Ah, finally our last set of seven! God is bringing our story towards its finale. Chapter 15 goes back to Exodus once again. The people are gathered at the edge of the sea where they will sing the song of Moses. A glassy sea is a body of water perfectly still, perfectly control under God’s will. In ancient symbolism the ocean or sea was often a symbol of death or change or destruction. John tells us that in God’s presence death and destruction itself are stilled by His power (the sea or its absence will pop up again shortly).
Once again our plagues use the Exodus imagery. Boils, fire, waters into blood, hail and a parting sea. Our spiral of plagues has come down to its point of highest intensity and greatest focus. The worst plagues on the smallest point, falling directly on the evil Empire itself.
This is the shortest of four or five different angles from which we will see the fall of Babylon. This final plague, the seventh bowl, has all the signs of theophany. In this version there is no battle. God’s oncoming presence (signified by the lightning and thunder and quaking) shakes apart the empire. In the next two chapters we will watch its slow motion fall to earth.