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's wrath is completed. And I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and the number of its name. They held harps given them by 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 glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.'" (Revelation 15.1-4)✞

Blood Heat and Darkness

Ten Egypt PlaguesJohn of Patmos tells of the pouring out of the seven last plagues with which God's wrath is completed. These plagues cause terrible sores upon those "who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image." When this second bowl is poured out the sea becomes a sea of blood and results in all life in it dying. The third angel's bowl causes all rivers and springs to turn to blood. The fourth bowl will cause the sun to become so hot as "to scorch men with fire." The fifth plague will bring complete darkness. The sixth bowl is to be poured out on the River Euphrates. The land will dry up such that armies can travel easier to the great battle at Armageddon. This is approximately 18 miles southeast of the modern city of Haifa. From this location, the assembled armies advance towards Jerusalem for a final battle against Jesus Christ. The final plague of "thundering and lightning and a mighty earthquake and finally an announcement of the coming of Jesus." This would be a great encouragement to Jesus' followers and no doubt deep misery for those who are not. John of Patmos' arrangement of the numbers here in two sets of seven is typical of the way the apocalyptic writers tend to arrange their material in groups of ten, seven or three. Two groups of seven would be regarded as approaching 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 are standing beside the seas of glass glowing with fire. Glass has been made from antiquity as jewelry, beads, window panes, and tableware. It is however very rare and extremely precious. It appears here as a glass fire sea that is glass intermingled with fire.

judgment in Fire

AngelsThis is an important passage of judgment where fire and burning in Scripture are together the symbols of judgment. The whole scene is grimly illuminated with the light of the fire of judgment which descends upon the earth.

Moses Servant Song

Paphos AmphitheatreThe martyrs in Heaven are given harps by God and sing Moses' servant song. They also join in the song of the Lamb. The "King of the Nations" mentioned in this Revelation passage is presented in some manuscripts as the "King of the Ages" which emphasizes not just his geographical control but also Jesus' everlasting power. In this passage, we hear Moses' servant song. Phrases in this song are drawn from Psalm 111.2-3 "Great are the works of the Lord; 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, King of the nations? This is your due. Among all the wise leaders of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is no one like you." Psalm 86.9 is used "All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to 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 song of praise to the Lord when the children of Israel triumphantly crossed the Red Sea. The English Biblical scholar H. B. Swete (1835-1917) comments, "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 the shore of Heaven with joy. The martyrs in heaven emerge victorious from their contest with the forces of evil and the Antichrist. They often die the most savage of 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, they would have been defeated. Again and again, the records of the Early Church describe a day of martyrdom as a day of victory. On such a day the faithful process to the tomb of the martyr and worship God there. We read of one martyrdom from the prison diary of a young woman martyred in Carthage in 202-203 AD called "The Martyrdom of Saint Perpetua." "The day of their victory 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 also "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 named Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo (1864-1936) who was a famous Spanish poet, philosopher and mystic once said, "May God deny you peace, and give you glory."

Sing Lord Song

Moses Crossing Red SeaThe victorious martyrs in Revelation sing the Lord song. "Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty." The victorious martyrs sing the Lord song. They sing the song of the Lamb which is the Redeemed One's Song that they alone can learn. They also sing Moses' and Miriam's songs, from Exodus 15 after the safe crossing of the Red Sea. "The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has 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" may also be translated as "the Lord is my strength and my defense." Our song is also our defense!

Recite the Shema

Bedtime ShemaTo sing the song of the Lord is stamped upon the memory of every Jews at each Sabbath evening service in the synagogue. There, they recite the "Shema", the creed of Israel, and follow it with two prayers and one of these prayers calls them to sing a special song, "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

Heartfelt PraiseMoses' song commemorates the greatest deliverance in the history of God's people. The victorious martyrs are brought through the seas of persecution to sing a new song unto the Lord in the promised land of Heaven.

The Martyrs' Song

Open Bible and crossThe victorious in Revelation sing their own martyr's song to the Lord and King of the Ages and praise God's greatness. Some manuscripts read "King of the Ages" rather than "King of the Nations" to emphasize the eternal nature as well as the omnipotence of God. The martyrs in Revelation have their martyr song. It is almost entirely composed of quotations from the Old Testament. There is also not one single word in it about their achievements, but from beginning to end it is a lyrical outburst as they praise God's greatness. "True it is that thou art Jehovah our God, and the God of our fathers, our King, and the King of our fathers, our Savior, and the Savior of our fathers, our Creator, the Rock of our Salvation, our Help and our Deliverer. Thy name is from everlasting, and there is no God beside thee." "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 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."

Just True King

Winding Pathway up to HeavenThe name of the great and just true King s worshipped by believers and angels in Heaven. As they worship so people forget themselves. Heaven is a place where people forget themselves and think of and remember only the Lamb of God and the Heavenly Father. The Irish Biblical scholar R. H. Charles (1855-1931) writes, "In the perfect vision of God, the self is wholly forgotten." It is as if when we become absorbed in the wonder of God we completely forget our petty needs. H. B. Swete (1835-1917) a fellow commentator on the Book of Revelation agrees with this concept, "In the presence of God, the martyrs forget themselves, their thoughts are absorbed by new wonders that surround them, the just true king and the mighty scheme of things, in which their sufferings form an 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 are joined 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 the truth is prominent. God's supreme holiness and purity are matched by his perfect justice. He is scrupulously fair in his judgment because his holy standards are so clear. The church of today tiptoes around in our politically correct society often calls for justice without any reference to holiness and truth. It is later surprised that no real justice is done in the absence of holiness and truth!

"Seven Last Plagues"
by Ron Meacock

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