Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #346 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Revelation 10 today and our focus is on What Does an Angel Look Like? Will the Events of Revelation Happen Quickly, or Slowly? We are a daily 10ish minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Deeper and deeper we go into John’s apocalypse – His revelation of what is to come. Today we are going to focus a bit on angels, because one of the Bible’s longest and most detailed passages that describes angels appears in Revelation 10, but first lets talk a little bit about timing. How long will it take for the Lamb to open all seven seals on the scroll? How long will it take for the angels to blow all seven trumpets? How long will it take for the bowls to be poured out on the Earth? And, to be clear, I am speaking of time in an earthly perspective, as in, how long will this take from our perspective? Of course, the book of Revelation does not exactly answer that question in the least, but I would argue that we have a clue to the timing of the Last Days in Revelation 10:
5 Then the angel that I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. 6 He swore by the one who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it, “There will no longer be a delay, 7 but in the days when the seventh angel will blow his trumpet, then the mystery of God will be completed, as he announced to his servants the prophets.” Revelation 10:5-7
Actually, I see TWO clues there. First, the angel says, “there will no longer be a delay.” This seems to imply that there, perhaps, has been delays since the sounding of the sixth trumpet? The second clue is the phrase at the beginning of vs. 7 – “in the days when the seventh angel will blow his trumpet.” This passage, again, seems to suggest that these judgments will not unfold instantaneously from our perspective, but will be played out over what might be an extended period of time. Nothing concrete, but these clues do help us see that the judgments of Revelation may not be instantaneous or quick.
Second topic – if you could see an angel, what would they look like?
Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head. His face was like the sun, his legs were like pillars of fire,
You will immediately note that this description is very similar to the description of Jesus in Revelation 1:
13 and among the lampstands was one like the Son of Man, dressed in a robe and with a golden sash wrapped around his chest. 14 The hair of his head was white as wool—white as snow—and his eyes like a fiery flame. 15 His feet were like fine bronze as it is fired in a furnace, and his voice like the sound of cascading waters. 16 He had seven stars in his right hand; a sharp double-edged sword came from his mouth, and his face was shining like the sun at full strength.
A rainbow is also mentioned only fourish times in the Bible. In Genesis 9, after Noah and the flood, here in the description of the angel and in two descriptions of God, one in Ezekiel 1 and one in Revelation 4:
The one seated there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian stone. A rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald surrounded the throne.
As we have mentioned before, the Bible never indicates that angels have wings. Cherubim and Seraphim appear to have wings, but the Bible doesn’t call these beings angels. That noted, at least some angels can fly, including Gabriel, “while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice” Daniel 9:21 and “And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world—to every nation, tribe, language, and people.” Revelation 14:6 Flying doesn’t necessarily mean you have wings, as Superman and Iron Man have both proved. Okay, that was a joke…but I still believe it is possible for a Heavenly being to fly without wings. Angels might have wings…just noting the Bible never says they do, but mentions wings in lots of other places.
I think it is likely that angels can shift their appearance, so to speak. Take Gabriel, for instance. In Luke 1, when Gabriel appears to Zechariah, the latter is utterly shook and terrified:
11 An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified and overcome with fear. Luke 1:11-12
And so is Daniel, in Daniel 8:
16 I heard a human voice calling from the middle of the Ulai: “Gabriel, explain the vision to this man.”17 So he approached where I was standing; when he came near, I was terrified and fell facedown.
But Hebrews in the New Testament notes that some people have shown hospitality to angels unaware, which would be difficult to do if you were struck with terror every time you saw an angel. It seems reasonable to conclude that they can appear human from time to time, as both the books of Daniel and Zechariah indicate.
Other than our Revelation 10 passage, I know of only one other somewhat detailed description of an angel in the Bible (noting that passages like Daniel 10 and Ezekiel 8 describe Heavenly beings that are not directly called angels, and could be a description of the pre-incarnate Jesus), and that is found in the resurrection account of Matthew:
After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb. 2 There was a violent earthquake, because an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and approached the tomb. He rolled back the stone and was sitting on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. 4 The guards were so shaken by fear of him that they became like dead men.
Again, we see extreme brightness here and also the ability to terrify. And maybe one more description, though this focuses more on clothing than appearance:
Out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues, dressed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes wrapped around their chests.
Surprisingly, as many times as angels are mentioned in the Bible, there are very sparse details given to us as to how they look. Two descriptions of their clothing: bright white, and possibly fiery legs, and an overwhelmingly bright appearance, similar to the sun or lightning.
I have never seen an angel before, and doubt very much I could draw a credible picture given the lack of description in the Bible. I would virtually guarantee that all of our pop-culture depictions of angels – as strong-looking humans with big bird-style wings and feathers – are probably way off the truth…but what do I know? I suspect that an angel is a being that we don’t know how to accurately describe, but I’ll bet we’d know one as soon as we laid eyes on him!
Bible Memory passage for the month of December: Revelation 5:12, “They said with a loud voice: Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
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