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.
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.
3 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.
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.
5 And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:
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.
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.
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.
The 15th chapter is with 8 verses the shortest text section of the Apocalypse. Before I come to the content, I would like call to mind that the subdivision in chapters we make use of today was implemented first in 1206 by the Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton, and the division into verses was introduced 1551 by the Geneva printer Robert Stephens (Estienne).
In practice, this has proven to be extremely useful in order to find a sentence quickly and to accurately determine the scripture. For better orientation, the passages in the various editions of the Bible were also given different headlines, which were also not existing in the original text. All these tools are useful. However, in the conclusions derived they bring the readers on the wrong track when the surrounding action is disregarded.
Frequently foolish preachers take individual Bible verses out of context, to confuse intentionally or unintentionally the audience, and far too often to obstruct the access into the kingdom of God. I am sure that only a few readers have ever reflected where the often quoted, warning mnemotechnic verse is embedded in Hebrews 13, 8:
‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever’. The preceding and following statement is a completely different strengthening of the body of Christ:
“Remember your leaders, who have spoken the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith … Do not let yourself be carried away by diverse and strange teachings … “
All the same, I remind us of the mistakable, most popular Bible verse in Scripture, namely John 3, 16, which is nearly almost cited out of context (see chapter 14). Not coincidentally happens the temptation of Jesus through the devil just by deliberately quoting a blessing Psalm word (Luke 4, 10 &11). For this reason, when we examine the Word of God we never should loose the whole picture in mind: “All your words are true, and every one of your righteous judgments endure forever.” (Psalm 119, 160)
In many places it does not fit into the concept of atheists that they once will be held to account in another world for their conducted, unpunished trespasses. Similarly, in modern theology the angry, punitive God of the Old Testament has changed in the all-loving Father in heaven, who is always obtainable and no more longer to be feared. I also believe in a new covenant with better promises, but just as God hasn’t changed, the behaviour of his people didn’t change in the course of history. In the Old Testament the people of Israel were constantly running after other gods, and this is also true since the beginning of Acts with us Christians.
Those who won’t believe as charismatics that the dance around the golden calf is repeated today are welcome to continue to finance the private jets and mansions of the mammon begging U.S. televangelists. Supposedly, it’s only about precious souls which must be saved, and as a result, our own prosperity is guaranteed through donations. In truth, we are longing to return to the fleshpots of Egypt and have not really left behind our old life.
Moses revealed in the Law that יהוה = YHWH is the Lord and God who delivered them from Egypt. He is a jealous covenant God, whose anger erupts when we worship other gods by making images of them to bow in reverence before them.
Corresponding this brings us to the matter. The wrath of God is continued in the seven plagues of the 15th chapter. John sees again a sign in heaven which is progressively completed in the unveiling. It’s great and marvellous: seven angels !!!!!!!
Now I don’t want to anticipate what happens when from the seven bowls of God’s wrath are poured out in chapter 16, even though everything belongs together. According to my feeling the procedures are too cruel, to compare them with the glory of God in his temple. But in contrast, in Exodus 14 verse 17 it was the glory of God, which was revealed to the pursuing Pharaoh, his sinking chariots, and drowning men of war through the pillar of cloud. A chapter later in the song of Moses we hear the identical sound:
Lord, who is like you among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises doing wonders? You have stretched out your right hand, the earth swallowed them.
Unforgotten, God’s power and strength was testified in the supernatural character of the ten plagues and the subsequent redemption from slavery, of which the Passover Feast remembers.
The imagery of the sea of glass, as well as the song of Moses, that is also mentioned by John in chapter 15 of Revelation, is clearly representing a parallel to the deliverance from Egypt and the victorious crossing of the Red Sea. We should thank the Lord and the sacrificial Lamb that they delivered us from all this mess. The Pharaoh is of course a picture of the devil and Egypt of our old lives as slaves to sin. 1 Corinthians 10, 2 compares the crossing of the Red Sea with the baptism. Thereafter was nothing to fear of Pharaoh and his servants, for they are drown forever in the water.
Unbelievable? No, here are pictures of Egyptian chariot wheels which were found in the Red Sea: http://www.covenantkeepers.co.uk/red_sea.htm
At the sight of the archaeological finds, the fear of God should come on us, which leads me back to the six angels in chapter 14. How does the eternal Gospel sound that the first angel proclaims?
Fear God and give him the glory, for the hour of his judgment has come!
How is the judgment of God executed? In the same measurement as the great city of Babylon has made drink the nations of the cup of her fornication, she gets the cup of God’s wrath poured out.
Why had the firstborns of Egypt to die in the tenth plague? The book of Exodus begins with the from Pharaoh arranged murder of all Hebrew male babies.
How do I know whether I am on the right side? The worship of the Lamb in the heavenly voice of the 144,000 harp singer is continued from the overcomers who stand at the sea of glass. Also equipped with the harps of God, they triumph over the beast, over his image, and over the number of his name. Reminder: You should not actually separate each chapter, but get a view of all descriptions in an overall image with a perfected seven-symbolism. The third angel of Revelation 14 proclaimed:
“If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation. And he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever, and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.”
After the trumpet of the sixth angel Revelation 9 ends with defiant people who continue to stand against God’s commandments:
“And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood, which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk. Neither repented they of of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.”
The first commandment handed out through Moses on stone tablets starts straight:
“I am the Lord, your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”
Yes or no? Is that true in your life? Has he delivered you from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of his dear Son? Are we grateful for his salvation and the forgiveness of sins?
Revelation 12, 11:
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. And they loved not their lives unto the death.”
Forward-looking we also attune in a divine worship service with the conquerors standing on the sea of glass in singing:
“Great and marvellous are your works, Lord + God + Almighty, just and true are your ways, you King of saints. Who shall not fear you, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations shall come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
In Revelation 17 we will see that many waters are used as a picture of peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages. In his last major speech, in Matthew 24, Jesus prophesied that the Gospel of His Kingdom will be preached to all the nations in all the world until the end comes. In one of his parables the elect will be gathered from one end of heaven to the other, from all four winds, by his with the trumpet call sent out angels. At the end, the separation of men is described as follows:
When the Son of man shall come in all his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered all nations, and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
The separation of the righteous to eternal life and the unrighteous to eternal punishment takes place – shortly summarized – by their committed and not committed acts of charity (see Matthew 25).
This is not at all difficult to understand. Unless one has no ears to hear, is sleepy or otherwise lulled. Inactivity leads straight into the deadly destruction of eternal separation from God. A hidden wisdom shines in Revelation 14 on a special seven-branched light:
The Son of Man will appear in the middle of six angels with a sharp sickle in his hand and a golden crown on his head. The harvest of the grapes will not be painful for us, if the old man (our old sinful life) is given into death (crucified with Jesus):
Do you not know that as many of us were baptised into Christ were baptised into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up by the glory of the Father from the dead, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted with him in the likeness of his death, we be also in the likeness of his resurrection. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Romans 6, 3-7)
The logic of Romans is not to everybody’s taste: We are all sinners and are justified alone by faith!
According to Apostle Peter the writings of the Apostle Paul are distorted by ignorant and unstable people to their own destruction (2 Peter 3, 16). Unmistakable describes he of all people, Saul, the former Pharisee from the tribe of Benjamin and former persecutor of Christians, in 2 Thessalonians 1, 6-8 God’s righteousness through reward and punishment in the judgment:
Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you. And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels; in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is God’s kindness that leads us in his forbearance to repentance, because he does not want us to be lost. At some point – at least with death – God’s patience will end and his anger breaks out.
“How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?”,
questioningly call the souls of those who have been murdered because of the word of God and for their testimony, at the opening of the fifth seal in Revelation 6. Then John describes the great day of his wrath with the opening of the sixth seal:
And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every slave, and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?
The twenty-four elders fall on their faces and speak after the sounding of the seventh trumpet:
We give you thanks, O Lord – God – Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. And the nations were angry, and your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should give reward unto your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your name, small and great; and that you should destroy them which destroy the earth. And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his covenant, and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
The hymn above of Revelation 11 and the opening of the temple happen in the same remarkable way as described in chapter 15. The opening of the seals, the blowing of trumpets, and the pouring out of the bowls of wrath pass by in the visions of John indeed sequentially, but they are similar and difficult to separate chronological. Accordingly, after half an hour of silence the seventh seal proceeds into the seven trumpets of the seven angels. The reader should repeatedly reflect the Almighty, who is, and who was, and who is to come, and you should meditate again and again over time, times, and half a time. In the Apocalypse John is walking in the Spirit to see the Day of the Lord as an ongoing judgment.
And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.
Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, the high priest went into the Holy of Holies of the tabernacle (later the temple), and achieved the propitiation for the people, by the sacrificial blood he sprinkled on the lid of the Ark of the Covenant. A great misfortune for the fasting and praying people meant when the bells on the hem of his robe stopped ringing and thus signalled the death of the unrefined high priest. A similar catastrophe for the people opens up at the opening of the temple – the tabernacle of the Testimony – in heaven. For me it looks as if a propitiation is impossible at the time of the outpouring of the seven bowls of wrath, because the glory of God prevents an entering of the temple. The outbreak of the plagues is a done deal of God, which also confirms the intervention of one of the four living creatures. Pure white linen robes and golden chest belts symbolize a reverent priestly service, as it already embodies the Son of man in Revelation 1, when John fell down before his feet as if dead.
One of the great mysteries of Revelation is the description of Jesus Christ as our eternal High Priest who performs his service in the heavenly sanctuary. This is particularly clear in the letter to the Hebrews, which requires the knowledge of the Torah. The symbolism of the tabernacle and the temple is likewise seen >but hidden< in the structure of the Gospel of John. I will go in more detail in the new theme category education.
Connoisseurs of the Bible will annotate that at the dedication of the tabernacle for the first time God’s glory was so strong that no one could enter into (Exodus 40). This also happened at the dedication of the Temple of Solomon, where the glory of God filled the house so strong that the priests could not enter. Falling on their faces, they worshipped and praised the Lord, who is good and whose mercy endures forever (2 Chronicles 7, 3).
In both cases, the prescribed offerings in the form of burnt offerings were accepted by the Lord. Particularly impressive is the commitment of Salomon for his people in a long prayer.
Our prayer ministry as Christians is to join the intercession for all people (1 Tim 2, 1). Before the throne of God, the prayers of the saints are collected in golden bowls full of incense (Revelation 5, 8). Likewise, the angels of the little ones who are despised appear always before the face of the Father in heaven (Mt 18, 10). Mark 9, 42 adds:
“And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and were cast into the sea.”
The exceptional service in Revelation 15 is accomplished by pointing the way from the heavenly temple towards the earth.
Woe, when God’s glory is revealed to the dragon and his descendants. Thus, the wrath of God inflames up on all those who worship the image of the beast and take his mark, which is expressed in the plagues of the seven angels in the 16th chapter.