Blog for April 6, 2016

THE GLASS SEA MIXED WITH FIRE

In our previous blog we mentioned that Revelation chapter 15 details three themes. We also said that Revelation chapter 15 introduces the final seven plagues that are detailed in the 16th chapter. This is mentioned for us in Revelation 15:1 which tells us, “Then I saw in heaven another marvelous event of great significance. Seven angels were holding the seven last plagues, which would bring God’s wrath to completion.” (NLT)

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Today we will look at the first theme of chapter 15 – God’s Vengeance.

We read in Revelation 15:2, “I saw before me what seemed to be a glass sea mixed with fire. And on it stood all the people who had been victorious over the beast and his statue and the number representing his name. They were all holding harps that God had given them.” (NLT)

HARP-CROWD

While this Scripture may appear shorter than expected in describing God’s vengeance it actually covers quite a lot by reading the descriptive scenes.

I find Scripture fascinating in that it reveals everything we need to know. I say this because all too often a person may read a Scripture and gloss over it. Many people who are either afraid or feel they are not able to understand Revelation will read a verse and not research it further for the message it contains or if indeed it has revealed certain scenes before. That is not a criticism but rather an observation in listening to people. In today’s verse the scene I am referring to is the sea of glass. We saw John describe this sea (which by the way is not a literal sea but a figurative one) in Revelation 4:6

But did you know the same sea was mentioned and seen in a vision by both Moses and Ezekiel? They describe it slightly differently but it’s the same sea of glass.

Exodus 24:9-10 records, “Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear like the sky itself.” (NET)

sea-of-glass-like-crystal-or-sapphire-tilework

Here the glass sea is described as a pavement made of sapphire and clear. If you recall when we discussed Revelation 4:6 we referred to the blue hue that one sees from pure white as in the icebergs that float in the North Atlantic Ocean.

In Ezekiel 1:22 the prophet describes the scene saying, “Over the heads of the living creatures there was the likeness of an expanse, shining like awe-inspiring crystal, spread out above their heads.” (ESV) I would encourage you to read the entire chapter of Ezekiel 1 as it will confirm further the point I am making that if we simply read a Scripture in isolation then we can miss the whole message. Sometimes we can miss the whole meaning or not understand it at all. God inspired Moses and Ezekiel to write down these scenes to show several things to us. One thing is that God revealed the awesome majesty of His heavenly headquarters in descriptions that indicated purity and wholesomeness. Clear awe inspiring transparency that all God’s ways are just, true and pure without any fault. But the Old Testament Scriptures here also show that God’s rule does not change. In the 1st chapter of Ezekiel it gives a fuller description of God’s throne room and describes the four living creatures in great detail. Each Scripture, Old and New Testament dovetails into each other to make a perfect joint in supporting the whole message God reveals to us in the Bible – WOW!

As we return to Revelation 15:2 notice this sea of glass is mixed with fire. Fire in Scripture is often mentioned to describe God’s vengeance. This fire isn’t destroying any part of God’s holy dwelling place. In fact nothing and no one in His presence is being harmed. We can see that by the fact that on it stood all the people who had been victorious over the beast and his statue and the number representing his name.

These are the Tribulation saints who gave up their lives rather than worship the beast, its image or take its mark. Rather than the antichrist or the false prophet and ultimately Satan thinking they have destroyed such faithful servants of God, on the contrary, these saints are victorious because they stand before God having received the crown of [everlasting] life. The fact that they are now holding harps means they are rejoicing and singing and giving praises to God.

As a result of their mistreatment, God’s vengeance is now turned on to those who persecuted His saints. That is the fire you see in this Scripture. The fire here describes God’s wrath and vengeance upon those who reject His offer of salvation but also on their treatment of God’s people. Little do they know it isn’t the last fire they will face. The final fire they experience will be eternal.