What does Revelation 16:1-11 mean to us now?

 

Real repentance will demand our complete, authentic profession of faith and the turning away of our sin. This will show restitution, and the will to turn to Christ, not just as Savior, but also as Lord over all that we are and all that we want to be. To grow in our faith requires us to surrender our will and sin over to Him (Gal. 2:20-21). This means we surrender our ways of thinking, our desires, outlooks, pretences, agendas, and worldviews that are not based on His precepts and life so we can grasp His precepts and live the life He has for us that is wondrous and fulfilling. We give up what we think is worthy, that is ultimately unfulfilling for His worthiness; our sin is exchanged for His righteousness given to us. Then, we will be an offering to Christ and a showcase of His work to others. This process is ongoing and will last all the days we walk this earth; Christ will empower us with His Spirit to do so. So, what have you done to receive Him and remain faithful? Nothing of good can come from those who refuse Christ or repentance, and nothing will change a defiant heart, as this passage demonstrates. 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. How have you experienced that God indeed is patient and just? What would cause Christians not to heed responsibility and repentance? How would such people excuse themselves? What does God think? How does this affect your church?
  1. What does it mean to display trust in God when all that we have or are in charge of could be wiped out?
  1. Real repentance will demand our complete, authentic, profession of faith and the turning away from our sin. How can you do this? What can your church do to model and teach this? How can you demonstrate restitution? What does it mean to you that Christ will empower you with His Spirit to do so?
  1. How have you seen what is good as evil and what is evil as good displayed in your society and experiences? What about in the Church? What can your church do to combat these tendencies?

© 2007 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

The Four Main Views of Revelation 16:1-11

 

The Preterist view: Basically there are two views. One view is that all of Revelation deals with the early church and fall of Jerusalem. Others see the first half of the Book of Revelation as dealing with Jerusalem, and the last half as dealing with Rome. Chapters 15 and 16 are considered “half way.” Most in this camp see this passage as the judgments against Jerusalem for their sins of killing the faithful. Others in this camp see this having to do with the fall of Rome in the fifth century. Some see this as the results of the Trumpet judgments in chapter eight. The Mark of the beast are the loyal citizens of Rome or apostate Jews and God’s warning to them in Deut. 28 being fulfilled. Some see these as symbolic; others as literal past happenings. Others see this as the plagues that infested Jerusalem during and after the siege by the Romans, because of all the piled up dead bodies and resulting diseases, and the pollution of the water. Hence, the imagery of blood and plagues. Some see this as further details of the Trumpet plagues while others as a different judgment. The difference is the Trumpets were 1/3 and the bowls are full on. The altar refers to the saints calling out for vengeance. The sun’s heat is seen as symbolic for the persecutors of the sinful Jewish leaders. The throne of the beast is seen as Rome, and darkness is seen as the resulting political turmoil in Rome after Nero commits suicide. 

The Futurist view: They see this passage as judgments that come quickly in sequence, or all at once as the consummation of God’s judgment at the close of the tribulation period. These are different from the Trumpet judgments but follow a similar succession. Most see this as a literal depiction of these events while others see some of these events as symbolic. All see these as literal plagues just like the ones poured out on Egypt, except far more devastating or completely destroying the earth. Most see the first bowl as effects of nuclear war and natural catastrophes that God allows to come in their fruition for His purpose. The second bowl is seen as the sea representing the Gentiles and the judgment upon them or that the sea is literally wiped out. The third bowl is mostly seen as symbolic to how devastating it is, but literal as how blood-thirsty the evildoers are. Most do not see the blood as literal rather what it looked like or symbolic to how awful it is, but not to minimize the literal destruction. The fourth bowl is seen as the ruling secular authorities getting their judgment while others see this as literal “astrometric” disasters. The fifth bowl is seen as the end of the Beast’s political power and or influences. There is a lot of speculation concerning how Russia or China will attack Israel and/or the United States, or about a nuclear war. But, according to Scripture, these things, although they may occur, have no real bearing on the second coming of Christ or His timing. They just may mean “birth pains” to His coming. The failure to repent and apostasy are the reasons for these judgments. 

The Idealist view: They see this passage as God Himself ordering the angels and judgments that resemble the plagues of Egypt. The contrast is that Satan operates just like evil dictators, personified by Pharaoh’s oppressive regime and domination of the Israelites, and God’s subjacent judgments upon him and his rule.  The other contrast is over the Trumpet judgments that affect 1/3 of the earth; these plagues bring total devastation. Some see these as parallel and literal while others as symbolic that calamity is certain if you do not repent. Some see this as the fall of Rome; others to how God deals wit the apostate Church as well as individuals. In between these two sets of judgments, the Trumpet and Bowl judgments gave abundant opportunity for repentance, but the wicked refused and brought judgment upon themselves. The other aspect of this passage is that it brings comfort to the persecuting Christians to whom John was writing. The sea is seen as humanity and the possible total devastation this may mean—the finality of humanity. The altar is seen as the prayers of the saints crying out for vindication. 

The Historicist view: They see this passage as the last judgment on the corrupt papacy prior and during the reformation. Others see this as the civil wars and calamities of mankind in the 18th century and/or today. The mark of the beast here is seen as those loyal to and helping the evil Popes in the 16th through the 18th centuries. Others just see this as describing the reign of Napoleon and then the French revolution of the late 18th century (24,000 priests were killed during this time and many churches were destroyed too! Such a view is perhaps a “micro” application of the passage but not necessarily an actuality or verbatim of what it teaches us or what John saw). The sea into blood is seen as the removal of the papacies navel power and/or the changing political and naval powers of Europe due to war during the 19th century. The rivers are seen as the changing political landscape as borders and countries changed rapidly during this time climaxing with WWI. Blood is a symbolic for the papal persecutions of the righteous and the Reforming Church. The throne of the Beast is seen as papal Rome and the various wars over and with the Vatican from 1797 to 1798. Others see it as from 1794 through 1848, and world history during this time.

Exegetical look into Revelation 16:7-11

 

  • The altar respond means “personified” as the witness of the altar of God’s temple, as a means to make oaths and swear by. Also means the witness and integrity of people who are righteous or how they were sacrificed as being an altar to God (Deut. 29:19-21; Rev. 6:9). The altar itself refers to the blood from the slaughtered animals of the Old Testament sacrificial ritual, as the blood is drained out from the base of the altar (Ex. 29:12; Lev. 4:7-25, 24; 5:9; 8:15; 9:9; Matt. 5:33-36; Luke 1:11).
  • God Almighty is a name for God, and refers that He, as God, is strong and mighty and rules all things, meaning His supremacy and preeminence over all the universe (2 Cor. 6:18).
  • Sun was given power to scorch… fire. Heat and fire were feared by the ancients. This was also a terrifying image of judgment, from the suffering of heat of the fire the laborers felt to especially the “siroccos,” the hot, east winds that destroyed crops and sometimes people too. Interestingly, this was not one of the plagues of Egypt (Ex. 13:21; Deut. 28:22; Psalm 121:6; 1 Cor. 3:13; Heb. 12:29; 2 Pet. 3:7).
  • Refused to repent. Just as with the Trumpet plagues, these people are “stupid” and have no excuse. They had some warning, either by prophets, by the clear teaching of the Word, or by some supernatural pronouncement. They knew their deeds were wrong, yet they refused to acknowledge Christ or repent of their ways even in the face of catastrophes. In addition, they cursed the name of God. However, if they repented, they would be spared their calamities, yet they refused… talk about being hardheaded (Ex. 7:22-23; 8:10; 9:14-29; 10:2; 14:4; Amos 4:6-11; Rev. 2:14; 9:21 chaps 10-11; 16:9-11)!
  • Bowl on the throne of the beast may be referring to Satan’s throne. Throne appears 42 times in Revelation. The other 40 references are to the throne of God (Rev. 2:13; 6:15-17; 16:10).
  • Plunged into darkness. This is reminiscent of the ninth plague of Egypt that was more than a lack of light; it was “felt.” This “darkness” also refers to having no peace, contentment, or happiness, as chasing evils and pleasure even when our wants and agendas only leave us destitute of what is really important—His presence (Ex. 10:21-23; Is. 59:1-15)!
  • Cursed the God of heaven refers that people will replace evil for good and visa versa, as in praising Satan and cursing God. This is an aspect of hedonism—to manipulate a sin into a right. This is the very core of irreverence and blasphemy. God is Sovereign; He loves, gives grace and mercy, and yet will destroy wicked kingdoms. He who created and established His universal and eternal reign will not be cursed. God takes false worship and contempt very severely and seriously (Dan. 2:44; Rom 1:28-32; James 1:12-18; 4:1-4; Rev. 16:11)!

Exegetical look into Revelation 16:1-6

 

  • Seven angels. This comes from an ancient Jewish belief system, not from Scripture. They believed that angels had control over elements and were assigned positions by God. This may be true or not, an image John uses to make his point, or a metaphor for the elements and behavior of nature that God controls and directs (Psalm 148:1-12; Zech. 6:5; Rev. 7:1).
  • Pour out….God’s wrath. The Bowls, in conjunction with God’s wrath, may be symbolic referring to God’s judgment and not necessarily a specific attack plan although God can do as He pleases so this could be literal. This theme is used heavily in Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Far more important than the specifics or theories of how God will do this is the point that God will have His reckoning, that judgment is coming, and that it will be a reality. However, as Christians who trust in Him, we have hope and assurance through Christ and His righteousness (Is. 59:15-18; Joel 2:11; Mal. 3:2-10).
  • On the earth/land is a contrast of the first four bowls with the first four trumpets, referring to death (Rev. 8:7-12; 11:6; 17:15).
  • Bowl is an image of God’s action and His holiness in so doing, which simply means as this passage says, “God is pouring out.” These bowls are nothing esoteric or cryptic; they symbolize God’s wrath. It is not necessary to take this to mean literal, giant basins. It is a Jewish image of the Temple and the precious instruments and utensils used for worship. The point is, just as God delivered the Israelites from oppression using the plagues against Egypt, so will He deliver those who are His! This is also a call for us to be fragrant and poured out to our Lord, for that is what pleases Him. What does not please Him is our disobedience and refusal of His love (Deut 33:10; Psalm 141:1-3; Gal. 2:20-21; Phil. 3:1-14; Rev. 8:3-4). 
  • Ugly and painful/Noisome and grievous/loathsome. Obviously something painful, it also means bad, evil (from context, not that God is doing evil), and harmful, and then serious and painful, from whence we get our word “malignant.”
  • Sores/boils broke out. Means “ulcer;” this is reminiscent of the sixth plague of Egypt (Ex. 9:8-12; Job 2:7-8, 13; Luke 16:21).
  • Bowl on the sea…Rivers and springs. This is reminiscent of the first plague of Egypt (Ex. 7:20-21; Rev. 8:8). The term used means the ultimate destiny of mankind as being judged and the preparation for the Second Coming and/or the Last Judgment, similar or the same as the “Trumpet” judgments in Rev. 8:6-13. This is called “eschatological;” it is from God and His judgment, not necessary from the pollution from man’s industrial machine. Volcanic upheavals can also produce this effect from God’s direction. (see Revelation chap 6 notes; Is. 15:9; Psalm 78:44; 2 Pet. 3:10-12; Rev. 6:13; 8:10-11; 9:1).
  • Every living thing/souls. This is where we get “psych,” the Greek concept of mind and body and soul and/or the vital, living force of a person from which come our personality and expressions. Hence, the word is used for “psychology.” Thus, everything in the sea died—complete destruction.
  • Holy One/Lord. “Greek “kyrios” is the word used and usually translated as Lord; however, here it is “hosios” meaning “holy,” thus holy is the correct translation.
  • You are just means God’s ways are pure and without fault of any sort. God is never vindictive for reason of spite, but to defend His faithful, He seeks “payment” to remove sin. This is a Hebrew call of the oppressed seeking God’s mercy and judgment upon the oppressor. It is a plea for vindication by also praising God for Who He is. This is seen in the Psalms, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. Thus, this angel/theme agrees with God; His ways are best, regardless of personal cost (Ex. 3:14; Rev. 15:3; 19:2-11).
  • Have shed the blood of your saints. Jewish tradition says that God turned the Nile into blood as punishment for shedding the blood of the children from which Moses escaped. This also refers to those who have been martyred because they remained faithful to Christ. It denotes suffering, injustice, and persecution, but the application is that they remained true to the faith, regardless of circumstances. In context, this image indicates that the martyrs are like sacrifices, just as Christ was when he represented the Passover Lamb, innocent and undeserving, whose blood was shed. In Christ’s case, it was for our redemption; in the case of the martyrs, it was seemingly in vain, but in reality, it glorified God (Pseudepigrapha book, Wisdom of Solomon chaps.16-17; Phil. 2:6-11).
  • Given them blood to drink. This is also reminiscent of the first plague of Egypt (Ex. 7: 14-24; 9:10) and is a metaphor for shedding blood and the blood crying out for justice and vengeance. (Apocrypha book, Tobit 3; Rev. 6:9).
  • As they deserve/worthy means “befitting.” It is not a commendation (praise) but rather a condemnation (a sentence to punishment) as “they deserve it.” This is also a saying that the wicked will fall by their own hand and means, or God will just wait and let the wicked destroy themselves. It also means “the punishment fits the crime.” God has the right to destroy what He created and does not need or is obligated to save; what He does anyway for us is offer Grace to us all who do not deserve it. However, the grace must be received and repentance must come forth. If no repentance, judgment is more than just and completely and totally appropriate (Isa. 49:26; Matt. 23:31-36). 

Revelation 16:1-11: What are the Contexts?

 

This passage continues the theme of judgment and uses the imagery of the plagues God poured on Egypt, where Pharaoh was offered an easy way out and grace, but he hardened his heart and refused to repent just as the recipients of the bowls of wrath do. Then, God warns the Jews to be loyal; if they are not, He will inflict them of the boils and plagues He did to Egypt (Deut. 28: 25-29). In contrast, this is also about how God protected His people from the plagues and judgments; thus, this passage is also about great comfort to others in persecution. This is in relation to the love and forgiveness of God being offered but then refused by those who need it the most. They sought to deliver themselves but they failed; instead of reaching for God, they cursed Him instead. The contrasting aspect here is that God’s provision and grace can be received and He will protect the faithful from His wrath just as He demonstrated in Egypt. We can take comfort in God’s love and protection and not fear His Judgment when we are in Him. But, we need to also take heed; God will not tolerate disloyalty and being cursed! This is about “what goes around comes around;” what we sow, we will, in return, reap. Our attitudes and ideas will result in the application of our deeds and actions. In other words, as this Book has been saying, we bring judgment upon ourselves by what we do and refuse to do. So, do not sin; but if we do, we must repent, seek, and accept His love and forgiveness. If we do not repent, we will be in our own “darkness” where there is the absence of peace and contentment. These bowls of God’s wrath are brought upon those who are evil and who seek after those who are evil. We can be reassured that there is no need for a Christian to fear God’s wrath; if you are not evil and manipulative and are loyal to Christ, you have no qualms to bear or reason to fear (Is. 57:15-21; 59:1-21; Rev. 15:1-16:21).

Revelation 16:1-11

Introduction 

The First Bowls of God’s Wrath 

John continues to get his incredible glimpse of the hope and wonder we will get for eternity. Now he hears a shout to the seven angels to go and empty the bowls of God’s wrath, and they are being poured out. The first bowl gives horrible pain and sores upon the wicked who refused Christ and took the mark of the beast. They received what they deserved, as they showed their disloyalty and contempt for God and those who are faithful. Then, the second angel poured out his bowl and the sea became dead along with everything in it. The third angel had his turn and did the same to the rivers. Now, the angel who was in charge of the earth’s waters agreed and said these judgments were just displaying his trust in God when all that he was in charge of was wiped out. He further testifies that the evils and unfaithfulness of God’s people and His creation of humanity judged themselves and thus doomed themselves. God is only giving them what they wanted and deserved. 

The fourth angel pours out his bowl upon the sun and it becomes more intense and scorches the earth; what is left is not burned up. Under intense judgment, the people still refuse to repent and seek God’s love and grace; they become even more belligerent and curse His Holy name! Saying what is good is evil and what is evil is good seems to be the everlasting work of Satan and evil people. So, the fifth angel pours out God’s wrath upon the beast and his minion of evil and the anguishes and pains of judgment are felt. However, responsibility is not heeded and repentance is still not sought. Indeed, God is patient and just!  

How would you symbolize these Bowls? Have you ever been through a natural disaster?

What does Revelation 15:1-8 mean to us now?

 

This passage is about the contrast and importance of God and His judgment and grace. They go together and both are essential. The wicked and those who are in apostasy are deserving of their judgments; they bring it on themselves freely as they ignore and refuse God’s offer of grace. This passage is about worship—pointing us to the One who is in control so those who are His can take hope and comfort in Him. These plagues of judgment are reminiscent of the ones with which God challenged Pharaoh to let His people go. God offered peace and grace, but Pharaoh kept hardening his heart over and over, just as the recipients of the bowls of wrath do. Just as God delivered Israel from oppression in Egypt, He will deliver His faithful. This becomes all about God’s faithfulness and glory, and how His plan will triumph. So, John’s readers, as well as we today, can take hope in the realization that there is no reason we should not trust in His sovereignty and plan (Ex. 7-12; 40:34-38; 1 Kings 8:10-11; Dan. 7:9-10; John 3:17; Eph. 2; Rev. 4-5). 

This passage also starts John’s fourth cycle of visions, this time focusing on the bowls of God’s wrath to those who are evil doers. If you are not evil and manipulative, but are loyal to Christ, you have no worries here (15:1-16:21). These bowls are nothing esoteric or cryptic; they symbolize God’s wrath. The point is, just as God delivered the Israelites from oppression using the plagues against Egypt, so He will deliver those who belong to Him! The other significance of this is that it sets up the world for the Second Coming of Christ (Is. 51:17-22; Jer. 25:15-29; Lam. 4:21; Ezek. 23:31-34; Hab. 2:16; Rev. 14:10; 16:19)! 

These bowls are very similar to the Seven Trumpets and first Four Bowls, but the first judgments affect one-third (1/3) of the areas; these new ones effect all. Thus they result in more stern judgments after a very clear warning and time for repentance! These judgments can be applied as they were written to the Roman Empire as well as for a time yet to come. Remember, Hebrew logic is not “either-or;” rather, it is “both-and!” Thus, these themes were for John’s readers, for us, and for a crisis-tribulation time that is yet to come. The bottom line is not what theories we read in to the passage that tantalize us; rather, it is what God is seeking from us, namely our faith, worship, and faithfulness versus what he is mad at—evil.  You can get a list of that from Romans chap 1. 

This passage testifies to the fact that a hardened heart refuses to learn, obey, or submit. God accepts us; it is we who have trouble accepting Him! Such a mindset will not recognize pride or sin’s folly, nor will it learn from past mistakes. This mindset refuses the things of goodness and God, rather preferring depravity or its own pride and agendas. It can even trick itself that these things are right and good and those who represent the Truth of God are in the wrong. Yes, God still cares and offers Himself to them until the time is up and judgment is poured out. The contrast for the faithful is this; while the wicked refuse to learn or grow, we can take comfort we can be anchored in Christ and be encouraged and then learn from them—learn of the evils and depravity of sin so we can guard ourselves, and do as much as we can to help others get out of it, as our Lord showed us. 

The other aspect we can glean from this passage is that God protects and cares for us. God is right and never acts with spite or in unfair anger. 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. What images could console you in times of stress? How would you describe peace and hope to someone in distress?
  1. How and why does a hardened heart refuse to learn or obey or submit? What can you do to prevent such a mindset from encroaching on you? How does not recognizing pride and sin’s folly or learning from our mistakes fuel sin and problems in our lives?
  1. Who is in control of your spiritual life? What needs to take place for you to take more hope and comfort in Christ?
  1. What can you and your church do to praise Christ—who is glorious and worthy—more passionately and faithfully? How would this help you and the people in your church be more victorious against the evils of the world and the stresses of life? 

 © 2007 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

The Four Main Views of Revelation 15:1-8

 

The Preterist view: They see this passage as the beginnings of Judgment, the Jewish war of 70A.D, and the finality of Jerusalem. Thus, it is all about God’s wrath toward apostate Jewish leadership while He delivers His faithful. God abolishes the Old Covenant and sets up the Covenant of Grace under Christ. The celebration is seen as the rejoicing of the faithful for their vindication and/or escape from Jerusalem, and/or how Jesus delivers His people. Others see this as the joy of martyrdom. The corrupt, wicked city of Jerusalem has had its chance, but now it is beyond recovery. 

The Futurist view: They see this passage as anticipation of a new Temple being built to execute God’s new mission to humanity. His mission is climatic judgment. Most in this camp see this not as God’s Temple, but the one in Jerusalem that will be rebuilt. (There is a common misconception in “end times” theory that the temple must be rebuilt before Jesus can come back. This is just not true. The verses used to make this point are taken out of their historical context. The passages refer to the end of the Babylonian captivity and how the Temple was gong to be rebuilt, which had already been fulfilled in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah! Thus, there is confusion between already fulfilled prophecy and not understanding the Old Testament and its connection to unfilled and fulfilled prophecy from historical chronology. The teaching that the sacrificial system must also be reinstated is an assault to the Person and work of Christ. There are no conditions for Christ to come again; He comes when He is ready to come! ) Sea of glass is a picture of heaven and the fire is God’s judgment. There is a big problem for this view as the great victory, when most believe the church was raptured; so, who is victorious? There are many theories; either this refers to the people who come to Christ after the rapture or else it does not refer to the Church but rather to the disembodied spirits of the people killed, which is a contradiction of how God deals with death. Others see this as the song from the Red Sea still being heard or the song of redemption echoing from God’s faithful. This could also be interpreted as a reminder of God’s faithfulness and His ability to redeem, or a last warning before final judgment.           

Passages saying the temple has to be rebuilt that are often taken out of context: Numbers 19:2; Isaiah 14:1-2; Jeremiah 7:2-8; Ezekiel 34; Daniel 3:1-7; 8; 9:24-27; 12:11; Haggai 1:1-11; 2:14, 1 Cor. 6:19; Gal. 4:25 -26; 1 Thess. 4:13-17; 2 Thess. 2:4; 3:7; 1 Peter 2:5; Rev. 11:2-6. The original Temple in Solomon’s time was built in (dates approximate) 950 B.C. and destroyed in 587 B.C. (1 Kings 8:22-61; 2 Kings 24:11-15; 2 Kings 25:7-12). Said passages point to its rebuilding and thus were fulfilled with Ezra’s Temple 515 B.C. (Ezra 5:2). Also, Herod’s Temple, built in 20 B.C. and destroyed in 70 A.D fulfilled Daniel’s “abomination that causes desolation,” and Christ, the Messiah fulfilled “the anointed One” (Matthew, chapters 21-24; Acts 6:12 – 7:60). There is no scriptural evidence for a “tribulation temple” (see Revelation 11 study), although if one is built, (I am surprised it has not been already), it has no bearing on Christ’s timing or His return. 

The Idealist view: They see this passage as the last judgment on humanity and the end of time as we know it. God’s goals and purposes are fulfilled and complete, and humanity’s purpose is at its fruition. Others in this camp see this as individual judgments to one’s own personal life experiences and choices as compared to opportunities, call, and abilities. Fire is seen as God’s righteousness and glass as heaven. The song is that all nations shall worship Christ as Lord. 

The Historicist view: They see this passage as symbolic, meant to give the Church hope and reassurance that God is in control and His purpose will be fulfilled. They also see this passage as God’s assault on the corrupt papacy (Medieval Catholic Popes who persecuted faithful Christian reformers). They see this happening in God’s throne room represented by the Sea of glass, and the fire as His judgment. The great victory indicates the “faithful,” those who remained steadfast during papal persecutions. The seven plagues are seen as the end of secular history and the start of the return of Christ as the events of earthly life come to an end. Others in this camp see this as the French revolution and/or the destruction of Rome.

Exegetical look into Revelation 15:1-8

 

  • Great and marvelous/wonderful is a celebration song of hope fulfilled and victory (Is. 6:1-4).
  • Last plagues refers to “filled up” and completion.
  • God’s wrath refers to the judgment that is coming and that it will be a reality (Joel 2:11; Mal. 3:2). This is something Christians need not fear as Christ covers our sin for us (Zeph. 1:14-18; Nah. 1:6; Mal. 3:2; Rom. 1:18; 3:9-23; 6:23; Rev.19:15). There is hope and assurance when our trust is in Christ and His righteousness. He is our hope, even when the very foundations of the universe are collapsing around and under us. When our hope is in Christ, nothing can shake us (Luke 12:32-34; 1 Cor. 7:29-31; 2 Thess.1:7-9; Heb. 12:25-29; Rev. 6:16).
  • Sea of glass. This is a representation of worship, as the temple had the “Bronze Sea,” referring to the “basin” in the heavenly temple. In context, this also may refer to how Israel was delivered through the parting of the Red Sea, or the “Sea of Reeds” (Rev. 15:5-6, 8; 16:1, 17). Elsewhere, this image of water and worship is found when the Red Sea (Sea of Reeds) was parted by God, as was the Jordan River (which was actually a greater miracle).These images indicate that all that exists is submissive to God’s supremacy, and He has victory over all that opposes Him. In conjunction, water also means that He supplies us with all we need so we can take comport in Him in times of doubt or stress (Ex. 24:10; Deut. 11:11; 1 Kings 7:23-25; 2 Kings 16:17; 2 Chron. 4:2-6,15, 39; Psalm 11:4; Is. 51:9-11; Jer 27:19; Ezek. 1:22; Rev. 4:6-8; 11:19; 14:15, 17; 15:2). 
  • Mixed with fire refers to God as a consuming fire who delivers the faithful (Deut. 4:24).
  • Been victorious who had conquered indicates that the faithful have a role in God’s judgments to those who persecuted them or have done evil. Perhaps, they will be witnesses and/or their prayers have motivated God. This also means we do not fear the devil when we are in Christ (Rev. 6:9-11; 12:11).
  • Number of his name. This was also a common way to express a warning to us about godlessness or those opposing Christ—a warning to make sure we are not opposing Christ in thought, word, or deed, taking oaths, or making promises that counter Christ’s principles (Rev. 13:11-18).
  • Song of Moses indicates a song that pictures redemption and hope. Moses sang to praise God for His deliverance and his people’s triumph as God led them safely and unharmed from oppression and through danger, and then God “took out” their enemies. This was/is used in Jewish worship on Sabbath evenings to celebrate deliverance. It is also a contrast between being oppressed by evil and the oppression we bring on ourselves by seeking idols and things not of God, and how He seeks to deliver us. God accepts us; it is we who have trouble accepting Him (Ex. 15:1-18; Deut. 31:28-32:43; Psalm 86:9-10; Rev. 5:6).
  • Song of the Lamb was an early church hymn pointing to how Christ obtained deliverance because He arose from the dead and triumphed over His enemies (Psalm 22; Phil. 2:9-11).
  • Great and marvelous are your deeds is another song of praise (Ex. 15:11; Psalm 92:5; 111:2 Rev. 1:8).
  • Just and true means how God is right and never acts with spite or in unfair anger. His judgments are pure and deserving; it would be a farce and immoral for Him not to judge. Evil would not be contained or accountable, and rightfulness and holiness would not mean anything without judgment (Is. 55:6-13; Rev. 16:5-7; 19:2-11).
  • King of the ages/world is a name for God, referring to His universal right to be recognized as first, foremost, and the only worshiped being (Psalm 86:9-10; Is. 45:22-23; Jer 10:10; Zech. 14:9; Mal. 1:11; Phil. 2:9-11; 1 Tim. 1:17).
  • Tabernacle of the Testimony/Sanctuary is an image of the Old Testament Tabernacle tent that meant God’s heavenly dwelling. It refers to the inner sanctum of God’s moist holy of holies that contained the Ark with the two tablets of the Testimony Moses brought from Mount Sinai. This represented God’s home on earth as a “copy” of God’s Throne Room, made for His presence in the inner chamber of Jewish Temples and the Tabernacle that was a tent, used before the Temple was built by Solomon. Now, John sees the real heavenly version in a corporal state to condescend to his and our understanding (Ex. 24:9-11; 25; 25:40; 32:15; 38:21; Deut 10:5; 1 Kings 5-7; 22:19; 2 Chron. 2-4; Is. 6; Ezek. 1; 10:1; Dan. 7:9-10; Matt. 13:38; John 8:42-45; Heb. 8:1-6; 9:1-14; Rev. 3:12; 4:1; 7:15; 11:19; 14:15-17; 15:5-16:1, 16:17; 21:22).
  • Shining linen/pure bright linen…. golden sashes refer to the clothing of priests who represent God and His Holiness through their call and priestly occupation. It also refers to how our Lord creates, redeems, and empowers us (Ex. 28:42; Lev. 16:4; Ezek. 18:4).
  • Four living creatures is a figurative image from Ezekiel and Babylonian descriptions, possibly referring to angels who minister to God, who act as protectors, guardians, and servants, giving their adoration. The point is that “God is Great;” God is Holy, He is universally glorious, and He is greater than any earthly power or king. This may also be an assault on the powers and authority of Babylon and Rome. To read into these images more than what is there misses the point of the passage and muddies the waters of Revelation (Gen. 3:24; Ex. 25:17-22; 1 Kings 7:29; 1 Chron. 12:8; 28:18; Psalm 18:10; Is. 6; Ezek. Chaps 1, 10; Rev. 4:6).
  • Seven golden bowls/vials refer to the incense bowls or chalices used in the Jewish Temple. Here, instead of being used to please God, God uses this image to appease His just wrath (Psalm 75:8; Is. 34:10; 51:17; Jer. 25:15; Mark 15:35; Rev. 5:8; 8:3-5; 14:9-10; 16:6,19).
  • Smoke. In the Old Testament, smoke indicated both God’s presence His anger. This is also, in context, an image of God’s power and glory filling the Temple when it was dedicated (Ex. 19:9-18; 20:18; 40:34-35; Num. 12:5; 1 Kings 8:10-11; Ezek. 10:3-4; 44:4; Psalm 18:8-11; 74:1; Is. 6:4; Ezek. 1:4; )
  • From his power means that our Lord is our Help, and He will never forsake us. From the context of the Song of Moses, this is also a warning to “see if your false gods (apostate, corrupt, weak church) can help you.” (Ezek. 18:4; Psalm 37:7, 20, 34; Matt. 10:28-31)
  • No one could enter the temple. Those who are wicked had their chance; now, they are beyond reclamation.

Revelation 15:1-8

 

Introduction 

The Seven Plagues

John now gets a heavenly perspective of God’s wrath being prepared to be poured out on a wicked world. As seven angels with seven plagues get ready for God to say “go,” they are the last ones unleashed because this concludes God’s wrath. Now, in the midst of the underpinnings for extreme judgment, John is consoled with images depicting peace and hope, a sea of glass, and the people who have been victorious against both the evils of the world and the manipulations of the beast. These victors of faith praise God for His holiness; they have seen His plan revealed and that His plan has prevailed. God is truly beyond marvelous; His previsions and power—His best and true ways—were received. Then, they continue to praise Him who is glorious and worthy; they see their struggles as worth it beyond measure. 

            The saints celebrate their victory and vindication! As God’s heavenly Temple is opened and revealed, from it come the seven angels dressed in glory and splendor, along with the four living creatures who gave the angels the seven bowls filled with God’s wrath. The Temple is filled with God’s presence, power, and glory, and thus, no one could enter it until the bowls have been poured out and His judgment completed. 

This passage is about the contrast and importance of God and His judgment and grace. They go together and both are essential. The wicked and those who are in apostasy are deserving of their judgments; they bring it on themselves freely as they ignore and refuse God’s offer of grace. This passage is about worship—pointing us to the One who is in control so those who are His can take hope and comfort in Him. These plagues of judgment are reminiscent of the ones with which God challenged Pharaoh to let His people go. God offered peace and grace, but Pharaoh kept hardening his heart over and over, just as the recipients of the bowls of wrath do. Just as God delivered Israel from oppression in Egypt, He will deliver His faithful. This becomes all about God’s faithfulness and glory, and how His plan will triumph. So, John’s readers, as well as we today, can take hope in the realization that there is no reason we should not trust in His sovereignty and plan (Ex. 7-12; 40:34-38; 1 Kings 8:10-11; Dan. 7:9-10; John 3:17; Eph. 2; Rev. 4-5). 

This passage also starts John’s fourth cycle of visions, this time focusing on the bowls of God’s wrath to those who are evil doers. If you are not evil and manipulative, but are loyal to Christ, you have no worries here (15:1-16:21). These bowls are nothing esoteric or cryptic; they symbolize God’s wrath. The point is, just as God delivered the Israelites from oppression using the plagues against Egypt, so He will deliver those who belong to Him! The other significance of this is that it sets up the world for the Second Coming of Christ (Is. 51:17-22; Jer. 25:15-29; Lam. 4:21; Ezek. 23:31-34; Hab. 2:16; Rev. 14:10; 16:19)! 

  1. How would you symbolize God’s wrath? How do you like to celebrate victory? How do you like to get vindication?