Revelation 15:3

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying:
“Great and marvelous are Your works,
Lord God Almighty!
Just and true are Your ways,
O King of the saints! Revelation 15:3

John just noted those “who have victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name.” He also noted that they had harps of God. Of them, he now says, “They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God.” The term “servant of God” is fittingly applied to Moses, having been called the Lord’s servant several times in the Old Testament (see Exodus 14:31, Numbers 12:7, and Psalm 105:26). He is referred to in this manner in Hebrews 3:5 as well.

Of this, Ruckman says, “Here is another verse that proves that no Christian goes through the Tribulation. The people in verse 2 [sic] sing ‘the song of Moses’ (the Mosaic Law) and ‘the song of the Lamb’ (Jesus Christ dying for sinners – John 1:29). That’s works and faith … No Christian has any business singing ‘the Song of Moses” at all.”

While it is true that pre-tribulation Christian believers will not go through the tribulation (in part or in whole), the logic Ruckman uses is faulty. Citing the Song of Moses is not a works-based statement. Rather, it is a note of fulfilled prophecy.

There are two songs of Moses recorded in the Old Testament. The first is in Exodus 15 when the children of Israel were led out of bondage and through the Red Sea to safety. The great world power that had hold over Israel was crushed and defeated by the Lord. The second is recorded in Deuteronomy 31 and 32. It details the history of the people of Israel from the time they enter the Promised Land through to the end of the ages. Which Song of Moses is being referred to? Actually, both fit the mold of what is said. However, it is surely the latter song that is first and foremost being considered.

The people in this verse are “those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name.” In the final verse of the song recorded in Deuteronomy 31, we read these words –

“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people;
For He will avenge the blood of His servants,
And render vengeance to His adversaries;
He will provide atonement for His land and His people.” Deuteronomy 32:43

To ensure we don’t make the error Ruckman has made, Paul even cites this verse, speaking of believers in the church age, in Romans 15:10. Moses prophesied of a time when the Gentiles would rejoice along with the people of Israel. That time came when Christ fulfilled and set aside the Mosaic Covenant, and established the New Covenant in His blood.

Further, the words of Deuteronomy 32 refer to avenging “the blood of His servants.” This is exactly what is being pictured as these martyrs stand on the glassy sea. Thus, both Jews and Gentiles can sing the Song of Moses (Rejoice, O Gentiles with His people), “and the song of the Lamb” (You are worthy to take the scroll…) as is recorded in Revelation 5:9, 10.

Of the words “the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb,” Vincent’s Word Studies says, “There are not two distinct songs. The song of Moses is the song of the Lamb.” This is true in the sense that all of the words of Moses ultimately refer to the work of God in Christ. Thus, songs such as are found in Exodus 15, Deuteronomy 32, and Revelation 5 all build upon the same theme – the greatness of the Lord God.

Of this song, these people on the glassy sea are “saying: ‘Great and marvelous are Your works.’” It is a note of great exultation and awed wonder at the workings of God in Christ. This is not merely a praise to God for what He has created, but what He has done within the created order. It speaks of the redemptive process that began at the fall of man and which continues through the tribulation period itself. The words follow after other such praises recorded in the Old Testament, such as Psalm 111:2, Psalm 139:14, and 1 Chronicles 16:9. These praises are to the “Lord God Almighty!”

The Greek reads Kyrie ho Theos ho Pantokratōr – “Lord the God the Almighty.” The word Pantokratōr, or “Almighty,” was used in Revelation 1:8 when referring to Jesus. It was used again in verse 4:8 where it was clearly referring to Jesus again. And then again, in verse 11:17, it is used when referring to Jesus. Each of these uses can clearly be identified as referring to Jesus from the surrounding context. The same is true here. It is God, working in Christ, that is on display in this song now being set forth before us. John continues with, “Just and true are Your ways.”

This is a note of God’s dealings with humanity. Though these are a part of the very nature of God, there is no need for justice and truth to be spoken of in relation to the creation apart from man. Only man is cognizant of the intimate relationship that should exist between him and his Creator. Of His just nature, the words are reflective of Romans 3 –

“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26

Of His truthful nature, the words are reflective of Romans 2 –

“Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.” Romans 2:1, 2

In God, there is only justice and truth. With this stated, the verse finishes with, “O King of the saints!” In these words, there is a variation in manuscripts. Some say “saints” while others say “nations.” This may be a citation from Jeremiah 10:7. If so, then “nations” is the preferred reading. That will be seen in the analysis of the coming verse.

In the end, both are true at the end of the tribulation. At this time, Christ is the King of the saints, having called a people to Himself in holiness. When the tribulation period ends (which is presupposed by this song), Christ will rule over all nations. This is clearly seen in the 2nd Psalm, but it is also explicitly stated in Isaiah 2 (and as is repeated in Micah 4) –

“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days
That the mountain of the Lord’s house
Shall be established on the top of the mountains,
And shall be exalted above the hills;
And all nations shall flow to it.
Many people shall come and say,
“’Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” Isaiah 2:2, 3

Life application: Ultimately, God is the One who delivers His people, but he used Moses to lead the people of Israel, and He came in the Person of Jesus to redeem all of the people of the world – becoming our sacrificial Lamb in order to redeem us from the power of sin and death. The tribulation saints will be a mixture of both Jew and Gentile. Together, they will sing a song of both Moses and the Lamb with the praise being directed to the Lord God Almighty.

In the Old Testament, the “Almighty” is El Shaddai who first appeared to Abraham. He is the God of power and protection. The people sing of his just and true ways because it is He who has both the right and the authority to judge the world in righteousness. As the King of the saints, He is the One who rules over His redeemed. Paul says that in order to be saved one must “call on the name of the Lord.” This act acknowledges that Jesus Christ is Lord over all things, and thus our Sovereign, our King.

If you are struggling with the deity of Jesus Christ, all you need to do is to compare terminology throughout the Bible, which describes God and which also describes Jesus. The Bible consistently bestows upon Jesus the same terminology that is given to God (or the Lord, meaning YHVH, of the Old Testament). There can be no mistaking who Jesus reveals and who He is. Have faith and don’t be misdirected by those who haven’t taken the time or effort to determine the truth of the second member of the Trinity. He is the God/Man. He is JESUS!

Surely, You are great and glorious O God! From You comes all power, honor, glory, and majesty. To You we look for our protection and provision. We also come to You in gratitude for every good blessing that flows from Your open hand of grace. Yes! Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God Almighty. Hallelujah and Amen.

 

 

Revelation 15:2

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. Revelation 15:2

John just saw the vision of the seven angels having the seven last plagues. His eyes now redirect to a glorious sight, and he writes, “And I saw something like a sea of glass.” In verse 4:6, it is said that there was a sea of glass before the throne, like crystal. In 13:1, a beast was rising up out of the sea. In 17:1, there will be the great harlot who sits on many waters.

In these visions, one can see the difference between the peaceful, translucent sea of heaven and the chaotic sea of humanity. Like in verse 4:6, the word translated as “glass” is an adjective. Therefore, it more rightly says, “a glassy sea.” The word describes the appearance, not the material. It isn’t that the sea is solid glass, but it is as smooth and tranquil as glass. The description here speaks of purity and clarity. Because of the contrast to the sea of fallen humanity, it must also speak of tranquility and calm. Along with this, John says it is “mingled with fire.”

As fire speaks of judgment and purification, this fire most probably reflects the purification process that the martyrs, next to be mentioned, received. As John says, “and those who have the victory over the beast.” The words are not in accord with the Greek. In the Greek, the verb is a present participle. It more rightly says, “and those conquering out of the beast.”

They were under the rule and authority of the beast. And yet, in their refusal to submit to taking the mark or worshiping the beast, they were conquering out of the beast. It demonstrates the superlative nature of their victory and the putting of allegiance to Christ above their own lives. This is evidenced in the next words as John then says, “over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name.”

This was the requirement for life under the beast – submission. They were to worship his image, and they were to acknowledge that allegiance by accepting “the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (13:17). Any person who would not worship the image was to be killed (13:15), and any person who would not receive the mark could not buy or sell (13:17).

The irony of the plight of the people under the beast is that if they submit to him, they will find life that leads to death, but for those who rather submit to Christ, they will find death that leads to life. Those who follow after the beast will avoid the judgment of the beast, but they will face the judgment of God apart from Christ. Those who submit only to Christ will receive the judgment of the beast, but they will then be imputed Christ’s righteousness purchased at the cross of Christ.

Of these who are conquering out of the beast, John says they are “standing on the sea of glass.” The Greek again uses the same adjective as before, reading, “standing on the sea of the glassy.” Here the verb is a perfect participle. They are conquering out of the beast, and they are standing upon the glassy sea. There is total victory for them as they are purified by their faith in Christ and as they now stand in that state in a place of tranquility.

In these words, Revelation 15 corresponds to the fifteenth letter of the Hebrew aleph-bet. The fifteenth letter, samech, pictures a thorn. It signifies “grab,” “hate,” and “protect.” It has the literal meaning of “a support.” In this verse is found the sea of glass upon which those who refuse the mark stand, representing their support. John then says of them, “having harps of God.”

The harps have been seen in verse 5:8 with the twenty-four elders. They were again seen in 14:2 with the “harpists playing their harps” when the one hundred and forty-four thousand stood on Mount Zion with the Lamb. They are mentioned again now. In the next verse, the purpose of the harps will be seen.

Life application: In verse 14:13, John recorded the words – “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” The people seen in this verse are those very people. They were willing to die for the sake of eternal life, rather than throw their allegiance in with the devil and his crew. They are in a place of calm and serenity, having been purified and are acceptable to God for worship.

At the end of the tribulation period, these souls will receive the physical resurrection of the dead, and they will never be able to die again. It is a fitting and wondrous reward for their willingness to die for the sake of the gospel, instead of living for the sake of temporary life on earth.

The Bible stands as a witness to the faithful workings of God in redemptive history, calling people back to Himself through the giving of His Son. Let us be wise. Let us call out for His saving offer. Let us call out today for JESUS.

Heavenly Father, even now – before the time of tribulation – we have many hard choices to make. Walking with and in Jesus Christ is not always easy, but it is of infinite worth. Thank You for calling us out of darkness and into Your marvelous light. And we pray for those who are currently facing the same decision. May they do what is right by calling on Jesus! Amen.

 

 

Revelation 15:1

Monday, 19 April 2021

Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete. Revelation 15:1

Chapter 14 ended with the vision of the harvest of the grapes being cast into the winepress of God and being trampled out. With that complete, John’s attention is once again directed, saying, “Then I saw another sign in heaven.”

The last time a similar statement was made was in Chapter 12 with the sign of the woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. That was immediately followed by the sign of the great fiery red dragon.

As in Chapter 12, the contents of this chapter will be a type of brief interlude. Before that occurs, however, John will first see a precursor concerning the subject which will follow. This sign is, as John says, “great and marvelous.”

The word translated as “marvelous” signifies something awe-evoking. It is something that will move “the beholder to their deepest emotions” (HELPS Word Studies). It will be used one more time in verse 15:3. John next says what the sign is, saying, “seven angels having the seven last plagues.” The Greek reads more precisely – “angels seven having plagues seven: the last.”

There was the breaking of the seals and there was the sounding of the trumpets. Now, another course of plagues is set to come upon the earth. In them, there is finality to the process. Of these plagues, John next tells the reader why these are the last seven plagues with the words “for in them the wrath of God is complete.”

The Greek reads with an aorist verb, “was complete.” This is known as a prophetic aorist. What John is seeing is as if it is already accomplished. Even if the details are coming later, the vision is as if already fully displayed. The description of them, however, will be presented in succession for the reader to follow along.

In the presentation of these seven angels, the fulfillment of all of the calamities of the tribulation period will be ended. In beholding this, John is awestruck.

Life application: As will be seen, the coming judgment will be in the form of bowls. Some translations say “vials,” but these are large containers signifying a great amount of outpouring. The actual outpouring will start in chapter 16.

How often has the cliché been stated, “I believe in the loving God of the New Testament, but not in the wrathful God of the Old Testament.” This type of naïveté stems from people who have never taken the time to read the Bible. The same God is portrayed in both Testaments – He doesn’t change and there isn’t more than one God.

In both Testaments, we see all of God’s attributes – His love, grace, mercy, righteousness, justice, holiness, and truth. None of the attributes are elevated above any others. Instead, they stem from and define His very nature. God can’t sacrifice His justice in order to be loving. He can’t give up His righteousness in order to be merciful. All of His attributes must be satisfied in His dealings with man.

Only at the cross are all men reconciled. Therefore, it is the cross where God’s holy nature has been met on our behalf. If we reject the cross, then the wrath that was poured out on His Son must be poured out on us. Such is the nature of God and such is the reason that there is only one way to be reconciled to Him. This is through faith and the accepting of the Gift of His Son, JESUS.

Lord, You have shown us the path to peace by sending Your Son in the likeness of man and then making Him the atoning sacrifice for our sins. As amazing as it is, so many fail to accept this glorious offer of peace. In this, they remain outside of Your mercy. Please give us the wisdom, words, and desire to be able to rightly explain the significance of the cross to others so that they may be saved. Amen.

 

 

Revelation 14:20

Sunday, 18 April 2021

And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs. Revelation 14:20

The description of this verse follows in thought with the previous two so closely that they should be read together –

“And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.” 19 So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.”

The imagery is that of immense carnage as the wrath of God is unleashed upon those who are to be destroyed. John writes, “And the winepress was trampled outside the city.” The city here is Jerusalem, not Babylon. This will be seen later as the location of the battle is named in Chapter 16. Of this coming carnage, John next says, “and blood came out of the winepress.”

The imagery has gone from grapes (that are full of juice) to humans (that area full of blood). In other words, the imagery of the grapes is that of humans being crushed as if they were tossed into a giant press. Hence, the symbolism from Isaiah 63, cited in the previous verse, is that of the Lord stomping on His enemies and splattering His garments with blood. So great will be the issue of blood that John says it will flow “up to the horses’ bridles.”

The height of a horse’s bridle is about four feet. The reason for including this particular measurement is probably because of what it says in Revelation 19 –

“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.” Revelation 19:11-14

In other words, the measurement is given as a prophetic advance. John is seeing the vision of the height in relation to the horses now, but the description of the return of the Lord with the armies of heaven will only come later. Of this flow of blood, John says it will flow “for one thousand six hundred furlongs.”

A furlong is six hundred six- and three-quarter feet. Thus, there are eight furlongs in a mile. One thousand six hundred furlongs would equal two hundred miles. The amount of blood required for this to occur depends on several factors. One analysis is linked here to show how few bodies it actually takes to produce this much blood – http://www.ecalpemos.org/2006/09/how-many-people-will-die-at-battle-of.html

However, this only takes into account the two measurements. Is this speaking of a flow one foot wide? Is it a flow ten feet wide? And so on. It also does not account for blood soaking into the earth, and etc. The idea of the vision that John is describing is that of bodies heaped upon bodies and blood flowing out of them, even filling the entire area where they have been gathered.

The number itself, one thousand six hundred, is a multiple of four (four x four hundred). Four is the world number. Four hundred is the product of eight and fifty, and is “a divinely perfect period” (Bullinger). Hence, the judgment upon the world has come at its appointed time. The battle will be complete in its effectiveness in destroying the enemy, and when it is over, a new era will be ushered in.

Life application: Later in Revelation, this battle will be called Armageddon. The book of Joel says that it will be in the valley of Jehoshaphat – the valley where the Lord Judges.

Because this is a battle being waged by humans, it involves their own free will to come into this valley to fight. In other words, God is looking into the future and sees the inevitable result of how things will turn out because of human wickedness and a rejection of following His warnings. Israel is the key to these prophetic events. Thus, the eschatological (or “end times”) view of prophecy, which sees the land and the people of Israel being at the center stage of prophecy, is the only one that makes sense.

And God knowing all things in advance has returned His people to their land to bring about the astonishing fulfillment of these things. The grape harvest, which is this great battle, will come about as the armies of the world come into the land and engage in combat outside Jerusalem – geographically centered among the nations and also literally centered as the focus of the Bible.

As noted above, the symbolism of the winepress becomes clear in this verse. The “wine” is symbolic of blood. The pressing of the grapes represents the death of the humans engaged in this battle.

The battle, as is recorded here, has never occurred in the past. Thus, two main options must be considered. The first is to say that this is merely symbolic of God’s judgment, or the second is to say that the words are to be taken literally. Either option is possible, but due to the size of the land, the layout as it is described, the numbers and descriptions provided, and so on, the scope of the battle should probably be taken at face value.

Hence, the scene described here should be taken to represent actual numbers in a real battle that will really be waged in the land of Israel. The Day of the Lord is coming, and even now the news reports of the world are beginning to show the move toward their completion.

As this is so, the rapture of the church is coming closer each moment. The events of human history are coming to a climax, and what once seemed unlikely and only symbolic of something else now seems both possible and realistic. Let us take stock of our lives, consider our eternal destiny, and turn to God now – before it is too late. He has made the offer of peace and reconciliation. Let us be wise and accept it now. Let us turn to JESUS!

Lord God, You already know what is coming. The span of time is meeting up with recorded prophecy so that the two appear to be meeting in the near future. You also know each and every soul who will be saved from and out of those things. We can trust that You are working out a great salvation even in the face of coming global disaster. Help each of us to do our part to share the message of love and redemption found in the Person of Jesus before that day arrives. Amen.

 

 

Revelation 14:19

Saturday, 17 April 2021

So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. Revelation 14:19

In the previous verse, the order was given to harvest the fully ripe grapes. With that spoken forth, John records, “So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth.” The idea is that of the Lord’s judgment being directed to the spot on the earth where these calamitous events will take place. There, the fury of the Lord at the wickedness of man will find its release. As John next says, “and gathered the vine of the earth.”

The meaning is that of the fruit of the vine, meaning the fully ripe grapes. The earth is set for judgment, the wickedness has reached its full measure, and the vine will be harvested. In this action, John next notes, “and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.”

The Greek reads more forcibly, “the winepress, the great winepress, of the wrath of God.” A winepress is where wine is stomped out or crushed in some other manner. The judgment of the nations has come, and those who have rejected Jesus and come against His people will be slain. The imagery seen here will be fully explained later in Revelation. At this time, we are being given a panoramic overview.

A wine press is a place where all the grapes were gathered for processing. There, they are stomped on or crushed in some other way in order to make them burst. In the previous verse, Joel 3 was cited, showing that this will be located in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, meaning “God judges.”

In the end times, God is going to gather the nations of the world to one location and bring them into judgment. It will be in the place of God’s judgment, and it will be because they have divided the land – God’s land – which He has given it to the people of Israel.

In ancient times, once grapes were gathered into a single location, usually a large vat, there was a great celebration as the people came and stomped on them to release the juice from the ready-to-burst skins. As the grapes of this harvest symbolically represent people filled with wickedness, the imagery becomes obvious. There will be the utter destruction of countless numbers of people in this great battle of the future. Isaiah 63 ascribes the event, showing that it is the Lord’s Messiah, Christ Jesus, who will accomplish this –

“Who is this who comes from Edom,
With dyed garments from Bozrah,
This One who is glorious in His apparel,
Traveling in the greatness of His strength?—
‘I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.’
Why is Your apparel red,
And Your garments like one who treads in the winepress?
‘I have trodden the winepress alone,
And from the peoples no one was with Me.
For I have trodden them in My anger,
And trampled them in My fury;
Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments,
And I have stained all My robes.
For the day of vengeance is in My heart,
And the year of My redeemed has come.
I looked, but there was no one to help,
And I wondered
That there was no one to uphold;
Therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me;
And My own fury, it sustained Me.
I have trodden down the peoples in My anger,
Made them drunk in My fury,
And brought down their strength to the earth.’” Isaiah 63:1-6

Life application: The world at large generally looks at Jesus as a cosmic pushover. The focus is heavily on His forgiving nature. Their thought is that because He died for sin, sin can then be overlooked, and even reveled in. But this attitude dismisses His righteousness. The fact that He died for sin demonstrates that sin is appalling to Him.

God has offered peace to all people through the death of His Son. It is an offer for forgiveness of the sins we have committed. Either our sins are judged in Him at the cross of Calvary, or they will be judged in us individually. The choice is ours, let us take heed and accept His great forgiveness now.

God has provided the way of peace and reconciliation with Him, but someday, that same One will come again. When He does, it will not be to atone for sin, but to judge it. He is the One that God has appointed for all such matters related to sin. He is JESUS.

Lord Jesus, I stand in awe of the love You have for the people of the world. What we rightly deserve is to be destroyed through judgment and wrath because of our sins. But You have offered us reconciliation with God through Your own shed blood. What a great, tender, and loving Lord! I accept Your offer – Yes, I accept the cross of Calvary for my sin-debt. Amen.