“Then I looked and saw that the Temple in heaven, God’s Tabernacle, was thrown wide open. The seven angels who were holding the seven plagues came out of the Temple. They were clothed in spotless white linen with gold sashes across their chests. Then one of the four living beings handed each of the seven angels a gold bowl filled with the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. The Temple was filled with smoke from God’s glory and power. No one could enter the Temple until the seven angels had completed pouring out the seven plagues.” Revelation 15:5-8
As John looks intently on the scene, the sanctuary is opened, that is, the curtain is parted, and seven angels are seen coming out of the sanctuary. The holy place, into which the high priests alone could go and only after proper sacrifices, does not exclude holy angels who have no sin. Each of the angels is carrying one of the vials containing the seven plagues and is described as being clothed in pure white linen and girded with a golden girdle. The whole scene is most symbolic of what is about to happen. The angels coming out of the sanctuary indicate that the judgments to be poured out stem from the holiness of God and are properly required of God who must do all things right. The symbolism of the golden girdles is less clear, except that they bind the linen. If gold reflects the glory of God, it would point to the conclusion that these angels pouring out righteous judgments on the earth thereby bring glory to God.
These angels bring God’s judgment. It is significant that they came directly from the heavenly temple, from the presence and throne of God. They do not act on their own authority, but God’s. Their clothing is a reminder that God’s judgment is always completely pure and righteous. The Seven golden bowls are broad, flat bowls or saucers used ritually for drinking or for pouring libations in sacrifice. The contents of such a shallow bowl were quickly, easily, and completely poured out. When the cloud of glory fills the temple in heaven, no one can enter. It was the same when Moses could not enter the Tabernacle when the smoke of the cloud of God’s glory, sometimes called the Shekinah filled the tent (Exodus 40:34-35). No one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed: This declares that judgment was now irreversible. Nothing could hinder it any longer, because access to this temple in heaven would not long be denied.