Between the opening of the sixth seal at the end of Revelation 6 and the opening of the seventh seal at the beginning of Revelation 8, John had an extended vision of the protection of God’s people (ch. 7). Some commentators connect this vision with the sixth trumpet, while others call it an interlude. Either way, it was a pause of sorts in the sequence of the seven seals of judgment.
Since there was a pause between seals six and seven, it is not surprising to find a pause between trumpets six and seven as well. Revelation 10:1–11:14 constitutes this pause, and today we are considering 10:1–7. John describes an angel from heaven who is wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, a face like the sun, and legs like pillars of fire. These images recall the fire and cloud by which God led the Israelites in the wilderness (Ex. 13:21), the mercy of God seen in the sign of the rainbow (Gen. 9:12–17), and the glory of God, which is often depicted as a bright shining light (Isa. 60:19). Clearly this angel has come from the presence of God Himself.
In his hand, the angel carries a “little scroll,” the contents of which we will consider more in our next study. When he arrives, he stands on the sea and the land and calls out. Seven thunders then follow, and John moves to write them down but is forbidden to do so (Rev. 10:2–4). Commentators differ on what these thunders signify. Some see them simply as a metaphor for the secret things that belong to the Lord, which are not to be revealed (Deut. 29:29). This is possible, but more likely the image of seven thunders is used to convey that there will be no more delay, that God’s judgment and the renewal of all things will soon come to pass. To add seven thunders to the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and the seven bowls (yet to be revealed; Rev. 16) would add yet more events that must take place in the interim between Christ’s ascension and return. By not having them written down, however, God holds the thunders back. The Lord is sovereign over time and could yet include more things before His plan is consummated, but He has freely chosen not to.
This interpretation finds confirmation in Revelation 10:5–7, where the angel swears an oath that there will be no more delay, that when the seventh trumpet is sounded, “the mystery of God would be fulfilled.” Thus, we see that the Lord will bring His plan to fruition at just the right time. God is not delaying anything; all is proceeding in the right time and in the right order.