|REVELATION CHAPTER 15||
PREPARATION FOR THE BOWL JUDGMENTS
REVIEW (obviously can be skipped if chapter 11 has been studied).
As was seen in chapter 11:18, the sounding of the 7th trumpet brings to a close the 1260 days of the second half of Daniel's 70th week. A this time the 24 elders announce that the wrath of God ("Your wrath") has now come. That is, it is now TIME for God's wrath, or rather, His FINAL wrath to be expressed against the kingdom of the beast.
"And the nations have become enraged."
The elders are acknowledging what is happening BECAUSE of the inception of Messiah’s reign. The nations HAVE BECOME enraged. This is an aorist passive indicative of orgidzomai, and indicates a CONDITION that occurs in view of Messiah’s reign. At the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky, the earth dwellers will express great fear and worry (Mat. 24:30; Luke 21:26; Rev. 6:15-16). But once the initial shock of His arrival has worn off, they will return to their characteristic thoughts and actions of rebellion as is indicated at Revelation 9:20-21. This statement by the elders is making an observation about the nations in view of Messiah’s actions over the last several months via the trumpet judgments. They would not say, You have begun to reign and the nations WERE angry. They are talking about a condition that has been developing and has reached a climax. Thus, not “were angry” but “have become angry is the way the elders would express it.
This also shows us that AFTER the 70th week has ended, there are still nations on the earth who are rebellious against God. Remember, when the Messiah begins his reign, it is “in the midst of Your enemies,” (Ps. 110:2). They are present on the earth, in fact, physically POSSESSING the earth, and Jesus must first WREST that possession from them before He can establish His 1000 year reign of righteousness.
"And your wrath has come."
The aorist active indicative of erchomai indicates, AGAIN, what occurs in view of the end of the week and the elders are making an observation. Thus, once again, not “wrath came,” but “wrath HAS COME.”
That is, this wrath has NOW arrived; it is TIME for this wrath to be expressed. This WRATH is different from the judgment of the 6 trumpets because that administration of justice occurred BEFORE the end of the week. The elders here are recognizing that NOW, as of the end of the week, God’s wrath has come. The focus is not on what has occurred IN or DURING the 70th week, but AS OF the end of the week. The idea is the same that is seen at Revelation 6:17, where the same construction is to be translated as, “wrath has come.” That is, it is NOW time for this wrath to be expressed. There, the initial wrath of God via the first 6 trumpets is in view. Here, the FINAL wrath of God is in view via the 7 bowls.
This wrath is explained more specifically at Revelation 15:1 as the 7 last plagues through which “the wrath of God is completed,” and at Rev. 16:1, “Go and pour out the 7 bowls of the wrath of God into the earth.”
So immediately after the sounding of the 7th trumpet and the "announcement" to bring God's final wrath upon the kingdom of the beast, the temple of God which is in heaven is opened. Revelation 11:19,
"And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm."
1. "And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened;"
This is the first mention of the temple of God in HEAVEN. The temple speaks of God's presence with man with the point of contact being the character of God as He reaches out to man through the Messianic promise.
2. "Opened," indicates a view inside. This of course is symbolic. Once the "top" of the temple is removed, the ark of the covenant is visible.
3. "and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple:" the appearance of the ark speaks directly of divine righteousness and justice as the key factors for God's interaction with man.
A. Righteousness: speaks of the fact that man is at enmity with God and comes short of God's righteousness.
B. Justice: speaks of the penalty for coming short and at the same time, speaks of the Divine payment of that penalty through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
C. The consequences for rejecting the divine provision for salvation as represented by the ark of the covenant is judgment from God.
D. Thus, we have the "storm" to portend the administration of God's final judgment upon the physical earth and those unbelievers who reside there.
4. "and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm."
This speaks of the administration of justice on the earth upon those who have rejected the grace provision from God for adjustment to God, ie, salvation through faith in Christ.
The specifics of this administration will be given through the 7 bowls of the "final wrath" of God which are discussed in chapter 16.
Chapter 15:1-8, picks up from Rev. 11:19, making chapters 12-14 parenthetical. The chronology is interrupted in this parenthesis and actually "backtracks" to the mid-point of the week and moves forward to the end of the week and to the 30 days of judgment which follows it.
Revelation 15 begins with the 3rd sign of the book of Revelation.
The first sign is at Revelation 12:1 and pictures the nation of Israel as the chosen, Messianic people of God. That is, those whom God chose to be the source and herald of Messiah's arrival on the earth.
This sign is called, "great" (megas) and speaks of the character of the sign in the context of human perceptions.
The 2nd sign occurs at Revelation 12:3 and is simply called, "another sign."
This sign pictures the great adversary of God, Satan, who has always been active in seeking the destruction of the Messianic people. If Satan can succeed in destroying those upon whom God has set His seal, then he would actually accomplish a spiritual victory over God and prove Him to be imperfect. If God is imperfect, then He has no business placing an eternal judgment upon an imperfect creature. Satan would thus acquire a reprieve from his appointment to the lake of fire.
The 3rd sign is called, "great and marvelous," (thaumastos). This word speaks of the effect the sign has on John as a humble recipient of divine revelation. It causes wonderment and awe. The sign pictures the angelic administrators of the final stage of God's wrath upon the kingdom of the beast. "Because in them the wrath (thumos) of God is finished."
This idea of "the wrath of God is finished," refers only to the context of judgment on the earth prior to Messiah's 1000 year earthly reign. After that 1000 years, there will be another expression of God's wrath at Revelation 20:7-10. Then after that, at the great white throne judgment of Revelation 20:11-15, God's wrath will be expressed toward all spiritual rebels by assigning them to the lake of fire for all eternity. It is only then that God's wrath will once and for all be complete for the entire universe, although the "effects" of that wrath (existence in the lake of fire) will continue for all eternity (Revelation14:11).
Verse one simply gives the "title" for this 3rd sign. The details are given in verses 2-8. (In verse 1 they are said to have the 7 plagues but they are not "given" the bowls that contain the plagues until verse 7.)
Before the 7 angels begin to pour out the bowls, we are shown a group of saints in heaven who praise God for the expression of His power, righteousness and truth.
Here we see a sea of glass and upon it, the same group of saints who were seen at Revelation 7:9-17 who were delivered from the great tribulation through the rapture.
1. These have come off victorious from the beast.
2. At Revelation 7:14, they came out of the great tribulation.
3. At Matthew 24:15-21, Jesus tells us that the great tribulation begins when the abomination of desolation is set up in the holy place of the temple.
4. It is the beast who sets himself up as God and places his image in the temple (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). This correlates with the activity of the beast described at Revelation 13:11-15 and Daniel 7:25; 8:23-25; 9:27
5. Thus the ones who are victorious over the beast are delivered at the end of the great tribulation and taken to heaven where they are seen at both Revelation 7:9-17 and 15:2-4.
6. This group is different from the group that we see later at Revelation 20:4. Although BOTH groups face the persecution from the beast, the ones HERE, come out of the tribulation, which will end at the 6th seal. The ones at Revelation 20:4 are those who became believers AFTER the rapture, that is, after the 6th seal. They were converted during the time between the 6th seal and Armageddon; during the time of the trumpet and bowl judgments.
Even though the tribulation will end when Jesus returns at the 6th seal, the ability of the beast to persecute will not end. It will be greatly impeded because of the trumpet and bowl judgments, but will not be completely prevented.
Revelation 15:2 does not tell us "when" they got there, but their presence in resurrection body is indicated by two factors.
1. We first saw the sea of glass at Revelation 4:8, BEFORE the throne, and it was empty.
2. Now it is occupied and the ones there are "standing," which would suggest resurrection body as it does at Revelation 7:9.
3. The sea of glass is "before" the throne and at Revelation 7:9, the saints are standing "before" the throne.
Revelation 15:3-4 tells us that these saints sing two songs. The song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb. And yet it appears to be one song which embraces both titles.
The significance of the song of Moses might simply be that they sing "about" what Moses song about as recorded at Deuteronomy 32. Ie, the character and deeds of God, The Rock (Deuteronomy 32:4) who was actually the Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4).
And the significance of the song of the Lamb is to make the correlation between the Rock, The God of Israel and the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29) and will reign as king over the nations (Revelation 1:5; 19:16).
So this is a song of praise in anticipation of the righteous reign of Messiah after the final wrath of God is poured out on the earth.
The Song of Moses focuses on God the Father.
The Song of the Lamb focuses on God the Son.
Thus, BOTH are given equal honor and praise as equal members of the Godhead. Both share the same honor and glory. John 5:23.
See Topics on the deity of Christ
The Godhead - trinity
VERSE 3 makes absolute statements praising the character and status of God the Father.
"Great and Marvelous are Your works,
O Lord God, the Almighty;
Righteous and true are Your ways,
King of the nations."
These attributes can be studied from the G category of topics.
1. The Power of God
2. The Righteousness of God
3. The Truth of God
4. The Sovereignty of God
5. The Holiness of God
"Who will not reverence, O Lord, and glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy;
For all the nations will come and worship before You,
For your righteous deeds have been revealed."
Verse 4a makes the statement that ALL can do nothing less than to reverence (fear) and to assign glory to the character and reputation of God ("Your name").
The word, "name" does not refer to the appellation (God, Yahweh, Jesus, etc.). It refers to His character; His deeds and His reputation.
Verse 4b: God is Holy
God is UNIQUE above all other beings and PERFECT in all His ways. See Topic: The Holiness of God as linked above.
Verse 4c: All the nations will worship Him. This is referring to what will take place during the millennial reign of Jesus the Messiah. Jesus shares all honor and glory with the Father. John 5:23
Isaiah 66:23; 27:13; Psalm 86:9;
See Topic: The Millennium
Verse 4d: Because God's righteousness has been fully established and vindicated by all that He has done.
See Topic: The Righteousness of God as linked above.
Revelation 15:5-8 is preparation for the final outpouring of God's wrath.
"The temple of the tabernacle of testimony in heaven was opened."
1. actually, this is the temple (which has) the tabernacle, etc.
2. Thus, in actuality, we have the same visual as at verse 11:19, when "the temple of God which is in heaven was opened."
3. Here, it is the same "heavenly" temple, still opened, but now with emphasis on the tabernacle of testimony.
4. There, John saw the ark of the covenant in the temple.
5. The tabernacle of testimony refers to the heavenly pattern God used for the physical sanctuary given to Israel as is described at Exodus 37 and 38.
The purpose of the symbols was to portray the divine plan of redemption for the human race.
The ark of the covenant was the most important item in the tabernacle and symbolized specifically the sacrifice of the Messiah in dying for the sins of all the world.
The divine character that is emphasized in this structure is righteousness and justice. Justice is not only the basis for "blessing" through salvation relationship with God, but justice is also the basis for judgment upon those who reject Jesus as savior.
That is the significance of this vision where John sees the tabernacle of testimony and the ark of the covenant "before" the final expression of God's wrath upon the unbelievers alive on the earth.
The same Jesus who died for the sins of the world is the one who judges, for "He gave him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man" (John 5:22-27).
The point of contact between Revelation 11:18-19 and 15:1-8 is two-fold.
1. The issue of the final expression of God's wrath:
11:18, "Your wrath (orge) came"
15:1, "seven angels who had the seven plagues which are the last, because in them the wrath (thumos) of God is finished."
2. And the temple in heaven as the location from which this final wrath is administrated.
Revelation 16:1, "And I heard a loud voice from the temple, saying to the seven angels, 'Go and pour out the seven bowls of the wrath of God into the earth.'"
11:19, "the temple of God which is in heaven was opened and the ark of His covenant appeared"
15:5, "And the temple of the tabernacle of testimony in heaven was opened."
15:6, "and the 7 angels who had the 7 plagues came out of the temple"
Notice that at verse 6, we see the angels clothed in linen clean and bright.
This is proof that the "armies" who come with the Lord Jesus to "mop up" at Armageddon (Revelation 19:14), do not need to refer to believers, but can easily and in fact, more reasonably, refer to angels.
15: 7, "And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels, seven golden bowls full of the wrath (thumos) of God, who lives forever and ever."
Revelation 15:8 tells us that the administration of this wrath of God, as an expression of His power, causes smoke to fill the temple. This EVIDENCE of God's GLORY is so great that none of the creatures in heaven are able to enter into the temple until the final judgments are completed.
"And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power; and no one was able to enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished."
This, of course is only within the context of the SYMBOLS used in the
vision. So this symbolic "restriction" shows the awesomeness of the
judgments and the MAGNITUDE of God's glory. It is similar to the idea that
no person on the earth can behold the glory of God and remain alive. Exodus
©Ron Wallace, http://www.biblefragrances.com.
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