Revelation 10 is a fascinating passage in Revelation – so are they all fascinating passages. But I find Revelation 10 to be of great interest because in it, Jesus Christ is revealed to be the fulfillment of the entire Old Testament, that is, Old Covenant. If one has read the Old Testament well, then Revelation 10 comes alive, and if not, then you will be trapped inside it like one of Ezekiel’s wheels, running around in futility like a theological hamster in a cage.
Why do I say this? Because of the extraordinary number of Old Testament images and artifacts that are all summed up in Jesus Christ in Revelation 10.
To begin with, many people don’t even realize that the angel of Revelation 10 is, in fact, Jesus Christ. But how could it be otherwise? He is the one clothed with a cloud and who has a rainbow on His head, and His is the face that is like the sun and a pillar of fire, and He is the one with the loud voice.
This Lord of ours, Jesus Christ, is a mighty angel, in fact, the Angel of the Lord that we encounter in the Old Covenant and who we know to be God Almighty Himself. He is the ultimate messenger (which is the meaning of the word, “angel”) of the Father, bringing not only the news of the New Covenant and the news of the Gospel but is in fact the New Covenant and the Gospel Himself.
This Lord Jesus Christ of ours comes down from heaven, not only in the Incarnation, but at the day of Pentecost (in the form of the Holy Spirit), and in destroying the Old Covenant in A.D. 70 and in our lives every day. He is clothed with a cloud, the cloud of innumerable angels which accompany Christ in heaven. This cloud of witnesses attended God at the giving of the Law in Deuteronomy 33:2. God’s cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled His tabernacle in Exodus 40:34, and this cloud was the cloud and pillar of fire that led Israel through the wilderness (Revelation 10:1; Exodus 40:36-38).
A rainbow is on our Lord’s head, because He is the embodiment of all of God’s covenants with man, including Noah’s. It was Jesus Christ who was the ark of salvation that saved Noah, and it is Jesus Christ who is the Promise that God will not destroy man if he keeps the covenant with God. This rainbow is, we know, the rainbow that is around the throne of God in heaven (Revelation 4:3), and it is another reflection of the radiance of our Lord (Ezekiel 1:27-28).
Our Lord’s face is like the sun, a description we have of Jesus Christ in Ezekiel 1:4, 7. Our Lord is a sun (Psalm 84:11), and when Moses came into His presence, even Moses’ face shined like a sun, or at least like a moon that reflects the glory of the sun. He also is the Sun of righteousness (Malachi 4:2). In the New Covenant we see Jesus the Sun in Revelation 1:16. In Matthew’s Gospel (17:2) Jesus is like the sun at His Transfiguration, and St. Paul found him to be a sun when He appeared to Saul (Acts 26:13).
This is the Lord who cries out with a voice so loud that we hear that the glory of the Lord thunders. It is a voice that splinters the cedars and strips the forests bare and shakes the wilderness (Psalm 29). It is the voice of many waters that is heard throughout the Old and New Covenants. How powerful is His Word? It not only causes the heavens and earth to shake (especially when the Old Covenant is destroyed and the New is born) but also caused the heavens and earth to be made, in the beginning.
This is the Lord, the terrible yet saving Lamb of God, who is worthy to unseal the scrolls and also to bind up things from the minds of men. This Angel, this Lord, gives St. John a little book, the book of Revelation perhaps, the Book of the Covenant, a book of judgment and a book of blessing. It is the book that announces the Mystery of God.
What is this Great Mystery of God that St. John reveals in the Revelation? It is the same Mystery of which St. Paul speaks in Ephesians 3:5-6: “which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel.”
This is the Mystery of Colossians 1:26-28, the “the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to his saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”
It would be wise to see the Revelation of St. John as being the same as the revelation of St. Paul. The book of Revelation is not some revelation that stands all by itself at the end of the New Covenant, unlike any other revelation, unconnected, and unrelated: it is the fulfillment and culmination of all the revelation that has gone before, both Old and New. It is the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ and the revelation of His Gospel of salvation, the Mystery of the ages!
When we come to Jesus Christ in Revelation 10, this is what we should see: the fulfillment of the Old Covenant and the glory of the New – Jesus Christ Himself! Having seen this, what else is there to do but to praise and give thanks to such a great Lord, in His great kingdom and great power and great glory?!
Resolution: I resolve to praise Jesus Christ today, as I spend time meditating on His kingdom, power, and glory.
Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Point for Meditation: What difference does it make to you today that Jesus Christ is clothed with a cloud? that He is a shining sun? that He speaks with a loud voice? that He is the Revelation of God?
What would be an appropriate response to the revelation and coming of such a Lord into your presence today?
© 2015 Fr. Charles Erlandson