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Revelation 10:3

a loud voice
Like Christ, the angel spoke with a loud or great voice (Rev. Rev. 1:10+). The voice of this mighty angel is also similar to that of the strong angel who asked Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals? (Rev. Rev. 5:2+). So too, the angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God also cried out with a loud voice (Rev. Rev. 7:2+)

as when a lion roars
Unlike Christ’s voice, this angel’s voice is not “as of a trumpet” (Rev. Rev. 1:10+) or “as the sound of many waters” (Rev. Rev. 1:15+), but as when a lion roars. Roar is μυκάται [mykatai] from μυκάομαι [mykaomai] , “The verb here is originally applied to the lowing of cattle, expressing the sound, ‘moo-ka-omai.’ Both Aristophanes and Theocritus use it of the roar of the lion, and the former of thunder. Homer, of the ring of the shield and the hissing of meat on the spit.”1 The great volume of the voice itself does not necessitate identifying the angel with divinity for the impressive voice of mighty angels is well attested (1Th. 1Th. 4:16; Rev. Rev. 5:2+; Rev. 7:2+; Rev. 8:13+; Rev. 12:10+; Rev. 14:7+, Rev. 14:15+; Rev. 16:1+; Rev. 18:2+). Some who interpret this angel as Christ understand the roar as indicating His identity as the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Rev. Rev. 5:5+)2 (see Divine Similarities), but this is unnecessary. The context indicates lion is used as a simile to indicate the ferocity and volume of his cry. Moreover, there are other references to lion-like attributes in Revelation besides those of Christ (Rev. Rev. 4:7+; Rev. 9:8+, Rev. 9:17+; Rev. 13:2+). The roaring of a lion is an allusion to passages which set forth God’s ferociousness in judgment. When Jeremiah prophesies the seventy years of captivity of Israel in Babylon to be followed by the eventual return to the land (Jer. Jer. 25:11-12), he continues to speak forth a judgment of God among “all the nations . . . to whom the LORD has sent me” (Jer. Jer. 25:17). The list of Gentile nations destined for judgment is extensive (Jer. Jer. 25:18-26) and neither will Israel be spared: “ ‘For behold, I begin to bring calamity on the city which is called by My name, and should you be utterly unpunished? You shall not be unpunished, for I will call for a sword on “all the inhabitants of the earth”,’ says the LORD of hosts” [emphasis added] (Jer. Jer. 25:29). In this global judgment, the LORD is said to roar as a lion. The judgment prophesied by Jeremiah involves both “His fold” (Israel) and “all flesh” (Gentile nations).

Therefore prophesy against them all these words, and say to them: “The LORD will roar from on high, and utter His voice from His holy habitation; He will roar mightily against His fold. He will give a shout, as those who tread the grapes, Against all the inhabitants of the earth. A noise will come to the ends of the earth-For the LORD has a controversy with the nations; He will plead His case with all flesh. He will give those who are wicked to the sword,” says the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Behold, disaster shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the farthest parts of the earth. And at that day the slain of the LORD shall be from one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth. They shall not be lamented, or gathered, or buried; they shall become refuse on the ground. Wail, shepherds, and cry! Roll about in the ashes, you leaders of the flock! For the days of your slaughter and your dispersions are fulfilled; you shall fall like a precious vessel. And the shepherds will have no way to flee, nor the leaders of the flock to escape. A voice of the cry of the shepherds, and a wailing of the leaders to the flock will be heard. For the LORD has plundered their pasture, and the peaceful dwellings are cut down because of the fierce anger of the LORD. He has left His lair like the lion; for their land is desolate because of the fierceness of the Oppressor, and because of His fierce anger.” (Jer. Jer. 25:30-38) [emphasis added]

When we recall the extensive parallels between the previous chapter and Joel, it is little surprise that Joel expresses the same theme. This angel gives a roar as a lion to awaken the people of the earth in preparation for the judgment of God against all nations:

Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; for the winepress is full, the vats overflow-For their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will diminish their brightness. The LORD also will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; the heavens and earth will shake; but the LORD will be a shelter for His people, and the strength of the children of Israel. (Joel Joel 3:12-16)

The nations will soon be gathered to the Valley of Jehoshaphat (a compound from Hebrew Yahweh and shaphat, meaning “Jehovah has judged”3 ), and there God “will sit to judge all the surrounding nations” (Rev. Rev. 16:12-16+, which see). Notice too, the winepress motif, symbolized in this chapter by the mighty angel’s stance: standing upon both sea and land. Although both the Jewish nation and the Gentile nations will be judged according to Jeremiah, Joel reminds us of an extremely important distinction between Israel and all other nations: Israel alone is God’s chosen nation and has unconditional everlasting promises of divine protection (Isa. Isa. 44:21; Jer. Jer. 31:35-37; Jer. 33:20-22; Rom. Rom. 11:1, Rom. 11:25-29). Therefore, in the midst of the judgment of God, “the LORD will be a shelter for His people, and the strength of the children of Israel” (Joel Joel 3:16).4 Isaiah also records God’s promise to defend Jerusalem and Mount Zion. He stirs himself “As a lion roars, and a young lion over his prey” (Isa. Isa. 31:4). See commentary on Revelation 12.

seven thunders uttered their voices
The voices are said to be their own, ἐαυτῶν [eautōn] , indicating “intensive possession: ‘their own’ voices. The voices were and remained ‘their own,’ not shared with anyone else and therefore perpetuated (Alford).”5 In the vision of the throne room in heaven, John heard “thunderings and voices” (Rev. Rev. 4:5+). One of the living creatures whose announcement attends the opening of the first seal is said to have “a voice like thunder” (Rev. Rev. 6:1+), but there are only four living creatures, not seven. Two aspects of these thunderous voices are left as a mystery for us: (1) their identity, and 2) what they said. It may be that the lion-like cry of this mighty angel was replied to by the “seven angels having the last seven plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete” [emphasis added] (Rev. Rev. 15:1+). The correlation between the seven thunders and the seven angels with the seven last plagues is strengthened by what the mighty angel announces, “in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets” [emphasis added] (Rev. Rev. 10:7+). “These may have been angel-voices, the effect (thunder) being put, by Metonymy, for the cause.”6 On the other hand, what the seven thunders utter is apparently of great importance and divine privacy, for John is not allowed to record what is said. This argues for identifying the thunders with the very voice of God Himself in that they evidently declare the mystery of God which must remain a mystery throughout the centuries from the day of John to the time of the end.7 The following verse indicates that the seven thunders uttered more than one message. We are probably right to assume that each of the seven thunders uttered a unique message, although we cannot be dogmatic on this point. The seven thunders and their seven utterances are an indication of the completeness of judgment which attend their declaration. See Seven: Perfection, Completeness. One might ask whether the seven thunders are the Seven Spirits before the throne (Rev. Rev. 1:4+; Rev. 4:6+)? But, as we have seen, the Seven Spirits refer to the Holy Spirit and there is no record in Scripture of the Spirit speaking in a direct auditory manner.

John had earlier noted there were thunderings proceeding from God’s throne (Revelation Rev. 5:5+) along with voices. It is probably that these seven thunderous voices which followed the great cry . . . were nothing less than seven pronouncements from the very throne of God.8


Notes

1 M. R. Vincent, Vincent’s Word Studies (Escondido, CA: Ephesians Four Group, 2002), Rev. 10:3.

2 “We have already seen who it is that is called ‘the Lion from the tribe of Judah.’ ”—J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), Rev. 10:3.

3 James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1996), H3092.

4 This does not refer to the believers in general for nowhere are believers called the children of Israel. This uniquely designates the physical seed of Jacob. Believers are the spiritual seed of Abraham (Rom. Rom. 4:11-18; Gal. Gal. 3:7-8, Gal. 3:29). Gen. 12:2-3). Both of these groups, therefore, share the fulfillment of that promise in the salvation of God without being merged into each other. It is significant that when the fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise is related to the Gentiles, it is specifically this statement about ‘all nations,’ not any reference to the ‘great nation’ or Israel, that the apostle uses as OT support (Gal. Gal. 3:8). Again, there is sharing, but not identity.”—Robert L. Saucy, “Israel and the Church: A Case for Discontinuity,” in John S. Feinberg, ed., Continuity And Discontinuity (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1988), 254.

5 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), 76.

6 E. W. Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1984, 1935), Rev. 10:4.

7 “As usual, interpretation has run wild as to the seven thunders. As a few illustrations may be cited: Vitringa, the seven crusades; Daubuz, the seven kingdoms which received the Reformation; Elliott, the bull fulminated against Luther from the seven-hilled city, etc.”—Vincent, Vincent’s Word Studies, Rev. 10:3. “Some would have use believe that these seven thunders are the Papal Bulls issued against Luther and the Reformation [Elliott, vol. ii., p. 100, etc.]. If this be so, then God sealed the book in vain for all know what those thunders uttered.”—Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation, Rev. 10:4.

8 Henry Morris, The Revelation Record (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1983), Rev. 10:3.

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