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Smoke Filled the Temple

Chapter 15 returns us back to the topic of judgement. This time with the image of seven angels with the seven last plagues. This vision, (and we know it's a vision because of the reference to "another great and marvelous sign"), could be a new set of sequential judgements following on from the previous set, but more likely represents the same set of judgements, but the last (or another) view of them. If you like, another perspective on the same set of judgements.

We are introduced to bowls representing divine anger. Bowls have previously been seen in Rev 5:8, golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. Does this link to these bowls? Are the prayers of God's people being answer through these second set of bowls? It's unclear, however, what we do see is that we are once again reminded that we are in the throne room of chapter 4. The four living creatures are there, as well as the sea of glass. Previously a smooth and calm layer, pointing to the lack of evil in the throne room, now glows with fire.

Those beside this sea of glass glowing with fire are those that have been victorious over the beast. This is not Jesus Christ's final victory, but rather the earthly victory of abstinence from the lure and attraction of adultery with Babylon (Rome). We, as God's people, the saints, win by not taking up the world's idolatrous ways and refusing to be compromised by the culture around us.

It is the worship that follows and flows that fills this chapter with joy. Using language from a number of old testament sources, (Psalm 111:2-3, Deuteronomy 32:4, Jeremiah 10:7, Psalm 86:9, and 98:2), we see praise for the King of the nations, the King of ages, the eternal King, the Almighty. All similar language that's been seen earlier in Revelations, e.g. the Alpha and the Omega, to reign forever.

The seal, the trumpets and the bowls, plagues, judgement. We see here that they are introduced in Heaven and we're reminded that all earthly disasters are not mere accidents, but rather determined by God's sovereignty, aimed at vindicating the saints that have faithfully obeyed and witnessed to the world.

Angels are dressed in service of the heavenly temple, clean shining linen with a golden sash. And now we see it:

The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power (Revelation 8a)

Taken from Isaiah 6:4-5 and Ezekiel 10:3-4. God's glory in response to the worship of His loyal servants, the martyred witnesses. We are God's people from all nations. We are the group that recognise the falsehood of idols and the truth of God and the Lamb. And God's glory will fill our temple like smoke. This is wonderful and this truth is reassuring to all of God's saints!

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