Revelation (Part 15): Trumpet 6
While the sixth trumpet represents the torment of search for satisfaction in self as did the previous trumpet, the fifth had done so regarding relationship with God while the sixth focuses on broken relationship with humanity. The order shown from fifth to sixth emphasizes that without God’s truth, goodness, and beauty as the basis for life, no good relationship may exist.
We are told that a voice from the altar commands the release of four angels. The altar before God is the same altar from which the prayers of the saints rose to God. Therefore, what we see in the trumpet interaction is God’s response regarding those prayers. He responds in manipulating the circumstances of earth—evil though they be—for his purposes in judgment and gathering.
The angels released had been bound, signifying evil angels (just as those in the fifth trumpet were bound in the pit). These four evil demons are released from the Euphrates. That river historically and metaphorically separated Israel from enemies—Syria, Assyria, Babylon, and later Parthians. Thus, the river is used to show judgment coming to Israel as a whole (representing the world). The remnant, as always, would be protected by God.
Notice, however, that immediately upon release, we do not see these demons actually using sword or other direct means to kill. Rather, we immediately see hordes of people attacking each other in war, representing other means of attack as well, that shows people against each other as selfish interests are the focus.
The smoke, fire, and sulfur represent blindness to the revelation of God, torment as a result, with no hope to come—a directly opposite result on each point from the faith, love, and hope that result from God’s truth, goodness, and beauty. Only one other place in the Bible are these three combined, and that is in the destruction to Sodom and Gomorrah as we see there the same result for turning God away. Faith, hope, and love are lost.
In chapter 10 and interlude begins between the sounding of the sixth and seventh trumpets. This interlude provides the focus of this whole scroll segment. It opens with “another angel.” The “another” specified here provides numerical distinction rather than sequential continuity. Although we’ve seen seven angels with trumpets, we don’t find the angel of chapter 10 as another to add to the grouping. Rather, the “another” points out that this is a separate, different angel, not part of that group. That distinction is bolstered by the angel’s more specific description—a description that should lead us to the identity of this angel as Christ himself.
Again, calling Jesus an angel is not a demotion of office. Angel is not an office; it is an activity—communicating a message. And, of course, Jesus came as the Word made flesh, communicating God’s ultimate and final revelation of redemption. This chapter 10 angel is seen to come down from heaven surrounded by a cloud and with a rainbow. Clouds have always been shown to accompany God or Christ.
Daniel 7:13 “I saw One like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven.”
Acts 1:9 “He was taken up as they were watching and a cloud took Him. . . .”
Rev 1:7 “He is coming with the clouds.”
Rev 14:14 “Then I looked, and there was a white cloud, and One like the Son of Man was seated on the cloud.”
Likewise the picture of the rainbow is associated with God as shown in Revelation 4 and Ezekiel 1:26-28.
Then notice that the angel’s face shone like the sun. Matthew 17:2 tells us of Jesus: “He was transformed in front of them, and his face shone like the sun.” The angel had legs as pillars, reminding us of the pillars of cloud and fire that directed the children of Israel.
But although these images seem to put us in mind to see the angel as Christ, surely the activity must seal the thought. This angel holds in his hand the opened scroll. This scroll—that only Jesus was found worthy to take from God’s hand is now in possession of this angel. The scroll signified redemption, and this angel holds this scroll as he stands with feet planted on the very creation to be redeemed. This is the victorious Christ, holding title to creation, having alone accomplished redemption.
Before continuing into more of the angel’s activity, we should defend against an argument of some people that this is not the same scroll as presented in chapter 5. One argument against it being the same is that this scroll is described as little, whereas the scroll in chapter 5 was never designated as such. But in a book filled with symbolic meaning, actual terms of form should not promote a supposed necessity for difference. Calling this scroll “little” has more to do with the significance of the scene’s figurative expression than an overall form.
We have just come through the prequel to this scene, depicting God’s judgment interaction with the world as he gathers his own—those of faith. We saw it related to Israel’s judgment while God kept for himself a remnant—those of faith—those capable of relationship. That remnant has always been small in relation to those who are judged for their rejection. Thus, in chapter 10, in the midst of this redemption activity of judgment to the majority of the human-focused and the gathering of the minority of the God-focused, we see that redemption scroll—a little scroll that identifies the relatively small remnant that belongs to God.