As we continue through Revelation, the Apostle John's visions intensify as God reveals further revelations concerning the future of humanity and God's ultimate plan. Today we will look at Revelation 9:13 – 10:11, we witness an extraordinary progression of events that challenges our understanding of what is going on. Today’s passage begins with the booming of the sixth trumpet, where a mighty angel releases four angels that are and unleashes a destructive army of horsemen upon the earth, and concludes with the appearance of another angel, holding a small scroll and commissions John to deliver a prophetic message to the world. Through its vibrant imagery, symbolic language, and prophetic interactions, this portion of Revelation probes into the intricate interplay between divine judgment and divine mercy, highlighting the role of God's chosen instruments in proclaiming His truth amidst chaotic and tumultuous times.
Vs 13 - 14: Trumpet 6 - With the blowing of the sixth trumpet John hears a voice speaking from the horns of the golden altar. This is the altar that stands before the presence of 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 it is the voice of the martyrs, then it would be the prayers of the saints praying for vindication. But, more than likely it is the voice of the angel who serves before the altar because the voice is singular.
John hears the voice say to release the four angels who are bound/restrained at the Euphrates River ready to go into war with their massive armies. Since they are bound it is believed that they are demonic. Both the sixth trumpet and sixth bowl are set at the Euphrates River, yet they are both very different. The trumpet judgment releases the demonic forces on the ungodly, but the bowl judgment, as we will see later, gathers the kings of the earth and Satan to attack God and His throne. The wrath of the sixth trumpet does not bring repentance, but the sixth bowl warns that the ungodly will be overthrown.
Vs 15 – 16: The four angels are released and is allowed to kill 1/3 or a portion of humanity. Remember, under the fourth seal a fourth of humanity is killed. In this, we see once again the numbers 1/3 and ¼ should not be taken literally but denotes that the death toll is extensive. The onslaught is focused on those who reside on earth and is aimed towards those who live in animosity towards God.
There is a set time and place prepared for these angels and this is that moment. This exact time and place show the reader that this is part of God’s divine plan, and He is still in control. And at this precise moment God in his sovereignty decrees, these angels are released to kill humanity. This demonic Cavalry is immeasurably large. The only reason we know the number is 200,000,000 is because John hears 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, 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 the mouths of the horses proceed 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 still do not repent, nor do 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. Theologian N.T. Wright writes, “You become like what you worship: so, if you worship that which is not God, you become something other than the image-bearing human being you were meant and made to be. Thus verses 20 and 21 stand in parallel. Worship idols—blind, deaf, lifeless things—and you become blind, deaf, and lifeless yourself. Murder, magic, fornication, and theft are all forms of blindness, deafness, and deadliness, snatching at the quick fix for gain, power or pleasure while forfeiting another bit of genuine humanness.”
Chapter 10: Interlude
Vs 1: From the beginning of chapter 4 John is taken to heaven to get a front row view of the heavenlies. Now in Chapter 10 John is back to earth because he sees the angel descending from the heavens. This angel in Revelation is referred as a mighty angel. The angel comes directly from the presence of God.
The angel is surrounded by clouds which often signifies the coming of God and the Son of Man or a human figure who receives dominion over the world. A cloud suggests divine presence.
The legs appearing as pillars of fire and the cloud could recall the pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day found in Exodus that gives 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 like the vision of him in Revelation, and because the lion would indicate that he is the lion of the tribe of Judah. However, it is rejected by many because in Apocalyptic literature Jesus never appears as an angel. So, when John speaks of “another” angel or a “mighty” 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, The angel has its right foot on the sea and the left foot on the land. Such a sight would show the mere colossal size of the angel, or it could symbolize his authority over the earth. The angel calls out with a loud voice, like a roaring lion. The angel’s voice is promising more 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.
Either way this thunder is linked with divine reckoning.
When the seven thunders spoke, John had 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 told not to write them. Instead, he is told to seal up what he heard, which 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 makes an oath by swearing to him who lives forever that there will be no more delay. According to Robert 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 literal translation of this phrase is interpreted four different ways.
Trumpet 7 – With the blowing of the seventh trumpet God’s mysterious plan will be revealed. Mysteries are important in apocalyptic literature because they are 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 be interpreted three ways.
Revelation 10 leaves us with a sense of anticipation and awe, as it sets the stage for the dramatic events that will unfold in subsequent chapters. It invites us to reflect on the power and sovereignty of God, the urgency of His message, and the responsibility we have as believers to faithfully proclaim His truth. As we navigate the complexities of our world, Revelation 10 reminds us to anchor our hope in the eternal purposes of God and to be diligent in fulfilling our mission as His witnesses.
 Tom Wright, Revelation for Everyone, For Everyone Bible Study Guides (London; Louisville, KY: SPCK; Westminster John Knox, 2011), 92.
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.
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