The Seven Thunders Speak

Just as there was an intermission after the sixth seal, so also there is a long pause after the sixth trumpet. There is a great difference, however, in the content of this pause. John was commissioned by the exalted Christ in chapter one to be the church’s visionary. With the sounding forth of the sixth trumpet, the first part of the Apocalypse comes to a close. In this interlude, lasting from 10:1 – 11:13, John is going to be given new instructions. In 10:1-11 he is commissioned a second time, but now he is to be the church’s prophet. In the first commissioning, John received his orders from the exalted Christ. Now, the scene moves from the throne room in heaven to the earth. When the divine makes an appearance on the earth it comes disguised. In the Incarnation, the divine presents itself as the human. In the re-commissioning scene, the exalted Christ presents himself as a mighty angel, holding an open scroll in his hand. Remember, it is the Lamb who holds the scroll earlier. He comes down from heaven to earth, wrapped in a cloud, a rainbow for a crown, his face not hiding its great light. His right foot was on the sea, and his left foot on the land, showing the reach of his dominion, over all creation. He has a voice like seven thunders. All of this demonstrates that this is no ordinary angel. He is clothed in majesty, a sign that this is the divine, Jesus, who is again giving orders to John. John is now commissioned by Jesus. The voice in the seven thunders reveals something to John, but he is told not to reveal it. The voice then authenticates itself by swearing allegiance to the eternal “One”, and discloses that something is to happen without delay after the sounding forth of the seventh trumpet, and that will be a revelation of the mystery of God. The mystery of God is something to be announced, that is, it is the good news of the gospel of redemption. John is commanded to take the little scroll and eat it. He does so, and there are physical changes in his body. The new prophet is the first to taste the sweetness and the bitterness of the Lord. He experiences what he is to prophesy, the judgment and salvation that awaits. He is then commissioned to prophesy to the whole world the things that will be revealed to him. The message of this vision is that the divine continues to call the world to repentance and obedience.

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