|Preliminary Vision in Heaven,
Verse 1 to 16:1 (NASB)
This is the third sign John writes about: Sign 1 (Israel) is in Revelation 12:1 and Sign 2 (the red dragon) is in Revelation 12:3. This sign follows the harvesting of the earth. It shows the preparations for the pouring of the seven bowls of God's wrath upon the earth. Note that while the action takes place on earth, the sign is given in HEAVEN. This indicates that God is directing this sign.
The expression, GREAT and MARVELOUS, is used in verse 3 and is associated with God's works.
These seven angels probably are specifically designated with these PLAGUE judgments. They are attendants in the temple of heaven (verse 6). They understand how their pouring out the contents of each of their bowls will afflict the earth. In particular, one of them indicates a judgment against the great harlot (Revelation 17:1). At another time, one of them shows John the BRIDE of the Lamb (after the bowl judgments are completed).
We should be aware that with the sin curse brought upon the earth (Genesis 3:17-24), the cleansing/purging of evil HAD to happen because God is HOLY and RIGHTEOUS. This evil would not go unpunished.
When I think about how powerful God must be to have created earth (and ultimately me), what kind of power (verse 8) is embedded in the WRATH OF GOD!Believers and those who do not take the mark of the beast are NOT on the earth but rather are in heaven on the sea of glass (next verse) getting their harps ready to play the 'song of Moses'. The unbelievers will experience the PLAGUES contained in the seven bowls (chapter 16). Many will die. Babylon gets its judgment at this time too (chapters 17-19).
John continues on looking (Revelation 4:1). He is aware of what is going on. Seeing, observing, being alert is not optional for a believer. It is required:
The SEA of GLASS is symbolic of the victorious Christ upon whom we can STAND. The fire denotes pending judgment (Hebrews 12:18-29).
Glass is formed by heating up silicates, and this SEA of GLASS apparently is getting hotter and hotter. Compare this SEA of GLASS with the one around the throne (Revelation 4:6). They probably are the same but this one reflects the 7 pending bowls of judgment. Hence mixed with FIRE.
Each of the seven churches had blessings for their victorious overcomers (Revelation 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:26, 3:5, 3:12, and 3:21). However, these VICTORIOUS ones are not those from the seven churches. Rather they are the ones who persevered through the beast's deception (Revelation 13:10 and 14:12). They did NOT take the NUMBER (Revelation 13:18).
The beginning of the seventh trumpet finds humble worship (Revelation 11:16) face down and totally subservient. These saints are STANDING tall as witnesses of God's final judgments. It is for them, in particular, that these judgments are done. They observe with unblinking awe that they made the right choice and that God is this powerful. They probably knew it all along but didn't realize it until this moment.
Look how Daniel sees this moment (Daniel 12:1-3-4).The HARP appears to be "the God instrument" (Psalm 33:1-2-3 and Revelation 5:8). The devil knows this and apparently tries to reproduce the same sound/music in Babylon (Revelation 18:22). However, I have a feeling the beast/devil has no idea how to play the HARPs like these STANDING here do!
And they SANG
This is the "Praise and Worship" time before the temple is opened (verse 5) for a very different "passing out the bowls" service.
1) the song of Moses the bond-servant of God and
This part of the song is specifically Jewish in context and meaning (see the "Thy Works" comments below).
2) the song of the LAMB, saying,
This really is only one song, a merged version of the song of Moses and of the song of the Lamb. And I suspect this is only a snippet of the whole song. The result of this song is given in Daniel 7:13-14 where we see the LAMB's victory and the resulting dominion accrued to Him.
"Thy Works" can be both physical and spiritual. That is, this part more closely aligns with the Song of Moses. Moses saw GREAT and MARVELOUS WORKS:
The singers here went through the first half of the Tribulation (similar to crossing the Red Sea) without taking the mark of the beast. They counted on the TRUTH and the RIGHTEOUSNESS of the King of the nations. And they were RIGHT!This verse is the first part of the song. The second part follows in the next verse. Check out the parallel song in Jeremiah 10:6-7-10.
This is the most likely response of a true believer who realizes the awesomeness of God and how to FEAR this almighty God. The result is a spontaneous GLORIFYING His Name!
In the Old Testament, Jeremiah came to the same conclusion (Jeremiah 10:6-10). So this theme is an eternal theme, and we, present day believers, would do very well to understand this question.
The main word to emphasis here is "ALONE". This HOLINESS is unique to God and the Lamb. The four living creatures understood this (Revelation 4:8). At some time, everyone will understand this (Philippians 2:9-11).
According to Watchman Nee, HOLY is a description of God's nature.
The individualism implied above is now expanded to 'nations'. That nations, all of them, will come and WORSHIP before the Lamb has been prophesied from old (Psalm 66:1-4, Psalm 72:8-11, Psalm 86:8-10, Isaiah 66:22-24, and Zechariah 14:16-21).
Looking into the future, even in the new earth and new heaven, this principle exists (Revelation 21:22-24-27).
The RIGHTEOUS ACTS are God's works according to Watchman Nee. This is HOLINESS (nature) revealed in works.
It is implied that the RIGHTEOUS ACTS have been revealed to the singers, both individually and nationally. These RIGHTEOUS ACTS expose the evil of the last days. That evil penetrates governments should not be a surprise (see comments in Revelation 12:3).Today, we often hear, "That isn't FAIR!" But by this time, the coming judgments embodying the FULL/COMPLETE WRATH of God (verse 7) will be absolutely FAIR because of God's HOLINESS and RIGHTEOUS ACTS!
John is doing what he was told to do (Revelation 1:19).
This is the third 'I looked' in the last two chapters.
sees something different.
This is symbolically Jesus Christ as the fulfiller of the LAW (TESTIMONY - Exodus 25:16-22). We see the innermost part of the tabernacle containing the ark being made open for this vision. The ark was both the mercy seat and the container of "the LAW". In this verse, there is no mention of the mercy seat (Hebrews 10:1-10). The time for mercy is past; now it is time for "the LAW" through judgment to act.
On earth, the devil tries and succeeds in taking ownership of this part of the temple (Matthew 24:15-28 and Daniel 11:29-35). But this TEMPLE of the TABERNACLE OF TESTIMONY is in heaven where God and the Lamb are in charge.For continuity, this verse really gets us back into the main thread of Revelation. That is, it is a continuation of the temple opening in Revelation 11:19. Recall that the seven bowls (verse 7) are contained within the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:15-19).
Seven denotes completion; with the seven bowls these seven angels are going to carry, we will see the completion of God's wrath (verse 1).
This is the third set of seven angels. The first set were the angels to the seven churches (Revelation 2). The second set were the trumpet blowers (Revelation 8:6). This set has a different job to do as we will see.
While there is not a one to one correspondence to the plagues God sent via Moses upon Egypt, this indicates that PLAGUES are real and probably fall into categories:
This is really the Holy of Holies, Naos in Greek, part of the temple. Thus these are angelic priest types. Compare to the earthly high priests (Exodus 28:28-30).
Compare how Daniel saw this Son of Man in his vision (Daniel 10:5-7).
Creation has been waiting for the judgments starting by this mixing of the WRATH of GOD with the plagues (Romans 8:19-21).
Contrast these bowls with the ones in Revelation 5:8.
We have no concept of the full WRATH OF GOD because we know Him as a God of LOVE. This WRATH may be 7 different kinds of WRATH or, more likely, the FULL WRATH OF GOD is mixed in with each of the plagues the seven angels are carrying (previous verse)."forever and ever" is a given for God. This implies that the WRATH of GOD existed before the creation of this earth. What is hard for us humans to grasp is how the TOTAL LOVE and FULL WRATH of GOD has coexisted within God "forever and ever". It is one of the deep mysteries of GOD.
And the temple was filled with smokeThe judgments soon to be emptied upon the earth are a direct result of God's holiness. Smoke is related to this holiness and righteous anger (Isaiah 6:1-4-7; Habakkuk 2:18-20; Lamentations 3:40-54; and Psalm 74:1-11). We do not see the fire itself (maybe too horrible to witness even in a vision). But the results (smoke) of the judgments are visible.
and no one was able to enter the TEMPLE until the seven PLAGUES of the seven ANGELS were FINISHED.
The voice coming from the TEMPLE indicates this is a direct command from God. John probably recognizes this loud voice as the same one as in Revelation 1:10. That loud voice asked John to start recording the whole revelation we are studying.
Angels don't do anything on their own. They ALWAYS are obedient (except for Lucifer and his followers). Recall, however, that these angels served in close proximity to God (Revelation 15:6).
God is no longer willing to tolerate unrepentant mankind nor the Antichrist (Satan in a human body). Isaiah in Isaiah 42:5-8-9 says that God will not give His glory to another. Yet that is exactly what mankind at this time is doing. LOOK OUT! This is a direct violation of God's commandment (Exodus 20:4-6). A JEALOUS and HOLY GOD will extract vengeance!A little side note: Where these bowls are to be poured is translated in many different ways. That is, "into, upon, on, over" are just a few of the prepositions used to identify where on earth the wrath will hit. Since the earth has never experienced the FULL WRATH OF GOD before (we got a little taste in Noah's time), these seven BOWLS (plagues) will have a GREAT (this word is used in chapter 16 more than any other chapter in the Bible....watch for all the GREATs) impact especially on those who have the mark of the beast.
from the NEW
AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright The
Lockman Foundation, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975,
1977, 1995 Used by permission."
References to the Revelation of Jesus Christ are in bold italics. All other references are in bold only