Revelation 15 and Israel’s Future

Norbert Lieth

In Revelation 15, John sees a panorama of the final judgment of the end times. Related to this is the restoration and redemption of the people of Israel. An exposition.

As athletes prepare for the starting gun; as soldiers prepare for the attack; as sailors hoist the sails to cast off; so the seven angels will prepare for the final judgments of God in the end time: “And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God” (Rev 15:1). In conjunction with this, in the Apostle John’s vision, “I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God” (Rev 15:2).

The scenery brings to mind several “seas” in the Bible. First, it is suggestive of the large washbasin in front of the temple, which was also called a sea: “And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about” (1 Kings 7:23). Then, it reminds us of the Red Sea that Israel crossed through to be free. After passing through it, the Israelites sang a song with Moses (cf. Rev 15:3-4). We also know of the “Sea of Nations”: “Which stilleth the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the people” (Ps 65:7). And furthermore, we know that the anti-Christian world ruler comes from the Sea of Nations (Rev 13:1), in contrast to the Antichrist, who comes from the earth (Eretz Israel: Rev 13:11). [Editor’s note: This is Mr. Lieth’s personal interpretation, which defers from most who believe the first beast is the Antichrist, and the second the False Prophet.]

Revelation 4:6 references the glass sea: “And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.” This sea could well mean the Sea of Nations that is before the throne of God, and which is seen from the perspective of the omnipresent One. Everything is in God’s presence; everything is in His sight; the whole world is revealed to Him; and He penetrates and sees through everything. The glory of God is enthroned over the whole earth. No being is invisible to Him.

This sea is infused with fire, which indicates the judgment. The redeemed stand by the sea; they are no longer in it. They have been saved by the blood of the Lamb. In the Great Tribulation, they went through the fire of suffering (baptism of fire), and the torrents of the Antichrist’s waters washed over them. But, the fire couldn’t scorch them, and the water couldn’t drown them (Isa 43:2). Now, the overcomers are no longer at sea, but they are liberated and look back triumphantly from above. “And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest” (Rev 15:3-4).

Just as Israel sang a song with Moses after crossing the Red Sea (Ex 15:1), it happens again. The Egyptians were judged in the sea, and Israel was liberated by the blood of the Lamb and by the passage through the sea. It is similar here. The world is judged, but the overcomers are saved by the blood of the Lamb, through the Tribulation.

Revelation is proof that the Jews still have a central role in God’s plan for the salvation of the world. It all comes full circle in Revelation. The first song that we find in the Bible is the song of Moses and the Israelites in Exodus 15. Additionally, we’re introduced to another of Moses’ songs in Deuteronomy 32, which he performed together with Joshua before the people (31:30; 32:44). And now, the first and last songs of the Bible are mentioned together in Revelation. This points us to the following: The song of Moses is connected to the song of the Lamb; it retains its meaning. It starts and ends with Israel, and the goal is the Lamb. Through this, God shows us how everything belongs together, and nothing is forsaken. The prophetic calling of Moses was to focus on Jesus. Moses without Jesus is unthinkable.

We see through both songs that the Old and New Testaments form a unified whole. The song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32 gives a complete overview of Israel’s history. The preceding verses (Deut 31:29-30) show that it’s about the end of days. The song in Deuteronomy 32 is divided into the following sections: verses 1-6 describe God’s greatness and faithfulness. Verses 7-14: Israel’s early history. Verses 15-19: the time of the prophets. Verses 20-21: God withdraws from His people. Verses 22-33: God scatters His people and abandons them to persecution. Verses 34-36: The end times are approaching, both the day of God’s mercy, as well as His vengeance. Verses 37-42: judgment in the time of Revelation. Verse 43: The final blessing and redemption of Israel.

“And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened: And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles. And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled” (Rev 15:5-8).

The heavenly temple that is opened is the original, the highest dwelling place of God. The earthly temple and the tabernacle were depictions of it. The angels are dressed in a priestly manner and perform a holy, just, and priestly service. They are in the service of the King. The golden bowls of the seven messengers correspond to the vessels used in the tent to scatter the blood (Ex 27:3). This shows that the courts are all just and belong to the holiness of God.

The cloud of smoke and the fact that no one can enter the temple make us think of Jeremiah’s time: “Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through” (Lam 3:44). The time of God’s final wrath has come, when He veils Himself in His unapproachable glory and completes the judgment. God withdraws and only reveals Himself through that judgment. Perhaps it is also to be understood as a hint that God has no pleasure in judgment, but that He must do it for His righteousness. It was said before in Lamentations: “For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men” (3:33). Yes, He wraps Himself up, isolates, and no one is allowed to come near Him. Doesn’t this also remind one of how people act when they are grieving?

The realization that the people of Israel will come to in the last days, according to Revelation 15 and Deuteronomy 32, is remarkable. What a wonderful confession of God and the Lamb, which they’ve been led to through the Tribulation! For millennia the Jewish people resisted it, refused to admit it, denied it, mocked it, portrayed Jesus as Beelzebub, cursed and persecuted Him and His followers, ignored Isaiah 53 in their Scripture readings…and now this confession to the Lamb. 

This is reminiscent of people who didn’t want to know anything about Jesus for a long time, and later praise Him for everything. It can happen again and again that people who were previously opposed to Christ convert and become His confessors.

News From Israel - 09/2020

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