We can agree that the archangels like Gabriel and Michael would be among the highest order of the created angels, because they literally stand before the Lord to serve Him. But even so, Gabriel and Michael are never described in this fashion in any other passage of the Bible. Why? I believe it’s because this description is reserved for God, as confirmed
by the prophet Ezekiel;“Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.”
Notice how we see the same precise attributes in Ezekiel 1 that we see in Revelation 10. His appearance is accompanied by a rainbow
in both instances, brilliant light
surrounded Him in both instances, He glowed like fire
in both instances, and He is inside a cloud
in both instances
. These are the only two places in scripture where this description is given, and Ezekiel 1 tells us plainly that this is God. So why would Revelation 10 suggest anything different? The truth is, it doesn't. It is also describing God, in the form of the Son. And despite all of the other defining aspects of this description, the presence of a cloud provides the key to this understanding.“Robed in a Cloud”Revelation 10
describes the Lord as "robed in a cloud"
, while Ezekiel 1
describes His appearance as "in the clouds."
This would seem like a strange commentary for a mere angel, since this type of description is never given of a created angel anywhere else in scripture. Elsewhere we find angels appearing to mankind with no cloud or no veil of any kind. On the other hand, we find many biblical references that depict God in this way. The fact is, the veil of a cloud is described here because mortal man simply can NOT see God as He truly is and survive (Exodus 33:20). This is why the prophets were always shown a likeness
of Him instead, and why all of the prophets that saw the Lord in their visions lived to tell about it.
In that context, it's true that the Apostle John was also seeing only a likeness
of the Lord, because the Revelation was similarly conveyed to John in a vision. But there is a major difference between what other prophets were shown, and what John was shown; John was witnessing a preview of the Lord's actual return to the earth, where mortals would not be able to endure the radiance of His presence. Therefore, God revealed to John that He would come “in a cloud”
when He returns for His bride;“At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”
He will arrive "in a cloud"
so that mankind will not be destroyed by His mere presence. This reality is described time and time again in scripture, such as when God appeared in a pillar of cloud to shield Israel from His glory during the Exodus (Exodus 13:21), or when a cloud filled the Temple to shield Israel from the glory of the LORD (2Ch 5:13-14). Other examples include the Transfiguration, where God appeared in a cloud to protect the disciples (Mark 9:7), or the prophecies about the Millennial Age where God will dwell in Jerusalem in a cloud of smoke (Isaiah 4:5). In each instance, cloud cover was necessary to protect mortal man.
There are many other examples of this in scripture, so the point is clear; God’s radiance is too much for us to bear while in our mortal state. However, when we ultimately receive our immortal and eternal bodies during the gathering commonly known as the 'Rapture', we WILL finally see Him as He is;“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
In this verse, note that the context is "when he appears."
Only then will our bodies be changed and "be like him"
, but more importantly, we will see him "as he is"
and without the veil of a cloud to separate us. At that time, the veil of a cloud will only be required for those of the earth who remain and are still mortal. “A Little Scroll”
The “little scroll”
that lays open in His hand is vastly misunderstood in our western world. Many commentators suggest that this is the 'title deed' to the earth, but that is far from the truth. Nowhere in scripture do we find confirmation of this. However, we find plenty of confirmation that this little scroll
laying open in His hand is the ketubah
of Yeshua/Jesus that was described in Part 2 of this series. It is the wedding contract of the Son, and it was such an important part of the Hebrew betrothal process that God has used it as a model for our redemption.
To the point at hand in Revelation 10, only the groom could legally possess the ketubah, therefore only he would have it in his possession, just as Yeshua/Jesus does in this passage. And while we saw it still rolled up in Revelation 5, we now see it "open"
in His hand in Revelation 10. Why? Because prior to his wedding, a Hebrew groom would open the ketubah, or wedding contract, and recite the provisions and requirements contained in the document. If the conditions of the contract had been met by his bride and by all parties to the agreement, he would pronounce his betrothed bride "worthy"
for marriage. So strong is this tradition in our redemption process that Jesus even alluded to it in the letter to the church at Sardis; "Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy."
They will walk with Him dressed in white because they will be part of His worthy
bride. But what about those that will NOT be found worthy? Well, if a prospective bride had violated the conditions of the ketubah and was found to be unworthy
, then the penalties recorded in the ketubah could be legally invoked. And sometimes those penalties included death or banishment, which is what we see in this often overlooked Old Testament reference; I looked again—and there before me was a flying scroll! He asked me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a flying scroll, thirty feet long and fifteen feet wide.’” And he said to me, “This is the curse that is going out over the whole land; for according to what it says on one side, every thief will be banished, and according to what it says on the other, everyone who swears falsely will be banished.
The wicked or unworthy will be “banished”
to the darkness
that is referenced many times throughout scripture, because this "flying scroll"
is the Lord’s ketubah, and banishment is one of the penalties it contains. We even see this banishment with regard to His wedding in the following passage from Matthew; “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
(Matthew 22:11-14)“He Gave A Loud Shout”
With His ketubah in hand, Revelation 10 describes Jesus returning for His bride precisely as Paul prophesied in two separate passages. And these passages are so highly specific that they can only point to Revelation 10, no matter how hard we try to force them into another earlier chapter. So let‘s see what Paul prophesied about this moment;“According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”
Notice how the five conditions outlined by John in Revelation 10 precisely fulfill each provision of Paul’s prophecy in 1Thessalonians;
Paul said “the Lord himself will come down from heaven.”
1) Revelation 10:
John portrays “a mighty angel coming down from heaven.”
This "mighty angel"
is clearly the Angel of the Lord
from scripture, the pre-incarnate Jesus. And He is depicted as an angel in so many Old Testament passages that it should be no surprise that the Revelation also depicts Him in this manner. In fact, I would be surprised if the Revelation did NOT depict Him in this way, since it depicts each of His other roles, such as a man, a lamb, and YHWH.
Paul prophesied He would give “a loud command.”
2) Revelation 10:
John said He will give a “loud shout like the roar of a lion.”
This "loud shout"
is likened to the "roar of a lion"
for a reason, because it is made by the Lion of Judah
, whose shout will raise the "dead in Christ"
just as His shout raised Lazarus from his tomb (John 11:43). There is no other reason for this shout, and in fact it is prophetically REQUIRED for this resurrection to take place. No shout, no resurrection.
Paul said He will come “with the voice of the archangel.”
3) Revelation 10:
John said this fulfils as “I heard a loud voice from heaven”
The "loud voice from heaven"
IS "the voice of the archangel."
Since the Lord Jesus will have already come down from heaven, we know it can't be Him. And we know that the archangel Gabriel was used many times in biblical history to provide important messages, so it's quite possible that we are seeing him again in this role.
Paul said He would come “with the trumpet call of God.”
4) Revelation 10:
John said “when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet.”
Obviously this raising of the dead will occur in accord with the “seventh angel”
sounding his trumpet, which is the same as the "last trumpet"
mentioned in 1Corinthians 15:51-52. But more on that in a moment, because Paul and John both tell us the reason for this entire event;
Paul prophesied that “the dead in Christ will rise first.”
5) Revelation 10:
John said this fulfils as “the mystery of God will be accomplished.”
In short, the raising of "the dead in Christ"
IS "the mystery of God"
that John recorded. They are one and the same, which Paul confirms in his additional parallel prophecy in 1Corinthians 15:51-52;“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”
This "last trumpet"
Paul also referred to as the "trumpet call of God"
in 1Thessalonians, while John referred to it as the seventh trumpet by saying "when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet."
All three references point to the same thing, and if we are honest with the texts, it can only point to Revelation chapters 10 and 11. No other passage or combination of passages in the entire Revelation can fulfill these prophecies. None.
We also need to recognize that Revelation 10 tells us that God "announced to his servants the prophets"
that this "mystery"
Rapture event would take place when the seventh angel was about to sound his trumpet. The clear truth behind this statement is undeniable, and even Matthew, Mark and Luke provide confirming witnesses. When we read their accounts of Jesus prophesying to the the signs of the end of the age
(Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21), we can easily find each of the seven seals
and the seven trumpets
listed in their respective texts. So God indeed also announced this to His prophets Matthew, Mark and Luke....and not just Paul.The “Seventh Trumpet” Rapture
Before we proceed, a certain matter pertaining to Revelation 10 and the 'seventh trumpet' must be established. Everyone notes that there is an 'interlude' between these passages, where the account of the 'two witnesses' is given. A lot of speculation surrounds the reason for this interlude, however the reason is quite simple; they also will be raised with the "dead in Christ"
in accordance with Revelation 10 and the 'seventh trumpet' of Revelation 11.
God could have chosen to spread the account of the two witnesses throughout the seven seals
and seven trumpets,
which will unfold during the time of their ministry. However, He chose to insert their story right here instead for good reason; we read that they will prophesy for 3 1/2 years, only to be killed by 'the beast' when he comes out of the abyss after the sounding of the fifth trumpet. Then, 3 1/2 days later they will be raised to life with the rest of the "dead in Christ"
as described above. Naturally then, their account must be inserted right here, after the sixth trumpet/Revelation 10 outlines the Lord raising his dead saints….but also right before Revelation 11 sounds the 'last trumpet'
and draws the curtain on this age. It's yet another confirming witness that THIS is the moment when the Lord will return to raise His dead saints back to life, and change His living saints into their eternal state in the "twinkling of an eye"
This presentation style is similar to what we see in movies, where the presentation of the overall plot moves back and forth between story lines, developing one story to a certain point, only to move away from it in order to show what is happening elsewhere. Several story lines are often developed concurrently, but shown in separate blocks in the film. However, these various story lines ultimately collide into one place in the film, and the entire plot of the film then comes to life. That is what’s happening between Revelation 10 and Revelation 11, and that is how God presents the account of the two witnesses. There is no interlude, there is only a convergence of story lines. The overall plot continues to march on, without interruption.
Many Christians believe that the raising of the dead and the gathering of the remaining faithful (the 'Rapture') is a mystery whose timing can never be determined, and that this mystery will unfold at some unknown and unannounced time in the future. But this is far from the truth. Jesus and Paul gave us a variety of clues that tell us in no uncertain terms what to "watch"
for (Mark 13:37), and some of those signs appear to be manifesting in the sky even today.
Even though it’s true that today "nobody knows the day or the hour"
when this event will take place, there will very likely come a point in the future where we will recognize the signs and the Festivals that they are associated with, and the season for our deliverance will be known. But as Jesus said, it will only be known to those who remain "awake"
(Rev 16:15) and "watch"
(Mark 13:37). Those who do will know when the time is close, and even the precise day may be known once a certain event takes place; "From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days. As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance."
The "1,335 days"
provides the clue, which we'll examine in the next post.NEXT TIME:
We’ll continue our analysis of Revelation 10 and all of it's ramifications.