The seven bowls are similar to the seven trumpets – the first four will result in devastation of the four regions of the creation – land, sea, fresh water and sky and they are similar to the Exodus plagues. Where the trumpets affected a third of their area, the bowls affect the whole. The seven bowls are climactic – God’s wrath is finished.
The sea of glass mixed with fire is a repeat of 4:6 and the events come from God’s throne. The Israelites coming out of Egypt stood on the far shore of the Red sea and saw their enemies die. In the last days, victorious saints will stand on the far side of it all and see victory too. The song of v.3-4 repeats the old song of Moses from Exodus 15. The plagues that will follow in the next chapter are also reminiscent of the Exodus plagues. Sadly, just like the Egyptians, people seeing God’s power will continue to be unrepentant. But others will see the light of God’s revelation and turn to Him.
In v.5-8 the vision moves to the heavenly temple, using Old Testament imagery of the tabernacle. The angels attending are in pure bright linen – like priestly garments, showing the holiness of the judgements that are coming. In the Old Testament smoke often surrounds God’s presence.
We are called to be saints, worshipping God and declaring His deeds “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty”, praying for friends, neighbours, family and colleagues to turn to Him before it is too late.