, witnessing Church, consume (or convert) their foes by means of the spoken Word of God. But later in the same chapter, the Two Witnesses themselves are slain, or martyred, in the Public Square of the great city (see 11:7-8). They are not slain by fire, please notice that. They are simply slain by the Beast from the Abyss. How should we understand this? My suggestion is that we read this disturbing, unhappy passage mostly metaphorically, but also somewhat literally. No, not every Christian will physically die immediately before Christ returns, but some will. And Christians need to be ready for that. The Church will be attacked, will be persecuted, and will be rendered seemingly lifeless. In the eyes of its enemies, the Church will seem wholly defeated. But the ostensive defeat of the Church will not last very long. After a very brief time, the Church will be resurrected (literally), and will be brought to heaven in a cloud (literally), just like Christ in his ascension (see 11:11-12). Therefore, what began as an unhappy allegory ends as a totally triumphant portrait of the Church. Like Christ himself, the Church will seem defeated immediately before it is vindicated in glory.

Chapter Eleven Bankruptcy

Audio Version

Here in the United States, the two words “Chapter Eleven” are usually associated with debt, insolvency, and bankruptcy. The eleventh chapter of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code provides a means of debt reorganization under court supervision. A Chapter Eleven Bankruptcy becomes an unhappy legal necessity when a corporation or an individual has debt that cannot be met. No one wants to go through the considerable trouble of a Chapter Eleven Bankruptcy. It is always best avoided. But sometimes it has to happen. Sometimes it becomes inevitable. When creditors come knocking and the bills go unpaid, a Chapter Eleven Bankruptcy sometimes becomes unavoidable and necessary. A Chapter Eleven Bankruptcy is unwelcome, unpleasant, and undesirable — except if it ends well. And every once in a while, it does end well.  

Now let’s turn from Chapter Eleven of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code to Chapter Eleven of the Book of Revelation. It ought to be said up front that one major similarity exists between the two Chapter Elevens: yuckiness. They’re both rather unpleasant eventualities. Both Chapters Eleven are very, very undesirable. Like Chapter Eleven of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, Chapter Eleven of Revelation involves a lot of hardship, humiliation, and hostility. For faithful Christians, Chapter Eleven of Revelation is no fun. But it ends quite well.     

Welcome to Chapter Eleven of the Book of Revelation. Welcome to an uncertain future. Expect a bumpy ride. Our immediate future will likely be a dystopian nightmare. Chapter Eleven brings us past the present day and into a dismal future.

In Chapter Eleven you will read about Two Martyrs. The English translation you read will almost certainly say “two witnesses.” Your translation is not wrong; it just fails to catch the nuance of martyrdom that is there. The original Greek word is actually martyr. And in Chapter Eleven, the two witnesses are more than just witnesses. They physically die. They are killed. They are killed for their testimony. They are martyrs. 

Some interpreters will say that the Two Martyrs will be Moses and Elijah. Those interpreters are slightly right and mostly wrong. The Two Martyrs will be prophets like Moses and Elijah. But Moses and Elijah will not be the Two Martyrs. The text never says they will be. Instead, the two martyrs are much more immediate. You and I will potentially be the Two Martyrs. Yes, you may be a martyr. And I may be a martyr. Reconcile yourself to that possibility right now. We are supposed to count the cost. It could well cost you your life. Jesus made that very clear when he called his disciples to take up their cross and follow him. He was serious. 

The Two Martyr-Witnesses: Jewish and Gentile Believers

I forewarned you. This is not a pleasant chapter, at least not up front.

Someone somewhere is asking how I see all this in Chapter Eleven. How do I come to these conclusions? Why do I settle upon this interpretation?

As I mentioned in my last blog-cast, Chapter Eleven presents a number of symbols from the very first verse. It mixes a lot of seemingly strange metaphors. And yet for someone familiar with the Bible, these are easily recognizable metaphors. Most of the metaphors presented in Chapter Eleven are used elsewhere in the Bible as metaphors for just one thing: the Church Universal. We are being presented with a symbolic, metaphorical collage of the Church. 

In the end, when the Two Witnesses are finished with their testimony, the ascendant Beast from the Abyss will make war on them, conquer them, and kill them (see Revelation 11:7). The Beast from the Abyss will bring about their elimination. The Two Witnesses will be slain in the Public Square. Their corpse (singular) will be under close watch. Their corpses (plural) will be left unburied. Their opponents will celebrate their demise, albeit only briefly.

On one hand, this can be understood to mean that the Two Witnesses will be physically killed. On the other hand, it can be understood to mean that the Two Witnesses will be politically or economically eliminated. I mean that the Two Witnesses will be forcibly silenced or otherwise rendered incapacitated. Based on what has happened historically, I think that both types of killing will occur. Not every Christian will be physically killed, but some will. And those who are not physically killed will be incapacitated through social or economic means. The Church will be silenced, sidelined, and persecuted immediately before Christ returns. Yes, I do know in some places this is happening right now. I just think that the scale and the intensity will increase immediately before the Church is resurrected and rescued. When he taught about the events at the end of the age, Jesus instructed his disciples to pray that they have the strength to escape all these things (see Luke 21:36). It is no mistake that his words were recorded in scripture for later generations. We likewise are supposed to pray that we have the strength to escape or endure all these things. 

This is the gist of the first ten verses of Chapter Eleven. This is the ugly part of the chapter. Much happier events are soon to occur. But for now, those happier events must wait. 

Many interpretive questions linger. I did not cover everything in the first ten verses. I know that. I am leaving a lot of questions unanswered. I mean to answer more questions sometime soon. But I wanted to cover the essential message of the first half of Chapter Eleven first. I intend to work through more of the details in upcoming blog-casts.    

The Corpus Christi Coupled Mystery

The Corpus Christi Coupled Mystery

The Mystery of God could be called the Corpus Christi Coupled Mystery. No, I do not mean a mysterious married couple from a city in Texas.

The Mystery of God goes without elaboration or explanation when first mentioned in Revelation 10:7. It is just suddenly dropped into the Apocalypse’s eccentric mix. Because that is so — because it is not elaborated upon or explained, the Mystery of God can be missed by readers. Joe Reader might not consider what the Mystery is. Joanna Reader might not even notice it there. Nevertheless, the Mystery of God carries a lot more narrative importance than Joe or Joanna Reader may recognize. Since the Mystery of God immediately follows an awe inspiring celestial appearance and a solemn vow made by the Mighty Angel (who is actually Christ Jesus incognito), it must matter. Indeed, the Mystery matters a great deal. The mentioning of the Mystery even serves as a rudder for the ensuing narrative. It steers the remaining course of the Book of Revelation. Everything to follow 10:7 concerns the Corpus Christi Coupled Mystery. That is not an overstatement.

Although I discussed the Mystery of God in my last blog-cast, a refresher may be necessary and helpful here. Just what is the Mystery of God? For the sake of simplicity, readers can equate the Mystery of God with the Church of Christ, which is sometimes metaphorically called the Body of Christ. The Mystery of God could be called the Corpus Christi, since Corpus Christi is the Latin translation of the Body of Christ. Since the Latin phrase helpfully rhymes, I suggest readers remember it as the Corpus Christi Mystery. But one more elaborative word should be inserted into that that title. The word to add is coupled, resulting in the Corpus Christi Coupled Mystery.

The Mystery of God, the Church, can thus be likened to a body. This is an anatomical analogy. Like a body, the Church is an extension of and living instrument of its Head, who is Christ. Corporately, believers form a living entity that cooperatively accomplishes Christ’s purposes. Believers do so by daily drawing upon the power of the Holy Spirit. Cooperative Christians function on Earth as the Corpus Christi, the instrumental anatomy of Christ.

In my last blog-cast I used another analogy. I equated the Mystery of God with adoption. That analogy has not been abandoned. It still holds true. Adoption is a great way to think about the Mystery of God, about the Church, the Christian community. Adoption brings a blended family immediately to mind. A blended family could also be called a coupled family. And that is how the Church is supposed to behave — like a caring, nurturing blended (or coupled) family.

The adoptive coupling is the big surprise. It is a marvel and a mystery that God invited Gentiles into the household. Even Gentiles are invited. Gentiles! This was shocking and scandalous to Jesus’ first followers. Gentiles were hitherto anathema. Gentiles were polluted. Gentiles were infectious. Was it possible that God would open the family of faith to Gentiles?

It was possible. And today God continues to invite distant strangers and even once hostile enemies to come join the household of God. That even includes foolish, stubborn sinners like you and me. God has invited us turn away from our sin and from ourselves. God has invited us to take a new path and follow Christ. And God has invited us to become part of a larger, longstanding family of faith. Surprisingly, complete strangers and awkward aliens like us are included in the invitation. We too are welcome to join the family, if we will only accept the invitation to submit to the leadership of Christ.

Once we are adopted into the family, we are incorporated into the anatomy. Notice the metaphorical mix and the symbolic switch, then. Anatomy and adoption are my two operative metaphors. To talk about the Church, we may and sometimes should switch up the descriptive symbolism. We do this since various metaphors are variously apt. Also notice that both the adoption metaphor and the anatomy metaphor are taken straight from scripture (see Ephesians 1:5; 1 Corinthians 12:27).

In subsequent episodes, beginning in Chapter Eleven, Revelation is going to switch the symbolism some more. Revelation will use several additional metaphors or symbols for the Church, for the Corpus Christi Coupled Mystery. Borrowing from the end of the Prophecy of Ezekiel, the Church will be depicted as a temple. Borrowing from the middle of the Prophecy of Zechariah, the Church will be depicted as two olive trees and two lamp-stands. But the primary, overarching symbolic image for the Church will be that of two fire-breathing martyrs — two testifying, miracle-working, persecuted, slain, but eventually resurrected and raptured martyrs. Be ready. We will see a mash-up of metaphors for the Church.

In summary, as we follow the narrative of Revelation our focus now and from hence is the Church of Christ, which is a blended family of native Jewish believers and adoptive Gentile believers, believers who have been coupled together by one Spirit to form a body — the Corpus Christi Coupling, the Mystery of God.

The Colossus, A Vow, and An Edible Small Scroll

The Colossus, a Vow, and an Edible Small Scroll

Aside from shouting loudly with a roar like a lion, the Mighty Angel in Revelation Chapter Ten performs two conspicuous actions. First, he raises his right hand to heaven and makes a solemn vow by Him who lives forever and ever that there will be “NO MORE DELAY!” And second, he gives Narrator John an edible small scroll and instructs him to eat it, but warns John beforehand that it will hard on his stomach. Therefore, we will focus here on a solemn vow of prompt completion and an edible, yet indigestible small scroll. In my previous blog-cast I mentioned that I would get to each these two loose ends from Revelation Chapter Ten, so here I go.

As I explained previously, the Mighty Angel is actually Christ Jesus himself, but in the guise of the Angel of the Lord, which was how he appeared to people over and over throughout the Old Testament. The Mighty Angel (who is Christ Incognito) stands on the sea and the land. To stand on the sea and the land is a symbolic action of dominance. It shows the Mighty Angel’s supreme sovereignty over the Sea and the Land. Throughout the Book of Revelation the Sea represents foreign and distant nations, especially the diverse ethnic groups that populated the Roman Empire. The Land represents local and native people, which would mean the Jewish people, if and when Israel is the narrative point of reference, or alternatively, the natives of Roman Asia, if the Province of Asia is the point of reference. Thus the strident symbolism is meant to show that even when Christ is Christ Incognito, he is still sovereign and dominant over the the various peoples of the Roman Empire, and by extension, the whole world.

For the first recipients of Revelation, the natives of Provincial Asia, this imagery of the Mighty Angel astride the land and sea very likely (read: almost certainly) brought to mind the nearby ruins of the Colossus of Rhodes. The Colossus of Rhodes was once a tourist-attracting giant harbor-front statue, something like the Statue of Liberty near Manhattan. Like the Temple in Jerusalem, the Colossus of Rhodes was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. And also like the Temple in Jerusalem, the Colossus of Rhodes was associated with one particular deity; in the case of the Colossus, that deity was the Hellenistic sun god Helios. But by the time Revelation was written and circulating, both had been toppled and were in ruins. The Temple in Jerusalem had been demolished by Emperor Titus’s troops, the Colossus of Rhodes by an earthquake. It is contextually telling, therefore, that the Mighty Angel of Revelation Ten stands astride the sea and the land. Revelation’s message must be that Jesus Christ stands supremely sovereign, where the Colossus had fallen.

Back to the narrative of the passage, though. In the fifth verse of Chapter Ten, the Mighty Angel raises his right hand to make his vow of prompt completion. This hand-raising action refers back to not one but two key Old Testament passages. The first passage is Deuteronomy 32:39-42, wherein God says, “For I lift up my hand to Heaven and swear, ‘As I live forever … I will take vengeance on my adversaries and will repay those who hate me.’” With the threat of certain vengeance, this might disturb a 21st century reader. But it makes the point clear that God is not to be trifled with. It also begs the question of whether the Mighty Angel is somehow the same person as the Divine Vow-Maker of Deuteronomy, given the strong similarities and the slight differences of the two passages. See my previous blog-cast entitled “The Cast of Chapter Ten” on that point.

The second passage is Daniel 12:5-13, where we see a Mysterious Figure — a Man. The Man is clothed in (white?) linen. He stands atop or above the Tigris River (see Daniel 10:4). He raises both his right hand and left hand to Heaven in a vow. He then informs (or perhaps more accurately, declines to clearly inform) the statesman-prophet Daniel how long he and his readers must wait until the end arrives. Daniel is given the cryptic answer of “a time, times, and half a time” until everything is accomplished. For Daniel, there will be delay — a very long delay. In the ninth verse of Daniel 12, the Mysterious Man solemnly says, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are to remain secret (that is, a mystery) and sealed until the time of the End.” This passage is exactly what Revelation 10:5-7 references. Daniel is informed of a very long delay. Alternatively, John and his readers are promised that the delay will end promptly, when certain conditions are fulfilled. We are meant to catch that.

Of utmost importance, the Mighty Angel/Christ tells John that the Mystery of God will be fulfilled (or accomplished) when the seventh angel sounds his trumpet. What then, is the Mystery of God? Recall that the Mystery of God was sealed to Daniel. Does it remain sealed? Can we know what the Mystery of God is before the End? We can know it; and we do know it. We are already living in the last days, which is the Church Age. And we are privy to the Mystery of God.

While the Book of Revelation usually references the Old Testament, here we have to look to the New Testament. The Mystery of God is an important theme of the Apostle Paul’s. And yes, John’s listeners would have known that, because they were very familiar with the Pauline Epistles. Paul had written to them and their near-neighbors before John wrote Revelation. Therefore, when Jesus through John began talking about the Mystery of God, they knew exactly what he was talking about. The Mystery of God was their own adoption into the family of God. Adoption was and is the Mystery of God. Even though most of them were once pagan Gentiles, they had been invited to come join the household of God. Before the Church began, this was something unheard of and almost entirely unexpected. But God had extended an invitation to outsiders and foreigners. They, too, could accept the invitation and choose to be part of the household of God. The Mystery of God was the extent of his gracious invitation: It was even for Gentiles, who were previously excluded (see Ephesians 1:3-14; Colossians 1:24-27; 1 Timothy 3:14-16).   

Consequently, when the Mighty Angel/Christ says in Revelation 10:7 that the Mystery of God will be fulfilled when the the seventh angel sounds his trumpet, he means that when the End comes, all the Gentile peoples will have had a chance to accept the invitation to be adopted — to join the family of God. The Mystery of God is accomplished when the Church accomplishes its mission of proclaiming the Gospel of Christ worldwide (see Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10).   

As for the scroll that the Mighty Angel gives to John, it contains information — bittersweet information. Although it is true and ultimately good, it is nonetheless very difficult and even sometimes terrifying. As with Ezekiel, the scroll that John must eat contains information about various trials and catastrophes that are yet to come (see Ezekiel 2 through 5, where God tells Ezekiel of the forthcoming destruction of Jerusalem). This is unwelcome information that the recipient must nonetheless pass along. It is information that pertains to the events of the End, as in, the end of the Church Age.

Considered as a whole, Chapter Ten is about Christ’s commissioning of John to pass along a preparatory revelation of the events to occur at the end of the Church Age, which I believe is about where we find ourselves in history. (Parenthetically, I say that because the fulfillment of the Great Commission seems both foreseeable and likely within the next century, if not sooner.) The contents of the Little Scroll are found in chapters eleven through twenty-two of the Book of Revelation. The Little Scroll reveals what Daniel 12 conceals. What was sealed to Daniel has been revealed to us by Christ via John in the Book of Revelation.

The Cast of Chapter Ten

The Cast of Chapter Ten, Audio Version

Count the characters. This chapter of Revelation presents listeners with a variety of characters. How many do you count? While some observers say Chapter Ten presents listeners with ten different characters, I see six fewer. No, not ten — only four. One, two, three, four, and no more characters are to be found in Chapter Ten. Of those four, one or two are primary and focal, while the other two are mostly peripheral. You might not agree with me. You might count more. How is it I count only four? Why so few? 

John, of course, counts as one character, albeit a relatively minor character. John serves throughout the Book of Revelation as the vision transcriber and as our narrator. For the most part, John quietly and inconspicuously narrates what he sees and hears, and does so whenever possible from the periphery. He does not focus on himself. That is true here in Chapter Ten, except for when he must eat the edible yet indigestible scroll. More on the edible scroll in a forthcoming blog cast.  

The Seven Speaking Thunders count as a second character. I say they are a character, as opposed to an event, since they do more than rumble. They speak, and speak intelligibly. Although they are said to number seven, they neither do nor say anything obviously distinctive from each other, but appear to function just as one message bearer. Perhaps they spoke simultaneously in stereo surround sound or echoed the same message in turn; yet nothing in the text indicates that they delivered seven different messages. Again, the Seven Speaking Thunders seem to function narratively as just one character. Furthermore, the Thunders cannot be considered a major character in Chapter Ten, since they appear only briefly in verses 3 and 4, where they deliver a message that is curiously censored, and immediately so. 

Forgive me, but to make my point I must resort to Seminary-speak in this paragraph. As I already said, the Seven Speaking Thunders function narratively as one — as a singularity. That fact may be intended to point Revelation’s listeners to an underlying ontological/essential reality: Somehow the Seven Speaking Thunders are best understood as one — a unified one. Ontologically (that is, in essence), they may be just one spiritual entity. Like the Seven Spirits of Revelation 1:4 and 4:5, the Seven Speaking Thunders may constitute not seven separate and distinct individuals, but just one single, yet diverse, entity. Indeed, if Chapter Ten is best interpreted using a Trinitarian hermeneutic, as I would argue it ought to be, then the Seven Speaking Thunders may well be one and the same as the Seven Spirits before the Throne — the one Holy Spirit. I am suggesting that the Seven Speaking Thunders may be the same entity as the Seven Spirits before the Throne, also and more commonly known as the Holy Spirit. Please reference in particular Revelation 4:5, where peals of thunder and seven flaming torches are some of the phenomena associated with the Throne of God. 

As for Chapter Ten’s third character, the Mighty Angel stands center stage. And the fourth character, though very, very important, is heard but never seen. That would be the Voice from Heaven. Throughout its eleven verses, Chapter Ten turns John’s attention, and thus the listener’s attention, to these two primary characters, who sometimes act and speak in tandem. Do notice that the Mighty Angel gets most of Chapter Ten’s airtime, by far. Thus the Mighty Angel ought to be considered Chapter Ten’s central character and primary focus.  

Now that the four main characters have been counted, I will move on to my next controversial claim. Here it is: The main character is probably not whom you think he is.  

Many Revelation-readers/listeners will quickly get the identity of one of these characters right, and just as quickly get identity of the other character wrong. The Voice from Heaven must be God, they will decide, and correctly so. As for the Mighty Angel, he is most likely a high-ranking angel, such as an archangel, many will conclude, incorrectly. Sorry, but that’s the wrong answer, albeit entirely understandable. No, the Mighty Angel is not merely a high-ranking angel. He is mighty. The adjective is there for a reason. He is mightier than other messengers, and far greater than other heavenly emissaries. The Mighty Angel is someone mightier than other messengers, and yet someone other than God Almighty. Who could it be?   

Many Revelation interpreters will doubt with my assertions at this point. Some may anticipate where I am going, and disagree with me on this point. They will argue that the Mighty Angel is obviously portrayed as a high-ranking angel. The text clearly says he is an angel, so he must be a heavenly emissary, simply an angel. What else or who else could he be? If not a high-ranking angel or an archangel, what else or who else could the Mighty Angel of Revelation Chapter Ten possibly be?

That is a key question, a crucially important question. Chapter Ten effectively poses that very question to those who are familiar with the Bible. But those who are not well acquainted with Old Testament prophecies will likely make some quick assumptions and even miss the question altogether, because it is implied. The Book of Revelation makes a lot of subtle scriptural references and drops a lot of detailed hints. Key questions and leads are there to be discovered; but they usually require a significant degree of prior biblical knowledge and a substantial measure of theological discernment. The Book of Revelation does this sort of thing very frequently. You gain deeper understanding of the Book of Revelation as you catch the subtle referential hints, which are almost always hidden in plain sight, there in the details. In fact, it may be an accurate statement to claim that no detail whatsoever in the Book of Revelation is extraneous. Every detail given to the listener and provided by the Book of Revelation is there deliberately and intentionally. Such details often require further study. The interpreter will have to reference and re-read Old Testament prophecies. But it will be worthwhile, since the details will help a careful interpreter arrive at a clearer interpretation.

To be blunt, the hints all point to the Mighty Angel being Jesus Christ himself. More specifically, the Mighty Angel is a New Testament cameo of the pre-incarnate, pre-existent Jesus Christ. The Mighty Angel is who Christ Jesus was before he was born as a human being. Throughout the Old Testament, Jesus appears and reappears as a mysterious figure known as the Angel of the Lord. And Revelation Chapter Ten is dropping hints galore that the Mighty Angel is the pre-incarnate Christ. That is indeed the correct interpretation, in spite of how things may initially seem on a superficial, un-referential read.

In particular, two key Old Testament passages are hidden in the details of Revelation Chapter Ten. The first key passage is the opening vision of Ezekiel the exiled priestly-prophet, found in the Book of Ezekiel chapters one and two. The second key passage is the concluding vision of Daniel the exiled statesman-prophet, found in the Book of Daniel chapters ten, eleven, and twelve. If a reader/listener compares Revelation Chapter Ten to the opening chapters of Ezekiel and the closing chapters of Daniel, the detailed references are overwhelmingly obvious.

In both the opening of Ezekiel and the closing of Daniel, a Mysterious Figure appears. Although the Mysterious Figure seems like he might well be God himself, the two passages leave the  identity of the Mysterious Figure something of a mystery, because unlike God, he is described as visible and likened in form to a human being, a man. So if he is not exactly God, who is the Mysterious Figure? Is he a variation or manifestation of God, or an angelic proxy, or what? Revelation Chapter Ten points the discerning listener directly to both prophetic passages, and links the Mighty Angel to the Mysterious Figure therein, leaving the distinct impression that the Mighty Angel is one and the same as the Mysterious Figure in both passages. 

Therefore, at least three claims can be made. First, the Mysterious Figure in Ezekiel and Daniel is, at very least, God-like in position, appearance, and glory. Second, the Mysterious Figure in Ezekiel and Daniel personally and authoritatively delivers divine messages and interpretations to the respective prophets. Third, Revelation Chapter Ten ties or even fuses these two Mysterious Figures together into one. In Chapter Ten, the equation is not one plus one, but one times one. This is just one individual. The Mysterious Figure in the opening chapters of Ezekiel is one and the same as the Mysterious Figure in the closing chapters of Daniel; that is what Revelation Ten portrays in the person of the Mighty Angel.  

So if the Mysterious Figure of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation is the same singular being throughout, who is he? If your inclination is to say that he is an angel of some sort, I would caution you with the observation that he is enthroned in glory among the cherubim in Ezekiel (see also Ezekiel 10:20). Enthroned in glory, like God and as God. Among the cherubim, like the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant, where the presence of God resided. However, if your inclination is to say that he is simply God, I would ask you, How is it that he appears visibly in the likeness of a man in both Ezekiel and Daniel? How is it the prophets can see anyone at all, since God is invisible, and since no one can see God and live (see Exodus 33:20, John 1:18, and 1 Timothy 6:16)?

This individual defies easy categorization because he actually fulfills all three. He is wholly divine. But sometimes he takes the role of a heavenly angel/messenger in order to appear to human beings. But then he went an additional condescending step and even assumed full humanity in the incarnation. He became a man for our sake. Only one individual in history fits all three categorizations: Jesus Christ. Therefore, especially when its two primary Old Testament prophetic references are taken into account, Chapter Ten of Revelation pushes a trinitarian portrait of God, the whole way through. The Voice from Heaven is God the Father. The Seven Speaking Thunders are the Holy Spirit. And the Mighty Angel is Jesus Christ. 

But I have not covered everything in Chapter Ten yet. There are two big remaining narrative issues from Chapter Ten that need to be addressed. There is a vow made by the Mighty Angel. And there is an edible scroll given by the Mighty Angel.    

Five More Interpretive Insights

Five More Interpretive Insights, Audio Version
  1. My last point (that is, point # 18 from yesterday’s blog-cast) brought us to the climatic 7th Trumpet; but I ought to backtrack a bit because in jumping directly from the 6th Trumpet to the 7th, I skipped over a small and yet very important section of Revelation. Between the conclusion of the 6th Trumpet and the beginning of the 7th, readers will discover a 24 verse narrative digression, which includes all of Chapter 10 and over two-thirds of Chapter 11. Why does this textual digression occur? My hunch is that it allows for a period of time. A considerable amount of time must elapse between the 6th Trumpet (which is essentially the ongoing fulfillment of the Great Commission) and the 7th Trumpet (which is — or will be — the Second Advent of Christ and the Rapture of the Church). To synchronize the text chronologically to the here and now, that’s precisely where we presently find ourselves on Revelation’s redemptive timeline: somewhere between the 6th and 7th trumpets.
  1. In Chapter 10, John sees “another Mighty Angel coming down from Heaven.” Additional details provided about the Mighty Angel must not to be overlooked, though — details that lead to the conclusion that this particular “angel” must be someone other than an ordinary angel. The Mighty Angel 1) is wrapped in a cloud, 2) has a rainbow over his head, 3) has a face like the sun, 4) has legs like a pillar of fire, and… drum roll… 5) has a scroll in his hand. Here there is more than one Old Testament allusion — plus a very clear, direct reference. The reference is to the opening chapters of Ezekiel, in which an extraterrestrial Cherubim-carried Throne appears to an awestruck Ezekiel. The One seated on the Throne has a human appearance (Ezekiel 1:26) and delivers an edible scroll (Ezekiel 2:8-10), just as the Mighty Angel does in Revelation 10:8-9. The Mighty Angel/Messenger also roars like a lion. That’s likely another Old Testament allusion, and perhaps even a direct reference, to Amos 3:7-8, which links the Lion’s Roar to the Spoken Word of the Sovereign Lord. Therefore, the Mighty Angel of Revelation is very, very likely one and the same as the One seated on the Throne in Ezekiel, who roars the word of the Sovereign Lord. This Mighty Angel/Roaring Lion is Christ himself. And Christ himself was the One seated on the Throne in Ezekiel. Thus Christ existed long before his lowly birth in Bethlehem, and existed as the Enthroned One. In Seminary-speak, this is extremely high Christology. Christ is on par with God.
  1. But if the Mighty Angel of Revelation 10 is actually Christ himself, John could just say so plainly; right? So why keep it a big mystery, and force the reader to detect subtle Old Testament allusions and references? Why indeed. We are supposed to ask ourselves exactly such questions. The reason why Christ is “disguised” as the Mighty Angel in Revelation 10 is because Christ is likewise disguised in various ways throughout the entirety of Old Testament, especially as a reappearing character known as the Angel of the Lord (see Genesis 16:7-13; Genesis 22:15-18; Exodus 3:2; Judges 6:12; Zechariah 3). In English translations, the first four words of the Book of Revelation are “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” The Book of Revelation is exactly that. It is a Revelation of Jesus Christ, from Jesus Christ, about Jesus Christ.
What is the Mystery of God that will be completed at the 7th trumpet?
  1. In Revelation 10:3-4, John hears Seven Thunders speak. And yet John is instructed not to write down what the Seven Thunders have said. My proposal is that the thunders revealed information about historical events to occur between the Sixth and Seventh Trumpets. Although God foreknows the course of the future, we are not supposed to know too much in advance. We are better off not knowing some things to come. That’s just my guess, though. Someday we will know what the Thunders thundered.
  1. Just like Ezekiel before him, John is told to eat the scroll that the Mighty Angel/Christ gives him. It tasted as sweet as honey, but was hard on his stomach. This probably means that the message contained on the scroll was not particularly pleasant. In fact, the message contained on the scroll probably immediately follows in Revelation 11. The gist of that message is that the Church cannot triumph unless it first suffers as Christ suffered. Like Christ, the Church will be raised triumphant; but first it must suffer rejection and face the prospect of death. It is a message that is hard to stomach, for us as well as John.