Author's Bias: Interpretation: conservative
Inclination: promise
Seminary: none

The Strong Angel's Little Scroll
A Series on the Function of Revelation's Interludes: Part 2

A Series on the
Function of Interludes

Midway through the book of Revelation and after the sixth trumpet, there is a periscope involving a strong angel with a little scroll / book. The apostle John observes a "strong" angel coming down from heaven and standing on earth holding a small scroll / book up towards heaven, and a voice from heaven instructs the apostle to take the book and eat it:

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." 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." 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. And they said to me, "You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings." (Rev 10:8-11)

While the idea of literally eating a small scroll may be hard to understand, an incident like this occurred earlier with the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel, and it provides some clarity to the command given to the apostle John.

Now you, son of man, listen to what I am speaking to you; do not be rebellious like that rebellious house. Open your mouth and eat what I am giving you." Then I looked, and behold, a hand was extended to me; and lo, a scroll was in it. When He spread it out before me, it was written on the front and back, and written on it were lamentations, mourning and woe. Then He said to me, "Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel." So I opened my mouth, and He fed me this scroll. He said to me, "Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you." Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth. Then He said to me, "Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them. For you are not being sent to a people of unintelligible speech or difficult language, but to the house of Israel, nor to many peoples of unintelligible speech or difficult language, whose words you cannot understand. But I have sent you to them who should listen to you; yet the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, since they are not willing to listen to Me. Surely the whole house of Israel is stubborn and obstinate. (Ezek 2:8-3:7)

Several observations can be made of this passage in Ezekiel:

The scroll was full of lamentations, mourning and woe (Ezek 2:10).

Just as Ezekiel was told to "eat this scroll" and "speak to the house of Israel," the apostle John was told to "eat it" and "prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings" (Ezek 3:1; Rev 10:10-11).

Just like Ezekiel, the apostle John found the taste of the scroll "sweet as honey" (Ezek:3:3; Rev 10:9).

God's instruction of eating was intended to fill Ezekiel's "body with this scroll," and the ingested scroll enabled Ezekiel to prophesy in a manner that all would understand (Ezek 3:3-6). From this point on, at age 30 (Ezek 1:1), Ezekiel becomes a prophet of God.

Here an important observation must be made. Up until this point, the apostle John was "in the Spirit on the Lord's day," and he was instructed to "write in a book" what he saw, "and send it to the seven churches" (Rev 1:10-11).

However, by eating the strong angel's scroll, he was given prophetic material that was additional to what saw while he "in the Spirit on the Lord's day." This material was so important that he "must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings" (Rev 10:11). In other words, this prophesy was intended for the whole world beyond the seven churches!

The change in prophetic content is immediate; the apostle John is instructed to see and feel what he is being shown; he is to "measure the temple of God and the alter" (Rev 11:1). During this tribulation period of trumpets, Jerusalem will apparently have a temple of God; however, at this time, Gentiles will be inappropriately "treading" or "trampling" around its outer court for 3-1/2 years (Rev 11:2).

Another noticeable change in prophetic content is the detailed historical context of personal beings that is provided whether literal (i.e. Two Witnesses) or figurative (i.e. Woman, Child, Red Dragon, Beast from the Sea, Beast from the Earth). This is in contrast to the apostle's moment by moment reporting of the seals, trumpets, and bowls.

The first figures are the Two Witnesses who are clothed in sackcloth and prophesying to the world for a period of 3-1/2 years. Because it seems highly unlikely that the Two Witnesses are present at Armageddon or even during the period of the bowls, it implies that their ministry began before the midpoint of Daniel's 70th week and before the Abomination of Desolation. As His witnesses, God will grant them the authority to:

Kill any who attempt to harm them by fire that flows from their mouths (Rev 11:5).

Have the power to stop the rain while they are prophesying (Rev 11:6).

Have the power to turn water into blood (Rev 11:6)

Have the power to invoke every plague known to man (i.e. diseases, the plagues of Exodus, etc.) upon the earth as often as they desire (Rev 11:6).

To God, the Two Witnesses are figuratively seen as "two olive trees" and "two lampstands that stand before the Lord on earth" (Rev 11:4). This precise imagery was used before during the restoration of the Second Temple for Joshua the priest and Zerubbabel the governor of Judah:

The two olive trees represent two anointed servants of God who stand before the Lord on earth.

Then I said to him, "What are these two olive trees on the right of the lampstand and on its left?" And I answered the second time and said to him, "What are the two olive branches which are beside the two golden pipes, which empty the golden oil from themselves?" So he answered me, saying, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord." Then he said, "These are the two anointed ones who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth." (Zech 4:11-14)

The two lampstands represent what is behind the Two Witnesses, "not by might nor by power, but by God's spirit."

Then the angel who was speaking with me returned and roused me, as a man who is awakened from his sleep. He said to me, "What do you see?" And I said, "I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold with its bowl on the top of it, and its seven lamps on it with seven spouts belonging to each of the lamps which are on the top of it; also two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl and the other on its left side." Then I said to the angel who was speaking with me saying, "What are these, my lord?" So the angel who was speaking with me answered and said to me, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord." Then he said to me, "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts'". (Zech 4:1-6)

After their period of prophetic testimony, the Beast from the Abyss will make war and kill the Two Witnesses (Rev 11:7). This is the first mention of "the beast that comes out of the abyss," and it seems to be associated with the previous fifth trumpet when an angel with a key opened the bottomless pit called the abyss (Rev 9:1-2, 11-12).

The bodies of the Two Witnesses will be on a street in Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified (Rev 11:8), which would be in the vicinity of the present day Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Their bodies will be left out for public viewing for 3-1/2 days (Rev 11:9-10), in which people worldwide will rejoice and celebrate, because there will be no more prophetic indictments nor harmful spectacular natural events and plagues.

With an audible voice from heaven, the world will see a visible rapture of the Two Witnesses and followed by an earthquake that destroys 1/10 of Jerusalem and kills seven thousand. This produces great fear among the people, and many will praise God (Rev 11:11-13). What is uncertain is how many will come to a genuine faith in God.

It is significant to note that the second woe is now past, which associates the end of the Two Witnesses to the end of the sixth trumpet (Rev 11:14; 9:12).

The Two Witnesses are reminiscent of the Old Testament prophet Moses who had the ability to invoke supernatural wonders and spectacular natural events to demonstrate to the world the reality of the God of the Hebrews.

God gave Moses a staff with which to perform the spectacular signs (Ex 4:17).

The signs were to validate his authority as God's spokesman to both the Hebrews and Pharaoh (Ex 4:15-16; 7:1-3).

And instead of recognizing the sovereignty of the God of the Hebrews, Pharaoh's heart was hardened.

After the seventh trumpet has sounded, the apostle John continues with prophecies from the little scroll. The next personal beings he elaborates upon are the Woman, Child and the Red Dragon.

Appearing as a great sign in heaven, the Woman is portrayed as a personal being; however, she is a figure of speech symbolic of genuine Believers of God, and the twelve stars appear to represent the twelve tribes of Israel (Rev 12:1).

God's people is the object of God's covenant relationship. To Abraham and his descendants, God made unilateral and unconditional promises, and He was committed to fulfilling His promises as a faithful husband would in a marriage commitment.

Among the promises that God made, the most significant was the promise of a savior (Gen 2:12) and, elaborated in the Davidic Covenant, as King (2 Sam 7:12). The angel Gabriel sums up God's Savior-King covenant promise to Mary who is pregnant with Jesus (Luke 1:31-33).

The Child symbolizes Jesus Christ as He is identified as the one "who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron" (Rev 12:5; 19:15-16).

Appearing as another sign is the Red Dragon with seven heads and ten horns (Rev 12:3). This figure of speech is explicitly identified as Satan (Rev 12:9); however, the significance of his seven heads and ten horns are unfathomable.

With the impending birth of Jesus, the apostle John's imagery of Satan's tail sweeping "away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth" (Rev 12:4) suggests that 1/3 of God's angels fell to follow Satan for the purpose of killing the coming Savior-King. Consistent with this view are the gospel accounts of frequent encounters with Satan and evil spirits and ultimately Jesus' death by crucifixion.

The apostle John's prophecy does not mention the death of Jesus. Following His birth, the apostle instead speaks of the Child being "caught up to God and to His throne" (Rev 12:5) which appears to be a reference to Jesus' ascension to heaven (John 20:17; Acts 1:9-11).

Jesus' death and resurrection establishes His authority as Judge (Rev 12:10), which empowers the angel Michael and his angels to disbar Satan and his fallen evil angels residence in heaven (Rev 12:7-9). Observe carefully that this war of angels did not result in any angelic death; instead, Satan and his fallen angels are "thrown down" to earth.

Jesus' death and resurrection also empowers Believers. The voice from heaven appears to be a heavenly saint of authority referring to tribulation saints, because he speaks of Satan as "the accuser of our brethren" and overcoming Satan by "the blood of the Lamb" and "the word of their testimony" regardless of their personal safety (Rev 12:10-11). The ejection of Satan, the deceitful accuser before God, physically from heaven is cause for rejoicing in heaven but a woe for earth, because Satan knows that Jesus Christ will render judgment soon (Rev 12:12; 1 John 3:8).

The imagery continues with Satan and his fallen angels, now confined to earth, bent on persecuting Believers (Rev 12:13). But through God's provision of "eagle wings", many have fled "into the wilderness from the presence of the serpent" for a period of 3-1/2 years (Rev 12:14).

As followers of Jesus Christ the Child, Believers are seen figuratively as the Woman's children, which he defines as those "who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus" (Rev 12:17).

The apostle John prophesy of Satan producing a flood to harm Believers (Rev 12:15-16) is difficult to understand, because it is not clear if this should be taken literally as a flood of water or a figure of speech as an overwhelming adverse event. In either case, it is a future event that has yet to occur.

Daniel, in contrast to the apostle John, uses the term "flood" as a metaphor. Instead of an event, Daniel uses "with a flood" to convey a sense of speed that events will unfold:

… And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate." (Dan 9:26-27).

The apostle John appears to introduce the Beast from the Sea after the "flood." In the prophet Daniel's reporting, the events of the end will occur very quickly and overwhelmingly as a "flood." And Jesus indicates that when the abomination of desolation stands in the Holy Place, the great tribulation will commence (Matt 24:15-25; Mark 13:14-20).

The final two personal beings that the apostle John speaks of are the Beast from the Sea and the Beast from the Earth. The Beast from the Sea is described in the following manner:

An unfamiliar animal with seven heads with blasphemous names written on them and a total of ten horns each with a jeweled crown (Rev 13:1). The animal looked "like a leopard, with feet like those of a bear, and a mouth like that of a lion." And Satan enabled this Beast of the Sea to have political and military power (Rev 13:2).

Daniel has two visions about the fourth Gentile kingdom before the Divine Kingdom. In his first vision (Dan 2:40-43), Daniel describes some general characteristics of this kingdom: it will be militarily powerful (Dan 2:40) but somewhat divided and not uniformly united (Dan 2:33, 41-43). While Daniel's prophecy indicates that the fourth Gentile kingdom continuously succeeds the third (Greece), the apostle John's prophecy is focused more on the last king of the fourth Gentile kingdom.

In his second vision, Daniel's prophecy is more like the apostle John's:

It was an unfamiliar beast from the sea that was "dreadful and terrifying," and it was "extremely strong" with "large iron teeth" that "devoured and crushed" and "trampled down" with "its feet" (Dan 7:7).

It had ten horns. (Dan 7:8).

An angel interprets the fourth beast as "the fourth kingdom on earth," "different from all other kingdoms," "devour the whole earth," and "crush it" (Dan 7:23).

Because the apostle John's Beast from the Sea shares some physical similarities with Daniel's description of the fourth Gentile kingdom, it implies a possible association and relationship.

One of the most significant attributes of the Beast from the Sea is the apostle's description of one of the seven heads with a "fatal wound" that "healed," which establishes the Beast of the Sea as a supernatural being worthy of worship (Rev 13:3-4). Paired with this is Satan's portrayal as the one who gives "power (including supernatural), a throne, and great authority" (Rev 13:2), which was only possible if God allowed Satan to do so.

This observation is important to note as Nebuchadnezzar learns from his dream and Daniel's interpretation (Dan 4:24-25). The apostle Paul refers to this in his epistle to the Thessalonians, as God "restrains" Satan directly, Satan is unable to empower the Beast of the Sea and, in effect, Satan "restrains" the emergence of the Beast.

Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. (2 Thess 2:3-10)

The apostle John also reveals that Satan gave the Beast of the Sea a mouth to speak "arrogant words with blasphemies against God" (Rev 13:5-6).

Daniel prophesized of a similar individual:

It had ten horns. An additional horn emerged, small at first, but removed three existing horns by pulling them "out by the roots." Unlike the other horns, this one was personified with eyes "like the eyes of man and a mouth uttering great boasts" (Dan 7:8).

The idea that the Beast from the Sea is the "Antichrist" comes from the apostle John's epistles. He defines antichrist as one who deceives and denies God the Father and / or His Son Jesus Christ. The apostle John's definition applies to anyone; however, the Antichrist is applied to one individual who comes in "the last hour."

Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. (1 John 2:18-22)

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. (1 John 4:1-3)

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. (2 John 1:7)

With Satan's power and authority, the Antichrist is given a time of 3-1/2 years to act, to make war and conquer the saints, to rule every nation given to him, and to receive worship from around the world (Rev 13:5-8).

Daniel has a similar prophecy including the destruction of the Antichrist and his entire kingdom, and he uses the ancient phrase "times, and half a time" to refer to 3-1/2 years of rule:

Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire. (Dan 7:11)

Then I desired to know the exact meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its claws of bronze, and which devoured, crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet, and the meaning of the ten horns that were on its head and the other horn which came up, and before which three of them fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth uttering great boasts and which was larger in appearance than its associates. I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom. Thus he said: "The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it. As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings. He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. But the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever." (Dan 7:19-26)

When the Antichrist desecrates the Temple by entering the Holy Place, he is also known as the "abomination," and for his destructive intent, "of desolation." Jesus warns Believers to flee into the wilderness when the "abomination of desolation" stands in the Holy Place. And when correlating the 3-1/2 years with Daniel's prophecy (Dan 9:27), this marks the beginning of the Tribulation.

Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house. Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ,' or 'There He is,' do not believe him. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance. (Matt 24:15-25; Mark 13:14-20)

Just as the Beast of the Sea personified an individual, the Beast from the Earth personified another evil human being. This is a distinction from the beast from the Abyss, which is an evil fallen angel, and who is responsible for killing the Two Witnesses (Rev 11:7).

This individual, described as having two horns as a lamb and spoke as a dragon, presumably was a male who spoke like Satan (Rev 13:11).

He has the authority to make the whole earth worship the Antichrist (Rev 13:12).

With the intent to deceive, he performs miracles to encourage the worship of the Antichrist including the making of Antichrist idols (Rev 13:14-15).

Anyone who did not worship the Antichrist or his image was killed (Rev 13:15).

In order to participate in any aspect of the economy, everyone in the whole wide world had to have the mark of the Antichrist or his number 666 on their right hand or forehead (Rev 13:16-18).

The apostle John does not say when the Beast from the Earth arrives nor the duration of his influence. Although he was introduced as the Beast from the Earth, the apostle later identified him as the False Prophet which described the role and relationship he had with the Antichrist (Rev 16:13; 19:20; 20:10).

The second interlude is significant for two reasons: 1) it introduces time and personal beings that facilitate a hermeneutic correlation with Old Testament prophecies (i.e. Daniel, etc.) and New Testament prophecies (i.e. Jesus, etc.) and 2) it explains why and how Satan will make war with Believers.

For the seven churches, the onset of the Two Witnesses indicates that the Great Tribulation and the desecration of the Temple will start soon; but their ministry will end with the sixth trumpet and second woe.

For Believers who do not take the mark of the Antichrist, captivity and death awaits; instead of taking up arms, persevere and keep the faith (Rev 13:10).

For the world, Jesus Christ has come and Satan has been tossed from heaven, because of the supremacy of His atonement. Salvation from evil is possible for those who place their faith in the testimony of Jesus.

Series: The Function of Revelation's Interludes
Part 3: The Doom of Babylon

Series: The Function of Revelation's Interludes
Part 1: The 144,000 Bond Servants

Return to Systematic Study: Eschatology

The Antichrist

Interlude: The Two Witnesses

Related subject:

Seventy Weeks

Topical Index: Eschatology: The End Times and End of Human History>Apocalyptic Prophecies

Related verses:

Scripture Index: General Epistles>Revelation

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