A Commentary on Revelation Chapter 15
INTRODUCTION TO REVELATION CHAPTER 15
The “key” to this chapter is the words “last” (15:1) “seven last plagues,” and the word “completed,” “God’s wrath is completed.” This does not, however, mean that the world has come to an end. There is much more to come after the seven bowls of wrath, which we will detail in coming chapters. Please notice that there are saints singing praises because they have gained the victory over the beast (Catholicism). Like the Israelites when they crossed the Red Sea they composed a song and sang because of the victory, the words of the song are as follows:
Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways, King of the ages.
Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.
Heaven’s temple is opened and seven angels who are dressed as priests are given seven bowls full of the wrath of God. No one can enter the temple to the place of testimony to avert the judgments of God upon the beast till the last bowl of wrath is poured out.
EXPOSITION ON REVELATION CHAPTER 15
1 I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues–last, because with them God’s wrath is completed.
What John saw was a sign or symbol and it was great and marvelous. If he thought it was marvelous shouldn’t we think it was marvelous? It was so marvelous that many Christians refuse to believe it. John saw the victory people, he saw the reformers who had been victorious over the “number of his name.” He saw them singing the victory song, he saw them singing praises to the Lamb. John saw the temple of God opened–the church which is the temple of God had been closed during the dark ages–now it is opened again. He sees all nations come to worship Jehovah again. He sees the preparations being made for the last plagues. Dear Christian Brother and Sister you too should be rejoicing over the same things. Note that these are called the LAST. Seven seals leads us to the overthrow of Paganism, Seven trumpets leads us to the overthrow of the Empire, and Seven bowls of wrath leads us to the overthrow of the beast (Catholicism). These seven scourges will not end the church age but will usher in the golden age of Christianity, described in the future chapters of this book.
2 And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name. They held harps given them by God.
A sea of glass mingled with fire–what a spectacular and glorious scene. It must have been dazzling to John. Standing beside this background was a group of saints who had gotten the victory over the “man of sin,” the beast, the 666, the apostate church, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots.
3 and sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages.
In verse two they are with the harps of God which are mentioned in Gen. 4:19-21; 31:27; I Sam. 10:5; 16:14-23 and Ps. 33:1-4. We should always interpret any passage literal unless it is impossible to be otherwise. Harps are found four times in this book. Rev. 5:8; 14:2; 15:2,3; 18:22. I believe they are literal harps. In the verse under consideration these same people are singing and praising Moses and Jesus.
4 Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.
In this doxology Christians are seen glorifying and magnifying the name of the Lord. The dark ages has ended, the Bible is free to be published, God’s people are free to worship and praise Him. We serve a Holy God.
I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves about on the ground. I am the Lord who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy. LEV 11:44,45
But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: Be holy, because I am holy. 1 PE 1:15,16
Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God. LEV 20:7
5 After this I looked and in heaven the temple, that is, the tabernacle of the Testimony, was opened.
The temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened. The key word that we are going to investigate is the word “testimony” in heaven. Now we know that testimony is the evidence being presented by a witness. Therefore heaven is called upon to give “testimony” to what is about to happen.
6 Out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues. They were dressed in clean, shining linen and wore golden sashes around their chests.
Seven angels now appear, each one having a plague to send upon the Catholic church. Their clothing is described as ornamental and bright. They are not dressed in dungarees and a tee shirt. Their clothes indicate their importance and mission. In the following chapter the angels will descend with their plagues.
7 Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever.
I commented on the four living creatures in chapter 4:6-10. Heaven has four living creatures known as seraphims who carry out the legislation of heaven while the angels do the bidding of this body. They have the “bowls” or vials of wrath, and will execute it on the earth. They are not going to resurrect the dead or usher in the coming of Christ but will bring to an end the power of the beast.
As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened. Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire. (The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time.) In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. Dan 7:9-14
In the above text we see Jehovah on his throne with his attendants. A decision is reached regarding the horn and the beasts. A book with her deeds was opened It was decreed that its power was to come to an end with an utter overthrow, then in verse 13 and 14 Daniel sees the Ascension of Christ and the kingdom that was given to him at Pentecost.
8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.
This was not ordinary smoke but the Sheckinah glory of God. We need to be familiar with the old testament to understand such an event.
On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. EXO 19:16
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!”” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, [6:12] and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” ISA 6:1
While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud. EXO 16:10
and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud. EXO 24:16
When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it. When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, He is good; his love endures forever. 2CH 7:1
None was able to enter the temple. No one was able to intercede or intervene in behalf of those to whom the plague was directed until the seven angels had completed their mission.