Development of Final Judgment
Development of Final Judgment (Ch. 15)
Revelation 15:5-8—And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened: 6 And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles. 7 And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever. 8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.
Introduction "Another Sign" (15:1)
Revelation 15:1—And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.
The Time of the Sign
The harvest of the grain and the vintage in Chapter 14, brings us to the end of this present age. So, the events in chapter 15 occur before or during the harvest.
The Message of the Sign
John sees another sign in Heaven. This is a "sign" just as in Revelation 12 John saw two signs: 1) The Sun-clothed Woman and 2) The Great Red Dragon. It with relevance to these that he calls this "another sign".
John uses the Greek word "semeion" in seven verses (12:1,3; 13:13,14; 15:1; 16:14; 19:20). "Semeion" means a symbol or miraculous wonder. The sign John sees here is a "symbolic miracle or wonder" Wonders and miracles are supernatural acts that prove a point or express a message. According to John 10:38, Jesus used miracles to communicate the message that He is God.
John does in fact see something, but as a sign, what John sees should be interpreted figuratively. John sees a wonder and the wonder with its details communicate a message. The detailed wonder John sees is symbolic, but the death and devastation it speaks of is very literal. Signs of healing accompany the preaching of the Gospel (Mark 16:17; 1 Corinthians 14:22); however, signs of death attend the end of the world.
The Characteristics of the Sign
John characterizes what he sees not only as a "sign", but as "great and marvellous". Respectively, these words are:
- megas— large, mighty, strong (Matthew 8:24)
- thaumastos— wonderful, marvellous (1 Peter 2:9)
It is great because it involves so much more in range and intensity than any catastrophe that has ever been. It is marvellous because of the unparalleled character of what it foretells. What it describes is altogether extraordinary and on an astounding scale.
Tribulation Victors (15:2-4)
Before giving the particulars of this great and marvellous sign, John interjects with another vision of a higher and more gracious order, though it is still connected with the outpouring of the plagues. When the wicked are cut off, the righteous will see it. When the plagues fall upon the anti-christ and his hosts, these victors are on high singing, harping and praising God, giving glory to God and to the Lamb!
Their Position — The Sea of Glass
Revelation 15:2—…a sea of glass mingled with fire…
This reminds of the sea of glass in Revelation 4:6 which was spread out before the throne. There is a difference between these two verses. In Chapter 4, the sea of glass was " like unto crystal" in clearness, but in Chapter 15, the sea of glass is mingled with fire. Also, in Chapter 4, the sea appeared to be part of the pavement of heaven, but in Chapter 15, it appears as a mighty reservoir of just judgements about to be poured upon the world. The crystal sea is sort of base on which the whole celestial city is established—purity, vastness, strength. The sea mingled with fire is a sea of just judgements.
Revelation 15:2—…them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
These will have complete victory over the beast (The Person), his image (The Doctrines), his mark (The System), and the number of his name (The Society). Their reward for victory is a position on the sea of glass in heaven, having harps and singing praises to God.
Their song is an exultant testimony of God as victor.
The Song of Moses
We find Moses' song in Exodus 15:1-11. It is a song celebrating deliverance from Egypt and the destruction of Pharaoh's host by God. The Book of Wisdom says that on this occasion in Exodus 15:
God opened the mouth of the dumb, and made the tongues of infants eloquent
As the Hebrews sang rejoicing by the Red Sea, so the Victorious Redeemed will sing by the Sea of Glass mingled with fire. God and therefore his saints will always have the last word!
The Song of the Lamb
The Song of the Lamb is redemption's song! ("I am Redeemed", "Thank God I am Free (saved, saved, saved)", "I've been to Calvary", etc. Here is recorded at least a part of their song.
Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.
Seven Angels (vs. 5-6)
Revelation 15:5—…the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:
This tabernacle is in Heaven. The old tabernacle was merely a pattern of things in heaven (Hebrews 8:1-5; 9:23). The "temple of the tabernacle" references the inner tabernacle—the Most Holy Place or Holiest of All. It was in this tabernacle of testimony the Ark of the Testimony was kept. Therefore, these angels come from out of the Most Holy Place of Heaven—the throne of God was opened.
The angels are clothed in pure and white linen which speaks of righteousness. More important than their personal righteousness is the righteousness and holiness of the ministry these angels were to perform. As the priests ministered in the tabernacle in linen, speaking of Christ's righteousness and the ministry that they were performing, so these angels have a ministry.
They were girded with golden girdles. Gold speaks of Divinity and girdles speak of the truth.
Revelation 1:13—And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
Old Testament priest were girt with a girdle of a different material because it spoke of redemption, but the girdle here is of gold and the setting of Divine wrath. These priest-like angels have an administration of pouring out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.
The Giving of the Vials (vs. 7,8)
Revelation 15:7—And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever. 8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.
Notice the mission of the Church in the judgement. One of the four beasts (a part of the church) gives the seven angels the seven golden vials full of the wrath of God.
1 Corinthians 6:2-3—Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
Two other times scripture says the temple was filled with the smoke of the glory of God was in 1 Kings 8:10,11 and Isaiah 6:1-4. "No man was able to enter into the temple".