Revelation 15:1-8 Part 2

REVELATION 15:1-8 Part 2



1)    Then I saw another great and awesome sign in the heaven; for God’s wrath was carried out in full through seven messengers having the last seven plagues.

2)    I saw as a crystal sea mingled with fire and the ones overcoming the beast and its image and the number of its name standing on the crystal sea having God’s harps;

3)    and they sing the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb saying, ‘great and awesome Your works, Kurie the Almighty God; just and true Your ways, King of the ages.

4)    Who shall not fear Kurie and glorify Your Name - alone holy?  All the nations shall come and bow before You, Your righteous acts be manifest!’

5)    After this I looked, and the holy place in the tabernacle of testimony in the heaven was opened,

6)    and the seven messengers having the seven plagues came out of the holy place clothed in pure white linen and girded about the breasts with golden girdles.

7)    And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven messengers seven golden bowls being full of the wrath of God – the One Living into the ages of the ages;

8)    and the holy place was filled of smoke from the glory of God and from His power; and not one was enabled to enter into the holy place until the seven plagues of the seven messengers were finished.



My hope is that last week’s recap and intro to chapter fifteen was helpful to everybody.  I know that this is a lot to hold on to from Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day, especially when we miss two or three weeks.

But we began the fourth year in the Revelation of Jesus Christ with that brief overview of our approach, and with a review of the scope of The Revelation.  Since it is the fullness of all that’s written, its “dimensions” are limitless (after all, it’s God’s view of His history!)… therefore the difficulty in grasping it and holding it.  John saw what “was”, what “is”, and what was “about to be” directly from the mind and perspective of Almighty God – the Ancient of Days.  And I suppose that covers just about everything!

There were also a number of references last Lord’s Day to chapter fifteen and beyond as we began to introduce this next great sign from God in the heaven.

And as John writes what he saw for the Churches, he adds a word that he didn’t use previously… he says “I saw another great and “awesome” sign in the heaven!  That Greek word could be translated either “awesome” or “wondrous”.  I chose the word “awesome” because the sign is, indeed, awe-inspiring.  And the word “wondrous” may leave some the idea that John had some “wonder” in his mind about what all of this was! 

But he wasn’t “wondering” what it was; and there should be no doubt about John’s certainty regarding what was shown to Him.  The fact that he was certain is the reason why he describes it as so awesome!

The other instances in which this word is included in the text of the New Testament leave no room at all for “wondering” about what was happening either!  Rather, they all indicate eye-opening, mind-opening Revelation by Jesus Christ or by the coming of His Spirit at His ascension… Revelation as to “way”, “truth” and “life”, and the fullness thereof as prophesied and foreshadowed in the older Scripture!

And the effect of the newness of those “enlightenments” is expressed in this Greek word here in our text.  It is “awe” as one’s whole being is electrified and piqued and stirred by the “light” of God’s Word and His mighty acts.

You may remember that account of two disciples of Jesus as they were walking toward Emmaus directly after Jesus’ resurrection.  They had heard what was said by the women who were at the tomb; but their eyes and ears had not yet been opened.

The risen Christ appeared to them, walking to Emmaus with them and speaking to them about Himself… beginning with MOSES!

Just after that Luke records Jesus’ appearance to His eleven disciples; and this is what He said to them:


44) … These are my words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled which are written in the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms, concerning me.

45) Then He opened their minds, that they might understand the scriptures;

46) and he said unto them, Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and rise again from death the third day;

47) and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name unto all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

48) You are witnesses to these things.


All things that are written must be fulfilled; and then He must be preached to all the nations… starting from Jerusalem!  Remember last Lord’s Day we heard Jesus say the same things to His disciples before His crucifixion, as recorded by Luke in chapter twenty one:  “To fulfill all things written….”

But the point I was making about the word “awesome” here in verse one is illustrated by those two disciples walking toward Emmaus immediately after the resurrection.  When Jesus had departed from them, they were talking with each other about what happened to them when Jesus opened the Scripture to them from Moses and the prophets about Himself!  They said that their hearts “burned within them”.

And that’s the reaction that John is expressing here in verse one with the use of the Greek word “thaumaston”.  It is an “awesome” sign which he is now shown.  He is filled with “awe”; and his heart “burns”; and he most assuredly is filled with fear and dread at the mighty acts of God in His history, as he sees what is about to be, and the fact that it is all foreshadowed and prophesied in all the written Word of God.  It is all about to be fulfilled as being shown to him.  It’s a “sign” of that which is “about to be”.

But what is meant by the word “sign”?

As we look at this more carefully, the record shows that philosophers have wrestled for millennia over language and words.  With the wisdom of fallen and cursed mankind, they have fought centuries-old battles over the meaning of the word “meaning”!

Plato, for example, said that the meaning of a word is inherent in the word itself.  Aristotle, on the other hand, said that words have no meaning whatsoever in and of themselves; only the one using a word invests it with the meaning which he means it to mean!

Well, all the wisdom of fallen man since the Garden of Eden has gotten mankind nowhere with regard to the philosophy of language, except maybe to secure tenured chairs for philosophers at universities.  But we know where language came from!

As the image of God, man was given language at his creation!  God communicates!  Second Person of Triune God is God The WORD!  And man is the image of God; so he was given to communicate… with His Creator!  And the meaning of the words belongs to God!  He “invests” them with His Own meaning.

Now, you see?… we could replace all those tenured philosophy professors with reformed theologians!!

Words have no inherent meaning (sorry Plato!).  But words have meaning (too bad, Aristotle).  Words are endowed with meaning – God’s meaning.  God created us in His image; and He speaks!  Words have no inherent meaning; they are invested with meaning from God.  Words aren’t “meaningless”; they are full of meaning – God’s meaning!

Once that’s understood, then all the material from centuries of philosophical wrangling becomes “file thirteen” material!

And because language is endowed with God’s meaning, we ought to be very careful about what comes out of our mouths; for we are to be the image of God – not a pseudo (or false) image.  Remember what Jesus told the scribes and pharisees.  He said that it’s not what goes into your mouths that defiles; rather it’s what comes out of your mouths that locates exactly where the defilement is!

So, we can explore the Scripture, and we can learn God’s language and God’s usage of words….  They’ve been invested with His meaning! 

And, in this case, it is the word “sign”.  It is an extremely significant word all through the Bible; and we have to learn it – not simply because it’s used so flippantly most of the time, but so we can be built up and strengthened in God’s Word; and also that we can defend the faith as we carry on with our great commission.  The word is endowed by God with His meaning.

So, listen to some examples from Scripture:


1)    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

2)    And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters,

3)    and God said, Let there be light: and there was light;

4)    and God saw the light that it was good, and God separated the light from the darkness.

5)    And God called the light day, and the darkness he called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

6)    And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

7)    So God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament.  And so it was.

8)    And God called the firmament heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

9)    And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

10) And God called the dry land earth; and the gathering together of the waters He called seas: and God saw that it was good.

11) And God said, Let the earth put forth grass, herbs yielding seed, and fruit-trees bearing fruit all after their kind wherein is the seed thereof, upon the earth: and so it was.

12) And the earth did bring forth grass, herbs yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit, wherein is the seed thereof, after their kind: and God saw that it was good.

13) And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.

14) And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons and days and years:

15) and let them be for lights in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth: and so it was.


“Let them be for “signs”….  God made “light” (similar to His Own glory – as an image of His Own glory); and then He created the “lights” in the firmament!  And they were for “signs”.

Moses had heard God say all of these things while in the glory cloud on Mt Sinai (that’s how he could write the “Genesis” later on).  So, while he learned directly from the Word of God, Moses was there in the tabernacle of God, amongst it all, including all the lights in God’s glory cloud/tabernacle! 

The creation, you see, was brought to be in the “image” of God’s glory, and in the image of His tabernacle.  He saw the ten thousands times ten thousands of the “lights” of God’s tabernacle/glory cloud, and he knew that the lights in the firmament of the creation were “signs” of God’s power and His glory!

And that’s why the apostle Paul, in his letter to the Churches in Rome, chapter one, could say that all men are held accountable for knowing God; for the “signs” of His power and glory are all around us, and even “in” us!  It’s all made in the “likeness” of His glorious Person and the likeness of His glory cloud/tabernacle.

The new nation of Israel was described to Moses in like fashion!  And the description he received was as a new creation – a new cosmos with all its own lights! – a paradise/image of His glorious tabernacle in the heaven, right in the midst of a fallen world!  And the lights of that created paradise were as “signs” (as in Genesis one).

Then we see a “sign” of the covenant that God made with all His creation (Moses received this, as well, directly from God when he was on Mt Sinai).  It’s written in Genesis chapter nine, right after the flood:


11) I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the world."

12) And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations:

13) I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a “sign” of the covenant between me and the earth.


That bow is the image of the glory-bow above Almighty God Whose Presence is above His tabernacle in the heavens.  It was seen by Moses; it was seen by Daniel; it was seen by Ezekiel, and it was seen by John (as recorded here in The Revelation).  The covenantal “bow” after the rain is a “sign” of the glory of God above all His creation.  And IT – the sign - leaves man without excuse!

Then there is a sign of the “cutting off”… the circumcision of Abraham and all his house.  Remember, circumcision was a sign of the covenant:


9)    And God said to Abraham, "As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations.

10) This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.

11) You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a “sign” of the covenant between me and you.

12) He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring,

13)   both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant.


No more shall the earth be “cut off” in the flood; but there shall be a “cutting off”; and circumcision was the “sign” of God’s covenantal “cutting off” on the cross of The Christ, for He did not come to judge the creation, but to save it!

John sees the Lamb of God in the tabernacle in the heaven, having been completely cut off and abandoned from every mercy and comfort – not only from His Own people and His Own disciples, but from the Father – in order that He might “save” this cursed creation and mankind - the image of God.  Circumcision was the “sign”, you see. 

And then (as we’ve seen here in The Revelation) Israel was “cut off” and abandoned; for it didn’t heed the “sign”; it didn’t receive the circumcision of the Christ of God and His resurrection on the eighth day (as the sign of the covenant with Abraham foreshadowed).

Then, as Moses is sent to a recalcitrant Pharaoh with all of the plagues, God calls themsigns”!  The plagues upon Egypt at the Exodus are signs!  Here in our text of the Revelation we are reminded not only of the “lights” of Israel being extinguished, but we see the plagues in Israel (in every way similar to the plagues in Egypt) as our Lord’s elect people “exodus” the land into the nations.  So, the plagues upon Egypt are “signs” to Israel of that which is to come should she not obey Yahveh.  (Obviously she didn’t heed the “signs”.)

Later on (probably next Lord’s Day), when we read certain portions of Moses in the last chapters of Deuteronomy, you will hear him speak God’s words to Israel concerning seven final plagues should this covenanted nation become a “degraded” image of God-above-His - tabernacle.

Now, as you might expect, the very next event at which the Scripture includes a “sign” from God is Passover – the first one – Exodus chapter twelve.

After the instructions about the lamb that was to be chosen for the meal, we read this, beginning at verse seven:


7)    "Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.

8)    They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it.

9)    Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted (its head with its legs and its inner parts).

10) And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn.

11) In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is Yahveh’s Passover.

12) For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am Yahveh.

13) The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.

14) This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to Yahveh throughout your generations as a statute.


“The blood shall be a sign to you….”   And what was the elect of the house of Jacob to do when they saw the blood of the Christ on the cross?  Have your sandals on and your staffs in your hands, for it is the last days; and there is about to be an “exodus” from Israel!  The blood of the sacrifice of God to Himself is the “sign” to Israel of the “last days”!!  Be ready for an exodus out of Israel!

Are we getting the idea yet that the common, every day use of the phrase “a sign from God” has nothing whatever to do with God’s Word?  No wonder the Scripture invokes the wrath of God when folks look for, and ask for, “signs”.

But let’s go further.  There were a series of signs given to the nation while Israel dwelt in the desert.  One of which was the Sabbath, for it was a “sign” that God would “sanctify” His people.  (To “sanctify” means to set apart.)  And that’s exactly what our Lord did at His resurrection on the “first” day of the week (the eighth day).  The Sabbath in God’s Law-word “signified” the setting-apart of God’s elect in the resurrection of The Christ.  And it still signifies our first-day-of-the-week worship and rest.  We who worship Him on the Lord’s Day are ones who He is “setting apart” unto Himself.

Another “sign” while Israel was in the desert had to do with false worship.  The deaths of two hundred and fifty men for making their own “censers” and worshiping in places other than the tabernacle… that was the “sign” of Yahveh…..the deaths!

And there were others; many of the occurrences were reminders to the people; for Yahveh had shown “signs”, and He had done wonders in their sight.

We have to skip many signs through the Scripture; but just know that God showed so many to Israel.  But one that we can’t skip is in 1 Samuel chapter ten as Samuel anoints David as King; for, as Samuel said, David’s anointing was the “sign” of the Prince of Yahveh’s heritage… the coming Anointed One.

Neither can we overlook all of the signs of Yahveh through the prophets!  And one of the many “must-reads” for studying The Revelation is Isaiah chapter seven.  Here’s verse fourteen:


“Therefore Yahveh Himself will give you a sign….  Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel.”


This verse (as you are well aware) is preached and sung everywhere in Christendom (especially around Christmas), but rarely is the context ever considered!

The fact is that when Yahveh spoke this “sign”, King Ahaz and his administration was shaken to the core upon hearing the threat from Syria to invade.  The sign – the birth of Immanuel (God-With-Us) to a virgin – marked the imminent and complete destruction of Israel and the salvation of a remnant of Jacob!  Ahaz’s fear of the Syrian king was nothing in comparison to that which Israel should be fearing… which was the birth of Immanuel!

Although we have little time to review the “signs” of the prophets (we’ll see just one of them in a minute), please note that they, themselves, are called signs of Yahveh.  What they were required to say to Israel, and what they were required to do in the sight of Israel, made the prophets themselves “signs” of Yahveh.

But in order for us to finish this this morning, we have to go now to “the last days” – the seventy years that began with the virgin birth of Immanuel… the fearful “sign” to Israel spoken through Isaiah seven hundred years before the virgin’s conception.  Listen now at Matthew chapter twelve and verse thirty-eight:


38) Then some of the Scribes and Pharisees responded to Him saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from You.”

39) But answering He said to them, “A generation wicked and adulterous eagerly searches for a sign; and a sign shall not be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.

40) For just as Jonah was in the belly of the sea beast for three days and three nights, so shall the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.

41) Ninevite men will stand up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it!  Because they changed their minds at the proclamation of Jonah; lo, a greater Jonah is here.

42) Queen of the South will be raised up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; lo, a greater Solomon is here.


Jonah, Himself, was a sign of Yahveh!  Jesus isn’t referring to a special sign that accompanied Jonah, or a special work that Jonah did – He says that Jonah is the sign!  The sign – of Jonah! – the whole historical event which the one word – Jonah – represents.  He is the sign.

The demand here for a sign to see means that a sign would have to be furnished by Jesus in order for Him to receive judaist acknowledgment as Israel’s Messiah!  The verb “to see” is in the emphatic position in this sentence, so the last half of the verse would read, “Teacher, we want from You a sign to see.”

In other words, there was to be an open, cosmic authorization from God which would then be verified by the scribes; and then they would pronounce yea or nay on Jesus’ Messiahship!

But Jesus says to them that they had already received the sign of Yahveh; it is the sign of Jonah.

“And Ninevite men will stand up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it! … because they changed their minds at the proclamation of Jonah….”

The lesser Jonah appears in a Gentile city and preaches, and the whole city repents!  But the Greater Jonah comes to establish the Kingdom, and the covenanted nation rejects Him!

The sinful Hebrew prophet who ran from God’s commission, and was spewed out of the belly of the beast, finally submits to preaching the Words from God, and a huge city of pagans rush to fear God and mourn their sin!  And they repent with fasting and in sackcloth and ashes.  But when the Perfect Prophet, Priest and King, the Word of God made Flesh, shows up to preach the Word of the Kingdom, the very nation with whom the Word of God had been entrusted despised Him!

When the “sign of Yahveh” walked through the streets of Nineveh preaching God’s Word, the foulest of Gentile pagans turned from their sin!  But when the Archetype preached “repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand,” Israel displayed haughtiness, and they were contemptuous of Him.

When the “lesser” Jonah preached, the people who were not His people, and who knew of no Covenant, obeyed.  But when the “greater” Jonah preached, the people who had received the Covenant through Abraham scorned Him and considered Him despicable – even though the covenant with Abraham promised the salvation of Gentiles!!!

So Jesus says that in the “Day of Yahveh” the words and deeds of these men of Nineveh (Gentiles) will be a condemnation on this generation of judaists!

Now, since we’ve been through the text of Matthew chapter twenty-four numbers of times, the request of Jesus’ disciples for the “sign” of His Parousia should be easily recalled; so we won’t overdo the obvious.  Just to say that the “signs” of His Parousia that He gave them were to cause them to get all His people out of Israel before the “last day”.

But here in The Revelation of Jesus Christ to all of those in the Churches (i.e. the located lost sheep of the house of Jacob who had been marked, sealed and rescued from the flood to come and scattered among the Gentiles in the nations), written to all the Churches there now come “signs” in the heaven, shown to John and written to all who are being persecuted in the belly of this fourth beast.

In that time of great, world-wide turmoil and horrific persecution, with the nation of their heritage about to become a wilderness and a sea of blood, the Lord’s newborns are shown “signs” of Yahveh – as were their forefathers.  The signs are described to the Churches by the one who was there and saw them – John.

And all of Christ’s baptized and adopted siblings were to be comforted by these signs; for their Lord’s mighty Providence was at work as all the creatures in the heaven and upon the earth and in the abyss were under His authority.

And they were to remember all the signs of Yahveh previously revealed in the Scripture.  Those were all visual signs written in God’s infallible Word; and they were vested with great power; they were means of confirmation; they provided assurance and trust; they served to nurture anticipation.  And all of the Lord’s rebirthed firstfruit were given to know what the signs were; and they all required an obligation – faithfulness.

This sign here in The Revelation chapter fifteen hearkens back to God’s written Word (as we’ll see in coming Sundays); and it is confirmation of previous signs.  And it is a sign of that which is “about to be”.  And the Churches in the nations are to be nurtured in assurance and anticipation of that which was about to be.  Their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was confirming the covenantal promise.  He shows them a sign of that which He is about to do… as previously promised.

Now in the New Heavens and the New Earth, the Church is provided with two “signs” of the covenant.  The two remind us of all the signs of Yahveh; and they remind us that our Lord is the “fullness” of all the signs, for He is the One to Whom they point.  He is the “fullness” of the written Word!

We need no additional signs other than the two appointed by Him.

Baptism is the covenant sign of His people having been united to Him in His Humanity.  That’s why the sign is received only once.  His elect people are not united to Him over and over again; we are “rebirthed” into His humanity once.  Those who require repeated “fillings” of Holy Spirit are “faithless” as to the Person and Work of the Son of Man.

Communion is the covenant sign of our preservation and perseverance in His Humanity.  And that’s why the sign is received “often”.  “Whenever you do this”, “as often as you do this”, remember….  Remember, and receive all My benefits.

These are visual signs for the Church; they are vested with great power; they are means of confirmation; they provide assurance and promote trust; they serve to nurture hope (anticipation); and they require an obligation – faithfulness.

Next Lord’s Day the complete – and final – sanction in which even the Gentile nations, like Nineveh, will stand in condemnation of the “greater Babylon” – the great harlot; for the Gentiles, unlike Israel, will repent and keep His commandments and hold the testimony of Jesus.