I grouped these 3 chapter together because they seem to be connected. John first sees the 144,000 (ch 14) on Mt. Zion, singing a new song. We identified the 144,000 in ch 7 as the faithful dead saints of the Old Testament. The number is symbolic of 12 X 12 X 1,000. 12 is the number of the 12 tribes of Israel, the 12 apostles, etc. The 1000 symbolizes “immensity, fullness of quantity”, as in Psalm 50:10, God owns the cattle on a 1,000 hills (He owns that cattle on all the hills but 1,000 is symbolic of that). Look at all the uses of the number 1000 from this site. http://www.scripturerevealed.com/bible-studies/the-meaning-of-numbers-the-number-1000/ It is obvious that the number often is symboic, not literal, and refers to a large number of persons or a long period of time. Remember this when we get to ch 20 and the 1000 year binding of Satan and reign of Christ. These 144,000 are in heaven with the Lamb. It says that they are virgin men, blameless. That is obviously symbolic, not literal, unless you want to say that only the virgin men of the entire Old Covenant made it to heaven. The Jehovah’s Witnesses claimed that their members, starting with the establishment of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1914, were the 144,000. So they said the number was literal, but they ignored the virgin men part. Both the number and the virgin men part are symbolic.
3 angels are pictured as flying in the mid heaven. The first is preaching the gospel to the nations and announcing a coming judgment. That would be the judgment on the Jews in 70 AD, which is the theme of this book. The second is announcing the fall of Babylon, which we will see refers to Jerusalem in ch 17 and 18 (read the article on ch 17). The third warns that anyone who worships the beast, i.e. Rome,the sea beast of ch 13, and who has the mark (666) of the beast will receive the full wrath of God. In ch 13 we read that the mark of the beast, 666, allowed someone who worshipped the Roman emperors to participate in the trade guilds.
A voice from heaven says that the faithful who die from that time on will actually be blessed and allowed to rest from their labors. There will be more martys after the writing of this book. John then sees the Son of Man (Jesus) on a cloud with a sickle with which he swung and reaped the earth. The sickle gathers the grapes on the earth and cast them into the great wine press of the wrath of God, creating a massive flow of blood (200 miles: again a symboic number). Perhaps this reminds us of Ezekiel’s picture of the nation of Israel as a vineyard of worthless grapes.
Ch 15 introduces the 7 angels with 7 plagues, which are the “last”, which will “finish the wrath of God”. So these 7 plagues will be the very last events predicted by John, finishing the wrath God poured out on the Jews in 70 AD. Before those 7 plagues are poured out, John sees a sea of glass. Standing on the sea are those victorious over the beast, and they are singing the “song of Moses and the Lamb”. The song of Moses was sung by the Israelites after their crossing o the Red Sea as they watched God destroy the Egyptians in the sea. But this group on the sea have not worshiped the beast Rome, and have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, so their song includes the Lamb.
John then sees the temple of God in heaven opened. The true temple of God has always been the heavens where God dwells and not some structure on earth such as the one Solomon built. As Stephen said in Acts 7, God does not dwell in temples made with hands. 7 angels come out of the temple and are given 7 bowls of wrath to pour out on the earth. The first 5 bowls are poured out on those who worshiped the beast Rome, i.e. the Jews. The 6th bowl is poured out on the River Euphrates, drying it up, allowing the kings from the east to cross over. This is an illusion to the Assyrians and Babylonians who came from the easst to conquer Israel in the Old Testament.
John then sees 3 demonic spirits coming out of the dragon (Satan), the beast (the sea beast Rome in ch 13), and the false prophet (the earth beast in ch 13, the Jewish false prophets who persuaded the Jews to worship Rome). These demonic spirits perform signs to convince those on the earth to worship the beast (just what we read of the earth beast in ch 13). They convince them to gather for the war of the great day of God at Har-Mageddon. This is not the 1998 song by Apocalyptica. This is better known as Armageddon. It refers to the gathering of the Roman army to destroy Jerusalem in 70 AD (Revelation 20:8,9). It is called Armageddon because Megiddo was a town and plain southwest of the Sea of Galilee. In Judges 4 and 5, God’s enemies were defeated at Megiddo. King Ahab of Israel built fortifications there to stop invading armies from passing through Israel. King Josiah of Judah fought the Egyptians at Megiddo. It is symbolic of the place where God’s enemies met defeat, and in Revelation it refers to Jerusalem where God’s enemies would meet defeat (the dragon, the sea beast Rome, the earth beast Jewish false prophets, and the ungodly Jewish nation).
The 7th bowl is poured out with lightning, earthquakes, 100 pound hailstones, splitting the “great city” apart. 11:8 had already identified the “great city” as where the Lord was crucified, i.e. Jerusalem. It is also called Babylon, symbolic that the Jewish nation had become as wicked as the ancient empire of Babylon. After the 7th bowl is poured out, a voice from heaven cries out, “It is done”, so this plague terminates the predictions of the book and refers to the final destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
These 3 chapters seem to be connected, picturing the last events before the actual destruction of the city of Jerusalem and temple in 70 AD. They are filled with symbolism, but the event is clear, i.e. the last battle of Armageddon at Jerusalem in 70 AD. Remember, ch 1 and ch 22 tells us that the events predicted in this book were to occur shortly after the time of writing. Ch 17 will tell us clearly that the book was written while Nero, the 6th emperor of Rome, was living (read the article on ch 17), so it was written before Nero died in 68 AD. The famous battle of Armageddon had to occur shortly after the book was written, and that fits perfectly the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. It amazes me to read all the “end-time” predictions of Armageddon made by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and numerous others. They tell us it will be a great battle in our future in which the enemies of God will be defeated. They give specific predictions as to who will be engaged in this battle and how it will begin the 1000 year reign of Christ (read the article on Revelation 20 and the 1000 year reign of Christ). Many of them say it will happen in our lifetime, just as countless end time false prophets had predicted over the last 2,000 years since Revelation was written. The battle of Armageddon occurred in 70 AD. It is done. It is finished. The predictions of Revelation have already been fulfilled in 70 AD. The sad thing is that the false prophets make a lot of money and lead many astray, and yet the folly of their false predictions is only seen years after they are dead. It is urgent that we teach the book of Revelation correctly. I hope this study helps you understand the book!