The Angel and the little scroll
Art used by permission by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992
Click here to visit her "Revelation Illustrated" site
Chapters 10 & 11
A Bible Study
Rev 10:1-4 - I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire. He had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. When he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices. Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them."There is a strong consensus that this is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and there is no really convincing reason of disagreement. Again, remember that the Greek word "ángelon" can be translated either "angel" or "messenger," and in the Old Testament the pre-incarnate Christ was called the "Angel of the Lord." "We can hardly imagine the stunning appearance of these heavenly beings in the untainted atmosphere of heaven's own Throne room. Grant space for John's terminology (1) on biblical terms, as noted; but also (2) allow for his human bewilderment."  In this context, it is interesting to note for example that in Malachi 3:1 the Hebrew word translated messenger twice in this verse applies first to John the Baptist and secondly to the Lord. This same word can also be translated "angel." "Clothed with a cloud" repeatedly in the Old Testament either symbolizes or manifests the divine glory of God. Note Rev. 1:7; Acts 1:9-11 etc. "A rainbow was on his head..." Note Rev. 4:3; Gen. 9:11-17 - given as a sign of God's promise of redemption to His creation, and seen here as a sign perhaps that God - in the judgment this angel brings as part of the sounding of the 6th trumpet - is not going to repudiate His Old Testament promise. "His face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire." (Rev. 1:15, 16) "He had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land." Could this be the now unsealed scroll of Rev. 5:1? The fact that this "angel" is standing on sea and on land indicates that this involves the whole earth and its inhabitants. "...cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars." Note Rev. 5:5 - this is God speaking. "When Jesus took the scroll (Rev. 5:7) He was reclaiming the release and fulfillment of God's purpose that was originally intended when God created man and put him on earth. Man defiled his relationship with God, lost his purpose under God and also forfeited the control of earth forever out of what he had been given as he submitted to God . It had been man's responsibility to administer earth under God's rule as he worshipped and lived in relationship with Him and when he forfeited that rule he not only lost his relationship with God through disobedience, but in submitting to the serpent forfeited that rule into the control of the serpent. And so, the Bible says, "...the whole world is under the control of the evil one" (I Jn 5:19) - the evil age of things that are administrated on earth and frequently blamed on God as "acts of God." These are things that are the result of Adam's sin and hell's ferociousness. So the Lord Jesus Christ is now standing in this vision that John sees with His feet spanning the earth. What the first Adam lost, we as his "seed " or offspring have lost as well. As the second Adam, Jesus Christ comes to establish a "new breed" - a new race - those who are born into that new race become those who overcome what was lost through the Fall and realize what has been gained through the redemption that is in God's Son. Jesus Christ not only comes as the One who has the right to claim the restoration under God's divine order but to declare there should be no longer any delay." 
Rev 10:5-7 - The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to heaven and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer, but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets." The mystery of God " is explained in such passages as Col. 1:18-27; Eph. 2: 11-22; Acts 11:1-18; Rom. 11:22-25. It is that God has included the Gentiles in His kingdom through faith in His Son.
Rev 10:8-11 - Then the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, "Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth." And I went to the angel and said to him, "Give me the little book." And he said to me, "Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth." Then I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter. And he said to me, "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings."Compare what John was told by the angel with Ezekiel 2:8-3:3. The "sweetness" is God's Words as we "eat" them (Jer. 15:16). The bitterness is knowing that many will perish as a result of God's judgment on them.
Rev 11:1-2 - Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, "Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months."A "measuring rod" is used frequently in the Old Testament not just to measure the size of something but to indicate a "setting apart" of something for special attention from God. This can have either a negative or positive aspect. There are two reasons for doing this: (1) judgment (2) preservation or grace. In this case, it seems to be for preservation. "Measure the temple" (the Jews) but not the outer court (the Gentiles). The fact that the Gentiles are allowed to "tread the holy city underfoot" signifies the judgment of God. But those that are preserved are those who are faithful and worshipping in the temple (a remnant of Jews) while those who are judged will be Jews and Gentiles not in the temple. 
Rev 11:3-13 - "And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire. Now when they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them. In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand men were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven.Here is another passage that seems hard to understand - but whatever confusion one has upon reading this is added to by certain interpretations. I am not going to try to examine the various opinions of this passage, but just try to let the passage speak for itself. Neither am I going to speculate as to whether these witnesses are "Moses & Elijah," or "Elijah & Enoch," or whoever it seems they might be. The Bible does not specifically identify them because who they are is of only secondary importance - and only scratches the "itch" of the curious. It does not add one iota of understanding to the passage itself. There are also those who think the two witnesses are the Church and Messianic Jews. But as one commentator states, "the details in this passage are too specific and too broad to refer to two institutions."  Let us let it just speak for itself and not read into it what is not there. First of all, these witnesses are in sackcloth. - the garb of the Old Testament prophet. But also the garb of John the Baptist, who we know appeared at the close of an age to herald a new redemptive activity of God. The witnesses are described by John as "the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth." (Note Zech. 4:1-14) Olive trees provided an unending supply of oil for lampstands, once they started bearing olives. These olive trees represent the power of light and witness that comes from God dwelling in the midst of His people. The witnesses therefore come as a result of being commissioned by the Lord. The fact that "fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies" suggests Jeremiah (Jer. 5:14). Having "power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy" of course suggests Elijah (James 5:17-18). "And they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire." We know that Moses did that, making Pharoah gnash his teeth - as will those the witnesses "torment." In fact, when the beast finally kills them, their bodies are allowed to remain in the streets for 3½ days - a supreme sacrilege purposely done by those who hated them - indicating the hostility of the beast and his followers against the witnesses and God. The witnesses will come from God, minister in God's power, be attacked by the power of evil, be killed, be desecrated by the power of evil, but be revived by God to "Come up here!" signifying the decisive withdrawal of God's Word from those who refuse to hear it. So God takes them up on a cloud signifying glory and exaltation, and thus He vindicates them in front of those who killed them.  Apparently the two witnesses begin their prophesying in the middle of the 70th week and continue it till the 7th trumpet is about to sound. So they are still part of the 6th trumpet - or will the "loud voice from heaven" calling them to "Come up here" also coincide with the trumpet of God catching up the Church to "meet the Lord in the air" (1 Thess. 4:16-17)?  Of interest also is the apostle John's reference to "the great" city here and elsewhere in this book - ten times in all (Rev. 14:8; 16:19; 17:18; 18:2, 10, 16, 18, 19, 21.). Here, it obviously refers to Jerusalem:
Rev 11:14-19 - The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly. Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!" And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: "We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was and who is to come, because You have taken Your great power and reigned. The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth." Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.There is still another "Woe" to come, but what a picture this is! "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!" Satan can no longer claim that "the kingdoms of this world" belong to him (Matt. 4:8-9). The reign of Jesus Christ on earth is about to be manifest and "the kingdoms of this world" now belong to Him! That is the proclamation being given here. (Dan. 7:14, 27) The eternal God is given glory - though " the nations were angry...Your wrath has come." The dead will be judged and "You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, " while destroying those who destroy the earth. Giving a final flourish to the witness of the two prophets and the glory and majesty of the almighty God is a revelation of the ark of the covenant in God's temple - a visible symbol of the certainty of God's promises of keeping His covenant to His people, and His presence and glory with them.
Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One.
"Let us break their chains," they say, "and throw off their fetters."
The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.
Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, "I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill."
I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery."
Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Ps 2:1-12)
 Jack Hayford - Living Way Ministries
 R. C. Sproul - Ligonier Ministries
 Marvin J Rosenthal - Zion's Hope