Summary: This is a chapter from the author’s book on Revelation
THE LAST JUDGMENTS INTRODUCED
Revelation 15 W. Max Alderman
We are reading and studying the shortest chapter in the Book of Revelation. This chapter certainly is no accident in both its size and in its content. The importance of the Gettysburg Address was not minimized by its shortness. When Abraham Lincoln penned it, he absolutely got to the heart of the message and very eloquently stated his message and by doing so, in a very brief manner, he left an impression that will never be forgotten. It was because he had something important to say.
In this fifteenth chapter the writer, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, had something very important to say and it was thusly said in just a very few words. Chapter fifteen is the prelude to the vial (bowl) judgments and emphasizes the importance of what is about to happen. Chapter fourteen gave a brief panoramic view of what was going to take place right up unto the end, whereas this chapter takes the larger generic view and brings it to the more refined fuller view. The details of judgment are about to be spelled out and enlarged upon.
"As is the plan of the prophet, he reviews, he recapitulates, he enlarges upon the scene he has already sketched" (Erdman)
The full wrath of God is going to be vividly put on display as He pours out the cup of His wrath. It will be the burning fury of his anger that is being poured out. The meaning of the word wrath will indicate this truth later in our study.
I. THE SIGN BEFORE THE LAST JUDGMENTS. (V. 1)
It was with great wonder that the writer saw that God was going to bring to an end the sinful, worldly system as he meted out his wrath in hot holy anger. The word wrath as used here is the same that we identified in chapter 14 as being a boiling or flaming anger. The Greek word thymos (a volatile, passionate anger) is used here instead of the more common word orge, which carries the meaning of having anger from a settled disposition. Orge is the more common word for God’s anger in the New Testament; thymos is used only 11 times, and 10 of the 11 are in Revelation. The anger of God is being described as being poured from a vial. According to word studies the vials have a flattened out design, much like that of a saucer, which will allow the contents to be released quickly. This again agrees with the defining of God’s judgment as being poured out very quickly. The first verse tells us that, “in them is filled up the wrath of God”. It is an overflowing anger that shows God’s disposition towards sin.
II. THE SINGING DURING THE LAST JUDGMENTS. (Vv. 2-4)
The tribulation saints were rejoicing in their victory, being mindful that the same God who brought the Israelites under Moses victory also had brought them victory. They knew Christ the Lamb as being marvelous and great in His works, and as King they knew Him to be just and true in all His ways.
In verse two those who had gotten their victory over the beast were standing on what appeared as a sea of glass mingled with fire. The word as indicates to us that they are not standing on a literal sea of glass that is mingled with fire. It is really easy to find many suggestions as to what this meant, but I cannot honestly put down what I believe it is, nor can I absolutely suggest what it symbolizes. The Scriptures let us enjoy having a mental picture of what it looked like to see these witnesses standing as having “gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name” standing on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. However, there is no definitive explanation from Scriptures as to the meaning of the sea of glass, mingled with fire description.
May I, with that being said, make some comments regarding the description that we have been given. Considering the reflective qualities of glass and even the way glass is referenced to in the Scriptures as having mirror like qualities, I believe that this is a way that the writer is describing the very large number of people who have been resurrected and have been given glorified bodies. They are standing there with the great glory of God all over them, just like Moses of old, when his face did shine after being with the Lord.
These people, being victorious over death, have lost their earthly qualities and have taken on their heavenly qualities. These who are said to be standing on the glass could have a uniquely prepared place to stand as their faces did shine as fire. Whatever is fully meant, we must agree that it will be a very impressive sight. I must admit that I have done more speculating than I prefer when it comes to the Scriptures. Maybe, we can say this is food for thought.