The scroll containing God’s program for the future has seven seals. In Revelation 8:1 we read of the seventh seal being broken. At that time John saw seven angels with seven trumpets. The seventh trumpet message is the longest and began with the great announcement that the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign for ever and ever according to:
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign for ever and ever.
Within that seventh trumpet message are several signs and visions.
The Signs of the Seventh Trumpet Message
1. Sign of the woman in Revelation 12:1
2. Sign of the dragon in Revelation 12:3
3. Sign of the seven last plagues in Revelation 15:1
The Visions of the Seventh Trumpet Message
1. Vision of the beast with seven heads in Revelation 13:1
2. Vision of the beast with two horns in Revelation 13:11
3. Vision of the 144,000 in Revelation 14:1-5
4. Vision of the gospel and judgements in Revelation 14:6-13
5. Vision of the final harvest in Revelation 14:14-20
6. Vision of the heavenly temple and the seven last plagues in Revelation 15:1 – Revelation 16:21
Additional visions in the seventh triplet message are recorded in chapters 17-22 and we will discuss them later.
Preparation for the Seven Last Plagues
I saw in heaven another great and marvellous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues – last, because with them God’s wrath is completed. And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name. They held harps given them by God and sang the song of Moses he servant of God and the song of the Lamb: “Great and marvellous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are Your ways, King of the ages. Who will not fear You, Lord, and bring glory to Your name? For You alone are holy, All nations will come and worship before You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed.” After this I looked and in heaven the temple, that is, the tabernacle of the Testimony, was opened. Out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues. They were dressed in clean, shining linen and wore golden sashes round their chest. Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.
The Sign in Heaven
John saw another sign, meaning it is like others that preceded it. The signs preceding this one were the sign of the woman, representing Israel and the sign of the dragon with seven heads and ten horns, which refers to satan’s control of world empires and governments. It is a great and marvellous sign because it displays the works of Almighty God. Previous judgements were also plagues from God but here we have the final judgements. The completion of His wrath has come. These last seven plagues will bring to completion His anger against a rebellious world. His anger will not continue forever as we can read in:
He will not always accuse, nor will He harbour His anger forever.
John next mentions seeing what looks like a sea of glass mixed with fire. This reminds us of the glass of sea in Revelation 4:6. The difference is that in Revelation 15:2 the sea is mixed with fire. Fire speaks of cleansing, purging according to I Corinthians 3:10-15 and may indicate that those who stand on this sea have been through God’s purging fire and have come out victorious. The people he sees standing beside or on this sea are those “who have been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name”. This is clearly a reference to the martyrs who have come out of the tribulation period, the great multitude mentioned in Revelation 7:9-17 who come out of that terrible time as believers in Jesus Christ. They have suffered greatly and have lost their lives because of their allegiance and loyalty to Him according to Revelation 13:15 and Revelation 20:4. Their position of “standing” implies victory and conquest through resurrection. They were killed for their faith; they now stand victorious in heaven.
The Song of Moses and the Lamb
These tribulation believers sing a song which is connected to previous songs. In Deuteronomy 32 we read of Moses song recounting the experiences of God’s people and the victories they had witnessed. The song of the Lamb in Revelation 5 speaks of God’s redemption and the final victory of His people. Both the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb carry the same theme as this song which the tribulation believers will sing, which is that ultimately the Lord will be victorious over all the nations of the world. This song is about who God is and what He can and will do.
They praise the ways of God, for the Lord is right and just in all that He does. See also Psalm 145:17. We may not always understand the plan of God, especially as it relates to justice and the future, but we can be assured that there is a plan and that it is the correct plan because of who God is and how He works in history. They declare that only God is “holy”, completely separate from His creation. Only He deserves glory and praise. We see this emphasized in Psalm 29:2 and Psalm 96:8. They declare God’s purpose for all nations. God’s ultimate purpose for all nations and all creation is to worship Him as we can read in Psalm 66:4; Psalm 72:11; Isaiah 66:23. All people will bow the knee to Jesus Christ and confess that He is Lord according to Philippians 2:9-11.
The Scene in Heaven
John then has a glimpse of the temple in heaven. Hebrews 8:2,5 and Hebrews 9:23-24 seem to indicate that there is a literal temple in heaven and that the earthly temple was a copy of the heavenly temple as does Revelation 15:5. John calls the temple “the tabernacle of the Testimony” which is a reference to the Law, the commandments of God that were placed within the Ark of the Covenant. God’s covenant with His people will be kept. He will honour His high and holy standards; His judgements will fall upon those who reject Him and His principles. These seven angels are dressed in clean, shining linen, which is a picture of righteousness as we can understand from:
Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.
They wore golden sashes around their chests. This reminds us of the description of the Lord Jesus in Revelation 1:13 which states that “He had a golden sash round His chest.” The seven angels are given seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of the eternal God. These angels are about to give a demonstration of the holy and righteous character of God. At that moment the temple is filled with the smoke from the glory of God and from His power. And no one can enter the temple until God’s wrath is “completed.” We have a similar scene in Exodus 40:34-35 where Moses could not enter the tabernacle because the glory of the Lord filled the temple. Similarly, the priests in the time of Solomon could not enter the temple because God’s glory had filled it, as we can read in II Chronicles 7:1-2. The last seven plagues play an extremely important role in the overall plan of God. The tribulation is a demonstration of God’s wrath against all those who refuse to put their trust in Him.