A Sea of Glass and the Plagues
Revelation 15
.Re 15:1 ¶ 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.   Sign As the woman and the dragon. See note 1a.
  Seven last plagues Literally, "seven plagues, the last." The Israelites were protected from the last seven of the ten plagues that fell on Egypt ex0823.
  Filled up the wrath The end-time wicked will be punished according to their guilt. See note 1b.
.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.   Sea of glass ... fire See note 2a.
  Victory over the beast ... image ... mark They will have resisted the most intense pressure to conform, note 2b.
  Harps of God Discussed as note 2c.
 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.   Song of Moses ... Lamb Following the story of singing after crossing the Red Sea, note 3a.
  And ... of the Lamb Did He also have a song? note 3b. The children of Israel were starting to cross the wilderness. The woman in Revelation 12 fled into the wilderness note 3c.
  Great and marvelous God delivered His people from Pharaoh with plagues as He will deliver His last generation, note 3d.
.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.   Who shall not fear thee See note 4.
  Only thou art holy See ps08602.
 5 ¶ And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:   Temple ... opened See note 5.
.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.   Seven angels ... beasts See note 6.
.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.   Vials Or "bowls" as seen in ex2703, nu0713. See note 7.
.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.   Temple ... smoke When there was no intercession. Human probation has closed. See note 8. Compare the idolatry in the temple ez0804.
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15:1, note a
Another sign

    "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." (Rev. 15:1).

   In chapter 12 we saw two other signs in heaven. The King James translation uses the word, "wonder," for them but the Greek word is the same, saimion. They were the woman and the dragon Rev. 12:1, 3.
   Although John saw seven angels with the seven plagues, I believe the sign of the Son of Man which Matthew wrote about describes the same force or situation. "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." (Matt. 24:29-31).

   In the previous vision John saw the Son of Man on the cloud. The mourning of all the tribes of the earth in Matthew's description helps us make the connection. We also saw this time in chapter 6, 6:17. On "all the tribes of the earth mourn," see quotation from Amos and comments.
   We will return briefly to this passage in Matthew but first let's recognize the players in the battle. The conflict is between Christ and Satan over human souls. All three players were in chapter 12, too, as you recall. The dragon wanted to devour the child but he was caught up to heaven. Here in chapter 15, things are different. The judgment is over and Christ has been crowned king. The victory of the cross has been validated, 14:20b. Having finished His work as Judge, He stands up as Michael for the faithful ones (Dan. 12:1). As Michael, He, with the righteous angels, had cast Satan out of heaven (12:7-9; Luke 10:18). Now He will cast him into the abyss (20:1-3).
   You and I are part of the third big player, the woman of chapter 12. The battle is over who we will worship. We may stand true in the strength of Christ, but not without a struggle putting that strength to work the way Jacob wrestled with the Angel. 8:1c.
    Looking back at the sign of the Son of Man in Matthew, we realize that the time of the great cataclysm of the last plagues is near. Most Christians teach that the tribulation is in the future. It would seem unusual to say that it is in the past. You might want to follow the link for my analysis. It is not popular to mention the atrocities of the middle ages when whole nations were wiped out because their version of Christianity was different and, during the periods of inquisition, untold millions were tortured for not conforming. The circumstances and the time frame are discussed under chapter 13. The tribulation was the second woe. I believe we are about to the end of the pause between the second and the third woes. The third, as I understand it, is the time of trouble including the plagues which help bring the curtain down on this world as we know it. (Rev. 11:14, 15).

   The sign of the plagues, the standing of Michael, the sign of the Son of Man, the third (and final) woe, and Christ taking over the kingdoms of this world all describe or introduce the same final event. Of course we can understand these things more clearly as they begin to happen. And there are more final event scenes. The time is near.

15:1 b
Wrath and final plagues

    "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." (Rev. 15:1).

   I hope you keep watching your Bible as you read what I have to say. And always pray before and while reading the Bible or listening to what anyone (like me) tells you about it. If you scan ahead, you will find the descriptions of the seven last plagues in the next chapter. If the Spirit who was directing John to write was going to describe the plagues, why did He show them to John in this first verse and then not begin the description until later?
   We noticed the same situation with the blowing of the seven trumpets. The trumpet angels were presented in an introductory capsule, 8:2a. Then the trumpets really began to blow.

In them, the wrath of God is filled up
   Or His wrath 14:9a is complete. More punishment comes at the end of the millennium when all the wicked are "devoured" (20:9) but for the end-time wicked, they will have been sufficiently punished for their role in the final assault against God and His people.

The plagues are like those of Egypt.
    We will learn more about them in chapter 16. For Egypt, see p-er-1.

15:2 a
The sea of glass

    "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. 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." (Rev. 15:2, 3)

   What a magnificent scene of victory! Do you remember the historical situation that the term, "song of Moses," might have drawn meaning from?
   "And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. (Continue reading in Exodus 14 ex1428-30).
   "Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea." Continue reading, ex1502-.

   Earlier in the story, Egypt had experienced ten plagues. Still Pharaoh rebelled against the plan of God and went in pursuit of the children of Israel. He, with his army drowned in the Red sea resulting in a final victory for the Lord who was protecting His people. In parallel here the seven last plagues will not change the hearts of the wicked who will finally be destroyed. You will find a chart comparing the two songs of Moses. ex15chart.

Standing on the sea
    "And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased." (Matt. 25:14-32)
   As we put away doubt, we may have the victory where Peter failed and one day stand on the sea of glass, free from the slavery of sin. Although we may now choose to resist temptation, one day the tempter with all his human and supernatural helpers will be no more. Some translations read, "beside the sea of glass." The Greek epi permits either. Of course the final message of victory is the same. The victorious children of Israel stood by the sea after their crossing. For more, see the note below.
   On "beast" see re1301b. On "image" see re1315a.

Why is the sea described as made of glass?
   I believe it is because the sea is now peaceful. The time of violent turmoil and rising beasts has forever passed, re1301.

Mingled with fire
   The wicked at the time of the flood and the Egyptian army were destroyed by water. The wicked at the end of the thousand years will be destroyed by fire. "And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them." (Rev. 20:9)
   I see this as the source for the term "lake of fire" (Rev. 20;15, etc.).

Related texts
   The sea of glass before the throne, Rev. 4:2, 3, 6; 5:6.
   The street of the city like transparent glass, 21:21.

15:2 b
Who are these victorious ones?

   The people of God here have faced the most intense test and have resisted false worship. Have we seen them before?
   "And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. . . . . and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne. . . . And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God." (Rev. 14:1-5).

   Before reading what I think, you might want to stop and study the two descriptions in your Bible. The Spirit must have had a reason for the two descriptions. First, the imagery is drawn from different sources. The chapter 14 group is pictured in the setting of those who have made it to the top of Zion (where Jerusalem was), perhaps as the remnant who have returned from captivity in Babylon. The scene in chapter 15, as we have noted, is seen in terms of those who have escaped from Egypt and have been saved from the armies who would return them to slavery. They stand on the far shore of the Red Sea.
   Both are end-time righteous people. Are they the same group? Notice one more contrast. The first group stands victorious "before the throne." They are shown to us as an introduction to the judgment announced by the first angel. Purity before the throne means that they are vindicated in judgment. The chapter 15 group have passed through a type of Red Sea experience having resisted the end time coercive forces including the beast and its image. Because we see them as if at the Red Sea, they would have had the experience of the plagues as well. At the end time, they will have endured the time of trouble which is the seven final plagues.
   Okay, here's how I see the comparison. In broad strokes they are both the 144,000. They are first seen on Zion with the Lamb in relation to the judgment, then having passed through the sea resisting the forces of evil. I suggest that those here who have escaped from "Egypt" are a subset of the 144,000. As you recall, the 144,000 are all who have responded to God's end-time call through the messages of the three angels, including those who would die before the coming of Jesus, 1413b.  Those in the second group will have actually passed through the "sea" of the time of trouble and stood firm against the massive and popular religious forces at the end of time.
   Precise identification here is less important than determination to be faithful. On how to have victory, see 1410a.

15:2, note c
The harps were God's

    "And I saw . . . them that had gotten the victory . . . stand on [beside] the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb. . . ." (Rev. 15:2, 3)

   Ownership of the harps is highlighted here by contrast to the ownership recorded in the chapter 14 introduction. ". . . And I heard a voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne. . . . (14:2, 3)
   The harps and the song of those on Zion was their own. The song after passing through the sea was "of Moses the servant of God, and . . . of the Lamb."  God is glorified in both texts. The emphasis of those facing the judgment is personal preparation (by God's strength). The emphasis in being brought through the sea is total dependence on God, who was the Lord of Moses, and on the Lamb. The tone caries on through verses 3 and 4.

Note on verse 2:
Interpretation Note - Sea of Glass
    I have considered that perhaps what is a sea of glass to those who are victorious over the beast becomes a lake of fire for those who bow to its demands. We get this idea from from the story of victory over the Egyptians at the Red Sea. The children of Israel stood beside the sea, not on it, when the water came over the Egyptians (Ex. 14, 15). Might the saints actually stand beside the sea in our picture here in Revelation? "Beside" and "on" translate the same Greek word, epi 1502a. The redeemed being "beside" the sea, however, presents a little problem since the sea is in front of the throne and would apparently separate them from it. The people could stand on it and still be around the throne. So, although the symbols here may be based on the Red Sea experience, my choice is the way the text is commonly translated "on the sea." "And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal, Rev. 4:6." The important thing is being there! Then we will understand.
    The sea of glass will surround the throne (Rev. 4:6) as water surrounded the ark when all the land was covered.  In both cases the wicked were destroyed. The sea of glass is the fire (Rev. 15:2) surrounding the "camp of the saints, the holy city." It will purify the earth.

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