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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 15

 

 

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Verses 1-8

1. THE SEVEN LAST PLAGUES

WHEN John saw the book of prophecy in the hand of the Apocalyptic Angel, it was a parchment-roll, enveloped in seven wrappers, and secured with seven seals. When the Lion of the tribe of Judah loosed successively the seven seals, each one revealed its part of the prophecy in programme, the interest constantly increasing in geometrical ratio. The opening of the seventh seal reveals the contents of the book, which is so momentous that seven trumpet-bearing angels are now called out to proclaim the wonderful prophecies. These trumpets began to sound at the time of the Apocalypse, have been sounding ever since, and will continue till the Lord comes to reign. During the first trumpet, as described in Chapter 8, a terrible infection, political, social, and ecclesiastical, falls on the earth, and begins to undermine the fabric of human government. When the second angel sounds his trumpet, a great burning mountain is cast into the sea; i.e., the infection reaches the popular masses, stirring them into discontentment and revolution. When the third angel sounds his trumpet, the malady reaches the rivers and fountains of water; i.e., the subordinate departments of government, shaking them with political earthquakes, and disqualifying governors and proconsuls longer to enforce law and order. When the fourth angel sounds his trumpet, this growing infection reaches the heads of government, filling capitols and royal palaces with darkness, confusion, anarchy and bloody revolution, so that every throne topples, and sovereigns fall to rise no more. When the fifth angel sounds his trumpet, these social, political, and ecclesiastical troubles have assumed worldwide proportions. Consequently, the Holy Ghost pronounces the proclamation of the fifth trumpet a woe. During the first four trumpets, Satan succeeds in the undermining and disintegration of the political and social fabric, and the superinduction of the Dark Ages on the whole world. The seventh century has ushered in, kingdoms are falling, and thrones toppling in all lands. It is an auspicious epoch in the history of Satan. His millennium is now fully inaugurated. Hence he calls up Mahomet to rule the Eastern hemisphere and the pope the Western. The first woe proclaimed by the fifth trumpet continues one hundred and fifty years.

Meanwhile Moslem conquest rolled its bloody tide over Asia, Africa, and Spain, everywhere exterminating Christianity by the sword. This appalling scourge received its first signal rebuff in the battle of Tours, France, where Charles Martel signally defeated the Saracens and saved all Europe from subjugation, slaughter, and the Moslem yoke. These prophecies run in a geometrical ratio, with a constantly increasing intensification. Hence the second woe, proclaimed by the sixth trumpet, covers a period of four hundred years (Revelation 9:15), the second great period of Mohammedan conquests, which, taking new impetus after the Crusades, swept on, building up the great Mogul Empire, which for two hundred years claimed the conquest of the world. They received their final signal defeat at the siege of Vienna, 1683, when John Sobieski, the Polish hero, led seventy thousand Christian warriors into the conflict under the battle- cry: “Not unto us, O Lord, but unto Thee be the glory!” That signal defeat culminated in the treaty of 1698, in which the Saracens were forced to surrender vast kingdoms to Christendom.

Revelation 11:15 introduces the seventh trumpeter, who proclaims the third and last woe that shall ever come on the earth. That woe is to knock down all the carnal powers, political and ecclesiastical, throughout the whole earth, and thus prepare the way for the King of kings to descend on His millennial throne and reign forever. This last trumpet is to sound on to the end of the Gentile Age, when the kingdom comes.

Here is another evolution, the greatest and the last of all; i.e., the seventh trumpet is evolved into the seven last plagues, which are committed to seven angels in the seven vials, or, as the Greek says, seven bowls, containing the final consummation of God’s wrath against this wicked world, focalized in those terrible catastrophes destined to come in righteous, retributive judgments against a wicked world and fallen Church. After these seven bowls of wrath shall have been poured out on the earth, and shall have expended their force in the castigation of all the wicked nations and apostate Churches, then the chastisements of the Almighty against this rebel world will forever have an end. The wicked rulers of the earth will have toppled from their thrones, Babylon fallen, and earth redeemed from Satan’s misrule. We read the positive statement from the Holy Ghost in the 1st verse of the 15th chapter: In these “the wrath of God is finished.” Oh, blessed consolation! we are so rapidly approaching the end of earth’s troubles, sorrows, and calamities, when Satan shall be cast out and our glorious King descend to reign.

We have now reached, in the seven last plagues, the final evolution in these panoramic prophecies, which will clear the field for our glorious coming King by removing all the incorrigible, irreconcilable, and unsanctifiable elements out of the world.

2. I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who are triumphant over the beast and his image, and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.” Here John has another vision of the bride. The sea of glass is the imperturbable experience of the soul’s profound repose in Jesus when it enters the experience of entire sanctification. A thousand cyclones may sweep over a sea of glass and never produce a ripple on the surface. So it is with this wonderful soul-rest. It is proof against all distraction and perturbation. “Commingled with fire” means the glorious baptism of Pentecostal fire, which Jesus always gives the sanctified soul. It is the Christian’s invincible panoply for the Lord’s war against the devil. It is His indispensable palladium for the conquest of the world. A well-rested man will do about ten times as much work as a tired, worn-out man. Hence, perfect rest in Jesus and the fiery baptism flooding your soul will enable you to shout down every Jericho and chase a thousand devils. These are the people who have the victory over the beast, and his image, and the number of his name.

The beast here signifies the world-power, carnality, and especially the pope, the incarnation of carnal, worldly religion. The image of the beast includes idolatry in all its forms and phases, and especially the fashions of the world. You cannot be a devotee of any of these things and follow Jesus. The number of his name is 666 (Revelation 13:18), which, as you see from the calculation, means Romanism. While Babylon is a harlot, she is also the mother of harlots. Her maternity has been wonderfully prolific. Her daughters are in all the popular Churches on the globe. The influence of Romanism is this day predominant in all the great Protestant Churches. Since the pope’s temporal dethronement by Victor Immanuel in 1870, he has radically reversed the engine and changed his tactics. Since his grip on the rulers has broken, he maneuvers, through myriads of subterranean channels, to reach the governments through the people. Hence he has his sworn Jesuits in hundreds of Protestant pulpits, expediting, with all their chicanery, the universally downward trend of all ecclesiasticisms into Romanism. She loudly boasts of her two hundred and fifty millions of members belting the globe. The Protestant Churches, captivated by the eclat, are all competing for members. If you would go to heaven, you must be thoroughly saved from the influence of members. You must be willing to take the lone way with Jesus, singing, with Bishop Marvin:

“I’d rather be the least of them Who are the Lord’s alone, Than wear a royal diadem, And sit upon a throne.”

The true pilgrim has no assurance that any other soul is treading the narrow path but himself and Jesus. Hence you are bound to utterly die out to the influence of numbers, and be willing to walk alone by faith with an unseen God.

3. We find these victors over the beast, his image, and the number of his name, all sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. The normal attitude of the Mosaic Dispensation was that of justification, while that of the Christian Dispensation is entire sanctification. Therefore, you see all the members of the bridehood sing about this wonderful double salvation. They all have the experience of regeneration and entire sanctification. So, if you are a candidate for the bridehood, you must have these two experiences, and sing the song of Moses and the Lamb.

4. Thou alone art holy.” Hence you see, intrinsically, none are holy but God. Wesley well says: “You cannot lay up a stock of holiness, as you can only be holy in connection with Christ. The moment you separate from Him, you have nothing but unholiness left.” Hence we can only have delegated holiness, and receive it from Christ constantly by faith. Your faith should become as natural as breathing, so you rest in Jesus like a tired child in its mother’s arms, unconscious of the slightest effort on its part. This holiness is original in Jesus and imparted to us. Faith is the hand with which we reach out and receive this holiness. There is no defalcation about getting it. If we only touch the hem of His garment, virtue will come out of Him and make us holy. In this respect we are like Him. We partake of His holiness. (Hebrews 12:10.)

All nations shall come and worship before Thee.” This prophecy will be fulfilled during the kingdom. While Satan is loose, the worshipers of God will be individuals. The survivors of the tribulation will still perpetuate the nationalities in the millennial reign. As there will be no devil here to lead the nations into sin, of course they will worship the glorious King by solid nationalities.

5, 6. These seven angels entrusted with the responsible duty of administering the final retributions to the rebel nations and fallen Churches are all invested with priestly regalia, and all testify for God, illustrating the capacity of God’s ministers and their identity with the Gospel Age. To the people who have obstinately and finally rejected God’s mercy, they are now sent to administer His wrath.

7. Forever and ever” describes the duration of God. The original is aioonas aioonoon, the same as in ch. 14, verse 10, which tells the duration of punishment. So remember, despite all the speculations of Universalism, the moment they prove the end of punishment, the very same argument proves that God will cease to exist. Hence the utter futility of all arguments to disprove the endless punishment of the wicked.

8. This verse tells us that the temple of testimony will be so darkened during the awful tribulations that all ingress will cease till these terrible plagues accomplish their work on the earth.

Since all the sanctified will be taken up in the rapture, there will he no people left on the earth to testify. It seems that testimony is already relegated to the sanctified. When you go to meeting nowadays and hear people testifying, you say at once, “Why, these are the ‘Holiness people.” In the absence of the holy people and amid the terrible retributions of the premillennial judgments, no wonder the testimony meetings will all be discontinued. Oh, how forlorn and dreary will this world be without a holy person in it To this, add earthquakes, cyclones, wars, famines, and pestilence. Let us all keep on the witness-stand for God, so that when He takes His saints out of the world, He will remember us.

 


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Revelation 15:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/revelation-15.html.

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