Revelation 15

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

September 10, 1997

Introduction

The momentum is building towards the final period of judgment during the seven year tribulation period on earth.

We saw in chapter 14 a picture of Jesus standing with His 144,000 on top of the temple mount, protecting them.

Weíve seen angels flying through heaven preaching the gospel and warning the people not to worship the antichrist.

Last week we saw these pictures of harvesting, showing that the time is ripe for judgment to fall on the earth.

:1-4 The martyrsí song

:1 And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous

What John is about to see is going to take place in heaven.

:1 seven angels having the seven last plagues

There are lots and lots of groups of sevens in the book of Revelation.

But the groups of seven that form the major framework of the book are the three groupings of plagues -

The seven seals

The seven trumpets

The seven bowls (or, vials)

This now is the last grouping of seven judgments coming on the earth.

There are also three groups of "seven angels".

There were the seven angels over the seven churches (chapters 1-3).

There were the seven angels that blew the seven trumpets (chapters 8-11).

There are these seven angels who will have seven bowls.

It has been suggested that the trumpet angels and the bowl angels might be the same. Itís possible.

:1 for in them is filled up the wrath of God.

filled up - teleo - to bring to a close, to finish, to end

This is the same word Jesus used:

(John 19:30 KJV) When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

This is a verse we often use to show that Jesus has completely paid the price for our sins, in that He considered the transaction complete, finished, when He did on the cross.

With these seven last plagues, Godís wrath will be complete on this unbelieving world.

:2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire:

Weíve seen the sea of glass before (Rev. 4:6)

This sea of glass is what the "laver" and the "brass sea" of the tabernacle and temple were made to copy.

They were wash basins, set before the tabernacle and the temple, meant for the priests to wash their hands and feet in before doing their priestly duties.

But instead of a big wash basin made out of brass, this one is made out of glass, or crystal.

Now that the final wrath of God is to be poured out, the sea is "mingled with fire".

I have the picture in my mind of what you see at "Fantasmic" at Disneyland, where they force natural gas bubbles into the river, and then light it on fire.

Throughout scripture, fire is equated with judgment (Gen.20:24; Matt.5:22; 2Pet.3:7), as when God judged Sodom and Gomorrah with fire.

:2 and them that had gotten the victory over the beast

Who is this?

It might be the 144,000, since they are spiritual descendants of Moses, and they sing a new song (Rev. 7,14).

It might be all the believers that have been killed during the tribulation.

Victory? Wait a minute, theyíre dead!

From an earthly persective, it would look as if the antichrist was the one "winning":

(Rev 13:7 KJV) And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

He would be killing them.

Yet in their death, they were the ultimate victors, because the antichrist was just sending them to heaven.

Lesson:

Godís "good" isnít always the same as our "good".

We like to quote Rom. 8:28, and say that God is going to turn all things out for the good, but what we sometimes are saying is that we think God is going to turn things out my way.

Godís idea of what is good doesnít always match what our idea of good is.

Sometimes when we pray for someone to be healed, and they end up dying, we think, "Oh, weíve lost them, what a tragedy!" As if to think that death is a loss for God.

Death can be a victory for the saints of God.

God's definition of victory is whether you stay trusting in Him, not the outcome of your outward, temporal circumstances.

The victory is that these saints did not worship the antichrist.

They were persecuted, and apparently put to death.

But they did not compromise in their faith.

If youíre praying for victory in a situation, do you need to do a little redefining?

:2 and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name

image - some kind of statue or image of the antichrist that the false prophet is going to make, and use to make the people worship the antichrist.

mark Ė some kind of imprint on the forehead or right hand of those who worship the antichrist.

number Ė the infamous "666", but just what it means, who knows?

These believers did not give in to the worship of the antichrist, which will be represented by taking this "mark" on the forehead or on the right hand.

Some ideas about the number Ö (a little humor please!)

660 - Approximate number of the Beast.

DCLXVI - Roman numeral of the Beast.

666.0000 - number of the High Precision Beast.

1-666 - Area code of the Beast.

00666 - ZIP Code of the Beast.

$666.95 - Retail price of the Beast.

$769.95 - Price of the Beast with all accessories and replacement soul.

Phillips 666 - Gasoline of the Beast.

Route 666 - Way of the Beast.

666k - Retirement plan of the Beast.

Lotus 6-6-6 - Spreadsheet of the Beast.

WordPerfect 6.66 - Word processor the Beast.

666i - BMW of the Beast."

666 F - Oven temperature for roast-Beast.

:2 stand on the sea of glass

These believers have been brought through the fire

Shadrach & co. were protected in the fire.

:2 having the harps of God.

harps - kithara - a harp

Actually, it wouldnít be too much of a stretch to think that these were "guitars" (a word Websterís says was derived from kithara!)

Are they Fenders? Taylors? Rickenbachers?

:3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God

We have three places that could qualify as "the song of Moses" (Psalm 90; Deut. 32:1-43), but the one that fits best to me is Exodus 15:1-18

It starts out with:

(Exo 15:2 KJV) The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him.

Sung after being delivered from Pharaoh through the Red Sea. A song of rejoicing in God's deliverance.

This is what these tribulation saints have experience, God rescuing them through the veil of death, from a foe far worse than Pharaoh.

The Jews, after returning from captivity in Babylon, used the same refrain in their dedication of their new temple:

(Psa 118:14 KJV) The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.

When Jesus returns and sets up His kingdom, part of the song that is sung includes:

(Isa 12:2 KJV) Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.

Lesson:

God alone is our strength.

The One who will deliver us is Him, and Him alone.

We need to be careful about trusting in anything other than God.

If Iím trying to quit smoking, and I say to myself, "Just in case God doesnít pull it off, Iíll join Schick".

Itís not that God canít lead you to a Schick program and use it, but what are you really trusting in?

Sometimes we get to looking to people.

"Oh, if only I can get Brother So-and-so to pray for me"

Itís not wrong to ask people to pray for you, but are you trusting in them, or in God?

:3 and the song of the Lamb

This seems to be what was sung earlier in chapter 5:

(Rev 5:8-14 KJV) And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. {9} And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; {10} And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. {11} And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; {12} Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. {13} And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. {14} And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.

Lesson:

Heaven wonít be boring.

I've heard some people complain, "Heaven sounds so boring. Is all we're going to do in heaven is just sit around and play harps?"

I think that those who think they'll be bored in heaven fall into two categories:

1. Those who don't really understand the glory of worship.

2. Those who won't be bored in heaven because they won't be there.

For us, we've experienced the joy there is in God's presence (Ps.16:11), we've experienced the fire of God fall down upon our sacrifice as we've worshiped (2Chron.7:1), we've experienced God giving us victory over our enemies as we've stood and praised Him in the midst of battle (2Chron.20:22).

:3 saying Ö

In addition to these songs, there is more Ö

:3 Great and marvellous are thy works,

We might say, "Godís works are awesome and amazing!"

These saints are declaring this as they have watched God work in their lives, delivering them from evil.

:3 Lord God Almighty

Heís Lord, the one in charge.

Heís God.

Heís Almighty, the one who is all powerful.

:3 just and true are thy ways,

We might say, "Absolutely right and genuine are Your ways of doing things!"

Lesson:

God doesnít make mistakes.

Remember, this is a group of people who have suffered horribly on earth for their faith. And here they stand, at the end of their fight, declaring that God is righteous and true in His ways. God doesn't make mistakes.

Think about this next time you find yourself facing a choice of taking the easy way and compromising your faith, or choosing the way of suffering, yet standing with the Lord. In the end you'll know you did the right thing in standing with Him.

:3 thou King of saints.

Different translations read differently here, due to differences in Greek manuscripts.

Some have "King of the ages", some, "King of the nations"

I like the King James the best.

We are His saints. He is our king.

I wonder if this has anything to do with the antichrist demanding worship, demanding that they call him their king.

Only God is our king.

:4 for thou only art holy

holy - hosios - this isnít the typical word used for "holy" (hagios, "separated" from evil", separated for God). This word carries the idea of being "moral", true to moral standards.

There is nothing "immoral" about Godís judgment of the earth.

It is the completely moral thing to do.

:4 for all nations shall come and worship before thee

This was prophesied:

(Psa 86:9 KJV) All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name.

(Psa 110:1 KJV) A Psalm of David. The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

And it will happen:

(Phil 2:10-11 KJV) That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; {11} And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

:4 for thy judgments are made manifest.

judgments - dikaioma - that which has been deemed right so as to have force of law

Itís not talking about the plagues specifically (which are technically acts of judgment), but Godís standards, Godís laws, which are obvious to man.

Men are without excuse when it comes to understanding Godís standards.

(Rom 1:20 KJV) For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

:5-8 The angels get their bowls

:5 And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:

A door opens in the heavenly temple.

the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony

A tabernacle is a tent, like the one that Moses made in the wilderness to be a kind of portable worship center.

But the earthly temple and the earthly tabernacle were models of the real thing, the one in heaven.

(Heb 8:5 KJV) Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount.

:6 clothed in pure and white linen

pure - katharos - clean, pure (physically, levitically, or ethically)

white - lampros - shining; splendid, magnificent

It could be that this is just how everyone in heaven dresses.

This is what the church will be wearing:

(Rev 19:8 KJV) And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

It could be that these angels are performing a "priestly" kind of duty, and are dressed as priests, who wore linen robes. (Ex.28)

Either way, this is a picture of holiness and purity.

The point is that the angels are going to be doing something that we might tend to call "dirty work".

But theyíre not putting on their old overalls.

Theyíre wearing the finest white linen robes.

There is nothing improper or "dirty" about the judgment that is going to be poured out.

:6 having their breasts girded with golden girdles.

Theyíre wearing golden belts up around their chests.

:7 And one of the four beasts

These are the four "living beings", also called "cherubim", that we saw back in chapters 4-5, the angelic beings that surround the throne of God.

Note: This is a different word in Greek than the word used for "beast" to describe the antichrist.

The antichrist is a therion, a "wild beast".

These are "zoon", or "living creatures".

These are the ones closest to God. (Rev. 4:6-8)

:7 gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.

vials - phiale - a broad shallow bowl, deep saucer

Iím not sure thereís anything unique about these bowls, itís the same word used in:

Re 5:8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four [and] twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.

In the operation of the temple worship, there were golden bowls used as utensils.

Ex 25:29 And thou shalt make the dishes thereof, and spoons thereof, and covers thereof, and bowls thereof, to cover withal: [of] pure gold shalt thou make them.

Itís just that these bowls, instead of being filled with the incense, are filled with the wrath of God.

These "vials" of the wrath of God are coming right from the throne of God itself.

: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.

Note: In the next chapter, there will be a "great voice" coming from the temple. Since no one has been able to go in, guess whoís voice it is? Godís.

This seems reminiscent of when the tabernacle and the temple were both first set up, and the glory filled the temple.

When Moses first set up the tabernacle, the glory filled the tent, and it was so thick, Moses couldnít go in (Exo 40:34-35).

When Solomon dedicated the temple, the same thing happened, twice. Once when the praise music started (2Chr. 5:13-14), and once when Solomon prayed.

(2 Chr 7:1-2 Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house. {2} And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD'S house.

In the Old Testament examples, the smoke and glory seem to be a sign of the strength of Godís presence, perhaps even a picture of Godís approval of their worship.

Perhaps this might carry the significance that God is very strongly behind whatís about to happen.

But even more, notice that no one can go into the temple, in other words, no one can come in and offer prayers.

In other words, it will be too late to pray. Itís too late to ask for mercy.

Lesson:

Itís still not too late.

The good news, is that this hasnít happened yet!

There is still time to pray!

(Isa 55:6 KJV) Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

Itís still not too late to call for mercy.