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.