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Lowell Brueckner

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Revelation 15


Chapter 15

1. 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.

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.

3. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “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.”

5. After this I looked, and the sanctuary of the tent of witness in heaven was opened,

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.

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,

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.

There are three series of seven judgments in the book of Revelation. In chapter 6 and in 8:1, we learn of seven seals, which had the power to destroy a fourth part of all that they effected. They seemed to involve calamities that man brought upon himself. In chapter 8, 9 and 11:15, we studied seven trumpets bringing judgments, which showed signs of demonic activity, and they destroyed 1/3 of all, into which they delved. This chapter begins to relate the woes of seven bowls, which come entirely from the wrath of God and they bring unlimited destruction, upon everything and everyone on which they fall.

By the time that the Bible student comes to this part of Revelation, he should have developed a correct theology concerning God’s wrath. No one with a normal personality derives any pleasure from the subject, but, on the proof of Scripture, he is obligated to acknowledge that wrath is necessarily a part of God’s character. I cannot imagine anyone lacking this understanding, who will find any profit from reading chapters 15 through 20.

All humanists, including agnostics and atheists, are appalled by the revelation of God in the Scriptures. Recently, I heard an atheist refer to a number of God’s commands, concerning the total destruction of nations, including women and children, and then angrily declared, “It is not that I will not, it is that I cannot accept the existence of such a God!” If I had obtained his mentality of humanity over deity, I also would come to that conclusion. However, it is fully logical that the Giver of all human life, has the right to take it away, when He sees fit.

I do not need to apologize or make excuses to modern society over the fact of God´s anger. On the contrary, He will deal with me at the Judgment Seat of Christ, if I do not boldly and proudly tell humanity about His wrath. I maintain that the rights of the Creator trump human rights. He is absolutely just and we are not. I believe in a God of infinite holiness and thereby I can accept His awful aversion to sin. I begin to see His absolute authority and therefore understand the infinite insubordination of disobeying and rebelling against Him. (Even a soldier can be executed for insubordination to an officer.) I understand the magnitude and hideousness of sin, to which the humanist is blind, therefore he thinks eternal punishment to be disproportionate to the crimes committed. He proclaims the innocence of the unevangelized pagan and cannot accept the need for the torture of a cruel cross. In short, he totally misunderstands and undermines God’s righteousness and justice. Unfortunately, he finds too much sympathy among church attenders in our times, including those who occupy their pulpits.   

If the God of the New Testament is unchanging, then He is the same as the God of the Old Testament. John the Baptist declared, “Whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (Jn.3:36). All the wrath, which we study in Revelation is post-Calvary wrath; as the Baptist claims, concerning those who are disobedient to the Son… “the wrath of God remains…”

It is particularly evident in the last days and therefore prominent in the book that we study. Remember that these are proclamations from the beloved disciple and apostle John: “The great day of their wrath is come” (6:17 and 11:18): “The nations raged, but your wrath came” You will recall that the last chapter that we studied contains these spine-tingling words: “He also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb” (14:10 and verse 19): “The great winepress of the wrath of God.” In this chapter, we read of, “seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished” (verse 1 and verse 7): “One of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever.” In 16:19: “Drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath” and 19:15 speaks of Jesus: “He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.”

We have still to contemplate His wrath upon Babylon in chapters 17 and 18. We will observe it in the final judgment upon all the damned in 20:11-15. We will see the eternal exclusion of sinners from the celestial New Jerusalem (21:8) and the same in the final chapter (22:15). God’s wrath is a well-established Bible fact.

The Holy Spirit, before the outpouring of the calamitous bowls, first gives us a scene from heaven, regarding the blessedness of the faithful and loyal tribulation believers. They conquered over the person of the beast, they refused to bow down to his image, and they did not cooperate with his financial system. Warren Wiersbe points out: “Since they did not cooperate with the satanic system and receive the mark of ‘the beast’, they were unable to buy or sell. They were totally dependent on the Lord for their daily bread… The Tribulation saints whom John saw and heard were standing by the ‘sea of glass’ in heaven, just as the Israelites stood by the Red Sea. The song of Moses is recorded in Ex.15:1-27 and its refrain is: ‘The Lord is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation’. When Israel returned from Babylonian Captivity and reestablished their government and restored temple worship, they used this same refrain at the dedication services (Ps.118:14). In the future, when God shall call His people back to their land, Isaiah prophesied that they will sing this song again (Is.11:15-12:6).

In the first heavenly scene, the sea was as clear as crystal, but now it is mingled with fire to devour the adversaries of the triumphant. The Song of Moses is somewhat paraphrased, but in essence, they are the lines from Exodus 15:11, 14-16. God is unlimited in His deeds and carries out perfectly His ways, which are not discerned by fallen human nature. Man cannot possibly understand His ways.  In His deeds and His ways, He is sovereign over the nations. Verse 4 points just ahead to the Millennium, when all nations come to Mount Zion to worship, as Christ reigns in righteousness. Many of these singers are Jewish believers and they also know the song of the Lamb. They are redeemed by His blood.

The refrains of the old hymn open the door of the heavenly tent of witness. This was made possible by the cross and the prayers and songs of the saints enter. From the Holy of Holies, God responds. Notice “your righteous acts have been revealed” at the end of verse 4, when “the sanctuary of the tent of witness in heaven was opened” in verse 5. Perhaps the tent in the wilderness depicted better the heavenly throne room than the magnificent temple erected in Jerusalem, and we will note that God never asked for more than a tent to represent Him on earth.

The angels, noted in verse 1, come forward in verse 6 to pour out the plagues of perfect judgment onto the earth. The messengers from heaven are pure and holy; the earth is filthy with sin and mutiny. The angels are adorned with the pure golden riches of heaven, to demonstrate to the earthlings, the glory of heaven in its righteous judgment upon the earth. A representative from the living creatures gives to the angels the vessels from the heavenly sanctuary. They are seven bowls, from which godly judgments, emanating from His wrath, will proceed.  He is the eternal God and His judgment is eternal (v.7).

We saw the divine principle previously that declares that judgment glorifies God’s holiness and now, from the heavenly sanctuary, smoke from the fire of His blazing glory and His omnipotence fills the sanctuary. Whether in heaven or upon earth, when the glory of God fills a place, there is no room for man. When Moses erected the tabernacle in the wilderness, “the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting… the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle ((Ex.40:34, 35) Much later, the Israelites experienced another glorious day when “the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God (2 Chr.5:13, 14). There was no room for King Solomon, the human constructor himself. The Lord will not give His glory to another (Is.48:11) He alone will be glorified in judgment until the plagues finish His purposes (v.8).  


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