The Word for today:
They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb. (15:3)
After these things I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened. (15:5)
The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed. (15:8)
If Revelation starts to get away from you, if the images and symbols elude your understanding, the thing to do is to go back to the beginning!
Not back to the beginning of Revelation, but back to the beginning of the Bible.
The church made their mass exodus, the Rapture, at the beginning of chapter 4.
So from that point Revelation becomes an echo of Exodus (the 2nd book of the Bible) which is the story of the deliverance of Israel from Egypt.
All we have to do is replace Pharaoh with Antichrist and Revelation will look almost familiar:
Great miracles will be performed--by God's people and by Antichrist's followers, just as in Exodus.
Great plagues will strike the sinful world, just as in Exodus.
God's people will be hemmed in on every side. But the hand of the LORD their Deliverer will save them.
And then they will sing a song they'd learned by the side of a Red sea.
Revelation is a reunion of characters whom we knew; it is the culmination of a plot that was set in motion from the beginning:
"Pharaoh" returns -- as Antichrist
"Egypt" returns -- as a federated world system bent on the destruction of God's people.
Babel returns as Babylon.
Moses returns--as Moses! (1)
Elijah returns--as Elijah! (1)
Even the church will return--as a Bride.
And when the Lamb of God returns, the people will sing the Song of their Passover Lamb, a new song learned long ago.
Revelation should begin to be faintly familiar, like a "new song learned long ago." Many years and tears and miles and far too many farewells have accumulated between the Exodus of Israel and the Rapture of the church. But those farewells weren't forever.
Even now something is stirring:
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,Moses is making his return from the backside of the desert; Elijah is about to step back into the vortex of a whirlwind; the priests are re-assembling the tabernacle; the prophets are finding their voices; Israel is returning from exile by the rivers of Babylon; the nations, once dispersed at Babel, are regathering at Armageddon, and a flood of judgment is about to be loosed.
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? (2)
And somewhere, in a far country, a wastrel son decides to arise, to return to his father's house, to retrace the steps he'd made.
(1) see Stand in the Rain of January 11, 2011: "Will the real "Two Witnesses" please stand up!"
(2) W. B. Yeats, "The Second Coming"