Revelation 15:1-8

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

THE VISION OF THE SEVEN LAST PLAGUES

INTRODUCTION:

Revelation of Jesus Christ 15-16 concludes the chronological events leading up to the Second Coming of Christ.

Whereas Revelation of Jesus Christ 15 leads up to the seven vials or bowls, Revelation of Jesus Christ 16 lists the seven vials or bowls.

I remind you that the chronological order of events in Revelation is presented basically in the seven seals (6:1-17; 8:1).

Remember that the seventh seal is the seven trumpets (8:1 - 9:21; 11:15-19), and remember also that the seventh trumpet is the seven vials or bowls.

The Second Coming of Christ follows immediately after the seventh vial or bowl judgment, which also concludes the seventh trumpet and the seventh seal.

We see -

I. THE SIGN OF THE SEVEN ANGELS WITH THE SEVEN LAST PLAGUES - 15:1-2

Revelation of Jesus Christ 15:1-2 - (1) 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.

Another sign in heaven refers to the two preceding signs of Rev. 12.

Sign 1 - Rev. 12:1 - The woman - A great sign in heaven.

Sign 2 - Rev. 12:3 - The great red dragon - The empire of the beast under Satan's control.

Sign 3 - Rev. 15:1 - Seven angels having the seven last plagues - the final judgments preceding the Second Coming of Christ.

They are the last plagues, i.e. the final judgments preceding the Second Coming.

They fill up the wrath of God, i.e. they bring divine judgment to its conclusion.

I saw refers to John and is the same phrase translated I beheld and I looked.

What John saw was another sign in heaven.

Another is another of the same sort or another of the same kind. In Revelation of Jesus Christ 12:1 it was stated that there appeared a great wonder in heaven, and in Revelation of Jesus Christ 12:3 it was stated that there appeared another wonder in heaven. In both cases the word wonder is the same word translated sign in 15:1.

This is another sign, i.e. another miracle or another wonder, of the same sort he had seen twice in chapter 12.

In heaven indicates where John saw this sign. This heaven is the abode of God rather than the atmospheric or stellar heavens.

This sign is described as being great and marvellous.

Great has to do with the magnitude of this sign and suggests its importance, and marvellous is remarkable, marvelous, or wonderful.

The sign which John saw was seven angels having [i.e. holding] the seven last plagues. Apparently each of the seven angels was holding one of these plagues.

It means that there will be no additional plagues which God will send upon the earth. This is also suggested by the use of the number seven with plagues in that seven is the number of completion or perfection. This is confirmed by the final phrase in the verse: for in them is filled up the wrath of God.

For is the word ordinarily translated because and is to be understood in this sense here as well.

In them means in the seven last plagues.

Is filled up means is brought to an end, is finished, or is completed; and its tense indicates activity which has already been completed. It is so certain of fulfillment that God can speak of it as having already taken place. Furthermore, its translation indicates that the result of its action is being emphasized.

What is filled up is the wrath of God, i.e. God's anger or God's rage. The before wrath implies that it is the sum total of God's wrath which is being filled up. None of it is held back.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 15:2 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.

In verse 2 the scene is in heaven where John sees what looks like a sea of glass mingled with fire. This occurs very near the end of the great tribulation. It occurs just before the seven vial or bowl judgments. On this sea of glass are seen those who have been victorious over the beast, his image, his mark, and his name; and they are holding the harps of God which they will use to accompany themselves in their singing.

I saw again refers to John.

As it were simply means as, but it has been translated in a way which indicates that John was attempting to describe something he saw but did not know how to describe it in any other way.

What John saw is described as a sea of glass mingled with fire. This sea of glass sets God apart from His creation, apparently due to His absolute purity and holiness.

Of glass means transparent as glass. It apparently appeared to be a surface on which people could stand but which was transparent.

Furthermore, it was mingled with fire or mixed with fire. The mixing of fire with this sea of glass had occurred prior to the time that John saw it with the result that the sea of glass was in a state of having already been mixed 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 indicates something else John saw.

Them that had gotten the victory over is the ones who were victors, the ones who prevailed, or the ones who conquered. Its tense indicates that its action had also occurred prior to the time that John saw them.

Over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name indicates the person and things from which these persons had freed themselves by having gained the victory.

Over the beast is over the antichrist, the beast out of the sea.

Over His image refers to the likeness of the antichrist which the false prophet had made and which people were required to worship. These people standing on the sea of glass in heaven had not been worshipers of the antichrist or of his image.

And over his mark indicates that they had not received the mark or stamp of the beast engraved, branded, cut, etched, imprinted, or implanted in some way in their right hands or in their foreheads.

And over the number of his name suggests that the mark of the beast consisted of, or at least included, the number six hundred sixty-six, the number of the beast mentioned in Revelation of Jesus Christ 13:18 . They had not received the mark of the beast; instead, they had been faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ unto death. Inasmuch as they are pictured as being in heaven before the end of the tribulation, it indicates that they had died physically. Although some may have died of natural causes, the majority of them had likely died as martyrs for their faith.

Stand on the sea of glass indicates what John saw this group do. By the time John saw them, they had already taken their position and were now seen already standing on the sea of glass, which is a clear reference to the sea of glass mingled with fire mentioned earlier in this verse. This sea of glass seems to be surrounding God's throne in heaven.

Not only were they seen standing on the sea of glass, they were also seen having the harps of God, i.e. holding God's harps.

Next, we see -

II. THE SONG OF MOSES AND THE SONG OF THE LAMB - 15:3-4

Revelation of Jesus Christ 15:3-4 - (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.

In verse 3 the harpers are seen singing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb to their own accompaniment. The words of the song of the Lamb that the harpers sing are found in the last part of verse 3 and all of verse 4.

They sing is understood in the sense of they are singing. It refers to the group seen in verse 2, who had been victorious over the beast, over his image, over his mark, and over his number, standing in heaven on the sea of glass holding harps in their hands. They were singing when John saw them.

What they were singing was the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. The Song of Moses is found in Exodus 15:1-19 . Israel had just crossed the Red Sea, and Pharaoh and his army had been killed while attempting to pursue after them.

Looking at a few of these verses we see -

Exodus 15:1-5 - (1) Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. (2) The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation [i.e. I will praise Him]; my father's God, and I will exalt him. (3) The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name. (4) Pharaoh's chariots and his host [i.e. Pharaoh's army] hath he cast into the sea: his [i.e. Pharaoh's] chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea. (5) The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone.

Exodus 15:10 - Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters.

Exodus 15:12-13 - (12) Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them. (13) Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.

Exodus 15:17-19 - (17) Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. (18) The Lord shall reign for ever and ever. (19) For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the Lord brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea.

The song of Moses as sung in Revelation recounts the faithfulness of God to Israel as a nation in recognition that a large number of Israelites are among these martyred dead. Just as God had given Moses and the Israelites victory over Pharaoh and the Egyptians and had delivered them from Pharaoh's hand, so God has given victory to these tribulation saints and delivered them from the hand of the antichrist.

Moses is described as the servant of God. The servant is the slave. Moses had voluntarily enslaved himself to the Lord his God and had served Him faithfully throughout his life.

Those standing on the sea of glass holding harps in their hands also sang the song of the Lamb, i.e. the song of the Lord Jesus Christ. This song speaks of redemption from sin made possible by the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. We don't have time to study Psalms 22 in its entirety in this message, but it depicts some of what Christ experienced on the cross. Study it more fully sometime on your own.

Here is a sampling of the verses -

Psalms 22:1 - My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

Psalms 22:7-8 - 7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 8 He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.

Psalms 22:14-18 - 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. 16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. 18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

Back to Revelation of Jesus Christ 15:3

Saying apparently introduces the actual words they sang, and these words are recorded in the last half of verse 3 and all of verse 4. The tense of saying indicates that its action is ongoing and occurring at the same time as the action of sing.

Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty form the beginning of the words they spoke or sang.

Great suggests the magnitude of the works and indicates their importance.

Marvellous is remarkable, marvelous, or wonderful. The same words great and marvellous were used in verse 1 to describe the sign which John saw of the seven angels having the seven last plagues.

Are thy works refers to the Lord God, i.e. to God the Father. This conclusion is based on the previous references in Revelation of the term Almighty in reference to God the Father.

Works is a broad reference to all the Lord has done including His creation and His provision of salvation. There seems to be no reason to limit its scope.

Lord God Almighty is used throughout Revelation in reference to God the Father, and Revelation of Jesus Christ 21:22 distinguishes between the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 21:22 - And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.

Almighty is All-Powerful or Omnipotent (One). The appears in the Greek text before Almighty in order to particularize Him as the one and only Almighty One.

Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints continues the words of the song of the Lamb.

Just is righteous.

True suggests that they are always in accordance with truth. There is nothing untrue or deceptive about His ways.

Are thy ways is (are) your ways and suggests (are) Your ways of life, (are) Your ways of acting, or (is) Your conduct.

Thou King of saints addresses the Lord God Almighty, i.e. God the Father. It is literally O King of the saints. As such God rules over the saints.

The saints are those who have been set apart for God and His use. It refers to saved persons. The appears before saints in the Greek text and implies that it is the sum total of all the saints that are in view here. None are excluded.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 15:4 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.

Verse 4 continues the words of the song of the Lamb which the harpers began singing in verse 3.

Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? is a question which implies that everyone should fear the Lord and glorify His name.

Not is a very strong negative which negates both fear and glorify.

Who shall not fear thee is who should not fear (or reverence) You and implies who should absolutely not fear (or reverence) You? The implied answer to this question is that no one should not fear the Lord, which means that everyone should fear the Lord.

Thee is the Lord God Almighty Who is addressed by O Lord.

And glorify suggests and praise, and honor, or and magnify.

Thy name is your name and refers to the Lord's name, which suggests all that the Lord is and represents.

For [i.e. because] all nations shall come and worship before thee provides the first of two reasons why everyone should fear the Lord and glorify His name.

All nations is literally all the nations and is all-inclusive. It refers to the sum total of all the nations in existence. There will be no exceptions.

Shall come and worship before thee is predictive of an event which will definitely occur in the future. This will occur during the millennium.

Shall come is will be present, and shall worship is will fall down and worship, will prostrate themselves, or will do reverence.

Before thee is in Your presence or in Your sight and refers to the Lord God Almighty.

For [i.e. because] thy judgments are made manifest is a statement which is also true, but it seems especially applicable in reference to the seven vial or bowl judgments which are to follow in chapter 16.

Thy is Your and refers to the Lord.

Thy judgments suggests Your sentences of condemnation.

Are made manifest is literally were made manifest, were made known, were revealed, or were shown. Even though it has not yet occurred, it is speaking of something as if it has already occurred because it is so certain of fulfillment; and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

In addition, we see -

III. THE TABERNACLE OF THE TESTIMONY IN HEAVEN OPENED - 15:5-6

Revelation of Jesus Christ 15:5-6 - (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.

In verse 5 John sees the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven as having already been opened.

After that is literally after these things and suggests after the things John mentions in verses 1-4 have occurred. In verses 1-4 John saw seven angels having the seven last plagues and what appeared to be a sea of glass mixed with fire on which were standing some who were holding harps and singing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb.

I looked is the same word translated I saw in both verses 1 and 2. It has also been translated I beheld in Revelation.

And, behold is used to heighten or to gain the reader's attention. It has occasionally been translated and lo in Revelation.

The temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened.

The temple is the place where God dwells. The word for temple indicates the Holy of Holies, i.e. the inner holy place of the temple.

The temple of the tabernacle is the temple which is the tabernacle or the temple, i.e. the tabernacle. The tabernacle of the testimony or the tabernacle of the witness was opened in preparation for the seven angels coming out of it. The tabernacle of the testimony refers to that compartment of the heavenly temple in which the testimony, i.e. the laws of God, were contained. These laws have been repeatedly broken, and God is about to break forth in judgment against those who have repeatedly defied His laws.

In heaven is literally in the heaven and tells where this tabernacle of the testimony is located. The inclusion of the before heaven indicates that this is the particular heaven where God dwells and distinguishes it from the atmospheric and stellar heavens.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 15:6 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 seven angels are the same seven angels who were introduced in verse 1 having the seven last plagues.

Came out of the temple implies that they had been in the temple and now exited from the temple. The word translated temple suggests that they came out of the presence of God.

Having the seven plagues is similar to the phrase used in verse 1 regarding the angels having the seven last plagues.

Having is holding and suggests that they had these seven plagues in their possession, i.e. the seven vial or bowl judgments which are to be poured out upon unsaved humanity in chapter 16.

These seven angels are described as being clothed in pure and white linen and having their breasts girded with golden girdles.

They have clothed themselves in, they have put on, or they are wearing pure and white linen.

Pure . . . linen is clean linen.

White linen is bright (or shining) linen.

These seven angels are also described as having their breasts girded with golden girdles, i.e. having girded themselves around the chests (or around their chests) with belts, girdles, or sashes which were made of gold (or covered with gold). It is reminiscent of Christ's appearance in Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:18 .

The sanctuary is opened, i.e. the curtain is parted, and seven angels are seen coming out of the sanctuary.

The angels coming out of the sanctuary indicate that the judgments to be poured out stem from the holiness of God, and these judgments are properly required of God Who must do all things in a right way.

Finally, we see -

IV. SEVEN GOLDEN VIALS GIVEN TO THE SEVEN ANGELS - 15:7-8

Revelation of Jesus Christ 15:7-8 - (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.

One of the four beasts refers to the four beasts or four living beings which were introduced in Revelation of Jesus Christ 4:6 where they were said to be full of eyes before and behind. They did not rest day and night saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. One of the living beings was like a lion, one was like a bull, one had a face as a man, and one was like a flying eagle.

One of these living beings gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials. He apparently gave one golden vial or bowl to each of the seven angels.

Vials are bowls, and more particularly, shallow bowls or saucers.

Golden means that these bowls were either made of gold or covered with gold.

These seven vials or bowls are described as being full of the wrath of God.

Seven vials (or bowls) full of the wrath of God indicates the extent of the judgment. It will be a complete or thorough judgment.

Wrath means anger or rage. The inclusion of the before wrath indicates that they were full of the sum total of God's wrath, i.e. they were full of all of God's wrath. There was no other wrath held in reserve which was intended for the great tribulation era. God is described by who liveth for ever and ever. This is the eternal God and refers to God the Father.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 15:8 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 temple is the temple in heaven.

Was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power indicates what John saw. Smoke filled the temple.

The smoke from the glory of God and from His power indicates God's holiness.

The smoke came from the glory of God. In other words, the glory of God produced the smoke.

It also came from his power, meaning that God's power, God's might, God's strength, or God's force produced the smoke.

No man was able is no one (or nobody) could and includes females as well as males.

What no one was able to do was to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.

Access into the sanctuary is made impossible by the smoke until the seven plagues are fulfilled.

The word for temple indicates that this is the place where God dwells.

Till is until.

The seven plagues of the seven angels refers to the seven vial or bowl judgments.

Were fulfilled is were brought to an end, were completed, or were finished.

No one could enter into the temple in order to appease God's wrath. It was time for His wrath to be poured out in judgment and not a time for His judgment to be appeased. It was too late to avoid this judgment.

It is an ominous sign of doom to those who persist in their wicked ways.