A Study of the Book of Revelation
Revelation 15 is simply an introduction to chapter 16. Here we study the seven last plagues and the judgements that come in the Tribulation before the second coming of Christ. We will see these last seven plagues administered upon the earth. The vials or drinking cups are said to contain the sins of the world. Christ actually drinks the sins of the world and then our sins were judged.
The sins of the whole world were poured out on Christ. This is a picture of the seven vials or the seven drinking cups poured out. Each of the vials contains the wrath of God and each is a judgment.
Instead of Christ drinking the cups, seven angels are going to pour out the contents of the cup on the earth. Each of these judgments poured out is for a different group, but all of them are those who have rejected Christ.
1. ¶ And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.
I saw another sign in heaven – here sign means wonder. Notice the word another. In Revelation 12:3 was the sign of the dragon, the dragon was Satan and here we have another sign which is the seven angels with seven vials of judgment.
Great and marvellous means it was breathtaking.
Seven angels speaks of God’s perfection in judgment.
Seven last plagues – these plagues are judgments.
For in them is filled up the wrath of God – This speaks of God taking all He will take and His judgment must fall. This is judgment on unbelievers.
This judgment is near the end of the Tribulation just before the second coming of Christ.
No believer will be judged here (Romans 8:1).
2. And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
And I saw – John saw those who won the victory.
A sea of glass mingled with fire. – We saw this first back in 4:6 when the church was taken out of the world at the rapture and was standing before God.
This is a figure meaning that the winds of sin can touch you no more. Your old sin nature is gone and you are given a resurrected body. This is the same as described in 21:4.
Mingled with fire – This pictures the pressure which came to the tribulational saints. These believers were pressured by the economic system of the dictator of the revived Roman empire.
They are described as victors. This is the meaning of the present tense of the verb “had gotten the victory.” They were victorious right down to the core. They didn’t allow fire or death to disturb them.
These are the martyred dead who did not yield to the beast’s demand for blasphemy and thus are pictured as the triumphant.
The statue and numbers will be everywhere during the Tribulation.
Number of his name means the total personality of the dictator, his religious system, political system, economic system and military system.
“Almighty” emphasizes God’s omnipotence.
There seems to be four basic titles to Bible songs
1. Songs of Moses – they deal with the Lamb.
2. Songs of Zion – they deal with the land.
3. Songs of Solomon – they deal with love.
4. Songs of David – they deal with the Lord.
3. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.
Someone may ask, “If God is so righteous, why does He suddenly appear so vengeful? Why does He allow such tremendous wrath to pour out on the earth?”
The answer is simple. Today we view God as He deals in mercy and grace. This is the dispensation of grace.
However, God has promised judgment as payment for sin, and He wouldn’t be just unless He fulfilled that promise.
When the age of grace is passed, the age of judgment is ushered in.
In chapters 4-19 we view God at work in the day of righteous judgment.
4. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.
Here we have a form of a question to give emphasis to what is being said.
Who shall not fear thee, O Lord. – Here fear means to stand in awe of or reverence.
Glorify thy name means perpetual happiness.
For thou only art holy – refers to the one way of salvation
For all nations shall come and worship before thee. – This is in the future and refers to the Millennium.
For thy judgments are made manifest – refers to the reality of His judgments and all are just, perfect and fair.
5. ¶ And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:
Verses 6-8 give clear indication that God is just in delivering judgment on the earth. The picture of the heavenly temple containing the ark of the covenant makes it evident that God is not dealing in grace but according to divine law.
Here we see the source of the seven last plagues. Notice “the temple of the tabernacle”. It means there will be a temple in Heaven like the tabernacle.
Of the testimony in heaven was opened. – This temple is a testimony to Jesus Christ.
The earthly tabernacle was a picture of Christ. It only had one entrance.
1. The brazen altar spoke of the cross.
2. The showbread spoke of Christ as the bread of life.
3. The candlestick spoke of Christ as the light of the world.
4. The altar of incense spoke of prayers in Jesus’ name.
5. The altar spoke of Christ giving His life.
6. The veil spoke of Christ as the bridge from earth to Heaven.
Opened – Notice the tabernacle door was opened in Heaven.
6. And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles.
Those who have broken God’s law are now judged by it.
Here we see the administrators of these seven last plagues.
Seven angels came out of the temple having the seven plagues. – Seven speaks of perfection.
Clothed in pure and white linen. – Clothed is in the perfect tense and means they are clothed forever in perfection.
Breasts girded with golden girdles – speaks of the belt they are wearing. This golden belt stands for the authority of God or God’s official representatives.
7. And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.
His agents of judgment are seven angels, clothed in pure and white linen with golden belts. They originate in the heavenly temple, and as they leave to bring judgment, each one receives a golden vial or bowl filled to the brim with the wrath of God (vs. 6-7)
One of the four beasts – means one of the four living creatures.
Gave unto the seven angels – were given the golden cups full of God’s judgments for the unbelievers on earth.
The angels came wearing the golden belts of God’s authority and the world will recognize they have the authority from God.
John the Baptist came in a similar way. He was not a college graduate, no degree, not approved by some religious system, but his authority was from God.
When a man has authority from God to preach or administer God’s plan, who has the right to condemn him?
These angels are superior to the demons who will oppose them in Ch. 16. These are high ranking angels. These are four living creatures who are higher in rank than the seven angels.
8. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.
Throughout the entire span of the seven bowl judgments, the heavenly throne room is filled with smoke from the glory and power of God. All of this suggests the sovereignty of God and His righteousness and justice in bringing judgment to sinful men.
And the temple – this temple is in Heaven.
Was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power. – Something that looked like smoke that represented God’s glory and power filled the temple in Heaven. “Glory of God” refers to His perfect essence.
And no man was able to enter into the temple. – The temple of God was closed temporarily and there was no activity.
Till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled – the activity in the temple ceased until the judgments were poured out on the earth.
With the beginning of Chapter 16, the second important feature of these chapters is noticed. This is God’s wrath.
Clark, Neal. Survey of the Book of Revelation. Pensacola, Florida: Thee WFBI Press, 1999. Print.
Falwell, Jerry. Liberty Commentary on the New Testament. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty Press, 1978. Print.