John's attention is drawn back to the heavenly scene. The scene is the same as he described in chapters 4 and 5 wherein he saw the elders, beasts, angels, throne and temple of God. Chapter 15 is a description of heavenly scenes, not earthly events. The distinction between the heavenly and the earthly is an important element of a correct interpretation of Revelation.
Rev 15:1 the seven last plagues
Chapters 8 through 13 catalogue seven plagues as pronounced by seven angels sounding seven trumpets. The "seven last plagues" are very similar to the seven first plagues. Both sets of plagues are similar to the plagues of Egypt. A comparative table is given in the commentary for chapters 8, 9, and 16. Whether the seven last plagues are distinguished from the first because they involve different continents, peoples, or are different only in time is not clear. What is clear is that the judgments will come from the Lord. They will be recognized as judgments from God. And that the pattern of plagues established with the fulfillment of chapters 8-13 will be repeated again with the "seven last plagues."
"The number seven, for example, which represents wholeness or perfection in Greek, occurs 52 times in Revelation; everything in Revelation seems to be done in sevens-seven seals (chapters 5-8), seven significant signs (chapters 12-14); and seven last plagues (chapters 15-16)." (Robert L. Millet, Selected Writings of Robert L. Millet: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2000], 88.)
Bruce R. McConkie
We have already shown that the seven last plagues shall be poured out after the opening of the seventh seal, and thus in the beginning of the seventh thousand years. It is then that Armageddon shall be fought; it is then that Jerusalem shall again reap the fate that once was hers; it is then that the abomination that maketh desolate shall utterly destroy the wicked within her walls. All this, of course, will come after Judah returns, after the Jerusalem temple is built, after the Jews have begun to believe in their true Messiah. (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 417.)
Rev 15:1-2 in heaven... I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire
The angels do not reside on a planet like this earth;
But they reside in the presence of God, on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord.
The place where God resides is a great Urim and Thummim.
This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it; and this earth will be Christ's. (D&C 130:6-9)
"God's residence is a great Urim and Thummim, which John described as a sea of glass mingled with fire. (D&C 130:8; Rev. 15:2.) In that residence, truth-'knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come'-is eternally present before God. (D&C 103:7; D&C 93:24.)" (William J. Bohn, "Three Other New Testament Temples," Ensign, July 1991, 24)
Rev 15:3 they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb
What is this song of Moses? Why not sing the song of Noah, the song of Enoch, or the song of Abraham? Why the song of Moses?
Again, it is to remind the reader that the apocalyptic plagues are a repetition of the plagues on Egypt. Even in the scriptures history repeats itself. The destruction of Egypt in Moses' day is a type for the destruction of Babylon. God's demonstration of power before Pharaoh is a type for his demonstration of divine power over the beast and his minions. Moses ministry, in delivering the children of Israel from a formidable enemy, is a type for the Savior's mission at His Second Coming. Then will the scripture be fulfilled which states, "A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me (Moses); him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people." (Acts 3:22; Deut 18:15-20)
The mortal mission of Moses parallels the Second Advent of the Lamb. The song of Moses and the song of the Lamb may have different words and music but the harmonies are the same. As in the day of their first deliverance, the children of Israel will finally have something to sing about.
Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.
The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him.
The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.
Pharaoh's chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea.
The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone.
Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. (Ex. 15:1-6, see also verses 7-19)
Rev 15:4 Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name?
This is the theme of the song of Moses-the greatness and power of the Lord as his judgment is revealed with a mighty hand.
Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?
...The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina.
Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away.
Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm... (Ex. 15:11-16)
Rev 15:5 the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony
The temple of Herod, in John's day, was patterned after the temple of Solomon and the tabernacle of Moses. In the Holy of Holies, the innermost room of Solomon's temple, the testimony (i.e. the Ten Commandments and Law of Moses) was kept inside the ark of the covenant. These temple structures were symbolic of the heavenly repository of the Law of God. In John's vision, God's judgments come out of the heavenly repository by the hand of these seven angels. More literally, "the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony" means the temple which holds the meeting room which holds the covenants of God.
"The people rebelled against Moses and the Lord; consequently, they forfeited rights to the higher priesthood and its ordinances. (D&C 84:24-26; JST, Ex. 34:1-2; JST, Deut. 10:1-2.) In consequence, the tabernacle was then adapted for use in the ordinances administered by the lesser priesthood but the symbolism of the tabernacle and the way the prophet used it remained essentially the same.
"Most commonly called the 'Tabernacle of the Congregation,' the textual meaning is the 'tent of meeting' or 'the place appointed to meet with the Lord'-the place of revelation. (Num. 7:89; Ex. 29:44; Num. 11:16; Deut. 31:14.) The scriptures also refer to the edifice as the 'tabernacle of the Lord' or 'dwelling place of the Lord' (Num. 16:9), and the tent or tabernacle of the testimony or witness, referring to the tables of stone containing Israel's law. (Ex. 38:21; Num. 9:15; Num. 17:7-8; Num. 18:2; Acts 7:44; Rev. 15:5.)" (Edward J. Brandt, "The Tabernacle of Ancient Israel," Ensign, Nov. 1973, 36, 38)
Rev 15:6-8 the seven angels... clothed in pure and white linen... girded with golden girdles
"God designates seven angels to enforce the judgment. Again the symbolism is important. All heaven combines in this great moment to see that God's will is fully executed. The ministers of justice are angels of high rank, as suggested by the golden girdles they wear like that of the Son of Man (see 1:13). One of the living creatures hands each of the angels of doom a vial, or bowl (Greek phial), filled with God's wrath. At the sametime John sees God's glory and power fill the heavenly temple, 'and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled' (v. 8, KJV). Thus, John depicts the ominous moment. No one can enter the temple. No blood of expiation can be sprinkled as the High Priest had done on the Day of Atonement to bring renewal of the covenant of peace and mercy between God and Israel. No one can enter and make peace until judgment has had its way." (Richard D. Draper, Opening the Seven Seals: The Visions of John the Revelator [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 169.)