The tipping point – Wednesday, 34th Week in ordinary time – Revelation 15:1-4

So far we have seen the plague of the seven seals (6:1-8:1) and of the 7 trumpets (8:2-11:19). In chapter 16 we will hear of the seven angels with seven plagues or the seven bowls of wrath of God that are poured on those who bear the mark of the beast. The seven angels are no doubt the traditional 7 archangels of late Jewish angelology. In I Enoch (Enoch is an apocalyptic book popular before the time of Christ and for several centuries afterward. Its original language was likely Aramaic) they are listed as Uriel, Raphael, Raguel, Michael, Sariel, Gabriel, and Remiel. In Jewish literature they are often called the “angels of the presence.”

Chapter fifteen prepares us for the pouring out of the bowl of judgments that will take place in chapter sixteen. They are the last judgments because “they exhaust the anger of God”; with them God’s anger is satisfied. Like the earlier series of calamities, this too is a manifestation of the wrath of God on his enemies. God’s wrath is building to a grand climax.

Each set of calamities have been in sets of seven (seven seals and the seven trumpets) and now we have the last of the series of seven calamities seven bowls of wrath. However, the final destruction of Rome, the seat of the Roman Empire and the cause of the suffering to the early Christians is yet to come in chapter 17. The final judgment of the beast and the dragon will take place in Chapter 19:11- 20:10. A vision of the victorious martyrs precedes the vision of woe that will take place in Revelations 15:5–16:21

John, the author of the book, now sees a sea of glass. This sea of glass was mentioned in 4:6 but now a detail is added. It is mingled with fire. The saints who have triumphed over the beast are pictured as standing by the shore of this heavenly sea, holding harps of God. The harp or the lyre, as we have seen in 5:7-8, is a musical instrument used for the praise and worship of God.

The saints sing a hymn of praise to God for his mighty acts, anticipating the final victory and the execution of God’s righteous judgments. They now sing the Song of Moses, the servant of God. The Song of Moses may be an allusion to Exodus 15:1-18, where Moses and Israel sing a song of deliverance after having passed through the sea.

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