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Notes for

The Revelation

Chapter Fifteen

1. With the introduction of these angels, John is shown a new aspect of the story, for these angels do not give warnings like those with the trumpets of chapter 8. These picture the actual results of rejection. They are said to have the seven LAST plagues, because there have been many others before these, but in these few is "filled up" the wrath of God. This "wrath" comprises the powers of God on earth, and they are now out of His control due to the interference of mankind. His protection has had to be completely withdrawn and the remnants of humanity have been left to their own devices.

The last plagues are the problems which the world must face after the close of human probation. When every one left alive has accepted either the "mark" or the "seal" then they will appear.

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2. This area before the throne of God is the meeting place of the universe. It extends in all directions like a sphere around Him. Because it is a part of Him it is said to be "mingled with fire" and to modern eyes would look like a force field of vibrating energy.

Before he sees the terrible destruction caused by the seven last plagues, John's attention is directed to the triumphant ones standing on the sea of glass, and their song of praise.

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3. And for those who in the midst of conflict should maintain their faith in God, the prophet was given the words of commendation and promise:

"I know your works: behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it: for you have a little strength, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name."

"Because you have kept the word of My patience, I also will keep you from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth."

The believers were admonished:

"Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die."

"Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which you have, that no man take your crown."

It was through one who declared himself to be a "brother, and companion in tribulation" (Revelation 1:9), that Christ revealed to His church the things that they must suffer for His sake. Looking down through long centuries of darkness and superstition, the aged exile saw multitudes suffering martyrdom because of their love for the truth. But he saw also that He who sustained His early witnesses would not forsake His faithful followers during the centuries of persecution that they must pass through before the close of time.

"Fear none of those things which you shall suffer," the Lord declared; "behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried; and you shall have tribulation: . . . be you faithful to death, and I will give you a crown of life."

And to all the faithful ones who were striving against evil, John heard the promises made:

"To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God."

"He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels."

"To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne."

John saw the mercy, the tenderness, and the love of God blending with His holiness, justice, and power. He saw sinners finding a Father in Him of whom their sins had made them afraid.

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4. Deuteronomy 31:30; 32:1-4 The song of Moses – Sabbath rest

And Moses spoke in the ears of all the congregation of Israel the words of this song, until they were ended.

Give ear, O you heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass: because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe you greatness to our God.

He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He.

Jeremiah 3:14 The song of the Lamb – marriage to Christ

Turn, O backsliding children, says the LORD; for I am married to you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion.

They sing Moses' song of history and Christ's song of redemption.

If we will put on the robe of Christ's righteousness, withdrawing from all allegiance with the world, there is before us the dawn of a bright and glorious day. God's promise to us will stand fast forever. He will make us an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations. Truth, passing by those who despise and reject it, will triumph. Although at times apparently retarded, its progress has never been checked. When the message of God meets with opposition, He gives it additional force, that it may exert greater influence. Endowed with divine energy, it will cut its way through the strongest barriers and triumph over every obstacle.

What sustained the Son of God during His life of toil and sacrifice? He saw the results of the travail of His soul and was satisfied. Isaiah 53:11. Looking into eternity, He beheld the happiness of those who through His humiliation had received pardon and everlasting life. His ear caught the shout of the redeemed. He heard the ransomed ones singing the song of Moses and the Lamb.

We too may have a vision of the future, the blessedness of heaven. In the Bible are revealed visions of the future glory, scenes pictured by the hand of God, and these should be dear to us. By faith we may stand on the threshold of the eternal city, and hear the gracious welcome given to those who in this life co-operate with Christ, regarding it as an honour to suffer for His sake.

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5. The heavenly temple is open because Christ has left it and is on His way to earth. His ministration of mercy is ended because there is no longer any one who wishes to be saved.

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6. When Jesus ceases His work in the most holy place, this leaves the way clear for the angels to come out also. They are dressed as priests on earth are clothed and therefore are NOT destroyers. They are merely agreeing with the principle that the people of earth should be allowed to have their own way.

It was one of the four living creatures who had been listening to the reading of the book which handed the bowls to the angels, but we are not told which one. Those humans who have been in heaven since the crucifixion and know all the facts obviously agree with God's decision.

Every case has been decided for life or death. While Jesus has been ministering in the sanctuary, the judgment has been going on for the righteous dead, and then for the righteous living. Christ has received His kingdom, having made the atonement for His people and blotted out their sins. The subjects of the kingdom are made up. The marriage of the Lamb is consummated. And the kingdom, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, has been given to Jesus and the heirs of salvation, and Jesus is to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords.

As Jesus moves out of the most holy place, those with the ear of faith will hear the tinkling of the bells upon His garment; and as He leaves, a cloud of spiritual darkness will cover the inhabitants of the earth. There will be then no mediator between guilty man and an offended God, and no man will be "able to enter into the temple." While Jesus had been standing between God and guilty man, a restraint had been upon the people; but when He steps out from between man and the Father, the restraint will be removed and Satan will have entire control of the finally impenitent.

It was impossible for the plagues to be poured out while Jesus officiated in the sanctuary; but as His work there is finished, and His intercession closes, there is nothing to stay the wrath of God, and it breaks with fury upon the shelterless head of the guilty sinner, who has continually rejected salvation and hated reproof.

In that fearful time, after the close of Jesus' mediation, the saints will be living in the sight of a holy God without an intercessor. Every case has been decided, every jewel numbered and they must wait in patience. Jesus will tarry a moment in the outer apartment of the heavenly sanctuary, and the sins which have been confessed while He was in the most holy place will be placed upon Satan, the originator of sin, who must suffer their punishment.

Then Jesus will lay off His priestly attire and clothe Himself with His most kingly robes. Upon His head there will be many crowns, a crown within a crown. Surrounded by the angelic host, He will leave heaven.

The plagues will be falling upon the inhabitants of the earth. Some will be denouncing God and cursing Him. Others will rush to the people of God and beg to be taught how they might escape His judgments. But the saints have nothing for them. The last tear for sinners has been shed, the last agonizing prayer offered, the last burden borne, the last warning given. The sweet voice of mercy can no more to invite them. When the saints, and all heaven, were interested for their salvation, they had no interest for themselves. Life and death had been set before them. Many desired life, but made no effort to obtain it. They did not choose life, and now there is no atoning blood to cleanse the guilty, no compassionate Saviour to plead for them, and cry, "Spare, spare the sinner a little longer."

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