Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels who had seven plagues, which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished.
Already during the great tribulation, there was tribulation on the earth with the breaking of the seven seals and the seven trumpet judgments which accompanied the breaking of the seventh seal. Now, however, John saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels with seven plagues. These were the last because in them the wrath of God was finished in terms of His wrath being poured out upon the earth. There would still be eternal wrath, but this was the last of that which would be poured out upon the earth before He would personally return and establish His kingdom.
2 And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God. 3 And they *sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
“Great and marvelous are Your works,
O Lord God, the Almighty;
Righteous and true are Your ways,
King of the nations!
4 “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy;
For all the nations will come and worship before You,
For Your righteous acts have been revealed.”
In heaven, John saw a sea of glass mixed with fire (see notes on Revelation 4:6) in the presence of God in heaven. The scene is the very throne of God, and those who resisted the mark of the beast on earth and refused to worship him or his idol are seen with God in heaven worshipping the Lamb. Though they suffered great persecution and martyrdom on earth, Scripture describes them as those who had been victorious over the antichrist and his image and number. True success is not who has the most power or strength on earth, but it is defined by faithfulness to the Lamb and by testifying to His glory even if it means death on earth. As Revelation 12:11 says, “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” The tribulation believers were proved victorious in the end because in Christ they are more than conquerors. That God wins is the story of Scripture, Satan loses, and believers reign with Christ forever. After the Israelites were delivered by God through their miraculous passage through the Red Sea during which the Egyptian army was destroyed, Moses and the Israelites sang a song of praise to God in Exodus 15:1-20. The song that the believers pictured in heaven sing here in Revelation 15 echoes the themes of the song in Exodus 15. For example, in Exodus 15:6, 11, the Israelites sing, “Your right hand, O Lord, is majestic in power, Your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy. Who is like You among the gods, O Lord? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders?” These themes of God’s power, glory, majesty, and marvelous works of deliverance are repeated in Revelation 15:3. God’s ways are true and righteous, and He will make sure that justice is served in the end. Exodus 15:17-18 says, “You will bring them and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, The place, O Lord, which You have made for Your dwelling, The sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established. The Lord shall reign forever and ever” (see also Deuteronomy 32:43). God promised to ultimately plant the Jewish nation on Mount Zion where He would personally dwell and rule as King of the nations during the millennial age. This is precisely what the believers are seen in heaven in Revelation 15:4 singing about. People from nations throughout the world will come to Jerusalem during the millennial kingdom to worship (Isaiah 11:10, 19:18-25, 66:18-20). That which the Israelites sang thousands of years ago was being fulfilled in John’s vision, and it will come to pass. God alone is holy, and this is the rallying cry and joyful boast of those who have put their faith in Him. He will prove Himself righteous and just in His final judgments and when He rules the world as King in the kingdom to come. That Jesus will reign and His servants with Him is the main theme of the song of the Lamb in Revelation 5:9-10, 12-23. Jesus is worthy to be the Judge and the coming King because He was slain and purchased people from every, tribe, tongue, and nation. He is worthy and deserving of eternal blessing, glory, honor, power, and dominion.
5 After these things I looked, and the temple of the tabernacle of testimony in heaven was opened, 6 and the seven angels who had the seven plagues came out of the temple, clothed in linen, clean and bright, and girded around their chests with golden sashes. 7 Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. 8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power; and no one was able to enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.
The seven angels came out of the temple in heaven, and one of the four living creatures gave them seven golden bowls filled with God’s wrath to be poured out upon the earth. That the bowls were golden and that the angels were clothed in white linen with golden sashes speaks to the fact that God is eternal, powerful, and holy in distributing His just wrath upon the wicked on the earth. The seven plagues or bowl judgments are deliberate, planned, and executed after the gospel has gone forth many times and in many ways. There is a sense of finality and seriousness about what is about to happen. The temple was filled with smoke from the glory and power of the eternal God. No one could enter the temple in heaven until the judgments were passed. This also highlights how God is glorified in putting an end to sin, in punishing wickedness, and in establishing His kingdom with His righteous ones (Daniel 9:24). It is a somber occasion that will lead to a glorious future for God’s people shortly thereafter.