A BOOK WORTH READING

A VISION OF THE REDEEMED – 2

In Revelation 15:2-4 John is shown a further vision of the redeemed. Here, by different symbols, we are given some additional information:

They are ‘standing beside what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire’. We read of a ‘something that looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal’ before the throne of God in 4:6. The mention of ‘fire’ here supports the understanding that the ‘sea’ is the sea of God’s holiness – a holiness which has banned sinners from his presence, a holiness which requires that sin be judged. Here, at this point when the complete wrath of God is about to be poured out, this ‘fire’ almost certainly points to judgment. But here are the redeemed standing on or beside [the Greek epi can mean either] this sea. The redeemed are not threatened by either the holiness of God or by the judgment that his holiness demands. They are beyond the judgment [John 5:24]. Like the Israelites having crossed the Red Sea, they have crossed over and are safe on the other side.

They are described as ‘those who have been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name’. They had not worshipped the beast; they are therefore those whose names were written in the Lamb’s book of life [13:8], for it is only those who are victorious over the beast. This parallels ‘they kept themselves pure’ and ‘no lie was found in their mouths’ in 14:4,5. Their victory over the beast and his image was assured: they belonged to the Lamb and they followed the Lamb, not the beasts [14:4]. These are ‘the conquering ones’ – the ‘he who overcomes’ [same present participle in the Greek] in the seven letters. But there is something else we must take note of here: the Greek text does not say that they were victorious ‘over’ the beast etc, but that they were victorious ‘out of’ the beast, his image and the mark/number of his name. They did not personally conquer the beast etc. Indeed, they once were aligned with the evil one [Ephesians 2:2,3; Colossians 1:13]. The only reason they are ‘victorious’ is that the Lord Jesus Christ has rescued them from, out of, the dominion and power of the evil one by his blood. We saw a similar truth in 7:14 where the redeemed are described as those ‘who have come out of the great tribulation’, and the reason for this is ‘they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’.

They ‘held harps given them by God’ – their ability to praise and worship God and their right to do so is God-given. The Greek reads ‘having harps of God’.

They sang ‘the song of Moses … and the song of the Lamb’. The original song of Moses [Exodus 15] was an exultant song praising God for his mighty victory in redeeming the Israelite slaves from Egypt and bringing them safely across the Red Sea. Moses sang this song on the safe side of the Red Sea after the destruction of the enemy. Although a real physical event, the exodus is also symbolic of the greater spiritual reality – the spiritual deliverance from spiritual bondage wrought by God through the death of his Son.

Although there is obvious reference to the future, when all the redeemed have been taken up by Christ, prior to the final judgment, it is also true that the redeemed are already in the presence of God. As we have seen before, all who are saved by faith in Christ are already seated with Christ in the heavenly realms [Ephesians 2:6]. We can, and should, sing this song of Moses and of the Lamb, even today while still here where the evil one and his associates still pressure us. We know that God is who this song says he is. We know that God alone is holy, that God alone is God, that God alone is worthy of praise. We know that people from all nations will come and worship him, indeed have come and are still coming, to worship him. We know that we stand before him on the basis of that act of righteousness whereby he acquitted us through the blood of Jesus, and that not one of the accusations of the evil one has any legal right against us. And we know, although it has not yet happened, that he will bring justice to the earth: that he will do what is right and will right all wrongs.

We are not yet released from everything that is wrong – but we can already sing of the certainty of it.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2015