Seven Last Plagues
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58. Seven Last Plagues
Revelation 15.1-4

"I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign, seven angels with the seven last plagues - last because with them God completes his wrath. And I saw what looked like a glass sea glowing with fire. Standing beside the sea were those victorious over the beast, its image, and its name's number. They held harps received from God and sang the song of God's servant Moses and the Lamb: 'Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, king of the nations. Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring your name glory? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for you have revealed your righteous acts.'" (Revelation 15.1-4)✞

Blood Heat and Darkness

Ten Egypt PlaguesJohn of Patmos tells of the pouring out of the seven last plagues in Revelation 16.1-21, with which God's wrath concludes. "Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, 'Go, pour out the seven bowls of God's wrath on the earth.'" These afflictions cause terrible sores on those with "the beast's mark who worshiped his image." When this second bowl pours out, the sea becomes blood and results in all the sea's life dying. The third angel's bowl turns all rivers and springs to blood. The fourth bowl causes the sun to become so hot as "to scorch people with fire," and they cursed God. The fifth plague caused complete darkness, but they refused to repent. The sixth bowl poured out on to the River Euphrates. The river will dry up so that armies can travel to Armageddon's great battle only 18 miles southeast of modern Haifa. From this location, the assembled troops can advance towards Jerusalem for a final battle against Jesus Christ. The seventh and last plague is "thunderings and flashes of lightning and a mighty earthquake." Jesus' followers would be greatly encouraged, but it would, undoubtedly, bring profound misery for those who are not. John of Patmos' arrangement of the numbers here in two sets of seven is typical of how the apocalyptic writers tended to arrange their material in groups of ten, seven, or three. Two groups of seven would approach perfection.

Lake of Fire

Lake of FireBefore John of Patmos tells of the seven angels with the seven last plagues, he paints a word picture of those who had come through martyrdom for Christ. They stand beside the glass seas glowing with fire. In antiquity, artisans made glass into jewelry, beads, window panes, and tableware. It was, however, rare and very precious. It appears here as glass intermingled with fire. In Scripture, fire and burning are the symbols of judgment. The light of the fire of judgment, which descends upon the earth, grimly illuminates the whole scene.

Moses Servant Song

Paphos AmphitheatreGod gives the heavenly martyrs harps to sing Moses' servant song. They also join in the Lamb's music. The "nations' king" mentioned appears in some manuscripts as the "King of the Ages," emphasizing Jesus' geographical control and His eternal power. In this passage, we hear Moses' servant song. Phrases in this song come from Psalm 111.2-3 "Great are the Lord's works; they are pondered by all who delight in them. Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever." Jeremiah 10.7 adds, "Who should not fear you, the nations' king? Among all the nations' wise leaders and in all their kingdoms, there is no one like you." Psalm 86.9 explains, "All your created nations will come and worship before you, Lord; they will glorify your name." Finally, Psalm 98.2 concludes, "The Lord has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations."

Miriam's Song

Moses' sister Miriam also sang and danced a praise song to the Lord when Israel triumphantly crossed the Red Sea. The English Biblical scholar H. B. Swete (1835-1917) commented, "The saints have now come safely through the sea of martyrdom and have arrived at the shore of heaven." There they sing Moses' song and dance on heaven's shore with joy. The martyrs in heaven emerge victorious from their contest with evil forces and the Antichrist. They often die the most savage deaths, and yet they emerge here triumphant. It is the very fact that they die that makes them victors. If they remain alive by denying their faith, their enemies will defeat them. Again and again, the early church records describe a martyrdom day as a victory day. On such a day, faithful Christians process to the martyr's tomb and worship God there. In "The Martyrdom of Saint Perpetua," we read from the prison diary of a young woman martyred in Carthage in 202-203 AD. "The victory day dawned, and they walked from prison to the amphitheater as if they were walking to heaven, happy and serene in countenance." Jesus says in Matthew 16.25, "For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it." The Greek phrase "their life" can mean "their soul." The real victory is not to prudently preserve life but to face the worst that evil can do and, if need be, to be faithful in death. A wise old Christian, a famous Spanish poet, philosopher, and mystic named Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo (1864-1936), once said, "May God deny you peace, and give you glory."

Sing Lord Song

Moses Crossing Red SeaRevelation's victorious martyrs sing the Lord's song. "Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty." The Lamb's music is the song that the redeemed ones and martyrs alone can learn. They also sing Moses' and Miriam's songs after the Red Sea's safe crossing. "The Lord is my strength and song, and become my salvation. Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you — majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? The Lord reigns forever and ever." The phrase, "the Lord is my strength, and my song," also means "the Lord is my strength and defense." Our song is also our defense!

Recite the Shema

Bedtime ShemaEvery Jew at each Sabbath evening synagogue service has the memory of the Lord's song stamped upon them. They recite the "Shema," Israel's creed, and follow it with two prayers. One prayer calls them to sing a particular chorus, "A new song did they that were delivered sing to thy name by the sea-shore, together did all praise and own thee king, and say, 'Jehovah shall reign, world without end. Blessed be the Lord who saves Israel.'" Moses' song commemorates history's most extraordinary deliverance of God's people. The victorious martyrs are brought through the persecution' seas to sing a new song unto the Lord in the promised land of heaven.

The Martyrs' Song

Open Bible and crossRevelation's victorious sing their own martyr's song to the Lord and King of the Ages and praise God's greatness. "the Ages King" or "the Nations' King" emphasizes God's eternal nature and omnipotence. The martyrs' song is almost entirely composed of Old Testament quotations. There is also not one word about their achievements, but it is a lyrical outburst as they praise God's greatness. "It is true that you are our God Jehovah, and our fathers' God, our king, and our fathers' king, our savior, and our fathers' savior, our creator, our salvation rock, our help, and our deliverer. Your name is everlasting, and there is no God besides you." "Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, king of the ages. Who will not fear you, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed."

Just True King

Winding Pathway up to HeavenThe name of the great and just true king is worshipped by believers and heaven's angels, as they praise, so people forget themselves. Heaven is a place where people remember only the Lamb of God and the Heavenly Father. The Irish Biblical scholar R. H. Charles (1855-1931) believed, "In the perfect vision of God, one wholly forgets self." It is as if when we become absorbed in God's wonder, we completely forget our petty needs. H. B. Swete (1835-1917), a fellow commentator on Revelation, agreed with this concept, "In God's presence, the martyrs forget themselves. New wonders surrounding them absorb their thoughts. The just true king and the mighty scheme of things, in which their sufferings form a tiny, infinitesimal part, are opening before them. They begin to see the great issue of the world drama, and we hear the doxology with which they greet their first unclouded vision of the true king and his works."

Justice and Holiness

Chain LinksFor the martyrs, justice, and holiness join together like the links of a chain. Revelation 15.3b repeats, "Just and true are your ways, King of the ages." Having this kind of king means that truth is prominent. His perfect justice matches his supreme righteousness and purity. He is scrupulously fair in his judgment because his holy standards are so clear. In our politically correct society, today's church tiptoes around and often calls for justice without reference to purity and truth. It is later surprised that no real justice appears in the absence of holiness and honesty!

"Seven Last Plagues"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

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