Advent Day 15
Read: Revelation 15
The seven bowls full up with the seven plagues that complete God’s wrath begin to be poured out in chapter 15. This is the last in a series of seven-shaped visions. The first was that of the seven churches of Asia. Next came the seven seals. That was followed by the seven trumpets. Now we are at the final seventh-cycle. The repeated cycles, again, signifies the repetitions that occur in history. The names change, but the story remains largely the same.
Although the seven bowls of wrath are introduced in chapter 15, we don’t actually get to see what’s in the first bowl until the next chapter.
The phrase, ‘wrath of God’ comes up several times in this chapter. The wrath of God is a phrase that you would expect to arouse a certain amount of fear. And yet the tone of this chapter is quite triumphant. Those who managed to ride out the storms provoked by the enemies of God; the dragon, the beast, and his henchmen: are depicted skating along serenely on a smooth-as-glass surface that seems to be pulsating underneath with the warm glow of a volcanic fire. It’s like a geo-thermal heated ice-rink that lets you skate but keeps your toes warm and toasty as you do. And the skaters have harps. They are playing groovy tunes.
The song of Moses is referred to–a musical influence which has shaped the tastes and musical stylings of the harpists. Exodus imagery is all over the place in this chapter. The plagues, of course, recall to us the exodus story. The sea of glass which the skaters traverse is reminiscent of the crossing of the Red Sea; only this crossing is a much more tranquil and an easier one. Rather than having to trudge through the mud of a sea-bottom that has been drained in the middle, the harpists just glide easily over the surface. One is reminded, further, of Jesus walking atop the water. What persists throughout chapter 15 is a pervasive sense of the followers of our Lord rising above and riding atop every sort of adversity. They are enduring beautifully. Even all of the wrath, which occurs within the world that they too inhabit, is more of a nuisance than a real threat. Our Lord will not be thwarted.
The tone of the book of Revelation assumes almost a defiant air. “Bring it on. Show me your worst. I’m not afraid.” Again, endurance is the main theme of the book of Revelation. Victory, if delayed, is inevitable.