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?

What does Revelation 4: 6-11 mean to us now?

Any church, no matter how good it has been in the past, can easily fail when we think we no longer need to put our best efforts forward. It is when we stop growing, stop learning, and stop reaching out to Him and to others that we fail as His church. When we live in the past, we are not living now¾we actually are not living at all. Keep in mind that just about all churches were good and vibrant at one time or else they would never have been formed. It is when we fail to keep those things going that we fall short. 

The Church is to be under His rule and kingship, not our committees and trends. We are to surrender to His lead and to His Way so we can proclaim His supremacy and majesty. If not, we engage in spiritual warfare, but not the kind that most Christians think of, as in our battling Satan. Rather, it becomes us battling God for control so we can conform His church to our pleasures. Satan does not need to battle us when we are already battling God. He will fuel our battling and provide the weapons, but he does not even need to do that, we are so good at it ourselves. Satan’s objective is to manipulate those with bad intentions to battle the righteous and godly, to lead us astray, and/or to get us too busy to see Christ in our everyday lives. 

Looking forward to His eternity? Great! But, consider this. We do not need to be in His Throne Room; He is here with us now. We just need to see His hand upon us now, feel His presence, and allow His supremacy to lead us in His way. In the end, God wins out. Satan’s spiritual warfare against us is as futile as our war against God. He wins! There is no other way; His way is the best and most glorious for us and for Him. Satan wants our eyes distracted so we do not see Christ’s majesty, with the goal being that we worship him and not Him. God wants us in spiritual purity and faithfulness in and to Him. The choice is given, the call is made; the choosing is up to us! How will we lead and manage our spiritual journeys? How will you lead and manage your church? Will it be His supremacy or your inclinations? Which way do you think will win out? Then, why would a person of faith in Christ choose to run his or her life or church by any way other than His? 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. What would a glimpse of heaven do to and for you? How would this glimpse of heaven motivate you and your Church to get right and get busy in Him?  
  2. How do some churches battle God for control of His church for their pleasures? How will you lead and manage your spiritual journey? How will you lead and manage your church so you are not battling Him, but rather, serving Him? 
  3. Any church, no matter how good it has been in the past, could easily fail. How does the breakdown of putting our best efforts forward contribute to this?  
  4. What about that when we stop growing, stop learning, and stop reaching out to Him and to others, our churches fail? What can your church do to prevent this?  

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

The Four Main Views of Revelation 4: 6-11

Preterist view sees this passage as a courtroom with a Judge who is Sovereign, and who pronounces those who are guilty in the next chapter. They see the phrase of “after this” as meaning it will happen right away and thus has already taken place in the first century. The 24 elders represent the worship of Christ, but are not angels or people. Rather, they are just an image made up for John to grasp His Throne. Others see the creatures and elders as angels or separate created entities that guard God (who needs no guard) and proclaim His Glory and Lordship. They also see this passage as an assault on the zodiac and astrology. 

Futurist view sees this passage as the turning point from dealing with the Church to dealing with the “last days” that have not occurred as of yet. In addition, they see the phrase “after this” and “the triumphant” as referring to after the Church age and thus, since the Church is no longer mentioned much, they mostly believe the Church will not be a part of these events because it has been “raptured” (even though there is little to no scriptural support for this theory, 1 Cor 15:51-54, 1 Thess. 4:16-18, and Rev. 7:9-17; 22:16 are twisted out of their context as they ignore word meanings and other phrases used for the Church such as “redeemed” and “saints” in Rev. 5:8-9; 8:3-4; 11:18; 13:7-10; 14:3-4, 12; 15:3; 16:6; and17:6,  seeing these as meaning characteristics of the church but not the church玅a big stretch away from the actual meanings for this view). The 24 elders represent the first 24 ancestors of Christ listed in Genesis 5 and 7 (this is a big stretch, reading into the text what is not there); others see them as exalted angels who serve God, and some see this as the 24 elders adhering to the Levitical orders (1 Chron. 24:4; 25:9-13) and functioning as priests. Others say they represent the redeemed. They see the seven lamps and spirits as referring to the Holy Spirit. They see the sea of glass as solid, meaning we no longer need the cleansing of the water because of Christ. The four living creatures are living entities that can represent the attributes and qualities of God, the attributes of nature, or as four portraits of Christ from the four Gospels, as King, Servant, Son of man, Son of God. However, such views are wildly speculative and not rooted in Scripture. Their function is to praise God and execute His sovereign will. 

Idealist view sees this passage as a vision, depicting the entire church age. They ignore key words and context. They see the phrase “after this” as meaning “this is what I saw” (not what the words actually mean). They see these images as representative of the Ezekiel and Isaiah passages combined into one series of images of God’s purity and holiness. They see these beings as a separate class of angels or celestial representatives. The 24 elders represent the twelve patriarchs and the twelve apostles of the Church (1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 21:12-14). They also see the seven lamps and spirits as referring to the Holy Spirit. The elders and such are to glorify God because He is Worthy and reassures the people who are being persecuted. 

Historicist view sees this passage as depicting the Sovereignty of God and the privilege we have to know Him and worship Him. These images parallel the ancient courts of kings such as King Solomon, who had the lions carved on either side of his throne, as well as the Babylon and Roman emperors who had similar images on their thrones. The 24 elders represent the entirety of the Church triumphant that replaces the Jewish priests and sacrificial system with Christ as Lord. However, these angelic hosts were real beings, depicted according to our ability to comprehend. These depictions are in humanistic terms so we can get how glorious God is, far beyond any human rule. The images refer to God’s stability, preeminence, and His ability and right to govern through His rule, wit, power, intelligence, vigilance, and energy.

Exegetical look into Revelation 4:9-11

What would a glimpse of heaven do to and for you?

This passage is about coming before our Lord, and our worship from our gratitude for who He is and what He has done for us as individuals. He is the depiction of the centrality of His Supremacy as Christ. Christ is the Priest, Head, Lord, and Prime Shepherd of the Church. He is the object and reason why we meet and function. Christ is the destiny and pattern we follow and emulate. 

  • Fall down before him. Anyone who comes before God falls “prostrate.” This is a form of reverence and homage. 
  •  
  • Worship him. An essential element is that all who proclaim God as Lord must also worship Him. Here, it refers to songs of praise for who He is in glory and what He has done in deeds (Ex. 15:11; Isa. 6:3; John 20:28; Rev. 1:6). 
  •  
  • Lay their crowns…you are worthy means the recognition that God alone is worthy of our praise and worship.
  •  
  • You created acknowledges God as the creator of all things and Sovereign Lord over all. He made it and He gets to run it and all that is in the universe, including you and me! 

How is God exclusive and pure? How does this fact help you to come before God? 

What can your church do to better reverence God, not just in song, but also in motivations and behaviors? 

Why does the Church exist? What about your church? Why is this so often forgotten in our boardrooms and planning? 

How does this passage give hope and encouragement to the persecuted church?