Monday, January 19, 2009
Revelation 15:1 - 8
Chapter 15 is a preparatory portion of Scripture. Its eight verses serve as an introduction to the seven vial or bowl judgments described in chapter 16.
Verse 1: 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.
The sign John now views in heaven is awe-inspiring. Seven angels-possibly the seven angels or messengers of the seven churches mentioned in chapters 2 and 3-are about to pour out the final seven plagues upon earth. This is the completion of God's judgment when His wrath is unleashed against rebellious mankind.
Verse 2: 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.
As explained in chapter 4, verse 6, the sea of glass speaks of tranquility. It is calm and stable, and typifies: (1) the Church at rest, or (2) God's living Word. Solomon's Temple contained a sea of glass, depicting the Word of God, as a means of sanctification. Notice that the sea of glass in our text is mixed with fire. This is a beautiful picture of believers standing firmly for Christ under the test of fire, haying their feet planted on the Word of God. The Apostle Peter speaks of this matter when he says, That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:7). Thus, there is no doubt whatsoever that the Tribulation saints enjoy victory over the beast, his image, his mark and the number of his name (666) by the Word of God and prayer. They died for the name of Jesus and are conquerors because of death. Had they remained alive by accepting the beast and his number, they would have been losers. Instead, they are victors, because to die in Christ is gain (see Philippians 1:21). This is why they stand upon the sea of glass- a picture of the Word of God-and are also serenaded and soothed by heaven's harpists.
Verse 3: 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.
Verse 4: 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.
This group, saved out of the Tribulation, sings the song of Moses. The meaning? Back to Exodus, chapter 14. Moses and his people were being hotly pursued by Pharaoh and his armies. Finally the Israelites arrived at the Red Sea. There God parted the waters so that His people could cross over on dry land. As Pharaoh's military geniuses followed, the waters closed in upon them, and they died. The Israelites, realizing the protection of God on their behalf in sparing them from the Egyptian ruler-a type of the Antichrist-began to sing a song of worship, praise, and adoration to Jehovah: The horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea (Exodus 15:1). Now, centuries later, redeemed Jews who through death left earth's Tribulation miseries behind, sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. This does not mean they use the same lyrics as the people of Moses' day, but rather that they-as Jews-identify with Moses, the great Jewish leader. They belong to Moses, nationally and to the Lord Jesus Christ, spiritually, for their song is also about the Lamb. The words are Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.
Verse 4 reflects the attributes of the King of the nations during the Millennium. Then He is revered because the world fears and glorifies His name. Also, in homage and respect to His holiness and His mighty acts of judgment and subjugation, all nations come to worship in His presence. This is in harmony with Isaiah 2:2 and 3: And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.Zechariah agrees in chapter 14, verses 16 and 17: And 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, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain.
Verse 5: And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:
The Ark of the Testimony was kept in the Temple or the Tabernacle or the Holy of Holies. Under Moses, it was concealed from the eyes of the people. Its mysteries were beyond them. That day is now finally over. The way of the Holiest is open to all, including the Tribulation saints. Now they may view His workings, because they have access to His abiding place.
Verse 6: 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.
The sight of the seven angels coming out of the Temple is breathtaking and frightening. In the earthly Tabernacle and Temple, men were not allowed entrance. Even the high priest could go in but once each year, and then only after rigid ceremonial standards had been observed. The angels, however, have been admitted because they are created beings of holiness to administer the upcoming bowl judgments. The pure and white linen and golden girdles worn by these angels are the same items of clothing worn by Old Testament priests. In other words, angel-priests are about to judge the world from the place where God's Law rests-the Holy of Holies. This judgment is necessary because mankind has desecrated God's laws globally. The fact that there are seven angels-the number of perfection and completeness-proves that no stone will be left unturned as they execute their seven judgments upon planet earth. Hence, as they leave the Temple, they are given their bowls or vials of judgment.
Verse 7: 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.
Verse 8: 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.
In concluding this chapter, verse 8 conclusively proves that the Temple area is sealed to angels and men during the final forty-two months of the Tribulation hour. God's throne, which symbolizes mercy and love, is shut to the public until the period of judgment ends. This, of course, is during the outpouring of the seven bowls of unprecedented judgment. When God's judgment has been completed, men may then again approach the Mercy Seat. Until that time, however, all is hazy and dark because of the smoke which fills the Temple.