Vs 13 - 14: This is the altar before God where the souls of those slain for the word of God spoken of in Chapter 6. Altars in Jewish tradition had four horns, one protruding from each of its upper corners, and such altars were also known among Greeks. The voice that speaks is either the voice of the angel or the voices of the martyrs. If the voice of the martyrs, then it would be the prayers of the saints praying for vindication. More probable it is the voice of the angel who serves before the altar because the voice is singular.
The four angels are bound/restrained, so it is believed that they are demonic. The Euphrates marks the boundary between Israel and her enemies.
Vs 15 – 16: These angels are set free and their purpose is to kill 1/3 of humanity. Remember under the fourth seal a fourth of humanity is killed. The onslaught is focused on those who reside on earth and is designated towards those who live in enmity towards God.
There is a set time and place prepared for these angels and this is that moment. At this precise moment that God in his sovereignty has decreed, these angels are released to kill humanity. This demonic Cavalry is incalculably large. The only reason we know there are 200,000,000 in this cavalcade because John heard the number spoken.
Vs 17 – 19: Those who rode these demonic horses wore breastplates of red, blue, and yellow to match the colors of fire, smoke, and brimstone. Now, the riders do not play any part in killing humanity, the death is brought by the horses. John intentionally describes the horses as horrific and terrible creatures. Perhaps the most horrifying aspect of the horse is the face of the lion, because lions symbolize demolition and brutality. These horses in John’s vision resemble mythical beings from Greco-Roman tradition such as the “raging Chimera.” It was “in front a lion, in back a serpent, and in the middle a goat, breathing out the force of blazing fire”
From their mouths proceeds three plagues fire, smoke, and sulfur. The fire burns, and the smoke, and sulfur kill by asphyxiation. Their power of death comes from their mouths and in their tails. Like the tails of the locusts in the previous vision, which inflicted torment like a scorpion’s sting, the tails of the demonic cavalry threaten to harm like snakes.
Vs 20 – 21: Those who were spared from this horrific death, however, did not repent, nor did they stop worshiping demons and idols. This shows that once the heart grows cold and hostile toward God, not even the remote possibility of a horrific death will lead them to repentance, instead they dug their heals in and started worshiping the demons and forces that bring their destruction.
Chapter 10: Interlude
Vs 1: From the beginning of chapter 4 John is taken to heaven. Now in Chapter 10 John is back on earth because he sees the angel descending from the heavens. This angel in Revelation refer to strong ones. He is coming directly from the presence of Od
Clouds were said to accompany the coming of God and the Son of Man or human figure who receives dominion over the world. A cloud suggests divine presence.
His legs appeared as pillars of fire could recall the pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day found in Exodus that gave guidance and protection to the Israelites in the desert. And the rainbow which signifies the reminder to God of his promise to Noah.
Some believe this angel could be Jesus since his appearance is similar to the vision of him in Revelation, and because the lion would indicate that he is the lion of the tribe of Judah. However, this is rejected by most because in Apocalyptic literature Jesus never appears as an angel. So, when John speaks of “another” angel or a “powerful” angel, these angels are not Christ. The angel in Rev 10:1 has an exalted appearance because he mediates divine revelation
Vs 2 – 4: The angel has a little scroll/book in his hand, and he placed his right foot on the sea and the left one on the land. Such a sight would show the mere colossal size of the angel or it could symbolize his authority over the earth. He calls out with a loud voice, like a roaring lion. The angel’s voice is more promising than threatening because it interrupts the movement toward increasingly destructive judgments.
Seven thunders - These thunders are interpreted in two ways the first one is most probable.
When the seven thunders spoke, apparently John has been writing and documenting all that has happened, since he was told to write down all that he saw. However, when he went to write down what the voices spoke, he is immediately is told not to write them. He is told to seal up what was said, and this simply means, do not disclose the contents to anyone. What was said was not to be spoken or known to the churches.
Vs 5 – 7: In the OT when one raised their hands it was in response to oath taking. So, the angel is making an oath by swearing to him who lives forever that there is no more delay. According to Mounce “Apocalyptic thought has always been concerned with the question, How long until the end?” The answer from the angel is, “There will be no more delay.” This would come good news for the martyrs under the altar who have asked the question. Now, nothing stands in the way of this final dramatic conclusion to the end of human history and the judgment of God to be complete. From this point forward God will not give opportunity for men to repent, the final confrontation between God and Satan is about to begin. The restraint has been removed, and as we will see soon, the Antichrist will be revealed
The mystery of God – Mysteries were also important in apocalyptic literature because mysteries were secrets preserved in heaven and revealed to apocalyptic writers. The mystery revealed is that the kingdom of the world was now becoming the kingdom of God, the rewarding of the righteous, and the final defeat of evil.
Vs 8 – 11: John is told to take the scroll from the angel who is on the land and sea and when he gets it, he is commanded to take the scroll and eat it. The scroll was sweet like honey in taste but made his stomach bitter. This could mean the message is sweet in that it speaks of the advent of God’s kingdom, but it is bitter in that the completion of God’s designs includes the observation and anguish of his people.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
Preview or purchase Jeff's Books