Section: Chapter Fourteen - The End of the Beginning
FIFTEEN - PRELUDE TO BOWL JUDGMENTS
(1) Then I saw another sign
in heaven, great and marvelous, (2) seven angels who had seven plagues,
(3) which are the last, (4) because in them the wrath of God is finished.
1. Then I saw another sign
in heaven, great and marvelous = is the third and final heavenly sign
that marks this section of the Revelation. This sign follows the first
two signs indicated in Revelation 12:1and 3. This suggests that while
Revelation 12:1-6 retrogresses in the historical chronology of the
end time events. Revelation 12-13 is not a parenthesis in a purely
technical sense. The purpose of the retrogression is clear. It provides
the backdrop for the wrath of God in its final form. The woman, the
dragon, the beast, and God highlight the four major players of the
eschatological end. The woman and her offspring are the object of
the dragons wrath. The dragon and his supporters are the object
of Gods wrath.
2. Seven angels who had
seven plagues = like the two previous heavenly signs offers a summary
of the sign before a detailed outline is presented. As the rest of
this chapter demonstrates, there is a process involved in how these
seven angels will operate. Revelation 15:6 indicates that the seven
angels emerge from the temple, which supports the notion that Revelation
15:1 is a summary statement. We are not told the nature of the seven
plagues the seven angels have. This also supports the summary nature
of Revelation 15:1. Like the trumpet judgments (Rev 9:20), the final
expression of Gods wrath is characterized as "plagues."
3. Which are the
last = defines the limits and nature of these plagues. Last
connects the seven plagues with the trumpet judgments of Revelation
8-11. There is no basis to connect the seven seals with the trumpet
and bowls as wrath of God. Equally last suggests something
previously. Therefore, there is no basis for those who attempt to
define the bowls as the wrath of God, but not the trumpets. Ample
evidence demonstrates the opposite is true. Revelation 22:18 states,
God will add to him the plagues which are written in this
." The plagues of this book are defined in Revelation
16:1 and 9:20.
4. Because in them the
wrath of God is finished = completes the summary description of the
third and final heavenly sign. The wrath of God as it is expressed
in the Greek occurs about forty times in various formats in the Old
Testament. The eschatological wrath of God against the nations is
clearly the focus of this text. 1 Thessalonians 1:10 makes clear that
faith in Christ delivers one from the eschatological wrath of God.
It is therefore clear that those who suffer Gods wrath do not
have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
(1) And I saw something like
a sea of glass mixed with fire, and (2) those who had been victorious
over the beast and his image and the number of his name, (3) standing
on the sea of glass, holding harps of God.
1. And I saw something
like a sea of glass mixed with fire = begins this important detailed
explanation of the final expression of Gods wrath against the
dragon and his followers. John is clearly attempting to explain with
figurative language what he sees. There is no literal sea or fire.
This is figurative. However, what the literal referent is will be
more difficult to explain. The second half of this verse explains
that the victorious people described are standing on the sea of
glass. Therefore, the sea of glass is a literal physical service
that can support a standing person. This description of a sea of
glass also occurred in the description of the throne room of God
in Revelation 4.
2. Those who had been victorious
over the beast and his image and the number of his name = indicates
the primary focus of this pericope. The three primary obstacles to
faithfulness on the part of believers are highlighted. The beast,
his image and his mark are the beasts that believers must contend
with here. These people were victorious. The exact nature of their
victory is not clear.
3. Standing on a sea of
glass, holding harps of God = concludes the initial vision portion
seen by John concerning the audience before God. The importance of
music before God is heightened by the presence of harps of God.
(1) And they sang the song
of Moses, the bond-servant of God, (2) and the song of the Lamb, saying,
(3) "Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty;
(4) righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations! (5) Who will
not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? (6) For You alone are holy;
for all the nations will come and worship before You, (7) for your righteous
acts have been revealed."
1. And they sang the song
of Moses, the bond-servant of God = details a song of the overcomers
before the throne of God. It is clear that the great man of God of
Pentateuch fame is the subject of this portion. The song that follows
in Verses 3b-4 does not accord explicitly with any song of Moses mentioned
in the Old Testament (Exod 15:1-18, Deut 31:30-32:43, Ps 90). It might
be that the words of the song of Moses are not recorded here.
2. And the song of the
Lamb = indicates either a second song or a song that accords to both
Moses and the Lamb. We have no explicit knowledge of such a song.
It might be that the song recorded in verses 3b-4 is the song of the
Lamb and this is the first time it is introduced to the world at large.
3. Great and marvelous
are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty = indicates the first subject
of the songGod the Father.
4. Righteous and true are
Your ways, King of the nations = maybe a reference to Jesus Christ.
However, it is probably a reference to God the Father.
5. Who will not fear, O
Lord, and glorify Your name = are two rhetorical questions that expose
the might and power of God. It simply cannot be resisted. Yet, in
the bowl judgments to follow the beast-marked worshipers will resist.
Therefore, the point here is this: God is worthy of all glory, even
if He does not get it.
6. For You alone are holy;
for all the nations will come and worship before You = suggests another
reason that God alone deserves all praise and worship. Clearly, God
is in control, but He has not finished His agenda because the nations
have not arrived for Gods universal praise service.
7. For your righteous acts
have been revealed = indicates the reason the nations will gather.
(1) After these things I
looked, and (2) the temple of the tabernacle of testimony in heaven
was opened, and (3) the seven angels who had the seven plagues came
out of the temple, (4) clothed in linen, clean and bright, and
girded around their chests with golden sashes.
1. After these things I
looked = indicates a new vision sequence.
2. The temple of the tabernacle
of testimony in heaven was opened = introduces the judgment of God
that will follow in the form of seven bowl judgments. We cannot with
certainty identify the tabernacle of testimony. However,
it appears that the purpose of this place is to assure the reader
that the wrath of God about fall is justified and verifiable. Who
opened the doors of heavens temple is not stated. However, the
reason the doors are opened is to allow the seven plague-carrying
angels to exit.
3. The seven angels who
had the seven plagues came out of the temple = indicates the emergence
of the seven angels who execute the wrath of God. The exact nature
of the wrath is not yet indicated.
4. Clothed in linen, clean
and bright, and girded around their chests with golden sashes
= describes dress of the seven bowl-carrying angels. The particular
Greek term for linen, linon, occurs only here in the Revelation.
Whether this suggests that the dress of these seven angels is different
from others in the book of Revelation who also wear linen dress is
not clear. The golden sashes underscore the special status
of these seven angels.
(1) Then one of the four
living creatures (2) gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full
of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever.
1. Then one of the four
living creatures = indicates that a person closer to the throne of
God commissions the seven bowl-carrying angels.
2. Gave to the seven angels
seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God = is the first indication
of the nature of Gods wrath about to be unleashed on the earth.
The particular bowls given to the angels suggest a shallow
surface, which indicates quick delivery of content.
(1) And the temple was filled
with smoke from the glory of God and from His power; and (2) no one
was able to enter the temple (3) until the seven plagues of the seven
angels were finished.
1. And the temple was filled
with smoke from the glory of God and from His power = suggests that
the temple in heaven is the scene from which the final wrath of God
will be executed upon the living earth-dwellers. Smoke is a
biblical motif that appears in context with manifestations of God
throughout the Bible (Lev 16:12-13; Exod 19:18, 40:34-35; Isa 6:4).
What is the purpose of Gods presence in His temple at this point
in the chronology of the Revelation?
2. No one was able to enter
the temple = is a common response to the manifestation of Gods
glory. Exodus 40:16-38 recounts that Moses was unable to enter the
"tent of meeting" because the cloud of Gods glory
filled it. I Kings 8:1-66 details the dedication of Solomons
temple, which resulted in the filling of the temple with the glory
of God such that the priests could not enter it. Why no one is able
to enter Gods temple is not explained. However, in context since
the final expression of Gods wrath is going forth, there is
no need to enter. There is no intercession at this point and there
is no appeal.
3. Until the seven plagues
of the seven angels were finished = sets the limits of Gods
Section: Chapter Sixteen - Bowl Judgments 1-7