Revelation 10:1-7: Secret things.

“Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down.’Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said, ‘There will be no more delay! But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.’ NIV

Just as John inserted a pause between the sixth and seventh seals, so he does between the sixth and seventh trumpets. This interlude is found between 10:1 and 11:14. It’s purpose is threefold:

  1. To announce the certainty and nearness of the end once the seventh trumpet is sounded (10:1-7);
  2. To show that John’s commission to prophesy was freshly affirmed and even extended (10:8-11);
  3. To make plain the task of the church in the time of tribulation, namely to bear witness to Christ before the opponents of His gospel (11:3-13): ‘Here for the first time the figure of the antichrist appears (11:7), and the dual nature of the last tribulation becomes apparent, namely judgments of God upon those who oppose him and war against the church by the followers of antichrist. No promise of escape from the latter is given, but the end of the story is the vindication of the church and conversion of many.’ G.R.Beasley-Murray: ‘New Bible Commentary’, p.1439.

Just a comment on verse 4: Presumably the ‘’seven thunders’’ came from God or Christ (as also the command in the same verse). What the message was and why it was not to be revealed has triggered much head-scratching among scholars through the years. But it reminds me of this verse:

‘’The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law’’ (Deuteronomy 29:29).