And I saw another sign in heaven. Here John the revelator saw another sign in heaven. Therefore this is a heavenly scene. This sign was great and marvelous. But what did he see? Great and marvelous seven angels, having the seven last plagues. This is the second and last group of seven avenging angels. They have seven plagues. We have intimated several times that seven is the number of divine perfection. This indicates that Daddy is in sovereign control and that everything is done with divine accuracy and precision. There are seven plagues here filled with the wrath of God. There are seven angels with seven bowls filled with plagues which are the wrath of God. Just as in Egypt, God plagued Pharaoh and his subjects who persecuted the Israelites in Egypt, so also will He plague the living wicked earth-dwellers with his wrath for their molestation, harassment and murder of the people of God.
We have distinguished between the wrath of Satan and the wrath of God. Satan’s wrath is directed towards the children of God, whilst God’s wrath is directed towards the children of Satan, the living wicked earth-dwellers who are antagonistic and hostile to the believers in Jesus The Christ and the Jews. We can see that there are differences between the object of Satan’s wrath and that of God. The wrath of Satan is found in seal one through to seal four. The four seals were administered by the cherubim of God indicating that, although God is not directly responsible for the wrath of Satan, the persecution of the saints and nonconformist Jews and Gentiles to the dragon-beast, God is in sovereign control. He controls the extent of the persecution. The wrath of God is consists of the seven trumpet and seven bowls. Just as the seventh seal has no judgement of its own but opens into the seven trumpets, the seventh trumpet has no judgement of it’s own but opens into the seven bowls. The seven trumpets are revealed in chapter 8 through to chapter 11. The bowls are revealed in chapter 16 through to chapter 19. The seventh bowl ends in Armageddon.
Verse 2 reveals another wonderful sight, as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire. On this sea of glass mingled with fire are those who have gotten the victory over the beast, over his image, over his mark, and over the number of his name. In chapter 14, there is flashback to the 144,000 in chapter 7:1-8, so also in chapter 15, there is a flash back to the great multitude which no one could number in chapter 7:9. Biblical scholars regard these chapters as parenthetic. What this means is some events already revealed are brought back and then further illuminated to give the reader further details about these events. Therefore this chapter is a periscope. The reason for the retrogression in the historical chronology of end time events is to provide a background for the wrath of God in its final form.
The Overcomers (2)
These are the overcomers. They have overcome the Beast-antiChrist, his enlivened images or statues which identified and caused those who did not have the mark of the beast to be killed, his mark and the number of his name. His mark and the number of his name are one. His mark is 666, so also the number of his name. The beast and his image or statue are one. They are synonymous with his mark and the number of his name. Anyone who had overcome anyone of these must overcome all. It is all or none law. This mark is not forcibly imprinted on anyone’s forehead or right arm, but one can be coerced or hoodwinked into accepting the mark of the Beast. These are victors over the mark of the Beast. They were not all martyred, but a good number of them were. Therefore they include the fifth seal martyrs. They however do not included those who were beheaded for the testimony which they held. These were given new eternal immortal resurrection bodies on the first day of the new millennium(Rev.20:4).
They stand in their glorified bodies on the sea of glass mingled with fire. What a glory? What a revelation? What a Magnificient scene? What a resplendent splendour? They have the harps of God. We are not told what these harps look like, other than that they are the harps of God. May be they are of different kinds or another of the same kind. Whatever they are, they are the harps of God. They are no doubt better than the harp of David and the ones used in modern times. They are of heavenly origin.
The Victors’ Song (3 & 4)
In verses 3&4, 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. The song is marvelous. It is a song of overcomers. It is the victors’ song. It is the song of Moses the servant of God. It the song of the Lamb. We are not told when Moses sang this song. We are not told when our Lord Jesus The Christ, The Lamb of God took away the sin of the world sang this song. It must be at the completion of their respective ministries. Therefore it is the song of victors and overcomers. It is a song that praises and worships the Father for His great and marvelous work of redemption, and His just and true judgement of the living wicked earth-dwellers. Even though God the Father has committed all judgement to the Son, He is the sovereign Lord of the universe. The Son is His representative and the executor of the Father’s will in the earthly realm of His universal kingdom. Who shall not fear thee O Lord and glorify thy name? This is rhetorical question. The answer is no one. These ones have tasted of the love of God.
They have seen the mercy of God. They are the beneficiaries of His goodness, faithfulness and trustworthiness and righteousness. Who shall not fear this God that executed righteous judgement? Who shall not bow in reverential awe to the magnificence of His love, mercy, righteousness and justice? Who shall not glorify His name for He is Holy. God is holy because He is unique, divided and different from what is common or ordinary. He is wholly Other. One of a kind. In the millennium, all nations shall come annually to worship before the Sovereign Lord of the universe whose judgements are made manifest by the Son. The Son in council is the manifestation of the just and true judgement of the Father. On this side of eternity, it may be painful, it may be dark and gloomy. We may not and in fact we do not understand it all. There are misunderstandings; there are aches and pains. Here we see through a glass darkly, but then we see clearly: we shall know even as we are known. There will be no aches, no more pains and sorrows. There will be no more pleading for vengeance, all would have been avenged in righteousness and justice. It shall be victory at last and our mouths shall be filled with the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb, the victors’ song, the overcomers’ song.
The Last Seven Avenging Angels (4-8)
After this is a literary formula that John the revelator used to introduce a new unit of vision. Here John sees the temple in heaven, described as the tabernacle of testimony. This is the tabernacle of testimony of which Moses received the exact copy. See that thou do everything according to the pattern shown to thee in the mount(Exod. 27:8; Heb.8:5).This temple or the tabernacle of testimony was opened. We are not told who opened it. Probably one of the four living creatures because they are the ones closest to God. Out of this temple in heaven emerged the last seven avenging angels. They bear the last seven plagues. The content of the plagues are revealed in chapters 16-19. The last seven avenging angelic reapers were clothed in pure and white linen which signal righteousness. The Greek word translated linen is linon. This is the first time it is used. This may signal a high order and purity of beings. As we pointed out earlier, the angels who did not participate in the satanic revolt in eternity past are locked in righteousness.
The pure and white linen garments worn by these angels signal not only their intrinsic righteousness but also the righteous judgement of God. They have their breast girded with golden girdles, not because they are kings but that God whose judgement they represent and execute is a righteous King. Their sashes are of gold. There is no unrighteousness with God. His judgement is just and true. 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. We are not told which one of the four it was. But since this judgement is linked up with humanity, it is most probably the third beast with the face of man. We have pointed earlier that these vials are better rendered bowls. The Greek word phiale which is translated vial in the KJV is better translated bowl. Vial is narrow- throated vessel, the content of which is difficult to empty like the vials used in medicine today. But the vial here is a shallow saucer, the content of which can be easily emptied with a quick swish. This implies the rapidity with which these seven last plagues will be poured out upon the living wicked wrath-dwellers, considering the fact that there are but twenty and fours before the expiry of the 3o-day reclamation period from the sounding of the seventh trumpet when God Almighty reclaims His rule over the Earth.
These seven last bowls contain the final outpouring of the wrath upon the nations that know not God. When these seven avenging angelic reapers were handed these seven bowls full of the wrath of God by one of the four beasts, the temple in heaven, the tabernacle of the testimony was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from His power, and no one could enter into the temple till the seven plagues of the seven avenging angelic beings were fulfilled. This reminds us of the dedication of the tabernacle by Moses in the wilderness and the dedication of the temple by Solomon in Jerusalem(Ex.40:34-38; 2 Chron.7:1-3). Smoke is a biblical motif that appears in context with the manifestation of the glory of God. That no one could enter into the temple until these plagues are fulfilled signals the rapidity with which these plagues are fulfilled. They are poured out rather quickly, in quick succession, each with a swish. Also since the final wrath of God is going out, there is no need to enter. There is no intercession at this point, no supplication, and there is no appeal.