John Wesley's Explanatory Notes
Verse 1. And I saw seven holy angels having the seven last plagues - Before they had the phials, which were as instruments whereby those plagues were to be conveyed. They are termed the last, because by them the wrath of God is fulfilled -Hitherto. God had borne his enemies with much longsuffering; but now his wrath goes forth to the uttermost, pouring plagues on the earth from one end to the other, and round its whole circumference. But, even after these plagues, the holy wrath of God against his other enemies does not cease, Revelation 20:15.
Verse 2. The song was sung while the angels were coming out, with their plagues, who are therefore mentioned both before and after it, verses 1-6. Revelation 15:1-6 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire - It was before "clear as crystal," Revelation 4:6, but now mingled with fire, which devours the adversaries. And them that gained, or were gaining, the victory over the wild beast - More of whom were yet to come. The mark of the beast, the mark of his name, and the number of his name, seem to mean here nearly the same thing. Standing at the sea of glass - Which was before the throne. Having the harps of God - Given by him, and appropriated to his praise.
Verse 3. And they sing the song of Moses - So called, partly from its near agreement ,with the words of that song which he sung after passing the Red Sea, Exodus 15:11, and of that which he taught the children of Israel a little before his death, Deuteronomy 32:3,4. But chiefly because Moses was the minister and representative of the Jewish church, as Christ is of the church universal. Therefore it is also termed the sons of the Lamb. It consists of six parts, which answer each other:- 1.Great and wonderful are thy 2.For thou only art gracious. works, Lord God Almighty. 3.Just and true are thy ways, O 4.For all the nations shall come King of the nations. and worship before thee. 5.Who would not fear thee, O 6.For thy judgments are made Lord, and glorify thy name? manifest. We know and acknowledge that all thy works in and toward all the creatures are great and wonderful; that thy ways with all the children of men, good and evil, are just and true. For thou only art gracious - And this grace is the spring of all those wonderful works, even of his destroying the enemies of his people. Accordingly in Psalms 136:1-26., that clause, "For his mercy endureth for ever," is subjoined to the thanksgiving for his works of vengeance as well as for his delivering the righteous. For all the nations shall come and worship before thee - They shall serve thee as their king with joyful reverence. This is a glorious testimony of the future conversion of all the heathens. The Christians are now a little flock: they who do not worship God, an immense multitude. But all the nations shall come, from all parts of the earth, to worship him and glorify his name. For thy judgments are made manifest - And then the inhabitants of the earth will at length learn to fear him.
Verse 5. After these things the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony - The holiest of all. Was opened - Disclosing a new theatre for the coming forth of the judgments of God now made manifest.
Verse 6. And the seven angels came out of the temple - As having received their instructions from the oracle of God himself. St. John saw them in heaven, verse 1, Revelation 15:1 before they went into the temple. They appeared in habits like those the high priest wore when he went into the most holy place to consult the oracle. In this was the visible testimony of God's presence. Clothed in pure white linen - Linen is the habit of service and attendance. Pure - unspotted, unsullied. White - Or bright and shining, which implies much more than bare innocence. And having their breasts girt with golden girdles - In token of their high dignity and glorious rest.
Verse 7. And one of the four living creatures gave the seven angels - After they were come out of the temple. Seven golden phials - Or bowls. The Greek word signifies vessels broader at the top than at the bottom. Full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever - A circumstance which adds greatly to the dreadfulness of his wrath.
Verse 8. And the temple was filled with smoke - The cloud of glory was the visible manifestation of God's presence in the tabernacle and temple. It was a sign of protection at erecting the tabernacle and at the dedication of the temple. But in the judgment of Korah the glory of the Lord appeared, when he and his companions were swallowed up by the earth. So proper is the emblem of smoke from the glory of God, or from the cloud of glory, to express the execution of judgment, as well as to be a sign of favour. Both proceed from the power of God, and in both he is glorified. And none - Not even of those who ordinarily stood before God. Could go into the temple - That is, into the inmost part of it. Till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled - Which did not take up a long time, like the seven trumpets, but swiftly followed each other.
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