Today’s Scripture Focus: Revelation 15
We come now to the fifth vision of Revelation, and with it we find another set of seven. Revelation 15 and 16 is the “seven bowls” vision. It is a continuation of the action in the previous vision of the Woman and the Dragon, in which much of the world is deceived by Satan and worships him and his beasts rather than God. In the fifth vision, God’s wrath is completely satisfied against those who rebel, blaspheme, and refuse to repent. This is accomplished as seven heavenly beings pour out seven bowls on the earth. These bowls are filled with plagues, or afflictions that affect both humanity and all creation under the heavens, God’s dwelling place.
Often words have different meanings to us than they did to “Bible world” people. The word wrath has negative connotations in our culture. We associate it with someone getting so angry they “lose it”. When people think of a God of wrath, they view God as mean. Wrath in the honor/shame culture of the Bible simply meant doing what was expected of an honorable person to maintain order. It’s similar to a parent who says “I’m going to punish you if lie” to their child. If the child then lies and the parent doesn’t punish them, they won’t be respected. Wrath in this example would be punishing the child so the child respects the parent’s authority. God wouldn’t be much of a God if evil was allowed to go unchallenged. In the vision of Revelation 15, all those who have triumphed over the beast—likely by being killed for refusing to worship him or his image— are seen beside a heavenly sea, glowing with God’s wrath. They have the honor of worshipping God and singing the song of “Moses and of the Lamb” – two who had triumphed over great evil. This song harkens back to Exodus 15, when Moses sang a song of deliverance after escaping Pharaoh and his army through miraculous means. As they are singing, the seven angels are given seven bowls filled with wrath.
This takes place at the “tabernacle of witness”. This is a reference to the tabernacle constructed by Moses which was patterned after God’s dwelling in Heaven. At this point in the vision that tent becomes filled with smoke and no one may enter it. This happened in scripture when the original tabernacle was dedicated in Exodus 40, and again when Solomon’s Temple was completed in 2 Chronicles 5. Throughout the Bible, God’s presence fills the Temple when the work is completed. In Revelation, that work is the prayers of the saints, which filled the bowls in Revelation 5:8. It’s pretty amazing to imagine the implications of God waiting on our prayers to “fill the bowl” so His work might be completed!
Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
Ask the discussion questions below*. Let as many answer each one as they would like.
*How have you seen God at work in your life this week?
*How have you struggled to follow God this week?
* What comes to mind when you think of God’s wrath? Is God’s wrath active in the world today, or is it only something that will be experienced in the “End Times”?
*Is there anything about today’s scripture focus or this week’s scripture readings that especially stood out to you, or that you had trouble understanding?
*How can we pray for you this week?