Revelation 15:2-16:1

“Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete.” Revelation 15:1.

“And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God.” Revelation 15:2.

Revelation 15:1 which begins this chapter was used in Revelation 14:17-15:1 posted 9-15-22 to orient us to the timing of the events in chapter fourteen, most of which takes place during the last half of the tribulation.

It has been added above to maintain context.

The balance of chapter fifteen, then, could best be described as a prelude to the wrath of God being poured out.

Unbelievers like to mock this and say, “I thought He was supposed to be a God of love, yet He pours out His wrath on a helpless population!”

Then the same people weep bitterly into their sodden handkerchiefs and cry out, “If there is a God, why doesn’t He do anything?”

It is all mockery of course, if they were sincere, they would say, “Man is in control of this earth why doesn’t man do anything to end the misery?”

Why does man not administer justice, seek peace, and care for the helpless?

It is because mankind is selfish and sinful!

“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5.

As we view our opening verse Revelation 15:2 above the scene now shifts to the martyrs who have suffered death during the tribulation.

The words “something like” indicate that the Apostle is trying to describe a vision that has to be seen to fully understand, and then he speaks of the martyrs, “standing on the sea of glass [mingled with fire]”. Still a powerful mental image is it not?

So the possibility is that this is anything we may be familiar with such as glass or crystal, even diamond or something unknown to man, but the term “the sea” is an indicator that it is a vast expanse.

The sea of glass is a picture of believers at rest, so the smoothness of the glass not only shows this state of rest, but also, being glass, shows the fixity of this state, its permanence.

The mingled with fire part is interesting to try and visualize; is the fire in the glass, is it underneath it, or, less likely, is it flowing along the top of the glass.

One of the first two choices is most likely, but no matter what your choice; the believers standing on the sea are not affected either by the heat or the flame; that is past. These have been refined in the fires of the tribulation.

This verse has been shown before, still it bears repeating.

“Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.” Daniel 12:10.

The purpose of trials, both theirs and our own, is to bring us to maturity as Christians.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience [marginal, endurance or perseverance]. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect [mature] and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4.

“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” 1 Peter 4:12-14a.

“For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.” Hebrews 12:3-4.

“Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.” Philippians 4:1.

That these martyrs are from the second half of the tribulation is evident by their identification shown here.

“…those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name…” Revelation 15:2b.

It is said of this group:

“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.’” Revelation 14:13b.

Slaughtered when they do not bow down to the image of the beast, slaughtered when they do not take his mark, slaughtered and starved when they do not take the number of his name and cannot buy or sell.

The last 42 months of the tribulation will be the worst, most evil, period in all of history.

“And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: ‘Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, for Your judgments have been manifested.’” Revelation 15:3-4.

The song of Moses referred to here is the one Moses and the people sang after the crossing of the red sea and the subsequent destruction of the Egyptian army; see Exodus 15:1-21.

It is not only a song of victory but one of great praise to God. Moses was called the servant of God for obvious reasons, still there are some beautiful verses concerning Moses and the Christ to consider, since it is also the song of the Lamb.

“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. And Moses indeed was faithful in all His [God’s] house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.” Hebrews 3:1-6.

“I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another [the beast] comes in his own name, him you will receive. How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God? Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you – Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” John 5:43-47.

Some verses cross-referenced to this song are as follows. We will begin with the opening words of the song in Revelation 15:3.

“Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!” Revelation 15:3b.

“For I proclaim the name of the Lord: Ascribe greatness to our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He.” Deuteronomy 32:3-4.

“O Lord, how great are Your works! Your thoughts are very deep.” Psalm 92:5.

“The works of the Lord are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them. His work is honorable and glorious, and His righteousness endures forever.” Psalm 111:2-3.

“Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who is prudent? Let him know them. For the ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.” Hosea 14:9.

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” Romans 11:33.

“Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, for Your judgments have been manifested.” Revelation 15:4.

“Who would not fear You, O King of the nations? For this is Your rightful due, for among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like You.” Jeremiah 10:7.

“For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Leviticus 11:44.

“…but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’” 1 Peter 1:15-16.

“All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name.” Psalm 86:9.

“After these things I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened.” Revelation 15:5.

The tabernacle which Moses built in the wilderness was a copy of the original one in heaven, and this temple of the tabernacle of the testimony, is actually the Holy of Holies in heaven which corresponds with the one which was on earth.

“For if He [Jesus] were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, ‘See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’” Hebrews 8:4-5.

There is a tabernacle in heaven right now, and the saved will be able to see it someday. Now that will be a sight to see!

“And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen, and having their chests girded with golden bands.” Revelation 15:6.

This angelic attire could either be that of a priest or a judge. Since priests are always men, whether the Levitical priests or the Man Christ Jesus, it is unlikely they are garbed as priests, but rather as judges, since judgment is what they are meting out.

The pure bright linen is a picture of righteous judgment. These angels are coming out of the Holy of Holies which is where God is seated, so there can be no mistaking, it is the wrath of God that they carry.

“Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever. The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.” Revelation 15:7-8.

Notice here that it says, “…the wrath of God who lives forever and ever”, this is again another indication of the eternality of the punishment for those who reject Christ as Savior; as long as the eternal God lives – forever and ever.

“The temple was filled with smoke”, not a cloud as in other cases; so there is a difference. When Moses had assembled the tabernacle it was cloud which covered it.

“Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” Exodus 40:34-35.

This same cloud filled the newly built temple in Solomon’s time, see 1 Kings 8:10-11.

Smoke however, is a different matter. When God gave the Law at Mount Sinai it was covered with smoke because the Law brings condemnation.

“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:19-20.

“Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.” Exodus 19:18.

When Isaiah was commissioned by God to warn Judah of coming judgment for their sinful ways, God appeared in the earthly temple.

“And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.” Isaiah 6:4.

The smoke will fill the heavenly temple while God metes out judgment.

“Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, ‘Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.’” Revelation 16:1.

Now it begins, the angels are sent forth, and the temple is filled with smoke, there is no turning back, God is hidden and there is no approaching the Holy of Holies as He pours out His wrath.

Some versions translate the bowls as vials, but they are actually shallow bowls that contain the plagues, which will be dumped out quickly, as anyone who has tipped his bowl of cereal at breakfast can attest.

The wording also seems to indicate that not only will the bowls dump out fast, but the bowls themselves will be poured out in quick succession.

When you see the severity of these plagues, you may agree that the timing would have to be quite near the end of the last 3 ½ years.

Revelation chapter 16, not only covers the seven last plagues, but it also encompasses the final battle of Armageddon, which, in turn, will be further described at the Lord’s return in chapter 19.

Revelation 15:2-16:1 taken from updated on 2-2-17, reposted on 9-18-22.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *