Sunday, November 27, 2011


As the 15th chapter of Revelation opens, John writes that God allowed him to see "another sign in heaven, great and marvelous" (Revlation 15:1). God used signs often throughout history to gain the attention of human beings. For example, God gave the sign of burning bush to Moses when He promised to deliver His people from Egyptian bondage. God also gave a sign to Gideon when He consumed his offering with fire, to validate His promise of deliverance from the Midianites.
In John's case, he saw "seven angels having the seven last plagues." The palgues are contained in bowls, and he recorded that "in them the wrath of God is complete" (Revelation 15:1). This great and marvelous sign of the seven angels, therefore, introduces the final outpouring of God's wrath against the sinful world.
When John writes here about God's wrath, it is significant that he uses a Greek word that connotes an outward expression of inward anger. Usually the word "wrath" suggests a slow, inward, boiling indignation. But in this case, "the wrath of God" describes the outworking of that anger in words or actions. Sin truly makes God angry, and the Bible records this fact repeatedly. "God's anger  was aroused" because of Balaam's stubbornness" (Number 22:22). Moses warned the Israelites to avoid idolatry, for to worship idols is "evil in the sight of the LORD your God, to provoke Him to anger" (Deuteronomy 4:25). The Israelites were to flee idolatry, "lest the anger of the LORD your God be aroused against you, and destroy you from the face of the earth" (Deuteronomy 6:15).
It is important to understand that God's anger is expressed against people. When David wondered whether people could sin and get away with it ("Shall they escape by iniquity?"), God inspired him to write the answer: "In anger cast down the peoples, O God" (Psalm 56:7). Jesus affirmed this truth when He taught that anyone who "does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the warth of God abides on him" (John 3:36). Another New Testament passage warns that "the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness" (Romans 1:18).
Revelation records that God's wrath is coming. The seven plagues about to be loosed in final judgment include loathsome sores (Revelation 16:2), the turning of the seas and then the fresh water into blood (Revelation 16:3-4), heat and fire (Revelation 16:8), darkness and pain (Revelation 16:10), the drying up of the great Euphrates River so that the armies of the world may be gathered for Amrageddon (Revelation 16:12), and the worst earthquake and hail in history (Revelation 16:18). Men will try to hide from God in that day, but He will not cease until His wrath is completely spent on sinful people.
After John saw the seven angels holding bowls full of God's complete wrath, he reported,
"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 described a similar sea in heaven surrounding the throne of God (Revelation 4:6). In both cases, we might conclude that the crystalline quality of these seas represents purity from sin. if so, this sea of glass will be fitting place for the redeemed people of the Tribulation to stand before God. Little wonder that these Tribulation saints, "having the harps of God," will start to sing "the song of Moses" and "the song of the LAMB" (Revelation 15:2-3). We do not know what the song of the LAMB will be, although clearly it will be a song of praise to Christ for His sacrifice. The song of Moses, however, has a precedent in Scripture. This "servant of God" sang a song at the end of his wilderness journey, just before God took him home. "Then Moses spoke in the hearing of all the assembly of Israel, the words of this song until they were ended" (Deuteronomy 31:30).
In this song, Moses praises God as faithful and dependable (Deuteronomy 32:1-6), and as a God who provides for His people (7-14) in spite of the fact that they are often unthankful (15-18) and would later prove unfaithful. God would punish His people by displaying His love for the Gentiles, thus moving Israel to jealousy (19-21), and by bringing calamity upon Israel (22-35). Moses' song ends by declaring that God will redeem His own (36-39) and take vengeance on His enemies (41).
Like the song of Mises, the song sung by those redeemed from the Tribulation will praise God for His might and power.
"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! Who shall not fear You, O LORD, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, for Your judgments have been manifested.' " (Revelation 15:3-4)
This joyous song acknowledges God's great works, mighty power, justice, authority, and holiness. The saints singing in heaven teach the very  important lesson that prasie from redeemed people does not focus on self. There is no hint that anyone in heaven will complain about God's judgment on sin and sinners (although many on earth today are against at the thought of such judgment). None of the redeemed will complain that God allowed them to experience persecution in the Tribulation (although many today complain about their difficult circumstances and blame God for them).
The song of the saints in heaven will conclude that God is worthy to be feared. that fear is founded on an awesome respect for God's person and power, as well as dread of losing fellowship with the One who loves us. A right view of God compels us to glorify and reflect Him in what we think, say, and do. And this truth leads to a question: If you are uncomfortable or resentful with God for pouring out His just wrath in judgment against sin, how will you have a place in heaven with people who will praise His name because of that very same wrath? Indeed, how can you give God true worship today?
(an extract from TRUE WORSHIP by David Whitcomb and Mark Ward, Sr.)

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