Seven Avenging Angels
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59. Seven Avenging Angels
Revelation 15.5-8

"After this, I looked, and I saw in heaven the temple — that is, the tabernacle of the covenant law — and it 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 around their chests. Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and his power, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed." (Revelation 15.5-8)


The Tent of the CovenantThe Tabernacle was called "The Tent of Witness," or "the Tent of Testimony", or even "the Tabernacle of the Covenant Law" in the Old Testament. The Tabernacle of the Testimony of the people of Israel is "the portable earthly dwelling place for the divine presence" during the wilderness wanderings. "Tabernacle" means simply a "residence" or "a dwelling place." Numbers 9.15-16 describes it, "On the day the Tabernacle, the Tent of the Covenant Law, was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire. That was how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire." John of Patmos is seeing this picture, not in terms of the Jerusalem temple, but in terms of the ancient tabernacle in the wilderness called the "Tent of the Covenant."✞


The Ark of the CovenantIt is from within this Tabernacle that the seven avenging angels or the seven angels with the seven plagues come. In the center of the Holy Place, within the tabernacle, lies the "Ark of the Covenant," the chest in which are contained the tablets of the ten commandments as well as Aaron's rod and a portion of the manna preserved from the wilderness wanderings. The ark is the holy of holies to the Jewish people. These seven angels come out from the place where the Law of God rests to show that no person or nation can with impunity defy the Law of God, it is so holy.

White Linen Robes

White Robed AngelThe seven avenging angels are dressed in white linen robes and wear golden sashes. They are given wrath-filled bowls by one of the four living creatures. The "seven avenging angels" are all clothed in white linen robes described as "clean shining linen" and wearing golden sashes around their chests, similar to the Son of Man in Revelation. Linen is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant and its manufacture is very labor-intensive but its cloth is greatly valued for its coolness in hot weather. The word "linen" gives us the word "line" from the use of a flax thread to determine a straight line or "plumb line." Interestingly, an ancient linen cloth was discovered in Qumran Cave 1 near the Red Sea where the Dead Sea Scrolls were also found. The color of the holy white garments of the angels is a symbol of purity and innocence like a bride's white dress. The angel's dress is also a priestly dress like the High Priest in the Temple in Jerusalem. The fine linen and the gold-embroidered sash around the chest are similar to that of the High Priest and other high ranking officials, princes and kings. Descended from the line of Aaron, the High Priest is the chief religious official of the Jewish Faith from the Exile in Babylon around BC 411 to the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 AD. The High Priest in Judaism might well be called "God's representative among human beings." These seven avenging angels in heaven also wear these robes as representatives of the Lord God Almighty.

Royal Dress

Priestly RobesThe angel's robes are also royal regalia. These angels come with the royalty of the King of Kings upon them. Their dress is a heavenly dress. The young man (probably an angel or archangel) at the empty tomb of Christ is similarly clothed in a "white robe" according to Mark 16.5 "As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed." The angel inhabitants of heaven come from God's presence and execute God's decrees upon the earth. It is no surprise that they glow having been in the presence of Almighty God.

Seven Golden Bowls

Four Living CreaturesIt is one of the "four living creatures" who hand the angels "the seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God." When the four living creatures first emerge on the scene in Revelation 4.6-8 we see that the first is like a lion, the second an ox, the third like a man, and the fourth like an eagle. They symbolize all that is strongest, bravest, wisest and swiftest in creation. They are the ultimate bodyguards for the throne room with eyes everywhere!

Bowls of Wrath

Image of AngelsAppropriately, one of the four living creatures hands the bowls of wrath to "the seven avenging angels" in white robes. Dr. William Barclay (1907-1978) the eminent Biblical scholar in "The Revelation of John" writes, "The bowls of wrath are to bring disasters in nature to the world and the symbolism may well be that all nature is handing itself over to God to serve his purposes."

"Seven Avenging Angels"
by Ron Meacock

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