Welcome to a Revelation of Jesus. In this video we will start exploring the meaning of Seven Thunders. In the last several videos we have been studying the first six trumpets. We have found that they describe a brutal war at the end of earth’s history that will be led by Satan, appearing as the angel of the bottomless pit. The sixth trumpet is particularly catastrophic, involving an army of 200 million soldiers and resulting in the death of a third of humanity.
But even these disastrous conditions do not bring people to their senses: “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands… they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts” (Revelation 9:20,21).
In these verses we see that things cannot get bad enough to bring about real change in the human heart. Only love, grace, and the influence of the Holy Spirit can bring about real repentance. And in Revelation chapter 10 we see a dramatic change in the Revelation narrative as God reveals His plans to extend his grace and bring multitudes into His family. Even the language John uses changes, from comparisons and similes that describe a literal war to symbols and metaphors that describe the activity of God and His servants!
Here is a brief overview of what we will study in chapters 10 and 11.
John first sees a strange angel standing over the waters who roars out the cryptic seven thunders. Then the angel gives John a book to eat and instructions to prophesy again. Like Ezekiel, he is instructed to measure a symbolic temple.
Two witnesses appear who prophesy in sackcloth with signs and miracles. When they finish their testimony they are killed by the beast from the bottomless pit, and the followers of the beast rejoice. But after three and a half days the two witnesses come back to life and ascend into heaven, as an earthquake shakes the world to its core. A symbolic 7,000 choose eternal death in their rejection of God’s grace and mercy, but a sizable remnant responds to Jesus’ initiative, fearing God and giving glory to Him.
This section is often referred to as an interlude. An interlude is a pause between the main acts of a play, like an intermission with some kind of peripheral performance.
But it doesn’t seem to me that there is anything peripheral about this section. First of all, chapters 10 and 11 are an integral part of the Seven Trumpets. Only after this section is finished is there an announcement that “the second woe, [in other words, the sixth trumpet], is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly” (Revelation 11:14).
But more importantly, this section gets to the core of the Revelation story. God is bringing the sin tragedy to an end, but He is doing it in such a way that everyone who will live through the traumatic birth pains into the new age will have a chance to be a part of the eternal kingdom.
God is even now preparing an army of witnesses who are qualified through the influence of the Holy Spirit to demonstrate the love and the power of Jesus, in the midst of Satan’s utmost efforts to hold onto the world that he claims as his own.
The seven thunders, the little book, the measuring of the temple and the drama of the two witnesses are symbolic depictions of how God is going to do this.
There is a lot in this section, and the vast range of interpretations that are out there show that the meaning is not obvious. We will need to pull out the Revelation toolbox and carefully examine the symbols and links to find out what it all means.
“[John] saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire. And he had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the land, and cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. And when he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices. Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, [John] was about to write; but [he] heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered and do not write them” (Revelation 10:1-4).
This is a strange-looking angel and an even stranger message. Although the seven thunders are so important that they are delivered in great glory and majesty, thundered with the voice of God from heaven, John was told to “seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered and do not write them” (Revelation 10:4).
At first glance, it seems like God doesn’t want us to know what the seven thunders said. This is in stark contrast to the seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls which have many chapters with a lot of detail that we can study in order to understand them. But knowing that God gave the book of Revelation to reveal Jesus, we can be sure that within the sparse information that we have there will be a rich treasure trove of insight and inspiration.
First of all, there were seven thunders. All of the sevens in Revelation are prophetic.
The seven churches outline the history of the Christian church, which was in the future when John wrote Revelation. The seven seals describe the judgment that takes place at the end of time. The seven trumpets foretell the beginning of the great tribulation. The seven bowls tell how the tribulation will end. With this in mind, we can expect that the seven thunders are also prophetic.
Consider also how the seven thunders were delivered. The mighty angel “cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. When he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices” (Revelation 10:2,3).
The prophet Amos links the roaring of a lion with the revelation of prophecies that reveal the future. “Surely the Lord does nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord has spoken! Who can but prophesy?” (Amos 3:7,8).
We gain further insight by seeing how thunder is used as a symbol in Revelation:
- in Revelation 4:5 thunders introduce the first phase of the final judgment,
- in Revelation 8:5 thunderings announce the beginning of the Seven Trumpets,
- in Revelation 11:19 thunderings introduce the final phase of the great tribulation,
- in Revelation 16:18 thunderings announce the overthrow of Babylon,
- and in Revelation 19:6 thunderings announce the marriage of the Lamb.
We have a lot more to study about these major events, but we can already see that thunderings are prophetic announcements of a new phase of God’s initiatives.
We also note that the seven thunders are sealed.
The book of Daniel has two examples of sealed prophecies that can help us know the significance of the seal. In Daniel chapter 8 the prophet saw a vision of the empires that would oppress God’s people. An angel asked, “how long will the vision be?” The angel who was narrating the vision announced, “For two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed” (Daniel 8:13,14).
This was very confusing. “Daniel had seen the vision and was seeking the meaning…” but instead of explaining all of the details, the angel told him, “The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future” (Daniel 8:15, 26). The implication was that God intended the sealed vision to be understood, but the understanding would not come until the distant future when the information would be relevant.
Likewise, in Daniel chapter 11 an angel narrated the long history of the war between the king of the north and the king of the south that we studied in video 31. At the end of the vision Daniel still had many questions, and asked, “How long shall the fulfillment of these wonders be?… My Lord, what shall be the outcome of these things?”
The angel explained that there would be wondrous events and mysterious time periods, but he concluded by saying, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end… none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand”, “seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (Daniel 12:8,9,4).
From this passage we see that much of God’s prophetic revelation has been sealed, in other words, the meaning has not been revealed. But at the time of the end when the information is relevant, many will “run to and fro,” which I take to mean that people will get together and compare what they have learned in their studies of the scriptures, and “knowledge shall increase,” in other words, the meanings of prophecies that have been enigmatic shall become clear.
This passage in Daniel is particularly relevant to our study of the Seven Thunders when we consider that the angel who gave the message to Daniel in chapters 10-12 is the same angel who announced the seven thunders in Revelation chapter 10. Notice first of all that their appearances are very similar, keeping in mind that Daniel and John each described what they saw using their own descriptive vocabulary.
Daniel saw “a certain man clothed in linen”; John’s angel was similarly “clothed with a cloud”.
The face of Daniel’s messenger “was like the appearance of lightning”; The face of John’s angel was also dazzlingly bright, “like the sun”.
The feet of Daniel’s messenger “were like burnished bronze in color;” The feet of John’s angel had the same color, “like pillars of fire”.
Daniel’s messenger “was standing above the waters,” and the angel who appeared to John was also standing above the water as he “set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the earth” (Daniel 10:5,6,12:6, Revelation 10:1,2).
The actions and words of the two messengers are also remarkably similar, and confirm that these are the same angels with the same message. Daniel’s angel “held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven… and swore by Him who lives forever” (Daniel 12:7). John’s angel also “lifted up his hand to heaven and swore by Him who lives forever and ever (Revelation 10:5,6).
Finally, as we already saw, the meaning of the words that both Daniel and John heard were sealed, and in Daniel’s case the angel specified that the book was to be “sealed… until the time of the end” (Daniel 12:9, Revelation 10:4).
We have now come to “the time of the end,” the last remnant of human history before the Great Tribulation and the Second Coming of Christ. According to what we have studied, Daniel’s sealed book and the sealed Seven Thunders contain prophetic information relative to our time. This information could not be understood at the time it was given, but now, as we get closer to the events that were prophesied, “many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall increase… the wicked shall do wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand” (Daniel 12:4,10).
What kind of things will the wise understand at the time of the end? Daniel’s messenger specified a number of them.
He said that near the end of the terrible war described in Daniel 11 “Michael shall stand up… your people shall be delivered… many who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake… those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:1-3).
This is very positive news when we consider all of the bad news we have seen in the first six trumpets.
Daniel’s messenger continues with some very specific information. In answer to the question, “How long shall the fulfillment of these wonders be?” the messenger announces, “It shall be for a time, times and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished (Daniel 12:7).
Daniel, wanting more clarification of what this meant, asked, “My Lord, what shall be the outcome of these things?” He was told, “The words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end… from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he who waits and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days” (Daniel 12:8-13).
Did you notice how the angel’s narrative has links to other prophesies that we have touched on in previous videos? For example, he mentioned the prophetic period of “time, times and half a time”. This is a direct quotation from Daniel 7 where the wicked horn “shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and intend to change times and law; then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time” (Daniel 7:25).
This same period is also mentioned in Revelation 12:14 where “the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent”. We obviously need to understand the meaning and significance of this time period which is mentioned repeatedly in such crucial passages of scripture.
Daniel’s angel also mentioned the abomination of desolation.
The abomination of desolation appears in three places in the book of Daniel. Even more significantly, Jesus, in His prophetic narrative in Matthew 24 warned, “When you see the abomination of desolation spoke of by Daniel the prophet (whoever reads, let him understand)… flee to the mountains” (Matthew 24:15). Jesus made it clear that by the time the abomination of desolation arrives, we will be able to know what it is, and its appearance will be a critical signal for His followers.
Jesus gave His Matthew 24 discourse in answer to the disciples’ question, “what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” ( Mathew 24:3). He made it clear that no one knows the day and hour of His coming, “not even the angels of heaven” (Matthew 24:36). But in His discourse He gave a list of signs and events that would let His followers know when the time was near.
Jesus said, “I have told you now before it happens so that when it does happen, you will believe” (John 14:29). As we enter the final events there will be an overwhelming flood of misinformation and terrifying developments.
God’s followers will find comfort and hope that they can share with others as they realize that Jesus predicted the things that they see happening around them. We will be able to rejoice in the midst of the chaos that the end of the prophetic story is just the beginning of our glorious eternal future.
To summarize, this video has presented evidence that the seven thunders consist of last-day prophecies that have to do with the timing, the events, the signs, and the judgments leading up to the return of Christ.
These prophecies have been misunderstood throughout the centuries, and indeed they were not intended to be understood at the time they were given. But God intends that in the last days God’s people will come together to prayerfully study these prophecies, and as a result “knowledge will increase”.
These prophecies include the visions of Daniel. We did a brief overview of Daniel’s visions in video 3, but we did not study their enigmatic time prophecies, including those in chapter 12 that deal with the final events. The seven thunders also provide an understanding of Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 24 including the abomination of desolation, the signs in the sun, moon and stars, and the days of Noah.
By now I hope you can see that the Bible prophecies are intertwined. We cannot fully understand the Book of Revelation without understanding the other prophecies that are linked to it. With that in mind, we are going to take some time in the next couple of videos to study the Seven Thunders by analyzing the visions of Daniel and Jesus’ discourse in Matthew 24.
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