1 Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, and his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire. 2 He had a little scroll open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the land, 3 and called out with a loud voice, like a lion roaring. When he called out, the seven thunders sounded. 4 And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.” (Revelation 10:1-4–ESV)
That’s no Devil!
Conclusions drawn from reading Revelation must be carefully considered. There are areas that are symbolic and areas which are not. The word angel must to be loosely held because in some places (like chapter 9) the word really means fallen angel, a.k.a. demon. In last week’s lesson one such demon was locked up in the Abyss and came out to command the smoky locusts.
Look at verse 1 in this lesson, though. Where does this angel come from? Heaven. How does this angel arrive? By descending. Contrast that with the being called Abaddon or Apollyon from chapter 9. That being was imprisoned, a demon which was loosed upon the earth to harm. He came with smoke and was allowed to wreak the havoc of his natural inclinations.
The angel of chapter 10 came wrapped not with smoke, but a cloud and descended also to follow his natural inclinations. These inclinations were far different than those of Apollyon.
1Evil will not win
Consider these two spiritual beings in terms of good versus evil. Both beings follow their natural inclinations and both have great power, but the being inclined to harm started out locked up, powerless only able to do his evil deeds after he was let loose. He started off in confinement. So, in terms of good versus evil who really is the stronger? Good is. Evil is term-limited though the term and the consequences are long enough to make one anxious.
In my favorite series of books, the Shannara series, by Terry Brooks, evil and good are locked in a struggle. Evil may be locked away, but the thing which holds it locked tends to degrade over the years and the evil gets loose to wreak havoc again. That is fine for fiction, but as I don’t check Christianity at the door to my fiction I see these contrasts. We must be sure not to take the things of this world and apply them to the things of God without considering the revelations of God given in the Bible.
An appearance not deceiving
The appearance of this angel was not subtle, wearing clouds and rainbows and having an intensity that required the brightness of the sun for description. We will also see that he was big enough to place one foot on the land and the other on the sea.
For now though, consider the descriptions of verse 1. He came wearing clouds almost as a robe, and had a rainbow over his head. The rainbow has used by God as a symbol since the earliest days of history. The Bible tells us that the rainbow was first seen after Noah’s flood. God went to Noah and pointed out the rainbow. That was a sign, God said, of the covenant he was making with the earth and its living creatures. Never again would all life be destroyed by a flood.
When the sun comes out it dries up the rain and chases away the clouds. When a new day dawns bright and clear the sun is the source of all the light and the heaviness many experience during the dark hours of the night are dispelled. The creature of the Abyss was locked in a dark place and came out bringing clouds to dim the sun and engender darkness. The angel of chapter 10, however, descends as a representative of light, hope, and all goodness.
His legs are also bright albeit in a different way. They were burning like pillars of fire. The symbolism of fire can be taken in so many ways: purity, the altar, unapproachability, brightness, and others. Recall the Israelites wandering years in the desert. A pillar of fire led them where they were supposed to go.
This angel was nothing short of majestic. He came with an appearance that evoked an understanding of his allegiance and strength.
When Apollyon came forth from his prison the angel of God was still in heaven. God was still in heaven. No eternal risk was present for those whose allegiances were cast with good as God holds it.
Mysteries are not forever
The first time we saw a scroll in the book of Revelation it was in the hand of God himself. It was sealed and seemed as if no one could open it. In fact John began weeping over implications from that. This angel came with a scroll, but instead of its being sealed shut was open. This revelation was one to be readily apprehended. Shortly this angel will make an announcement that God’s mystery was finally going to being revealed and fulfilled.
A hidden God is not an absent God
The earth is the Lord’s and all things in it. Here is God’s representative arriving in glory and putting himself in a posture of ownership, mastery, authority. A time may have been when God allowed his creatures to run amok on his world, but that was not a forever thing. Long man has had to learn obedience and return to his creator, but only some have. This angel descends with the symbols of God and comes to the earth showing that the earth, indeed is his footstool.
One foot goes on the land and another on the sea. Around and above him were the emblems of the skies, and he himself descended from the heavens.