Harry Whittaker
Revelation - A Biblical Approach

Chapter 31 - The Song of Moses and Of the Lamb (ch. 15)

Just as Seals, Trumpets, Dramatis Personae and Thunders each had as prelude a further vision of the Elect or of the heavenly Sanctuary, so also the Seven Vials.

Seven angels appear, “having the seven plagues which are the last, for in them is finished the wrath of God.” But before anything is said concerning their mission, there is interpolated in parenthesis a wondrous vision of glorified saints rejoicing together in God’s great salvation.

The chief difficulty of this Revelation 15 is how to reconcile the last verse “no man was able to enter into the temple until the seven plagues were fulfilled”, with the earlier picture (verses 2-4) of the redeemed standing in the very presence of God “upon the sea of glass”. The simple solution is to read verses 2-4 as a parenthesis. The true reading of verse 4, “for thy judgements were made manifest,” requires some such solution, i.e. at the time this song is sung, the judgements were done with, finished.


“And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory...” The primary idea here is undoubtedly that of “the sea of glass like unto crystal”, seen in the presence of the heavenly throne (Revelation 4:6), “the paved work of a sapphire stone”, seen at Sinai (Exodus 24:10), “the fiery stream which came forth from before the Ancient of days” (Daniel 7:10), “the firmament over the head of the cherubim, as the colour of the terrible crystal” (Ezekiel 1:22) - see Chapter 4 - The Heavenly Sanctuary (ch. 4).

This expanse beneath the heavenly throne, seen by so many of the prophets of the Lord, is, first and foremost, a symbol of the firmament of heaven separating the majesty of God from His earthly creation. But here the Redeemed “stand upon the sea of glass”. For them there is no longer any barrier to the glory of the divine presence, except the one fact (verse 8) that certain judgements - ”the seven last plagues” - must be poured out before the final consummation of all things.

Remembering, then, that the sea of glass is a symbol of the expanse of heaven, there is special point in the fact that it is now seen to be “mingled with fire”. Here, instead of the blueness of a calm azure sky (Exodus 24:10), the sky is “red and lowring”. Wherefore, “it will be foul weather today” (Matthew 16:3): the judgements of the Almighty go forth once again, and for the last time.


Whilst, then, for those who have no room in their hcarts for “the everlasting gospel” (14:6) there is judgement, bitter and severe, the saints stand serenely in the presence of the divine glory, “having the harps of God” to provide glad accompaniment to the Song of Moses and of the Lamb:

“Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty;
Just and true are thy ways, thou King of Saints.
Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name?
For thou only art holy:
For all nations shall come and worship before thee;
For thy judgements are made manifest.”

In this song of praise and rejoicing an astonishing number of Old Testament passages has been laid under contribution. Amongst them, impressive in their appropriateness, are Jeremiah 10:7 (where see also v. 10), Isaiah 66:23 (and its context) and Psalm 22:27, 28. But an enquiry of special interest is why this song should be designated: “the Song of Moses and of the Lamb.”


The first answer is that this hymn of acclamation is the fulfilment of the wondrous type of deliverance through Christ, which was enacted when Israel, saved by the blood of the Passover Lamb, were brought out of Egypt. One detail after another suggests this idea that has been so obviously carried over from chapter 12.

Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea.
The redeemed standing on the sea of glass.

Israel’s timbrels and dances (Exodus 15:20).
Having harps of God.

The destruction of the army of Egypt.
They have gotten the victory over the Beast.

Israel’s Song of Triumph.
Their Song of Triumph.

“Who is like unto thee ... glorious in holiness; fearful (LXX: thaumastos) in praises ...
“Great and marvellous (Greek: thaumastos) are thy works.

Fear and dread shall fall upon them (Edom, Moab, Canaan).
... who shall not fear thee ... for thou art holy ... all the nations shall come and worship before thee.”

The erection of the tabernacle in the wilderness.
The tabernacle of God opened in heaven.

The cloud covered the tabernacle. Moses not able to enter (Exodus 40:34, 35).
The temple filled with smoke from the glory of God. No man able to enter.

Priests in white linen. The High Priest girded about the breasts with a golden girdle (Exodus 39:20, 21)
Seven angels in white linen having their breasts girded with golden girdles.

In this fulfilment of a typical prophecy lies the explanation of the use here of the Greek word “alethinos”: “just and true are thy ways.” This word “alethinos” does not mean true in contrast to that which is false, but true in contrast to that which is only a type or foreshadowing (e.g. “I am the true vine.”). The appropriateness of the word in this context is now apparent.


There is another special sense in which this song of the redeemed is “the Song of Moses and of the Lamb”.

There are distinct verbal connections traceable between Exodus 15 (the Song of Moses) and Psalm 118.

Exodus 15
Psalm 118

“The children of Israel cried out unto the Lord” (Exodus 14:10).
“I cried unto the Lord (Yah) in my distress” (v. 5). (This Hebrew word “distress” is almost identical with the Hebrew word for "Egypt" ).

The LORD (Yah) is become my strength and my song, and he is become my salvation” (15:2).
“The LORD (Yah) is my strength and song; and he is become by salvation” (v. 14: and 21).

“The right hand of the Lord” (three times: v. 6, 12).
“The right hand of the Lord” (three times: v. 15, 16).

“MY father’s God, and I will exalt thee” (v. 28).
“Thou art my God, I will exalt thee” (v. 2).

Psalm 118 was literally “the Song of the Lamb”. It, with Psalm 117 perhaps, was very probably the hymn sung by the Lord and his disciples at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:30), for it was part of the Paschal Hallel. And what Psalm could have been more appropriate? It speaks of the Lord’s Servant thrust out and oppressed, “chastened”, “given over to death.” Nevertheless, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. The Lord hath chastened me sore, but he hath not given me over unto death ... The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner” (both of those words “head” and “corner” are frequently used in the Old Testament of leaders of the people). The Psalm celebrates the glorious day when all shall say: “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord”. It is indeed the Song of the Lamb, as well as the Song of Moses.

This Song speaks also of judgement upon the nations: “All nations compassed me about, but in the name of the Lord will I destroy them”. The resemblance with Revelation 15 is again unmistakable. “All nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgements are made manifest.” It is noteworthy that, whereas the judgements detailed earlier in Revelation were all couched in terms of the Old Testament’s prophetic judgements on Israel, time after time these Vials employ terms with the widest possible scope - all in accordance with the renewed commission given to John in 10:11: “Thou must prophecy again concerning many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings”.
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