1/07/18 Revelation 15:1-8 “The final 7 plagues of earth are about to happen”
Revelation 15:1 – 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.
sign – semeion (sign; mark; token; sign portending remarkable events soon to happen; of miracles and wonders of God) Translated “sign” 50 times; “miracle” 23 times (Eg Revelation 13:14); “wonder” 3 times (Revelation 12:1, 3; 13:13)
filled up – teleo (to bring to a close; finish; end; complete; fulfil; accomplish)
teleo is used in each of the following verses:
John 19:28, 30 – 28 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.
30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
last – eschatos [extreme; last in time or place; the last – referring to time, or space (the uttermost part, the end), or rank (the last or lowest grade or rank)] Here it emphasises the finality and the extremeness of these last 7 plagues, the 7 vials (bowls of wrath).
Used for “last” in the following; note our term “eschatology” comes from eschatos.
Hebrews 1:2 – Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
great and marvellous – megas and thaumastos (wonderful; marvellous; worthy of pious admiration; passing human comprehension; causing amazement joined with terror; extraordinary; striking; surprising) That is, this sign was not only mega-great but it was beyond all human comprehension. Words would not have been possible to describe it! All John can declare is that it was great and beyond human description.
These final 7 plagues are so great and marvellous that they will eclipse all previous plagues. Just when mankind thinks that it can’t get any worse, it gets worse! These are extreme plagues. The idea is similar to our thinking a couple of generations ago when the world feared the atomic bomb and its capability to literally destroy the earth itself. When these plagues are delivered, life just won’t be able to continue as it had on earth. Since the atomic bomb, man has talked of the Armageddon it could bring, and the real Armageddon will certainly not disappoint the gloom and doom atomic bomb prophets, except that this will be God, not man, who delivers the death blow to earth. The world talks about what might happen if a madman got in charge of an atomic arsenal, such as that of Russia or USA. But other countries also have such capability, including Britain, India, China, Israel (and probably North Korea). It only takes one mad person to destroy the world, and this is the fear of many on earth today. But it won’t be man who pushes this button; it will be wrathful God.
in them is filled up the wrath of God – for in (with) these plagues God completes or fulfils the judgment of His anger upon the wicked of earth. Note It is done after the pouring out of the 7th and final bowl of wrath in Revelation 16:17.
Revelation 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.
Fire symbolises anger and judgment upon this sea of glass, which in Revelation 4:6 was described as being like crystal. Does the sea of glass represent the people of earth? Note the 1st beast rising from the sea in Revelation 13:1.
sea of glass – Revelation 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.
Does the sea of glass mingled with fire represent the people of the earth and their judgment now upon them? And, if this represents the judgment of God upon the wicked, then the next part of the verse (about the victory of God’s people) is then a contrast to the first part. Therefore, there are two groups here, those who will experience God’s extreme judgment, the world, and those who have escaped this world through salvation (that is, citizens of heaven) who will experience the blessings of God through their victory gained by their obedience.
God’s people (who thus appear to be pictured as separate from the earth) have had victory over (have overcome) the beast. (have overcome, see 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.)
They have also overcome the image of the beast (they did not worship the beast as required – note Daniel Ch.3). They overcame the mark of the beast (they did not take the mark even if it meant being martyred for their faith). They overcame the number of his name (they did not permit themselves to be numbered among the worshippers of the beast). Overcoming and martyrdom was preferable to worshipping satan in any way. It is clear that a free will choice must be made here, for what logic assumes that God would foreordain people to worship satan? And why would God permit His people to be punished (martyred) for their obedience to Him, if that obedience is not by their free will decision?
These victorious ones will stand on the sea of glass; does this symbolise their victory over those being judged by the anger of God? Standing on the enemy, especially with your foot on his neck, symbolised your victory over him. You were his conqueror and he had to submit by becoming your footstool (see Hebrews 10:13 & 1 Corinthians 15:25). They will also play on harps provided by God, or in worship of God.
Note the harpers harping on their harps in the following:
Revelation 14:2 – And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
It appears that harps are the instrument of choice when worshipping God.
Revelation 5:8 – And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four [and] twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
Revelation 15:3 – 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.
servant – doulos (slave; bondman; servant; attendant; one who gives himself up in service of another) I just don’t see Moses as slave, however! Servant, though? Yes!
Exodus 14:31b – and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses.
This most probably refers to the song of Moses in Exodus 15:1-19. (Another passage, known as the prayer of Moses, is recorded in Psalm 90.)
Exodus 15:1 – 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.
Deuteronomy 32:1-43 also records a song or prayer of Moses.
Note Deuteronomy 31:30 – And Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation of Israel the words of this song, until they were ended.
Some say that “King of saints” should instead read “King of nations”, citing the Vulgate (Erasmus’ 1516 revison of the Vulgate?) as the reason for the change to “saints”. The Old Testament does declare God to be King of nations.
Jeremiah 10:7a – Who would not fear thee, O King of nations?
However, whether it is King of saints or of nations cannot change the overall sovereignty of “Lord God Almighty” which is the equivalent of “Lord God of hosts” in the Old Testament, that is, absolute authority over all.
“great and marvellous” is the same as used in Vs 1 above, that is, great and beyond comprehension are Your works.
“just” (obeying divine laws) signifies righteousness, that God will never do anything illegal according to the rules (divine law) He has set out for the universe.
“true” (opposite to what is fictitious, counterfeit, imaginary, simulated or pretended) means that what God says can never represent a lie of any sort. There is never a second agenda with God; He is true to the requirements of His nature.
When God brings this judgment upon the wicked, then not one wicked person may claim that God has acted in any way other than according to His divine law. He will always be true to His nature, never changing according to what He feels or thinks at the time.
Revelation 15:4 – Who shall not fear (phobeo) thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for [thou] only [art] holy: for all nations (ethnos) shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.
holy – hosios (undefiled by sin; free from wickedness; religiously observing every moral obligation; pure; holy; pious) Most occurrences of “holy” are translated from hagios which is also translated as “saints”. hagios means separated from all wickedness, separated for God’s service, while hosios means more of an avoidance of sin itself. hagios deals with one’s nature or calling, while hosios deals with one’s behaviour because of one’s nature or calling. Translated as “shall be” in
Revelation 16:5 – And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.
Only God may be declared absolutely undefiled by sin, free from wickedness. Note its meaning as free from wickedness in the following:
Hebrews 7:26-27 – 26 For such an high priest became us, [who is] holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; 27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.
worship – proskuneo (to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence; among the Orientals, especially the Persians, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence) To prostrate one’s self before someone, such as worshipping the beast in Revelation 14:9. All the wicked will worship the beast, but here all the nations (both good and evil) will worship God, because His judgments are being made known (revealed) to them.
“Who shall not fear you, O Lord, and give glory to Your name? For You are without sin of any kind. All nations (ethnic groups) will come and prostrate themselves before You, for Your judgments upon the wicked have been revealed to them.”
Revelation 15:5 – And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony (or “witness”) in heaven was opened:
tabernacle – skene [tent; tabernacle, (made of green boughs, or skins or other materials); of that well known movable temple of God after the pattern of which the temple at Jerusalem was built]
The tabernacle of witness in the desert was made according to the heavenly tabernacle, which is the temple mentioned here – the one in heaven.
Acts 7:44 – Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen.
Hebrews 8:5 – Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, [that] thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.
The temple was opened such that John was able to see something of what it looked like inside. This is God’s dwelling place.
Revelation 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.
These 7 angels have already been introduced in Vs 1 above as those who have the final 7 plagues. They have been given these plagues in the temple, for now they are leaving that temple of the tabernacle in order to administer those plagues, termed the 7 vials (bowls) of wrath. The first 7 plagues were each announced by the opening of a seal; the next 7 plagues were each announced by the blowing of a trumpet; however, these 7 plagues (the vials or bowls) are simply poured out, without fanfare of any kind. The fanfare, though, is here in Ch.15.
pure – katharos (clean; pure; free from corrupt desire, from sin and guilt; innocent; unstained with the guilt of anything)
white– lampros (shining; brilliant; clear; transparent; splendid; magnificent)
linen – signified priestly service.
Exodus 28:42 – And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach:
The priestly ephod was to include fine twined linen (Exodus 28:5-8); and the priestly breastplate was also to include fine twined linen (Exodus 28:15). Other items also used linen, as did other items of the tabernacle such as the veil which had to include fine twined linen.
Samuel was made a linen ephod to signify his priestly role.
1 Samuel 2:18 – But Samuel ministered before the Lord, [being] a child, girded with a linen ephod.
And the wearing of a linen ephod caused 85 priests to be put to death.
1 Samuel 22:18 – And the king said to Doeg, Turn thou, and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod.
Thus, these angels are pure (free from any corrupt desire, from sin and guilt), wearing white (brilliant, magnificent, splendid) linen (called for priestly service by God) and wearing golden priestly breastplates (note that Christ is similarly depicted in Revelation 1:13).
Revelation 15:7 – And one of the four beasts (living creatures) gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.
We don’t know which of the 4 living creatures hands the 7 golden vials over, but it is clear from other verses earlier on that these living creatures have immense authority from God and may act in a similar fashion to the way satan was intended to act. (Satan was known as the covering angel and may have attended the throne of God on behalf of all creation.) The 4 living creatures are first mentioned in Revelation 4:6-9 and are mentioned 11 times in all in Revelation.
The number 7 is often depicted as the perfect number of God, and thus these final 7 golden vials may depict here the perfect wrath of sovereign God. When they are completed, the judgment upon the earth is completed (It is done – Revelation 16:17).
These vials are full of the wrath of God; it may be read that all the wrath of God was included in these vials. God is described as living for ever and ever (ages of the ages); thus, He is eternal, unchanging, not bound by time in any way at all.
Vss 1 & 6 indicate that these 7 angels already have been given the plagues, yet here we see one of the living creatures handing these 7 golden vials to the 7 angels. Thus we may assume that the plagues are in some way separate from the vials, and that the vials and plagues are poured out together, somehow complementing each other. That is, the plague is applied to the earth, yet with each plague the wrath of God is also poured out such that those receiving the plagues may be sure that it is the judgment of God. They will not be able to say that it was just misfortune, or anything else that assumes coincidence to be the reason.
Revelation 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.
temple – naos [used of the temple at Jerusalem, but only of the sacred edifice (or sanctuary) itself, consisting of the Holy place and the Holy of Holies]
the temple was filled with smoke – see Isaiah 6:3-4 – 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, [is] the Lord of hosts: the whole earth [is] full of his glory. 4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
no man was able to enter – see 1 Timothy 6:16a – Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto;
no man – no-one; nothing; not one. Thus nothing, not one being at all, was able to enter the temple, apparently because of God’s glory and power. Also translated “no man” in 1 Timothy 6:16 above.
During the time of these 7 plagues (for a period of around 30 days leading up to Armageddon) God is unapproachable. It is clear that these plagues include something of God Himself (His wrath); it is clearly a very personal issue with God that the earth should be dealt with like this. It must be somewhat like having to destroy something special that you’ve created, or the disposal of a pet that might have been in the family for a long time. This is the creation that God saw was good. He has patiently nurtured it, guided it, provided for it, done all He could to ensure its viable future. (Cf Isaiah 5:3-5 – What more could God have done to produce a fruitful Israel?). Yet, in the end, the earth that has been nurtured so lovingly has literally bitten the hand of the one who fed it. That creation which was once so good, is now to be destroyed because of its wickedness. No wonder that this is such a personal issue for Almighty God.
Of course, the calvinists would have to say that, even though God created the earth perfectly, and desired that all the earth should worship Him, God had also decreed that most of mankind would not be permitted to worship Him and therefore would have to be destroyed for his lack of appreciation for the holiness of God his Creator. Revelation 5:8 clearly demonstrates God’s feelings concerning the destruction of His creation, earth. Yet, if God had foreordained from the beginning that this should happen and nothing else, then why such anger at those who were ordained from the beginning to commit only wickedness? In Isaiah 5:4, God asks What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? If, according to calvinism, man does not have free will to choose for himself between God and mammon (the wickedness of the world), then God must have foreordained the sin of Israel. And therefore God, after choosing Israel as His elect nation, destroys that elect nation because He had decreed from the beginning that they should fail Him.
It reminds me of Benalla Christian School, after dismissing its two teachers at the end of 1996, appointed God’s “chosen” teacher for 1997. (I was reliably informed that the school council leadership had verses from God to prove this!) However, before the end of 1st term 1997, they informed the “chosen” teacher that she was no longer God’s choice. (We spoke to her at length on this near the end of that 1st term!) She said that they told her that God had changed His mind. Why did they mock God like this? Did He change His mind, God who is unchangeable for all eternity? Or was it just an excuse to cover up their gross mistake in the first place? Clearly, though, this is a problem for calvinists, that God may choose (elect) His people, yet still plan to destroy them! Think!!