The Little Book

And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. (Revelation 10:10)

The sixth angel has sounded his trumpet releasing a horde of demons upon the earth. One trumpet remains to sound, but at this point, John shifts our focus to events in heaven.

“And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire” (Revelation 10:1).

John has observed angels performing mighty tasks to this point. In Revelation 5:12 John describes a “strong angel” announcing the worthiness of the One who can open the six-seal book. In Revelation 7:2, John introduces us to an angel with the authority to seal the 144,000 servants of God. In Revelation 8:3-5 we have an angel with a golden censer filled with incense taken from the altar before God’s throne, and he casts it upon the earth in preparation for the sounding of the seven trumpets. Then, from Revelation 8:6-9:21, there follow seven angels sounding seven trumpets of judgments.

Now, John sees “another mighty angel” whose description excels those who preceded him. John does not identify this angel, but the description he gives reminds us of Jesus Christ. Could this angel be Jesus? The late and respected end-times prophecy teacher, Tim LaHaye thinks not.

The Lord Jesus Christ does not appear in the book of Revelation as an angel. In fact, we will look in vain for a presentation of him as an angel after the incarnation. Ever since Jesus took on flesh, died for the sins of men, was crucified, was resurrected, and ascended into heaven, He has always appeared as the Son of God in His essential deity. Although this angel possesses some Godlike characteristics, he is not God. Part of the problem could well be a failure to understand the nature of angels. Although far beneath the character of God, they are created beings of unusually high order.[1]

I am not prepared to take a dogmatic stance on this view, but from my perception of John’s description, this could be none other than Christ. In the first place and with deference to Brother LaHaye, Jesus often appears to Israel in the Old Testament as “the Angel of the Lord,” and we recognize Him because He takes credit for what “the Lord” is going to do. No angel of God would dare do that. Note too that I said He appeared to “Israel.” The prophet Jeremiah calls the Tribulation “the time of Jacob’s trouble.”[2] “Jacob” is another name for “Israel.” The time of Tribulation has a twofold purpose: (1) to bring judgment on a God-rejecting world, and (2) to cause the redemption of Israel and fulfill God’s covenant with Abraham.

Tim LaHaye could be right. However, let us examine carefully John’s description of this “mighty angel.” He comes down from heaven “clothed with a cloud.” After His resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven and was taken up in a cloud. The angels that stood by on that day told His disciples that He would descend to earth in like manner.[3] When Jesus returns for His Church at the Rapture, Paul says that we will be “caught up” (raptured) together with the resurrected saints “in the clouds” to meet the Lord in the air.[4] So this image of the angel “clothed with a cloud” certainly fits Christ.

There is a rainbow upon his head which reminds us of the rainbow surrounding the throne of God.[5] His face shone like the sun harkening back to John’s first encounter with the risen Christ.[6] Also, “his feet as pillars of fire” reminiscent of John’s first encounter where he records, “And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace…” (Revelation 1:15). The angel carries a “little book” or scroll not unlike the seven-seal scroll whose seals the Lamb opened.[7]

Furthermore, this “mighty angel” places “his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth” (10:2) showing his authority over the earth. This, after all, reveals the content of the seven-seal scroll. It is the title deed to the earth and this “mighty angel” claims possession by placing His feet on His property.

I certainly could be wrong. I am far from infallible; however, I am not alone in this view. Clarence Larkin, from whom Tim LaHaye patterns much of his thinking on Revelation, takes the position that this “mighty angel” is Christ.

Who this “MIGHTY ANGEL” is we do not know unless he be Christ Himself. In the Old Testament the Son of God was called the “ANGEL OF THE LORD” (Ex. 3:2-18), and as we are now in that part of the Book of Revelation that deals mainly with Israel it is nothing less than what we should expect to hear, Christ spoken of as a “MIGHTY ANGEL.” Then the description of this “MIGHTY ANGEL” seems to point to the same Person that John saw standing amid the “Lampstands” in chapter 1:12-16, or Christ Himself. The “ANGEL” was clothed in a CLOUD, there was a RAINBOW upon His head, His face was as it were the SUN, and His feet as PILLARS OF FIRE. No mere angel was ever before or since described in the Scriptures as appearing like that. Then He is described as crying with a loud voice, as a lion roareth, and Christ is spoken of in this Book (Rev. 5:5) as “THE LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH”; and in the chapter that follows the same “MIGHTY ANGEL” speaks of the “Two Witnesses,” as “MY WITNESSES,” which is further indisputable evidence that this “MIGHTY ANGEL” is no other than Christ Himself. This interpretation makes clear what follows. For when this “MIGHTY ANGEL” places His right foot upon the sea, and His left foot on the earth, and swears that there shall be “TIME NO LONGER,” or “NO LONGER DELAY” (margin), it is Christ taking formal possession of the Earth and Sea, and declaring that there shall be no longer delay in dispossessing the false claimant Satan.[8]

I have another advocate in Henry M. Morris Jr., Ph.D. and contemporary of Tim LaHaye. Dr. Morris also sees this “Mighty Angel” as the Lord Jesus Christ.

This mighty angel can be none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Both in the Old Testament and in the Book of Revelation, in His preincarnate state and in His postresurrection [SIC] state, respectively, Christ is presented a number of times as a glorious angel (or “messenger”) of the Lord.

That this angel is not one of the created angels (not even one of the seven powerful angels that stand in God’s presence) is evident from the context in general and from His appearance in particular. John saw Him coming down from heaven, and this to reach the earth itself. He is Creator, Redeemer, and Heir of the earth and now is symbolically coming down to lay claim to His possession. Whether or not He is ready yet to take possession, He must at least let those in heaven and on earth know His claim.

That He is the same glorified Son of man seen by John at the beginning of the Apocalypse is clear from three striking marks of identification. As He descended from Heaven, He was arrayed in a glory cloud, His face was like the sun (it was not the sun, but “as it were” the sun), and His feet were “as pillars of fire.” Those are precisely the characteristics noted by John in the first chapter of Revelation.[9]

“And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices. And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not” (Revelation 10:3-4). Regardless of one’s view of this “Mighty Angel,” one cannot deny that he wields great authority. Since I can be just as wrong about this as the next man, I will go with my understanding that this “Mighty Angel” is the Lord Jesus Christ for consistency. When He speaks, His voice resounds like the roar of a lion. He is, after all, “the Lion of Judah.” Then when He roars, seven thunders echo His voice. John begins to write as instructed in the beginning,[10] but he is stopped from recording what he heard. I wonder what it was that he heard. It reminds me of what Daniel experienced. He records, “And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end” (Daniel 12:8-9). John may have heard something reserved for the Millennium or beyond that would be too awesome for us to comprehend at this time.

“And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer: But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets” (Revelation 10:5-7, emphasis mine). Some may see verse 6 as evidence in opposition to this angel being Christ because he swears “by him that liveth forever and ever” showing deference to God. However, we can find many examples in the Gospels of Jesus giving deference to God the Father for all His actions, so this should not seem strange to us. The “Mighty Angel” declares “that there should be time no longer.” This does not mean that time will end, but rather that it should “delay no longer” as Larkin suggested above. Albert Barnes, who preceded Larkin, concurs.

This is a very important expression, as it is the substance of what the angel affirmed in so solemn a manner; and as the interpretation of the whole passage depends on it. It seems now to be generally agreed among critics that our translation does not give the true sense, inasmuch:

(a) As that was not the close of human affairs, and

(b) As he proceeds to state what would occur after that.

Accordingly, different versions of the passage have been proposed. Prof. Stuart renders it, “that delay shall be no longer.” Mr. Elliott, “that the time shall not yet be; but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, whensoever he may be about to sound, then the mystery of God shall be finished.” Mr. Lord, “that the time shall not be yet, but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel,” etc. Andrew Fuller (Works, vol. vi. p. 113), “there should be no delay.” So Dr. Gill. Mr. Daubuz, “the time shall not be yet.” Vitringa (p. 432), tempus non fore amplius, “time shall be no more.” He explains it (p. 433) as meaning, “not that this is to be taken absolutely, as if at the sounding of the seventh trumpet all things were then to terminate, and the glorious epiphany – ἐπίφανεια epiphaneia (or manifestation of Jesus Christ) – was then to occur, who would put an end to all the afflictions of his church; but in a limited sense – restricte – as meaning that there would be no delay between the sounding of the seventh trumpet and the fulfillment of the prophecies.”[11] (emphasis mine)

That “mystery of God” that “should be finished” must have been what the thunders voiced and that John was prohibited from writing down. It must be too wonderful for words!

“And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings” (Revelation 10:8-11, emphasis mine).

John experienced what the Old Testament prophet, Ezekiel experienced almost 600 years before.[12] The “little book” is the Word of God that to the believer is sweet and nourishing, but sharing it with an unbelieving world can cause heartburn. It is not easy to confront a sinner with his sin and declare to him what awaits him unless he repents. Eternal life in hell is a message no sinner wants to hear and they will often attack the messenger because of the message. Jesus said, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:18-19).

The time is drawing near. The pieces of the end-times puzzle are falling into place and Christ’s return is closer now than at any time in history. Reader, are you prepared to meet Him? If not, check out my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”


[1]  Tim LaHaye, Revelation Illustrated and Made Plain, (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1981) p. 144.

[2]  Jeremiah 30:7

[3]  Acts 1:9-11

[4]  1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

[5]  Revelation 4:3

[6]  Revelation 1:16

[7]  Revelation 5:5-7

[8]  Clarence Larkin, The Book of Revelation Illustrated, (Rev. Clarence Larkin Estate, Philadelphia, 1919), p. 81.

[9] Henry M. Morris, The Revelation Record, (Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Illinois, 1983) p. 176.

[10]  Revelation 1:19

[11]  Albert Barnes, Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, (Published in 1847-85; public domain)

[12]  Ezekiel 2:8-10; 3:1-4

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