This is a relatively short chapter but has some interesting aspects. As between the 6th and 7th seals, we see a pause between the 6th and 7th trumpets.
Though these passages speak of a mighty angel, the description seems strikingly similar to Jesus. In addition, he comes “clothed with a cloud” (v1), a very similar description to Jesus’ coming in the clouds such as in Matt 24:30.
Paul’s description of this descending is also strikingly similar. In 1 Thes 4:16, Paul states that “the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with God’s trumpet.” This aligns also with the descriptions in this chapter of Revelation—“He cried with a loud voice” (v3) and “the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound” (v7). Paul mentions archangel directly which would be the ruler of angels, which Jesus would definitely be qualified to be called. We see more similarities as the rainbow around the throne in heaven (Rev 4:3) is represented around the angel’s head (v1). As well, John’s description of Jesus earlier in Rev 1:16, “His face was like the sun shining at its brightest,” additionally parallels this same verse (1).
Considering all the similarities thus far, it would seem this “mighty angel” is referencing, or in the very least representative of, Jesus. It would seem at this juncture that this would be the one to blow the seventh trumpet that would call first those who are dead in Christ, then those living in expectancy of his return.
In verses 6-7, we see another distinct reference of the timing as this angel raises his right hand (v5) and swears by God and all of creation—“there will no longer be delay, but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished. So far we’ve seen no indications throughout Revelation that propels us into a far-future fulfillment of these words. It would seem reasonable to accept, at this point, that the original referencing of the nation of Israel and the soon terminology is still the time of the vision that John is seeing.
The rest of this chapter describes John eating a book, similar symbolism as in Ezekiel 3:3-5. In this parallel, we see Ezekiel being sent to Israel. Just as with John in Revelation, Ezekiel was not sent to a people “of a strange speech and of a hard language.” It seems that if he were, they would be able to understand his words readily that the prophecy was in respect to them. Ezekiel, like John, is sent to Israel—those who would understand his prophecy, in the words of their time and culture, though they were obstinate and would not heed the warning (Ezekiel 3:6-7).
In the last verse of this chapter, we see John commissioned, via the knowledge of the book he had eaten, to prophecy over (or concerning) “many peoples, nations, languages, and kings” (v11). In respect to the rest of the chapter and book, this points out how many different societies were involved with this period. As in the previous chapter, we see the unleashing of multitudes from beyond the Euphrates to attack the inhabitants of Palestine. It seems that many nations/kings/languages were involved, as conscripted by Rome, in the invasion of the Jewish lands as well as those native inhabitants. This also corresponds with Jesus sending out the disciples in Matt 10:5. There seems to have been several different inhabitants in and around Palestine at this time, all of which would be effected by these coming events.
In this chapter, we see John instructed to measure the current temple in Jerusalem (v1). We also see him being told to exclude the court outside the temple because it had been given to the gentiles (v2). The most likely reference here is the allies of the Jewish people, considered to be gentile, inside of Jerusalem such as the Idumeans who later entered into the city. The note we see is the trampling underfoot of the city for 42 months (also v2), which would confirm, within the time period of a few days, the length of the Roman encampment surrounding the city as well as the internal fighting of the factions within Jerusalem.
The next verses (3-10) speak about the two witnesses that would also prophecy in reference to the events going on. We again see symbolic language such as fire proceeding out of their mouth against those wishing to do them harm (v5). We see parallels with this language such as in Jeremiah 5:14. Those desiring to kill these witnesses would be killed in the same way (also v5). They would be able to stop the rain, curse the water, and strike the earth with plagues (v6). These abilities seem to correlate with the seals and trumpets thus far. After these two have finished their testimony, they’re then allowed to be killed (v7). Again, in verse 8, we see the society who these judgments are directed to—“the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified”—Jerusalem. It stands to reason with all the events going on from 66-70 AD, this would be the best understanding.
The next several verses seem fairly self-explanatory. The people celebrate with the bodies of the two in the street (v9-10). They’re brought to life three and a half days later and taken up into heaven in view of those that had killed them (v11-12). There is then a great earthquake that destroys a tenth of the city and kills 7000 people ending the second woe of the sixth trumpet (v13-14).
There have been many considerations as to who these two witnesses were, but this isn’t within the scope of consideration at this time as it’s hard to prove definitively with our historic records and the information we’re given in the Bible itself. Overall, it seems that it may not be as important to verify their identity as it is to recognize the time period and society being referenced—at least, this is my view at this juncture though it may yet merit future consideration.
Continuing in the passage, we see the seventh trumpet sound and the Lord’s Kingdom and reign being declared as fully substantiated now that the old system has been completely abolished (v15). We see worship around the throne and the temple open in heaven (v16-19). The chapter then closes out with similar aspects of the seventh seal—lightnings, sounds, thunders, an earthquake, and great hail (v19). This ends this iteration of symbols, and we may expect to see the beginning of another set of seven occurring later in this book that somewhat parallels the timing of the seals and trumpets.
There are indeed many more aspects to both of these chapters which deserve deeper study. As of this writing though, my goal is to establish the overall theme—the timing in respect to the passages themselves and the rest of the Bible, and the peoples involved—unrepentant Israel and those conscripted as the agents delivering God’s punishment. So far, there has been no referencing of a far-future fulfillment.