The Reading: Revelation 10:1-11
“… a mighty angel coming down from heaven …” (v.1) RSV
Most of our references to angels have been man-sized. They have appeared as ‘young men’ or ‘strangers but they have nevertheless been often awesome. The angel that appeared in the empty tomb of Jesus is described as having the “appearance like lightening, and his raiment white as snow” (Matthew 28:3). But if this was amazing what about the angel in our passage today: mighty and vast? We read of John’s vision of the spiritual warfare that lies behind the scenes.
In today’s reading, John sees “another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, and his face like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire” (v.1). This angel stood both in the sea and on the land at the same time (v.8). When he called out, “the seven thunders sounded” (v.3). This was no ordinary sight!
Normally their presence is not seen, but when they are seen their appearance is adapted to suit human encounter, and we should be heartened to know that the angelic host are far more powerful than we are. We have an incredible unseen army of great strength fighting on our behalf.
Not only can they be large and magnificent, they can also be fiery. Remember again the servant of Elisha having his eyes opened to see that they were surrounded for protection by “horses and chariots of fire” (2 Kings 6:17).
Sometimes we may wonder whether this use of angelic symbolism is literal or picturesque, but either way it expresses the magnificent power of God. Take the occasion when King Hezekiah was besieged in Jerusalem by a vast Assyrian army. In answer to prayer, “the Lord sent an angel, who cut off (slew) all the mighty …” (2 Chronicles 32:21). There is surely more in heaven and earth than we have ever imagined.
Lord, I stand in awe and wonder at the presence and power of your angelic host. May you send them forth to minister to the needs of your people. Amen.
1 How did Peter escape from prison?
2 Who did not believe in angels?