Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!
Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished.
And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
“Great and amazing are your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
O King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord,
and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
After this I looked, and the sanctuary of the tent of witness in heaven was opened, and out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, clothed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes around their chests. And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished. (ESV)
Big Idea: Because we will be blessed with rest from all our enemies, we must patiently endure and faithfully keep his commands.
- Confidently Endure (vv. 1-4)
First, John urges us, as he did these Roman Christians, to endure. To endure with confidence, we need two assurances as God's people. First, we need to be assured that all that is wrong will be made right; complete justice is coming. Second, we need to be assured that we are going to make it to the end and participate in the final song of victory.
A. Complete Justice:
John says that when these seven bowls have been poured out, God’s wrath will be “completed.” The use of the number "seven” (God’s number, often used to signify completion) reinforces the perfection and total fulfillment of the justice (Lv. 26:21). That there are seven angels conveys that there will be more than enough divine power to conquer all evil. The seven bowls of plagues would signal to the Jew that God will unleash all the wrath necessary to liberate his people once and for all from the dominion of evil.
A. Final Song:
John inspires us again with the promise that those who are “victorious over the beast” will rejoice in that Day of completed justice. We have already learned that victory is living in loyalty to Jesus. Victory is refusing to compromise your allegiance to Christ by blending in with everyone else. Those who persevere to the very end in their loyalty to Christ will sing the “song of Moses.” This will not be a new song but one that believers have sung throughout all of redemptive history.
1) How might evil and injustice keep us from enduring? Can you think of any specific examples of how an awareness of sin and brokenness (both internal and external) can result in spiritual exhaustion, tempting one to give up?
2) What good news does this passage have for those discouraged by evil?
- Faithfully Keep Commands (vv. 5-8)
Not only must we wait patiently for Christ to bring his complete justice on all evil, we must live faithfully in the meantime. We said above that key to enduring will be remembering, but how do we remember? The reason the faithful Jew only needed the first couple of lines to remember this long song of Moses is that he sang Exodus 15:1-18 every Sabbath evening in synagogue worship (NIV Study Bible). The Church has always worshiped corporately morning and evening. There were morning and evening sacrifices throughout Old Testament history (Ps. 92) and when the synagogue emerged, Jews gathered to read the Scriptures, confess their sins, and sing praises to God every Sabbath morning and evening. This pattern of bookending the Lord’s Day with corporate worship contributes mightily to endurance and faithfulness because it cuts deep gospel grooves in the mind and heart.
A. Judgment on the Beast:
So we come full circle in this passage: the judgment of the beast and the justification of the saints. “Golden sashes” represent Christ’s kingly role and the judgment he will sovereignly execute on his enemies. “Shining linen” represents his priestly role and the ultimate salvation he will bring to his followers.
B. Justification of Christians:
Our glorious perfection is not merely our individual perfect moral conformity to Christ but also execution of righteous judgment on rebels. We will be so perfectly conformed to the image of Christ that we will not be able to tolerate the existence of unbelief, so in union with Christ we will participate in judgment.
1) Can you think of an example of how something you heard, read, or learned from corporate worship helped you endure in following Christ?
2) Is corporate worship a priority in your/your family's life? Are there changes you need to make to make corporate worship more of a priority? Are there barriers that are currently keeping you from this?