REVELATION 15 - The Seven Last Plagues
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.
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.
3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous [are] thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true [are] thy ways, thou King of saints.
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.
5 And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:
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.
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.
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.
A Preparatory Scene. — Thus reads the fifteenth chapter entire. By it we are carried back to a new series of events. The whole chapter is but an introduction to the most terrific judgments of the Almighty that ever have been, or are to be, visited upon this earth in its present state; namely, the seven last plagues. The most that we here behold is a solemn preparation for the outpouring of these unmixed vials. Verse 5 shows that these plagues fall after the close of the ministration in the sanctuary; for the temple is opened before they are poured out. They are given in charge to seven angels, and these angels are clothed in linen pure and white, a fit emblem of the purity of God’s righteousness and justice in the infliction of these judgments. They receive these vials from one of the four beasts, or living creatures. These living beings were proved (see on chapter 4) to be a class of Christ’s assistants in his sanctuary work. How appropriate, then, that they should be the ones to deliver to the ministers of vengeance the vials of wrath to be poured upon those who have slighted Christ’s mercy, abused his long-suffering, heaped contumely upon his name, and crucified him afresh in the treatment of his followers! While the seven angels are performing their fearful mission, the temple is filled with the glory of God, and no man — οὐδεὶς (oudeis), no one, no being, referring to Christ and his heavenly assistants — can enter therein. This shows that the work of mercy is closed, as there is no ministration in the sanctuary during the infliction of the plagues; hence they are manifestations of the wrath of God without any mixture of mercy.
God’s People Remembered. — In this scene the people of God are not forgotten. The prophet is permitted to anticipate a little in verses 2-4, and behold them as victors upon the sea of glass as it were mingled with fire, or sparkling and refulgent with the glory of God, singing the song of Moses and the Lamb. The sea of glass, upon which these-victors stand, is the same as that brought to view in chapter 4:6, which was before the throne in heaven. And as we have no evidence that it has yet changed its location, and the saints are seen upon it, we have here indubitable proof, in connection with chapter 14:1-5, that the saints are taken to heaven to receive a portion of their reward. Thus, like the bright sun bursting through the midnight cloud, some scene is presented, or some promise given, to the humble followers of the Lamb, in every hour of temptation, as if to assure and reassure them of God’s love and care for them, and of the certainty of their final reward. Verily the words of the prophet are among the true sayings of God: “Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him;” but “Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him.” Isaiah 3:10, 11.
The song the victors sing, the song of Moses and the Lamb, given here in epitome in these words: “Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints,” is a song of infinite grandeur. How comprehensive in its terms! how sublime in its theme! It appeals to the works of God which are a manifestation of his glory. With immortal vision the saints will be able to comprehend them as they cannot here; and yet astronomy reveals enough to fill all hearts with admiration. From our little world we pass out to our sun ninety-three million miles away; on to its nearest neighboring sun, nineteen thousand million miles away; on to the great double pole-star, from which it takes light in its electric flight of one hundred and ninety-two thousand miles a second, forty years to reach our world; on past systems, groups, constellations, till we reach the great star Alcyone, in the Pleiades, shining with a power of twelve thousand suns like ours! What, then, must be the grand center around which these myriads of shining orbs revolve! Well may the song be raised, “Great and marvelous are thy works.” But the song covers another field also — the field of God’s providence and grace: “Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.” All the dealings of God with all his creatures in the eyes of the redeemed, and the sight of all worlds, will be forever vindicated. After all our blindness, all our perplexities, all our trials, we shall be able to exclaim at last in the exuberance of satisfied joy, “Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.”