The accomplishment of the Harvest and the Vintage [Rev. 14:14-20+] brings to the end of this present world. The next in succession would be the setting up of the eternal Kingdom, and the evolution of the new heavens and earth. But the Harvest and the Vintage do not adequately set forth all that we need to know about these closing scenes. Further particulars included in this momentous period require to be shown in order to complete the picture. The fate of the internal Trinity,—the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet,—and what pertains to them, is to be more fully described before we come to the Millennium, the descent of the new Jerusalem, and the planting of God’s Tabernacle with men.1another sign in heaven, great
On the conclusion of the Vials, the wrath of the Lamb, even more terrible than the wrath of God, is openly expressed on the subjects of vengeance. “Commission to act is given to Christ as soon as the ministration of the Vials ends.” The secret, providential dealings of God are brought to an end with the Vials or Bowls of wrath, after which the Lamb in Person publicly assumes the government of the world. But as the nations at His Coming are in armed rebellion—apostate and wicked, moreover, beyond all human conception—the wrath of the Lamb burns in its fierceness. The wrath of God is finished in the Vials, to be succeeded by the wrath of the Lamb.5Many years previously, an angel replied to the question of how long the final period would be: “It shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people [Israel] is completely shattered, all these things shall be finished” (Dan. 12:6+). These plagues will complete the last half of the Tribulation. See Events of the 70th Week of Daniel.Preterist interpreters deny the finality of these judgments because they must find their fulfillment in the events of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70:
There is no reason to assume that these must be the “last” plagues in an ultimate, absolute, and universal sense; rather, in terms of the specifically limited purpose and scope of the Book of Revelation, they comprise the final outpouring of God’s wrath, His great cosmic Judgment against Jerusalem, abolishing the Old Covenant world-order once and for all.6How the final pouring forth of His wrath to the point of completion can be said to be obtained in a “great cosmic Judgment against Jerusalem,” which in fact was a relatively minor battle on the scale of global history is impossible to see. Much of the world had no notion of the overthrow of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. As significant an event as it was from the perspective of the Jews then living in Jerusalem, we dare not venture with Chilton in a vain attempt to find the events described here, the final outpouring of God’s wrath upon the earth dwellers, in such a relatively minor historical event! This is the same error as is made by the historicist interpreters:
Yet some gravely tell us that the first bowl is the French Revolution; the second bowl, the naval wars of that Revolution; the third bowl, the battles of Napoleon in Italy; the fourth bowl, the tyranny and military oppression of Napoleon; the fifth bowl, the calamities which befell the city of Rome and the Pope in consequence of the French Revolution; the sixth bowl, the wane of the Turkish power, the return of the Jews to Palestine, and the subtle influences of infidelity, Popery and Puseyism; and the seventh, some further war with Romanism and disaster to the city of Rome. But can it be possible that God Almighty from His everlasting seat, the temple in heaven, all angels and holy ones on high, should thus be in new and unexampled commotion, with the mightiest of all celestial demonstrations, over nothing but a few occurrences far less in meaning or moment than many others in other ages! According to such interpretation mankind have been living for the last 100 years amid the extreme terrors of “the great and terrible day of the Lord” without ever knowing it! yea, dreaming the while that we are happily gliding into the era of universal liberty and peace!7
Long before even that deliverance, there had occurred an event greater judgment and redemption by the waters of the sea, “when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, . . . wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water” (1 Peter 3:20). The same waters which had destroyed all the ungodly world also saved the believing remnant from destruction by that world. it is interesting also that the waters of baptism, symbolizing death to sinfulness and resurrection unto holiness, are compared both to the waters of the Red Sea (1 Corinthians 10:1, 2) and to the waters of the Great Flood (1 Peter 3:20, 21). Thus will the sea at the heavenly throne perpetually call to remembrance the waters of the Flood, the waters of the Red Sea, and the waters of baptism, all speaking both of God’s judgment on the wickedness of rebellious men and His great salvation for those who trust Him and obey His Word. This last company of persecuted believers had experienced these also.8See commentary on Revelation 4:6 and Revelation 21:1.mingled with fire
When the believers of the Church period are removed at the beginning of the tribulation period their laver is seen as a sea of crystal [Rev. 4:6+]. Some of them may have suffered martyrdom, but the maintenance of their fellowship was by the Word alone. In the tribulation period, the Lord has seen fit to demand, for His honor and glory, that they maintain their fellowship at the price of their sufferings. Their laver is crystal, mingled with fire. In the time immediately preceding the overthrow of the Antichrist and his power, there will be a sore trial of faith. . . . In sea mingled with fire the Lord recognizes these sufferings and commemorates the faithfulness of this martyr group in this beautiful way.10
Here the sea is “mingled with fire,” evidently referring to the fiery persecution under the Beast—a trial exceeding far in its combination of suffering anything hitherto experienced (Mark 13:19). The pagan persecutions of early times, and the still more exquisite and refined torments under papal Rome, come short of the horrors of the Great Tribulation.11There may also be an allusion to the Red Sea:
Allusion is made to the Israelites standing on the shore at the Red Sea, after having passed victoriously through it, and after the Lord had destroyed the Egyptian foe (type of Antichrist) in it. Moses and the Israelites’ song of triumph (Ex. 15:1) has its antitype in the saints’ “song of Moses and the Lamb” (Rev. 15:3+).12Perhaps mingled with fire does not speak of red, but of God’s judgment—the “baptism with fire” (Mat. 4:11-12), about to be poured out upon the earth.13 those who have victory
Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the Lord, and spoke, saying: “I will sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea! The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.” (Ex. 15:1-2)The song recognizes the uniqueness of God. “Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, Fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Ex. 15:11) and brings to mind the blasphemous parody of these words as attributed to the Beast (Rev. 13:4+). The lyrics of the song before us also recognize God’s uniqueness: “For You alone are holy” (Rev. 15:4+). Both songs indicate that God is to be revered and feared (Ex. 15:14-16 cf. Rev. 15:4+).There is another song of Moses which may also apply to the period currently underway. This is the song he wrote to the children of Israel prior to his death. For he knew they would not follow the LORD in his absence. “For I know that after my death you will become utterly corrupt, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you. And evil will befall you in the latter days, because you will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger through the work of your hands” [emphasis added] (Deu. 31:29 cf. Rev. 9:20+). Although that song was given to the children of Israel, it contains elements which apply to the global situation at the time of the end and are reflected by the lyrics found in this chapter. Moreover, the song is sung to all who would hear:
Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth (Due. 32:1) . . . For I proclaim the name of the LORD: ascribe greatness to our God. He is the Rock. His work is perfect: for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He (Deu. 32:3-4) . . . For their vine is of the vine of Sodom and of the fields of Gomorrah; their grapes are grapes of gall, their wine is the poison of serpents (Deu. 32:32 cf. Rev. 11:8+; 14:18+) . . . Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; their foot shall slip in due time; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things to come hasten upon them (Deu. 32:35) . . . Now see that I, even I, am He, and there is no God besides Me (Deu. 32:39) . . . Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people; for he will avenge the blood of His servants, and render vengeance to His adversaries; He will provide atonement for His land and His people (Deu. 32:43).We call your attention to the final verse of the song which distinguishes between O Gentiles versus His people. Furthermore, it states that He will provide atonement for His land and His people. In the context of the verse, His people can only be the Jewish nation. His land is the Promised Land. Thus, we see that the song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32 is intended to be heard more broadly than merely by the children of Israel. It spans a period of time which culminates with the restoration of the Promised Land to Israel: the Millennial Kingdom.
The Deuteronomy song is not entirely unrelated to the events of the seven last plagues, in that the words “just and true” in Rev. 15:3+ are part of the central theme of the song (cf. Deu. 32:3-4). It also predicts the ultimate subjugation of all nations to God (Deu. 31:1-8; 32:44-33:29), which is the hope of this song too. Specific points of similarity to the Deuteronomy song include Rev. 15:4a+ with Deu. 32:3; Rev. 15:3b+ with Due. 32:4; Rev. 15:4b+ with Deu. 32:4b; the fire of God’s anger with Deu. 32:33; and plagues of hunger, burning heat, pestilence, wild beasts, vermin, the sword with Deu. 32:23-27 (Ford).17We see a pattern of application and extension throughout the book of Revelation. Principles which are illustrated by God’s interaction with Israel in the OT are amplified and extended to apply more broadly to the population of the entire globe during the Tribulation.18 Although it seems as if elements from both of Moses’ songs apply to this time of the end, the more immediate context speaks of victory and praise and most likely points to the song of victory upon escaping Egypt (Ex. 15:1-18) rather than the song of judgment. “There was also another song of Moses (Deuteronomy 31:30), now preserved as Deuteronomy 32:1-43, which might well also be sung appropriately by these tribulation martyrs. . . . However, the most appropriate [song] seems to be the actual song at the Red Sea, praising God for His great salvation.”19
Commentator John Phillips compares and contrasts the two songs: “The song of Moses was sung at the Red Sea, the song of the Lamb is sung at the crystal sea; the song of Moses was a song of triumph over Egypt, the song of the Lamb is a song of triumph over Babylon; the song of Moses told how God brought His people out, the song of the Lamb tells how God brings His people in; the song of Moses was the first song in Scripture, the song of the Lamb is the last. The song of Moses commemorated the execution of the foe, the expectation of the saints, and the exaltation of the Lord; the song of the Lamb deals with the same three themes.” (Exploring Revelation, rev. ed. [Chicago: Moody, 1987; reprint, Neptune, N.J.: Loizeaux, 1991], 187)20the servant of God
There is surely no conflict, as some have taught, between the dispensations of Moses and the Lamb. The written law was given by Moses, and grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17); both are integral components of God’s will for man.21Great and marvelous
For I proclaim the name of the LORD: ascribe greatness to our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He. (Deu. 32:3-4)
Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Yes, the LORD will give what is good; and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before Him, and shall make His footsteps our pathway. (Ps. 85:10-13)When God passed by Moses and proclaimed His character, He said, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth” (Ex. 34:6). Since all His ways are just and true, it is not possible for God to lie (Num. 23:19; Rom. 3:4; Heb. 6:18; Tit. 1:2). This is why Jesus could claim His self-witness was true: “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going’ ” (John 8:14). Even unbelieving Gentiles witness to the truth of God:
Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.” (John 18:37-38)King of the saints!
All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name. For You are great, and do wondrous things; You alone are God. (Ps. 86:9-10)If Israel refused to glorify His name, they would live under a curse (Mal. 2:2). To attribute glory to His name is to recognize His holy character, for His many names describe His glorious character. Each name is like another facet of a gem, reflecting a unique aspect of Who He is. His name is above all names (Php. 2:9) because His character alone is holy.You alone are holy
“For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering; for My name shall be great among the nations,” says the LORD of hosts. (Mal. 1:11)But the complete fulfillment awaits Christ’s physical return to rule upon the throne of David.
The conversion of all nations, therefore, shall be when Christ shall come, and not till then; and the first moving cause will be Christ’s manifested judgments preparing all hearts for receiving Christ’s mercy. He shall effect by His presence what we have in vain tried to effect in His absence. The present preaching of the Gospel is gathering out the elect remnant; meanwhile “the mystery of iniquity” is at work, and will at last come to its crisis; then shall judgment descend on the apostates at the harvest-end of this age (Greek, Mat. 13:39, 40) when the tares shall be cleared out of the earth, which thenceforward becomes Messiah’s kingdom.26Their declaration is in agreement with the heavenly chorus which attends the sounding of the seventh trumpet: “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev. 11:15+). Although the kingdoms are legally His now, the nations will not willingly bow and worship Him until after His Second Coming. This global worship is finally His at the Millennial Kingdom. Global worship will be centered in Jerusalem at a time when Israel has been restored to prominence among the nations in her relationship to God:
Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Peoples shall yet come, inhabitants of many cities; the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, “Let us continue to go and pray before the LORD, and seek the LORD of hosts. I myself will go also.” Yes, many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.’ Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” ’ (Zec. 8:20-23)Then, His house will be called “a house of prayer for all nations” (Isa. 56:7; Mark 11:17). Ultimately, in the eternal state “they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it” (Rev. 21:26+). See The Arrival of God’s Kingdom.For Your judgments have been manifested
Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. (Ex. 40:34-35)His presence also filled Solomon’s Temple at its dedication:
And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD. (1K. 8:10-11)The same glory was seen by Isaiah in the heavenly Temple:
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. (Isa. 6:1-4)See The Abiding Presence of God.no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed
It may suggest that God will, at this point in history, seal the doors of Heaven, making it impossible for any who have not hitherto accepted Jesus as Savior to do so. In other words, from this time forth until God has executed the human race, no additional souls will be saved. This is reminiscent of the previous great judgment, for, in the age before the flood, God said, “My Spirit will not strive with man forever” (Gen. 6:3). What a fearsome prospect: God closeted in His sanctuary until His wrath is satisfied, and no one able to approach Him. Sin will cause this; sin is never a light matter.31Perhaps there is also great sadness in knowing that nothing further can be done, no more will turn (2Pe. 3:9). All that remains is the hand of judgment. Perhaps there is anguish on the part of the Father like that of the Son on the cross (Mat. 27:46; Mark 15:34)?
What insight we should have here of the holiness of God, and may we not be allowed to think that behind this hiding smoke the heart of God is weeping, even as the Lord Jesus wept over Jerusalem, as He acknowledged that all the efforts of His mercy has been in vain, and that the city refused all of His offers of pardon and love? And as we shall be in Heaven at that moment, yet outside of the presence of God, shall we not know that he suffers alone for the horror of the sin that separates men forever from Himself and forces Him to send them away to outer darkness forever?32To speculate further is to go where angels fear to tread. God has covered Himself with a cloud of darkness and we do well to respect His privacy in this matter (Lam. 3:44; Rom. 11:33).Such intense judgment to come! Such grief on the part of the Creator for the creature which refuses to acknowledge Him. Yet He must judge for His very holiness and justice require it! Every person born will drink from one or the other of two cups. Either they will drink the cup of salvation:
Then He [Jesus] took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” (Luke 22:17-20)Or they will drink the cup of the wrath of God (Rev. 14:10+):
He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (John. 3:36)Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your heart (Heb. 3:15), for now is the day of salvation (2Cor. 6:2).
1 J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 367.
2 Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 195.
3 Henry Morris, The Revelation Record (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1983), Rev. 15:1.
4 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), Rev. 15:1.
5 Walter Scott, Exposition of The Revelation (London, England: Pickering & Inglis, n.d.), Rev. 15:1.
6 David Chilton, The Days of Vengeance (Tyler, TX: Dominion Press, 1987), Rev. 15:1.
7 Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 370-371.
8 Morris, The Revelation Record, Rev. 15:3.
9 Friberg, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 253.
10 Donald Grey Barnhouse, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971), 284.
11 Scott, Exposition of The Revelation, Rev. 15:2.
12 A. R. Fausset, “The Revelation of St. John the Divine,” in Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, 1877), Rev. 15:2.
13 “The crystal sea, speaking of a past watery judgment and deliverance, is also ‘mingled with fire,’ speaking of the impending fiery judgment and deliverance.”—Morris, The Revelation Record, Rev. 15:3.
14 Ibid., Rev. 15:2.
15 M. R. Vincent, Vincent’s Word Studies (Escondido, CA: Ephesians Four Group, 2002), Rev. 15:2.
16 “They are the harpers which we saw harping and singing in Rev. 14:2-3+. They are the martyred company worshipping in glory.”—Arno C. Gaebelein, The Revelation (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1961), Rev. 15:2.
17 Thomas, Revelation 8-22, Rev. 15:3.
18 This is one reason that preterist interpreters tend to see everything in the book of Revelation in light of God judging Israel. They fail to see the distinctions between the time of the end and the overthrow of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and the extension of God’s principles relating to Israel’s rebellion being applied wholesale to a rebellious world.
19 Morris, The Revelation Record, Rev. 15:3.
20 John MacArthur, Revelation 12-22 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2000), Rev. 15:3-4.
21 Morris, The Revelation Record, Rev. 15:3.
22 “The reading of the Textus Receptus (ἁγίων [hagiōn] ), which has only the slenderest support in Greek witnesses (296 2049, neither of which was available when the Textus Receptus was formed), appears to have arisen from confusion of the Latin compendia for sanctorum (sctorum) and saeculorum (sclorum [=αἰώνων [aiōnōn] ]; ‘saint’ is also read by several Latin writers, including Victorinus-Pettau, Tyconius, Apringius, and Cassiodorus.”—Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1994), Rev. 15:3.
23 P47, א*, and C have King of the ages.
24 “Emphatic negation is indicated by οὐ μή [ou mē] plus the aorist subjunctive or, less frequently, οὐ μή [ou mē] plus the future indicative (e.g., Mat. 26:35; Mark 13:31; John 4:14; 6:35). This is the strongest way to negate something in Greek.”—Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics - Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House and Galaxie Software, 1999, 2002), 466.
25 Friberg, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 286.
26 Fausset, The Revelation of St. John the Divine, Rev. 15:4.
27 Frederick William Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 465.
28 Scott, Exposition of The Revelation, Rev. 15:6.
29 “Although the reading λίθον [lithon] is strongly attested (A C 2053 vg. al) and was widely circulated at an early date, in the opinion of the Committee it is a transcriptional error that, despite a superficial parallel with Eze. 28:13, makes no sense; it is particularly inapposite with the adjective καθαρὸν [katharon] , which, on the contrary, is altogether appropriate with λίνον [linon] .”—Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Rev. 15:6.
30 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 858.
31 Monty S. Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John (Dallas, TX: 3E Ministries, 1987), Rev. 15:5.
32 Barnhouse, Revelation, 287.