Worship For God’s Justice in Answer to Prayer
Verse 1: “Another sign”: see 12:1 and 12:3 for the other uses of “sign.” The bowls will describe with greater detail and more intensity similar things the trumpets declared. This chapter and the bowls continue the theme of God’s just judgment from chapter 14.
Verse 1: The use of the word “plagues” draws our attention to the plagues of Egypt and also to Leviticus 26- the blessings and curses given to God’s people for obedience or disobedience. Leviticus 26:21: “Then if you walk contrary to me and will not listen to me, I will continue striking you, sevenfold for your sins.” Sevenfold means completely. The point here is that all those who have rejected God and the Messiah (Jesus), refusing to follow Him and persecuting His people will suffer the consequences of their choice—God’s just wrath. They will finally be destroyed—in answer to the prayers of the saints in Revelation 6.
Verse 2: A sea of glass mingled with fire. See 4:6 where John sees a sea of glass, like crystal. Here fire is mixed in to symbolize God’s judgment. John is seeing here a picture of the vindicated people of God (all of them, the church, the 144,000) praising God for final deliverance. The reference to the sea also recounts the Israelites, having crossed the Red Sea on dry land and watching their enemy destroyed.
Verse 2: The vision John is seeing is of those who conquered the beast and its image and number of its name. In other words, John sees all of those who have refused the temptation to compromise their faith with the surrounding culture—like Daniel and his friends. We conquer because of the blood of Jesus and through our bold, faithful testimony to Jesus. Revelation 12:10-11. Remember the promises to those who conquer given to the 7 churches in Revelation 2 and 3.
Our Application: There is intense pressure to compromise our faith and to deny Christ in today’s world just like there was in the first century. They were a minority Church in the midst of a vast majority who were worshipping idols, living in rampant sin, and not worshipping the one true God in Christ. We face similar issues today. Gordon Fee said about Corinth that the problems in the church were not that the church was located in Corinth. The problem was too much Corinth in the church. The same is true for us. There is too much America in the Church. The church is called to follow Jesus which is most often counter to the surrounding culture of America.
Verse 3: The song of Moses and the song of the Lamb are what we sing. This is built on Exodus 15:1-18 and Deuteronomy 32 which ends with “Rejoice with him, O heavens; bow down to him, all gods, for He avenges the blood of his children and takes vengeance on his adversaries. He repays those who hate him and cleanses his people’s land.” (Deuteronomy 32:43). Compare Revelation 6:10: The suffering saints “cried out with a loud voice, ‘O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Much in Revelation is God showing that the answer to their prayers (and ours) is coming.
Reminder: With the coming of Jesus and His death and resurrection the last days were ushered in and the Final Exodus began (which is what the first exodus was ultimately pointing to all along): See Hebrews 1:3 and 1 Corinthians 10:11 and Ephesians 1:9.
Verses 3 and 4: These words of praise are taken from various places in the OT (Jeremiah, Psalms) to praise God for his justice. “O Lord God The Almighty” is the primary title of God in the book of Revelation. He is the King of the nations. He alone is holy (separate from all others) and should be feared and glorified. When all is said and done people from every nation, tribe and language will worship him (and of course many will not). Every knee will eventually bow before Jesus, confess that Jesus Messiah is Lord and acknowledge that God was right all along (Philippians 2:9-11).
Our Application: Our goal is a church is to lead as many people as possible to a true saving knowledge of Jesus now so that they will not have to face the just judgment of God in the end.
Our Application: The worshippers “do not recount their own deeds of faithfulness and perseverance nor celebrate their own triumphs in ministry. Their total attention is on what God has done, not on what they have accomplished. This is the perspective we must strive for in our age of pride and self-centeredness.” (Grant Osborne, Commentary on Revelation)
Verse 5: John sees the sanctuary of the tent of witness in heaven opened. This refers back to the sanctuary in the wilderness after the first Exodus where the 10 Commandments were put by Moses. “Tent of witness” here refers to the testimony about and from Jesus. The word testify is the word witness are martyr and is used 17X in Revelation.
Verse 6-8: The seven angels coming from the sanctuary resemble priests serving God. They will pour out the golden bowls of wrath. The outpouring of judgment is a sacred offering to God, vindicating his name and bringing him glory and these bowls come in response to the prayers of the saints (Grant Osborne, Commentary on Revelation)
Our Application: The golden bowls of wrath here are connected to the golden bowls of incense (the prayers of the saints) in Revelation 5:8. Regarding our prayers Beale says, So much happens between the offering up of the prayers and the answer—much suffering, much persecution, much apparent delay in respite and relief. Yet the certain fact presented here is that God will answer. Often many years pass between the offering of a prayer and its answer. This too involves the faith and perseverance of the saints (14:2) and requires wisdom from God (13:18). How important it is as we pray to ask God for His perspective, not to mention His patience, in order that we keep on praying and never get discouraged, at all times remembering Jesus’ instruction that we ‘ought to pray and not to lose hear.’ (Luke 18:1).” (Beale, Commentary on Revelation)
The temple is filled with smoke so that none could enter. See also Exodus 40:35 and 1 Kings 8:11.