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The Seven Thunders of Revelation 10:3-4

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Question:   I am trying to find subject matter on the seven utterances of God, if you know of this subject please inform me, so that I can get understanding in this area. I found your site today and you can depend upon my returning to it.

  You are, of course, asking about Revelation 10:3-4, the "seven thunders" which "give forth their voices (or utterances)". And, yes, even though in the context they are not directly attributed to God, it seems obvious prima facie that they do originate with Him (cf. the "thunder" which the people hear when the Father speaks in response to Christ's anticipation of the cross: Jn.12:29; cf. Matt.3:17). What the thunders actually say in Rev.10:3-4 was indeed perspicuous to John as we are told, but he was forbidden to write down their "utterances" by a voice from heaven (v.4).

What seems fairly clear from the "thunder" reference is that the seven voices are describing judgments to come upon the earth during the second half of the Tribulation, the so-called "Great Tribulation" (cf. Rev.8:5; 11:19; 16:18 - and consider that in the Old Testament thunder is also often a harbinger of divine judgment, expressing as it does the awesome majesty of God: cf. Ps.29:3-9; Is.29:6). This identification of the seven thunders as likewise portents of coming judgment here as well makes perfect sense when one considers that the Tribulation will be the time of God's greatest judgments upon the earth since the seven days of Genesis (see Rev.11:19; 14:2; 16:18; 19:6, and cf. the discussion in part 1 of The Coming Tribulation).

Furthermore, we should keep in mind the broader context of Revelation chapter ten. Along with the first half of chapter eleven, chapter ten is the dividing point of the book of Revelation, preparing us with important details before the sounding of the seventh trumpet, the event which will launch the second half of the seven years, the Great Tribulation. As such, the proclamation of the angel with the scroll (proclaiming ahead of time God's victory and repossession of earth), and the ministry of the two witnesses (warning the inhabitants of earth during the first half of the Tribulation, and culminating with their execution, resuscitation, and transference to heaven on the threshold of the Great Tribulation) both look forward with foreboding into the darkest days mankind will ever experience. In addition to the terrible events orchestrated by the devil and his earthly minion antichrist, these forty-two months will also be a time of intensifying divine judgment, culminating in the battle of Armageddon at the Second Advent. Therefore it would seem that the seven thunders must be giving specifics about the divine response (in the form awe-inspiring judgments) to Satan and antichrist's activities, chief among which will be the most severe persecution of the Church in world history.

As to the fact that John is not allowed to write down the seven thunders' utterances, Swete (The Apocalypse of St. John) has pointed out that this is paralleled by 2Cor.12:4 where Paul reports on things heard in heaven itself which cannot now be made known - but we do know much about the heavenly scene from Revelation and elsewhere (we just don't know all the specifics). So while we are allowed to know much (and much more than many are interested in finding out by delving into the details of all the Old Testament prophecy that bears on these things), we are not allowed to know everything that John was privy to for reasons that will be clear to us after the fact (consider also the commands to Daniel to "seal up" certain prophecies for the time being: 12:4; 12:9). Of one thing we can be sure, namely, that our God has indeed given us all the information we genuinely need to prepare for and proceed through that most difficult of times, should we be called upon to do so:

So be alert at all times, praying that you may have the power to escape all these things which are destined to happen, and [that you may thus be able] to stand before the Son of Man.     Luke 21:36

Revelation 10:3-4, has now been covered in part 3A of the Coming Tribulation series.  See the links:

The Seven Thunders are a Prediction of Judgment

The Seven Second Advent Judgments (represented by the 7 thunders)

Until then, I hope this helps with your question.

Yours in Christ,

Bob Luginbill

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