REVELATION 15 &16
Revelation 15 brings us back to another heavenly scene. This time we see seven angels preparing to release the seven last plagues and this will lead on to the completion of God’s wrath and final judgment.
The scene changes and the focus is now on those who overcame the false trinity in the tribulation, standing besides the sea of glass before the throne of God with harps in their hands, singing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb, praising God and worshiping Him, declaring His marvellous deeds, true ways and righteous acts. God’s impending judgment on those who worshiped the beasts and Satan demonstrates His glory and holiness and causes the nations and His people to worship and glorify Him. This judgment will be seen subsequently in the pouring out of the seven bowls of wrath inflicting the seven last plagues.
Notice the parallels depicted: Israel singing the song of Moses by the Red Sea after Pharaoh and his army were drowned in the sea; and the martyrs killed by the antichrist singing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb by the sea of glass before the throne of God. Israel was rescued from slavery in Egypt in the exodus to worship God in the desert; God’s people are rescued from the slavery of sin and the evil one in the great eschatological exodus to stand before Him to worship Him and to find glory in Him. Egypt was undoubtedly one of the greatest, if not the greatest, nations at the time of the exodus and she boasted a mighty army, and the charioteers in the army were feared by the surrounding nations. However, Pharaoh and his charioteers were drowned in the Red Sea. No king or kingdom can stand before the King of kings and Lord of lords in arrogance and not suffer the consequences. And so it shall be for the devil and his henchmen. Although they wielded great power and authority in subduing nations under them and persecuting and marginalizing Gods people, they shall crumble before the almighty God. No one can touch and hurt Gods people without suffering the consequences of God’s wrath and judgment.
Here before the throne of God, God’s people declared that God’s judgment is just, true and righteous! Indeed, God’s judgment is right retribution for sin and injustice, and His judgment is the true expression of His holiness and justice, for a holy and just God must deal with the injustice and sins committed before Him. God’s wrath and judgment are truly in line and consistent with His holiness. Those who mistakenly declare that a loving God will not punish the evil and wicked people of the world and send them to hell forget that God is not just a God of love; He is also a holy God and a just God and will not leave sins unpunished. In subsequent chapters, we will see God sending the antichrist and the false prophet into the burning lake of sulfur and those who persistently bear the mark of the beast and refuse to repent will follow them into the same place where they will be tormented forever and ever. The great dragon, the devil, will follow suit ultimately. We shall examine this in more details in the following chapters.
Chapter 15 ends with a vision of the temple, the tabernacle of the testimony (with further allusion to the Old Testament) opened and the seven angels given the seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God by one of the four living creatures, indicating that the instruction came direct from the One who sits on the throne. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power and no one could enter the temple. We are reminded of the temple filled with the glory of God after king Solomon dedicated the temple and the cloud covering the Tent of Meeting with the glory of the Lord filling the tabernacle such that Moses could not enter the tent. This is the manifestation of the glory and holiness of God and His mighty presence, for our God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Woe to those who await the unleashing of His wrath, for there is no escape from this great and majestic Lord and God.
Chapter 16 recorded the pouring out of the bowls filled with the wrath of God on the earth. Notice that the plagues which followed were targeting those who worship the false trinity and bore the mark of the beast. This time there is no holding back and the judgments were total and complete. What was affected was not one fourth or one third; it was affecting the whole of the sea, the rivers and the springs of water and the people bearing the mark of the beast were infected with painful sores, scorched by the sun and plunged into total darkness. Again, we hear the refrain of God’s people, declaring that God is just and true in His judgments and the recipients truly deserve the punishment.
Notice that the people being judged refused to repent and give glory to God; instead they cursed the God of heaven and continued to blaspheme Him. Such is the depth of the wickedness and deceitfulness of the hearts of these people! The pouring out of the sixth bowl prepared the scene and the way for the battle on the great day of God almighty. Satan and his evil angels gathered the kings of the whole world to battle against God and His army at Armageddon.
At this point, we hear the declaration:
Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.
No doubt, this is the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ who warned His people to be ready and alert for His second coming. Let us not be found naked like the believers in the church of Laodicea when He comes.
God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. (2 Thessalonians 1: 6-10)
We may be wondering why the triune God seeks to be marvelled at and He delights in the praise and worship of His people. Some may irreverently question whether God is a megalomanic and egoistic, always seeking to be praised and glorified. This is very far from the truth. God Himself is fully sufficient in Himself. He does not require our praise and He is perfectly satisfied and contented in Himself without the need for companionship or external input due to loneliness. By no means! God created us such that we find our true happiness and pleasure in praising Him and worshiping Him and those who have come to acknowledge Him and love Him would find it a constant joy to glorify Him, to worship Him and to praise Him, for that is our greatest good and that gives us the greatest pleasure.
The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, It is done! What followed was a great earthquake, with flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder, reminding us of the description of what came forth from the throne of God in Revelation 4. It is the final judgment and how terrifying it will be for those at the receiving end! The subsequent chapters of Revelation will describe in more detail the judgment meted out by the almighty.