II. The Ceremony

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And so we came shortly to the ceremony that follows the song. There is little that needs to be said about it. The seven last plagues were seen and now they began to be solemnly brought forth. “And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened….” We saw it open in the 11th chapter and our eyes were diverted to the work of Satan. Now again we are caused to turn and look to the opened temple and the judgment of God that shall proceed from His presence. Three words are found directing us closer and closer to God: temple, tabernacle, witness. The temple is the greater structure, the tabernacle was the dwelling, and the witness was the ark above which God’s specific glory shown. With both the temple and the tabernacle it was always about the witness that it contained (Acts. 7:44). “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.” And so the angels proceed from the temple of God where the presence of God dwells. They in part stand in the stead of those to whom they minister (those who believe – Heb. 1:7) because they are wearing pure and white linen as the saints do. They go out on behalf of the redeemed to execute judgment (Rev. 19:8). But they also come out as representatives of Christ. They wear the golden girdle of the priestly Christ (Rev. 1:13) and therefore they go forth in His power and authority. “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.” The judgments are passed into their hand via one of the beast but they come directly from the Lord which liveth. And those vials or bowls (Poole – “a vial is a plain pot or glass with a wide mouth, used to drink in….”) are filled with the wrath of God unmixed. “Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name” (Ps. 79:6). “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.” Smoke is indicative of the presence of God (Ex. 19:18). It is when God is glorified that the house is filled with smoke (Isa. 6:4). Our text tells us plainly that the smoke that filled the temple was from the glory of God and from His power. The glory and power of God filled the temple with the coming forth of judgment and all heaven again must pause as with the end of the seven seals. Now God is focused on judgment and no man is able to enter His secret presence until these last plagues are poured forth. The fullness of His fury now must fall. The Pulpit Commentary contains this note: “Just as when God manifested his presence on Sinai the people were not allowed to approach, so here no one is allowed to approach the ναός, the dwelling place of God, while he is manifesting his judgments. The description is intended to convey an impression of the awful sacredness of God’s presence.” It will be a fearful thing indeed for the whole earth to fall into the hands of a Holy God.