Saturday, 24 April 2021
And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen, and having their chests girded with golden bands. Revelation 15:6
The previous verse noted that “the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened.” With that noted, it next says, “And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues.” It is reflective of the words of verse 8:2 –
“And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.”
Like there, it is debated who these angels are or represent. One thought is that they correspond to “the seven Spirits who are before His throne” of Revelation 1:4. It is the Lamb who opened the seven seals, releasing those judgments upon the earth. Likewise, it was probably the seven Spirits who were represented by the seven angels blowing the trumpets. This seems possible because the seven Spirits of God that are possessed by the Lord Jesus (see Revelation 3:1) are His “angels,” meaning “messengers,” of destruction upon the world that has rejected Him.
However, it must be noted that one of these seven angels is reintroduced in Revelation 21:9 and he continues to talk to John into Revelation 22. At one point he says, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God” (22:9). This seems to overthrow the notion that they are the seven Spirit of the Lord.
As these angels are to “pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth” (16:1), the thought of these angels representing the Lord has precedence in the Old Testament –
“How long, Lord?
Will You be angry forever?
Will Your jealousy burn like fire?
6 Pour out Your wrath on the nations that do not know You,
And on the kingdoms that do not call on Your name.
7 For they have devoured Jacob,
And laid waste his dwelling place.” Psalm 79:5-7
The pouring out of God’s wrath is also noted in 2 Chronicles 34:21 & 25, Psalm 69:24, Ezekiel 21:31 & 22:31, and Hosea 5:10. These and other references give a good clue that the seven angels are, again, representative of the seven Spirits of the Lord pouring out His wrath upon the world. The wrath is described as “plagues,” and each plague will be described in Chapter 16 as the bowl is poured out. These seven angels are next described by John, saying, “clothed in pure bright linen.”
There is a variation in some manuscripts. Instead of λίνον (linen), some manuscripts say λίθον (stone). If linen, it symbolizes sinless perfection, purity, and righteousness. It is a theme already seen numerous times in Revelation. If precious stone is intended, then it follows after the analogy found in Ezekiel 28:13 when describing the king of Tyre –
“You were in Eden, the garden of God;
Every precious stone was your covering:
The sardius, topaz, and diamond,
Beryl, onyx, and jasper,
Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold.”
The stone symbolism was also found in Revelation 2:17 –
“And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”
From this, John finishes the verse with, “and having their chests girded with golden bands.”
It is reflective of the words of verse 1:13, which said, “and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.” The gold bands represent divine/kingly authority to judge righteously.
There is a difference in this verse and in the words of verse 1:13. In verse 1:13, it used the Greek word mastos, or breasts. Here it uses the Greek word stéthos, or chest. Despite this, both words signify the same area, and they convey the same general thought. Thus, this does not argue against one interpreting the other.
Life application: What is coming with the pouring out of the bowls will be similar to the trumpet judgments but seemingly more severe. However, some look at the judgments as the same, but being represented from different viewpoints. In other words, the trumpets are viewed from an earthly vantage point as they blow upwards, and the bowls are from a heavenly vantage point as they are poured downwards.
It seems though that they are coming in sequence, and that they are similar, but not the same judgments. The trumpets were plagues of warning; the bowls are plagues of finality. What was rejected – in what occurred in the trumpets as divine judgment, and needing repentance – will be executed in complete and full strength in the outpouring of these bowls.
The times of tribulation are coming to their completion, and the world will suffer greatly because of their own foolish choices. What has been offered through God’s giving of His Son is rejected and only judgment is left. The world has long thought of the Lord as a cosmic pushover. They will find out that He is the Lord who Judges. He is JESUS.
O God, it seems hard to understand how anyone could look around and not see that the calamities of the coming tribulation period are anything but divine judgment. And yet, they will fail to open their eyes, refuse to call out for Jesus, and they will be judged for their unrighteousness. All we can do is say that You are right in Your judgments. Even so, come Lord Jesus. Amen.