A beast gives the bowls
"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. And the temple was filled with smoke. . . ." (Rev. 15:7, 8).
Beasts and bowls
The word "beast" is not a good modern translation. The Greek word for the "beast" from the sea and the other bad ones is different. The original text actually says "living ones" 0406a. Also, the word for "vials," is better translated "bowls."
Several times in Revelation we see either an elder or a living one present a scene to the apostle or have a special part to play. Here a living one gives plague bowls to the angels. Notice that the ever-living God provides bowls of wrath which the living ones give to the angels to pour out on those who have chosen not to live.
In the final struggle,
the righteous are witnesses against the evil they endure
God will help the people of the end time know when it is time to call for His vengeance. This certainly wouldn't be from hatred for their oppressors, because hatred is the sin of killing (1 John 3:15). Sin brings dishonor to God and it results in misery and death to the wicked themselves. The righteous will call for an end to the work of evil. God will do this when all the wicked have made a permanent decision to remain wicked. "It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law. Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold." (Ps. 119:126, 127). Notice that the reason for the plea is because of making void the law (compare Dan. 7:25).
In the last struggle, the forces of evil will establish the image to the beast. This image will call for worship to itself and to the beast, 1315. And what do we mean by "worship." What will be the issues of faithfulness which the true and the false worship systems expect of their adherents. Turn back to where we studied these. You will probably want to read the whole page. Also see 1407h. With the current movement toward promoting and even forcing worship, this is very significant.
The bowls are full
The wicked, under the popular religious system, will have filled their cups of iniquity. God, in His infinite fairness, also has containers: gold bowls ("vials" in KJV) described as "the cup of His indignation." These are filled as the records are examined in the judgment. It is time for the wicked to receive the results of their wickedness, At the time of our passage, God's containers will be full; the wrath of God complete, ready to be poured out. See on 1409c or read the whole page.
Did you notice that the angels came out of the temple with the plagues, then were given bowls of wrath by one of the four living ones? We may compare this scene to the one in chapter 7 where four angels hold the four winds which they will release when the righteous have been sealed. When God's full cup of indignation, seen here as the full bowls to be released, is full, the righteous will have been sealed 0702b, and His law violated with a complete defiance. This is when judgment ends.
Smoke in the temple
"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." (Rev. 15:8)
We see here an unprecedented
time when God will exercise His glory — glory in the righteousness of His
character. He will stand in full power against the enemies of His people.
"And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book." (Dan. 12:1). Also see re0805.
The temple is
full of smoke
This temple is full at the same time the bowls are full. The full bowls respond to the completeness of the wickedness as we have seen. Our planet will again reach the point of the antediluvians (those who lived before the flood). See ge0603-5.
So what does the temple being full of smoke mean? It's a parallel situation for the righteous. The sealed ones are fully prepared for harvest, re1415.
"And he [Aaron who represented Christ as high priest] shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail: And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not:" (Lev. 16:12, 13).
"And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake." (Rev. 8:3, 4).
Do you see what is pictured
here with the temple full of smoke? Above, we first looked at the sanctuary
plan with Aaron taking incense and entering the most holy place on the
Day of Atonement which was the climax of the mediation process of getting
rid of sin. We saw that this special day, in the actual playing out of
the process, represents a period of time ending with the close of human
probation and the return of Christ.
The angel in the second passage above (8:3, 4) was given "much incense." The saints prayed earnestly, thus smoke of Christ's merits to mix with these prayers to the Father in heaven. Looking at our current passage, when the temple is full, no more smoke is added and the process ends.
No one can enter until the plagues are fulfilled
Let's explore what it means to enter so we will know what we will be missing during this time when smoke fills the temple. Have you ever taken a space trip to heaven and knocked on the temple door to talk to God? No. A look at the sanctuary on earth will help us understand. The sinner's responsibility was to bring the sacrifice animal (Lev. 4) or simply to worship at the times of the morning and evening sacrifices which were made every day (Ex. 29:38-43). In a sense however, he did enter the tabernacle. He went in by the agency of the priest who represented him before God. This pictures Christ who stands before the Father for you and me. On the day of atonement, the people were to afflict their souls [fasting and praying in humility]. Why? because they were standing in front of the judgment seat through the agency of the high priest who stood before the ark. If they did not sincerely want the cleansing promised through the ministry in the most holy place, they would not receive it and would be cut off from the camp (Lev. 23:27-32). Jesus died in our place and He intercedes (or pleads our case) in our place. In this way we go into the sanctuary. We may do so boldly. Image from Corel.
"Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb. 4:14-16). We speak of prayer as going to the "throne of grace." Here we see how it happens.
So what meaning do we see in not being able to enter? We see that the time of intercession has ended. In this sense the sealed ones are prepared to stand alone before God, not because they save themselves, but because Christ has already done a complete work in them. It will be a time of heart searching – the time of silence in heaven for the righteous, until the time of the last plague. Then will be the noise.
During the seven plagues, no one can (or will want to) come to God. After they are completed, it will certainly be too late. May we each be on God's side during that fearful time.