Today: [Revelation 15:] The Many Sevens of Revelation. In this chapter, we see seven angels with seven plagues and seven vials. What do all these sevens represent? As their meaning is revealed, the presence of God is manifest as at no other time in human history while the redeemed are gathered standing witness to the scene.
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[Rev 15:1-8 KJV] 1 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. 2 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. 3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous [are] thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true [are] thy ways, thou King of saints. 4 Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for [thou] only [art] holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest. 5 And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened: 6 And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles. 7 And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever. 8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.
At the end of chapter 14, there were two great ingatherings, one redemptive in nature and the latter an operation of God’s judgments. Now in v. 1 of chapter 15, John sees a new sign in heaven of an angel with seven last plagues described as filled with the wrath of God. We have seen a succession of sevens throughout Revelation:
Churches Rev. 1:4; 2:1-3:22
Letters Rev. 2:1- 3:22
Spirits Rev. 1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 5:6
Golden lampstands Rev. 1:12, 20; 2:1; 4:5
Stars Rev. 1:16, 20; 2:1; 3:1
Seals Rev. 5:1; 5:5; 6:1
Horns Rev. 5:6
Eyes Rev. 5:6
Angels Rev. 8:2, 6; 15:1, 6, 7; 15:8; 16:1; 17:1; 21:9
Trumpets Rev. 8:2, 6
Thunders Rev. 10:3, 4
Thousand people Rev. 11:13
Heads Rev. 12:3; 13:1; 17:3, 7, 9
Crowns Rev. 12:3
Plagues Rev. 15:1, 6, 8; 21:9
Golden bowls Rev. 15:7; 16:1; 17:1; 21:9
Hills Rev. 17:9
Kings Rev. 17:10, 11
Last seven visions Chapters 20-21
The total number of explicit sevens in Revelation is 19, and this mention of seven plagues is the 15th seven which happens to be in the 15th chapter. The Hebrew expression for number 15 is “Yod Hey,” and its symbolism conveys the thought of “coming short of a new direction in God.” That fact that it shows up in the 15th chapter speaks of a season in the earth of coming short amidst a people that have been weighed in the balances and found wanting.
What does it mean to come up short? My wife puts it this way: “ don’t stay too long at the dance…” There are many instances of this in scripture such as John the Baptist who couldn’t make the transition from Old Testament thinking to the New Covenant paradigm in Christ. Judas couldn’t let go of his Zionist mentality and resulting in his joining the conspiracy to crucify Christ. Esau missed out on God because he couldn’t adjust his character and personality to the demands of what was really going on in his family life.
In our own life Kitty and I just experienced a dear friend whose life has taken a devasting turn after flying out to see us twice in that last few months and the overwhelming word to him was to make a significant shift, i.e., not to stay too long at the dance or in the situation he was in. The result for this person was catastrophic.
What about you? What has God been speaking to you and prompting you to move forward in and you’ve consistently come up with rationalizations resulting in delay. Esau did this and then when the situation blew up in his face he sought a place of repentance and found it not. The children of Isreal missed God’s timing the first time they were to enter Canaan. They quickly realized they made a mistake and were defeated by their enemies resulting in a 40-year unnecessary delay. We know a man who was always fond of asserting his alleged prophetic authority by declaring “you listen to me – this is all about God’s timing!” He missed God’s timing to deal with something in his life, and now he is in prison with a lengthy sentence that he likely won’t live to see the end of. I missed God’s timing when Kitty and I were dating and came very close to missing out on having her in my life. This was the most brutal season of all my days and what it took to break out of that inevitable downward spirit was nothing less than miraculous.
What is God telling you to do? The clock is ticking — no more excuses. Either stay being in the familiar territory of a waste howling wilderness or move forward in God. You know you have missed or about to miss the plan of God. Act now. You cannot let the family be an excuse. Or your job. Or your current commitments or obligations. Stop listening to the counsel of those who cannot give you what they do not have. You may love them but they are do-nothings who have decided there is nothing to do. You have to move, and in Jesus’ name I call for the shift in your life right now, and it begins not with passive waiting but taking action RIGHT now before you miss the opportunity God has placed in front of you.
John then sees a sea of glass mingled with fire and all those who have gained victory over the beast join together there with the one that sits on the throne. What is the beast? The one with many names (denomis) written upon it where the great harlot sits with the cup of the blood of the martyrs. Have you overcome the beast? Would you relinquish your Christianity for Christ? Some would object that isn’t necessary. Tell that to the first century Jew. Only the Jew who abandoned his Judaism and his religious culture and tradition could have what God placed before that nation in Christ. Are you willing to go out – to go all the way out to Him outside the camp? If so then the gilded invitation awaits at the door to this scene for you are numbered among those standing upon this sea of glass mingled with fire. Hurry now – the choir director is calling us to order for we are about to sing.
In v. 3 this company sings the song of Moses together with the song of the Lamb extolling the Lord God Almighty whose ways are just and true – the king of all saints. As this company thunders forth their praise in choral strains never heard by mortal men, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened. What is this? It is none other than the Ark of the Covenant that disappeared in Solomon’s day. Where did it go? Did it go to a medieval chapel in England or Ireland? Did it go to a shrine in Ethiopia surrounded by guards with submachine guns? Is it in a hidden chamber in the Temple mount or a cave under the hill of Golgotha? Next time someone speculates where the tabernacle of testimony (the ark of the Covenant is) put your Indiana Jones hat on and pull out Rev. 15:5 and show them you know exactly where it may be found. It is hidden in Christ in God – in the macrocosm in that ethereal realm known as the third heaven, in microcosm is sits open within the chamber of your own heart where God sits, and the Lamb seated on the throne of yieldedness within you.
When the tabernacle of witness is opened seven angels come out carrying seven plagues. When the seven angels carrying these plagues appear one of the four living creatures additionally hands them seven vials full of the wrath of God. What does this tell us? That the wrath of God is not non-existent. It has been held in the heavens for an appointed time after the reaping of the redeemed to their place of safety in God’s throne. When the seven angels with the seven plagues receive the seven vials the temple of God is filled with smoke generated from the intensity of the glory of God and the power resonating from the Father’s person. In this atmosphere, no man can approach or enter until the seven angels fulfilled their tasks.
Why does God make it briefly so no man can approach? It has to do with God’s covenantal relationship with the believer. If you saw this happening what would you do? Remember Abraham who saw God moving in the form of three angels to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah? (See Gen. 18:17-26). When God showed up to see His covenant partner Abraham, He said: “should I hide from you what I am about to do?” He does not hide what His plan is, and because he reveals it, Abraham asks and receives a measure of clemency at least where Lot was concerned. What about the seven plagues? God brings a cloud of smoke and an obscuring of what is about to happen in such a way that none of his covenant partners may enter (for what end) to intercede regarding what is about to happen.
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