Some Thoughts on Revelation 15:1-4

angel-with-trumpet.jpgAnd I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.
And 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.
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.

As I meditated upon this passage of scripture this morning, I started thinking particularly about them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name.

Those who are about to execute God’s righteous wrath are the angels. Those who witness this judgment upon the beast and those who follow him are faithful Christians, or them that had gotten the victory over the beast (Rev. 15:2). The commentator Matthew Henry identifies these victorious ones as Christians:

The spectators and witnesses of this their [the angels’ – my note] commission: all that had gotten the victory over the beast, etc. These stood on a sea of glass, representing this world, as some think, a brittle thing, that shall be broken to pieces; or, as others, the gospel covenant, alluding to the brazen sea in the temple, in which the priests were to wash (the faithful servants of God stand upon the foundation of the righteousness of Christ); or, as others, the Red Sea, that stood as it were congealed while the Israelites went through; and, the pillar of fire reflecting light upon the waters, they would seem to have fire mingled with them; and this to show that the fire of God’s wrath against Pharaoh and his horses should dissolve the congealed waters, and destroy them thereby, to which there seems to be an allusion by their singing the song of Moses, in which, (1.) They extol the greatness of God’s works, and the justice and truth of his ways, both in delivering his people and destroying their enemies. They rejoiced in hope, and the near prospect they had of this, though it was not yet accomplished. (2.) They call upon all nations to render unto God the fear, glory, and worship, due to such a discovery of his truth and justice: Who shall not fear thee? v. 4.

Whatever this victory of the Christians was, it occurred during a time of much turmoil and trouble, when Christ’s church was being persecuted, and when God, by His messengers the angels, is beginning to pour out His wrath against those who refuse to repent of their rebellion against Him. In Revelation 14, in verses 12 and 13, we are warned that a time of great suffering, and even death, is waiting for those who resist the beast:

Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

Immediately after being told that many of God’s people are going to suffer and die during this time, we are told of Christians who have gotten victory over the beast. I do not pretend to be a Bible teacher, but present to you my private thoughts about these verses.

What came to my mind was Ephesians 6:12,13:

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.(Emphasis added.)

I believe these Christians were victorious against sin in their own lives. In the face of incredible opposition, they sought to please the One Who had redeemed them, and in this sense they were victorious. They could say, as faithful Paul stated in 2 Timothy 4:7,8:

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Here is how these eminent Christians were not victorious:

  1. They did not succeed in “Christianizing” society. If they were Reconstructionists – SURPRISE! – It didn’t work. All is in disarray, outwardly. It seems that the beast is winning.
  2. They did not succeed in bringing about a “covenanted reformation”, or if they did, it did not last. The world powers, far from wielding the sword in righteousness and for the benefit of an established church, are presently the vicious persecutors of Christ’s church. PERHAPS FAITHFUL PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL, AND EVANGELICAL OBEDIENCE TO THE LORD JESUS CHRIST SHOULD BE PRE-EMINENT, NOT A CONTENDING FOR A SO-CALLED “COVENANTED REFORMATION”. (By this comment, I am speaking against the mindset which disparages true churches and godly ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ if they don’t hold to a modern-day “keeping” of the Solemn League and Covenant for Reformation and Defence of Religion, the Honour and Happiness of the King, and the Peace and Safety of the Three Kingdoms of Scotland, England, and Ireland, 1643. In the group of which we were members for eight years, The Reformed Presbytery of North America (General Meeting), preaching was sporadic; often the minister, Greg Price, would “re-preach” the same sermons over and over. He claimed, and still claims to be the only faithful minister in North America. However, faithful preaching of the Word of God was not a priority.)
  3. They were not “major players”, politically-speaking. Some place more emphasis on being “politically active” or politically responsible than on furthering and praying for the true preaching of the gospel. Will such people be truly victorious?
  4. They did not have military might, or physical strength to avenge themselves against their enemies. They were not the ones executing God’s wrath upon the ungodly society. Rather, they committed the judging of sins to God, who at this time declares that the harvest of the earth is ripe (Revelation 14:15b). God appoints His angels to do this work of judgment at this time (Revelation 14:18-20), not these victorious Christians.

At the very least, these considerations should cause us to examine our priorities as Christians. Do we truly believe that the preaching of the gospel is of central importance? A right understanding of God’s Word will protect us from spending our lives and our energies upon side issues which distract the Christian from the pre-eminence of Christ Jesus, and Him crucified.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
– Romans 10:13-17

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