One commentator noted that this chapter begins the “final exodus”. A parallel probably intended by John, where he makes obvious connections to God’s deliverance from his people from the hands of Egypt. There are multiple mentions of plagues and a song of Moses as well. Through Moses, God delivered his people from the Egyptians, through Christ he will deliver them from the domain of darkness and the consequences of sin.
“Revelation 15, the shortest chapter in the entire book, is remarkably parallel to Exodus 15. The victorious saints are gathered on “the other side” and stand beside the sea. They praise God for their great salvation. They have participated in the final exodus.” – Kendell H. Easley, Revelation, vol. 12, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 269.
15 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished.
- We’ve been discussing why Jesus return was necessary, chapter 15 begins to answer the question of how he comes.
- “7” – emphasizing the fullness or completeness of God’s wrath. Also emphasized through John deeming them “the last” whereby the wrath of God would be “finished.”
- “finished” – meaning, reached it’s goal.
2 And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands.
- “mingled with fire” – the sea was noted as clear in chapter 4, now it is “mingled with fire”. This could be a reference to God’s judgment or John may be highlighting a “change of weather” is coming, or that “stormy weather” is coming – Ezell
- “those who had conquered” – the same word is used repeatedly in the letters to the 7 churches. Meaning, to overcome, or be victorious. From a dispensational view, these would be understood to be the newly raptured church from Ch. 14. These may also be understood to be a reference from those who recently refused to bow to the Antichrist, or to believers who have resisted persecution for Christ, or to the totality of believers awaiting glorification.
- “the beast” – political pressure to reject Christ
- “his image” – religious pressure to reject Christ
- “his name” – economic pressure to reject Christ
- “harps of God” – regardless of the exact nature of this group of believers, they are assembled to worship.
3 And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
- The song of Moses was sung at the Red Sea (Exodus 15), the song of the Lamb at the Crystal Sea.
- The song of Moses was a triumph over Egypt, the song of the Lamb a triumph over Babylon.
- The song of Moses tells how God brought his people out, the song of the Lamb tells how the Lamb brings people in.
- The song of Moses was the first in scripture, the song of the lamb is the last.
- They both deal with the execution of God’s foe, the expectation of the saints, and the exaltation of the Lord.
- Three emphases of the song, God’s: power, deliverance, and character.
- They both tell us that God has always been about saving His people.
“Great and amazing are your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
O King of the nations!
4 Who will not fear, O Lord,
and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
- “King of the nations” – the word translated as ‘nations’ here is aionon, meaning eternity or forever. A more literal translation might read, “King of the forevers” or “King of ages”. Some, KJV, take this as a reference to the saints, or ‘forever ones’, but this is unlikely.
- “Who will not fear…and glorify your name?” – answer. No one.
- “holy” – stresses the divinely moral nature of God.
- “all nations” – every knee will bow before the Lord.
- “revealed” – the antichrist sought to camouflage his wickedness, whereas God will reveal his righteousness.
5 After this I looked, and the sanctuary of the tent of witness in heaven was opened,
- “tent of witness” – see Numbers 9.15, 17.7, 18.2. Referring back to the tent used in the wilderness by Moses. It seems John is making reference to “the tent with the 10 commandments.”
6 and out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, clothed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes around their chests.
- God’s pure messengers are to judge impurity.
7 And 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,
- “bowls of wrath” – detailed in chapter 16. We’ll get to those the next time we meet.
- “bowls” – are probably meant to be some sort of cooking vessel or more likely a goblet for wine drinking. Here each angel holds a ‘mega-pint’ of God’s wrath. Cups are often symbolic of God’s wrath or judgment as Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, or as Isaiah 51.17 suggests Israel is to drink from the cup of God’s wrath.
8 and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.
- “filled with smoke” – In the Old Testament, the tabernacle filled with smoke highlighted God’s presence. Here John adds that it is also symbolic of His power.