Saturday, January 7, 2017

Final Warning

1 Then I (John) saw in heaven another marvelous event (sign) of great significance. Seven angels were holding the seven last plagues, which would bring God’s wrath to completion. 2 I saw before me what seemed to be a glass sea mixed with fire. And on it stood all the people who had been victorious over the beast and his statue and the number representing his name. They were all holding harps that God had given them. 3 And they were singing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb (Jesus): “Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty. Just and true are Your ways, O King of the nations. 4 Who will not fear (reverence) You, Lord, and glorify (honor and praise) Your Name? For You alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before You, for Your righteous (just) deeds have been revealed.”

5 Then I looked and saw that the Temple in heaven, God’s Tabernacle, was thrown wide open. 6 The seven angels who were holding the seven plagues came out of the Temple. They were clothed in spotless white linen with gold sashes across their chests. 7 Then one of the four living beings handed each of the seven angels a gold bowl filled with the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. 8 The Temple was filled with smoke from God’s glory and power. No one could enter the Temple until the seven angels had completed pouring out the seven plagues. Revelation 15:1-8 (NLT)

Beginning with Revelation chapter 15, God has reached His climax! John, the human of author of Revelation, introduces God’s final series of judgments against unbelievers (heathens). God had previously sent seven seal judgments that destroyed one-fourth of the earth (see Revelation 6). Then, God sent seven trumpet judgments that destroyed one-third of the earth (see Revelation 8 and 9). These previous judgments were not vengeful but God’s merciful attempt to bring sinful humanity to redemption and repentance. With each passing judgments, God has given everyone an opportunity to repent and turn to Him as the true and living God. The time of God’s wrath against the unbelieving world has finally come. Revelation chapters 15 and 16 reveal God’s final wrath against the wicked and unbelieving world. The seriousness of the situation calls for words of assurance that God’s ways are “righteous and true” (Revelation 15:3, HCSB).

Revelation chapter 15 begins with John seeing another great and amazing sign in heaven (Revelation 15:1). John saw seven angels with the seven last plagues representing God’s final wrath (Revelation 15:1). The wicked and unbelieving world is about to “drink of the wine of the wrath of God” (Revelation 14:10). Then, John saw what appeared like sea of glass mingled with fire and standing on the sea of glass where all Jesus’ faithful followers who had conquered and overcome the beast, its image, and the number of its name (Revelation 15:2). The sea of glass is the transparent pavement surrounding God’s throne (Revelation 4:6; see also Exodus 24:10; Ezekiel 1:22, 26). These faithful followers were holding harps of God in their hands (Revelation 15:2), and they were the overcomers (see e.g., Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; Revelation 3:5, 12, 21; Revelation 11:7; Revelation 12:11; Revelation 15:2; Revelation 21:7).

These faithful followers sang the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of Jesus the Lamb and they sang: “Great and amazing are Your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your Name? For You alone are holy. All nations will come and worship You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed” (Revelation 15:3-4, ESV). This song of praise expresses confidence that all nations will worship the living God and celebrate His greatness (see also Psalm 86:9; Isaiah 45:22-23; Malachi 1:11). The living God is worthy of praise and glory because His ways are righteous and true (Revelation 15:3).

This entire scene is reminiscent of the ancient Israelites’ great Exodus from Egypt. God had miraculously delivered the ancient Israelites from Egyptian slavery by the blood of the sacrificial lamb. Then, God destroyed the Egyptian army pursuing the ancient Israelites at the Red Sea. In thankfulness to God, the ancient Israelites stood by the sea and sang “the song of Moses” (see Exodus 15:1-18; see also Deuteronomy 31:30-32:43). However, the song of Moses is fulfilled in the song of Jesus the Lamb, which tells of a greater redemption through His sacrificial blood (Revelation 5:9-10; see also Romans 3:25; Romans 5:8-9).

Afterward, John looked and saw the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony in heaven was opened, also called the “the Holy of Holies” or God’s inner chambers (Revelation 15:5). Out of the Temple came seven angels with the seven final plagues (Revelation 15:6). These angels coming from the very presence of God were clothed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes around their chests, a preview of the Bride of Christ’s holy beauty (Revelation 15:6; see also Revelation 19:7-8). Then, one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever (Revelation 15:7). The living God is the eternal King (Revelation 4:9; see also Genesis 21:33). The Temple was filled with smoke from God’s glory and power, and no one could enter the Temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed (Revelation 15:8; see also Exodus 19:18; Exodus 40:34-35; 1 Kings 8:10-11; Ezekiel 44:4).

The stage is set! The seven bowls complete God’s final judgment and mark the end of human history (Revelation 16:1-21). Revelation chapter 16 begins a time of upheaval and suffering for unrepentant evildoers.

ESV Study Bible, English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).
Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).
Loyd, Melton, Ph.D., Senior Professor of New Testament (Due West, SC: Erskine Theological Seminary, 2016).
Metzger, Bruce. Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1993).
Mounce, Robert H. The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998).

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