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Handout No. 11
Mark  A.  Mayes

The Seven Last Plagues Introduced - Revelation 15:1-8
In previous chapters, we have seen the worshippers of the beast marked (for punishment) and the worshippers of God marked (for protection, as in Ezekiel chapter 9). Chapter 14 ended with the pronouncement of judgment against Babylon (Rome) and the punishment of the wicked with the wrath of God. With chapter 15, we begin to see more details of the events leading to the glorious and triumphant ending of the book. In particular, we’re going to be introduced to the seven last plagues, representing God’s final and complete outpouring of wrath against the persecutors of His people. In reaction, we’re going see those who had conquered or overcome the beast and his image singing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. I. Part 1: Setting the Stage – Another Great Sign (15:1) A. Another Sign in Heaven 1. At this point we are no stranger to signs in heaven. We’ve seen them several times in the second section of the book (e.g., 12:1, 3). 2. Great and amazing – as we’ll see in the full details next week. B. Seven Angels 1. Seven is the number of perfection, the union of God (3) and man (4). 2. We have seen several other series of sevens in the book. • Seven seals (6:1ff) • Seven angels with seven trumpets (8:2ff) • Seven thunders (10:3-4) 3. Seven plagues • A reference to the plagues of Egypt, which God used to deliver His people. o We’ll look at the details of the plagues in chapter 16, but note for now the reference to boils in 16:2, water turned to blood in 16:3-4, and darkness in 16:10. • Last o The final and full expression of God’s anger against the particular persecutors of His people at that particular time o In contrast to the partial warnings and punishments that we’ve already seen. § Compare the 1/3 destruction in the first 4 trumpets to the full destruction in the first four plagues (earth, sea, fresh water and sky respectively)

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C. Verse 1 doesn’t really get into any details about the angels or the plagues. Instead, it introduces a concept that is vital for the next section: God’s patience with Rome is over, and the time of His wrath has come. II. Part 2: The Song of the Redeemed (15:2-4) A. We now change to another scene in heaven, a reaction to the appearance of the seven angels with the seven plagues B. Sea of Glass (15:2) 1. This is the second time we have seen the sea. We saw it first in 4:6. 2. As before, the sea represents an obstacle to approaching God (just as did the bronze sea with Solomon’s temple) 3. This time, the sea is different: it is mixed with fire, perhaps because God is angry over the treatment of His people and is about to pour out His wrath. C. Those who had conquered (15:2) 1. There are two ways to conquer • Be faithful even if it means death (Revelation 2:10) • Patiently endure until God acts (Revelation 13:10; 14:12-13) • Both ways are possible by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 12:10-11) 2. “On” the sea of glass • Some translations have “by”. “On” is the better translation. • Those who have conquered are allowed to approach God 3. Harps – ready for praise. No longer crying, “How long?” (6:9-10) D. The Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb (15:3-4) 1. Review the Song of Moses in Exodus 15. It is a song of deliverance, a song of praise, and a song describing God’s righteous acts. See especially Exodus 15:1, 6-7, 11, 13 and 16. 2. The Song of the Lamb is one of praise for redemption (see Revelation 5:9-10) 3. The words of the song: • Written in the style of Hebrew poetry • Great and amazing (as in verse 1) • God’s acts of judgment are not arbitrary. His acts are just. • The nations will not all be converted, but they will see God’s righteousness.

B. Seven angels with seven plagues (15:6) 1. As in verse 1 2. Clothed in linen and sashes – reminds us of priestly clothing C. One of the four living creatures (15:7) 1. One of the cherubim from around God’s throne (see Revelation 4:6) 2. Bowls – not “vials” as some translations have. A broad, shallow bowl that is easily poured out, representing God’s complete (seven) wrath. 3. God lives forever and ever. He doesn’t act on our timetable, but His. We must be patient. D. The sanctuary filled with smoke 1. The smoke represents a sure sign of the presence of God. It is a reference to events in the Old Testament. On very special occasions, the smoke was so intense and glorious that no one could enter the temple. 2. See 2 Chronicles 7:1-2; 5:14. See also Exodus 33:7-9; Isaiah 6:4; Ezekiel 10:3-4 V. Discussion Point 2: Why doesn’t God act immediately?

III. Discussion Point 1: Why is this text preserved for us? IV. Part 3: The Bowls of God’s Wrath are Given (15:5-8) A. The sanctuary (15:5) 1. The Holy of Holies, where God is enthroned above the cherubim. 2. Tabernacle of Witness/Testimony – where the reminders of the covenant were kept 3. Opened – to allow the angels to leave from the presence of God.

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