Revelation 10:1

The judgments of the first six seals and first six trumpets are now behind us. The seventh trumpet yet remains—containing the seven bowls—which is itself within the seventh seal (Rev. Rev. 8:1+). In a similar way to which chapter 7 stood between the sixth and seventh seal judgments, this chapter is placed between the sixth and seventh trumpets and sets the stage for that final trumpet.

These interludes encourage God’s people in the midst of the fury and horror of divine judgment, and remind them that God is still in sovereign control of all events. During the interludes God comforts His people with the knowledge that He has not forgotten them, and that they will ultimately be victorious.1

It should be noted that the effects of the sixth trumpet may not yet be entirely complete: for the second woe is only said to be past after the ministry of the two witnesses in Revelation Rev. 11:3-13+:2

This part of the Apocalypse is sometimes treated as an episode, thrown between the second and third woe-trumpets, and having little or no relation to either. This is an error. We have still to deal with the blast of the sixth Trumpet. It is only in the fourteenth verse of the eleventh chapter, that we find the note of indication that the woe of the sixth Trumpet is accomplished.3

The theme of this chapter appears to be the declaration of God’s intention and right to take possession of the earth—both land and sea—and to bring to fulfillment the many prophetic themes found in Scripture which point to the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth. See The Arrival of God’s Kingdom. The judgments which come forth in the seventh trumpet (which include the seven bowls of God’s wrath) are in many ways parallel to the judgment of the flood in the days of Noah. Jesus compared the suddenness of the judgments of the end with the suddenness with which Noah’s flood arrived upon an unsuspecting populace (Mtt. Mat. 24:37-38; Luke Luke 17:26). We see an allusion to the judgment of Noah in the rainbow which is on the head of the mighty angel who occupies the central role in this chapter (Rev. Rev. 10:1+).

another mighty angel
The description of this mighty angel has significant similarities to that of deity.

coming down from heaven
This phrase probably denotes angels which normally reside in heaven, perhaps even in His immediate presence. Perhaps this angel is one of the seven “presence angels” which stand before God (Rev. Rev. 8:2+) and which were given the seven trumpets (Rev. Rev. 8:2+). Later, another angel, not called mighty, but having great authority, comes down from heaven to announce the impending fall of Babylon (Rev. Rev. 18:1-2+). The angel who binds Satan, an assignment necessitating great authority and power, also is said to come down from heaven (Rev. Rev. 20:1+).

clothed with a cloud
Clouds generally attend the divine presence. See commentary on Revelation 1:7. Clouds are associated with the resurrection of the two human witnesses (Rev. Rev. 11:12+). See Divine Similarities.

a rainbow was on his head
The only angel said to have a rainbow on his head. This passage undoubtedly contributed to artist depictions of halos which often characterized religious artwork.4 Here, the rainbow is a reminder of God’s covenant with Noah (Gen. Gen. 9:11-17; Isa. Isa. 54:9). Fausset takes the rainbow as “the emblem of covenant mercy to God’s people, amidst judgments on God’s foes.”5 But this ignores the setting of the Noahic covenant which came after the destruction of the flood in which Noah and his family were preserved in the ark. The rainbow does not indicate a covenant with certain people over against other people for the covenant following the flood was “between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth” (Gen. Gen. 9:16). In the more severe judgments to come within the seventh trumpet, God has promised never again to flood the entire earth as He did in the days of Noah (Isa. Isa. 54:9). Judgment must now come by a different means (2Pe. 2Pe. 3:5-7). The rainbow is also an indicator of God’s general faithfulness to covenant. The mystery declared to the prophets (Rev. Rev. 10:7+) which He has promised, is sure to come to pass. The angel’s stance on both earth and sea indicate, as during Noah’s flood, the global nature of the judgments which will attend his roar (Rev. Rev. 10:3+). Up to now, even though the wicked prosper, in the midst of God’s direct judgment we can expect that those who know Him will be specially protected:

You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God; what profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, and that we have walked as mourners before the LORD of hosts? So now we call the proud blessed, for those who do wickedness are raised up; they even tempt God and go free.’ Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name. “They shall be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him. “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,” says the LORD of hosts, “That will leave them neither root nor branch. But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves.” (Mal. Mal. 3:14-Mal. 4:2)

his face was like the sun
This angel has a radiant countenance like the glorious angel which Daniel saw (Dan. Dan. 10:6). See Divine Similarities.

his feet like pillars of fire
His burning feet speak of judgment. That which he stands upon—the earth and the nations—will be judged (Isa. Isa. 63:3-6; Rev. Rev. 14:19-20+). See commentary on Revelation 1:15. The description of this angel closely parallels that of Daniel’s vision (Dan. Dan. 10:6). See Divine Similarities.

Since the theme of the Exodus is always in the background of this central section of Revelation, it is quite possible that the angel’s legs would recall the pillar of fire and cloud that gave both protection (Ex. Ex. 14:19, Ex. 14:24) and guidance (Ex. Ex. 13:21-22) to the children of Israel in their wilderness journey. Farrer notes that the description of the angel fits his message—affirming God’s fidelity to his covenants (Rev. Rev. 10:7+): the bow reminding of God’s promise through Noah, the pillar of fire God’s presence in the wilderness, and the scroll the tablets of stone.6


1 John MacArthur, Revelation 1-11 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), Rev. 10:1.

2 Thomas suggests that the sixth trumpet is closed at the end of chapter 9. “Some prefer to include Rev. Rev. 10:1+-Rev. 11:13+ as part of the sixth trumpet judgment because of the declaration of Rev. 11:14+ that at that point the second woe has passed. This conclusion is uncalled for, however, in light of the clear indication of Rev. 9:20-21+ that the sixth trumpet has ended there.”—Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), Rev. 10:1. But Rev. Rev. 9:20-21+ says nothing specifically about the sixth trumpet being ended. All that can be said is that it indicates a definite lull in the action which immediately followed the sounding of the sixth trumpet.

3 J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 223.

4 “Some interpret the rainbow as the natural result of light from the angel’s face refracted by the cloud in which he was arrayed.”—Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977), Rev. 10:1.

5 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. 10:1.

6 Mounce, The Book of Revelation, Rev. 10:1.