Revelation 15

Revelation 15  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 7
“AND I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God." (Ver. 1.) Next John beholds another sign in heaven. It is great and marvelous. He had seen the breaking of the seven seals of the roll of judgment, counsels and mysteries of God. He had heard the loud announcement of the seven trumpets. Now he sees seven angels having the seven last plagues. As we enter somewhat into the detail, we shall see there is a strong analogy between them and the plagues which fell upon Egypt in the days of Moses. In these seven plagues the fury of God is completed. The prophet has written of the Lord, "When thy judgments are abroad in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness." (Isa. 26:9.) Many have buoyed themselves up with the vain thought that the world will be converted and learn righteousness through the preaching of the gospel. Satan delights to blind men, and to hide from them, if possible, the fact that the Lord's kingdom will be ushered in with judgment. Judgments will precede and also accompany His public manifestation and intervention. These seven plagues, the completion of God's fury, carry us close up to the Lord's own appearing.
“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." (Ver. 2.) The prophet again sees a sea of glass, but it is mingled with fire. We are introduced to a sphere where no washing is required and where no judgment can ever enter. A vast company is standing upon it. Who are they? Apparently the faithful in the hour of tribulation. They had been in the midst of the awful scenes attendant on Satan's day, when his men were in power. Refusing to bow to the beast, or to his image, or to receive the number of his name, they were supported of God, and had overcome. They issue victorious from the deadly conflict, and are seen in the vision standing in triumph upon the sea of glass mingled with fire, with the harps of God, ready to sound His glory and praise. In the hour of their severe trial, they had kept themselves pure, and had suffered. But that day is over, and they stand with a sea of glass mingled with fire beneath their feet.
“And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints for nations]. 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." (Verses 3, 4.) This triumphant company bursts out in song, but it is one of a very different character from the new song that the heavenly saints sing around the throne of God in heaven. It carries one's thoughts back, on the one hand, to the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt, and to the song that Moses, the servant of God, and that people sang on the banks of the Red Sea; and, on the other, to the work of redemption wrought by the Lamb of God in His finished work upon the cross. There is the joyful recognition of the great and marvelous works of Jehovah Elohim Shaddai, and of His justice and truth displayed in His ways. He is addressed as King, not of saints, but of nations. And it looks on to the day when all shall be compelled to bow before Him. "Who shall not fear thee, O, Lord, and glorify thy name?" The fear of the Lord will be universal in that day. Every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that He is Lord, and glory far and wide redound to His name. He is never viewed as the King of saints. It is a mis-rendering of the original. But He is the King of nations. And this redeemed company, having refused Satan's man, the false king, will gladly sing the praises of the true King. He is holy, and they will own it, and all nations shall come and worship before Him, for His righteousness (not judgments) will have been made manifest. "All kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.”
(Psa. 72:11.) It shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts," etc. (Zech. 14:16-19.) His righteousness will be made manifest both in judgment and in blessing. As King, He shall reign in righteousness; and justice and judgment shall be the habitation of His throne.
“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." (Verses 5, 6.) The temple is the house itself (and everywhere in the Revelation, New Trans.). It is in heaven, and is now opened. The One who dwells there in His holiness is the same whose glory dwelt of old in the tabernacle of witness in the midst of His people. Here He is about to vindicate His glory and holiness. The seven angels having the seven last plagues, which John saw in verse 1, come out of the temple. These heavenly messengers are the executors of His fury. They are clothed in pure bright linen, in harmony with the spotless purity of Him who employs them, and the sphere where He dwells, from which they proceed on their mission. And they are girded about the breasts with golden girdles: braced up in righteousness for the execution of the judgments entrusted to them.
“And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth forever and ever. 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." (Verses 7, 8.) One of the four beasts, or living creatures, described in Rev. 4, and connected so intimately with the throne of God, gives seven golden vials, or bowls, full of the wrath of God, to the seven angels. These vessels are of a different character from that which is conveyed by the English word "vial." The original word signifies "a bowl," that is, an open vessel, the contents of which fall with great force upon the objects upon which it is emptied. They are full of the fury of Him who liveth to the age of ages.
And the temple where God's glory dwells is filled with smoke. It denotes His glory in judgment. His glory, as we have seen, will be vindicated, and His power in judgment made manifest. All intercession on behalf of those implicated in the evil to be judged ceases, and mercy ceases to flow. No one could enter into the temple until the seven awful plagues of the fury of God had done their dire work. Chapter 16 gives the detail of the pouring out of the contents of the bowls. It is no longer a question of the third part, as under the trumpets; the judgments under the bowls sea to be more extended.