Revelation of John 10This angel is concluded to represent our Lord Jesus Christ, the angel of the covenant: he is called a mighty angel, in opposition to the mighty enemies of his church, mentioned in the foregoing chapter: he is said to come down from heaven, to intimate his signal and seasonable appearing for the relief of his church; clothed with a cloud, representing the manner of his coming in the clouds at the final judgment; with a rainbow on his head, signifying that covenant of peace which he had made with his church, and his continual mindfulness of that covenant; his face was as the sun, to denote that light of comfort and deliverance which he would bring to his church in his own time; his feet as pillars, signifying the steadiness and stability of his purposes and actions, that where he sets his feet, none can remove him; and as pillars of fire, denoting his ability to tread down his enemies under him, and also to consume them: this is according to the description of his person, given, Rev 1:15,16. The emblems and figures by which he is represented here, are the same by which he was the same person.
Observe next, The account of what he did, He had a little book in his hand open, to distinguish it from the former book sealed; a book in which the purpose and decree of God was made known concerning what should happen to the church; a book sealed; and shut to us, but obvious and open to Christ. Christ, that lay in the bosom of the Father, reveals his Father's secrets to us, so far as it is needful and necessary for us to know them. And he set his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the earth, to let us know his sovereignty and dominion over the whole world; as well over the turbulent and unquiet, as over the quiet and more peacable part of it; and also to signify his ability to tread down his enemies, wherever they are; a consideration that administers much comfort and consolation to his church; his dominion is over the earth and sea; none can dispossess him of his power, and none can escape his presence.
This angel, who represented Christ the Lion of the tribe of Judah, is said to cry like a roaring lion, whose voice is both loud and terrible; this, some conceive, shadowed forth the efficacious and successful preaching of the gospel, and that the seven thunders signified the same: but others apprehend hereby the thundering judgments of God which were shortly to be inflicted on the wicked world; and particularly on Jerusalem by Titus, say some; upon Antichrist and his adherents, say others. The judgments of God are fitly set forth by thunder, because they do not fly at random, but by divine directions; the loudness, the swiftness, the forcibleness of thunder, is known, and the terribleness of God in his doings towards the children of men has been sufficiently understood.
Observe next, St. John's intention to write what these thunders uttered, for the benefit of the church, as conceiving them to be of great concernment to her: but he receives a command from Christ to the contrary; not to do it at present, God foreseeing that the opposers would not hear but despise; therefore these judgments shall be known by experience, and not by words.
Others say this inhibition was only temporary, not perpetual; write them not, that is, conceal them for the present, till thou hast those things represented to thee in other types, and till they are nearer their accompolishment; hereafter he might write them, for what God revealed to John was to be showed to his servants, Rev 1:1.
The angel that represented Christ, is here represented to St. John as swearing.
Where observe, 1. The ceremony used in swearing, Lifting up of the hand to heaven, appealing thereby to God as a witness and a judge.
2. The person sworn by, God; described,
(1.) By his eternity. He lives for ever, before and after all time.
(2.) By his omnipotency, and almighty power in the work of creation, making heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein.
An oath is proper to God, and as we are to swear by God, so God is only to be sworn by.
Observe, 3. The thing sworn, namely, That time shall be no more; that is, that there should be no farther delay of time, for the destruction of Jerusalem, and the obdurate Jews, say some; for the ruin of the Roman empire, for the destruction of Antichrist, say others; the performance of God's word, both in his promises of deliverance to his church, and in the execution of judgment on her enemies, is now at hand.
Observe, 4. The promise made, and the assurance here given, namely, That the mystery of God should be finished, that is, the deliverance of the church should be completed, and the final confusion of her enemies shall be accomplished; which is called a mystery, because the world understands it not, nor will they believe the same. As mysteries have their own time to be made manifest in, so, to the comfort of the faithful, and the terror of the wicked, a day was then approaching, in which the happy condition of the afflicted should appear, and the calamitous state of the ungodly be discovered.
Expositors generally make this little book the emblem of the holy scriptures; and the command given by the angel to St. John to eat this book, imports the great duty of studying diligently the holy scriptures, inwardly digesting them, and making them our own by particular application. What we eat is turned into nourishment, and becomes one substance with ourselves; thus the mysteries of the gospel must be eaten by the interpreters of gospel-mysteries. It is not enough that we know divine things, but we must know them divinely; we must have a savoury knowledge of them, and an experimental acquaintance with them.
Observe, 2. The effect which the eating of this book had upon St. John, it was in his mouth sweet as honey, in his belly very bitter: that is, the knowledge he had of divine mysteries, was in itself very pleasant, but the knowledge of the persecutions and cruelties which the Christians were to suffer and undergo, was very bitter to his soul.
Learn hence, That though communication of light from God, and the revelation of the mind and will of God, be in itself very delightful to his ministers, yet in respect to the said messages contained in his word, it is very burdensome and bitter to them; however, it being the burden of the Lord, they must bear it, they must carry it.
Every good man, much more every gracious minister, has a very high estimation of the word of God, he esteems it as food, he esteems it as necessary food, he esteems it more than his necessary food; but when God sends us to denounce judgments upon sinners, our belly trembles, our lips quiver, anguish takes hold upon us; we desire not the woeful day, Lord, thou knowest.
Observe lastly, The assurance God gives St. John of farther revelations of his mind unto him, As thou hast prophesied, so thou must prophesy again before many people, and nations, and tongues, and kings: see here in St. John's person the true end and reason why God calls his ministers, and fits them with gifts, and why they furnish themselves the more serviceable in his work, that they may speak of his word before kings and not be ashamed.
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