Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished.
2 And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. 3 And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
“Great and amazing are your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
O King of the nations!
4 Who will not fear, O Lord,
and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
5 After this I looked, and the sanctuary of the tent of witness in heaven was opened, 6 and out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, clothed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes around their chests. 7 And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, 8 and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished. –Revelation 15:1-8 [ESV]
There is a very powerful and enlightening scene in the movie Titanic that left a lasting impression on me. It also gave new meaning to the idea expressed in Revelation 21:1, “…and the sea was no more.” In the movie there is a priest reading from this passage as the ship lists further and further toward its ultimate doom. As the ship sinks the priest reads, “…and the sea was no more.” Think of it! When you’re about to drown in a cold and violent sea, to imagine a place where there is no threatening waves or roaring sea has to be a beautiful and peaceful thought.
Second to that thought is the idea of a sea of glass. And such placid views are the stuff of paintings and peaceful meditation. Imagine sitting beside a glassy sea and contemplating the awesome nature of God and his glorious works, dreaming of a world at peace with nothing to harm or even threatening harm us. This is a vision of peace. Except this sea of glass is mingled with fire. This is a troubling image once again. Fire is often used to speak of judgment. John the Baptist said that Jesus would baptize the people with the Holy Spirit and fire. The idea there was of judgment.
The sea is tamed. It can harm no more. It is as though the sea has been judged. Its ways are severely limited. Not only are its boundaries set (remember Job 38:8-11?). Fire rages on its surface. The cataclysmic nature of this judgment scene is clear. This is not just a moment interrupted. This is an ending of all endings.
That’s not good news for those who trouble God’s people. It’s not good news for those who make much of others’ misery. It is not good news for those who delight in chaos, destruction, war, and tumult. But it is good news for those who look forward to the new heaven and new earth. It is good news for those who seek Jesus’ help. It is good news for those who yearn for true peace. It is good news for those who wish to leave behind all sin, corruption, brokenness, pain, threat, distress, fear, and maham in search of God’s perfect peace.
The days leading up to the Great Last Day will be tumultuous. Many will faint for fear. And those apart from God will not have smooth sailing by any means. But the redeemed of God recognize their need for a Savior, and realize that Savior is Jesus Christ who has come to redeem us. We will find perfect peace in him. I look forward to that day. I think it’s getting close.