Chapter 15 is the shortest chapter in Revelation. It opens by introducing the seven angels who eventually receive the seven bowls of wrath. These bowls are the third series of seven (1. Seals, 2. Trumpets, 3. Bowls). The set of bowls unfold from the seventh trumpet, just as the trumpets unfolded from the seals. These seven bowls may very well be the third woe that was announced in Ch. 11:14.
Chapter 16 is the last of the three judgments of Revelation. They are the final series portraying the flood of God’s wrath. The chapter documents the carrying out of the concluding series of plagues. There are apparent similarities between these judgments and the trumpet-plagues of chapters 8 – 11. In both plagues the first four plagues are released upon the earth, sea, inland waters, and heavenly bodies correspondingly. The fifth comprises of darkness and pain and the sixth, introduces us to the enemy hosts that come from the area of the Euphrates Both sets of plagues draw heavily for their imagery on the ten Egyptian plagues of Exodus. However, there are distinct differences between the two sets of judgments.
Vs 1: The seven angels and the seven bowls speak of the certainty and completeness of God’s divine wrath upon the unrighteous. These are the last of the plagues and they complete the warnings God has given to an unrepentant world. These plagues are the final outpouring of divine retribution by people whose hearts, like Pharaoh, are hardened against God.
V 2: The sea of glass is mentioned previously in 4:6 but it is also mingled with fire. It is uncertain if the fire represent judgment or is just a descriptive word to help heighten the magnificence of the scene.
The people standing beside the sea of glass are those who have emerged victorious over the beast. They never abandoned their faith and never submitted to the dragon. They are playing harps that are appropriate instruments for praising God.
Vs 3 – 4: they sing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb of God. This is a song of celebrating and praising God for his righteous acts and redemptive history beginning with Moses and concluding with the victorious Lamb. These are not two songs, but one.
Vs 5 - 6: After the song has been sung John sees the heavenly temple “sanctuary of the tent” open and the even angels of destruction emerge. the sanctuary of the tent references the tabernacle of God in the wilderness, and it emphasizes that the final plagues come from the presence of God. The seven angels emerge from the tabernacle and they are robed in pure bright linen which denotes their noble and sacred office and golden sashes which signifies their royal and priestly functions.
What it Means to Worship
I would like to pause here for the remainder of the message and continue to look at the act of praise and worship. So much of Revelation revolves around worship and praise, thus I feel it is appropriate to talk more at length about worship and praise.
The Hebrew word for Worship is Shaw Kaw – Which means to bow down, to prostrate oneself, to honor, reverence as divine or Supreme Being.
The Greek word is Pros-Koo-Neh-O which paints a more vivid picture of worship. It means to kiss the hand towards in token of reverence or kissing like a dog affectionately licking his master’s hand.
What we need to know about worship…
King David said that if he could make one request, he would ask to dwell in the house of the Lord forever. That sentiment comes from a proper understanding and real experience of worship. There’s nothing better than worship, once we learn how to do it. This outline is a beginning. It emphasizes a few key qualities for worship and shows how they contrast with the stale church experience of many people today.
Working on our Worship
Come with GLADNESS and joy, not gloom.“Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy.” Psalm 100:1 - 2
Many people think of church as the most boring 60+ minutes of the week. Some can have the attitude of, “So maybe the songs this week aren’t my favorite; maybe the message doesn’t hit home…but hey, it’s still not a root canal!” However, our attitude should be “I have an hour plus to be in the presence of God and with his people so I will give God my undivided attention – I will make the most of this time.”
The songs and sermons are not designed to be entertaining. They are ways to enhance your worship. Come into his house with praise and expectation. Be overjoyed by the fact that you are a child of God’s and focus on worshiping Him.
Come to MAKE NOISE, and not quietly to observe.“Praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.” Ps. 150:6
Worship should be noisy! The Psalms tell us to worship God with shouting, clapping, singing, and dancing – and with every imaginable instrument. What it doesn’t say is “sit quietly with your mouth shut, and watch.” If anything, the Psalms tell us to do the opposite.
Come to GIVE, and not to receive.
“Give thanks to Him and praise his name”. Ps. 100:4
You are not the focal point of worship. God is. When we focus on what we get out of worship, we can easily become critical of those who are leading and speaking. But when we focus on giving praise to God, we can look for every opportunity to participate…in singing, praying, giving, and teaching.
In prayer, the acts of thanking God and praising him are much more appropriate than asking and requesting. This is not to say we can never ask; we can ask God for anything at any time. But when we come to worship, it is appropriate to thank and praise him for who he is and the incredible things he’s done. When you give God worship, ultimately you get more out of it!
Come FOCUSED, and not distracted.
“Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” Ps. 100:3
In worship, there’s nothing more spirit-quenching then to be disengaged, bored and wishing you could get out the door. We are easily distracted, and the devil seeks to distract us from worship by causing our minds to wander, dwell on your selfish desires, and disengage from worship. We need to come to worship focused and ready to praise. When we delight ourselves in the Lord in this way, he gives us the desires of our hearts (Ps. 37:4).
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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