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Revelation 15:5–8

“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, and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished” (vv. 7–8).

Pausing his introduction of the seven plagues to give us a picture of the worship of God’s people in heaven before His throne, John has reminded us that as the judgments of the Lord occur on the earth, those who die in faith are safe in our Creator’s presence (Rev. 15:1–4). In today’s passage, John returns to the seven plagues, telling us more about the angels who bear them.

The curtains of the heavenly tabernacle open, and seven angels with the seven plagues come out. Dressed in bright linen with golden sashes, they resemble the old covenant high priest when he entered the Holy Place (vv. 5–6; see Lev. 16:4). As heavenly priests, these angels are especially holy, which says something about the wrath that they are about to pour out (Rev. 15:7). God’s wrath is not the petulant outburst of an impatient being or an expression of petty vindictiveness. It is not an overreaction to minor transgressions. God’s wrath expresses His perfect holiness. It is the consequence of an infinitely righteous being encountering sin that has not been covered by a sacrifice of atonement. The holy angels pour out the holy wrath of the holy God. It is right for them to do this, and the Lord’s wrath is the perfect expression of His justice against those who deserve it (2 Chron. 36:15–16; Ezek. 36:16–21).

After the angels exit the heavenly tabernacle, the four living creatures around the throne of our Creator give them “seven gold bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever” (Rev. 15:7). We will see in Revelation 16 that the seven bowls of wrath contain the seven plagues. For now, we will note that these bowls are most likely bowls that are ordinarily used for incense. When we studied 8:1–5, we saw that the incense in heaven consists of the prayers of the saints, which brought about the judgments of the seven trumpets. Something similar seems to be going on here. Bowls of incense contain the wrath of God, so we see that our prayers can bring about the Lord’s judgments. God’s final wrath and consummation are connected to our prayers. As we ask for Him to defeat His enemies and pray for the return of Christ, the day of consummation fast approaches.

Once the seven angels receive the seven bowls, God’s glory fills the tabernacle, and no one can go in until the wrath is fulfilled (15:8). The final, consummated creation where God dwells among His people in the new heavens and earth cannot occur until His wrath against sin has been fully and finally expressed.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Are you praying for the return of Christ and for the justice of God to be expressed fully and finally? Second Peter 3:11–12 says that as we live in godliness, including engaging in prayer, the day of the Lord fast approaches. Let us pray for the return of the Lord and the vindication of His name through the perfect display of His justice.


For Further Study
  • Exodus 40:34–38
  • 2 Chronicles 5:2–14
  • John 3:36
  • Revelation 11:15–19

God’s Instruction

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From the November 2020 Issue
Nov 2020 Issue