I hope no one minds that I do exploratory writing on here. It helps to sift and congeal thoughts, and the potential audience gives me a little extra kick in the pants as I try to pin ideas to the mat. You can always skim and skip, so I wont worry about it.

It struck me this afternoon while doing dishes that the sea of glass is a direct reflection of the twenty-four elders who are seated on or around it. Whether they are human or angelic, they clearly represent the church across all of time—before and after Christ (12 tribes and 12 apostles). They represent us—all of those rebellious people called out from every nation, tribe and tongue. They once were a raging sea, rioting against their Creator, and now they are at peace and bringing Him praise. In this respect, the sea of glass is a representation of the very worshipers who gather upon it.

In my many exegetical flights of fancy, I am sure that I push the imagery too far in places. I am not sure how far down every track it is legitimate to go, especially when focusing on one detail of a grand scene (that is being set for the Lamb to open the seals so that the proclamations of God’s judgment may be carried out into all the earth). Although the image of the bronze basin does not always move clearly in the same direction as that of the weltering peoples made calm, the arguments for a connection to the sea of bronze are persuasive. In addition to the approximate location, so many other tabernacle/temple accouterments are here in this heavenly court/temple: the lamps, the cherubim, the prayers of incense, the sacrificial lamb, etc. Perhaps the two threads (raging nations and bronze sea) come together with the crossing of the Red Sea and the imagery of baptism representing that which ultimately subdues our rebellious hearts.

In Revelation 15:1-4, where John again beholds a sea of glass (this time “mixed with fire”), the connection to the crossing of the Red Sea is explicit. This excerpt from Memories of Patmos by John MacDuff (London: Nisbet, 1871) puts it well (if somewhat quaintly):

Who can question that it had its grand original in the memories of another sea-shore—other minglings of fire—and other harps of triumph? Who can fail, in this new apocalyptic representation, to call to remembrance that ever-illustrious scene … when the Israelites, ranged on the sands of Asia with the Red Sea between them and their old house of bondage, sang their song of victory—Miriam and her sisters answering with timbrels, as they made the shores ring with the refrain, “Sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider has He thrown into the sea”?

Nor is it the name given—”The Song of Moses”—which alone is suggestive of the allusion. The glassy sea was “mingled with fire.” Have we not here, also, the counterpart in that opening drama of the Exodus—the pillar of fire giving its glorious light to Israel, but flashing vengeance on their Egyptian pursuers? You may remember the exceptional appointment on that night of miracle, with reference to this fiery column—it “removed and went behind the Hebrews.” At other times their pioneer and precursor, it now remained in their rear; so that as the Israelites, rank by rank, reached the opposite shore, they saw its lurid light reflected in the waters. The opposite side of the same pillar formed a murky cloud and darkness to the Egyptians; or, if it emitted light, it was only the fitful gleams and coruscations of the forked lightning—the arrows of God—to dazzle and perplex and terrify.

After the world’s long night of peril, the symbolic Church of ‘just men made perfect’—God’s glorified Israel—having left forever behind them the land of their oppressors, stand safe on the heavenly shore. Every billow of tribulation is hushed—all is changed into a calm, reflecting the glory of the Everlasting Hills, and of the Sun of Righteousness. How vivid the contrast between that glassy, waveless sea—without a disturbing element—and the apostate Church on earth spoken of in chapter 14 as “seated on many waters”—fretted with tempest, tossed on a troubled ocean-sea which cannot rest! Blessed and glorious emblem of everlasting tranquility—these celestial harpers celebrating the downfall of all evil, and recognizing, in the survey of the past; the love, wisdom, and faithfulness of God’s every dealing—this their joyful testimony and experience on these blissful shores, “We went through fire and through water, but You brought us out into a wealthy place.”

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