Having witnessed heaven prepare the world to receive the outpouring of God’s full wrath, in this chapter John watches as heaven prepares to deliver it.
v.1 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete.
This is the last set of seven judgments delivered during the tribulation, and is unquestionably the worst of all. “For in them,” John says, “the wrath of God is complete.” That is, they contain the full bounty of all of God’s righteous indignation, fierce anger, and fury against all that is evil; and by them, He will hold nothing back, nor will He keep any of His power hidden.
We must always keep in mind that the long patience of God that permits sin does not mean that He will excuse sin. God has plainly said: “I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity” (Isa.13:11). So to the same degree that God is merciful, He is also holy, and because He is holy He must judge sin.
v.2-4 And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the saints! Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, for Your judgments have been manifested.”
This group John sees in heaven are the men and women hunted down during the Tribulation and murdered for their refusal to accept the mark of the beast. Thus, they have victory over the beast for having clearly passed through death in possession of their souls (see—Matt.10:28).
The “sea of glass” probably alludes to the beautiful “sea of glass like unto crystal” that John saw earlier before the throne of God (Rev.4:6). Why the sea is mingled with fire is not explained, but here are several suggestions. Either the image intends to show these martyrs standing in victory over that frightful persecution by the beast and over all the fiery trials brought against them for keeping the commandments of God; or it’s a symbolic representation of the coming judgment of God.
Whatever the case, it’s upon this sea that they sing two songs of deliverance. The “song of Moses”, the same song the nation of Israel sang after God miraculously delivered them safely across the Red Sea from the oppression of Egypt, and then in full view, destroyed the armies of Pharaoh behind them (Ex.15:1-21). And the “song of the Lamb”, which speaks of our redemption in Jesus Christ and our miraculous deliverance from death to life (check—Rev.5:9-12). On the victory shores of heaven, the Tribulation martyrs can sing both songs. For they have, by physical death, been delivered from the oppression of Antichrist whom God is about to destroy behind them in the sea of His full wrath. And at the same time by the blood of Jesus Christ, they have been delivered from the death of trespasses and sins, and made alive in Him (Eph.2:1).
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