CHAPTER FIFTEEN is a prelude of blessing in heaven that precedes God’s Wrath. It along with chapter sixteen is the fifth division of the Book of Revelation. The fifteenth chapter sets the stage for the seven bowls, called the seven last plagues. Though strikingly similar to the seven trumpets, the details of seven bowls are different. These complete the third woe.
SEVEN ANGELS WITH THE SEVEN LAST PLAGUES (15:1-4). Again, the setting is heaven. John sees another great and marvelous sign; this being the third sign in heaven. The last seven plagues completed God’s wrath. The seven angels are the avenging angels.
SEA OF GLASS MIXED WITH FIRE is the same sea of glass, clear as crystal before the Throne in Revelation 4:6. Now mixed with fire symbolizes the rewarded saints of the Church whose works have been tested by fire at the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).
Others see nothing more in this imagery than a spacious lucid plain around the throne, from which fiery sparkles were continually emitted or the reflection of the light upon this lucid plain produced the prismatic colors of the most colorful rainbow. Still others perceive the sea of glass mingled with fire referring to the fiery persecution that these people had suffered under the Beast.
THOSE STANDING BESIDE THIS SEA are those who had been victorious over the Beast and his image and over the number of his name. These are the martyred Tribulation saints, who kept the faith unto death. “They” might apply to the Tribulation saints, who are given harps by God; one the other hand, other redeemed saints will have harps and sing (Revelation 5:8; 14:2). They sing their songs celebrating redemption and the victory of the LORD over the nations of the world. The Song of Moses is recorded in Exodus 15 and it was sung by the redeemed immediately after they crossed the Red Sea.
THE SONG OF MOSES was the postlude to God’s wrath. The Song of Moses was sung every Sabbath in the afternoon synagogue services. The opening stanzas foreshadow the defeat of the Antichrist (the horse and its rider) and Christ (the LORD is a warrior) unleashing His burning anger. It closes with Yahweh planting His people on their mountain of inheritance and reigning forever and ever.
With Moses, Israel triumphed over Pharaoh and his host of false gods, which were demonic.
With Christ, the saints triumph over Satan and his demonic hosts.
THE SONG OF THE LAMB is the prelude to God’s wrath and it has four parts.
A. Great and marvelous are your deeds
B. Lord God, the Almighty
C. Righteous and true are your ways
The King of the nations
A. Who will not fear you? No one!
B. Lord, and glorify your name
C. For you alone are righteous
For all nations will come into your presence and will fall upon their knees before you
For your righteous judgments are manifested (My Translation)
In the last day, both sinner and saint will come and bow before the Lamb to the glory of God the Father.
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).
The Song of the Lamb expresses four praises:
1. The deeds of God, emphasizing His power (Psalm 145:10-13)
2. The ways of God, emphasizing His plan (Psalm 145:17)
3. The worthiness of God, emphasizing His perfection (Psalm 29:3; 96:8)
4. The worship of God, emphasizing His purpose (Psalm 66:4; 72:11; Isaiah 66:23)
Compare this song with the song recorded in Isaiah 12:1-6. Interestingly, the Song of Moses is the first song of the OT while the Song of the Lamb is the last song of the NT and both are by a sea.
DOOR OF THE TEMPLE IS OPENED (15:5-8). The Temple is called the Tabernacle of the Testimony because the Ten Commandments were stored in the Ark in the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle. The Ten Commandments is the testimony that convicts every person as a sinner and transgressor of God’s Law.
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it (James 2:10).
All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law” (Galatians 3:10).
The Court of Heaven has rendered its decision and seven angels with the seven plagues are each given a golden bowl by one of the four living creatures. The seven golden bowls are filled with the wrath of the eternal God. The Temple is filled with the Shekinah Glory. No one could enter the Temple until the seven plagues are completed. This imagery looks back to the dedications of the Tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-35) and Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 8:10-11) when no one could enter those sanctuaries. Hence, there is no atonement, intercession, or acquittal for the guilty—all that remains is God’s wrath to be poured out!
The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies. The LORD is slow to anger and great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished (Nahum 1:2-3).
Historicists believe seven angels do not have the final plagues that close out the affairs of this world, but possess the final judgments on the papacy. The seven last plagues are contained within the seventh trumpet (Revelation 8:1) at the time of the French Revolution in the 18th century.
Preterists also do not see the final judgments of this world here; they see the end of the city of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The Song of Moses reminds Jerusalem as Egypt lost “horse and rider” in the Red Sea, so Jerusalem’s horses had been bridle-deep in a virtual sea of blood (Revelation 14:20). Idealists see the last judgment acts in history at the end times here. Others, however, hold that the finality of these plagues is not with reference to end time history but to individual sinners who have not repented. The song of the redeemed is a combination of the Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb that predicts all nations shall come and worship before God when His judgments have been manifested.
Futurists discern the seven last plagues upon rebellious man as the climatic judgments of God. The Tribulation saints, who play harps and sing in heaven, are either disembodied spirits or have received resurrected bodies sometime during the Tribulation Period.