The Revelation Given to John by Jesus Through the Angel
Revelation 15, 16:1-13
Chapter 15 is titles THE SONG OF MOSES, THE SONG OF THE LAMB in the Message Bible. It starts with another sign in Heaven, immense and invigorating. The seven last signs – the disasters, the conclusion of Yahweh’s wrath.
But before we hear about the disasters it is important that we hear about the worship in Heaven. The sea of glass with fire flashing through it is a symbol,, the same symbol, with the exception of the fire flashing through it, that we read about in chapter 4:6. The sea of glass is the family of the Redeemed. The fire is a symbol of the power of the Holy Spirit. The song that they sang was the same as the song of victory that Moses sang and the song of victory that we sing about the Lamb of Yahweh; but this song is a perfect composition – there are no errors.
Next we see the seven angels and their golden vials. They came out of the dwelling place of Yahweh – the “Tent of Witness in Heaven”. The question is, what is the subject matter being authenticated? The seven angels coming out of the Temple with the seven disasters will tell us, but the important things is that the information is from Yahweh and we can count on it happening. The clean white linen represents the pure righteousness of Mashiach that we put on when we trust him as the Savior of our souls and the Lord of our lives. The angels wear the white linen because they are representatives of the righteousness of Yahweh. The gold of the vests also represents purity with no dross or imperfections.
One of the four animals – remember the four Animals represent the characteristics of Mashiach – handed the seven angels seven golden bowels. These bowels[i]held the wrath of Yahweh against sin and it was so hot, because his character is so pure, that no one was permitted to enter his presence until the seven disasters were finished.
Remember when the strong angel told John to “eat this book”? Eugene Peterson, in his book Eat this Book says the angel ”taking the cosmos for his pulpit … holding the Bible in his hand, preached. He preached the Word of God. The words written in the text were thunder in the ears of St. John. … a voice from heaven told him not to write the words he had heard, but to take the book and eat it. …No, says the heavenly voice – I want those words out there creating sound waves, entering ears, entering lives. … Get this book into your gut; get the words of this book moving through your blood stream. Chew on these words and swallow them so they can be turned into muscle and gristle and bone. …receive them in a way that forms us into Christians, men and woman created and saved and blessed by God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. … feel the emotions, get caught up in the drama, identify with the characters, see into nooks and crannies of life that we had overlooked, realize that there is more to this business to being human than we had yet explored. … The biblical story invites us to something truer than our culture stunted ambitions. … recognize ourselves as participants, … in the life of God. … When we submit ourselves to what we read in Scripture, we find that we are not being led to see God in or stories but our stories in God. God is the larger context and plot in which our stories find themselves. … Scripture is the revelation of a world that is vast, far larger than the sin-stunted, self-constricted world that we construct for ourselves out of a garage-sale assemblage of texts.”
Therefore, as we study the finishing touches of this book of Revelation, let’s personalize what we read, but not privatize or atomize it. Let’s allow ourselves to be personally commanded and blessed, rebuked and comforted, warned and guided[ii] as we go through the finishing stories.
The pouring out of the seven vials:
- loathsome stinking sores
- sea coagulated into blood
- waters turned to blood
- fire blazed from heaven and scorched un-repentant humans
- kingdom of the Beast in sudden darkness
- Euphrates River prepared for the Great Battle with frog demons
- Great earthquake
And between the third and fourth disaster; praise.
Now let’s look over the original outline and see how much more involved we can get by applying Exegesis – a rigorous, disciplined, intellectual work – to it. As Peterson says, “There is a lot going on here; we don’t want to miss any of it; we don’t want to sleepwalk through tis text.” The outline was written to give me a concise base to work from. It might be informative to see how much the last sevens correlate with the others.
The command is given from the presence of the Lord for the seven bowls of Yahweh’s wrath to begin to be poured out on the earth. As a demonstration of Yahweh’s wrath against sin the unsaved of the earth suddenly find their selves worse off for turning from the God of the universe for the final time. They had thought they were preserving for themselves all that Eve[iii] reached for when she ate the fruit that was supposed to make her just like Yahweh[iv]. They didn’t (won’t) realize that Yahweh’s wrath against sin is united with his love and delight in his creation. “He is angry at evil and injustice because it is destroying its [his creation’s] peace and integrity[v].” [vi]
The second disaster was more than irritating, it was deadly. Everything in the sea died because the sea coagulated with blood. It became solid and nothing could live. Think of the people whose diets and living on sea life. Instead of assuring for themselves lives of ease, troubles are threatening to crumble all of their dreams. Their frustration stands in stark contrast to the patience and faithfulness of the people of Yahweh.
Well, at least they had the rivers and streams. The multitudes that lived inland weren’t worried; but guess where the water from the rivers and streams come from. Now the rivers and streams begin to turn to blood, and the inhabitants of the earth who lived inland were in the same pickle as the ones who depended on the sea; because now the land animals were going to die off and nothing that the latest technology had come up with could find a solution fast enough. Meanwhile the family of the Redeemed was passionately and patiently staying obedient and faithful to Yahweh. And in Heaven the Angel of the Waters was giving glory to Yahweh – and the altar agreed! Remember that an altar was built for worshiping and that the writer to the Hebrews called the cross Mashiach died on an altar. So the altar is a symbol of the worship of the Church.
The forth angel’s bowl brought fire blazing from the sun, scorching men and women. It was terrible, but not unfair toward the unbeliever. They could still repent and be saved from an eternity of disease, selfish desires never consummated, a permanent loss of the capability of giving and receiving love, and eternal misery. But they don’t. They curse Yahweh’s name and refuse to repent.
Hence the fifth angel pours out the fifth bowl on the Beast and its kingdom; and the light abandons them in all their pain – the disgusting foul-smelling sores, hunger and thirst, burns and blisters. But instead of turning to Yahweh for redemption, they curse him more and refuse to give up their addiction to their self-controlled lifestyles of sin. They don’t want Yahweh’s magnificence to be their glory; they are too enamored with themselves.
The sixth angel’s bowl is an indication that Yahweh is letting the un-redeemed have what they want so badly. He dries up the great Euphrates River to make a roadbed for the leaders from the east. The words spoken by the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet were coming directly from foul, repulsive demon spirits who performed signs to convince the rulers of the whole earth to gather for a battle.
We are going to stop here and finish in the next lesson because we have a lot of Old Testament passages to refer to for the rest of this chapter.
Prayer: We thank you, Yahweh, we thank you – your name is our favorite word; your mighty works are all we talk about. You say, “I’m calling this meeting to order, I’m ready to set things right. When the earth goes topsy-turvy and nobody knows which end is up, I nail it down, I put everything in place again. I say to the smart aleks, ‘that’s enough,’ to the bullies, ‘not so fast!’” thank you, Lord![vii]
[ii] Eat This Book, Eugene E. Peterson, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1006, page 46
[iii] Eve may be a name only that symbolizes the mother of all living, or she may be one woman who was the first human female made by Yahweh out of the rib he took from the first man. We don’t know because what we have been told are facts about principles, not how Yahweh went about his creation; but we know for sure that Eve is a representative of all women everywhere
[iv] Genesis 3:4, 5
[v] The Reason for God, Timothy Keller, Penguin Group, New York, NY, 2008, page 73
[vi] Revelation 14:12
[vii] Taken from Psalm 75, The Message Bible