Revelation 15

 

 

Revelation chapter 15 begins the preparation for the last seven vials. The wrath of God

began with the seven seals in ch. 6 and will be finished with the last seven vials.

Chapter 15 is an introduction to these last seven and final plaques on mankind.

Throughout history God has poured out His wrath in judgment on early sinners.

Adam's sin in the Garden of Eden brought the entire human race under judgment.

By Noah's days, people had turned so wicked, that God sent the judgment of the

flood to destroy the entire world except eight people. Noah, his three sons and

their wives.  Centuries of disobedience and wickedness by the Jewish people 

eventually led to their judgment and captivity. First the northern 10 ½  tribes in

722 B.C. by the Assyrian Empire, then the southern kingdom of Judah in 586 B.C.

by the Babylonian Empire.  Cities named Sodom and Gomorrah WERE

COMPLETELY DESTROYED BY GOD with fire and brimstone.  (The New

Testament tells us that they are still suffering “the vengeance of eternal fire!”

Jude 1:7 – I recommend research on this on arkdiscovery.com under the cities

of Sodom and Gomorrah – CY – 2015)    Now in Chapters 15 and 16 we see

THE FINAL OUTPOURING OF GOD’S WRATH  BEFORE CHRIST’S

RETURN!   That wrath is expressed by the effects of the seventh trumpet which

was opened in ch.11:15. Chapter 15 is very short and begins the introduction to

those last seven judgments.  (discoverrevelation.com)

 

 

                                                Prelude to Doomsday

 

The fifteenth chapter of Revelation is primarily a prologue to the sixteenth chapter and

the somber recital of the seven great bowls of wrath and the seven last plagues on the

earth.  It provides another beautiful glimpse of the joy and glory at the heavenly throne.

The chronological framework of the seven-year history inscribed in Revelation is

contained especially in ch.6 (the seal judgment), chps. 8-9 (the trumpet judgments),

and ch.16 (the bowl judgments).  The seal and trumpet judgments occupy essentially

the first three-and-a-half years, the bowl judgments the last three-and-a-half years. 

However, the seventh seal releases the seven trumpets (ch. 8:1-2) and the seventh

trumpet calls forth the seven bowls (ch.11:15; 15:1, 7), continuing to reverberate

across the skies as the bowls are emptied on the earth.  The seventh trumpet is

also equivalent to the third “woe” (ch.11:14; 12:12).  Ch. 7 constitutes a

parenthetical revelation, interjected chronologically between the seal and

trumpet judgments but also looking forward to the trumpet at the end of the

tribulation period.  Ch. 10 similarly appears at the end of the trumpet judgments

and also previews the remaining years of the tribulation.  Chps. 11, 12, 13, and 14

are parenthetical chapters which expound age-long themes.  Their perspective is

that of the midpoint of the tribulation period but they also look back to the very

beginning of the conflict between God and Satan and forward to its termination. 

In particular they outline key events and personages from the beginning of the

tribulation period to its climactic end, even looking forward to the eternal ages

to come.  This chapter likewise, is partly parenthetical even though it provides

the prelude to the resumption of the chronological plagues of ch.16.  It contains

backward glances to God’s former judgments and also anticipates the glory to

come, as it introduces the seven last judgments of God’s bowls of wrath.

 

 

                                    Song at the Glassy Sea

 

The chapter opens with a marvelous vision of the future, made all the more beautiful

and glorious by its stark contrast with the unprecedented vision of slaughter and

judgment in the last verses of ch. 14.  Both of these are scenes brought by God before

John.   “And I looked, and behold . . .” (Revelation 14:14).  “And I saw . . . great and

marvelous, . . .” (here, v.1).  (The Revelation Record – Henry Morris)

 

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.”  And I saw another sign in heaven. The last time we had this

expression was in ch.12., where the history of the war between

Satan and the Church was begun. Once more we have a new departure, the

seer again, as it were, returning to the beginning? in order to trace the

course of the punishments inflicted on men for their worship of the devil.

this chapter gives a short summary of this, which is expanded in ch.16.; and

it is introduced, as usual, by a vision of the saints in glory, in order to comfort

and support the Christian in his warfare (compare ch.6:1-2; 7:3; 14:1-5, 13).

The “sign” is what is described in the following account. “In heaven” probably

merely means in a conspicuous position (compare ch.12:1). Great and marvelous.

On account of the terrible nature of the events depicted. Seven angels having

the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God; seven

angels having seven plagues, the last [ones], because in them is finished

the wrath of God. The seer describes what he sees subsequently, as if all

the actors were present at one moment. In reality, he sees the actions of the

seven angels” in succession. The number seven denotes the universal, all-

extending nature of the plagues (see on ch. 1:4; 5:1, etc.). They

are the last plagues, because they lead on to the description of the final fall

of the power of the devil in its various forms, and to the account of the last

judgment of God and the eternal bliss of the saints in glory.

 

This chapter in the book of Revelation sets the stage for the last seven vial judgments

that cover the last three and one-half years of the tribulation which are described in

ch. 16.  The seven angels prepare to administer the last seven Tribulation judgments of

Christ: the seven vials). Vials are actually shallow bowls (these are called the bowl

judgments), used for pouring libations (ch.5:8; I Chronicles 28:17; Jeremiah 52:18;

Zechariah 9:15; 14:20). The bowls are full of the wrath of God (II Thessalonians

1:7 - 9).  Until the seven plagues are finished, no one is able to enter into the temple.

The time for intercession is PASSED!   God's judgment will now be completed.

This "seven" just means this is the end. The only good thing about these plagues is

that the Christians are in heaven when this occurs. The wrath of the devil is bad,

but to fall into the hands of Almighty God and have His wrath fall on unbelievers

is the very worst thing that could happen.  These plagues will conclude with the

wrath of God on sinful mankind for rejecting HIS SON, THE LORD JESUS

CHRIST!  The last seven plagues indicate that these are in order and this finishes

the 21 total plagues on mankind before the end of time.  (discoverrevelation.com)

 

This is the third “sign” (Greek σημεῖον - semaeion) identified as such by John in Revelation.

The same word is rendered “wonder” in its two parallel occurrences in Revelation and is

frequently elsewhere translated “miracle.”  Even in the latter usage, however, its primary

thrust is that of a sign.  Certain miracles were signs of THE UNIQUE POWER OF GOD

 and their purpose was both to attest to that power and also to teach a spiritual lesson

suggested by the sign.  Even the miracles performed by the false prophet (ch.13:13-14)

were intended by him as signs of his own mighty power.  The first divinely-given sign

in Revelation was that of the great woman and the second that of the great dragon

(ch.12:1, 3).  Both of these were also “miracles” or “wonders” because they were

specially-created pictorializations in the heavens, depicting the principal characters

in the age-long conflict between the seed of the woman and the old serpent, Satan.

In the same way, this third sign is a miraculous scene in the skies, a preview of the

great drama about to be played on earth and the majestic choir that will be prepared

to sing the chorus at its triumphant conclusion.  When the woman’s conquering seed

finally consigns that old serpent to the great pit (ch. 20:2-3), all those whom the beast

had sought to destroy will reign with Christ instead (ibid. v.4).  It is noteworthy how

often in Scripture God has sealed His revelation to His prophets and ministers by such

a threefold sign.  This was done for Joseph (Genesis 37:5-11; 40:8-22; 41:15-40),

for Moses (Exodus 3:2; 4:2-5; 6-7), for Joshua (Joshua 4:22-24; 6:20; 10:10-14),

for Gideon (Judges 6:36-40; 7:13-15), for Saul (1 Samuel 10:1-7), for Elijah

(I Kings 19:9-13), for Elisha (II Kings 2:14, 22, 24), for Hezekiah (II Kings 19:20,

29-35), for Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:1; 3:22-23; 8:4) and others.  Thus also did

John receive this special threefold sign (amidst all the others he had seen – note

John 20:30-31), and he has attested it to us. This third sign was “great and marvelous,”

a phrase used elsewhere in Scripture only once again, and that just two verses hence. 

The sign was great and marvelous because the works of God which it depicted will

be GREAT AND MARVELOUS  (v. 3).  These seven last plagues are the greatest

plagues.  The seals visited great plagues upon the earth, the trumpets still greater

plagues (ch.9:20), but these are the greatest and most awesome of all.  God had been

speaking to men in His wrath, but they would not heed.  Now He would vex them in

His sore displeasure (Psalm 2:5).  That these are the last plagues proves again that

they are not mere reiterations of former plagues.  The seals and trumpets and bowls

are sequential, not parallel.  In these plagues God’s wrath is finally filled up (Greek

τελέωteleobring to an end -  translated “fulfilled” in v. 8, and “finished” in ch.10:7).

The word “plagues” conveys the idea of judicially inflicted pains, rather than sicknesses. 

It is frequently translated “stripes” (as in Luke 12:47). In ch.13:3, 12, 14, it is translated

wound.”  The great sign in the heavens pictures the overflowing wrath of a long-suffering

judge finally breaking forth in fury, inflicting the severest punishments and deadliest blows

which He can administer.  The seven angels administering His judgments are themselves

also symbolic, being part of the sign.  They probably represent all God’s holy angels, since

all are vitally concerned with this final fulfillment of God’s great purposes (I Peter 1:12). 

Seven specific “presence angels” (Revelation 8:2) had been given the seven judgment

trumpets, but these angels of the last plagues evidently signify all angels.

However, there is an intriguing way in which these might be seven specific angels

who could, at the same time, represent all angels.  There were seven specific angels

assigned to guard seven specific churches in Asia, the very ones to whom John was

addressing the Apocalypse itself (ch.1:11).  These angels were the “seven stars” in the

right hand of the Son of man (ibid. vs.13, 16, 20), a position of unique significance and

importance.  Yet there is no question that these seven churches represent all churches,

and thus their seven angels represent all angels (Ephesians 3:9-11).  It may be that

these seven angels could continue to represent all angels in their watch-care over the

people of God on earth by thus administering the seven final judgments which will

finally restore the earth to its rightful purposes under its good and faithful stewards. 

This possibility is further suggested by the fact that one of them shows John the

judgment of the false bride, the harlot church (ch.17:1) and another shows John the

eternal home of the Lamb’s bride, the true Church (ch.21:9).

                                                                (The Revelation Record – Henry Morris)

           

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.”  And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled

with fire. “And I saw” indicates a new phase of the vision (compare ch.14:6,14).

The sea was like glass, either because of its pure transparent appearance,

or on account of its consistency; the saints being subsequently described as

standing on it. (For a full discussion of the meaning, see on ch.4:6.) The sea,

the elders, and the triumphal hymns of praise are all characteristic of the vision

in ch. 4. Mingled with fire. In ch. 4. it was described as “like unto crystal.” The

fire is an emblem of purity; the same idea is also conveyed by the “crystal.”

Fire is also a symbol of judgment, which is the theme of the song of the saints

(v. 4).  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; and them that come victorious

from the beast and from his image, and from the number, etc. Omit “and

over his mark,” according to all the best authorities. Standing by (or, on),

having harps. (On “the beast” and “his image,” etc., see on ch.13.)

These victorious ones stand by (such, probably, is the force of ἐπί - epi - by)

the sea (see above and on ch.4:6). The “harps” are characteristic of the

heavenly melodies (ch. 5:8; 14:2). This multitude has been before described

in ch.7:9. From his image; that is, from the temptation to worship the image.

 

The sea of glass was before God's throne in ch.4:6. "And before the throne

[there was] a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne,

and round about the throne, [were] four beasts full of eyes before and behind."

John was seeing the same crystal platform, but now it was mixed with the fire

of God's judgment.  The victory over the beast has been won through faith in

Christ and refusal to submit to the Antichrist. These are the Tribulation Martyrs

who are rejoicing over the victory they have won. The harps indicate they are

rejoicing and singing praise to God. These believers are rejoicing because their

prayers for God's vengeance on their persecutors are about to be answered.

                                                                        (discoverrevelation.com)

 

As John continues to gaze at the great and marvelous heavenly sign, he sees also a

remarkable assemblage of redeemed men and women.  As noted above, the seven

angels represent all those holy angels whose ministry is to the “heirs of salvation”

(Hebrews 1:14) and this particular body, coming out of the last half of the great

tribulation, is the final installment, as it were, of the saints to be translated to heaven. 

Their lives in the flesh have been terminated by martyrdom during the very period

when the seven last plagues are being visited on earth.  It had been decreed that all

must receive the mark of the beast and worship his image, on pain of death (ch.13:15-17). 

On the other hand, God had decreed that any who did worship the beast and receive

his mark would be cast into eternal torment (ch.14:9-11).  Physical death with eternal

salvation or physical life with eternal damnation – that had been their bitter choice,

and multitudes had opted for the brief continuation of their wretched lives on earth,

enduring all the judgments of God rather than the executioners appointed by the

beast.  These, however, had gained the victory over the beast.  They overcame

him because they “loved not their lives unto the death” (ch.12:11).  Their actual

gathering must await their resurrection at the end of the tribulation (ch.20:4-6),

but John could already see them, “as it were,” in the heavenly sign along with

the symbolic angels.  The sign also included, as it were, a remarkable sea of glass

mingled with fire, with the martyred saints standing on it (the Greek ἐπί - epi

could also be translated “by” – see above).  Although there was an actual crystal

sea (ch.4:6) at the throne set in the temple in the heavens when Christ returned to

the air, it must be remembered that the particular sea in the sign only symbolized

the real sea, where the saints will sing together at the end of the tribulation.

There had been a sea in Solomon’s temple (I Kings 7:23), and the temple was

also equipped with ten lavers (II Chronicles 4:6), but both sea and lavers were

used for washings in connection with the sacrificial offerings.  The sea in the

heavenly temple obviously pictures something more than this, however, since

there is no need for cleansing the heavenly priests.  The beautiful “sea of glass

like unto crystal” of ch. 4:6 is not really explained, but its purpose is at least

partially clarified in its symbolic representation here.  It has a memorial

signification of great import to all the people of God through the ages, as

seen in the next verse.  It also speaks, through the mingled fire, of coming

judgment. This particular assemblage has also been given harps, or lyres. 

The trumpets of the angels and the harps of the saints (ch.5:8; 14:2) are the

only heavenly musical instruments, at least as described in Revelation

(musicians and pipers,” as well as “harpers and trumpeters” will be common

in wicked Babylon, however, as noted in ch. 18:22).  In any case, there will

surely be an abundance of music and singing in the holy city and the new earth.

                                                (The Revelation Record – Henry Morris)

 

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.”

And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and

the song of the Lamb. Most probably the song of deliverance after the

passage of the Red Sea (Exodus 15.), to which this bears a general

resemblance. Moses is called the “servant of God” in Exodus 14:31 and

elsewhere. The song of Moses is also the song of the Lamb; the Old

Testament and the New Testament Churches are one. Saying, Great and

marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty (compare Exodus 15:7,

“And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them;” also

Psalm 111:2; 139:14). This song, like that in ch. 4:8, is addressed to the

“Lord God Almighty.” Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.

The reading of the Textus Receptus, ἁγίων hagion - of saints, is

certainly incorrect. It does not appear in any Greek manuscripts, but was

inserted by Erasmus to represent the sanctorum of his Vulgate, which

word, however, is itself a corruption of saeculorum, the true Vulgate

reading representing αἰώνων aionon - of ages. Ἐθνῶν Ethnon - of nations,”

is read in א, A, B, P, 1, 7, 8, 14. etc., An-dress, Primasius; while αἰώνον

aionon - of ages, is the reading of a, C, 95, Vulgate, etc. It has been conjectured

that ΑΙΘΝΩΝ – AITHNON (by itacism for ἐθνῶν) has been confused with

ΑΙΩΝΩΝ – AIONON - a parallel to the reading, “ King of nations” is found in

Jeremiah 10:7, Hebrew text and Theodotion, but not the Septuagint: “Who would

not fear thee, O King of nations?” which is very like the succeeding clause in v. 4,

especially in connection with the “nations” there mentioned. The title “King of

the ages,” or “eternal King,” is applied to God in I Timothy 1:17, and in the

Book of Tobit twice (13:6 and 10), but seems unknown to the Old Testament.

 

This "they" are the believers in Christ. The "song of Moses" and the "song of the Lamb"

are the same. This is the song of redemption. God used Moses to redeem His people

from bondage in Egypt. Moses had led the people out of the land of Egypt to the

Promised Land prefiguring Jesus leading the Saints to that promised land we call heaven.

Who purchased this for us?  Who did all the work Himself? JESUS!   His works are

"marvelous". It is beyond our imagination to see a beautiful snow-capped mountain

and realize that the One who created that, also loved us enough that He went to

the cross and suffered for us. He has every right to be our King. Remember in all of

this, He is not just a loving God, but a "just and true" God as well. The exclamation,

"just and true" reflects the Old Testament truth that all of God's works are true and

His ways just Daniel 4:37; Deuteronomy 32:4; and Hosea 14:9.  "Lord God Almighty"

celebrates God's omnipotence, essential to the triumphant power of the last judgments

and appears frequently in Revelation. This name just tells us of His overwhelming power.

                                                                                    (discoverrevelation.com)

 

Gathered by the glassy sea, the redeemed saints in the sign are seen and heard by John

to be singing two great anthems of victory and praise, the song of Moses and the song

of the Lamb.  It is this fact that gives us the necessary clue to the symbolic import of

the sea itself, for the song of Moses had first been sung long before by the shores of a

sea of deliverance and judgment.  In the new earth there will be “no more sea” (ch.21:1),

but there will be the beautiful crystal sea surrounding the throne of God as a fitting

memorial of what the mighty sea had once accomplished for God’s purposes and God’s

people in the first earth.  Water, for example, was used for cleansing – hence, the laver

in the tabernacle and the sea in the temple.  There will be no more need for cleansing

in the new earth. More to the point in this instance is the fact that the sea had been

used by God as a vehicle for the deliverance of God’s people and for judgment on

their enemies.  This was the theme of the original “song of Moses” (Exodus 15:1-21). 

“I will sing unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider

hath he thrown into the sea . . .  Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which

thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation . . .

The Lord shall reign for ever and ever.”  (I recommend arkdiscovery.com. and look

up the Red Sea Crossing – CY – 2015)  Portions of this song, first composed over

3,500 years earlier, are thus peculiarly appropriate for these tribulation saints, and they

might well recall the ancient song of Moses and the great deliverance of those first

Israelites, when the same Red Sea which saved them also destroyed the armies of

mighty Pharaoh.  The horse and rider which were inundated in the sea of water might

even be paralleled by the sea of blood extending to the horses’ bridles (ch.14:20) which

they had seen.  There was also another song of Moses (Deuteronomy 31:30), now

preserved as Deuteronomy 32:1-43, which might well also be sung appropriately by

these tribulation martyrs.  Another possibility is the ninetieth Psalm, the psalm

attributed to “Moses, the man of God.”  However, the most appropriate seems to

be the actual song at the Red Sea, praising God for His great salvation. Long before

even that deliverance, there had occurred an even greater judgment and redemption

by the waters of the sea, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days

of Noah, . . . wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water” (I Peter 3:20). 

The same waters which had destroyed an ungodly world had saved the believing

remnant from destruction by that world.  It is interesting also that the waters of

baptism, symbolizing death to sinfulness and resurrection unto holiness, are

compared both to the waters of the Red Sea (I Corinthians 10:1-2) and to the

waters of the great Flood (I Peter 3:20-21)  Thus will the sea at the heavenly

throne perpetually call to remembrance the waters of the Flood, the waters of

the Red Sea, and the waters of baptism, all speaking both of God’s judgment

on the wickedness of rebellious men and His great salvation for those who trust

Him and obey His Word.  This last company of persecuted believers had

experienced these also, in high degree, and so could join heartily in singing

the ancient song of Moses.  But also they could gladly join all the other redeemed

hosts (ch.5:8-14) in the great anthem of the Lamb.  It was only because of His

gracious work on their behalf that God was able to save them.  They had been able

to overcome the beast and the dragon not only because of their willingness to

witness and to die for their faith, but first of all “by the blood of the Lamb” (ch.12:11).

There is surely no conflict, as some have taught, between the dispensations of Moses

and the Lamb.  The written law was given by Moses, and grace and truth came through

Jesus Christ (John 1:17); both are integral components of God’s will for man.  The

contrasting “but” of John 1:17 is not in the original.  The redeemed saints could with

equal faith and enthusiasm sing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb.

Though neither of these songs, as recorded in Exodus 15 and Revelation 5, contains

the precise ascriptions cited in this passage, the exalted words are perfectly consistent

with both.  His works (whether the mighty miracle at the Red Sea or the even greater

miracle at Calvary and the empty tomb) are indeed “great and marvelous.”  His ways

(whether the destruction of rebellious Pharaoh or the sacrifice of His sinless Son on the

cross of substitution) are surely just and true.  Whatsoever God doeth is right, and

whatsoever He saith is true.  He is the “Lord God Almighty” (a term used five times

in Revelation, and nowhere else).  “Almighty” (Greek παντοκράτωρ - pantokrator) is a

synonym for “omnipotent.”  He is also long-suffering, desiring men to come to repentance,

but one day soon He will assume His great power and reign (ch.11:17).  He is Creator of all –

therefore Sovereign of all!  But also He is “King of saints.”  This title is used in no other

passage, and a few of the manuscripts render it “King of nations,” others “King of ages.” 

However, neither of these two titles appears anywhere else either, and the King James

rendition, based on the Received Text, best fits the context.  As king of all the saints

(a term applied in the New Testament uniquely to true believers in Christ), the Lord Jesus

will soon lead them forth to battle (ch. 19:7-16).  At this juncture He has not yet become

king over all nations (note the next verse), but the saints all gladly acknowledge His rule,

knowing from full experience that HE IS BOTH JUST AND TRUE!   The crystal sea,

speaking of a past watery judgment and deliverance, is also “mingled with fire,” speaking

of the impending fiery judgment and deliverance.  The Apostle Peter likewise, first

reminded men of a former watery cataclysm, purging the heavens and the earth, which

were of old, and then warning them that “the heavens and earth, which are now,” have

been “reserved unto fire” (II Peter 3:5-7).  Water and fire do not commingle on the earth,

but the great heavenly sign shows them mingled in heaven, both testifying of God’s power

and righteousness as well as His grace and truth.  (The Revelation Record – Henry Morris)

 

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.”  Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify

thy Name? Omit “thee.” The latter part is from Jeremiah 10:7 (see on v. 3). The

former part contains the same idea as Jeremiah 10:6, Thy Name is

great in might.” Compare the similar ascription of praise to the beast in

ch.13:4. The following three clauses supply the reasons for thus fearing and

glorifying God. For thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship

before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest; for thy righteous acts have

been made manifest (Revised Version). “Holy” is ὅσιοςhosios -  not ἅγιος

 hagios. It is a word which is applied more particularly to human acts. Perhaps

it is used here in connection with the manifest justice of God’s acts before all

nations; compare again the song of Moses (Exodus 15:11), “Who is like thee,

glorious in holiness,” etc.? The three clauses supply the reason for fearing and

glorifying God, as mentioned in the first part of the verse.

 

  • He Himself is in His nature holy;
  • His sway extends over all nations;
  • the righteousness of His acts is now visible to all.

 

In Proverbs 9:10 we read "The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom:

and the knowledge of the holy [is] understanding."  We are not to fear the world

or its people. We are "to fear" (Reverence) God.  This "all nations shall come

and worship", is speaking of the time when Jesus will sit on a throne in Jerusalem

and rule the world. There will be a yearly pilgrimage by everyone to worship.

We see Jesus is the only Holy one.  Philippians 2:10-11 says  "That at the name

of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things under the earth;

And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of

God, the Father."  After God's righteous acts of judgment has been made

 manifest or revealed, the time of which Isaiah spoke will come: "And it shall

come to pass, [that] from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to

another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD." 

(Isaiah 66:23)  (discoverrevelation.com)

 

This stanza continues the song of the martyred saints, reflecting the themes of both the song

of Moses and that of the Lamb.  “Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is

like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11). 

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength,

and honor, and glory, and blessing” (ch.5:12).  The earth-dwellers had proclaimed: Who is

like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?” (ch. 13:4).  These had made war

with him and so could now answer, “Who shall not fear thee, O Lord?”  Power over all

nations had been given to the beast (ch.13:7), but soon all nations must bow to the Lord. 

God the Lord is the only true Holy One (Greek ὅσιοςhosios - not the usual word for “holy,”

stressing absolute rightness).  GOD ALONE IS COMPLETELY RIGHT – by very definition –

and therefore, sooner or later, all must some day fear Him, glorify Him, worship Him.

His judgments (that is, His “righteous deeds and righteous words”) shall soon be universally

acclaimed as such.  Someday everyone will understand and acknowledge that even God’s

punishments are deserved and righteous in the fullest degree.  The terrible plagues that are

about to burst on the earth are incalculably destructive but are wholly merited and perfectly

designed for God’s righteous purpose.  “I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of

my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow,

 every tongue shall swear” (Isaiah 45:23).    (The Revelation Record – Henry Morris)

 

 

                                                Smoke in the Open Temple

 

This midpoint in ch.15 actually marks a change of scenes and themes.  John has been describing

the great sign in the heavens, with its vision of the seven angels and the host of tribulation saints

singing their songs of victory and praise at the glassy sea.  But now the narrative must return to

the actual prosecution of the judgments which will warrant this future paean of glory.  John’s

attention, therefore, is directed back to the actual temple and throne in the heavens where these

actions are about to be implemented.  (The Revelation Record – Henry Morris)

 

5 “And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of

the testimony in heaven was opened:”  And after that I looked, and, behold;

and after these things 1 saw. The characteristic commencement of a new vision

or portion of a vision (see on ch.4:1, etc.). The temple of the tabernacle of

the testimony in heaven was opened. The tabernacle had its counterpart

in heaven (Hebrews 8:5). In Exodus 25:16, 21 we have the reason

of the title “tabernacle of the testimony” — a name which is common in the

Bible (see Exodus 38:21; Numbers 1:50, 53; 9:15; 10:11). The “temple” is

the ναόςnaos -  the inner shrine, the holy of holies which contained

the ark of the testimony, which in ch.11:19 is seen in connection with the

judgments of God. Thence now proceed the angels bearing the plagues

for men.

 

This "tabernacle" is the original tabernacle in heaven that the one on the earth was

patterned after. Moses was given instruction by God how to build the earthly one. 

“See …that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the

mount.”  (Hebrews  8:5; Exodus 25:40)  The tabernacle was opened by Jesus,

as the temple curtain which was in front of the Holy of Holies, was torn from

the top to the bottom, when Jesus died on the cross (Matthew 27:51).  In an earlier

vision given John, God's throne room was opened so the faithful could see in.

We see here that it "was opened" (past tense). Now the heavenly tabernacle,

which the earthly tabernacle was a copy, was opened to reveal the most

severe earthly judgment ever on the unrepentant.  The tabernacle was

sometimes referred to as the tabernacle of the testimony, so named as it

contained the testimony, the two stone tablets on which God had written

the Ten Commandments. discoverrevelation.com)

 

The phrase “And after that” clearly indicates this change in perspective, as John was

constrained to fix his attention once again on the actual temple scene in the atmosphere

rather than the great sign in the skies. The unique terminology, “temple of the tabernacle

of the testimony,” deserves close attention.  John had already been shown this “true

 tabernacle(Hebrews 8:2), even recording the amazing fact that the long-lost ark of the

covenant had apparently been translated there (ch.11:19), presumably at the time of the

plundering of the earthly temple by Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 52:12-23).  Within the ark,

of course, had been placed the tables of the Decalogue, and the whole was established

within the most holy place of the tabernacle.  These were called the “two tables of testimony,

tables of stone, written with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18).  Consequently the ark was

commonly called “the ark of the testimony” (as in Exodus 25:22) and even the entire

tabernacle was often called “the tabernacle of the testimony” (Numbers 10:11), stressing

that the most important aspect of the tabernacle was as a dwelling place for God’s Ten

Commandments, the great “Testimony” which He “established in Jacob” (Psalm 78:5). 

(I would like to say that these are very important to God and that when the United

States of America, by her elected and un-elected officials [bureaucracy] chose to sever

herself from God and decency, that what we are reaping in the 21st Century is merited!

I yield to Him and His explanation of our behavior and deeds at THE JUDGMENT!

– CY – 2015)  These Ten Commandments constitute the great “witness” of God to man,

revealing both God’s own nature of perfect holiness to man, and also His standard of

 perfect holiness for man, created in the image of God.  All the Scriptures are divinely

inspired, but THE DECALOGUE IS DIVINELY INSCRIBED, WRITTEN BY THE

VERY FINGER OF GOD on tables of stone, placed temporarily in an earthly tabernacle

as the peculiar treasure of His chosen people, but then enshrined eternally in the heavenly

tabernacle, as a continuing TESTIMONY OF GOD  through the ages to come.  The basic

meaning of “tabernacle,” whether in the Hebrew or Greek words so translated, is that of

dwelling place.”  In Israel, it was also the tent of meeting, where God would meet with

His people (actually only with the high priest, properly prepared and cleansed to represent

the people), but it was primarily a dwelling place for the ark of the testimony.  This is

apparently the emphasis here in Revelation.  The “tabernacle of the testimony” is the beautiful

heavenly home of the ark of God’s covenant.  But, then, what is “the temple of the tabernacle

 of the testimony?”  Actually there are two different Greek words commonly translated “temple”

in the New Testament.  One is ἱερόν - hieron, referring to the entire precincts of the temple. 

The other is ναός - naos, referring particularly to the sanctuary itself, the shrine as it were. 

It is this latter word which is used here.  Thus the thought of the entire phrase is: “the inner

sanctuary of the dwelling place of God’s ten commandments, HIS ETERNAL TESTIMONY

TO MAN.”  And now, at this climactic juncture in the history of God’s dealings with man,

John sees all this opened.  In the earthly tabernacle, as later in Solomon’s temple, the ark was

always hidden from man, behind the thick veil of the temple in the Holy of Holies.  “And after

the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; which had the golden censer,

and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that

had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; and over it the

cherubims of glory shadowing the mercy seat; of which we cannot now speak particularly”

(Hebrews 9:3-5).  This holiest place of the tabernacle was not accessible to the people, or even

to the priests.  Only the high priest, once each year, could enter it (Hebrews 9:7).  When the

temple of Solomon was built later to replace the tabernacle, again Solomon placed the ark in

the most holy place (II Chronicles 5:7).  By this time, for some reason, “There was nothing

in the ark save the two tables which Moses put therein at Horeb, when the Lord made a

covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of Egypt(II Chronicles 5:10). 

Later towards the very end of Judah’s kingdom period, Josiah caused the ark, which had

by then been removed and almost forgotten, to be restored to its place in the temple

(II Chronicles 35:3).  Not long afterwards, however, came the destruction and plundering

of the temple, and nothing further is known of the ark and its precious contents after that. 

The next appearance is here in Revelation, in the heavenly tabernacle.  Thus, the temple

of Herod, used by the Jews at the time of Christ, boasted beautiful outward form, but the

most important contents of the first temple, the ark and the testimony, were missing. 

Whether God actually met there annually with the high priest as in former days is doubtful,

especially in view of the corrupt character of the high priestly family at the time of Christ.

Nevertheless, the Herodian temple was still regarded by Christ as at least God’s house of

prayer (Matthew 21:13; John 2:16).  At the time of His crucifixion, the veil of the temple

was rent in twain from the top to the bottom” (Matthew 27:51), clearly symbolizing the

opening of the holy place in view of Christ’s great sacrifice on the cross.  “Having therefore,

 brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way,

which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh; and having

an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance

of faith” (Hebrews 10:19-22).  Thus, since Christ, there is no more need for an earthly

tabernacle, or sacrifices, or high priest, by which to come to God.  In a figure, the holy

place of His presence is always open to the believer, since Christ Himself is the tabernacle

of God as well as the one sacrifice for sins forever and our eternal High Priest.  It is

significant that these rare glimpses into the heavenly temple which God has given us in

Revelation also show it as AN OPEN TEMPLE!  There is nothing to keep man from

God’s  presence IF HE COMES THROUGH CHRIST!    The human flesh of the

Lord Jesus Christ is the veil that both contains the glory of God and conceals its

unapproachable brilliance from sinful men.  But THE LAW OF GOD IS ETERNAL

and it applies to the Gentile nations as well as to the chosen nation.  Here it appears

again at the very end of the age as God prepares His final judgments on the earth. 

The temple is open, not only to confirm God’s accessibility but also to reveal HIS

AWFUL HOLINESS  to a rebellious world.  Both Jew and Gentile have gone out

of the way, and the law of offended holiness is their condemnation.  “There is no fear

 of God before their eyes.  Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith

 to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world

 may become guilty before God” (Romans 3:18-19).  All the world is guilty because all

are under the law and have refused God’s remedy.  “For all have sinned, and come

short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His  grace through the redemption

 that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24).  Even if they have not read the law in the

Scriptures, the same law is written in their consciences (Romans 2:14-15), and THE

DAY HAS FINALLY COME  when God shall judge the secrets of men by

Jesus Christ according to my gospel” (Romans 2:16).  The opened temple of the

tabernacle, displaying the testimony of God’s ineffable holiness and righteousness

in all its stark majesty, inscribed forever on tables of stone, must inspire awe in all the

redeemed saints at the throne as they await the judgments. 

                                                (The Revelation Record – Henry Morris)

 

 

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.” And the seven angels came out of the temple,

having the seven plagues; there came out the seven angels that had, etc.

These angels are distinguished from the other angels only by the fact that they

bore the seven plagues. These they have not yet, but they receive them

directly after. The phrase is added here to distinguish the angels meant.

These angels have once before (v. 1) been described in the same manner.

Clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with

golden girdles. ΛίνονLinon - linen, is found in א B, P, 7, 14, 97, Andreas,

Primasius. ΛίθονLithon - [precious] stone, is read in A, C, 38 (margin), 48, 90,

Vulgate. It seems more probable that λίθον is the correct word; for in no

other place in the New Testament is Λίνον found except in Matthew 12:20,

where it signifies “flax;” while the ordinary word for linen, viz. βύσσος bussos

 fine linen - or βύσσινοςbussinosmade of fine linen -  is found in ch.18:12, 16,

and 19:8, 14, as well as in Luke 16:19. If Λίνον be the correct reading, the image is

perhaps suggested by the priestly garments (compare Exodus 28:42, and vide

infra). For the idea of “clothed in precious stone,” the Septuagint. reading of

Ezekiel 28:13 is usually quoted. We may refer also to the stones of the

high priest’s breastplate, and to the description in ch. 17:4. And having

their breasts girded with golden girdles (compare the vision of our Lord

in dh.1:13, and the priestly attire described in Exodus 28:8).

 

Seven golden vials full of the wrath of God. These are the "plagues" that will strike

the earth in the last three and one-half years to punish those who have chosen to serve

the Antichrist, doing his bidding to persecute the saints for their faith in Christ.

So many people in this current, new wave of believers think that all punishment

comes from the devil and no bad thing comes from God. They better take another

look at this Scripture right here. These "angels" are operating under God's orders. 

They have just come "out of the temple" (which shows the origination). They are

clothed in white (which shows they are good angels and not demons). The gold

of their breasts show that they have been in the presence of God. 

                                                                                                (discoverrevelation.com)

 

Emerging from the temple (not the tabernacle, or “dwelling place” itself, but from the

immediate vicinity, inside the inner room of the divine residence), are seen the seven angels

selected to administer the seven last plagues to the earth.  Each of these plagues will have to do

with one or more of the “natural” physical processes of God’s creation. As already observed, not

only in Revelation but also in other Scriptures, the angels are spiritual beings of mighty power

and extensive knowledge, understanding the many factors which affect the rates and intensities

of such processes and able to control them and change them when circumstances warrant

and God permits.  Their apparel is significant – white linen robes with belts of gold.  There

are four different words in the New Testament translated “linen,” but this one, used only

this one time, is λίνον - linon, from which the English word itself is derived.  A few of the

ancient manuscripts have the word λίθος -  lithos - stone  instead of λίνον, and thus many

modern translations have the angels clothed in pure white stone instead of linen.

It seems easier to understand how careless copyists could substitute λίθος for λίνον,

than to understand why these angels would be dressed in stone, so it is probable that

linen” is the correct rendering.  If, however, it should ever be proved that “stone” is

the true original, then a possible interpretation could be that the plagues inflicted by

the angels are based on the stone tables of God’s testimony against a perverse world.

On the other hand it would be singularly appropriate for these angels to be arrayed in

pure white linen, for this is the apparel of the redeemed and purified saints whom they

represent and guard (ch.3:5, 18; 19:8, 14).  Further, it is the clothing of the Son of man

Himself, as seen by Daniel in a vision (Daniel 10:5-7) and by John in person (ch.1:13-14),

including in particular the golden girdles.  The white linen speaks of righteousness; the

belts of gold speak of riches and beauty.  As God is perfect in holiness and will purge all

wickedness, so He is also altogether lovely and possesses all earth’s fullness, and so must

eliminate eventually all ugliness and want.  (The Revelation Record – Henry Morris)

 

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.”

And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels; four

living beings. These, as representing life on the earth (see on

ch.4:6; 5:9), are appropriately chosen as the medium for

conveying to the angels the plagues about to be inflicted on men. This

description is very like what is related of the cherubim — from which the

idea of the living beings is evolved (see on ch.4:6) — in Ezekiel 10:7,

“And one cherub stretched forth his hand from between the cherubims

unto the fire that was between the cherubims, and took thereof,

and put it into the hands of him that was clothed with linen: who

took it, and went out.” (On the “seven angels,” see on v. 1.) Seven

golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth forever and ever.

Seven; as showing the complete nature of the wrath of God (compare  v. 1,

“In them is filled,” etc.). Golden; the characteristic of the heavenly things

and places (compare ch.4:4; 21:18, etc.), and which is also sometimes

used of other things to indicate gorgeousness and unusual splendor

(compare ch.18:16). (On “vials,” see on ch.5:8, and compare with ch.14:10,

the cup of His indignation.”)  Compare the expression, “who liveth forever

and ever,” with the possible reading of v. 3, “thou King of the ages.”

 

Here, again, we see these "vials" are from God, because they are gold. These

"sevens" just show the completeness of it all.  And again, we see the eternity

of God in the forever and ever. They are ready to pour the wrath out on the

inhabitants of the earth. God has the power to put an end to sin so that it can

never exist again!  (new heavens and a new earth, wherein WHEREIN

DWELLETH RIGHTEOSNESS  II Peter 3:13).  (discoverrevelation.com)

 

The seven angels already have the seven plagues.  Now they each receive also a golden

bowl filled with God’s wrath.  The word in the Greek is φιάλη - phialae , translated in

the King James Version as “vial” and in most others as “bowl.”  Many think it refers

to the shallow dishes used as censers for burning incense in the tabernacle or the temple. 

Its precise meaning is still doubtful.  Whatever may be the exact nature of the containers,

they have been filled full of GOD’S WRATH!  The overwhelming and terminal nature

of the judgments might suggest that these bowls are massive urns, dipped deep into the

fiery sea until overflowing with the wrath of an angry God.  Or perhaps they are censers,

burning not with sweet incense but with fire and brimstone.  The bowls of wrath are

received from one of the four “living ones,” who are (as shown in ch. 5) the same as

the “cherubim.”  These exalted beings had been active in signaling the judgments of

the seals (ch. 6:1-8) and now again appear on the scene to initiate the bowl judgments. 

The trumpet judgments had begun when the seven trumpets were given to the seven

angels standing before God (ch.8:2) and it is likely that these also had been given to

them by the living ones.  The four mighty cherubim, associated from the very time

of creation with the immediate presence of God, are perpetually concerned to do

His will and administer His holy purposes in the creation.  But IT IS ONLY GOD

who  HAS LIVED FROM ETERNITY -  “FOR EVER AND EVER!”  This

remarkable phrase (literally “for aeon after aeon) occurs twenty-one times in the

New Testament:

 

·         three times referring to the continuing punishment of the unsaved,

·         once to the unending bliss of the saved, and

·         seventeen times to the unique nature of God,

 

WHO ALONE HAS EXISTED FROM PAST ETERNITY TO FUTURE ETERNITY!

The one occasion when the phrase is applied to the saints is the very last: “. . . for the

Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever” (ch.22:5).

                                                            (The Revelation Record – Henry Morris)

 

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.”

And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from

His power. The “smoke” suggest:

 

·         the cloud, or Shechiuah, the symbol of God’s presence and glory

     (compare Exodus 16:10: 24:16);

·         the sign of God’s active operation (ibid. ch.19:18);

·         the token of judgment and calamity (Isaiah 14:31; Psalm 18:8; ch.14:11).

 

All three significations receive their fulfillment in this place. And no man was able

to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled;

should be finished (Revised Version).  Just as when God manifested His presence

on Sinai the people were not allowed to approach, so here no one is allowed to

approach the ναόςnaostemple -  the dwelling place of God, while He is

manifesting His judgments. The description is intended to convey an impression

of the awful sacredness of GOD’S PRESENCE!  

 

As soon as the angels in v. 6 come out of the Temple, great smoke from the glory

of the presence of God and His power and wrath fills the Temple so that neither

angels nor human beings can go back into worship until "the seven plagues of the

seven angels are completed."  We know that in the tabernacle in the wilderness,

no one could go inside. God is a consuming fire as we read in Hebrews 12:29

During this time no created human being will have access to the presence of God

on His throne until the end of the Tribulation, for He will not be dealing with people

in mercy, as is His usual custom. During the latter three and one half years of the

Tribulation, He will deal with human beings in judgment.  This glory cloud will remain

in the heavenly temple until the earth is completely purged, cleansed and prepared for

the King and His kingdom that is coming.  This "smoke" is from the Majesty of God.

The children of Israel were led by God Himself. We read that a fire led them by night

and a cloud by day, Exodus 13:21.  This is the very same presence we read of here.

No mere man can enter this holy place. Jesus enters here for us and takes us with Him

after we are covered by His (Jesus) blood.  God sees Jesus' shed blood, instead of us,

when we enter (after we are a believer); and that shed blood is what keeps us from

being burned up in God the Father's presence.  God's anger is kindled at those on the

earth who have caused such sorrow to the church and the true believers, and His fury

has come in His face. These plagues, as we said before, are from God. What a terrible

thing it is to fall into the hands of the Living God and be judged by Him guilty and

deserving of His wrath. In Hebrews 10:30-31, we read about just how terrible it is for

the sinner to fall into His hands.  "For we know him that hath said, Vengeance [belongeth]

unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people."

"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."  (discoverrevelation.com)

 

As the bowls had been filled with wrath, so the temple was now filled with smoke. 

The term “smoke” (Greek καπνος - kapnos) is used alike for the smoke ascending from

a fire (as in ch.18:9), the smoke from sweet incense (ch. 8:4), and the glory cloud from

God’s holy presence, as here.  Apparently, the temple had not been suffused with smoke

heretofore, though God Himself dwells in light which no man can approach (I Timothy

6:16).  But with the spilling over of God’s wrath, as it were, the brilliance of His holiness

and the invincibility of His power – both about to be poured out without measure on a

rebellious earth – generate billows of brilliant fiery clouds, impenetrable by any man or

woman, even by the redeemed hosts near the throne.  There had been similar occasions

on earth.  When the tabernacle was established and dedicated to God’s service, “a cloud

covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 

And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the clouds

abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:34-35). 

Similarly it was at the time Solomon’s temple was dedicated, “when the priests were

come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the

priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord

had filled the house of the Lord” (1 Kings 8:10-11).  Isaiah’s vision of the heavenly

temple encountered a similar scene.  There he saw the seraphim (possibly identical

with, or at least closely allied with, the cherubim), crying out: “Holy, holy, holy, is the

Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.  And the posts of the door [that is,

the foundations of the threshold”] moved at the voice of him that cried, and the

house was filled with smoke” (Isaiah 6:3-4).  Similarly “a great cloud, and a fire

 infolding itself” surrounded the four living creatures (or, the cherubim again) as the

glory of the Lord approached Ezekiel by the river of Chebar (Ezekiel 1:4).

This glory cloud of celestial smoke, known by the ancient Hebrews as the

Shekinah” glory, is thus associated in Scripture with the intimate presence of God

at times of great crises in God’s dealings with men.  No man can ever approach God

in His ineffable omnipotent holiness, but the glory smoke assures man of the divine

presence and the certainty of the divine accomplishment.  When the seven angels

emerged from God’s presence with His commission to administer the seven last

plagues on earth, and when they had received from the chosen cherub the overflowing

bowls of the divine wrath in which these judgments were to be imposed, then the glory

cloud once again filled God’s holy heavenly temple.  This time it would not henceforth

be removed at all until the earth was thoroughly purged and the eternal service of the

new priesthood of redeemed men could begin its service in the heavenly sanctuary.

                                                (The Revelation Record – Henry Morris)

 

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