I have said many times before that I believe we will have to face antichrist. What I am not so sure about is if we’ll face God’s final wrath poured upon the earth as seen in the 7 bowls.
My guess, however, is that we won’t. My eschatology has changed somewhat as I’ve studied these passages, and I’m not entirely sure I am right. I’ve always thought that the rapture would come, we would meet Jesus in the air, and then come right back down again. I’m not so sure anymore. Rather, it looks very much like after Jesus comes, we will all wait until the bowls of wrath are poured out before Jesus sets foot on the Mount of Olives.
Why do I say this? Because of what I see in these next couple of chapters.
Here we see an angel calling out to a person seated on a cloud, someone like “a son of man,” with a crown on his head and a sickle in his hand.
Who is it? I believe it is Jesus.
And the angel calls out, “It is the Father’s time. Take your sickle and reap.” Jesus does, and the earth was harvested. Who does he harvest?
My guess is he harvests all those who are his. The final warning had been given and was either heeded or ignored. Now there is no time left, and so Jesus takes his people to be with him.
All that is left on the earth now are those who have rejected him.
Another angel comes out of the temple in heaven, and he too has a sickle. And the angel in charge of the fire at the altar calls out to the other angel and tells him to swing his sickle too.
What is this fire of the altar? It probably goes back to the altar of incense in chapter 8 where the saints’ prayers for justice rise to God. (8:3-4)
Why do I say this? Because when the angel swings the sickle, the grapes are gathered and thrown into the winepress of God’s wrath.
And as grapes were trampled in those days to make wine that would flow out of the winepress, so those who have rejected God will be “trampled,” and their blood will flow rising several feet high for over 180 miles. It is truly a bloody picture.
Chapter 15 then, gives us more detail on what just happened in chapter 14.
John looks up and he sees a sea of glass mixed with fire. And next to it are all those who had been victorious over the beast, and have just been harvested by Christ.
The sea was often seen as a place of great evil and chaos. And the saints are seen to have now come out of that, through the fire of their trials. And they sing the song of Moses and the Lamb.
Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the Ages. Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are Holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed. (3-4)
But then the temple opens and 7 angels come with 7 plagues. And each are given 7 bowls filled with the wrath of God. And it says in verse 8,
And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed. (15:8)
That last verse really strikes me. You see, God’s glory is shown in his salvation. That is true. We see it in the worship of those who are saved.
But God’s glory is also shown in judgment. Why? Because it shows that he is not just a God of love, but of justice.
If we have a God that is love but is not also justice, is he really a good God? No. For he would leave evil unpunished forever. And no good God can do that.
But while God is patient, he will ultimately bring justice. And in doing so, he shows his glory and goodness.
So let us always remember, we cannot separate God’s love and justice when we think about who he is. For both are indispensable parts of his glory.