The Sea of Glass in Revelation

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Revelation is a prophecy that is meant to be understood, a revelation is something that is revealed or unveiled.

The veil to the Holy of Holies has been completely torn down forever. This is the way of truth through Jesus and only deception can hinder it.

The prophecy begins with ~ “This is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants…” because it is first and foremost about revealing Jesus to us. Understanding future events is trivial compared to knowing and recognizing our Lord and his heart, as is the entire point of all Scripture.

All prophecies and parables have very powerful symbolic meanings that contain deeper secrets that the Lord desires to reveal to those who ask him.

With that in mind; I have been seeking the Lord about some of the curious images described in Revelation for a while.

Namely, the sea of glass like crystal, the sea of glass mingled with fire, a lake of fire and a river of life.

Now, I had been given doctrine by theologians about these symbols but, religion has no place in relationship with the Lord! Jesus told his true followers many times that He would personally teach them and His Spirit of truth would guide and instruct us! Religion, theology and doctrine were never intended to replace him but be a kind of “map” in our journey with him! Fortunately, we have a more sure map in the Bible…

I believe these 4 symbolic “bodies of water” all appear in this order by God’s design and I want to briefly dig into this. Hopefully, this little study will inspire some God-questions that only he can answer.

From Rev.4:5-6 ~ “There were seven lamps of fire burning before his throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. 6Before the throne was something like a sea of glass, similar to crystal.

“Similar to crystal” is a unique phrase in the NT but, the crystal is also mentioned in Rev.22:1, describing the “River of Life”. More on that later…

It’s interesting that this “sea of glass like crystal” is shown at the very throne of God immediately before any of the judgements in Revelation are described. Actually, Rev.4 seems to be a very unique chapter because there seems to be no mention of Jesus and the very next chapter describes him as the Lamb; at the very same spot that the sea was described when he takes the scroll with 7 seals from the Father on the throne. The only thing that has changed in these 2 sections of Rev.4 and 5 is that the Lamb seems to have replaced the “sea”. (No more thoughts on that later)

The next 10 chapters describe the judgements of the seals and trumpets and there is no mention of any “sea of glass” until chapter 15.

Rev.15:1,2 ~ “I saw another great and marvelous sign in the sky: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them God’s wrath is finished.2I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who overcame the beast, his image, and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God.

Glass-1

Interesting that after the 7 seal and 7 trumpet judgements, the sea of glass is shown but it is no longer like crystal…now it is mixed with fire! It almost sounds like the previous judgements had altered this “sea of glass” which is before the throne of God in Heaven!

Interesting that after the 7 seal and 7 trumpet judgements, the sea of glass is shown but it is no longer like crystal…now it is mixed with fire! It almost sounds like the previous judgements had altered this “sea of glass” which is before the throne of God in Heaven!

After the final 7 plagues and the fall of Babylon (among other things); Rev.20 describes “The Great White Throne Judgement” in v.11 ~ “I saw a great white throne, and him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. There was found no place for them…”

Catch this! Heaven and earth have passed away; so everything on earth must be either gone or completely altered…Yet, in verses 13 & 14~ “The sea gave up the dead who were in it. Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them. They were judged, each one according to his works. 14Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

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Verses 11-15 very briefly give the only description of this Great White Throne Judgement and it only describes dead from among Death and Hades and ” the sea.” Think about this; if it was describing a literal sea, wouldn’t it also have to describe the dead from the earth? If we are meant to understand that these are bodies of people being judged, coming out of “the sea” and Death and Hades; what about all of the bodies of those who are buried in the ground?

Also; what about people in the oceans, ponds, lakes, or rivers? Does God simply consider the earth containing one sea and all of the dead are either in that sea, death or hades?

I don’t think think that it is possible that a literal sea is being described here. In the very next verse in Rev.21:1 ~”I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth have passed away, and the sea is no more.”

Again; we have the old heaven and earth passed away and the new shown. Amidst all of that recreation; God knew that it was necessary to declare that the sea will no longer exist.

As if any reader would ever think that any 1 sea would continue to exist despite all of heaven and earth being reborn.Either God is suddenly being redundant and trivial or there is something much deeper here.

What if he is describing the sea of glass this entire time? It started out like pure crystal, then after the first 14 judgements is shown being mingled with fire and after the final 7 plagues of wrath; the dead souls in Death, Hades and the sea are all judged! There is a new heaven and new earth and any souls that are not there are thrown into a “lake of fire” because there is no more sea!

Finally, in the last chapter of the book ~ Rev.22:1 ~ “He showed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.”

I don’t pretend to understand this…but I do know that “the sea of glass like crystal” sounds like a much better place to be than the one mingled with fire and clearly better than the “lake of fire”. I also think that we all need more understanding concerning these symbols in this profound prophecy before we claim to know what God’s judgement is going to look like. Personally, there is very little about the descriptions of this that I do understand but, am fully convinced that it is the Lord’s will to make these things known to his faithful children!

WHAT IF?

Remember that God instructed Moses on the Mountain to make the Tabernacle according to the example God showed him and in Hebrews; the writer wrote about how those things represented the perfect things in Heaven that Jesus later consecrated as true High Priest with his perfect blood!

What if John was shown the true tabernacle in Heaven (because God does not dwell in a tabernacle made by human hands but, in Heaven) and the “sea” is just another symbol with practical value for our daily life?

Revelation talks a lot about how we are created to be a kingdom of priests to God and it also describes 7 lamps, the golden altar of incense, the ark of the covenant…

What if the “sea” is the brazen altar where the priests washed and cleansed themselves for ministry to the Lord? I have found that the Hebrew word for the brazen altar is also literally translated sea.

So what if one of the things that the “sea” describes is the sanctification of the saints and different difficulties of this process? Do we want to go through this with crystal clarity or mingled with fire? I know that thought raises questions that I can’t pretend to answer. But, consider this ~

Both Paul and James refers to the Gospel as like glass and Jeremiah called God’s word a fire. Jesus spoke like the true High Priest in John 13 when he washed the disciples feet and told Peter that he only needed his feet cleaned because the rest of him was already clean because of the words He had spoken in chap.15. This is the same chapter and probably in the same breath that Jesus warned them that whatever branch (disciples were told they were the branches) does not “abide in the vine” will be cut and thrown in the fire! (most of the N.T. references to fire are directed at the believer) Jesus later asked the Father in chap.17 to sanctify them in the truth of his Word, which cleanses like water.

There is so much O.T. symbolism revealed about his priest here that I can think of and probably ten times as much that I don’t know! Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel and surely others all saw different aspects of God’s “Tabernacle in Heaven”.

One last thought provoking question…

Has the book of Revelation been the unveiling of Jesus written for the benefit of every believer for almost 2000 years or does it simply have practical value to the very last generation for a 7 year period?

Let the Kingdom of Priests know their calling!

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” ~ Peter 2:9

For what it’s worth…

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