We come this time in our ongoing study through the book of Revelation, to chapter 15. This chapter happens to be the shortest of the book, having only eight verses. The opening scene again is heavenly in nature. I want to clarify something I said in an earlier post. I stated that the book of Revelation was not necessarily written in chronological order. That is partially true. There are several interludes, or parenthetical sections of the book. Those sections, chapters 10: – 11:14; 13 – 14; 17 -18 don’t move the narrative along chronologically at all. They give background, “behind the scenes”, if you will, happenings, but don’t connect the events in chronological order. However, the seal, trumpet, and vial (bowl) judgments do follow a chronological order in the sense that the end of one series of “plagues” (and we will explain the significance of this word), begins the next. In fact, the seventh seal contains the seven trumpets, and the seventh trumpet contains the seven vials (bowls).

 

John begins, And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. [Rev. 15:1, 2 KJV] These two chapters, 15 and 16, bring to an end, to a consummation, if you will; the chronologically ordered events leading up to the Second Coming of Christ described in chapter 19. This is the only place in the New Testament where we find the adjectives, “great” and “marvelous” used in conjunction with one another, with the exception of verse 3. This tells us the significance of what is transpiring here. These angels have the, “seven last plagues.” There will be no more after them. The word “plagues” is significant. It is the Greek, plege, and is translated variously in the New Testament as, “plagues, stripes, wound, plague, and wounded.” Strong defines this word also as, “a stroke.” The three series of seven judgments each are in reality a series of strokes, or wounds inflicted on sinful mankind, and these that are about to unleashed are the final ones; completing or, “filling up” the wrath of God.

 

Wrath” here would better be translated, “anger”. The Greek here is, thumos, rather than, orge, the word typically translated as “wrath.” The judgments of the book of Revelation are in reality expressions, outbursts if you will, of God’s anger on sin, and upon that which sin produces. The word for “wrath” describes the inward emotion, whereas “anger” denotes an outburst of the inner feeling. The Bible says that wrath abides [John 3:36], but anger is a temporary exhibition. Wrath is an attitude, anger is an act. The judgments of the Great Tribulation are spoken of in both the Old and New Testaments as the result of God’s anger, while the final outpouring of His displeasure is referred to as “wrath”, exhibited in the destruction of Babylon [See Rev. 16:19]. The Greek word there incidentally is, orge.

 

This vision is introduced as, “another sign in Heaven.” Another is the Greek, allos, indicating, “another of the same kind.” This is another sign of the same type as the ones we saw in chapter 12, the woman who appeared in Heaven, and the Great Red Dragon. When we consider these three signs together, we see three important elements in the prophetic scene: 1) The “Woman” – Israel; 2) The “Red Dragon” – Satan and the final world empire under the control of the dragon and the Beast., and 3) The seven angels having the seven last plagues, that is, the divine judgment upon the Satanic system and the political power of the Beast.

 

The “sea of glass” is not referring to a literal sea, but rather to the floor of the Throne Room of God. It was also seen in 4:6. It was there described as, like unto crystal, which speaks of absolute purity and holiness. Here, in chapter 15, this “sea of glass” is mingled with “fire.” The reason for this seems to be that those whom have gotten the victory over the Beast, and his image, his mark, and the number of his name are now standing on it. They have come out of the “fire” of great trial and adversity and are now standing victorious in the very Throne Room of God. Notice that they have the, “Harps of God.” On a very practical note, even though these individuals will have come through terrible persecution at the hands of the Antichrist and his evil emissaries, they don’t lose their song! Not only do they play these harps, but we are going to see they can and will sing as well. We are told what they will sing.

 

And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.[Rev. 15:3, 4] If we want to know what the “Song of Moses” is, we need to look in Exodus 15:1 – 21 and Deuteronomy 32:1 – 43. Both of these songs deal with God’s deliverance, salvation, and faithfulness. They also sing the “Song of The Lamb.” We saw that song back in 5:9 – 12. It deals with ascribing praise to Christ as the Redeemer. The two songs are needed to complete Israel. It cannot be complete without the “Song of The Lamb.” Some commentators have suggested that these two “songs” unite the Church of the Old Testament with the Church of the New Testament, (if we can use that terminology), with Moses being the deliverer of the Old, and Christ the deliverer of the New. Notice please the phrase, just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. This can also be translated, King of the Nations (NASB), or King of the Ages (RV). Regardless of the rendering, in the coming Kingdom Age, Christ will indeed reign in Jerusalem sitting on the throne of David, and will therefore be King of Israel. However He will also rule all nations from Jerusalem, and will therefore be “King of the Nations.” There will not be a place on earth where He will not be worshiped in the Kingdom Age, and He therefore will be “King of the Ages” as well.

 

And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened: And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles. [Rev. 15:5, 6] An important scene change occurs here. After John sees the victorious Tribulation saints standing on the “Sea of glass”, playing their harps while singing the song of Moses and the Lamb, he now witnesses the preparation for the pouring out of the seven final plagues on earth, concluding with the full outpouring of the wrath of God on sinful man and a sin cursed earth. He sees the, temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven opened. First, it should be observed that this is the Temple in Heaven, of which the earthly temple was patterned. It is the “Temple of the testimony” referring to the Holy of holies, in which is the Ark of The Covenant, in which is the “testimony” or the tablets containing the Ten Commandments.

 

Seven angels now appear with seven last plagues. They come out of the Temple, indicating that the Judgments of God are not vindictive, but vindicative. They are “clothed in white”, representing the righteous nature of their acts. They are, “girded with golden girdles”, which we learned from 1:13 is the clothing of the glorified Christ, indicating that they are doing His bidding. These are the vial judgments. They are not, like the judgment of the trumpets, calls to repentance; they are plagues on those who have refused to return, who have rejected the Mercy and Grace of God.

 

And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever. [Rev. 15:7] “Beasts” is really an unfortunate translation here. The Greek is, zoon, and would be more accurately translated, “living creatures”, or “living ones.” The word for “beast”, as used for the Antichrist in 13:1, is therion, and means, “a dangerous, venomous, wild beast.”

these, “zoon” (living creatures) are before the Throne of God [See 4:7 – 9], and one of them hands the seven angels, seven golden vials full of the wrath of God. During this yet future seven-year period of time, the world will face the “seven sealed judgments” [Rev. 5:1], the “seven trumpet judgments” [Rev. 8:2], and now the “seven vial judgments.”

 

These are “vials”, from the Greek, phiale, which actually is a “broad, shallow cup.” Thayer adds this is a “deep saucer.” There would be more width than depth here. If the contents were poured out of such a “vial”, it would not be a slow outpouring, but a sudden splash emptying the contents very quickly. They are “golden” signifying the “wrath of God.”

 

And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled. [Rev. 15:8] The smoke will be the result of the Glory filling the Temple. This is the common symbol of the divine presence in the Temple. [See Isa. 4:5, 6:4] This is a manifestation of the majesty of God. That is, the smoke was the proper accompaniment of the divine being when appearing in majesty. For example, He is presented as appearing on Mount Sinai, And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. [Ex. 19:18 KJV] I want to suggest two possible reasons for this manifestation in the heavenly Temple. First, the smoke again seems to be the proper symbol of the divine presence. Second, it is as if the smoke fills the Temple to keep anyone from entering the Temple until the seven plagues are fulfilled.

 

It seems that no one will be permitted to enter the Temple to make intercession, in order to turn away the wrath of God, or to divert Him from His purpose. The purpose of punishment will have been formed, and will be executed. In the final months of the Great Tribulation, when these seven last plagues will be unleashed, the agents in this fearful work will be sent forth and they will not be recalled. The Mercy Seat at this time will be inaccessible, the judgment on the great foe will have come, and the destruction of the great enemy of the Church is certain.

 

The preparation for this time is covered here, the actual carrying out of these final judgments await us in the next chapter. If you think the seal and trumpet judgments have been severe; well, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

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