Revelation 10:4

I was about to write
Since John was instructed, “What you see, write in a book” (Rev. Rev. 1:11+) and “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this” (Rev. Rev. 1:19+), he was dutifully recording the things which he was being shown.

a voice from heaven
The source of the voice is unidentified, but ultimately of divine authority for it forbids John from recording what he had previously been instructed by God to record (Rev. Rev. 1:11+, Rev. 1:19+). Later, this same voice tells John to take the little book from the mighty angel (Rev. Rev. 10:8+).

Seal up the things . . . do not write them
Although John’s primary purpose in writing Revelation is to reveal (Rev. Rev. 1:1+; Rev. 22:10+), here he is commanded to omit the utterance of the seven thunders from the biblical record. Daniel was also told to seal up what he had been shown in a vision (Dan. Dan. 8:26; Dan. 12:4, Dan. 12:9). In Daniel’s case, the sealing appears to denote the inability to understand the contents until a later time when knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures would increase. Here, the sealing pertains to the actual revelation which is completely omitted from the record. Amos records, “Surely the Lord GOD does nothing unless he reveals His secret to His servants the prophets” (Amos Amos 3:7). This principle is not violated here because the prophet, John, is allowed to hear what the thunders utter, even though told not to write it down for his readers. It is ultimately fruitless for us to speculate as to what was omitted because the reason John may not record their utterance appears to be related to the outworking of the mystery of God. Therefore, it may not be known what they said until it comes to pass—for God has not chosen to reveal their message to us.

Here is a definite commandment from God that no indication shall be given as to the correct interpretation of the seven thunders. In spite of this, however, some commentators have attempted to do that which God forbade John to do. It seems that the reverent student of the Word of God can do nothing but pass on to that which follows.1

Here, we would do well to remember the words of Moses and the Psalm writer: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God” (Deu. Deu. 29:29) and It is the glory of God to conceal a matter” (Pr. Pr. 25:2).2

As the visible portion of an iceberg is only a small part of the iceberg, most of which is hidden from man’s sight, so God’s disclosures reveal only part of his total being and purposes.3

A related passage in the Psalms attributes a sevenfold aspect to the voice of the LORD. Interestingly, it is found in conjunction with a reference to God’s reign as judge during the Noahic flood which we have seen is related to the global judgment set forth in this chapter:

The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders; the LORD is over many waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars, yes, the LORD splinters the cedars of Lebanon. He makes them also skip like a calf, Lebanon and Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the LORD divides the flames of fire. The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the Wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth, and strips the forests bare; and in His temple everyone says, “Glory!” The LORD sat enthroned at the Flood, and the LORD sits as King forever. (Ps Ps. 29:3-10) [emphasis added]

Although we may not know what the seven thunders said, we can infer from the context and related passages that it concerns aspects of the remaining seven judgments (the seven bowls subsumed within the seventh trumpet) which result in the kingdoms of this world becoming the kingdoms of the Father and His Christ (Rev. Rev. 11:15+). Perhaps the contents of the utterances demonstrate similar themes as that which the Psalm writer recorded. As to their contents, perhaps they uttered “inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2Cor. 2Cor. 12:4). Perhaps their contents would be unbearable down through the centuries:

So terrible are they that God in mercy withholds them, since “sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” The godly are thus kept from morbid ponderings over the evil to come; and the ungodly are not driven by despair into utter recklessness of life.4


Notes

1 Donald Grey Barnhouse, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971), 183.

2 This is not the only portion of the divine record which is not recorded: John John 20:30; John 21:25.

3 Alan F. Johnson, Revelation: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), Rev. 5:4.

4 A. R. Fausset, “The Revelation of St. John the Divine,” in Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, 1877), Rev. 10:4.

Read Revelation 10:4