Summary: As God brings his plan to completion, He will reconcile all things in Himself.
I love great fireworks displays. There are two of them in particular that I still remember to this day even though they occurred many years ago. The first was when we lived in Albuquerque and they had a competition not too far from our home. I remember that we drove our Jeep Cherokee out into the desert not too far from where the event was taking place and watched in amazement as all the different competitors tried to outdo each other. The other occurred in Chicago on the 4th of July as we watched from Navy Pier as the fireworks were shot from barges out in the water all around the pier so that it seemed like all the exploding colors were right over our heads.
And the highlight of those events, and every other fireworks display I’ve ever seen, is the grand finale. That’s when multiple rockets continue to be set off one after another at a frenetic rate so that the sky is filled with color and the sound of the exploding rockets.
The passage that we’ll look at this morning is an introduction to a similar set of events that is going to precede the return of Jesus to this earth to reward the godly and judge the ungodly. We’ve seen a lot of action so far in Revelation with the seals and trumpets, but when the bowls are released, it’s going to be a grand finale in which these events occur at a frenetic pace in rapid succession. Before we read our passage from Revelation 15, let’s pause once again to review where we are in our journey.
We are at the end of an interlude that began back in chapter 12 and which will conclude here in chapter 15. During that interlude, we were introduced to seven major characters who participated in seven sub-scenes. In the first three sub-scenes in chapters 12 and 13, we saw Satan at work, doing much of his damage through his agents, the Antichrist and the false prophet. Then in chapters 14 and 15, we have four more sub-scenes in which God is at work, much of that work also being carried out by His agents, like the 144,000 and His angels. The final sub-scene, the one we’ll look at this morning, sets the stage for the events that will result in God’s wrath being poured out on His enemies in order to prepare the way for the earthly reign of Jesus at His return.
One thing that we have seen often throughout this section is that the events portrayed in this interlude do not occur in chronological order. In fact, the events in this section range all the way from the fall of Satan even before God’s creation to the horrific bloodshed of the Battle of Armageddon which occurs at the return of Jesus. It is almost certain that the harvests that we saw last week at the end of chapter 14 occur after the pouring out of the seven bowls of God’s wrath, the event that is introduced by the passage we’ll look at this morning.
Go ahead and turn to Revelation 15 and follow along as I read the entire chapter:
1 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished.
2 And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. 3 And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
“Great and amazing are your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
O King of the nations!
4 Who will not fear, O Lord,
and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
5 After this I looked, and the sanctuary of the tent of witness in heaven was opened, 6 and out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, clothed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes around their chests. 7 And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, 8 and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.
This passage is bookended with two verses that indicate that the plagues of God’s wrath are finished. And that is exactly what we see occurring in this passage. God’s plan, which was in place even before the creation of this world is going to come to a close with the grand finale.