Seven churches have received a message from Jesus, seven seals have been opened, and seven trumpets have been sounded thus far in the book of Revelation (chs. 1–14). Now, as we see in today’s passage, seven plagues are about to be unleashed (15:1). These “plagues are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished.” The plague judgments represent the final outpouring of judgment, the end of the present age consummated at the return of Jesus. Revelation does not end in chapter 15, for it goes on to describe some more things that will happen before the end, but the plagues are a foretaste of a more complete description of the end that lies ahead in John’s record of his visions.
Before we learn more about these seven plagues, we see again “those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name” (v. 2). Of course, this group consists of the 144,000 saints who have been sealed with the name of God and of His Son (7:1–8; 14:1–5), the congregation that is actually much larger than 144,000 because the 144,000 symbolize the people of God redeemed from all tribes and tongues (7:9–12). This group stands beside “a sea of glass mingled with fire” (15:2). We are reminded of the clear expanse or firmament at the base of God’s throne (Ex. 24:10; Ezek. 1:22). These saints who have conquered the beast, in other words, are standing in the very presence of our reigning Lord. They have maintained their profession to the end, clinging to Christ in life and in death, and now they get to see God.
These saints do not stand idly by; rather, they “sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb” (Rev. 15:3). John alludes here to Moses’ song of victory over Pharaoh at the Red Sea (Ex. 15) and the new song that the same saints sing in Revelation 14:3. It is not that the song of Moses from Exodus 15 and the song of the Lamb are identical. Instead, John is saying that the songs stand in continuity with one another. The incontestable victory the Lord won at the Red Sea over Pharaoh is the paradigm for God’s final victory over all evil.
When God defeated Pharaoh at the Red Sea, the surrounding nations trembled (Josh. 2:9–11). When God defeats all evil, the nations will fear and worship Him. That is what the saints declare in their new song. The great acts of God reveal His holiness and inspire the nations to come and worship Him forever (Rev. 15:3–4).