The Glassy Sea

09 Jan
Glassy Sea

from Google Images

According to John’s record, the very next thing he saw, after mentioning the seven angels with the seven last plagues was “a sea of glass, mingled with fire” (Revelation 15:2). The text says that those who were victorious over the beast, his image and the number of his name were able to stand upon the glassy sea (thalassa – G2281), which was “mingled with fire” (Revelation 15:2).

My first thoughts about this scene take me back to Jesus when he walked on the Sea (G2281) of Galilee or Tiberius (John 6:1, 16-19). Speaking of the same incident, Matthew said, when Jesus walked out upon the sea to where his disciples were in the ship, they were afraid, supposing he was a spirit (Matthew 14:25-26). So, when he identified himself, Peter asked him to call him out that he may walk out to him. When Jesus called him, Peter also began walking on the sea (Matthew 14:27-29). However, when he considered the strong wind, and probably the great waves, Peter lost faith and began to sink and had to call out to Jesus to save him (Matthew 14:30-31).

What we have in John 6 and Matthew 14 is a picture of a stormy sea, a mighty sea stirred up by the strong winds. However, when we come to Revelation 15:2 we have a calm, very peaceful scene—a glassy sea. In Revelation 4:6 it is so clear that it is compared to crystal, and this same sea (G2281) is before the throne of God. Yet, as calm and as peaceful as this scene appears, the text does say fire is mingled with its waters. In other words, the faith of those who had overcome in the Apocalypse was tried, just as Peter’s faith was tried by what he saw in the mighty and dangerous winds and waves of the Sea of Galilee. While Peter began to sink, because he considered the troubled waters, these in Revelation 15:2 stood upon the sea, because their faith in the blood of Jesus (cf. Revelation 12:11) had made the sea calm under their feet.

The idea that the same sea could be troubled or calm in accordance with one’s faith in Jesus causes me to wonder. Could this calm, glassy sea (thalassa – G2281) that is mingled with fire have any relationship to the lake (limne – G3041) of fire, burning with brimstone that is mentioned later in the Apocalypse (Revelation 19:20; cf. 20:10, 14-15; 21:8)? At first one might think two different bodies of water are mentioned, because one is called a sea (G2281) and the other a lake (G3041), but this is not a good argument, because, although Matthew, Mark and John use thalassa (G2281) to describe the Sea of Galilee (John 6:1; Matthew 4:18; Mark 1:16), Luke always uses limne (G3041) to describe the same body of water (Luke 5:1-2; 8:22-23, 33).

Although Luke calls it the Lake of Gennesaret, clearly he is speaking of the same body of water as Matthew and Mark (cf. Matthew 14:18; Mark 1:16). All three land areas: Galilee, Tiberius and Gennesaret bordered what we commonly refer to as the Sea of Galilee, but it was called by all three names in the Gospel narratives. So, is the calm glassy sea that was mingled with fire (Revelation 15:2) the same as the lake of fire mentioned in Revelation 19, 20 and 21?

Those who were victorious over the beast, his image and the number of his name were able to stand upon the glassy sea that was mingled with fire. It is interesting that the Apocalypse tells us that those who had overcome were not hurt by what it calls the second death (Revelation 2:11:20:6). Moreover, the second death is the destruction of all who are not found in the “book of life” (Revelation 20:15), murders, idolaters, unbelievers etc. (Revelation 21:8), even death and the grave are destroyed (Revelation 20:14). So, in the context of Revelation 15:2, what is a calm glassy sea to believers, is a lake burning with fire and brimstone to unbelievers and such like them, just as the Red Sea was salvation to Israel but death Pharaoh’s armies (Exodus 14:16-31).



Posted by on January 9, 2020 in Apocalypse, Book of Revelation


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2 responses to “The Glassy Sea

  1. Eddie

    January 11, 2020 at 14:18

    Greetings Patricia, and thank you for reading my studies and for your comment.

    I believe we are in complete agreement here. The whole of Revelation takes place in the Temple, and the glassy sea is, indeed, the sea of brass before the Temple. I looked at the Sea of Galilee only to show that “sea” and “lake” point to the same sea in Galilee. I did reference the glassy sea before the throne of God in Revelation 4:6 in the third paragraph of my post. I wanted to show that the glassy sea and the lake of fire later in the Apocalypse is the same body of water and is located in the Temple compound.

    Thanks again for reading, Lord bless you.

  2. Patricia Watkins

    January 11, 2020 at 11:18

    Hi Eddie,

    I’d like to take this subject in a slightly different direction than the one you have proposed. This “Sea of Glass” in Revelation 15 is not really describing a natural body of water like an ocean or a lake – it’s an analogy to King Solomon’s molten sea of polished brass that he put on the southeastern side of the temple court for the priests to wash in (II Chron. 4:6,10).

    The reference to “glass” in Rev. 15:2 is not to be understood in the typical sense we give to it, such as the glasses we drink out of. We have to go back to the days of the tabernacle when Moses made the very first, smallest version of this “sea of glass”, which was the laver and his foot. This laver was to be used by the priests, who washed their hands and feet to ritually purify themselves before entering the tabernacle or before offering burnt offerings on the altar (Exodus 30:18-21). If they did not wash themselves at this laver before their ministrations as priests, they would die – it was that serious.

    Here is where the “glass” element comes in for this laver. Exodus 38:8 tells us “And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the LOOKING GLASSES (or “brasen glasses”) of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.” Mirrors in those days were made of highly polished brass, which provided the necessary reflective surface for women to use for grooming. Undoubtedly, many of these brazen looking-glass hand mirrors were given to the departing women of Israel by their Egyptian mistresses when they were thrust out of Egypt overnight. The people were so eager to see them leave at that point that they urged them to go with presents of silver, gold, raiment, and whatever they asked for, thus “spoiling the Egyptians” (Exodus 12:33-36).

    So, the “Sea of Glass” in Rev. 15:2 and 4:6 with clean water as clear as crystal was meant to be a heavenly version of Moses’ laver made out of the women’s brass looking-glasses, and also Solomon’s molten sea of polished brass which held 2 or 3 thousand baths of water for the priests to purify themselves with.

    In fact, the entire chapter of Revelation 15 is a copy of the OT ceremony of Solomon’s dedication of the temple he built for the Lord (according to the pattern given by the Spirit to David), which ceremony is found in II Chronicles 5-7 and I Kings 8. There are several significant duplicating elements between the dedication of Solomon’s temple and the scene before the throne presented in Revelation 15 as listed below:


    (OT) II Chron. 7:1 – At the Temple’s dedication ceremony, King Solomon stood and then knelt on a brass scaffold in the middle of the court in front of the altar, with the molten SEA OF POLISHED BRASS on his right hand side in the southeastern corner of the court, offering his dedicatory prayer to God in that seventh month. “Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the FIRE CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house….And when all the children of Israel saw how THE FIRE CAME DOWN, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and WORSHIPPED, AND PRAISED THE LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.”

    (NT) Rev. 4:5-6 – “…And there were seven lamps of FIRE BURNING BEFORE THE THRONE, which are the seven Spirits of God. And before the throne there was a SEA OF GLASS like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind…And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and WORSHIP HIM that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”

    (NT) Rev. 15:2-4 – “And I saw as it were a SEA OF GLASS MINGLED WITH FIRE: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast…And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and WORSHIP BEFORE THEE; for thy judgments are made manifest.”


    (OT) II Chron. 5:12 – “Also the Levites which were the SINGERS, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and HARPS, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets:”

    (NT) Revelation 15:2-3 – “And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the HARPS of God. And they SING THE SONG of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb…”


    (OT) II Chron. 7:1-2 – Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the GLORY OF THE LORD FILLED THE HOUSE. And THE PRIESTS COULD NOT ENTER INTO THE HOUSE OF THE LORD, because the GLORY OF THE LORD HAD FILLED THE LORD’S HOUSE.”

    (OT) I Kings 8:10-11 – “And it came to pass, when the priests were COME OUT OF THE HOLY PLACE, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, So that the priests COULD NOT STAND TO MINISTER because of the cloud: for the GLORY OF THE LORD HAD FILLED THE HOUSE OF THE LORD.”

    (NT) Revelation 15:6, 8 – “And the seven angels CAME OUT OF THE TEMPLE, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and while linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles…And the temple was FILLED WITH SMOKE FROM THE GLORY OF GOD, AND FROM HIS POWER; and NO MAN WAS ABLE TO ENTER INTO THE TEMPLE, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.

    There seem to be too many similarities between these two occasions in the OT and the NT for it to be merely coincidental. So I assume that John’s NT Rev. 15 vison is of another type of dedication ceremony in the heavenly Temple in the AD 70 era, duplicating the OT ceremony of Solomon’s Temple dedication. This heavenly ceremony culminates in heaven’s Temple being opened for access to the purified bodies of the saints at the conclusion of the 7 plagues when the time of the dead arrives for them to be judged and rewarded (just as in Rev. 11:18-19 when the temple is opened in heaven). No saints were allowed access to heaven’s Temple in their resurrected body forms until after the end of those seven plagues (Rev. 15:6-8). That is when John finally shows us in Rev. 19:1-2 “MUCH *PEOPLE* IN HEAVEN,” (NOT “souls” in heaven) “saying Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments:…”

    I find the end of Solomon’s dedicatory prayer in II Chron. 6:41 in front of the Temple’s altar and the molten sea of polished brass to be quite prophetic. “Now therefore arise, O Lord God, into thy resting place, thou, and the ark of thy strength: LET THY PRIESTS, O LORD GOD, BE CLOTHED WITH SALVATION, and let thy saints rejoice in goodness.” For each saint as a priest of God to be finally “clothed” with the last phase of their salvation was for them to receive their glorified, resurrected body made incorruptible; purified and made fit to stand on that “Sea of Glass”, and rejoicing in God’s goodness before the fiery throne of God’s holy presence forevermore.

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