The Angels Ready Themselves
Revelation is full of preparations; it heightens the drama. But it is a righteous and beautiful drama—not meant to entertain but to communicate the truth concerning God’s pure and holy character.
In this brief scene, the “sanctuary of the tent of witness” in heaven is opened. Hebrews speaks of “the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.” We might rightly wonder if that heavenly tent is the reality after which the one in the wilderness was a mere copy (9:11-12; 8:2-5; Exodus 25:40). The tent in the wilderness housed the tablets of the Commandments written by the finger of God. That seven angels emerge from this heavenly tent ready to pour from bowls the wrath of God on wicked men speaks to their breaking of God’s commandments, for the Ten Commandments are written in the very fabric of the universe leaving men without excuse. That the angels are “clothed in pure white linen with golden sashes around their chests” speaks to the holiness and dignity of their task, which is the just punishment of sinful men.
One of the four living creatures (cherubim) hands a bowl to each angel, again indicating the gravity of the coming event. It is a solemn occasion, but one full of grandeur, splendor, and majesty. Man will be judged by Almighty God just as God has always promised. It shall now come to pass. Anything less than the dignity we see would be ill-fitting of such an occasion. Smoke fills the sanctuary, as happened on other occasions in the Old Testament when a cloud filled the tabernacle or temple, symbolic of God’s presence and glory (e.g., Exodus 40:34-35; 1 Kings 8:10-11). And no one could enter the sanctuary (as was often the case) until the angels finished their awful task.
So the seven angels are set and heaven is ready. We will soon hear “a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, ‘Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.’” As God is the only One in the temple now, the voice must be His—which is as it should be. No one else could give that command; no one else would give that command. No one else has the authority or the right to give that command. It is God who has been offended. It is now God’s to recompense, vindicate, and judge. And the earth rightly trembles while evil men go their merry way.
It’s only a matter of time now. The angels are ready to pour. And God shall be glorified.