“I saw before me what seemed to be a glass sea mixed with fire. And on it stood all the people who had been victorious over the beast and his statue and the number representing his name. They were all holding harps that God had given them.”
Revelation 15:2 NLT
The Apostle John must have been approaching exhaustion with all these visions. Daniel too received visions and we read in Daniel 10:8, “So I was left there all alone to see this amazing vision. My strength left me, my face grew deathly pale, and I felt very weak”. But John, like Daniel, faithfully recorded what he saw, casting aside the human weaknesses that threatened to close down God’s revelations. John could now see “a glass sea mixed with fire”. That fact that he used the word “seemed” described something he had never seen before, so he wrote down what it appeared to be. But what was this sea of glass? Glass is a reflective substance, as well as being something that is transparent. So perhaps the “glass sea” was a reflection of God, and the transparency allowed all to see His character. The fact that the glass was mixed with fire could indicate the judgement to come.
The glass sea was a special place for all those dear saints who had endured to the end, in spite of all the attempts of the beast to ensure otherwise. They resisted worshipping the beast’s statue. They resisted having the mark of the best applied to their persons. And they were therefore victorious over the beast. It is interesting to note that victory took place in spite of their possible demise at the beast’s hands. Victory was recorded when they triumphantly stood before God. Winners indeed.
They were each holding a harp, John’s vision records. Now before this, the only harp-holders were the twenty four elders, who appeared in Revelation 5:8, “And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people“. So those standing on the glass sea, were worthy of making music in Heaven. And it was God Himself who handed them out. Can you imagine that? So all those people who hold the populist view of people wearing a white gown, wings protruding from their shoulders, sitting on a cloud and playing a harp is probably just fiction.
The problem with human beings is that we often look at short term goals and gains, instead of looking to the long term. We want to receive any rewards in the now, rather than bank them for some time in the future. But we pilgrims have to consider our lives as extending into eternity. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught, “Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal“. (Matthew 6:20). Jesus’ teaching was clear – looking for rewards during our natural lives will be of no benefit to us once we reach Heaven. We cannot take anything with us out of this world. The writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes said, “We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us. And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind“. (Ecclesiastes 5:15-16).
So those pilgrims who could see the truth were intent on ensuring that one day they will be with God. Their faith was unshakeable. Their resolve faultless. I’m sure there were times when the going was so tough that they considered giving up. But once they stood on that sea of glass, all become OK. What was behind them was just that – in the past. May we too take inspiration from their example, and pray too that we will endure to the end.
Dear Father God. The feeling of standing in Your presence, worshipping the only One worthy of such a focus, must be amazing. Please help us when we throw a wobbly, and the thought of giving up flits across our minds. Our strength is in You. Amen.