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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

Revelation 15

 

 

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Verses 1-8

Preparation For The Seven Last Plagues

The seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:15) took us to the end of the Tribulation and to the introduction of the Millennial Kingdom. Revelation 12:1-17 to Revelation 14:1-20 added explanatory details connected with the events of the trumpets, and these also continue to the end of the Tribulation. Therefore the seven vials (or bowls) are not successive to the trumpets or to Revelation 14:1-20, but cover at least part of the same period of time. These "bowls" are direct inflictions of awesome judgment from God, beginning at the middle of Daniel's seventieth week of years and thus limited to "the Great Tribulation" of 3 1/2 years length. The seals were confined to the first 3 1/2 years and introduced the trumpets which begin before the middle of the week and continue to the introduction of Christ's millennial kingdom.

In heaven a great and awe-inspiring sign is seen first-the sign of seven angels having the seven last plagues (v. 1). These complete the wrath of God. Dreadful as that wrath is, how wonderful to know it has an end! As is common in prophecy, before the bowls of judgment are poured out we are given a preview of the pure, unspeakable joy and blessing that will come out of the Tribulation. Thus we are shown a sea of glass mixed with fire (v. 2). The sea of glass is to be compared to the sea of moulded metal in Israel's temple (2 Chronicles 4:2), a very large basin which held water for purifying the priests before they performed the temple service. The glass speaks of a fixed, stable state of purity in contrast to the need for many washings. The fire reminds us of the holiness of God which, through the purging fires of the Tribulation, has accomplished its proper work of self-judgment in the company standing on the sea of glass.

No mention is made of a large number, for these are the martyrs who will be resurrected for blessing in heaven (Revelation 20:4), not the 144,000 who stand on Mount Zion (Revelation 14:1) or the great number of Gentiles who stand before the throne in Revelation 7:9. These martyrs have gotten the victory over the beast, his image, his mark and the number of his name. By murdering them, the beast considered himself triumphant, but God in raising them from the dead will give them the ultimate victory while the beast is reduced to the humiliation of eternal judgment.

Having the harps of God, they sing the song of Moses (v. 3), the first song Scripture records (Exodus 15:1-18). It is the song of God's glorious victory. This counterpart of Moses' song is the last song recorded in Scripture. Being also the song of the Lamb, it involves redemption by His great sacrifice-sweet theme for exultant singing! They celebrate the marvellous works of the Lord God Almighty and His righteous, true ways as the King of Nations (v. 3), not King of saints. It is popular to refer to the Lord Jesus as our King, but we have a much closer relationship to Him-the church engaged to Him to be His wife (2 Corinthians 11:2). He therefore expects from us more intimate affections than simply being subject to His royal authority. His works are what He has accomplished: His ways are the means by which He works, displaying His own blessed character. His ways are connected with His title, King of Nations, for these involve authority while His works emphasize His power as the Lord God Almighty.

In view of His great judgments, who could be so foolhardy as not to fear Him and glorify His name? He only is holy: the comparative holiness of others fades into insignificance in the light of His absolute holiness manifested in world-encircling judgments. At that time all nations will come and worship before Him (v. 4), whether the worship is genuine or whether it is merely in fear and feigned (Psalms 18:44 -margin-NASB).

The Seven Angels Presented

Verse 5 returns to consider the holiness and truth of God in His ways of bringing judgment on the earth. The "temple" of the tabernacle of testimony in heaven is opened. Though in the heavenly city, New Jerusalem, there will be no temple (Revelation 21:22), yet the temple is spoken of here in connection with judgment to impress us with the fact that judgment must issue from the calm serenity of the sanctuary, the holy presence of God. The seven angels proceed from the temple, clothed in pure white linen-perfection of righteousness (v.6). Their breasts (which symbolize their feelings or affections) are girded with golden girdles, indicating that their feelings are restrained by the greater consideration of God's glory (the gold).

One of the four living creatures (one of those sublime principles that deal with God's administrative government in the universe) gives each of the angels a golden bowl full of the wrath of God (v. 7). The angels receive the bowls from the living creatures because of the glory of Him who is the eternally living One, who only has immortality.

The Lord's glory and power so filled the temple with smoke that no one could enter the temple (v. 8). Judgment is inflexible: there is no other remedy, and no intercessor can draw near until all the bowls of wrath are poured out.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Revelation 15:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/revelation-15.html. 1897-1910.

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