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The Seven Angels With The Seven Plagues (ch. 15:1-8)

In chapter 15 we're still in the interlude before the last great judgments are seen by John.  John has been seeing visions in heaven, where this chapter also takes place.


I would say that the majority of Prophetic Futurist believe that we're at the mid way point of the tribulation here.  The last half, the most severe half, is about to begin.  I tend to believe this to be true. That's why many Futurists term the last three and a half years of these seven years the Great Tribulation.   


Those who believe Revelation is more like a novel or a movie with various scenes overlapping each other believe that we're about to revert back to the beginning of the tribulation, or, the last seven years of this age.    


In verse 1 we are introduced to seven other angels.  These seven angels have seven plagues that complete the wrath of God.  John mentions that this is a sign as he did in the previous three chapters. We should note the word "sign" here in its context.  Those who believe that all of Revelation is one huge sign or symbol should realize that these angels are a sign.  I don't think one can interpret angels as not being real angels.  If everything in Revelation is a sign, especially those things that specifically say the event or being is a sign, then these angels would have to be symbolic.  That makes no sense.  


I think we should view the word "sign" more as a road sign pointing to something instead of a sign being symbolic of something.


These seven angels each have a bowl full of God’s wrath.  If there is any symbol here it might be the bowls.  It's definitely not the angels or what' happens when the bowls are poured out.  That being said, the problem with making the bowls symbols and not the angels, the wording doesn't really suggest that.  In my thinking, the way John puts it is that both angels and bowls are signs.  That's why I view the word "sign" as a road type sign and not a symbol.   I believe the Greek word "semeion" that's translated as sign proves this to be the case.   


John says that these bowls of God’s wrath complete God’s wrath.  At this point I should distinguish between God's wrath and God's anger.  A close study of these two words in terms of what the Bible says will demonstrate that wrath is a very strong anger.  Wrath and anger aren't exactly the same thing.  In the Bible there are two Greek words used to interpret our English word “wrath”.   The word used here is only used eleven times in the New Testament and out of those eleven times, ten are in Revelation.  The word used here means a “sudden outburst of rage”.  To me this suggests an anger that has been penned up and can no longer be held in.  You might even say it's an uncontrollable anger, although I’m sure God can control His anger.  


This verse says that these seven last judgments complete God's wrath.  Clearly, the end is near.    


In verse 2 we see a sea of glass mixed with fire.  These might well be symbols.  Many Prophetic Futurists understand glass in Revelation to represent the multitude of believers.  If that is the case, fire would represent God's purifying of these saints.  That being said, the text does not say this glassy sea is saints.  I am not convinced that this sea should be interpreted as anything but a heavenly sea.  


Also in verse 2 we see those who had victory over the beast standing beside the sea of glass and fire.  In the last chapter we saw the 144,000 singing praise to God, but here we see another group of people.  Some suggest that these people are the 144,000 of chapter 7 and 14 but I don't think they are.  The text says they are believers who did not give into the beast, the anti-Christ.  These people either became Christians during the tribulation or else if there is no pre-tribulation rapture, they had been Christians prior to the tribulation period.          


One thing I should point out here is that the sea is not those who have resisted the anti-Christ.  They are standing beside the sea.  Therefore, those who claim the sea are the saints, as stated above, might not be correct.       


In verses 2 and 3 we note that people were given a harp, as were the 144,000 in the last chapter.  They sang a song. The song they sang was called the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb.  Many if not most think there is only one song being sung here.  I suggest that there are two songs being sung.  One song is the song of Moses, which I believe is found in Deuteronomy 32.  The other song they sang is found right here.  If words mean anything at all, we should pay attention to them here.  These people sang the song of Moses and they sang the song of the Lamb.  That's two songs, not one song.   


I suggest you take time to read the song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32.  It gives a history of Israel 's rebellion.  It fits into Revelation 15 quite well because it speaks of God's judgment on Israel and the nations, which as I've said before, is the very reason for this tribulation period.  The first reason is to judge and punish Israel and bring it to its knees in repentance.  The second reason for the tribulation is to then judge and punish the nations of the world. You see this very clearly in the song of Moses.  


In contrast to the song of Moses the song of the Lamb is an elegant and majestic song which acknowledges the Lordship of God, His marvelous deeds, His just and true ways.  As a matter of fact, the words "just and true ways" are also found in the song of Moses. 


Verse 3 speaks of God as being the King of the ages.  You can't get much more majestic than that.


Verse 4 says. "Who will not fear you"?   At this stage in the tribulation we begin to see man fearing God.  They will fear Him even more when it's all over, but remember, fear doesn't mean one believes.  Just because man fears God in these times doesn't mean man will turn to Him.  Many cry out in anger against Him even in these bad times.    


Verse 4 also says that all nations will come and worship before the Lord.  This will take place during the thousand year rule of Christ on earth as well as in eternity on the new earth. 


The song closes by saying that God's righteous acts have been revealed.  Here we see the word "revealed" as in "revelation".  This gives us a clue to what the book of Revelation is all about.  It's about the revealing of God's righteous acts which are these judgments that we are seeing in this book.


From verses 5 to 8 we see seven angels coming out of the tabernacle in Heaven.  Each of them are given a bowl from the four living creatures that are full of the last plagues of judgment that would be poured out on the earth. This is the end.  Once these judgments are complete, the end of the age has come. 


In verse 5 we see mentioned the temple in heaven.  The way John puts it is interesting.  He says that he saw the temple, and then he added that it is the tabernacle of Testimony.  It's clear that this temple had nothing to do with any earthly temple.  It wasn't Solomon's temple.  It wasn't Hared's temple that existed when Jesus was on earth which was demolished in 70 A D when the Romans devastated Jerusalem .  This temple is in heaven.  This is a heavenly vision.    


If you remember your Old Testament history, you will note that the tabernacle in Moses' day was called the Tabernacle of Testimony.  It was to be built and erected exactly as God told Moses because it was an earthly shadow of the temple that is in heaven.  Here in Revelation 15 John sees that heavenly temple that the earthly tabernacle symbolized. 


As a side note, I'm reminded that God made man in His likeness and in His image.  Like this temple in heaven that had an earthly representation, so man is an earthly representation of that which is in heaven, namely God Himself.  I therefore suggest that all things God created are an earthly expression of what already exists in heaven.  Of course, since the fall of man, this earthly expression is nothing like it once was before the fall.  This earthly expression is even farther removed from its heavenly reality it is meant to represent.   


Verse 6 simply states that the angels with the seven last plagues of judgment are seen coming out of the temple dressed in white linen.  As usual, everyone is dressed in white in heaven.  White represents righteousness.  


In verse 7 we see that one of the four living creatures gives these seven angels their bowls filled with the wrath of God.  Just why the four living creatures have these bowls is unknown.  This does show us that everyone in heaven has something to do.  Heaven is a busy place.


We see God being angry throughout the Bible, especially in Old Testament times.  I'm not sure we see Him pouring out His wrath.  His wrath seems to be reserved to this very moment.   


In verse 7 we note the words “for ever and ever” which is in reference to God being eternal.  For those who believe that there is no such thing as eternal punishment for the wicked, we need to look at these words “for ever and ever”.  The Greek word “ion” means age and it is translated as "forever" in this verse.  Because this word means an age, some say that eternal punishment only lasts for an age or a couple of ages and then it ends.  So, these people view Revelation 14:11, where John says that the torment of the ungodly will last for ever and ever as merely a couple of ages.  If you believe that, then you have a problem when it comes to God living for ever and ever.  You must say that God only lives for a couple of ages as well.  You can’t have it both ways.  You can’t say that God lives for ever and eternal punishment only lasts for an age or two.  In both cases the same Greek words are used and therefore should be treated the same.  


We learn two things in verse 8.  One thin is that the temple was filled with the smoke because of the glory of God.  We've seen the Old Testament tabernacle filled with clouds but here we see it filled with smoke.  I believe the smoke is from the fire of God's judgment as will be seen in the Lake of Fire .  I realize that the text states that the smoke was from the glory and power of God but we must realize that God's glory and power is just as much seen in His wrath as it is in His love.   


The chapter ends with the knowledge that no one could enter
the heavenly temple until God's wrath was completely poured out on the earth.  None of us likes being around an angry person.  I suggest that no one could stand in the presence of God when He is exploding with wrath.  Remember, wrath is not anger.  It's an uncontrollable, unstoppable, explosion of pent of anger.    


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