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.