Revelation #26 Revelation 15:1-6 (MSG) End Times: It’s Now or Never


Revelation #26  Revelation 15:1-6 (MSG)  End Times:  It’s Now or Never


John could certainly have ended his apocalypse with the two harvests in chapter 14 but he has more to reveal to us. One of the characteristics of apocalyptic literature is how John has arranged his material in groups of sevens and there are three sevens. The seven/three arrangement stands for divine perfection. John has one more set of seven to reveal to us. But first, he writes another dramatic setup for what is to come.


Revelation 15:1-2 (MSG)

I saw another Sign in Heaven, huge and breathtaking: seven Angels with seven disasters. These are the final disasters, the wrap-up of God's wrath. I saw something like a sea made of glass, the glass all shot through with fire. Carrying harps of God, triumphant over the Beast, its image, and the number of its name, the saved ones stood on the sea of glass.


What does it take for a person to renounce their egoism and turn to God?  Humanity has a propensity for rebellious behavior when it comes to acknowledging any authority other than self.  The serpent’s temptation “You will be like God” is such an allure. Doing what you want, when you want, to whom you want can result in a whole lot of misery. It’s usually misery that wakes a person up to the reality that they are making bad decisions. In looking for relief they just may look to God.  For those who have not bent the knee to Jesus those rough, intense, or catastrophic times may be the only way God can get their attention.  If you find yourself in some kind of pit, why not call out to God to rescue you?  Tell God you have messed up, own what you’ve done, and admit it was wrong. Tell God you don’t want to live the way you have been, that you are ready to give up running your own life with all the painful choices you’ve made.  Tell God you want to accept his invitation to enter a right relationship with Him, taking your cues from Him, and following His commands.  Then bend your knee to the Lordship of Christ, determined to follow His teachings. It is Jesus, his sacrifice, receiving God’s wrath for rebellion, into himself, that has made atonement so that you can receive and take advantage of the gift of salvation.  The way Jesus lived sets your example. When Jesus sets you free, you will be free indeed (John 8:36) free from the curse of sin and spiritual death. All these disasters we’ve read about in Revelation, their purpose is to wake people to their need for God. Examine your life, do you need God to rescue you?  If so, don’t put it off, today, right now, is all you got, make your decision.  Let me know what you decide.


John in his vision sees the disasters that are coming upon those who have refused God’s invitation, rejected His Messiah, and have gotten caught up in the Dragon’s plot.  The Dragon we have identified as the accuser of God’s people, the devil, the evil being we call Satan.  The Dragon has given its power and authority to the Beast, civil government, to wage war against God’s people.  The second beast is religion in support of that government.   For the folks to whom John is writing the Beast is the Roman Empire, personified in the emperor, the second Beast is what we can call Emperor worship, the Imperial Cult, demanding that everyone bend their knee to the emperor declaring him both Lord and God.  People get sucked up into the culture, they get branded 666, the symbol of ultimate failure, the symbol of trying to be your own God, in John’s Day, the mark meant participation and acceptance of the economic system of Rome. Not a physical brand but rather a spirit, an attitude, a disposition of compliance with the Beast’s program to make all of humanity the thralls of the dragon. After all, you’ve got to make a living.


The Beast slaughters all those who refuse to bend their knee to its agenda. The slaughter of God’s faithful looks like a victory for evil. But as we shall see, the tables are turned.  It is those who refused to recant the faith and followed their Lord Jesus into death that have defeated the Beast, and its plans. The faithful stand before God on that sea of glass that surrounds the throne that we read of in Chapter 4.  Recall that we said this sea represents purity, stability, holiness, and being in the presence of God. This sea is mixed with fire.  John may mean that the saints have been enabled to stand on the sea of glass in the presence of God because they have gone through the fires of persecution and stayed faithful (Daniel 3). John declares those standing to be victorious over the Beast, they did not worship its image, nor submit to its economic system.


The victorious are carrying harps.  A Harp is the instrument of praise and worship.  The saints sing of the mighty acts of God.


Revelation 15:3-4 (MSG)


3 They sang the Song of Moses, servant of God; they sang the Song of the Lamb:

Mighty your acts and marvelous, O God, the Sovereign-Strong! Righteous your ways and true, King of the nations! Who can fail to fear you, God, give glory to your Name? Because you and you only are holy, all nations will come and worship you, because they see your judgments are right.


That this is a song of Moses and a song of the Lamb means it is the song of deliverance. In Exodus 15 the Israelites sing a song of deliverance after they escape from the army of Pharaoh. The Exodus is a preview of the work of Jesus, the Lamb.  Jesus leads the people of God out of the slavery of sin and the oppression of the Dragon and its Beasts into the Kingdom of God, the land of Promise.  As we will see the 7 bowls that are to be poured parallel the plagues that befall Egypt. The song is not about the defeat of God’s enemies, but rather the triumph of His sovereignty.


God’s mighty acts are seen in the Creation and Redemption of Humanity, and specifically what God has done to deliver humanity from depravity to being citizens in the Kingdom of God. Sovereign strong means that the boastful arrogance of the potentates of the world is nothing more than campfire smoke (Psalm 37:20, 144:4) Their time of appearing to be in charge goes up in smoke because God is the One in charge. Righteous and true of course signifies the perfect moral character of God, His justice, His fairness, His reliability; God will always do what is good, and perfect, and holy.  The redeemed sing the truth that God is the King of the Nations, He raises a nation up, He pulls a nation down according to that nation's deeds, the hearts of its people (John 12:23, Daniel 2:21).  Then a rhetorical question: Who can fail to see you and in seeing glorify you? The saints around the altar just can’t imagine how anyone can be so blind as to miss the manifestations of the Creator in the world and in the lives of people. The song concludes with the reality that in the end, things will be made right and God will be worshiped in spirit and truth (John 4:24).


In my time of study, I had to pause here and consider how great the God who has called me into a right relationship with Him is.  I think far too often there is a certain familiarity that steals the reverence and awe that is God’s due.  What God has done is amazing.  The Universe, the Earth, and the human body are all incredibly complex, the Psalmist says fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).  The nature and attributes of God revealed to us in Christ Jesus give us a picture of the most incredible person.  Then to think God knows me, redeems me from sin, accepts me, calls me His own, and empowers me to become the person He has declared me to be is just amazing.  His longsuffering, His grace, His willingness to forgive and deal with my stubbornness, my tantrums, my egoism, not in anger but in correcting love is so different than what I have experienced in the hands of the world, even in the hands of my brothers and sisters in Christ. Second chances, third chances, my broken vows, broken promises, and still He holds on, correcting, guiding, providing.  Take a little time this week to think about who it is that has made it possible for you to become immortal. Such a time is what the 7th spiritual habit of a disciple is all about, contemplation.


Revelation 15:5-8 (MSG)

5 Then I saw the doors of the Temple, the Tent of Witness in Heaven, open wide. 6 The Seven Angels carrying the seven disasters came out of the Temple. They were dressed in clean, bright linen and wore gold vests. 7 One of the Four [Cherubim] handed the Seven Angels seven gold bowls, brimming with the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. 8 Smoke from God's glory and power poured out of the Temple. No one was permitted to enter the Temple until the seven disasters of the Seven Angels were finished.


The temple represents the presence of God.  The Tent of Witness we read about in  Numbers 1:50 during the time of Israel leaving Egypt and before entering the Land of Promise. The Tent is also referred to as the Tabernacle of Testimony or the Dwelling of the Testimony. Within were the stone tablets upon which the Ten Commandments were written. The Ten Commands are God’s moral laws for life, they describe how human beings are to live. The imagery here suggests that God’s moral law, set before the creation of the world, stands as judge.  The plagues that are coming are a sign of God's total opposition to sin. That the plague disasters are carried by 7 angels coming out of the Temple is another indication that God’s justice requires that sin be judged.


Sin was atoned for upon the Cross.  Jesus' voluntary sacrifice makes it possible for judgment to Passover you.  God’s invitation to enter into a right relationship with Him is actualized when a person submits themselves to the Lordship of Christ.  This submission is demonstrated by aligning oneself with the commands of God and the teaching of Jesus, partnering with the Holy Spirit’s process of transformation into the person God declared you to be when you acknowledge sin, believe the gospel, and committed to living the life of a disciple and asking to be received and accepted.   But for those who refuse God’s gracious invitation, by default, they instead choose to live judged by the moral laws of the universe.


The Cheribum, those beings that guard the throne room, give the 7 angels bowls filled with the wrath of God.  The Apostel Paul wrote:


2 Thessalonains 1:5-10 (MSG)

All this trouble is a clear sign that God has decided to make you fit for the kingdom. You're suffering now, but justice is on the way. When the Master Jesus appears out of heaven in a blaze of fire with his strong angels, he'll even up the score by settling accounts with those who gave you such a bad time. His coming will be the break we've been waiting for. Those who refuse to know God and refuse to obey the Message will pay for what they've done. Eternal exile from the presence of the Master and his splendid power is their sentence. But on that very same day when he comes, he will be exalted by his followers and celebrated by all who believe—and all because you believed what we told you.


That the temple, which represents the presence of God, fills with smoke, so much so, that no one can enter, means that the time of intercession is over.  The time of grace has ended for the unbeliever.  Choices have been finalized.  The end is drawing very near.


God will establish justice throughout His creation.  His judgment can be frightening.  Think of the passion of Christ, the mocking, the beatings, the whipping, the crucifixion, those are all signs of judgment for sin. Similar judgments will now fall on the Messiah rejectors.


People manifest their destinies in the way they live their lives right now.  Moses told the people: “I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God, your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, he is life itself,

Deut 30:19-20 (MSG).


Friends choose the life that is found in Jesus Christ and you will be spared a siners judgment. 


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