The Revelation – The End is Nigh – Rev. 15

Tonight, we will be reading through Revelation 14-15. Chapter 15 is the last act before God’s final victory over evil.

Seven Angels for Seven Plagues:

To recap, in John’s vision, he gets caught up into the throne room of God in Revelation 4 where he sees a scroll that lays out God’s ultimate purpose and which is sealed with seven seals that only the Lamb can open. (Rev. 5:1). When the seventh and last seal is opened, seven angels with seven trumpets appear to continue the story. (Rev. 8:1). The fifth trumpet leads to the first woe (Rev. 9:1,12) and the sixth trumpet leads to the second woe (Rev. 9:13, 11:14). The seventh trumpet sounds opening the doors of heaven. (Rev. 11:15). As the heavens open, John sees three great portents (signs) in the heavens, the first two of which announce the Women in Rev. 12:1 and the Dragon in Rev. 12:3.

In our reading for this evening (Rev. 15:1), the third great portent appears announcing seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last of God’s wrath. These are the third woes, these are the resolution of the seventh trumpet, and these are the last acts occasioned by the opening of the seventh seal. The seven angels with the seven bowls are the last action to be taken before Babylon is overthrown and defeated. The end is near. For the substance of this last act, however, we must wait until chapter 16.

Song of Victory:

Under the spell of the Beast of the Sea, the people of the earth cried out: “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” (Rev. 13:4) John’s answer to this question is that the 144,000 martyrs have conquered the beast by the word of their testimony/martyrdom. (Rev.14:1, 12:11). John’s vision is of these witnesses/martyrs standing beside the glassy sea which is before the Thone. (Rev. 4:6). And, just as Moses sang a song of victory on the banks of the Red Sea when he had delivered his people from slavery to the Egyptian Empire and victory over its army (Ex. 15, Deut. 32), so now do the 144,000 also sing a song of deliverance. This Song of the Redeemed (Canticle 19) is not identical to the Song of Moses, although its text is drawn from the Hebrew Scriptures and particularly Psalm 111:2-4 and Psalm 86:9-10. Here, the saints sing a new song of victory over, judgment of, and deliverance from the empire ruled by the Beast and controlled by the Dragon.

Heavenly Sanctuary:

When the seventh trumpet sounded, God’s temple in heaven was opened and the ark of his covenant was seen therein. Rev. 11:19. It is from this place that John sees the seven angels with seven plagues. The dress of the angels reflects the dress of the Aaronite priesthood that ministered before the Ark of the Covenant in Exodus 28. The bowls the angels carry also reflect the bowls that are associated with the Ark in Exodus 37 and Number 4. Just as the trumpets in Revelation 8 heralded Exodus-like plagues, so will the bowls in Revelation 15.

Once more, John’s vision tells us that the testimony of the saints, the gospel that they proclaim, is the story of the Exodus written on a spiritual plane. John is simply telling his Gospel narrative with graphic visions instead of the more philosophical arguments of Paul or the story-telling parables of Jesus. The work of God through the Lamb has freed us from the oppression of the powers and systems of this world that are active in this present evil age. It has overthrown and judged and destroyed these powers and systems just as surely as Pharoah drowned in the Red Sea. We must simply be patient and endure until the new age devoid of these powers has arrived.

Dinner is at 6:30. The menu is pork tenderloin and grilled pineapple. Discussion about 7:15. Hope to see you here. 

The Lord executes righteousness *
   and judgment for all who are oppressed.
He made his ways known to Moses *
   and his works to the children of Israel.
The Lord is full of compassion and mercy, *
   slow to anger and of great kindness.
He will not always accuse us, *
   nor will he keep his anger for ever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins, *
   nor rewarded us according to our wickedness.

Psalm 103:6-10

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