“After these things I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened. And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen, and having their chests girded with golden bands. Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever. The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed“
Chapter fifteen introduces chapter sixteen [the administration of the bowl judgments].
After these things I looked,
The words “these things” refer to the sign of the sea of glass [vv. 1-4]. An interval of time occurred between this sign of the temple and the sign of the sea of glass. The first sign is a celebration of the saints. This sign indicates the source of the bowl judgments – God Himself.
John sees something dramatic.
the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened.
An archetype of the Tent of the testimony (Exodus 25:9,40) opens in heaven. The word for “temple” is the term for the inner holy place, the Holy of Holies. Remember the point of the tabernacle and temple was to present a Christology for us to see. All the furniture and functions of the temple were a testimony to Christ.
And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues,
God is about to unleash the terrible seven plague judgments. The source of these seven plagues is God Himself. God used every possible means to reach people for Christ but they rejected Him. The angels come from the presence of God acting on His behalf to execute final justice in the world.
clothed in pure bright linen, and having their chests girded with golden bands.
The clothes of these angels indicate that the bowl judgments are an expression of the righteousness of God. There is nothing unfair or unjust in God’s judgments.
Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls
The bowl judgments will bring glory to God. These bowls are “full” of God’s wrath. These judgments are no feeble attempts at wrath. They are ominous signs. Nothing will pacify the fear of God’s wrath. Each bowl judgment is an execution of a verdict against one world religion.
full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever.
The word “full” means full to the brim. The last seven judgments will accomplish God’s justice in the world. This judgment comes from the eternal One.
The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power,
“Smoke” often represents the presence of God (Exodus 19:9,18; Isaiah 6:1-4). God’s presence exposes sin and injustice. God will execute His judgments from His omnipotence.
and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed
God temporarily closes the temple. No one can enter the temple until the angels complete their work. Everything stops in heaven until the seven bowl judgments finish. All activity ceases until God completes His justice. No repentance is possible at this point.
God’s righteousness will ultimately triumph over iniquity.
God’s glory is at stake in the ultimate triumph of His righteousness. One of the great purposes of the Tribulation is to demonstrate the righteous plan of God for the world. He will demonstrate that Satan is a liar, the father of lies. God has no option but to judge those who do not come to Christ for they are completely culpable.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:18-21).
“But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who ‘will render to each one according to his deeds:’ eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God” (Romans 2:5-11).