From the first verse of this chapter to chap. xi. 13,
preparation is made for the important trumpet of the seventh
angel. It consists of two parts, which run parallel to each
other: the former reaches from the first to the seventh verse
of this chapter; the latter, from the eighth of this to the
thirteenth verse of the eleventh chapter: whence, also, the
sixth verse of this chapter is parallel to the eleventh verse.
The period to which both these refer begins during the second
woe, as appears, chap. xi. 14; being once
begun, it extends in a continued course far into the trumpet of
the seventh angel. Hence many things are represented here which
are not fulfilled till long after. So the joyful "consummation
of the mystery of God" is spoken of in the seventh verse of this
chapter, which yet is not till after "the consummation of the
wrath of God," (Re 15:1). So the ascent of the beast "out of
the bottomless pit" is mentioned, (Re 11:7), which nevertheless
is still to come, (Re 17:8); and so "the earthquake," by which a
tenth part of the great city falls, and the rest are converted,(Re 11:13), is really later than that by which the same city is
"split into three parts," (Re 16:19). This is a most necessary
observation, whereby we may escape many and great mistakes.
1: And I saw another mighty angel - Another from that
"mighty angel," mentioned, (Re 5:2); yet he was a created
angel; for he did not swear by himself, verse 6. (Re 5:6)
Clothed with a cloud - In token of his high dignity. And a
rainbow upon his head - A lovely token of the divine favour. And
yet it is not too glorious for a creature: the woman, (Re 12:1),
is described more glorious still. And his face as the sun - Nor
is this too much for a creature: for all the righteous "shall shine
forth as the sun," (Mt 13:43).
And his feet as pillars of fire - Bright as flame.
2: And he had in his hand - His left hand: he swore with
his right. He stood with his right foot on the sea, toward the
west; his left, on the land, toward the east: so that he looked
southward. And so St. John (as Patmos lies near Asia) could
conveniently take the book out of his left hand. This sealed
book was first in the right hand of him that sat on the throne:
thence the Lamb took it, and opened the seals. And now this
little book, containing the remainder of the other, is given
opened, as it was, to St. John. From this place the Revelation
speaks more clearly and less figuratively than before. And he
set his right foot upon the sea - Out of which the first beast was
to come. And his left foot upon the earth - Out of which was to
come the second. The sea may betoken Europe; the earth, Asia;
the chief theatres of these great things.
3: And he cried - Uttering the words set down, verse 6.(Re 10:6)
And while he cried, or was crying - At the same instant.
Seven thunders uttered their voices - In distinct words, each
after the other. Those who spoke these words were glorious,
heavenly powers, whose voice was as the loudest thunder.
4: And I heard a voice from heaven - Doubtless from him who
had at first commanded him to write, and who presently commands
him to take the book; namely, Jesus Christ. Seal up those
things which the seven thunders have uttered, and write them not
- These are the only things of all which he heard that he is
commanded to keep secret: so something peculiarly secret was
revealed to the beloved John, besides all the secrets that are
written in this book. At the same time we are prevented from
inquiring what it was which these thunders uttered: suffice that
we may know all the contents of the opened book, and of the oath
of the angel.
5: And the angel - This manifestation of things to come under
the trumpet of the seventh angel hath a twofold introduction:
first, the angel speaks for God, (Re 10:7) then
Christ speaks for himself, (Re 11:3). The angel appeals to the
prophets of former times; Christ, to his own two witnesses. Whom I
saw standing upon the earth and upon the sea, lifted up his right
hand toward heaven - As yet the dragon was in heaven. When he
is cast thence he brings the third and most dreadful woe on the
earth and sea: so that it seems as if there would be no end of
calamities. Therefore the angel comprises, in his posture and in
his oath, both heaven, sea, and earth, and makes on the part of
the eternal God and almighty Creator, a solemn protestation, that
he will assert his kingly authority against all his enemies.
He lifted up his right hand toward heaven - The angel in Daniel,(Da 12:7), (not improbably the same angel,) lifted up both
6: And sware - The six preceding trumpets pass without any
such solemnity. It is the trumpet of the seventh angel alone
which is confirmed by so high an oath. By him that liveth for
ever and ever - Before whom a thousand years are but a day. Who
created the heaven, the earth, the sea, and the things that are
therein - And, consequently, has the sovereign power over all:
therefore, all his enemies, though they rage a while in heaven,
on the sea, and on the earth, yet must give place to him. That
there shall be no more a time - "But in the days of the voice of
the seventh angel, the mystery of God shall be fulfilled:" that
is, a time, a chronos, shall not expire before that mystery is
fulfilled. A chronos (1111 years) will nearly pass before then,
but not quite. The period, then, which we may term a non - chronos
(not a whole time) must be a little, and not much, shorter than
this. The non - chronos here mentioned seems to begin in the year
800, (when Charles the Great instituted in the west a new line of
emperors, or of "many kings,") to end in the year 1836; and to
contain, among other things, the "short time" of the third woe,
the "three times and a half" of the woman in the wilderness, and
the "duration" of the beast.
7: But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel - Who
sounded not only at the beginning of those days, but from the
beginning to the end. The mystery of God shall be fulfilled - It
is said, (Re 17:17), "The word of God shall be fulfilled."
The word of God is fulfilled by the destruction of the beast;
the mystery, by the removal of the dragon. But these great
events are so near together, that they are here mentioned as one.
The beginning of them is in heaven, as soon as the seventh
trumpet sounds; the end is on the earth and the sea. So long
as the third woe remains on the earth and the sea, the mystery
of God is not fulfilled. And the angel's swearing is peculiarly
for the comfort of holy men, who are afflicted under that woe.
Indeed the wrath of God must be first fulfilled, by the pouring
out of the phials: and then comes the joyful fulfilling of the
mystery of God. As he hath declared to his servants the
prophets - The accomplishment exactly answering the prediction.
The ancient prophecies relate partly to that grand period, from
the birth of Christ to the destruction of Jerusalem; partly
to the time of the seventh angel, wherein they will be fully
accomplished. To the seventh trumpet belongs all that occurs
from (Re 11:15-19,22:1-5). And the third woe, which takes
place under the same, properly stands, (Re 12:12,13:1-18).
8: And - what follows from this verse to chap. xi. 13,(Re 11:13) runs parallel with the oath of the angel, and with
"the fulfilling of the mystery of God," as it follows under the
trumpet of the seventh angel; what is said, verse 11,(Re 11:11) concerning St. John's "prophesying again," is
unfolded immediately after; what is said, verse 7, (Re 11:7)
concerning "the fulfilling the mystery of God," is unfolded,(Re 11:15-19) and in the following chapters.
9: Eat it up - The like was commanded to Ezekiel. This was
an emblem of thoroughly considering and digesting it. And it
will make thy belly bitter, but it will be sweet as honey in thy
mouth - The sweetness betokens the many good things which follow,(Re 11:1,15), &c.; the bitterness, the evils which succeed
under the third woe.
11: Thou must prophesy again - Of the mystery of God; of
which the ancient prophets had prophesied before. And he did
prophesy, by "measuring the temple," (Re 11:1); as a prophecy
may be delivered either by words or actions. Concerning people,
and nations, and tongues, and many kings - The people, nations,
and tongues are contemporary; but the kings, being many, succeed
one another. These kings are not mentioned for their own sake,
but with a view to the "holy city," (Re 11:2). Here is a
reference to the great kingdoms in Spain, England, Italy, &c.,
which arose from the eighth century; or at least underwent a
considerable change, as France and Germany in particular; to the
Christian, afterward Turkish, empire in the east; and especially
to the various potentates, who have successively reigned at or
over Jerusalem, and do now, at least titularly, reign over it.