The Orthodox Pages

email: pater@christopherklitou.com 

 

TALK ON THE BOOK OF REVELATION

Part 9

21st February 2013

 Homepage

 

   Back                     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last week we saw the opening of the seventh seal which led us to a new set of seven visions characterized by the blowing of seven trumpets by seven angels. The first trumpet revealed the destruction of one third of the plant kingdom, the second the pollution of one third of the seas and marine life, the third one third of the world's fresh water and the fourth revealed the pollution of the atmosphere with a loss of one third of the light. Thus the first four visions had to do with the pollution of man's environment. These can be seen as a warning sign for man to repent of his ungodly ways and return to God. If man does not repent then the three remaining plagues, which are far more terrifying, will harm man directly.

Before we see the fifth trumpet I would like to add something to last weeks talk. With the blowing of the second trumpet something like a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea. One of the explanations was that this could be a meteorite. By coincidence the next day a 10 tonne meteor streaked through the skies of Central Russia injuring a great many people. Scientists at the US space agency Nasa estimated that the amount of energy released from impact with the atmosphere was about 30 times greater than the force of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War II. Events like this are not uncommon, they occur on average every 100 years, but if we tie it in with the plagues of Revelation we can ask: "was it just a freak event of nature or is it a warning of things to come?
With the third trumpet we saw a great star fall from heaven called Wormwood. I didn't know last week, but wormwood in Ukrainian is Chernobyl. I'm sure you all remember the nuclear reactor that exploded at Chernobyl in the Ukraine in 1986. It caused widespread pollution, deaths and many malformed births.
Anyway back to today; let's hear what the fifth trumpet has in store for man.
"And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months. And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon. One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter."
Before we look at what all this could be I have to say that up to now all the interpretations given by Archimandrite Athanasius Mitilianos, on whose lectures I have relied for all the interpretations we have seen, up to now they all had a logical and acceptable understanding, but the interpretations for this plague have really confused me. I have seen what others have to say and this has confused me even more. It can be given a realistic interpretation, an allegorical interpretation, a spiritual interpretation, a historical interpretation and a psychological interpretation. But whatever interpretation is given it doesn't agree 100% with all the details of the vision. I think the problem stems from trying to apply the vision to things of our own times or things we have seen in history, without allowing for things of the future still not seen by human eye. I think you will understand what I am trying to say as we progress.
"And I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit."
The star falling from heaven is as we have seen before Satan, the fallen angel. The Lord tells us in the Gospel of Luke: "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." (Luke 10:18) To him was given the key of the bottomless pit. Properly translated it says he was given the key to the well of the abyss. It has the same meaning; it is a well that is bottomless and refers to the residential quarters of the demons. Satan is given the key to open this bottomless pit, in other words he is given permission to unleash his evil and malicious activities on earth. As you know Satan does not have any authority, he does nothing without divine permission. If you remember the story of Job, he enters into a dialogue with God that Job only praises God because he was given wealth, health, prosperity and happiness, but if these were taken from him then he would curse God. God replies this is not so and gives Satan permission to put Job to the test. In one day Satan had Job's oxen and asses stolen, the camels stolen, his servants killed, the sheep burnt alive and worst of all his ten children killed when a great wind brought the house down on top of them. If the devil was to be let free to act he would literally turn the universe upside down from his malicious power. Thankfully the angels do not allow him and God does not give him permission. He cannot even enter the pigs without permission as we read in the Gospels when a certain man of the Gergesenes was possessed with a legion of demons and they pleaded with the Lord not to send them back into the deep, but to allow them to enter the nearby herd of swine. And God allowed it to punish the Gergesenes because they were farming swine disregarding the Law of Moses which prohibited the eating of swine meat. Thus God allows Satan and his demons to cause harm because of the unrepentant hearts of people, but nothing takes place without God's knowledge and permission.
So Satan is given permission to unleash whatever destruction he can on the earth. "And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit." What is this smoke of the pit? Those who give it an allegorical interpretation claim that the smoke represents iniquity, spiritual confusion, and destruction of the unfaithful, but also the deceptive and destructive designs of Satan. The darkening of the sun is interpreted as Satan attempting to hide the truth from humankind. The same interpreters also say that the locusts with tails like scorpions are the evil spirits. They tie this in with what the Lord said to the Seventy Apostles when they returned from the mission, they rejoiced saying: "Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you." (Luke 10: 17-19) Jesus was likening the evil spirits over whom His disciples had exercised His power to serpents and scorpions.

Where it says that they were ordered not to harm the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, except those men who do not have the seal of God upon their foreheads, one interpreter says that the grass, green things and the trees represent all professed believers, those with the seal of God on their foreheads and the rest of mankind will at the end of time suffer intense demonic torture for a period of five months. Their suffering will be like the stings of scorpions, but the demons will not be allowed to kill them, only torture them and through this demonic torture people will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, and death will flee from them. These allegorical interpretations are all very well until they come to give an explanation of the appearance of the locust.

"And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle."

Here they leave all allegorical interpretations aside and take up a historical interpretation and say that this is a description of the first attack of the Ottoman Turks on the Byzantine Empire back in 1299. I don't want to give you the details of how they come to this conclusion, but in short they identify the description of the locusts with the military dress of the Muslim armies. Others also claim that the locusts represent Islam who as Satan's army will cause great destruction to the Christians at the end of time.
Certainly, as I have said before, the time span of the Book of revelation is from the first coming of Christ until the second coming of Christ with multilayered visions. John presents the future in a perspective of the past and of the present, but we must understand that this fifth plague comes after the pollution of the environment. In our times we are seeing the beginnings of this environmental catastrophe, but the worst is still to come. The interpretation is therefore to be found in the future and not in the historical past. This we can also deduce from what John says: "And in those days shall men seek death." What days? Those days refers to the last days.
The interpretation given by Archimandrite Athanasius Mitilianos is I think much closer to the truth, but even this leaves gaps which cannot yet be fully understood, although I will try to supplement what he says with some of my own ideas. Fr. Athanasius says that the smoke from the pit is all the evil consequences of a contemporary military operation where the rising smoke covers even the sun and pollutes the surrounding atmosphere. On the same note it could be describing the mushroom cloud of the nuclear bomb. In the Holy Monastery of Dionysius on Mount Athos, there is a fresco of this event painted almost four hundred years ago and the artist has portrayed the smoke of this pit resembling very much like the mushroom created by a nuclear bomb. In his time the artist could not have known about the mushroom effect so is his artistic portrayal just a coincidence or did he have a vision and painted what he saw in the vision? Is then this plague warning us of the threat of nuclear warfare? This is a very real threat and some would say even unavoidable from our contemporary reality. The darkening of the sun and air from this smoke well describes the effect of the nuclear winter that follows a nuclear explosion on land.

 

 

 

"And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads."
The locusts that came of the smoke were given power similar to the power scorpions have. This power is to sting, but as we shall see these are not normal locusts as our biological grasshoppers or insects. Normal locusts, known to man, cause great harm to vegetation, but they do not attack humans. Here though we have a reversal of the normal and we are told that they will not harm the vegetation, but man instead. Thus from this we know that what John saw was something that he could only describe as similar in shape to a locust.
"And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them."
These locusts are not to kill people, but only torment them for a period of time. The pain people will suffer will be like that of a scorpion's sting. The locusts can be likened to our modern-day aeroplanes and helicopters. Indeed there is a striking resemblance to the Russian Hind helicopter. But if the weapons of these military machines are exploding bombs how would the vegetation not be harmed as well? This is an indication that the weapons employed by the airplane-locusts are chemical. This is the sting of the earthly scorpion which suggests that the effect of the chemical will cause neuro-paralysis. The chemical will not affect plants, but only the people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. The people falling under the influence of this chemical weaponry of neuro-paralytic effect will be terribly tormented and will want to do away with themselves in order to escape their torments, but will not be able to do this, why? because they will be paralysed. Death will flee from them only while the effect of the chemical weaponry lasts, then they will die.
But this brings us to another question, how will God separate those with the sign of the Cross on their foreheads from the ungodly? The easiest answer is that God can do all things, but the Gospels give us certain clues that the faithful will take to the mountains away from the big cities. Why would they do this? If as we shall see in a later talk, the mark of the antichrist that will be enforced on people's hands or foreheads will be some sort of electronic microchip, a perfected computerized registration system, containing all pertinent personal and financial information regarding a person, a microchip that will replace the need for money, passports, visas, tickets, credit cards and other personal documents, if also this microchip is a tracking device, if it is also enforced so that the government of the antichrist can have not only political control, but also religious control over people, because this is the first meaning of the mark, just like the faithful have the mark of God on their foreheads, then those who refuse this mark will not only be unable to survive in the cities because without this mark they will not be able to buy or sell anything, but at the same time they will be persecuted for their faith, something we have already seen will happen in the last days. Thus they will have no choice but to take to the mountains for their survival. This separation of the faithful from the ungodly could very well take place before the destructions from nuclear and chemical warfare commence.
But even if there is no separation, and the faithful die from these plagues, this is no loss, because as faithful servants of God they will be in paradise awaiting the resurrection of life, whilst the ungodly that die will be in darkness awaiting the resurrection of death.
Let's now see if the description of the locusts describe planes or helicopters.
"And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle."
If we were to imagine a military aerodrome with the military planes drawn up in rows, they are truly like the formation of horses prepared for war. Prepared because the planes have not yet moved from their places and are not flying, but their pilots have already taken their places.
"And on their heads were as it were crowns like gold."

This could be describing the cockpits of the planes which are transparent under which the heads of the pilots in their helmets are visible.
"And their faces were as the faces of men."
We know that under the protective suit or uniform of the military fighter and behind the glass of his helmet there is a living person. But how would this have appeared to John 2000 years ago? John saw the faces of men inside very strange and unusual uniforms. He identified that the faces were the faces of men but, under their helmets and uniform that was the only human element he could identify.
"And they had hair as the hair of women."
This could be the gas train let out by a supersonic aeroplane, creating the impression of "women’s hair". Other than this I haven't found a decent explanation for something that would seem like women's hair.
"And their teeth were as the teeth of lions."
These could be the bombs and rockets that are hung under the aircraft, and which are like teeth. Not small teeth for chewing food, but big "teeth" for attacks, like those of a lion.
"And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron."
John describes the plating of the frames of the aircraft he saw as it were breastplates, and their metallic composition as it were of iron. He says like iron because he recognised that the metal was not iron, but a metal alloy unknown to him at that time.
"And the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle."
The similarity of planes with locusts is obvious – they both have wings. This would suggest that what John saw was planes and not helicopters, but overall a helicopter looks far more like a locust than does a plane. How could John describe the sound of many supersonic aircraft or helicopters? The closest battle sound he knew was the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.
"And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails."
Both aeroplanes and helicopters have tails and the tails of some helicopters turn up similar to the scorpion's tail. But what are the stings in their tails. Supersonic planes have a flame from their tail which could be described as stings, but here the description in support of the helicopter ends.
"And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon."
Locusts do not have kings or queens like the common bee so this is another indication that we are not dealing with the natural locusts. Abaddon in Hebrew means destruction and Apollyon in Greek means the destroyer which is the name of the angel of the bottomless pit meaning the devil. He is the king over the destructing forces because he will be the instigator of this terrible chemical warfare as he is of all wars.
"One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter."

The two more woes, the sixth and seventh trumpets are much longer than the first and we will not have time to see both today, but let's see the second woe.
"And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt. And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts."
"And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God"
The altar is the same that we saw with the offering of incense; it is the heavenly altar before God and from this altar a voice was heard which is the voice of God. The voice instructs the sixth angel to loose the four angels that are bound to the river Euphrates. These angels are demons who have been bound, but now through divine intervention are to be loosed to provoke a fierce war that will eliminate one third of the world's population. Up to now we were not given areas of the world that would be infected from the plagues, but here we have a specific place the river Euphrates. The Euphrates river springs from the Ararat Mountains in Armenia, through Turkey, Syria and Iraq, then shares a common Delta with the Tigris River and ends up in the Persian Gulf. The Euphrates was one of the four great rivers of Paradise mentioned in the Book of Genesis. The others being the Phison, Gihon and the Tigris. Thus Historically Paradise was somewhere in this area of Mesopotamia. I'm sure you all understand that Paradise was somewhere here on earth, a real garden and not some noetic place. However when the grace of God was lifted it ceased to be Paradise and today, from a scenic point of view, it is a rather depressing area. Paradise was truly taken away, but with the coming of Christ, through his death and Resurrection, paradise was re-created, not as a place on earth, but as a noetic place for the righteous who await the resurrection.
The mention of the Euphrates River here could be noetic or symbolic just as Babylon is mentioned in Revelation, but ceased to exist long before John wrote Revelation and is identified as meaning Rome. The Euphrates though does exist and there is no reason for us not to take it to literally mean the Euphrates and the areas of Turkey, Syria, the area of Mesopotamia being the modern day Iraq not excluding the neighbouring state Persia being the modern day Iran. Many prophecies of the saints point to the last war beginning with the Arab states and involving China and Russia.
"And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men."
We have here an expression of time in an ascending scale. This wants to show that the decision of God is unalterable and inevitable, that which God has said will definitely take place. When is states the hour, the day, the month and year, it shows that everything is defined and programmed and whatever is prophesied will be carried out in its full detail. From this verse we are also told that one third of the earth's population will be killed and shows how murderous this battle ground will be. Today's population is around seven billion so by today's figures one third is about 2.3billion. This is a staggering figure if we take into account that the casualties of World War 2 were approximately 60million, here though we will have a war that will claim 38 times more lives than World War 2. This is a overwhelming number, but by today's standards it is very easy for these people to be killed in a matter of minutes or hours.
"And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them."

Two hundred thousand thousand, in other words two hundred million. John comes to give us details of this spectacular battle of his vision. He talks about soldiers on horses because the Greek mentions horsemen, but as we will see in the continuation of this description, it does not mean real horses, but has to do with horrific machines of war, armoured war machines or the formidable tank. The horses of old have been replaced with armoured vehicles, but in the Greek language, even though horses are not used, the same titles for the officers of cavalry have been retained and refer to horse riders of tanks. Thus by using the Greek language which is the original language of Revelation we can gain much insight and solve many puzzling points as this one which in English gives the impression of an army of horsemen, but in Greek refers to an army of tanks. This we will also see when we come to the number 666 the number of the name of the antichrist which will be counted using the Greek alphabet and not the Latin or English which simply gives a translated number with no means to calculate a name.
The number of the army was an incredible two hundred million. We might think that this is some mistake which is something that has happened with numbers when early biblical scribes made written copies, or could this be a figurative and allegorical number, but John is quick to add: "I heard the number of them" on the one hand to show us that he didn't count them, how could he, but more to assure us that this was the actual number no matter how inconceivable it may have sounded during his time.
Today this number is still staggering but not so inconceivable. China with a population of 1.35 billion could quite easily put together an army of 200 million so could India with a population of 1.21 billion. But what if this army is a pan-Islamic army, a gathering of all the Arab and Muslim countries? Again this number could easily be reached.
"And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone."
The breastplates of fire, of jacinth and brimstone; these refer to the colour of their armour or uniform: fire for red, jacinth which in Greek is Hyacinth the bluish flower, but in ancient times often referred to the sapphire stone, thus jacinth for blue and brimstone meaning sulphur for yellow. These three colours suggest that it was not one nation, but at least three camps of armies distinguished by the colours of their military dress.
"And the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions."

This is probably symbolic of their power.
"And out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone."

In a sense these three elements relate to the three colours; the fire corresponds to red, the smoke to blue and the brimstone to yellow.
"By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt."
So by the fire, the smoke and brimstone which came out of the mouths of these strange horses a third of mankind will be killed. What kind of destructive weapons are these? Fire suggests bombs, smoke could be dangerous gases and brimstone, in other words sulphur, could relate to chemical warfare. These horses had tails like serpents and heads and with these they do harm. These have to do with armoured vehicles like tanks which can strike from the front and from the back.
"And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts."
One would imagine that with such devastating plagues, those who managed to survive would look to God for their salvation, that they would see in these destructions the message to repent, but John tells us that people will continue to live without God. They will continue to worship devils and idols. These do not necessarily mean statues of idols like they had in ancient times. Idols take on many forms: named products for example are a form of idol worship. What girl doesn't want to own a brand name handbag or shoes? Our modern world worships brand names and pays ridiculous sums of money to obtain something that would cost next to nothing if it didn't have a particular name. Singers and actors are followed and worshiped like gods, people call them their idols and indeed they take the place of the gold, silver and brass idols of old. People put their trust in so many things, but not in God and the Gospel. In fact if we compare our times with ancient times we have surpassed them in ungodliness because people deny Christ the Saviour and claim they are atheist, something which never existed in previous times. What of the other things? John tell us that "neither did they repent of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts." These are representative of the overall commandments.
Murder – history has never seen such low regard for human life as today even though we hypocritically raise our voices about human rights, anarchy, murders by professional hitmen, the torturing of people worldwide, murderous wars, indifference for the life of people in the pollution of the environment, preservatives in foods, pharmaceuticals etc, All these have one thing in common – money which is the greatest idol of all.
Sorceries – this is a constituent of idolatry and a substitute for faith. Today people are ready to believe every stupidity and nonsense except the truth about God and the Gospel. They believe in horoscopes and card readings, and rely on these for their future, if they have a problem they go to mediums, psychologists and psychiatrists, they turn to yoga and eastern methods of contemplation to help them relax, scented candles, crystals and many other things. These are all the result of the world so heavily influenced by the demonic powers because the world has abandoned God.
Fornication – under this general title there is a wide range of sexual immorality that would make an honourable person turn red with embarrassment. We have become a society of Sodom and Gomorra and all the things we are told in the Bible that are sinful and unnatural, today we say they are all perfectly natural and if you don't do them you are the one who is unnatural. Young adults are embarrassed to say they are still virgins and that they want to save themselves until they are married. This in our days is considered unnatural, the young are taught to have as many partners as they can before settling down to married life.
Thefts – thefts designate the absence of love and respect for our fellow man. It shows selfishness and self-love. Today everyone steals even the workers of so called Christian churches posing themselves as preachers and pastors to steal people's faith and money. Powerful countries extract the wealth of other nations for their own needs without a second thought that they are taking from a country where the people are starving and living in great poverty.
The horrors of the sixth trumpet end here, but we do not immediately have the blowing of the seventh and last trumpet. Between the two there are two interludes as we have seen before. They come and give some rest to the reader to help him psychologically recover from the horrific sequence of events and at the same time to help the reader prepare for the seventh trumpet which consists of a focal point, the nucleus of the entire book because during the seventh plague we have the appearance of the antichrist. So before we enter into the seventh plague we need to catch our breath from the terrors of the fifth and sixth plagues and these two interludes come to give as a little lift and hope. The first of these interludes refer to John and the second refers to the faithful with the appearance of the two prophets. We also have a change of scenery. Up to now John has seen these visions in heaven, and heaven still remains the source of his visions, but now John is back on earth. The first interlude is the complete chapter 10, but instead of reading all of it first as I normally do, we will see it in verses because we will not have time to repeat the verses.
The tenth chapter begins:
"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."
This angel is not the seventh angel, but another angel who appears almost godly. He comes down from heaven, he is clothed with a cloud, he has the reef of the rainbow upon his head and he is so bright in appearance that John says his face is as the sun and his feet as pillars of fire. The cloud is the presence of divine protection. In the Book of Exodus, (13:21) we read that when the Israelites where in the wilderness, the Lord went before the Children of Israel by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way to the promised land, the presence of the Lord was in the cloud. We also read that the Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I am come unto thee in a pillar of cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and again when Moses entered into the tabernacle, the pillar of the cloud descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and talked with Moses.
The rainbow is the symbol of peace and reconciliation. After the great flood of Noah, God promised that he would never again destroy the earth with water and as a sign of this promise he set the rainbow in the clouds that when we see this rainbow we will remember this covenant. The angel with the rainbow upon his head has a similar message; after the devastating destructions, it comes to promise that God will never again allow such terrible things to befall upon man. It comes and brings hope not to lose heart; from now on there will be no more destructions and there awaits the faithful only the kingdom of God.
"And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth."

This gives us an enormous image of the mighty angel; if his right foot is upon the sea and his left upon the earth then how tall must he have appeared to John. But the verse wants to show that the angel rules over the land and the sea. And in his hand is a little book. This is not the same book that we saw with the opening of the seven seals. This is a much smaller book and it is opened. In other words it contains the remaining mysteries that will be revealed in the Book of Revelation; the things that will take place from that moment on until the end.
"And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices."

What are these voices of the seven thunders? The number seven as we have seen before shows fullness and with the word thunder in scripture we always understand it to be the voice of God. Thus here we have the voice of God himself. In the Gospel of St. John, Christ says to the Father: "Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him." (John 12: 28-29) This was the voice of the heavenly Father and likewise here the seven thunders are the voice of God.
"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."
Here John appears to be writing the very moment he is watching this vision even though according to tradition he was dictating his revelation to his deacon Prochorus. However this shows his eagerness to write about everything revealed to him. But as he was about to write another voice from heaven told him to not write the things he heard from the seven thunders. This knowledge is meant to be only for the ears of John. Possibly this has to do with what awaits the ungodly, which could terrify even the faithful. There are some things that it is better for people not to know. Man cannot handle this knowledge. For example, God does not reveal to us the time of our death, if he did we would live a life of martyrdom waiting for the hour to come. For the same reason God has hidden the date of his Second Coming and much more. John heard the name of the Antichrist, but he did not reveal it: instead he wrote only the number of his name in a cryptographic form. Thus what John heard was for his ears only, but when the time comes then this revelation will take place. This applies to much of the Book of Revelation. What we have understood up to now means that it was time for us to understand, but those things that we cannot explain means that the time has not come for us to understand these points and no matter how much guessing and decoding we do we will probably misunderstand. A hundred years ago people could not have understood about nuclear bombs, chemical warfare, supersonic planes and helicopters so they gave other explanations spiritual and allegorical for the disasters prophesied.
"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."
This doesn't need much interpretation. The angel that stood on the sea and earth swore by the creator of all things, that is God, that there is no more time. The days come for the seventh angel to sound his trumpet and when he does the mystery of God which was prophesied by the prophets of old will be revealed. This is the appearance of the antichrist and the Second Coming of Christ.
"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."

So John is instructed to take the little book which is opened, meaning that the mysteries it contained will be revealed to him.
"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."
This does not literally mean that John will eat the book. This is an expression and even today we use this expression in our Modern Greek language. We commonly say I ate that book, in other words I read it, I devoured it. It is a creative image showing that the knowledge, the understanding and awareness of all these things that will happen are given to John. Here is also indicated the fact that St. John has received the prophetic gift just as the Old Testament prophets received it. For example, the holy Prophet Ezekiel, to whom it was likewise commanded to eat a scroll of a book before he was sent by the Lord to preach to the house of Israel (Ezekiel 2.8-10, 3.1-4).
The sweetness means that the knowledge of the mystery of God and the completion of this mystery and everything coming to an end will give him a certain sweetness – glory be to God the plagues are finally over. This knowledge will give him great joy, but he will also have a certain grief and this is what will make his belly bitter. The compassionate heart of the apostle will feel the whole bitterness of the grief which awaits sinful mankind with all the loss of life and the tribulations of the faithful. Yes he knows they will finish, but he grieves until these events are over. As a man he co-suffers with the faithful, but also with the ungodly because this is a quality of the true Christian – to rejoice with those rejoicing and weep with those weeping.
"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."

He was told about this in advance and sure enough it happened as it was foretold.
"And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings."

In conclusion, St. John received the command to prophesy.
This then is the end of the first interlude concerning John and next week we will see the second interlude concerning the faithful and the two prophets and hopefully the Seventh trumpet with the appearance of the antichrist.