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Sunday, March 18th, 2018 - AM - Fighting Fire with Fire, Part Two (Rev. 15:5-8)

Rejoicing Through Revelation  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  43:23
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The Sanctuary of God will one day open, and His holy angels will usher forth with His seven LAST plagues to execute judgment on this ungodly world. Are you safe in Jesus, the ark of our Salvation?

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Introduction

Revelation 15:3–4 KJV 1900
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
Get Attention:
Illustration - things sometimes must get worse before they can get better; particularly when performing transformational processes. For example - learning a new language, transferring sod, going through medical treatments for illness, etc.
Raise Need:
Bad News/Good News - the bad news is that this world has been dying of sin-cancer since the Fall, and things are going to continue to get really bad as humanity plunges further from God in sin; the good news however, is that it will one day be made better by our Great Physician, but not without the intervention of His program of purging.
Orient Theme:
John is introducing the seven last plagues of God which are to be administered during the Great Tribulation under the direct knowledge, will and direction of God Himself, through His holy angels, to the fulness of His glory.
Trust God's faithful administration of the consummation of His program to bring the world to purity, no matter how terrible it may seem temporarily. It's only going to hurt for a short time, but His aim is complete healing from the cancer of sin that has plagued mankind.
Understand - the Victory of Faith results in the Songs of Revelation's Promise. Share the Word; spread the faith; perhaps spare the lost.
State Purpose:
Why have you been hesitant to speak the Word? Put aside your pride, unbelief and slothfulness and humbly trust the Lord to help you seek the lost out with the intent to speak the Word, and help them find or renew their faith in God's Word.
Main Thought:
Seeing the need to prepare for God's wrath and speaking the Word of the Gospel brings the soul to accountability before God's convicting Spirit, Whose goal is to bring the sinner to repentance and faith in God's only-begotten Son.
Prayerfully, compassionately but concernedly speak what God has revealed; the Spirit then brings conviction of our lost condition; and the lost soul who is willing can then receive salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ!
Fighting Fire with Fire - The Great Physician's Plagues on the Plague of Sin - Radiating the World's Cancer Fully & Finally.
Sub-Introduction:
Connecting Context:
This passage is very much filled with Old Testament imagery. For example, the Tabernacle of Moses, the Mountain of Sinai, the Red Sea Crossing, the Smoke of Solomon's Temple, the Plagues of Egypt, and others, all bring bearing to the sense of imagery found here.
The form of this vision is moulded partly by the circumstances of the Seer, and partly by reminiscences of Old Testament history. As to the former, it can scarcely be an accident that the Book of the Revelation abounds with allusions to the sea. We are never far from the music of its waves, which broke around the rocky Patmos where it was written. And the ‘sea of glass mingled with fire’ is but a photograph of what John must have seen on many a still morning, when the sunrise came blushing over the calm surface; or on many an evening when the wind dropped at sundown, and the sunset glow dyed the watery plain with a fading splendour.—Nor is the allusion to Old Testament history less obvious. We cannot but recognise the reproduction, with modifications, of that scene when Moses and his ransomed people looked upon the ocean beneath which their oppressors lay, and lifted up their glad thanksgivings. So here, by anticipation, in the solemn pause before the judgment goes forth, there are represented the spirits that have been made wise by conquest, as gathered on the bank of that steadfast ocean, lifting up as of old a hymn of triumphant thankfulness over destructive judgments, and blending the song of Moses and of the Lamb, in testimony of the unity of spirit which runs through all the manifestations of God’s character from the beginning to the end. Ever His judgments are right; ever the purpose of His most terrible things is that men may know Him, and may love Him; and ever they who see deepest into the mysteries, and understand most truly the realities of the universe will have praise springing to their lips for all that God hath done. [Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture: 1 John 5, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, and Revelation (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009), 341–342.]
[Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture: 1 John 5, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, and Revelation (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009), 341–342.]
Background/Intro Material:
is a continuation of chapter and its brief eight verses present a picture of the redeemed who have not worshipped the beast and have escaped the judgments of God:
...Here, then, we have a description of two groups: the unbelievers who meet the wrath of God and eternal judgment and the saints of God before His throne who acknowledge His justice and truth forever. To which company do you belong? You are either a saint or a sinner. You are either saved or lost. You are either on the way to heaven or on the way to eternal perdition. You may still settle the question. Settle it now.
Here, then, we have a description of two groups: the unbelievers who meet the wrath of God and eternal judgment and the saints of God before His throne who acknowledge His justice and truth forever. To which company do you belong? You are either a saint or a sinner. You are either saved or lost. You are either on the way to heaven or on the way to eternal perdition. You may still settle the question. Settle it now.
If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved ().
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (). [M. R. De Haan, Studies in Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1998), 197.]

I. The Sign, the Sea & the Songs ().

A. The Sign in Heaven ():

Revelation 15:1 KJV 1900
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.
State Point -
Here we consider both the nature of the sign, and the sign itself.
Anchor Point -
John states that this "sign" is "another" of the same kind of sign, hearkening back to chapter twelve. This is the third great and wondrous sign. The first was the Woman clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars upon her head (Israel, mother of Messiah); the second was the Great Red Dragon (that Old Serpent, the Devil himself); the third great and marvellous sign is that here of God's Seven Angels, who bear His final judgments on this old sinful world.
Validate Point -
That's the nature of the sign. The sign itself is none other but the seven angels themselves, who have the seven eschatological plagues God. A sign says to us, "Look out for what's coming." These angels will come from the Temple of God in heaven, and will execute God's righteous judgment on a wicked and rebelliously sinful world of people.
Explain Point -
We're then told the explanation of these plagues in that in them the wrath of God will be completed, for in these plagues IT (the wrath of God) is "filled up" (completed).

B. The Sea of Glass ():

Revelation 15:2 KJV 1900
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.
State Point -
Notice the way the sea looked as well as the people on the sea.
Anchor Point -
That God's wrath is to be poured out on sinners is noticed in the continued picture that the Revelator portrays - a precious and peculiar group of people, standing on what appears as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire before the presence of God. These people are known to be those who paradoxically won as "conquerors out of the beast," etc., or those who had gotten victory over the Antichrist, who thought he had the victory over them. Therein lies the paradox.
Here, John described it additionally as being “mingled with fire.” The thought may be of the ominous portent of lightning visible through the sea of glass. Such lightning is referred to in Here it may refer to the impending final judgment about to be poured out upon the earth. In short, John saw what was the gathering storm of God’s final judgment just prior to it being unleashed against the earth. This, no doubt, was part of the great and astonishing sign he saw. [David H. Sorenson, Understanding the Bible, An Independent Baptist Commentary - Hebrews through Revelation, vol. 11, Understanding the Bible, An Independent Baptist Commentary (Northstar Ministries, 2007), 487.]
Validate Point -
Further, notice that to escape from the power of the beast it is needful to fight one’s way out. The language of my text is remarkably significant. This Apocalyptic writer does not mind about grammar or smoothness so long as he can express his ideas; and he uses a form of speech here that makes the hair of grammatical purists stand on end, because it vigorously expresses his thought. He calls these triumphant choristers ‘conquerors out of the beast,’ which implies that victory over him is an escape from a dominion in which the conquerors, before their victory, were held. They have fought their way, as it were, out of the land of bondage, and, like revolted slaves, have won their liberty, and marched forth triumphant. The allusion to Israel’s exodus is probable. ‘Egypt was glad when they departed.’ So the bondsmen of this new Pharaoh recover freedom by conflict, and the fruit of their victory is entire escape from the tyrant.
That victory is possible. The Apocalypse shows us that there are two opposing Powers—this said ‘beast’ on the one side, and ‘the Lamb’ on the other. In the Seer’s vision these two divide the world between them. [MacLaren, 343–344.]
Explain Point -
...the Revelation of St. John presents to us in visions the history of the Church moulded upon the history of her Lord whilst He tabernacled among men. It is the invariable lesson of the New Testament that Christ and His people are one. He is the Vine; they are the branches. He is in them; they are in Him. With equal uniformity the sacred writers teach us that just as Christ suffered during the course of His earthly ministry, so also His people suffer. They have to endure the struggle before they enjoy the victory, and to bear the cross before they win the crown. But the peculiarity of the Apocalypse is, that it carries out this thought much more fully than the other New Testament books. St. John does not merely see the Church suffer. He sees her suffer in a way precisely as her Lord did. He lives in the thought of those words spoken by Jesus to Salome at a striking moment of his life with regard to his brother and himself, “The cup that I drink ye shall drink; and with the baptism that I am baptised withal shall ye be baptised.”* That very cup is put into his hands and into the hands of his brethren, who are “partakers with him in the tribulation, and kingdom, and patience which are in Jesus;”* with that very baptism they are all baptised. [William Milligan, “The Book of Revelation,” in The Expositor’s Bible: Ephesians to Revelation, ed. W. Robertson Nicoll, vol. 6, Expositor’s Bible (Hartford, CT: S.S. Scranton Co., 1903), 908–909.]
[Apply Point] -
GLASS AND FIRE - A sea of glass mingled with fire.... . Some churches and Christians are all glass in their cold dignity. Some are all fire in their religious excitement. The glass and the fire should mingle. We tend to swing from Rigor Mortis to St. Vitus. We freeze or we fry. Some appear to be en route to a funeral, some headed for a frolic. But we are invited to a feast, solid food with joyous fellowship. [Vance Havner, All the Days, Vance Havner Bundle (Baker Publishing Group, 1976).]

C. Singing the Songs of Revelation ():

Revelation 15:3–4 KJV 1900
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.
State Point -
These songs have both meaningful titles and lyrics.
Anchor Point -
I do take this to be two songs, rather than one. The Song of Moses is the refrain of the Old Covenant, where God's power and glory are seen in His delivering Israel out of bondage from the hand of Pharaoh. The Song of the Lamb is the song of the New Covenant in the Blood of Christ, shed for many for the remission of sins upon Calvary. Together, these two remind God's people through the ages of what we have in the Word of God, all 66 books of the Bible. This is the message of our songs, hymns and spiritual songs! These are the melodies of our heart, and the way we admonish one another when the way gets weary and the days are dreary... why? because I know that Jesus cares, and that the God of the Bible is the God who saves me and keeps me by His power!
Validate Point -
Now listen to the words of their songs: They lift up their voices to the Lord God Almighty, to the King of saints, to the Lord saying, "Great and marvellous are Thy WORKS...just and true are thy WAYS...who shall not fear thee...and glorify thy name...for all nations shall come and WORSHIP before thee...."
Explain Point -
The titles are seen in v. 3a; the lyrics are given in vv. 3b-4 and discuss: 1. the Works of God, 2. the Way of God and 3. the Worship of God.
christ the king
. God called him King.
. Pilate called him King.
. He is now on a throne.
. He appears as King.
. He is King of nations.
. He is King over all the earth.
. His scepter is a right scepter. [D. L. Moody, Notes from My Bible: From Genesis to Revelation (Chicago; New York; Toronto: Fleming H. Revell, 1895), 193.]
The works of Moses and the Lamb
1 HOW strong thine arm is, mighty God!
Who would not fear thy name?
Jesus, how sweet thy graces are?
Who would not love the Lamb?
2 He has done more than Moses did,
Our prophet and our king?
From bonds of hell he freed our souls,
And taught our lips to sing.
3 In the Red Sea by Moses’ hand
The Egyptian host was drown’d;
But his own blood hides all our sins,
And guilt no more is found.
4 When thro’ the desert Israel went,
With manna they were fed;
Our Lord invites us to his flesh,
And calls it living bread.
5 Moses beheld the promis’d land,
Yet never reach’d the place;
But Christ shall bring his followers home
To see his Father’s face.
6 Then shall our love and joy be full,
And feel a warmer flame,
And sweeter voices tune the song
Of Moses and the Lamb. [Isaac Watts, The Works of the Rev. Isaac Watts, vol. 9 (London; Leeds: Edward Baines; William Baynes; Thomas Williams and Son; Thomas Hamilton; Josiah Conder, 1813), 139.]
[Apply Point] -
Of this song, we could spend a series of sermons, and yet not exhaust the truth packed in these words. I'll not dwell on each minute aspect, but draw your attention to this threefold thought of WHY God is to be revered above all: 1. FOR (because) thou only art holy, 2. FOR all nations SHALL come and worship... 3. FOR thy judgments are made manifest.
Holiness is an essential attribute of God; it is his nature and essence; it is himself; he is holiness itself; “he swears by himself, because he can swear by no greater;” and he will not swear by any less, and yet he swears by his holiness, , , and , which places put and compared together, show that the holiness of God is himself; ...and is what is called the beauty of the Lord, , ...God is glorious in holiness, ; this gives a lustre to all his perfections, and is the glory of them; and therefore none of them are or can be exercised in a wrong manner, or to any bad purpose. And as it his nature and essence, it is infinite and unbounded; it cannot be greater than it is, and can neither be increased nor diminished; when, therefore, men are exhorted to sanctify the Lord, and are directed to pray that his name may be hallowed, or sanctified, , ; the meaning is not as if he was to be, or could be made more holy than he is; but that his holiness be declared, manifested, and celebrated more and more; it is so perfect that nothing can be added to it. And as it is his nature and essence, it is immutable and invariable; ...God is always the same holy Being, without any variableness, or shadow of turning. ...he is the fountain of holiness to all rational creatures that partake of it; it is peculiar to him; yea, only in him; Hannah says, in her song, There is none holy as the Lord, . In another song yet to be sung, the song of Moses and of the Lamb, it is said, Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy, . The holiness of creatures is but a shadow of holiness, in comparison of the holiness of God; the holy angels are chargeable with folly in his sight, and they cover their faces with their wings, while they celebrate the perfection of God’s holiness; as conscious to themselves, that theirs will not bear to be compared with his, , , , . God only is essentially, originally, underivatively, perfectly, and immutably holy. [John Gill, A Complete Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity: Or A System of Evangelical Truths, Deduced from the Sacred Scriptures, New Edition., vol. 1 (Tegg & Company, 1839), 149–150.]
Application:
...we may take that old, old story of the ransomed slaves and the baffled oppressor and the Divine intervention and the overwhelming ocean, as prophecy full of radiant hope for the world. That is how it is used here. Pharaoh is the beast, the Red Sea is this ‘sea of glass mingled with fire,’ the ransomed Israelites are those who have conquered their way out of the dominion of the beast, and the song of Moses and of the Lamb is a song parallel to the cadences of the ancient triumphant chorus, and celebrating the annihilation of that power which drew the world away from God. So we may believe that as Israel stood on the sands, and saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore, humanity will one day, delivered from all its bestiality and its selfishness, lift up a song of thanksgiving to the conquering King who has drowned its enemies in the depths of His own righteous judgments.
And as for the world, so for individuals. If you take the Beast for your Pharaoh and your task-master, you will ‘sink’ with him ‘like lead in the mighty waters.’ If you take the Lamb for your sacrifice and your King, He will break the bonds from off your arms, and lift the yoke from your neck, and lead you all your lives long; and you will stand at last, when the eternal morning breaks, and see its dawn touch with golden light the calm ocean, beneath which your oppressors lie buried for ever, and will lift up glad thanksgivings to Him who has washed you from your sins in His own blood, and made you victors over ‘the beast, and his image, and the number of his name.’ [MacLaren, 349–350.]
Transition: We've seen the sign, and pondered those standing upon the sea, listening in our minds eye to the songs of the saved in heaven, now we move to contemplate further:

II. The Sanctuary, the Seven Plagues, the Smoke in the Temple (Rev. 15:5-8).

A. The Temple of the Tabernacle of Testimony Opened ():

Revelation 15:5 KJV 1900
And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:
State Point -
The next thing that John sees after this seen of glory before God is that now, the place where God is begins to mobilize and move toward the goal of the God's plan through the ages.
Anchor Point -
Lit. "it was opened: the temple of the tent of the witness in the heaven"
Validate Point -
The God of Heaven is no longer longsuffering toward the culminated wickedness of mankind toward His goodness and mercy. Like that Husbandman returned from a long journey, only to find His faithful servants murdered and His beloved Son slain by wicked and covetous thieves, He rises to justice, to execute vengeance on all the ungodly, for their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed. "There shall be time no longer." The day of His grace expires, and the rebellious nations will meet with the plagues that God will pour out upon their hardened hearts and stiffened necks.

B. The Seven Angels Mobilize ():

Revelation 15:6 KJV 1900
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.
State Point -
Here notice both what they had (THE seven plagues) and what they wore (pure & white linen - Purity, righteousness and ministry).
Anchor Point -
This pictures to us their ministerial attire, they are on God's mission, as God's ministers, executing God's program of destroying the plague of wickedness with His own plagues against them.

C. The Beast Brings the Bowls of Wrath ():

Revelation 15:7 KJV 1900
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.
State Point -
Up to this point, the seven angels each had their plague in their possession, but now, as a further picture of their ministry for God, they take those plagues, and fill up each a large basin with it to be poured out upon a world of wickedness.

D. The Glory of God Fills the Temple ():

Revelation 15:8 KJV 1900
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.
State Point -
This whole scene emphasizes to us the very PRESENCE of God in these movements. He is VERY and INTIMATELY concerned in every minute progression involved here. This is reminiscent of His presence on Sinai (HOLY), in the Tabernacle (pillars of fire and cloud), in Solomon's Temple (the smoke at the dedication), etc.
Anchor Point -
Note that "no man" here carries the idea of person, therefore, no saint, no angel, no creature could enter until the smoke clears.
Validate Point -
QUESTION—What is indicated by the ...‘smoke from the glory of God and from his power’?
It indicates the presence of God... In there is a close connection between the cloud of smoke and the presence of God. Also frequently in the OT, the phrase ‘the glory of God’ or ‘the glory of the Lord’ is a reference to God’s presence [WBC].
QUESTION—In what other Scriptures is God’s presence accompanied by smoke or a cloud?
..., ..., , ..., ... and ... tell of God’s presence being accompanied either by a cloud or smoke.
QUESTION—What is the significance of entry to the temple being barred at this time?
It may signify that these plagues are unstoppable until completed [Sw, TNTC]. It may indicate that the time for intercession is past [NIGTC, NTC].
QUESTION—How would this ‘smoke from the glory of God’ keep anyone from entering the temple?
When the cloud from the glory of God filled the Tabernacle and the Temple it made it impossible for anyone to enter them (see , ; , ) [TH]. [Ronald Trail, An Exegetical Summary of Revelation 12–22, 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: SIL International, 2008), 92.]
Explain Point -
Note the word "filled" (2x's here in vv. 7 & 8, different from teleo [also 2x's in v. 1 & v. 8 respectively]) comes from gemizo -
gemizo (γεμίζω, ), “to fill or load full,” is used of a boat, (rv, “was filling”); a sponge, (cf. No. 5, ), a house, ; the belly, ; waterpots, ; baskets, ; bowls, with fire, ; the temple, with smoke, .¶ Cf. gemo, “to be full.” See full. [W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 237.]
[Apply Point] -
“This cloud (says Dr. Guyse) appeared like a thick smoke, awfully glorious, which was a symbol of the Divine vengeance, (,) as going forth from the presence of the Lord, and to be executed by the glory of his power, in the destruction of antichrist; even as the cloud on the tabernacle was of his dreadful judgment upon Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and the murmuring Israelites; (, ;) and as Moses could not enter into the tabernacle, nor the priests stand to minister in the temple, while the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord; (; ;) so no one could enter into this heavenly temple to intercede for the preventing of these grievous calamities upon the beast: none were suffered to do this, that judgment might have its free course, till all the seven punishments to be inflicted by the ministry of the seven angels were fully executed in their order.” [Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Expositions—Miscellaneous, ed. Joseph Belcher, vol. 3 (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 273.]
Application:
God’s scale of timing is less urgent than ours: “The Lord is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land” (). The scale that anticipates the dissolution of nations is not meant to dispel confidence that God also concerns himself with the minuscule scale of individual calamity. Rather, it is another way of saying [what Samuel Eliot Morrison said:] that “the wheels of God’s justice grind exceeding slow, but they grind exceeding fine.” [D. A. Carson, For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word., vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998).]

Conclusion

Summary/Review:
The sign reminds us that God's agenda will win over the Devil's in the end. The sea encourages us that believers in any age can overcome the forces of Satan by faith in Jesus Christ, our Savior. The songs of the saved in heaven rejuvenate us with the patience and faith of the saints by the Word of God, the Bible. The sanctuary scene stirs us to consider that God hears and answers the prayers of His people in His time, according to what is ultimately best for them that love Him, and what will bring Him glory. The seven plagues confirm to our hearts that our Great Physician knows precisely how to eradicate and radiate the cancer of sin from mankind completely and altogether, and the smoke that filled the Temple reassures us that while we're on the operating table, so to speak, He is with us, and will help us find wholeness through His steady, unchanging, powerful and holy hand.
God Wants You To:
See the need of those who have yet to hear and come to faith; speak the Word that God has already given, and pray fervently that His promises will, through the power of His Holy Spirit bringing conviction through compassion to the heart, move the lost to consider Christ, repent and receive by faith the Word (Jesus) who is able to save them to the uttermost that come to Him for deliverance from the wrath to come!
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