Another Great and Marvellous Sign in Heaven.
SUMMARY.--Seven Angels with the Seven Last Plagues.
The Sea of Glass.
The Song of Moses, and the Song of the Lamb.
The Temple Opened.
The Temple Filled with the Glory of God.
With this chapter begins a detailed account of the closing judgments
upon "the beast and its image and those who have the mark of the
beast." Their overthrow, as the great city Babylon, has been seen in
but in the
chapters 15, 16,
the Seven Last Plagues which come as judgments and tend towards the
overthrow are given. The
gives a summary of future events; the
sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth chapters
present the same events in detail. These chapters are all connected
with the fall of spiritual Babylon, and open with these words: "I saw
another great sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having
the seven last plagues."
The opening of the seventh seal carries the reader to the triumph of
Christianity over Roman Paganism. The seven trumpets lead
us onward to the overthrow of the western Roman Empire by the
Goths, Vandals and Huns, and the ruin of the Eastern Empire by the
Saracens and Turks. The last trumpet of the seven reaches to the close
of secular history with the trump of the Archangel. The seven
vials also give the history of an epoch, and,
like each of the series of seven, bring us to the end of that
epoch. They present the series of calamities that first weaken and
then destroy the power of Papal Rome. Each one of three series of
seven leads to the completion of a well-defined purpose. The
seven seals have a definite object, and lead us to the
accomplishment of that object in the overthrow of Roman Paganism. The
seven trumpets have a definite object, and lead us to the
fulfillment of their design in the overthrow of the Roman Empire.
Equally definite is the object of the seven vials, and equally
certain that the last vial will accomplish the utter overthrow of that
blasphemous power, which is variously described as a "city of
"the great city Babylon,"
the scarlet adulteress, and the seven-headed and ten-horned beast.
1, 2. I saw another sign in heaven. Another scene displayed,
different from those just past, and startling in its character.
Seven angels having the seven last plagues. Called the last
plagues because they are the final plagues which are sent upon the
beast and its image; they bring the series to a close. They "fill up
the wrath of God." The great feature of this vision is the seven angels
with the seven last plagues, but they are not seen at first when the
vision opens; not until
is reached. The vision opens with the scene of
2. I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire. In
"the sea of glass, clear as crystal," was seen about the throne of God.
It is the emblem of the calmness and purity of God's rule. Here the sea
is mingled with fire, a symbol always denoting judgments. This
shows that the time for judgments, coming from the throne of God, has
And them that had gotten the victory over the beast. These are
the redeemed of
who are there seen standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion. They now
engage in triumphant songs over the approaching overthrow of their
Having the harps of God. Musical instruments wholly dedicated to
3, 4. They sing the song of Moses . . . and the song of
the Lamb. When Israel was delivered from Egypt they sang the song
Moses as they had done on the shores of the Red Sea. Here, the
spiritual Israel, redeemed, standing on the crystal sea, sings a song
of deliverance, but it is the old song to a new strain; the song of the
Lamb now; of the Redeemer.
Just and true are thy ways. The salvation of the true worshipers
and the judgment seat upon which the wicked beast, demonstrated the
truth and justice of God.
4. Who shall not fear thee? The judgments now given to the seven
angels showed that God is a consuming fire, as well as a sun and a
shield. We are left in no doubt concerning the identity of these
singers. They are "them that had gained the victory over the beast and
his image, and over his mark and the number of his name."
The ground of their rejoicing is also recorded. "All nations shall
come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made
manifest." The mighty arm of God is to be revealed in bringing to
naught the powers of evil, and especially all the great enemies over
whom they had been victorious. The saints who have undergone the
persecution of the beast are represented as rejoicing because the day
of its judgment has come.
5-7. Behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven
was opened. After that I looked. The apostle looks again and
"behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven is
opened." The tabernacle of the testimony was the Holy of Holies. Into
it none but the High Priest entered, and he only to make intercession
for the forgiveness of sins. It is the type of the Holy of Holies
above, the mercy seat in the heavens where our High Priest intercedes
for us, and where the smoke of the incense of prayer arises to God.
6. And the seven angels. The angels mentioned in
Arrayed with precious
stone, pure and bright (Revision). Probably precious stones
covered their garments like those of the robe of the high priest. They
come out of the temple as priests of destruction.
7. And one of the four living creatures. For notes on the Four
Living Creatures see
As the servant and agent of the Almighty he hands the seven vials of
God's wrath to the angels. The Revision has "bowls" instead of
"vials." The thought is that in succession seven plagues are to be
poured upon the earth.
8. And the temple was filled with smoke . . . and none was
able to enter into the temple until, etc. Does this mean that the
heavens are shut against man during this period? Does it mean that no
one can enter the true Church until the plagues are poured out? So some
have mistakenly maintained. The doors of the kingdom were opened on
Pentecost, and will never be closed until the marriage supper of the
Lamb. The true meaning is plain. The place of intercession has just
been seen. The seven wrath angels came forth. The smoke then
fills the temple so that no one can approach the place of intercession.
The Greek original says no one, instead of no man. It
means that the Divine purpose is fixed; the wrath angels shall
pour out their vials, there is no place longer given for
intercession to prevent the just judgments of God. The time of
intercession has passed by, and the time for judgment has come. "No one
can enter the temple" to the tabernacle of testimony, the place of
intercession, to avert these judgments "till the seven plagues of the
seven angels were fulfilled."