REVELATION 15

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REVELATION 15

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION CHAPTER 15, VERSES 1 TO 4:

15:1 And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.

15:2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.

15:3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints.

15:4 Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? for Thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before Thee; for Thy judgements are made manifest.

Structure of the chapter

(a) Verse 1 Readiness of plague-angels
(b) Verses 2-4 Rejoicing of overcomers
(c) Verses 5-8 Retribution on the beast-worshippers

(a) Verse 1 The readiness of the plague-angels

15:1 And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.

And I saw another sign in heaven- the word sign indicates that something is being pointed out. The Lord Jesus is said to signify things to John, Revelation 1:1, which has led some to say that the book should be interpreted as a series of symbols, so that physical objects stand for spiritual realities. Thus when the sun is mentioned it means supreme rulers, when the sun is darkened it means those rulers lose their ability to rule, and so on. One of the problems with this view is that it leaves the interpretation open largely to the ingenuity of the reader, and the plain sense is lost.
Another problem with this view is that if we substitute spiritual concepts for natural things, we arrive at absurdity. For instance, under the first trumpet judgement, all green grass is burnt up, 8:7. Now Scripture likens men to grass, Isaiah 40:6. Are we to understand, therefore, that all flesh is destroyed at this point, so that there are no unbelievers on the earth at all? This cannot be the case.
John is using the word “sign” here in the sense that what happens has deep and solemn significance, and it would be well for all of us to take note of that significance. God is about to judge men in the most severe way, and He gives prior warning of these judgements in this book. This means that for two thousand years this warning has been available for men to read about, and respond to by repentance and faith.
When we come back to our verse we find that the seven angels are called a sign. But angels are angels, so why are they called a sign? The answer is known when we note the similarity between the judgements poured out by the angels, and the plagues on Egypt. When these angels have done their work, the wrath of God will be fully poured out, and just as the plagues on Egypt culminated in the redemption of the nation of Israel, so the redemption of a future day is about to be accomplished. Now those plagues were called signs, Deuteronomy 6:22, thus the word is appropriate for these angels, for they are closely identified with the judgement they are called to inflict on men.
Great and marvellous- God promised Israel that He would deliver His people from bondage in Egypt. They were slaves, and needed to be set free. So it was that God promised to “redeem them with great judgements”, Exodus 6:6, and this He did. He went on to deliver them by opening up the Red Sea for them, and Moses writes, “Israel saw the great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians”, Exodus 14:31. So not only did He judge the Egyptians by plague and by drowning, but He delivered His people also. So this chapter has the two themes of plagues on men and deliverance for those who believe. In the psalm which records the wonders done in Egypt by God, the psalmist speaks of His marvellous works, Psalm 105:5. It is fitting therefore for the sign of the angels to be described as great and marvellous.
Seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God- this is why they are described as last plagues. The Lord Jesus, referring to these times, said, “These be the days of vengeance, that all things that are written may be fulfilled”, Luke 21:22.
How glad believers should be that the one we believe in is our deliverer from the wrath to come, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, so that we shall not be present on the earth when these judgements come. Unbelievers should be aware, however, that “the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience”, Colossians 3:6.

(b) Verses 2-4 The rejoicing of the over-comers

15:2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.

And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire- we were introduced to the sea in 4:6. We saw there that it was the counterpart to the large water-container that stood in the court of Solomon’s temple. There is no need here for the sea to contain water, however, for there is no defilement in heaven, and these who stand upon it were cleansed before ever they reached that pure place. This sea is of glass mingled with fire. Perhaps as they stand upon this sea the redeemed remember that God had said, “When thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee”, but now the water is crystal-clear glass- all danger is gone, only that which sparkles with the glory of heaven remains. God also said, “When thou passeth through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee”, Isaiah 43:2, but now the fire is harmlessly held in the glass.
Those who stand on this glassy sea have gained the victory over the forces of evil, represented by the beast. This remnant of Israel who believe are prefigured by Shadrach and his companions, who were thrown into the fiery furnace, but were unharmed, Daniel 3:16-28.
And them that had gotten the victory over the beast- they had gained the victory by the blood of the Lamb, 12:11, for, having been forgiven, they were not afraid to die for their faith. And, being mindful of the Lord’s example when He was persecuted down here, they were encouraged to stand firm. They had resisted all attempts to get them to renounce their faith, and they had refused to receive the sign of allegiance to the beast in any of its forms. Notice the four-fold repetition of the word “over”, for these were truly over-comers.
It is a beast over whom they had gained the victory. We noted that the beasts in chapter 4 were living creatures, with the emphasis on the fact that they were full of life, and represented the major forms of life upon the earth. The beast we are considering now is noted for its wildness and savagery. We find it described in chapter 13 as a leopard, which has the feet of a bear, and the mouth of a lion. The speed of the leopard, (used for hunting in ancient times), the persistence of the bear, the strength and ferocity of the lion, are all combined together in this beast.
Whereas the dragon in chapter 12:3 had seven heads and ten horns, with crowns upon his heads, the beast has seven heads and ten horns, but with the crowns on his horns. Clearly the power that is vested in the dragon is now being expressed in the beast, for he has the seven heads and ten horns that the dragon has. But the crowns, the sign of royalty and rule, are now on the horns. These would correspond to the ten kings that eventually give their power to the beast, 17:16,17.
Now down through the centuries Satan has sought to subdue the world, and bring it into subjection to himself. He has done so through seven world empires that controlled the known world of their day. Five of these are brought to our notice in Daniel chapter 2, where five forms of Gentile world dominion are represented by the five different materials used in the image, namely gold, silver, brass, iron, and an iron and clay mixture. These were the inheritors of, and the extenders of, the Assyrian empire, which in its turn was the revival of the kingdom of Nimrod. So the seven heads are: the kingdom of Nimrod; the Assyrian empire; the Babylonian; the Medo-Persian; the Grecian; the Roman, and finally, the kingdom of the beast. The heads of these empires represented the empire, (so that Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that he was the head of gold, Daniel 2:38, even though the metals represented kingdoms). The kingdom of the beast is the amalgamation of all these empires into one, and like them, centred in Babylon.
When world empires are in view, therefore, the overall heads have the crown, whereas in its final form, the world empire will have ten subordinate kings, hence the horns representing those kings will have the crowns. We learn more of this in chapter 17:9,10, where we are told that the seven heads of the beast are seven mountains, (that is, in Scripture symbolism, seven kingdoms), five are fallen, (Nimrod’s empire, the Assyrian, the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Grecian); one is, in John’s day, the Roman, and one is not yet come, the empire of the beast. We are told in 17:8 that the beast was, (at some time in the past), and is not, (in John’s day and ours), and shall ascend out of the abyss, (so as to rule the earth), and shall go into perdition, (when Christ consigns him to the Lake of Fire), 19:19,20. His past, present, and future is mapped out. Empires do not ascend out of the abyss, but men can, in exceptional circumstances.

Returning to our verse, we do so with the knowledge that the beast these men have overcome is the supreme world-ruler of the end-time, and who rules with the authority of the devil. No longer can believers submit themselves to the rulers, as Romans 13:1 requires in normal circumstances, for that would involve denying God. What is required by the beast is not simply submission, but worship, and this a true believer cannot give to a man, or the devil behind him.
So they refused to acknowledge the beast, and have been killed because of that refusal. But this does not mean they were defeated, for the reverse is the case, they valued the blood of the Lamb, and allegiance to Him, of greater worth than homage to Satan’s man, 12:11. They shall reap their reward, for we are told that they shall live and reign with Christ for a thousand years, 20:4. The beast will slay them for not recognising his crown, but they shall reign with the one whose crown they did recognise.
And over his image- the image of the beast will be set up in the temple at Jerusalem in the middle of the last seven-year period before Christ comes to reign, Matthew 24:15. It will mark the start of the Great Tribulation. The previous three and a half years will indeed be a time of tribulation, but the second half will be unprecedented for its trial and anguish.
And over his mark- only those who receive the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of the beast, will be able to buy or sell. That mark will have to be in their right hand or in their forehead, verse 16. It will be “Receive the mark or starve!” Those who choose to take the latter course, will be over-comers, for they show the reality of their faith. During those times, God’s judgements will mean that food is scarce, hence there will be a double difficulty for those who are faithful to God, because not having the beast’s mark will mean that few will be prepared to sell them food, being fearful for their own lives if they do so. They will pray as never before “Give us this day our daily bread”, Matthew 5:11. God will see to it that there wil be those who will dare to feed them, thereby showing themselves sympathetic to God, and will consequently be rewarded when the king comes, for it will be as if they have fed Him, see Matthew 25:37-40. The blood of the Lamb gives them courage, not only in the sense that their sins have been cleansed through it, and they have no fear of dying, but also because He was the supreme over-comer, the forces against Him being so immense. Shadrach and his friends overcome in connection with an image, for they refused the one that was set up at the beginning of the Times of the Gentiles. The over-comers of this chapter refused to worship the image at the end of that time.
The word for mark that is used here is an impressed mark, an engraving. It is used of the markings on carving and sculpture, being the word translated “graven work” in Acts 17:29, a reference to idols. Could it not be, therefore, that the mark men must have is a reproduction of some feature on the image of the beast? God put a mark upon Cain for murdering his brother. Instead of being struck down, he was a marked man for the rest of his life, a living warning to the rest of men against murdering their fellows. Those who accept the mark of the beast, 10:29, consent to the murder of Christ, and tread Him underfoot for themselves, Hebrews 6:6.
And over the number of his name- many and varied have been the ideas put forward with regard to the number 666, the number of the beast. We are told in 13:18, however, that it is the number of his name, and it is the number of a man. Now ancient letters of the alphabet had numerical values attached to them, so if the name of a man could be found which had the numerical value of 666, then we might be near to solving the puzzle.
At this point we must do some groundwork. Jeremiah tells us that “Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord’s hand, that made all the world drunken”, Jeremiah 51:7. In other words, the idolatry that has always been centred at Babylon has spread throughout the whole world, so that the main features of original idolatry are found everywhere. The different names for the characters involved are due to the confounding of languages at Babel.
Now the main basis for heathen mythology is the story of Nimrod and his prowess as a ruler and a hunter. Such was his fame that the Bible records the saying about him, “Wherefore as it is said, even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord”, Genesis 10:9. His wife was Semiramis. Nimrod was slain, however, some say by Shem. Semiramis became the prominent one at this point, but she also claimed to be with child supernaturally, so that the child born to her was the re-incarnation of the father, Nimrod. From this is derived the notion of the worship of the Mother and the Child, a common theme in pagan idolatry, whether in Egypt as Isis and Osiris; India as Isi and Iswara; Asia as Cymbele and Deoius; in pagan Rome, as Fortuna and Jupiter-puer; in Greece as Ceres, the Great Mother, with her baby, or as Irene with the boy Plutus; in Papal Rome, the Madonna and Child.
So it is that the son is the manifestation of the father; a blasphemous imitation of the relationship of the Son of God to His Father. He could say of a truth “He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father”. Heathen religion is Satan’s counterfeit, established early on in the history of the world, but destined to be perpetuated until the end of man’s day, when Christ comes and sweeps away the refuge of lies.
Nimrod was worshipped as a god, under the name Saturn. Now Saturn in Chaldean consists of only four letters, STUR. The numerical value of these letters is 60 + 400 + 6 + 200 = 666. This is “the number of a name”, and is also “the number of a man”, Nimrod. Couple this with the fact that the beast is destined to ascend out of the abyss, and although the eighth, is of the seven, we are almost forced to the conclusion that the beast will be Nimrod resurrected.

The Gilgamesh Epic is about the king of Uruk, another form of Erech, one of Nimrod’s cities, Genesis 10:10. The Epic claims that Gilgamesh was two-thirds god and one-third man, and was a giant. If the terrible event recorded in Genesis 6 where “the sons of God saw the daughters of men and took them wives of all that they chose” was the intrusion of fallen angels into the world of men, and if this was repeated after the flood, as Genesis 6:4 hints with the words “and also after that”, then it may well be that one of these giants was Nimrod. So not only will Satan parody the relationship of Christ the Son to His Father, he will also parody the virgin birth, where a child has no human father. Think how powerful a deception this will be in the days when the Holy Spirit is not operating so freely as He is today!

The word Nimrod, often translated rebel, can also be rendered otherwise. To quote Alexander Hislop in The Two Babylons, in his footnote on page 44, “The name Nimrod is commonly derived from Mered, ‘to rebel’; but a difficulty has always been found in regard to this derivation, as that would make the name Nimrod properly passive, not ‘the rebel’, but ‘he who was rebelled against'”. So Hislop proposes the alternative derivation from Nimr, a leopard, and rada or rad, to subdue. The ancients used leopards for hunting, and it seems that Nimrod was the first one to employ them in this way, which no doubt gave him the advantage over others, and helped to build up the legend of his hunting abilities. It is surely significant, therefore, that the beast of which we are speaking is in fact a leopard, albeit with the feet of a bear, and the mouth of a lion, 13:2. This is not figurative only, but gives the clue to who is meant.
Stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God- when the Israelites were in captivity in Babylon, they were overcome with sadness, and hung their harps on the willow trees. Their enemies taunted them, and challenged them to sing the songs of Zion. They replied, “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” Ps. 137:4.
These who are spoken of in this verse are about to sing the Lord’s song, their afflictions over, for they are no longer in a strange land, and God has given them the harps they need to accompany their song. They are going to sing three songs. First, the Song of Moses, then the Song of the Lamb, then they will sing their own song. The first has been composed for them especially; the second can be taken up by all who know the salvation of the Lamb; the third is the expression of their own feelings towards God.

15:3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints.

And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God- we have already alluded to the correspondence between Solomon’s temple arrangements and the views of heaven we are given in this Book of Revelation. In 1 Chronicles 25:1 we learn that the temple choristers prophesied with the harp. In other words, their prophesying or making known of the mind of God was accompanied and complemented by the playing of the harp. So it is here, for while they sing the song of Moses and the Lamb, the words of which are found in Deuteronomy 32 and Exodus 12 respectively, they add words of their own, as recorded in verses 3 and 4.
Moses was instructed to “write this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for Me against the children of Israel”. The particular witness was against Israel for turning away from God to other gods, and when troubles befell them, “it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of thy seed”.
The Song closes on a note of victory, for God calls for rejoicing at what He has done, repeats His intention of avenging Israel’s enemies, and declares He is prepared to be merciful to the land, Deuteronomy 32:43. The last phrase indicates that the work of Christ at Calvary has ensured that the land of Israel can be purged of the stain of His blood, and mercy can be known by those who dwell in it. Clearly, this is a summary of the history of the children of Israel, and is the fitting subject of song for those who have overcome every obstacle to stand before God.
And the song of Lamb, saying- if Moses taught them one song, the Lamb taught them the other. The Song of the Lamb is also a song of triumph, but does not speak of the failure of the people, but rather the absolute triumph of God over His foes, for the host of the Egyptians were utterly defeated at the Red Sea. What God had done in Exodus 12 He reaffirms in Exodus 15. If the Song of Moses is a song from the Lord to rebuke, then the Song of the Lamb is a song from the people, to rejoice.
Notice the order. The Song of Moses is second, chronologically, but is first morally, and this company acknowledges that. There must be the rebuke from the Lord acted upon, before the redemption of the Lord is celebrated.
Great and marvellous are Thy works- the over-comers now sing their own song, and speak of God’s works and God’s ways. As to His works, they believe them to be great and marvellous. In a world where the beast is dominant, and where his name and his prowess are everywhere celebrated, these have overcome such a world by faith, 1 John 5:4,5, and attribute this to the Lord God Almighty. The climax to the beast’s impiety is his claim to be God. These have said a resounding and definite No! to this, and have recognised the God of heaven alone. They will have lived through a time when the beast has broken his covenant with Israel, Daniel 9:27, but they see in God the one who, as Lord, is faithful to His promises and covenants. They have known the activities of the false prophet, as he performs signs and wonders to attract worship to the beast. These have seen through the error of that, and recognise God to be, not simply mighty, but Almighty.
Lord God Almighty- God as the Almighty is first mentioned in the word to Abraham, “I am the Almighty God, walk before Me and be thou perfect”, Genesis 17:1. The Almighty is the God who is enough, sufficient for every situation. This He will prove during the time of Tribulation, for no device of the enemy will serve to outwit Him.
God said to Moses, “I am the Lord: and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by My name Jehovah I was not known to them. And I have also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan”, Exodus 6:2,3,4. So at a critical point in the history of His dealings with the seed of Abraham, just as He was about to deliver Israel from the bondage of Egypt, He establishes that He is Jehovah, or Lord, as well as being God Almighty. Lord will be the title Israel will give Him, whereas God Almighty had been the title the patriarchs had used.
Just and true are Thy ways- in a world that will be dominated by the Man of Sin, (for as preachers have often said, ‘The sin of man will result in the Man of Sin’), they have not been taken in by the “deceivableness of unrighteousness” that the apostle Paul wrote of, 2 Thessalonians 2:10. Nor have they believed the lie, verse 11 of that same chapter. God’s ways are just, not unrighteous like Antichrist’s. His ways are true, not deceitful like the Antichrist’s.
Thou King of saints- in the Book of Revelation the saints are normally believers, whereas in the Book of Daniel the saints are normally angels, God’s holy ones. He is Lord of Hosts, whether those hosts be considered as angel-hosts or starry-hosts. The emphasis here is on His kingship, for He is the source of sovereignty, being King eternal, 1 Timothy 1:17, and King of Israel, Isaiah 44:6. This suggests that here the saints are, in fact, angels.
We know from the book of Daniel that there are holy ones and watchers who observe the dealings of kings, and act accordingly, see Daniel 4:13-17. Angels also have guardianship of nations, Michael the archangel being charged with this task as regards Israel, Daniel 12:1. In the Old Testament era, however, their ability to resist evil angels was restricted, as we see from the fact that the prince of Persia, (that is, the evil guardian angel of Persia), withstood Gabriel, (see Daniel 8:16; 9:21), and had to be assisted by Michael the archangel, Daniel 10:13. Since Christ has, by His death, “spoiled principalities and powers”, and “made a show of them openly”, Colossians 2:15, demonstrating by His resurrection that He had gained the victory over them and all they represented, things are different. We see this illustrated by the fact that Michael the archangel was of lesser power than the Devil in the matter of Moses’ body, Jude 9, whereas in a day to come only an “ordinary” angel, (not even a “strong angel”), will be able to bind Satan, Revelation 20:1-3. Such is the change that Christ’s cross has effected.
These over-comers will have known the preserving care of the spirits who are “sent forth to minister for them who shall be the heirs of salvation”, Hebrews 1:14, (salvation in that context meaning entrance into Messiah’s kingdom), and they ascribe glory and honour to the One who sent them forth.

15:4 Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? for Thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before Thee; for Thy judgements are made manifest.

Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? these believers continue their praise by speaking of three things. First, of the fear of God and the desire to glorify His name because of the way He has expressed His holiness; Second, all nations coming to worship. Third, God’s judgements having been made known.
The fear of God and the desire to glorify His name, (which means to glorify the way in which He expresses Himself), has replaced the fear of man, even a man like the beast. Refusing to glorify Him by worshipping him or his image, they show that they are resolved to glorify God alone.
For Thou only art holy- they are prompted to this response by the manifestation of His holiness. The word for holiness here is not the usual one telling of God’s separateness. This is the word telling of His mercy and grace. God promises that He will bless men with the “sure mercies of David”, Acts 13:34; that is, those blessings which came upon David through God’s mercy and kindness to him, but which now are granted to men through Christ risen. This is the line of reasoning that Paul uses in the passage referenced above.
For all nations shall come and worship before Thee- these over-comers anticipate the kingdom age, when Jerusalem shall be the centre of the worship of the nations of the earth, for “all nations shall flow unto it”, Isaiah 2:2, and the day when Babylon is the centre of the worship of Satan’s man will be gone.
For Thy judgements are made manifest- before that time comes there will be a period of intense judgement, as described in the next chapter, when the verdict of God upon the scene over which they overcame will be abundantly manifest.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION CHAPTER 15, VERSES 5 TO 8:

15:5 And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:

15:6 And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles.

15:7 And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.

15:8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from His power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.

(c) Verses 5-8 The retribution on the beast-worshippers

15:5 And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:

And after that I looked, and, behold- not only did John see what was taking place, but he writes so that we may have a grasp of it too.
The temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened- in 4:1 John had seen a door opened in heaven, figurative of the rapture of the saints to heaven. In 11:19, the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament. This is immediately prior to the details in chapter 12 about Israel’s preservation in the wilderness, and the rule of the beast in chapter 12. This is the assurance that God’s rule is still operative, and He will be faithful to the nation with which He has entered into covenant. Here, the emphasis is on the tabernacle of the testimony, as we shall see. Finally, in 19:11, heaven is opened, this time to allow Christ to ride forth to the defeat of His enemies.
At the dedication of the temple in Jerusalem, Solomon “brought up the ark of the Lord, and the tabernacle of the congregation…and the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord unto his place…” 1 Kings 8:4,6. At this point in Israel’s history, the tabernacle, (the moveable wilderness structure, perhaps simply represented by the innermost curtain, which is the tabernacle proper), recedes, and the ark remains. At the captivity, the ark recedes too, for all the vessels of the House of God were taken to Babylon, 2 Chronicles 36:18, and there is no specific mention of the ark. With the government of the earth now in the hands of Gentiles, and with God as the God of heaven, Daniel 2:44, it is appropriate that the symbol of the Divine Presence and rule should not be mentioned.
There is no specific reference to the ark in verse 5 either, for the emphasis is on testimony. The tables of stone were called the testimony, and instead of the assertion of God’s faithfulness to His covenant with Israel, (appropriate in chapter 11 as it leads into chapter 12), there is the assertion of the abiding character of the commandments He gave in testimony to men. They flout His laws at their peril, as they are about to find out. The heavenly temple is called the tabernacle of the testimony, thus linking the idea of the wilderness tabernacle with the kingdom temple. But the point is that in each building there was the same ark- God’s testimony as unchanged. And so it is in the days of the seven angels.
The testimony is in heaven, the centre of Divine administration, whilst on earth, in the temple at Jerusalem, the image of the beast is openly challenging God for supremacy.

15:6 And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles.

And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues- these are the seven angels already mentioned in verse 1. Both there, and here, they are said to have the seven plagues, yet they are not given the bowls containing these plagues until the next verse. Perhaps the thought is that they have the plagues as far as the purpose of God is concerned, but are not actually authorised to execute the judgement until handed the bowls by the living creature. They now come out from the temple to receive their instructions and fulfil their task.
Clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles- as befits those who act for God, they have pure and white linen robes, for God’s judgements are always righteous, and free from any impure motive. They are princely and dignified in their attitude, too, for their breasts are girded with a golden girdle. They are not girded around the waist as if for menial tasks, but act confidently and unhurriedly, (for if running was in view, they would gird up their loins), carrying out the will of God in judgement. Princes and dignitaries of the earth would be thus attired as they moved in the palaces of men. How much more should these be arrayed and robed as befits the presence of the King of eternity. So they act in a priestly manner, with princely dignity, for they are carrying out the judgements allotted to them by Christ the King-priest.

15:7 And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.

And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God- we now learn in what way the seven plagues will be administered. Instead of using a bowl to carry incense, these will use it to carry wrath. It is almost as if the praise of heaven is suspended briefly, whilst God inflicts His final judgements upon men, and in particular, the beast. It is not that His wrath will be exhausted by these judgements, for that will endure for all eternity against sinners in the Lake of Fire, 14:10,11.
As the bowls of wrath are especially to execute severe judgements on the earth and heavens, it is fitting that a representative of these hands the angels the bowls, thus indicating that those close to the throne know this to be the will of God- it is not a maverick action on the part of angels out of line with the will of God.
Who liveth for ever and ever- this is specially mentioned here, for He will endure eternally, whilst even the mightiest of those who oppose Him, whether men or devils, are consigned to the Lake of Fire.

15:8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.

And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power- the glory and power of God are now combining in fiery indignation against the men of earth.  No wonder His presence is filled with smoke.
And no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled- none could enter His presence to plead with Him to restrain His judgements, but they are poured out without pity upon the godless world of men, as they range themselves against Him is wilful and calculated rebellion. The climax of six thousand years of earth’s history has arrived, and God’s patience has finally been exhausted.
When the tabernacle and the temple were completed, the glory of God filled the place, and in the case of the tabernacle, Moses was not able to enter, Exodus 40:35, and in the case of the temple, the priests could not do so, 1 Kings 8:11. How much more so cannot man enter, when God’s glory is manifested in His power.

The word fulfilled reminds us that the time of full judgement has arrived. The seven last plagues fill up the wrath of God, as verse 1 says, and not until they have been poured out will His anger be satisfied.

As Moses said when the ark set forward, Numbers 10:35,36:

“Rise up, Lord,
and let thine enemies be scattered:
and let them that hate Thee flee before Thee”.

And when it rested, he said,

“Return, O Lord,
unto the many thousands of Israel”.

 

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