We come next to the promise of the angel. A promise is of no greater value than the person upon whom it is based. The angel does not promise of himself but bases the promise on the person of God. He does this by appealing to the person of God. He speaks on behalf of God and not on behalf of himself. He appeals wholly to God in two different ways; physically and verbally. First, he appeals to God physically. Our text says, “And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven….” This angel is stepping on earth as a witness for God and speaks the truth in the name of God. Jamieson et al stated “It was customary to lift up the hand towards heaven, appealing to the God of truth, in taking a solemn oath.” Such custom still lives on today. When we arrive before a court of law to offer testimony we lift up our hands and swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. So does this angelic witness. He already had a book open in one hand and with the other hand he gestures toward heaven. Without a doubt this was meant to mirror the 12th chapter of Daniel regarding the time of the end. There the angel lifted both hands up to heaven but here it is just one. There the book was sealed but here it is open. But the truth is still the same. “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. Then I Daniel looked, and, behold, there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river. And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished. And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days” (Daniel 12:4-11). The end is being declared by this witness, the time of Jacob’s trouble. What is to follow is the abomination of desolation and the scattering of Israel. This is the end that was declared by Christ.
There is not only an appeal to God physically but verbally. Our text goes on to say, “And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein….” First, He swore by Him the liveth. There is not one doubt that this is a statement exclusive to nature of God and spoken by the angel about God. However, the term has already been used by Christ in this book to describe Himself (Rev. 1:18). This book teaches the divinity of Christ. The Bible declares of God, “the Lord liveth… (PS. 18:46).” God is life. He has life in Himself. God is the source of life. God has lived since eternity past and will live in all points of eternity future. He is outside of time and His relationship to time is that He is the great I am. God liveth. Secondly, he appealed to the Creator (Ex. 20:11). The early Christians often used this idiom to refer to the God that they served; the God that created the heaven, the earth, and the sea and all things that are in them (Acts 4:24, 14:15). Nehemiah also invoked the same prayer in his worship of God (Neh. 9:6). We serve the God that has creative ownership over all things. All the things contained in heaven (celestial beings and spiritual realities), all things on the earth (terrestrial beings, all air, all microbes, all living creatures), and all things in the sea (all moving creatures therein and even the sea itself). He brought them into existence by the word of His power. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1). Therefore the Scripture says, “Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places” (Ps. 135:6). Therefore God has a right to judge all things. This is the God that is appealed to. There is a time of shaking of all things coming and that time has come: “For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts” (Hag. 2:6, 7). Before the desire of nations comes there will be a shaking of all things in heaven, in earth, and sea. This epitaph leads to all to look to heaven and the coming of Christ.
We go then from the appeal to the promise that is based on the appeal. There are two aspects of the promise delivered by the angel: the end of time and the finishing of the mystery. First, consider the promise of time. The angel swore that “there should be time no longer….” We have already touched on the meaning of this but let us try to dig a little deeper. We know from verse seven that this matter of time being no longer is connected with what will happen at the sounding of the seventh trumpet. The seventh trumpet will sound bringing forth the seven bowls of God’s wrath which will draw men on to Armageddon and the coming of Christ. The term does not mean that the process of time will stop. Time in and of itself will continue to be experienced throughout eternity by us created being. The first meaning of this phrase means that opportunity is gone. Time equals opportunity. We are to redeem the time because the days are evil (Eph. 5:16). Man had space to repent and that chance is passed. Time and chance happens to us all. Time and chance was given to them; now time and chance is gone. There is no repentance under judgment. It is too late when the door of the ark is closed to repent. It is too late when the fire is falling on Sodom to turn to the Lord. The next meaning there will be no further delay. God had prolonged the days because of His mercy. The longsuffering of God is salvation (II Pet. 3:15). God will no longer delay the judgment. The longsuffering of God has coming to an end. Also, consider the fact that the times of the Gentiles is coming to an end (Luke 21:24). Daniel foretold that the Gentile nations (Babylon, Rome, Greece, and Persia) would rule until the stone cut out of the mountain smote the image of the Gentile kings and fills the earth (Dan. 2). This therefore is the declaration or promise that it is finished; the time of man’s rule is numbered and finished. The bridegroom has tarried long enough.
The second part of the promise is the finishing of the mystery. “But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.” Notice that days is plural and not singular. All that it accomplished from the moment the seventh angel begins to sound until the moment Christ steps foot on this earth is encompassed in these days which were numbered at three and one half years (Dan. 12:7). These days will be known as the Great Tribulation (Matt 24:21). It is in these days that the mystery of God should be finished. This mystery was said to have been declared by the servants of God; the prophets. So we should be able to determine the meaning from the Scripture. This book is about the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Since the fall of man God has been hidden to man. History is about the unfolding of the mystery of God. “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (I Tim. 3:16). It is the complete revelation of God who is in Christ that is finished. There is so much that is wrapped up in this mystery. With the fulfillment of this mystery is the finishing of the mystery of the restoration of Israel (Rom. 11:25). The mystery of the glorification (I Cor. 15:51, Col. 1:27). The mystery of the church as the bride of Christ (Eph. 5:32). And the mystery of the Kingdom of God that is spiritually hidden in the hearts of persecuted believers and hidden in parables until the time of judgment (Mark 4:11). Barnes stated, “Here the particular reference is to the divine purpose which had been long concealed respecting the destiny of the world, or respecting the setting up of his kingdom, but which had been progressively unfolded by the prophets. That purpose would be “finished,” or consummated, in the time when the seventh angel should begin to sound. Then all the “mystery” would be revealed; the plan would be unfolded; the divine purpose, so long concealed, would be manifested, and the kingdom of the Messiah and of the saints would be set up on the earth. Under that period, the affairs of the world would be ultimately wound up, and the whole work of redemption completed.” When Daniel touched on the end he was told to seal the book up but here is opened and ready to be finished. All of the prophets have looked forward to these things and there will be a finishing of these things. This is the beginning of the sounding of the seventh trumpet of the marching of Jericho and our God is taking the city of this world when it sounds. The next chapter gives this commentary on our text: “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).