REVELATION CHAPTER 15
INTRODUCTION TO THE SEVEN BOWL JUDGMENTS:
THE BEGINNING OF THE END
Revelation Chapter 15 sets the scene for the seven bowl judgments to come; it is the prelude to Armageddon. Recall that when the seventh trumpet is blown, the third woe will be dispensed upon the earth (See Rev 11:14,15). The sounding of the Seventh Trumpet releases the seven bowl judgments (the 3rd woe), containing seven plagues, which will be poured out upon the Earth. As Heaven prepares for this righteous assault, we see the victorious, Raptured Church in Heaven, praising the name of God and awaiting His final judgment of Satan, Antichrist, and the wicked of the Earth. The Church sings the song of Moses - a song of deliverance from evil, and the song of the Lamb. When the seventh trumpet is blown, the time for salvation has expired. God's temple in Heaven is opened and the time of God’s final and most severe judgment has arrived.
SEVEN ANGELS WITH THE LAST OF GOD’S WRATH
1I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues - last, because with them God's wrath is completed. (The final wrath of God is dispensed in the form of the seven bowl judgments. Each bowl contains one of the seven plagues. The plagues are poured out upon the world, which has chosen to give its allegiance to Antichrist rather than to the Lord. See Rev 16:2)
THE CHURCH VICTORIOUS
2And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire (This is the throne room of God. See Rev 4:6 "before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass") and, standing beside the sea (of glass), those who had been victorious (the Church) over the beast (Satan) and his image (Antichrist) and over the number of his name (Antichrist's followers. The Raptured Church, the overcomers of Rev 2 and 3, those who did not worship the beast or take the mark, stand victorious beside the throne of God.)
They (the Church) held harps given them by God 3and sang the song of Moses the servant of God (A song of Deliverance, like those found in Exodus 15:1-18, Deut 31:30-32, and Psalms 90) and the song of the Lamb (a second song of triumph proclaiming His works of judgment are marvelous): "Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty (God the Father). Just and true are your ways, King of the ages (God the Son). 4Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed." (God is in control, but His final judgment is not yet complete as He is about to pour out His wrath upon the nations)
PRELUDE TO THE OUTPOURING OF THE 7 BOWL JUDGMENTS
With the blowing of the 7th trumpet (See Rev 11:14,15), God prepares to send His angels to pour out His final wrath on the Earth via the seven bowl judgments. The heavenly temple is opened, and the smoke of the wrath of God fills the temple, so that no one can enter. This symbolizes that the time of salvation has ended - repentance is no longer possible.
5 After this I looked and in heaven the temple, that is, the tabernacle of the Testimony, was opened. (In Rev 11:19 God’s temple in heaven was opened and we saw the tabernacle, a.k.a. the Ark of the Covenant. Now, the tabernacle itself is opened. The opening of the tabernacle – the ark – is the signal for seven angels to step forward.) 6Out of the temple (the inner holy place – the holy of holies) came the seven angels with the seven plagues. (Seven mighty angels file out of the temple, each bearing a plague). They were dressed in clean, shining linen (symbolizing righteousness) and wore golden sashes around their chests (indicating a special status or rank). 7Then one of the four living creatures (of Revelation 4) gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls (bowls are shallow and wide surfaces, which suggest a quick delivery of their contents) filled with the wrath of God, (these seven bowls of God’s wrath will be poured out in Revelation 16 with machine gun-like rapidity on the Earth over a brief, 30 day period of time. See Daniel 12:11) who lives for ever and ever.
8And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power (At several points in the Bible, the glory of God is personified by smoke. In Exodus, Moses was unable to enter into the holy place because it was filled with the cloud of God’s glory. See Exodus 40:16-38. The same situation occurred at the dedication of Solomon’s temple. See 1 Kings 8. Could this be the origin of the expression “holy smoke?”), and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed. (At this point in time, God is no longer approachable - the door to salvation has closed and the time of God's wrath has begun. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but the Day of Judgment has arrived. This judgment is different than anything that precedes it. Antichrist’s 3 ½ year reign is over!)