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Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on July 27, 2016 under AM Bible Study |

AM Bible Study Group; July 27, 2016 from Revelation 15:1-8

Theme: Before the sober outpouring of God’s just and final expression of wrath upon the earth, a great prelude of praise to Him will occur in the heavens.

(All Scripture is taken from The New King James Version, unless otherwise indicated).

We come now to the shortest chapter in Revelation—but also one that’s imagery is remarkable out of proportion to its size. Dr. Bruce Metzger writes something very instructive at the beginning of his commentary on this chapter: “The writer of the book of Revelation has carefully laid out a series of parallel and yet ever-progressing panels. These display God’s plan from different vantage points, stressing one or another feature. At the same time, the different accounts reinforce one another and bring before the reader, over and over again, the truth that God rules and overrules in the affairs of humankind” (Breaking the Code, p. 80). This short chapter presents us with a “sign”—the third in the book of Revelation (12:1, 3). And the themes of this sign parallel that of 7:9-8:1, where the saints are praising God for His deliverance in the heavenlies in anticipation of the outpouring of God’s wrath in Chapter 8.

Some people turn their noses up at Bible passages that describe the outpouring of God’s wrath. They feel that such passages are crude and barbaric; and that they are not in keeping with modern and enlightened tastes. But here, in this morning’s passage, we find that the saints in the heavens—glorified and fully delivered from the taint of any sin (and thus, better judges of things than modern men on earth)—sing a song of praise to God just before the outpouring of that righteous wrath. Clearly, heaven’s view of God’s justice is far different from that of sinful man! Here, we see it executed with sober control; and accompanied by praise from glorified lips.


A. This is said to be “another sign”—that is to say, distinct from what has preceded it (see 14:14-20). But this sign is further distinguished in another important way. It is called a “great and marvelous” sign—suggesting to us that it is something quite remarkable and glorious. Its significance is seen by the fact that it describes the completion of the wrath of God that will characterize the end times.

B. The sign involves seven angels who are given seven “plagues”. The fact that there are seven angels dispensing these “plagues” suggests ‘completion’ or ‘finality’; and indeed, we’re told, “for in them the wrath of God is complete.” Praise God!—His wrath is under His control and has an end! Note that the word translated “plague” doesn’t necessarily mean a disease. Rather, it can describe a ‘blow’, or a ‘wound’ inflicted by such a blow. They are called the “last” plagues; because much of what has preceded them had been ‘plagues’ as well, but these are the last with respect to God’s judgment of sinful man during this present age. These plagues bear a similarity to the plagues that God brought upon Egypt long ago (see Exodus 7-12; especially 11:1).


A. John next sees something like a sea of glass. This sea is probably meant to bring to our minds the image of the large bronze laver that was before the altar in the temple of old (see Exodus 30:17-21). That laver given for the purity of the Levitical priesthood. But that one was filled with water; whereas this is a sea “of glass”—which suggests the highest level of purity. But note also that it is mingled with fire, which is meant to express purity brought about through the fire of trial (see also 4:6). Here, the sea of glass seems to be a platform that sits before the throne of God (see similar images in Exodus 24:10 and Ezekiel 1:22.)

B. Upon this inexpressibly pure and holy sea of glass stand the redeemed saints who have come out of the great tribulation (see also 6:9-11; 7:9-17; 12:11, 17; 14:1-5, 12-13). They are described as having won victory over the beast, over his image, over his mark (although not all of the ancient texts include the words “over his mark”), and over the number of his name (see 13:14-18). Note also that these saints do not go out and get harps for themselves; but rather are given harps of God—indicating that their worship is a gracious gift; not taken by the initiative of man but given of God Himself. What an honor to be in that number!

C. They sing the song of Moses (which is a song of deliverance—see Exodus 15), and the song of the Lamb (which is a song of redemption—see Revelation 5:9-10). This doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the exact same song and same lyrics as that sang by Moses (which would be in a completely different context), or the “new song” sang by the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders. Rather, it’s best to see this as expressing that the same themes described in the words of those songs will also be sung by these tribulation saints before God. The words of this song are actually are very similar to those found in Exodus 15:11 and 14; were the song of Moses glorifies God because His “judgments have been manifested”—just as these saints do. It’s a theme that, long ago, makes a promise to the saints throughout the ages that God will deliver His people from the forces of evil, and will cause them to prevail to the praise of His glory.


A. The sight of the saints praising God is followed by the inner sanctuary of the tabernacle of testimony in the heavens being opened, and the seven angels coming out. As Dr. Thomas F. Torrance wrote; “Let us take care to note that these angels are clothed in pure and white linen, and have their breasts girded with golden girdles. That means that the wrath which they are about to pour out upon the earth is a pure and sinless wrath, priestly in its function and golden in its integrity, quite unlike the wrath of man. There is no bestial passion, no spite, no hate, no anger of sin at all in it” (The Apocalypse Today, p. 106). This is a ceremony of a most sacred and holy nature—utterly reflective of the holiness and righteousness of God.

B. One of the four living creatures (see 4:6-9) gives to each of the angels a bowl filled with the wrath of God. As we have suggested before, these four living creatures seem to serve before God as representatives of the fullness of creation. The God whose wrath is being administered is described as the God “who lives forever and ever”; and so, who then could ever argue with the wisdom and justness of His judgment?


A. The temple was filled with smoke during this ceremony. This smoke is like that of the temple of old when God made a appearance (Exodus 40:34-35; 1 Kings 8:10-11; Isaiah 6:1-4). It bespeaks of the utter holiness of this remarkable moment of human history.

B. Because of this smoke, no one was able to enter the temple until the seven plagues had been poured out by the angels. Perhaps this is similar to the way no one could enter the tabernacle at the time when the high priest of old sanctified the tabernacle during the annual Day of Atonement (see Leviticus 16:17). If we see the different sections of Revelation as parallel to one another, then this outpouring of holy smoke may be meant to parallel the silence in heaven that preceded the seven trumpet judgments in 8:1. This act of judgment, then, is presented as something that is no small matter with God! It’s as if the business of heaven comes to a stop until this grievous—but utterly just and righteous—matter is completed.

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