ANOTHER GREAT AND MARVELOUS SIGN
Rev 15:1-4 And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, 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. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are Thy ways, thou King of saints. 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.
As the vision from heaven continues to be revealed to the apostle John, he sees another extraordinary and wondrous sign in heaven. This prophetic sign was different from those of the past, and certainly more dynamic, and startling, in its character. He explains,and defines, the sign as great and marvelous. It excited his deepest imagination, and filled his mind with awesome astonishment, as if it were a panoramic view never before seen on earth by human eyes. Within this wonderful sign John sees seven angels - possibly the same seven angels of the seven churches of Asia (Rev. 1:1-4ff). Each of these seven angels, John tells us, was holding, or disclosing a plague - the seven last plagues. The word, translated here as "plagues," is found in no other New Testament book other than here in the Revelation letter. It carries the meaning of a blow, or a strike, inflicted on one that resulted in a serious scar or wound. In the context of the lesson scripture, it refers to a punishing calamity, or death, that would be inflicted by God against the oppressive, persecuting civil and religious powers the ruled Rome - in them is filled up the wrath of God.
In order to better understand the lesson text, as well as the following scriptures, it may help to review a few previous symbolic events that were recorded by the apostle John. This particular chapter of the Revelation begins an account of God's judgments against the imperialistic government of Rome and the papacy of the Roman Catholic Church, previously revealed as "the beast and its image and those who have the mark of the beast." The fourteenth chapter summarized the events that led to their being overthrown, which was symbolically known as the fall of spiritual Babylon. Prior to this we learned from John's vision that the seventh seal predicted the Christian triumph over Roman paganism. The seven trumpets symbolically revealed the overthrow of the western portion of the Roman Empire by the Goths, Vandals, and Huns, as well as the fall of the eastern Rome by invasions by the Saracens and Turks, which culminated in the closure of their secular history. Beginning with the fifteenth chapter and continuing through the nineteenth chapter, these same events are presented in much greater detail.
The lesson text continues with John's vision: And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire. In Revelation 4:6, John also saw before the throne (of God) ... a sea of glass like unto crystal. As discussed there, this is a symbol of peace, calmness, and purity. However, here in this particular context, it represents God's judgments. This sea of glass denotes the holy justice that will be administered by God to His righteous saints. Being mingles with fire tells us that part of God's judgments will demonstrate His wrath against the unrighteous men and women of the world, who reject Christ Jesus as the Savior, led others to do the same, and persecuted those that remained faithful to the cause of Christ. Opposition, at times extremely violent, had caused the children of God, the church of Christ, to seek hiding, and remain dormant, for over a thousand years, yet these enemies of Christ had failed to stamp out the spreading of the gospel of salvation to the world by His faithful, obedient followers. The redeemed, as noted in Revelation 14:1 - those standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion, could see in the near future a season of freedom and celebration. They now held in their view the approaching of a glorious victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, which symbolically represent the civil and religious leaders of Rome, as well as their followers, who were identified by the mark of ownership they wore.
In celebration of this grand and glorious event that prevailed on the horizon of time, they would sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb. The song of Moses was sung on the shores of the Red Sea after being delivered from Egyptian bondage, as confirmed in Exodus 15:1. However, here in the lesson text, that old Jewish song of victory had been emended to add the song of the Lamb. The song included praise, honor, and glory to the Redeemer and Savior, Jesus Christ, who had protected, and sustained, them in the great tribulation inflicted on them by the enemies of Christ during their 1,260-year persecution, by the anti-Christian powers of Rome.
The words of that song of triumphant deliverance are recorded here by the apostle John: Great and marvelous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are Thy ways, thou King of saints. 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. Justice was about to be served. To the persecuted, but faithful saints, deliverance from their enemies was promised, and eternal salvation would be their reward. But to their unrighteous persecutors, death and eternal torment would be their just reward. All sinners, those that failed to recognize God and submit to His commandments, will one day bow before His presence to receive the just judgment they brought upon themselves by their rebellious rejection of Christ Jesus as God's Son, and Savior of the world.