Revelation Fifteen

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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Revelation 15:1 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.

another sign in heaven. This is the third great “sign” seen by John in heaven (see Revelation 12:1, 3), enabling him to look forward to the glorious future after the final series of judgments have cleansed the earth.

seven last plagues. Since this is specifically said to be a sign, the seven angels must be symbolic, representing all the angelic host, who eagerly anticipate the complete takeover of His inheritance by the Lamb, and who are thus ready to send the seven last plagues on the earth. Note that these are the last plagues, not just a parallel repetition of the seven seal judgments and the seven trumpet judgments. The seventh seal introduces the seven trumpets and the seventh trumpet encompasses the seven vials of wrath, with the seven last plagues.

Revelation 15:2 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.

gotten the victory. The heavenly sign pictures the overcomers (Revelation 12:11) of the great tribulation (also see Revelation 7:14), the last 3½ years under the absolute rule of the beast. Most of these will be martyred, then eventually resurrected and raptured to join the saints of earlier ages, probably at the end of the tribulation, and this presumably is the assembly shown to John in the sign.

Revelation 15:3 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.

song of the Lamb. “The song of Moses” (Exodus 15:1) celebrated the ancient deliverance of the people of God by the Red Sea, just as Noah had been delivered very long ago by the great flood. The song of the Lamb (Revelation 5:9) similarly celebrated the imminent deliverance of the whole world by the Lamb, whose death and resurrection was the price of the world's redemption from its captivity by Satan. This redemption is symbolized by the waters of baptism (compare 1 Corinthians 10:1-2; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Romans 6:3-4). In the eternal earth there will be “no more sea” (Revelation 21:1), but there will always be a remembrance of these great deliverances, and this will be memorialized by the crystal sea at the heavenly throne (Revelation 15:2).

King of saints. Although some manuscripts read “king of nations” or “king of ages” here, the weight of textual evidence favors “King of saints,” and this is more appropriate in the context. The victorious Lamb is recognized as King of all His saints, whether from the pre-Flood world, the chosen people Israel, the church age, or finally from the time of the tribulation.

Revelation 15:4 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.

Revelation 15:5 And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:

after that I looked. The “sign” has now vanished from John's sight and he looks once more at the heavenly temple which is opened again (or, perhaps, still—note Revelation 11:19). The same angels he had seen in the sign now emerge from the temple, dressed as priests with golden girdles (Leviticus 16:4), ready to administer the seven last plagues on the earth.

Revelation 15:6 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.

Revelation 15:7 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.

seven golden vials. The Greek word here is phiale, from which we get “vial.” Some translators render it “bowl,” others by “censer.” The exact form of the container is unknown, though it might even be thought of as a large urn, overflowing with God's long restrained wrath.

for ever and ever. This phrase “for ever and ever” occurs twenty-one times in the book of Revelation, seventeen of which stress the uniquely eternal nature of God. Three times it refers to the never-ending punishment of the ungodly. Once, in its final occurrence, it refers to the never-ending blessedness of the redeemed. “The Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 22:5).

Revelation 15:8 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.

glory of God. This must be the shekinah glory cloud, indicating the presence of God. It had similarly filled the ancient tabernacle and also the Solominic temple when they had first been dedicated to the Lord (Exodus 40:34; 1 Kings 8:10, 11).