And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues…
Such is the subject of this and the following chapters.
I. WHAT IS IT? "The wrath of God" is simply that will of God which forever has linked together sin and suffering; that will by which woe follows wickedness everywhere and always. It is calm, not passionate; inexorable, not capricious; ever just, as man's wrath too often is not; and never selfish, is ours too often is.
II. IS TERRIBLE TO EVIL DOERS. See the several symbols of it as they are given one by one in the account of the outpouring of the seven vials. And, separate from all symbol, see how everywhere and always and evermore, suffering, like a sleuth hound, tracks the steps of sin, and sooner or later fastens its fangs in the sinful man or sinful people. So sure is this, that that shrewd, wise, observant man who wrote the Book of Proverbs declared it as the testimony of all experience that they are "fools" who "make a mock at sin."
III. WILL HAVE AN END. Not that the will of God, without which he could neither be the God of holiness nor the God of love; that ordains the everlasting union of sin with suffering - not that that will can ever end or change, but that, the purpose of his will being accomplished by the extirpation of sin, there shall no longer be occasion for suffering. Hence we say the wrath of God will have an end. And accordingly these very plagues are called "the seven last plagues." It would be dreadful to think that the moral condition of men should ever be as it is, and has been during all the past. But it will not. The day will dawn when there will no longer be need for any more plagues, and when the last of them, they all having done their work, shall pass away forevermore (ver. 1).
IV. IS CONSENTED TO BY ALL THE COMPANY OF HEAVEN. The saints, they celebrate its manifestation by their song. The living ones (ver. 7) consign to the charge of the seven angels the seven vials of the wrath of God. Angels, who come forth from the inmost shrine of the temple of God, and are vested as his priests, undertake this awful work; the holy, the blessed, the glorified, the redeemed, those saved by the mercy of God, all alike consent. It is a fearful, but a most solemn and salutary fact, to remember that there will not be found a solitary individual amongst the holy and the good who will intercede against or do aught but consent to God's judgments against sin. Even he who is the Lamb of God, the Friend and Saviour of sinners, consents; yea, more than this, for it is his song that his saints sing in celebration of these judgments of God. Left utterly alone with his sin - without one friend - will he be who now refuses to give up his sin and submit to Christ.
V. EVIDENCES THE HOLINESS OF GOD. (Vers. 3, 4.) The conviction constrains the confession, "Thou only art holy; Righteous and true are thy ways" - so sing they who sing the song of Moses and of the Lamb. What worth is any government, what worth especially would be the government of God, if it were as the sceptic cynic in Ecclesiastes says it is, that "there is one end to the righteous and to the wicked"? There would be no need of a hell by and by, for earth would be hell already. Blessed forever be his Name, who makes "the way of transgressors hard."
VI. WILL BE FOLLOWED BY THE COMING "OF ALL NATIONS TO WORSHIP BEFORE" GOD. (Ver. 4.) This most precious truth explains the song that the saints sing. How could they sing if sin and suffering were to go on forever; if evil were to be eternal, or if the woes of the world meant the destruction of the world? But knowing and seeing clearly, as they do, how all these judgments of God conduce to the glory of God; and that as the cloud of his majesty filled the temple (ver. 8), so shall that glory fill all the earth; therefore they can, not merely with calmness, but with joy, contemplate the pouring out of the vials, even of the wrath of God. But for the faith of this how could thoughtful men endure to live?
VII. WARNS US TO FLEE FROM THE WICKEDNESS THAT AROUSES IT TO THE LOUD JESUS CHRIST. For he it is in whom we are sheltered from the wrath due to sin of the past, and from the power of sin present and future. - S.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.