• | Chris McCann
  • Audio: Length: 26:09 Size: 6.0 MB
  • Passages covered: Revelation 15:1-2, Revelation 12:1, Psalm 12:6, Revelation 11:6, John 12:48.

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Revelation 15 Series, Part 1, Verses 1-2

Good evening and welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Revelation.  Tonight is study #1 of Revelation, chapter 15, and we will be reading Revelation 15:1-2:

And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.

Revelation, chapter 15, is a short chapter.  It only has eight verses and we are going to see as we study this chapter that it is focused on God giving the vials full of the last plagues to His people, as the seven angels (which can properly be translated as messengers) are picturing the true believers.  God gives them the vials full of the seven last plagues and He also gives them the task of pouring out these seven last plagues upon the world.  That matches and agrees with what we learned in the previous chapter.  The Lord sent forth the sickle; that is, He sent forth His people to reap in the Day of Judgment, which is likened to a harvest, and Revelation 15 picks up on that same idea.  God has commissioned His people to “prophesy again,” but not in order to prophesy the Gospel in an evangelistic way that people might hear and become saved, but to prophesy the Word of God to declare what the Bible is teaching in the Day of Judgment.  As the Lord’s people do that and share what the Bible teaches about “those days, after that tribulation,” it will basically accomplish the purpose of God in pouring out the vials full of the wrath of God.  To say it another way, we know the Bible teaches that Christ comes as Judge and the saints judge the world with Him, in Revelation 15, and also in Revelation 16, which will reveal to us, in a very dramatic way, how the true believers are involved in sharing information from the Bible that pronounces judgment upon the world.  We will see a little later on, as we look a little further into the chapter, that the “seven angels” can only be the true believers.

But, at this point, we are just starting this chapter and we will go verse by verse, without jumping ahead.  Let us read, again, the first verse, in Revelation 15:1:

And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous…

The first thing we want to ask is, “What was the first sign?”  If God is giving John “another sign in heaven,” then what “sign” did he first see in heaven?  As we look up the word “sign,” it is the Greek word “semeion,” and it is Strong’s #4592.  It is translated at times as “sign” or it can be translated as “wonder” or “miracle.”  It was used in the Book of Revelation, in Revelation 12:1:

And there appeared a great wonder in heaven…

This word “wonder” is from the same Greek word “semeion,” just as we have in Revelation 15:1, where it says, “And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous,” so we can be fairly sure the sign seen in heaven is what we read about in Revelation 12, and let me finish reading that verse in Revelation 12:1:

And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

If we were to continue reading, we would find that the woman gave birth to a “man child,” who could be no one else but the Lord Jesus Christ, as He entered into the world, born of the Virgin Mary and entered into human history in 7 BC.  Then the Bible says He was caught up unto God and to His throne, eventually, after His period of time on earth.  He was resurrected and He did go be with the Lord.  Acts, chapter 1, tells us that Christ was caught up into heaven.  The woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared for her for 1,260 days.  We discussed all these things when we went through Revelation, chapter 12, but the “1,260 days” point to the New Testament church age and the woman is a picture of the true believers from whom God brought forth the Lord Jesus Christ (or at least that is the image or picture God is drawing), as Christ came through the line of the believers.  It is just a picture that the true believers are a woman clothed with the sun, as Christ is likened to the sun and they have Christ as their covering of righteousness.  That is the great sign that John saw in heaven and now John says, in Revelation 15:1:

And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues…

The first great sign was the woman that represented the true believers and this other “great and marvelous” sign is also a picture of the true believers, but here they are called “seven angels” or “seven messengers” and they typify God’s elect, just as the woman typified God’s elect when John saw the first sign in heaven. 

The “seven messengers” have a much different task to perform than the woman whose task was to bring forth the man child, but the seven messengers are commissioned with the task of pouring out the seven last vials full of the wrath of God.

It goes on to say, in Revelation 15:1:

… seven angels having the seven last plagues…

Let us look at the number “seven,” since it is used here a couple of times.  The number “seven” is used often in the Bible and, as far as we can tell, it points to “perfection.”  It seems to have an element of “completeness” associated with it and an element of “fullness” is also associated with it.  God uses other numbers to spiritually represent those things, like the number “10,” which points to “completeness” and the number “12” points to “fullness.”  The number “7” has elements of that involved with it.  For instance, when God said to Noah, “Yet seven days,” we know that was a spiritual statement as the Bible ties together “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,” in 2Peter, chapter 3.  God was really saying that man had 7,000 years to find salvation in Christ, as the ark typified Christ, and then will come Judgment Day and May 21, 2011 was the completion of the 7,000 years (or the fullness of the 7,000 years), but it also involved the “perfection” of it.  Perhaps, because the number “7” is involved with “complete fullness,” then that would have to do with the “perfection” of what is in view, so God speaks of “seven” plagues in our verse.

The number “7” is also used several times in the Book of Genesis in the account of Pharaoh’s dream.  Remember Pharaoh had a dream about “seven fat kine” that were eaten by “seven ill-favored, thin kine,” and “seven good stalks of ears” were eaten up by “seven thin stalks of ears.”  Joseph interpreted the dream to mean that the “seven good kine” and the “seven good stalks of ears” were “seven years” and the “seven ill-favored kine” and the “seven thin stalks of ears” were “seven years,” and “the dream is one.”  In that chapter, I believe the number “7” is given 29 times.  It is an overwhelming emphasis upon that number and, yet, every one of those references points to the “seven years,” which typified the Great Tribulation that would come at the time of the end.  Actually, that Great Tribulation came after a full 13,000 years of history to the very year, in 1988, and continued for exactly 23 years, concluding May 21, 2011, where the 7,000 year timeline from the flood lands.  The actual 23 years of the Great Tribulation are typified by “seven years” of famine.  It points to the perfection of the Great Tribulation period. 

There is one verse in particular which I think really helps to show the spiritual significance of the number “7,” and it is in the Psalms.  It says in Psalm 12:6:

The words of JEHOVAH are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

We can see how God speaks of His Word – it is “perfect” and holy.  This means there is no sin, no error, no mistake, no fault and not even a jot or tittle out of place, nor a word misspoken.  It is completely and perfectly pure, holy and just in its entirety.  The complete Bible, the fullness of the Word of God in all 66 Books of Scripture, has been generously given to mankind, especially to the elect, and it is absolutely pure and perfect.  Therefore, God uses the figure that the Words of God are pure words and are “as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.”  This means that the “fire” is put to the silver and the dross is melted away and what remains is pure silver and that is the Word of God.  It is also an excellent illustration of how God uses the number “7” in regard to whatever He is speaking about and in our verse, it is the “seven messengers,” and this would have to do with the “perfection” of the messengers of God. 

Who are the messengers of God?  Remember what Jesus said to Nathaniel about messengers: “Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels (messengers) of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”  The only way to understand this is that from that point, when people became saved they would be lifted up into the heavenlies to be seated with Christ Jesus, spiritually, as that is what salvation accomplishes.  Then it is as though they are immediately dispatched back to the earth and remain in their physical bodies for a period of time in order to be messengers of God that carry the Gospel to the world.  It had to do with true believers as they were saved.

Here in our verse, the “seven messengers” point to the “perfection” of all those that God has saved.  Again, it is the complete number or the “fullness” of everyone whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. 

So we have seven messengers having the seven last plagues and notice the word “having” is used.  They are in possession of the “seven last plagues.”  It is not until later in Revelation 15 that God gives the vials full of the seven last plagues to the seven messengers and then they go forth and pour them out, but our verse is a preview, in a sense, where God is indicating that they possess the “seven last plagues.”  It could be that it is stated this way because the “seven last plagues” relate to the Word of God; that is, the judgment of God upon the world is revealed through the Word of God.  It is coming forth from the Bible, as God opens up His Word to grant understanding to the minds of His elect people about the things He has done regarding the spiritual judgment He has brought upon the world.  God’s people “have” or “possess” the Word.  Christ, the Word, indwells them and God has given them His Word, so they have the “seven last plagues,” even though there will be an official point of giving the vials to them a little later on in the chapter and they will go and pour out each of the seven vials.  Revelation, chapter 16, goes into detail concerning the pouring out of those plagues. 

By the way, the word “last” is the word “eschatos” in the Greek and it is Strong’s #2078.  It is the word that we get our English word “eschatology” from, but that is more of a theological term that has to do with the doctrines of “last things,” or as it is also called the doctrines of “end time things.”  It is a word that has to do with that which is “last.” 

Here, God is saying the seven messengers have in their possession the seven “last” plagues; there will be no more plagues after these.  The word “last” is the word used in John 12:48:

He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

That phrase “the last day” is used several times in the Gospel of John and the word “last” is the same Greek word “eschatos” that means exactly that – the “last” day.  It is Judgment Day and there is not going to be another era.  There is not going to be some millennial reign of Christ on earth; there is not going to be some additional time period, as we have come to the final end of all things, so these are the “last” plagues.

God has plagued the world oftentimes throughout history through the declaration of His Word.  The word “plague” is found in conjunction with the “two witnesses” in Revelation 11:6:

These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.

Again, this is a reference to the “two witnesses” and at this point in Revelation, chapter 11, God is describing their witness or testimony during the church age as the Word of God was proclaimed through the churches and congregations.  They brought the “judgment” that the Word of God declared to the unsaved people of the earth and it was as though the Word of God “smote” or “plagued” the sinners of the earth.  For example, remember what God said in Revelation 22:18:

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

The Bible is a record of the plagues of God that comes upon sinners.  Let us say that five hundred years ago during the church age, when someone came with “another gospel” and they claimed to have additional divine revelation and they dared add to the Word of God, then the Bible (the Word itself) smote them and God plagued them and they were under the wrath of God.  The judgment of God would strike them down, even if they were not aware of it and even if they continued merrily along in their false gospel and in their evil of adding to the Word of God.  Yet, as far as God is concerned, the declaration of the Word of God plagued them, so there have been many plagues that have been poured out over the course of history as the judgment of God’s Word.

But now we are reading Revelation, chapter 15, which follows chapter 14, and continues the discussion of Judgment Day and in the day of the wrath of God the seven messengers of God are in possession of the seven last plagues and they are going to go forth, carrying these seven last plagues, and this is it – there will be no more plagues.  There will be nothing further, once these seven vials full of the wrath of God are poured out and this is what it says at the end of the verse in Revelation 15:1:

… for in them is filled up the wrath of God.