Honoring the Rainbow Promise
A Preterist Commentary on Revelation 10: Summary and Highlights
Could giant footprints in Rome relate to Revelation 10? Find out in the following preterist Bible commentary on Revelation 10.
The following may seem unbelievable. However, all information is taken from unbiased historical records and is easily verifiable. Sources listed at the end.
Honoring the Rainbow Promise
Revelation 10 Commentary Intro: Another Exodus Parallel . . .
In the last chapter, the four horsemen were released. As a result, a vast army is on its way to Jerusalem. In this chapter, John sees Christ lead the Roman army as God led the Assyrian army to attack Israel in Joel 2:11. Christ is depicted guiding the conquering Romans to the Promised Land in the same way that the angel of the Lord had led the Israelites with a cloud of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night.
1Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. 2He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land,
Revelation 10:1-2 Commentary: As implied by the Rainbow, the coming Flood is Not Literal.
The angel of these two verses is endowed with divine qualities. His face and legs beam with radiance and a rainbow is arched above his head similar to Ezekiel’s vision of the Lord in Ezekiel 1:27-28. Interestingly, a rainbow also arches over the throne of the Lord according to Revelation 4:3. This being is also robed in a cloud resembling the God of Israel in Exodus 19:9 and Ezekiel 10:4. This cloud is the Glory Cloud. The Glory Cloud is the cloud that marks the presence of God. It is amidst this cloud that the Lord is said to come on the clouds in judgment in the Bible (Revelation 1:7). Furthermore, this angel’s legs “were like fiery pillars” similar to the way Jesus’ feet are pictured in Revelation 1:15. According to v. 1, this angel has a face “like the sun.” This same expression is used to describe the appearance of Christ in Revelation 1:16. Then in v. 3 this angel “gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion” implicitly pointing to Revelation 5:5 where Jesus is called “the Lion of the tribe of Judah.” The shout of this angel which is like the roar of a lion also appears to imply divinity in light of Amos 3:8: “The lion has roared—who will not fear? The Sovereign Lord has spoken—who can but prophesy?”1 Holding the scroll opened by the Jesus in Revelation 5:5, this angel is Christ.
Despite the highly suggestive evidence cited above, many commentators shy away from claiming that the angel in the opening verses of Revelation 10 is Jesus even though Jesus is identified as a lamb in Revelation 5:8, a lion in Revelation 5:5, the son of man in Daniel 7:13, a vine in John 15:5, and a shepherd in John 10:11-18. Given all the diverse ways in which Jesus is symbolized in the Bible on what grounds are we to assume that Jesus may never be depicted as an angel?2 The fact that Jesus could be a lamb and a lion does not mean that He is literally a lamb or a lion, thus the fact that Revelation 10:1-2 depicts the Son of God as an angel also does not necessarily mean that He is literally an angel as many commentators fear. Furthermore, it should also be noted that Revelation 10:1-2 is not the only time Jesus is depicted as an angel, let us not forget that the preincarnate Christ is often called “the angel of the Lord” throughout the Old Testament just as He is also often called “the Son of Man” in both the Old and New Testaments. There are several examples throughout the Bible in which the supreme deity is called an angel (Genesis 32:24-32, Hosea 12:3-4, Exodus 3:2-6, Acts 7:30, Exodus 14:19-24, Acts 7:38).3 As will be explained in detail in the commentary on Revelation 11, it is important that this angel be correctly identified because the way in which this being is described provides an important clue as to the identity of the two witnesses in the following chapter.
Revelation 10:2 Commentary: The Little Scroll of v. 3 is the Same Scroll Opened by The Lamb in Revelation 5-6. It is said to be “Little” in this Verse Because Christ is No Longer a Lamb as He was When He First Opened the Scroll But is Now a Giant with One Foot on the Earth and One on the Sea.
In v. 2 Christ is depicted holding a “little” scroll in his hand. Some commentators have argued that because this scroll is said to be little in v. 2 this may be a different scroll from the one opened by Jesus in Revelation 5-6. This interpretation is improbable. The scroll is said to be little in relation to Christ who is now depicted as a giant in v. 3 with one foot on the earth and one on the sea. Thus the scroll appears to remain the same size as it was when it was originally opened by Christ when He is depicted as a Lamb, a much smaller creature, in Revelation 5:6-14. This scroll is little now only because Christ is no longer a Lamb but is now depicted in Revelation 10:3 as a giant whose hand is so large that the scroll now looks little by way of comparison.
Furthermore, the scroll is said to be open in the hand of the giant angel v. 2 and 8. The fact that this scroll is said to be opened implies that this is the same scroll opened earlier by the Lamb in Revelation 5-6. Of course, if this angel is holding the same scroll opened by Jesus in Revelation 6, this fact is yet another bit of evidence implying that the angel in this chapter is Jesus Christ.4
The rainbow in v. 1 is a reminder that God will not destroy the land with a flood. Keeping in mind that the earth is Israel and the sea, the Gentile world, this angel has one foot planted on Israel and the other on Rome. See In the Bible “Earth” Signifies the Specific Land Addressed While “Sea” Symbolizes Foreign Nations. His legs being fiery pillars and His body being wrapped in a cloud, this angel is guiding Rome toward Jerusalem. This angel is guiding Rome to Israel to forcibly conquer it just as the angel of the Lord guided the Israelites to the Promised Land with a pillar of fire by day and a cloud of smoke by night so that they could likewise conquer the land with military force. As is implied by the rainbow above the angel’s head, heaven and earth will not be destroyed by a literal flood. Floods are often used in the Bible as a metaphor for an invading army (Isaiah 8:7-8; Jeremiah 46:7-8; 47:1-2; 51:55-56; Ezekiel 26:3; Daniel 11:10, 40; Nahum 1:8). The coming flood is figurative: The earth will be destroyed by the sea which is Rome.5
Revelation 10:2 Commentary: Giant Footprints in Rome in A.D. 69 . . .
Cassius Dio records a miraculous event said to have occurred in Rome in A.D. 69, during the time of the fifth plague:
On the Capitol many huge footprints were seen, presumably of some spirits that had descended from it. The soldiers who had slept there on the night in question said that the temple of Jupiter had opened of itself with great clangour and that some of the guards had been so terrified that they fainted.6
Occurring in the year before the fulfillment of the seventh trumpet, this event fits the timeline of John’s vision perfectly. Could these large footprints found in Rome be an earthly sign of Jesus standing on the sea?7
The fact that Jesus appears to be depicted guiding the Roman army to Israel to enact His judgment on that wicked nation does not imply that Rome, God’s instrument to punish Israel, is somehow innocent. The Christian saints, not the pagan Romans, are the protagonists in Revelation and these people escaped the war entirely. Pagan Rome and the Jews both persecuted God’s people. Thus Rome, the beast, is not guiltless which is presumably why it is afflicted by the fifth bowl of Revelation 16:10-11. Israel receives the brunt of the remaining plagues because the ultimate blame for the deaths of the saints was placed on her (Matthew 23:33-37). Because of Israel and Rome’s shared crime against God’s people I believe God pitted both nations against each other in war so as to punish each other. Of course in any potentially avoidable war there really are no true victors as both sides inevitably suffer great loss. But because God attributes the ultimate blame for the unjust deaths of His people on Jerusalem, Israel suffers the most having lost this war. Thus both Israel and Rome appear to suffer a kind of mutual punishment of which Israel, of course, receives the lion share of the affliction.
3and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. 4And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down.” 5Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. 6And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said, “There will be no more delay! 7But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.
Revelation 10:3-7 Commentary: The Lion of the Tribe of Judah . . .
In v. 3 Christ roars like a lion, calling to mind Revelation 5:5 where he is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah. The seven thunders in this verse are presumably the seven angels of the seven plaques. The mystery of God in v. 7 is uncertain. This mystery is accomplished at the sounding of the seventh trumpet, which as will be seen in Revelation 11:15, heralds a new age in which Christ reigns.
In vs. 5-6 Jesus swears by “him who lives for ever and ever.” As noted by Milton Terry, when Jesus swears in this way it is not unlike those times in which God swears by Himself in Genesis 22:16, Isaiah 45:23, Jeremiah 49:13, and Amos 6:8.8
8Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me once more: “Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.” 9So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, “Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.” 10I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. 11Then I was told, “You must prophesy again about many peoples nations, languages and kings.”
Revelation 10:8-11 Commentary: The Ezekiel Connection . . .
This chapter concludes with John eating the heavenly scroll to endow him with the gift of prophecy, as the prophet Ezekiel had done in Ezekiel 3:1-3. And just as Ezekiel later predicted the coming destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians, John is about to do the same. Only this time Jerusalem will not be destroyed by Babylon, this time she will face a more formidable adversary–Rome.
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Interested in THE PRETERIST VIEW OF ESCHATOLOGY, or are you a PRETERIST struggling with a prophecy or verse? It DID happen just like the Bible says! If you liked this essay, see PRETERIST BIBLE COMMENTARY for a detailed explanation of the FULFILLMENT OF ALL MAJOR END TIME PROPHECIES IN THE BIBLE. The more unbelievable the prophecy, the more amazing and miraculous the fulfillment!
Also see Historical Evidence that Jesus was LITERALLY SEEN in the Clouds in the First Century. For an explanation of how the end of the age and its fulfillment during the Jewish War mirror Genesis 1-3; how the Bible teaches that the resurrection of the dead is a resurrection of heavenly bodies to heaven, not a resurrection of perfected earthly bodies; and how the resurrection is a mirror opposite of the fall see How the Jewish War and Resurrection to Heaven Mirror Genesis and the Fall; and How Preterism fixes the Age of the Earth Problem and unravels the Mysteries in Genesis.
The A.D. 70 Doctrine View, Interpretation, Exposition and Commentary of Revelation 10: Conclusion
In the above covenant eschatology commentary on Revelation 10, the miracle of the giant footprints in Rome was explained in light of Biblical prophecy and typological connections were drawn between events in the Old Testament and events at the end of the age.
- G.K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2013), 533.
- Foy E. Wallace, Jr., The Book of Revelation: Consisting of a Commentary on the Apocalypse of the New Testament, (Fort Smith, AR: Foy E. Wallace Jr. Publications, 1966), 210.
- Kurt M. Simmons, The Consummation of the Ages, (Canada: Bimillennial Preterist Association, 2003), 204.
- G.K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2013), 548.
- The angel’s two fiery pillars for legs may also have covenantal meaning. The foot that is planted on the land points to the pillar of smoke and fire on Mt. Sinai when the Spirit of God descended on the mountain. The fiery pillar of a foot that is planted on the sea may represent a nearly identical event that occurred just outside of the city of Rome, the sea, at the death of the beast. At this time a pillar of smoke and fire possibly signifying the presence of God in the Glory Cloud appeared on a mountain outside of Rome. This event as it is recorded by Cassius Dio bears an uncanny resemblance to the descent of the Lord on Mt. Sinai as it is described in Exodus 19:16-19. Could this pillar of fire on the sea, representing Rome, like the pillar of fire on the land, signifying Israel, also represent the establishment of a new covenant? When the Spirit of God descended in a pillar of smoke and fire on Mt. Sinai, He established his covenant of the Law with the future inhabitants of Israel. During what may be the final aspect of the second coming, Christ also appeared to descend on a mountain outside of Rome in a pillar of smoke and fire, the Glory Cloud. Did this event signify the fulfillment of the Law and the establishment of a new covenant order in which the Gentile nations, the sea, were to be assimilated into the fold of the kingdom of God? See The Historical Appearance of Christ at the Death of the Beast Fulfills 2 Thessalonians 2:8 and Revelation 19:19-20.
- Cassius Dio Roman History 65.8.
- These miraculous footprints symbolically points to the creation of a new earth, as is prophesied in 2 Peter 3:5-13:
[B]y God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. . . . But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
The deluge mentioned in 2 Peter 3 preceding the creation of the new earth is metaphorically suggested by the rainbow over the head of the angel in v. 1. As already stated, this metaphorical flood is represented by the conquering of Israel, the earth, by Rome, the sea. After Jesus inherits his Father’s kingdom in Revelation 11:15, he creates a new earth. I believe that the miracle in which Jesus is seen by his disciples walking on water is a creation metaphor pointing prophetically to the creation of the new earth. I believe that this miracle points to Genesis 1:2 in which the spirit of God moves over the waters. The creation narrative found in Genesis 1 is a common creation account found throughout much of the ancient world in some variation. In one such variation rather than hovering over the waters, the creator God is said to walk on water in order to draw the earth out of the sea. As mentioned many times, the sea or waters represents Rome; and thus Jesus’s giant footprints seen in this city is a miraculous manifestation of the creator God walking on the waters, represented by Rome, in order to create a new earth, the New Jerusalem mentioned in Revelation 21 and Revelation 22. The creation account in which the First Creator creates the earth by walking on water was an ancient Mandan belief. The Mandans were a North American Indian tribe. (Barbara C. Sproul, Primal Myths: Creation Myths around the World, (New York: HarperOne, 1991), 249)
- Milton S. Terry, Biblical Apocalyptics: A Study of the Most Notable Revelations of God and of Christ, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988), 360.