I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire; 2 and he had in his hand a little book which was open. He placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land; 3 and he cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars; and when he had cried out, the seven peals of thunder uttered their voices. 4 When the seven peals of thunder had spoken, I was about to write; and I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken and do not write them.” 5 Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven, 6 and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things in it, and the earth and the things in it, and the sea and the things in it, that there will be delay no longer, 7 but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets.
A first strong angel was seen in Revelation 5:2, and he cried out concerning who would be able to open the scroll with its seven seals. Now all of the seals had been opened, and the judgments had continued to be poured out. Now, John saw a second strong angel coming down out of heaven. He was clothed as with a cloud, there was a rainbow over his head, and he had eyes like fire and feet like pillars of fire. His image portrayed a holy judgment given the fiery eyes and feet, and it also held a reminder of God’s promise never to flood the whole world again given the rainbow above his head. The judgment upon the world will come, but it will not be a flood. Just as God was merciful to Noah and his family, God was willing to be merciful to any who would repent and believe the gospel. In the angel’s hand was a little book which was open. He put his right foot on the sea, and he put his left foot on the land. That he was standing on both land and sea pointed to the coming judgments having no further delay, both on land and sea. Just as Noah’s flood covered the whole world, the judgments would cover all the land and sea. The angel cried out with a loud voice as like a lion, and then seven peals of thunder uttered their voices, perhaps a reference to a directive from the throne of God. A voice from heaven told John not to write down what the seven peals of thunder had said, for some things are meant to be secret in heaven (Deuteronomy 29:29). The angel then lifted up his hand to heaven and swore by the name of the Lord God Who created all the things in the world from the heavens to the earth and to the sea. He said that there will be no delay any longer, for the final and seventh trumpet from the seventh angel was about to sound (Revelation 11:15). When that happens, it will signify that the mystery of God is finished which He preached to His servants the prophets. The mystery of God is a reference to the full gospel plan of God and His promised return to punish the wicked and reward the righteous. This was revealed all the way back in Genesis with God’s promise to crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15). It was reiterated to Abraham by saying that through his lineage the whole world would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3). Isaiah prophesied concerning the suffering servant, the Messiah, Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53). Paul testified concerning the mystery of the church and how the bride of Christ would also include Gentiles (Romans 11:25, 16:25; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 1:9, 3:1-10, 5:32, 6:19; Colossians 1:26-27). As the church “age” came to a close and the tribulation period began, more Jews and Gentiles would be saved even during this horrible time. But at the sound of the seventh angel’s blast, the chance for people to repent and believe the gospel would soon expire. Jesus would personally return to judge the world and cast unbelievers into hell. That time was imminent, for the mystery of lawlessness during the tribulation and led by the antichrist and his false worship (2 Thessalonians 2:7) was about to get its due measure of God’s wrath.
8 Then the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard again speaking with me, and saying, “Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the land.” 9 So I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book. And he *said to me, “Take it and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” 10 I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and in my mouth it was sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter. 11 And they *said to me, “You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.”
The voice from heaven (v. 4) spoke again to John and told him to take the open book from the hand of the angel (v. 5), and the angel gave it to him and told him to eat it. It would make his stomach bitter, but in his mouth it would taste sweet like honey. John did so, and it happened just as the angel said. The book represented God’s holy standards, His just wrath, and the many counts of iniquity that must be held to the accounts of the wicked. Justice is sweet and good to the one who belongs to God and who longs to see His justice meted out, but it is bitterness and woe to those who receive of His just wrath. Believers rejoice in justice, but it is saddening and sickening to know of the eternal suffering that will befall those who reject Christ. Hell is not something sweet, though it is just, and it should make the stomach upset. John was then told that there was more for him to write down concerning the many peoples of the earth and their final hours on the earth as God’s wrath came to a crescendo.