Revelation 15

Today’s lectionary text comes from Revelation 15. Technically it is verses 1-8 but that’s the entirety of the chapter, might as well just call it what it is.

A disclaimer before I start, I’m open with the fact that, like many other people, Revelation confuses me. On one hand we have tons of imagery that is seemingly about the end times. On the other hand, I’ve also heard that the imagery is actually aimed at the progression of the early church (though don’t ask me where I heard that because I’m blanking on it).

Needless to say, Revelation is…for lack of a better term…heavy. We know that the Apostle John received this revelation and recorded it…late in his life.

Herein chapter 15, we see a reference back to Moses and the deliverance of the Israelites from the Egyptians in Exodus. This happens when this batch of angelic beings start singing the song of Moses. We read in verse 3 that this short snippet of song is also aimed at the Lamb, who we associate as being Jesus. At first glance, it may seem to be a little strange to reference Moses and the exodus here in Revelation, but we get a clue as to why it’s here in verse 2. “Those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of it’s name…”

It would seem that John is witnessing some sort of army or force…something which has defeated the beast. Now typically we think of the beast as being Satan. There are debates as to whether or not these are one and the same. However, if we look back a couple of chapters to #13, we see that “the beast” whatever it may be, has dominion over the earth at this point (13:7). It is attacking “the saints.” Therefore, when it is defeated by this force that is visible to John in chapter 15, the saints have been “delivered.” So we begin to understand why the reference to Moses and deliverance from the Egyptians is applicable, and the song begins to make a little more sense.

If we look a little farther into the chapter there is another, slightly obscurer reference to the same time period of Israel’s history. In verses 5-8, there are a few references to the temple of the tent of witnesses…which seems to be in Heaven. However, in verse 8, we read that the temple was filled with the smoke of the Glory of the Lord. Sounds a bit like the pillar of smoke which comes down to rest upon the tabernacle while the people were wandering in the wilderness.

All in all, as I read this particular chapter of Revelation, I do find portions confusing. The whole setting and imagery is, to say the least, daunting. But thankfully, we are able to make some connections between this writing and our own Old Testament history. Sometimes, it’s those little connections that are the best place to start.

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