Dr. Andy Woods
Glory and Power 8-11-19
Revelation 15 Lesson 48
Good morning everybody. Let’s take our Bibles this morning if we could and open them to the Book of Revelation, chapter 15. As you’re doing that just a quick announcement. Wesley Hunt is running for Congress in district 7 in Houston, and to be better informed and meet the candidate, Pastor Robert Dean of West Houston Bible Church invites folks to join him August 17, this coming Saturday, at West Houston Bible Church for their 7:30 a.m. men’s prayer breakfast. If you want more information on that you can see me after.
And as we this morning give our attention to the Book of Revelation the title of our message this morning is Glory and Power. We are sort of at an interesting transition in the Book of Revelation. We have studied the various judgments that have come to the earth in the form of seven seal judgments and seven trumpet judgments. We are probably half way through the tribulation period at this point and now we prepare ourselves to study the old judgments which are recorded in Revelation 16. And in essence what has transpired here is we have a type of preparation taking place in heaven. Revelation 15 is really the preparation in heaven before the bowl judgments, Revelation 16, manifest themselves.
So this morning we’re finishing chapter 15 and the next time I’m with you we’ll be moving into Revelation 16 and so by way of preparation you might want to do a study this week of Revelation chapter 16. Revelation 15 is one of those chapters that most people don’t comment on; people hardly study it. They’re usually so eager to jump over it and get to the good stuff (I guess that’s the way they think) and they want to know what’s coming in 16 so they skip over 15. But 15, I think, is golden.
We have to understand that every part of the Bible is inspired by God. All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable. [2 Timothy 3:16, Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;] Even those chapters in the Bible that seem sort of remote to us or strange, those are equally beneficial for our spiritual growth.
And so here in chapter 15 we have the manifestation of the seven plagues, verse 1, we saw that last week. And then we have verse 2, we have the martyrs. Then heavenly preparation and from there we moved into basically the outline of chapter 15, the manifestation of the seven plagues. We saw the martyrs didn’t we, verses 2-4? We saw their identity and their praise; in fact, their doxology. And what a song that was, revealing to us the high purpose God has for worship.
And now we move into verses 5-8 where we’re taking a look at the heavenly tabernacle. Here’s kind of an outline of verses 5-8 of chapter 15. The tabernacle is open, verse 5. Angels emerge, verse 6, angels are given the bowls, verse 7. The tabernacle was filled with God’s glory, verse 8. In fact, it’s interesting, you get to the end of verse 8 and no one is allowed to enter this heavenly tabernacle until these various judgments are poured out upon the earth.
Take a look, if you could, at verse 5 as this tabernacle in heaven is opened. It says, “After these things I looked and the tabernacle of testimony in heaven was opened.” You notice that familiar expression, verse 5, “After these things,” that generally shows us or introduces to us a new theme. The focus now moves from the martyrs to what’s called a heavenly tabernacle or heavenly temple. And why is this called a heavenly tabernacle or a heavenly temple? Because this is the location from which these bowl judgments, that are coming in chapter 16, are going to emerge from.
You’ll notice there in verse 5 the word “testimony.” “After these things I looked” as John is speaking, and the temple of the tabernacle of testimony in heaven was opened.” What does it mean here when it talks about the “testimony”? Well, you might want to jot down Exodus 32:15 because there the Law of God that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai, it’s called the “tablets of the testimony.”
[Exodus 32:15, “Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets that were written on both sides; on the front and on the back they were written.”]
And by the time you get to the New Testament it was so well understood that that law was stored in God’s tabernacle that the tabernacle itself began to be designated The Tabernacle Testimony because it was in the tabernacle that the Law of God that Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai was stored. And you say well, wait a minute, I thought all of this happened on the earth. We’re talking here about heaven. And you’re right, that did happen on the earth but one of the things that’s fascinating to study as you move through the Book of Revelation is where there is an earthly reality in God there is a heavenly counterpart.
So there is an earthly temple, we’ll see more of that in a little bit, and to correspond with that is a heavenly temple. Here we see the same exact kind of thing, an earthly tabernacle, earthly testimony, heavenly tabernacle, heavenly testimony. In fact, you might recall all the way back to the Book of Exodus when Moses was given the assignment of building that wonderful tabernacle in the wilder-ness he was not to build it any way he wanted to build it; he was given specific instructions by God. Hebrews 8:5 says, “who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, “See,” He says, “that you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.” I mean, Moses wasn’t just given an opportunity to just willy-nilly do whatever he wanted in terms of its construction. It had to fit the measurements God gave him because there was already a correspondence to it in heaven.
And we see more of that as we move into the Book of Revelation. And it’s interesting here that that tabernacle is open in heaven and our attention is drawn to it. Why so? Because that is the origin of the bowl judgments that are about to hit planet earth in Revelation 16. We move away from the tabernacle being opened and now we see angels themselves coming out of this heavenly tabernacle.
Notice what it says in Revelation 15:6, “and the seven angels who had the seven plagues came out of the temple,” now sometimes it’s called temple, sometimes it’s called tabernacle, the tabernacle was sort of like a mobile temple if I can put it that way. It’s what the nation of Israel carried around with them in the wilderness wandering years. There were specific instructions about putting it up and breaking it down at night and very specific instructions they had to follow and those instructions were followed until the day the nation of Israel entered the Promised Land and ultimately in the Promised Land something would be created there called the temple built by Moses which was a permanent fixture since the wilderness wandering years were over. I may have misspoken there, the tabernacle was built by Moses, the temple itself was ultimately build by Solomon. And you can read about that in 1 Kings 6:1, around 966 B.C. [1 Kings 6:1, “Now it came about in the four hundred and eightieth year after the sons of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.”]
The tabernacle had a correspondence in heaven. The temple that Solomon constructed has also a correspondence in heaven. And our attention is drawn to there because this is where the bowl judgments will come forth from and again verse 6,” and the seven angels who had the seven plagues came out of the temple, clothed in clean and bright, and girded around their chest with golden sashes.”
So as these angels come out of this heavenly tabernacle/temple, each of them has a bowl and as each angel, in Revelation 16, is going to deposit the contents of their bowl on planet earth, another judgment will come to planet earth, just like Jesus in Revelation 6 opening the seven sealed scroll, every seal that was opened another judgment came to the earth. Just like the trumpet judgments that we’ve studied, every time an angel sounds a trumpet another judgment comes to the earth.
It’s interesting how God has delegated this task of judgment and pouring out the contents of these bowls to angels. In Sunday School we’ve been taking a look at the doctrine of angels, studying everything the Bible has to say about angels. Did you know that angels were involved in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah? Obviously, it was God’s decision to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah but He delegated the task to an angel. Genesis 19:15 says, “When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, ‘Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.”’ Genesis 19:22, the angel says to Lot, “Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” Therefore, the name of the town was called Zoar.
Acts chapter 12:22-23 says this: “The people kept crying out, ‘The voice of a god and not of a man!’  And immediately an angel of the LORD struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died.” This involves death of Herod Agrippa because of his pride. And it’s interesting to me that an angel was delegated that particular task as well. And here we see the same thing. God has delegated these various paths to angels. I think there might be a point of application in there for us because God desires to give us assignments as well. This is something that God apparently doesn’t do everything on His own but He discloses assignments to members of His creation, the angelic realm.
And many times in life I believe God has specific assignments for us; maybe not to bring destruction and judgment that the angels will bring that we’re reading about here, but there could be an assignment in your life, a ministry you’re supposed to do, a person you’re supposed to witness to, a person that you’re supposed to talk to, a job that you’re supposed to hold. It wouldn’t be farfetched to believe that given the nature of God and how He is delegating these tasks, important tasks, even to the angelic realm. And it’s interesting that it talks about how these angels, coming from forth from this heavenly temple are in fine linen and bright. It reminds us of the return of our LORD Jesus Christ to the earth in Revelation 19:8 at the end of the Book of Revelation. It says, “It was given to her to clothe herself” that’s the bride of Christ, that would be us, “in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen” same idea, same word, “for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”
Revelation 19:14 says, “And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.” So these angels, just like the church that returns with Jesus at the end of the tribulation period is basically in a perfect glorified state. How could that not be given the fact that’s who Jesus is, He’s perfect and He’s pure. And consequently, we see these angels entrusted with this task of judgment in a state of unfallen purity as well. And I guess that makes me feel a little bit better at the end of the day because who can you trust with judgment? Not many people, only someone whose character is perfect and moral and upright, someone who’s character is like God’s. And that’s in essence how these good angels are in their unfallen state.
It mentions here in verse 6, chapter 15 and verse 6, that these angels have around their chest golden sashes. [Revelation 15:6, “and the seven angels who had the seven plagues came out of the temple, clothed in linen, clean and bright, and girded around their chests with golden sashes.”] And it’s interesting to me that in the Book of Revelation, chapter 1 and verse 13, very early on in the Book of Revelation, when we got a description of Jesus Christ He is dressed the exact same way. Revelation 1:13 says, “and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash.” Same thing that these angels are wearing.
In other words, these angels are completely in touch with Jesus Christ; they are completely identified with the purposes of Jesus Christ, right down to their clothing. And those kinds of creatures, quite frankly, are the kinds of people that God entrusts with His tasks, people that are not off doing their own thing, people who are not following the Frank Sinatra approach to spirituality, “I did it my way” sort of an approach. God does not entrust His tasks to those types of people. He entrusts His tasks to those that are aligned with His purposes. These angels, the way they’re dressed they appear just like Jesus, and are obviously aligned with the purpose of Jesus Christ.
And that, I think is many reasons why God does not entrust us with greater things. Why doesn’t God entrust me with more? Well, many times I’m trying to pursue my own way and my own agenda rather than God’s. But isn’t it interesting once the will becomes broken, oftentimes through great suffering and trials where we finally say to the LORD, “not my will be done but Thy will be done,” suddenly a larger assignment comes from God because He can trust you with that. And this is what the LORD is doing here with these angels; they’re actually moving as we see into the punitive position entrusted with the task of pouring out punishment, or wrath itself because that’s what Jesus is about to do on planet earth as we move into Revelation 15 and Revelation 16.
So the tabernacle is open, the angels emerge and each angel is given a bowl. And notice, if you will, Revelation 15 and take a look at verse 7. It says, “Then one of the four living creatures gave to” now we’ve seen these “living creatures” before, haven’t we? These strange creatures, they might be a category of angels, four of them constantly in heaven, but it talks here about “one of the four” Then 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.” One of the four living creatures apparently at this point gives seven bowls to each of the seven angels. And you’ll notice it’s interesting that the bowls they’re holding their color is given, they’re called “golden bowls.”
Now that creates a very interesting study to see how significant golden bowls are in Scripture. In fact when you go back to 1 Kings 7:50 the priests many times in their temple duties did so with golden bowls. It says, “And the cups and the snuffers and the bowls” and then it says at the end of the verse there “… made of gold.” Golden bowls apparently are very important to God in the outworking of His purposes. So, it doesn’t shock the conscience at all to discover that these seven angels are not just holding bowls but seven golden bowls. [1 Kings 7:50, “and the cups and the snuffers and the bowls and the spoons and the firepans, of pure gold; and the hinges both for the doors of the inner house, the most holy place, and for the doors of the house, that is, of the nave, of gold.”]
In fact, I was sort of surprised to learn this the first time I studied the Book of Revelation, that when we pray to God our prayers coming up unto God are found before Him in golden bowls of incense. You say well where does the Bible talk about that? It talks about it in Revelation 5:8, it says, “When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls” not just bowls, “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”
You know, we struggle many times with this idea is prayer really significant? Does prayer really work? Is prayer effective? Well may I just say to you based on what we’ve learned here in the Book of Revelation that prayer, coming unto God from His people is of great value to Him. In fact, it’s just as valuable as anything that the priest did in the temple area or within the temple, 1 Kings 7:50. And our prayers are just as important unto God as the bowl judgments that He is about to pour out in Revelation 16. So, my prayers and your prayers have as much worth or value unto God as the very judgments that are about to be poured out in Revelation 16, from golden bowls because our prayers are brought unto the LORD as instance in the text specifically says “golden bowls.” Does God honor prayer? Based on what I’ve said I think He does. Does He value prayer? Based on what I’ve said I think He does. In fact, James 5:16 says this: “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”
And even before I got up to teach this morning I had a little conversation with Bruce Munsterman just before the worship service started and he reminded me of something, a prayer request that the church had been praying about for a very long time and he reminded me that that prayer request has been answered. And it was so encouraging just to sort of to look back and think about the time when the church began to offer that prayer and how God in His providence had answered that particular prayer.
This is the power of prayer, this is the effectiveness of prayer. This is what prayer can do. Prayer actually has the ability to move the hand of God in history and God is so eager for us to pray that He views those prayers on equal par with what the priest did in the temple with golden bowls and the judgments that are about to take place in Revelation 16. These particular bowls are not filled with the incense representing the prayers of God’s people. It’s very clear here that these specific bowls that we’re talking about, these seven, as each angel is holding one of these bowls it says very clearly there that they are “full of the wrath of God.” The wrath of God is about to hit planet earth in Revelation 16 like it has never hit planet earth before.
Now don’t get confused on the chronology of the Book of Revelation. Many people are under a misguided view that now the wrath of God has finally started. That is not so. The wrath of God started with the trumpet judgments and prior to that it started with the seal judgments. What is happening though is the wrath of God is intensifying. Earlier we saw that a third of the sea was turned to blood in the various trumpet judgments. What we’re going to see in Revelation is all of the sea becomes blood. Earlier the trumpet judgments we saw that a third of the earth’s fresh water supply was destroyed; now what is about to happen in Revelation 16 is all of the earth’s water supply is about to be destroyed.
In other words, what God is doing as humanity is becoming more and more unrepentant and we’ve seen many examples of their lack of repentance throughout this book, Revelation 9:20-21 talks about that very clearly. [Revelation 9:20-21, “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk;  and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.”]
God is simply turning up the thermostat and the judgments are getting more and more severe and more and more intense. It’s all the wrath of God, it’s just the severity grows as you move through the chronology of the Book of Revelation. Robert Thomas in his excellent commentary on the Book of Revelation says this concerning the wrath of God. “Mankind in his rebellion” speaking here of the six seal judgments and the reaction of the people as they claim this is God’s wrath, “Mankind in his rebellion correctly analyzes the cosmic and terrestrial disturbances as part of the great end time day of wrath from the One sitting on the throne and the Lamb.”
The verb elephin “has come” is an aorist indicative referring to a previous survival of wrath, not something that is about to take place. Men see the arrival of this day at least as early as the cosmic upheavals that characterize the sixth seal when upon reflection they recognize that it was already in effect with the death of a quarter of the world’s population, the worldwide famine and the global warfare. The rapid sequence of all of these events could not escape notice but the light of their true explanation does not dawn upon human consciousness until this severe phenomenon of the sixth seal arrives.
It’s when you get to the sixth seal mankind recognizes this is the wrath of God. But the reality of the situation is they’re kind of late to the recognition because the wrath of God already started with [can’t understand word] one. And we moved into the trumpet judgments; those represent a more severe form of God’s wrath that’s coming. And now we’re ready to move into the bowl judgments where now the wrath of God is about to be poured out on an unprecedented manner. The whole seven-year tribulation period represents the wrath of God. If you don’t get that straight in your thinking, many people will deceive you on this; they’ll say part of it is the wrath of God, half of it is the wrath of God, three-quarters of it is the wrath of God and so since the church has been promised an exemption from God’s wrath the church will be here for some of it.
I’m here to tell you, as point blank as I can the whole seven-year period is the wrath of God, all of it! And because the church many times, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:9, Romans 5:9 etc. etc. etc. has been promised an exemption from divine wrath the church (us) the blood bought body of Christ won’t be here for any of the tribulation period. [1 Thessalonians 1:10, “and to wait for His Son from [a] heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9, “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our LORD Jesus Christ.”]
I don’t know about you but I’m not hanging around looking for the antichrist. I’m looking for Jesus Christ to take us up in the rapture into the Father’s house, sort of like Noah and his family tucked safely and securely in the ark, eight members, and then the flood waters hit. This is what the Bible portrays concerning the future and it relates to the fact that the wrath of God hasn’t started here, it’s something that’s been imminent all the way through. It’s just at this point the wrath of God is becoming more and more intense. It’s very similar as to how God dealt with Pharaoh in the ten Exodus plagues.
I think the Bible says about six times that Pharaoh hardened his heart against God. And every time Pharaoh hardened his heart against God, God just turned the temperature up a little bit and the judgments got worse and worse and worse and worse until finally Pharaoh himself capitulated to what God wanted. He let God’s people go and actually as you move through the Book of Exodus it reaches a point where it says God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. [Exodus 10:27, “But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go. Exodus 14:8, “The LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly.” Exodus 8:19, “Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, ‘This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had said.”] God finally gave Pharaoh over to what Pharaoh himself wanted to do and the judgments increased in intensity until the result that God wanted was achieved.
That’s the same type of reality that’s happening here in this seven-year tribulation period. I was this week sort of shocked to read this in the original language and look at the word “wrath” in verse 7. It says, “Then 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.” [Revelation 15:7] Now when you study the Book of Revelation and you see that word “wrath” it’s typically the word orgē. You get a lot of s sexual imagery from the word orgē. You can think of a lot of sexual terms coming from orgē. It’s speaking of passion without limits.
And here it’s not being used orgē in the sexual sense, it’s being used in the anger sense. It’s talking about the unrestrained anger of God that’s coming upon planet earth. And as I look at this I expected to see the word orgē there when it mentions “seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God.” But it uses a different word, actually a more intense word. The word there, I have it in brackets, is not orgē, it’s the Greek word thumos which speaks of anger. I looked up the definition and this is the definition: the state of anger with the implication of passionate outbursts. That’s what’s about to happen here as we move into Revelation 16.
In fact, this word thumos is the exact same word that’s used with the crowd at the synagogue, I believe this was in Capernaum, when the people were so angry with Jesus Christ they tried to drive him off a cliff. Now how would you like that as your opening preaching experience—people so mad at you they want to throw you off a cliff. I know preachers today can have it tough but I don’t know if anything like that has ever happened to me.
Luke 4:28 says, “And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things;” that also is the Greek word thumos which is used here in our chapter. Romans 2:5 says this: “But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” The wrath of God against planet earth is building somewhat like a water behind a damn and as the volume of that water just keeps growing and growing eventually the volume of the water pressures the dam to brake and the water comes forth. That’s sort of the picture that you have happening here in Revelation 15 and into 16.
And you say well God sure is hard hearted to do something like this. But think for a moment of the multiple opportunities He has given people to get right with Him. Think of the opportunity He’s giving people right now as I speak to get right with Him by trusting in His Son. I mean, He’s sent the two witnesses, He’s sent the 144,000 Jewish evangelists. In fact, back in Revelation 14 an angel was flying to and fro giving the world the eternal gospel.
Yes, there is severity in judgment that we’re reading about here but God’s judgment is always tempered by His grace and His mercy. Even prior to the flood and the deluge that came to planet earth because of the global flood, a terrible form of judgment that at one point historically hit planet earth, we read in Genesis 6 how “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” The ark itself was grace, it was a way of escape. And yes, this judgment was very severe but we’ve also seen (to be fair) the grace of God.
One of the fears that I have is that we have become so accustomed to the grace of God and the unmerited favor of God, because we’re living in the age of grace where the grace of God is going out today like it’s never gone out before in the person of Jesus Christ and in His message. But my fear is that we have become so comfortable with that message that we’ve lost sight of the fact that there is present coming the anger of God, the thumos, the state of anger with the implication of a passionate and even violent outburst.
I’m reminded very much of the sermon preached by one of the greatest intellects that the United States of America, the man who actually had a role, I believe, in the founding and early leadership of what became known as Princeton University, a leading beacon of light, that school, to early America. And he preached a sermon that, if I understand my history correctly, scared him so badly he never preached it again. It’s called Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. You ought to look it up online and download it and compare it to the type of preaching that we do today in average evangelical churches. I mean, the whole sermon is about the anger of God and why man ought to fear God, and the holiness of God. And God honored that sermon so greatly that it launched historically what we call in the United States the First Great Awakening. You can trace the First Great Awakening to this intellect, his name was Jonathan Edwards, who preached this sermon.
We don’t really get preaching like that today, do we. We get a lot of grace-oriented things, which I’m very obviously comfortable with but what about the other side of it? What about the thumos? What about the orgē? What about the wrath of God? And isn’t it interesting how God has resolved both His grace and His wrath in the atonement of Jesus? It’s only in the atonement of Jesus that you get a resolution of those two concepts which seem to contradict each other because when Jesus died on that cross one member of the Trinity, God the Father, was pouring out His wrath on another member of the Trinity, God the Son. And if we would simply trust in what Jesus has done we are exempted from that wrath because that wrath should be on me, it should be on you. If you’re reading any part of the Bible and you’re seeing grace without wrath or wrath without grace you might want to re-read that section of the Bible because to the careful reader both will always be present.
And so here come these seven golden bowls full of… it says there in verse 7, “the wrath of God
[Revelation 15:7, “Then 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 look at how God’s character is described there at the end of verse 7, “of God, who lives forever and ever.” Seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, a statement here about “God, who lives forever and ever.”
Who is God? The kids will ask this, “Who made God?” The answer is nobody because God is what we would call the uncaused cause; He’s always been and He will always be. He lives forever and ever. Psalm 90:2 of God says this: “Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” God is “from everlasting to everlasting.” Romans 16:26, Paul says, “But now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, who has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith”
Another attribute we’re learning here about God, His eternality. Last week you might remember verse 3, we learned about His omnipotence, He’s all powerful. He’s the Mighty God. Here a few verses later, verse 7, you can add something else to your list, His eternality. [Revelation 15:7, “Then 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 that’s why the virgin birth becomes such a big deal, because if Jesus had a normal conception He would have had a beginning point, wouldn’t He? But Jesus had a miraculous conception, He wasn’t conceived the way a person is conceived and it had to be that way to demonstrate God’s eternality. The Second Member of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, is the uncaused cause; He’s always been and He will always be. The same with the first member of the Trinity, God the Father. The same with the third member of the Trinity, God the Son; three personages in one monotheistic understanding of God. You’ll spend your lifetime trying to understand that and contemplate it, figure it out, and yet these are the greatest thoughts you could ever give yourself to because you’re thinking about something so fundamental, the nature of God. Who is God exactly? He’s all powerful and He’s eternal.
And I don’t know if you caught there in verse 7, it says “He lives.” Why is it that when we put up pictures of the crucifixion, pictures of the cross, we don’t like to put Jesus on that cross suffering and dying; a lot of us just like the crucifixion, the instrument of death rather than portraying Jesus on that cross. I mean, there are, of course, decorations and things you can find of Jesus on a cross dying but most of the crucifixions or crosses that you see Jesus is not there. Why don’t we put Him on there? The answer is He’s not there anymore! He’s alive. I mean the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was only part of the transaction. He said, “It is finished!” He breathed His last. He resurrected from the grave. He ascended to the right hand of the Father where the Book of Hebrews, chapter 7, verse 24 says He lives to make intercession for you. [Hebrews 7:25, “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”]
He can’t wait for you to pray to Him so He can answer you. Well how can He do that? Because He’s not dead, He’s alive. We, if we didn’t think of it that way why pray? We don’t pray to a deceased Savior, a dead Savior, we pray to a resurrected Savior, an ascended Savior. We pray to the God who lives forever and ever. The Book of Hebrews, chapter 10 and verse 31 says this: “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Why is it terrifying? Because He’s not a deceased God, He’s alive! And to get on the wrong side of Him would certainly be a mistake. The living God, the eternal God, the all-powerful God, and once you begin to understand this you begin to understand the distain that God had for the nation of Israel prior to the captivity when they moved into idolatry.
Isaiah 46:1, just on the Eve of the Babylonian captivity God said this: “Bel has bowed down,” Bell being a Babylonian deity, “Believer has bowed down, Nebo stoops over; Their images are consigned to the beasts and the cattle. The things that you carry are burdensome, even a load for the weary beast.” Are you getting tired Israel of carrying around these metal objects? Does this fatigue you, you pick these things up, you bring them with you everywhere you go, are you getting tired of that? Is your body starting to wear out, because God says in Isaiah 46: 6, “Even to your old age I will be the same and even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; and I will bear you and I will deliver you.”
Are you getting fatigued with these objects of metal that you keep bringing around place to place, because I’ll tell you what’s going to happen, the LORD says to Isaiah. One of these days you’re going to get old and you’re not going to have the physical strength to lift this metal object anymore. Do you know what you’re going to need? You’re going to need someone to carry you. And your idol that’s dead is not going to be able to help you. But God says I’m alive, I’ll carry you when you get old! The God who lives forever! See, this is the foolishness, the utter foolishness of worshipping things instead of God.
Revelation 9:20 says, “The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk.” And we all know that we can be just as idolatrous as the nation Israel, trusting in something other than God, a relationship, a person, some kind of natural gift you have, a career, a bank account, a retirement account. I mean, we’ll trust in anything other than God. And yet God says the same thing to us; what you’re resting in other than Me is not alive and one of these days you’re going to get old, you’re going to need someone to lift you. And so we see this description of God here as the God who lives forever and ever.
We move into verse 8 where we start to see the descriptions of the Tabernacle filled with God’s glory, that’s why I entitled this message Glory and Power. Notice, if you will, the first part of verse 8,” The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power.” Notice the smoke inside this heavenly tabernacle or temple as these judgments are about to be poured out. It reminds me of the fantastic song we sing at many times in chapel in seminary. It’s from Isaiah 6:1. It says “In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the LORD sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.”
Verse 4 of Isaiah 6, “And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.” What’s happening here in Revelation 15:8 as these judgments are about to be poured out? You say what is the smoke? What does that represent? It represents His glory, it represents the glory of the living God! What happened when Moses finished the job and the tabernacle was built? Have you ever read that, they very last verse of the Book of Exodus? Do you recall what happened? Exodus 40:34, it says, “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. I mean, how would you like that as a stamp of approval on a job well done? The building looks great, now God in His glory takes residence in it.
That’s what happened to Moses and that’s what’s happening here in heaven, the power of God! Exodus 19:18 says this: “Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently.” That’s the glory and the power of God at Mount Sinai that we’re reading about here in Revelation chapter 15.
How about that temple that Solomon finally had the opportunity to construct? Once Solomon got the job done what happened? It says, 2 Chronicles 5:13, “…then the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud,  So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.” How about that temple that was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar? It says in Ezekiel 11:23, “The glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city.” See, the glory of the LORD ended up in the Solomonic temple, that would be temple number one, and then the people became so sinful that the glory of God left from that very structure, just prior to the Babylonian captivity. That’s where you start to get expressions like Ichabod, the glory of the LORD has departed.
May God help us at Sugar Land Bible Church to be the type of place that the glory of God enters rather than leaves. Amen! I believe that there are so many places that are so fallen in how they do things as churches that God almost has nothing to do with them. Ichabod, the glory of God has departed. And when that millennial temple finally exists in that thousand-year kingdom it says this in Ezekiel 44:4, “The glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD and I fell on my face.” We’re not finished see in history the glory of the LORD entering buildings; that’s going to happen in the millennial kingdom.
And you’ll notice that Ezekiel says, when I saw this “I fell on my face.” This is the reaction when holiness comes into the presence of sinful humanity. Remember the Isaiah passage? I read it earlier, “In the year Uzziah died I saw the LORD,” what did Isaiah say? “Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” [Isaiah 6:5] That’s a terrifying thing is it not, to fall into the hands of the living God.
What happened at Mount Sinai when God spoke and gave the nation of Israel the Mosaic Law? Exodus 19:16 says, “all the people who were in the camp trembled.” [So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled.”
Hebrews 12:26 says, “And His voice shook the earth,” the glory and the power of God. [Hebrews 12:26, “And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN.”]
Can I just ask you a question, (and this is one of the reasons I wanted to go this direction this morning in our verses), first of all what I’m saying is very obvious from the verses we’re talking about, but it leads to this question—have we really grasped in the year 2019, do we really understand the greatness and the glory of God? Do we really understand the greatness and the glory of God? I have to admit that as I’m studying this material and looking at these passages the Holy Spirit says to me quite frequently, you don’t have the foggiest idea of who I am and My greatness! You know, the incarnation of Christ, God becoming a man, what did that do?
What did it do when the Second Member of the Trinity stepped out of eternity into time and in an instant, at the virgin conception humanity was added to 100% deity and Jesus became the unique God-man. What happened there? I’ll tell you what happened there His incarnation veiled God’s glory. This is why John 1:18 says, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” I mean, if God were to reveal Himself without the incarnation, without the veiling, what would we be? We’d be saying we’re done, we’re ruined! We’d be trembling like those in the camp at Mount Sinai.
And you look at these passages that hardly get any attention today in the minds of most Christians, or in most churches and I just say to myself “praise the LORD for the atonement!” Because without the atonement I would be forced to navigate that on my own and I know the wickedness and the sinfulness and the depravity of my own heart. And I know I don’t have a chance against the holiness of God. PRAISE THE LORD that Jesus stepped out of eternity into time and absorbed the wrath of a holy God in our place. And this is what verse 8 is talking about, “the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from all His power,” the glory and the power! [Revelation 15:8, “And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power; and no one was able to enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.”]
We conclude here with the very end, by the way, those were all pictures of the glorious temple that the glory of God will inhabit one day in the thousand-year kingdom, just like the glory of God entered the Solomonic temple and left the glory of God is going to re-enter this temple one day and here the glory and power of God is manifested in the heavenly counterpart just prior to the manifestation of the bowl judgments.
But we come now to the very end of verse 8 and what does it say? “…and no one,” you mean not even any angels? Not even the four living creatures? “…no one would be able to enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.” Why can’t people just go in and out at will, why can’t angels go in and out at will? It’s now inaccessible because of what we just read about in verse 8 and verse 7. It’s the habitation, the smoke, the glory, the power of God is in that temple!
And isn’t interesting that humans just transgress God’s boundaries all of the time. We have a heavenly temple and an earthly temple. Remember what humanity was doing in that earthly temple in Revelation 11? It says in verse 2, “For it had been given to the nations and they will tread underfoot the holy city for forty-two months.” The nations or the Gentiles are just doing whatever they want with God’s temple when in fact in the Old Testament, even into the New Testament, if you brought a Gentile into that temple you were in a lot of trouble. They falsely accused Paul of that you’ll remember in Acts 21:28-30.
[Acts 21:28-30, “crying out, “Men of Israel, come to our aid! This is the man who preaches to all men everywhere against our people and the Law and this place; and besides he has even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.”  For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple.  Then all the city was provoked, and the people rushed together, and taking hold of Paul they dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the doors were shut.”]
Man always transgresses God’s boundaries; that’s what’s happening with the earthly counterpart but that’s NOT happening in heaven! The glory of God is so profound that it says here in verse 8, no one can even enter, even an angelic being with fine linen, with their golden sashes or the twenty-four elders, or the four living creatures. They can’t even go in until the task of the bowl judgments is complete!
David Hocking in his Revelation commentary says this on verse 8: “God’s plan includes the coming of God’s wrath and it will be fulfilled.” Until it is finished no one can enter the temple in heaven dramatically emphasizing the importance of the seven last plagues in the overall plan of God.
John Walvoord in his Revelation commentary says this concerning verse 8: “As the angels emerge from the sanctuary it is filled with smoke proceeding from the glory of God and His power, a pointed reminded of the ineffable holiness of God. This scene can be compared to that when the cloud filled the tabernacle in Exodus 40:34-35, verses we looked at earlier, the last two verses roughly, of the Book of Exodus. Access into the sanctuary is made impossible by the smoke until the judgment contained in the seven plagues are fulfilled. It is an ominous sign of impending doom for those who persist in their blasphemous disregard of the sovereignty and the holiness of God.
You say it’s not going to be that bad, is it? Well, there’s the overview on Revelation 16 which we’re not starting today obviously, but this is very serious; this is very severe. I mean, these judgments are of such a severe quality that heaven itself has to be prepared for these judgments to be executed.
You know, it’s interesting, you can’t even get an average Christian to sit through a sermon on the bowl judgments; out attention span is so short. But the angels themselves won’t even go into the very heavenly tabernacle or temple out of fear of God because of the imminent manifestation of these judgments.
May God help us to understand His whole character, His eternality, His might, omnipotence, Hid glory, His power, but also one other thing, His grace! Aren’t you glad for the grace of God? Aren’t you glad that Jesus stepped out of eternity into time and bore the wrath of the Holy God in our place? And how we, by simply receiving His gift, what He’s done, are spared from the terror of falling into the hands of the living God. That’s the gospel. Becoming a Christian is… you know, I look at passages like this and I have to admit, I’ve evangelized completely wrong so many times. I’ve taught Jesus is some kind of self-help course and He’s going to improve your life, as if that’s really the issue. The issue is you get an exemption from the wrath of God; that’s the issue! That’s what it means to be saved. Saved from what? Saved from, as Jonathan Edwards said, “Sinners falling into the hands of an angry God.”
You can get saved from that right now just by trusting in what He did for you two thousand years ago. It’s something that’s so simple a child can understand it; you can do it right now in the privacy of your own heart and mind, even as I’m speaking. But it really becomes the most important issue in a person’s life because without the atonement humanity as we’re seeing here is on a collision course with the judgment of God, a God who is so loving and gracious that He has given us grace prior to the manifestation of divine wrath. Shall we pray.
Father, we’re grateful for these last four or so verses in Revelation 15 and what they reveal about Your nature and Your character. Help us to be people here at Sugar Land Bible Church that worship You in Spirit and in truth. Help us to see You as You are, not what we think You are or who we want You to be but who You actually are as You have revealed Yourself to us. Help us to be people that are eager for the presentation of the gospel because of these realities. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said…… Amen!