After these things I looked, and the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened. And the seven angels who had the seven plagues came out of the temple dressed in clean and bright linen, wearing golden sashes around their chests. And one of the four living creatures gave the seven angels seven golden bowls, full of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter into the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished. Rev 15:5-8.
In contrast to the smoke of the world’s torment (Rev 14:10-11), we have here the smoke of the glory of God. This is reminiscent of the scenes that accompanied the dedication of both the wilderness tabernacle (Exod 40:34-35) and Solomon’s temple (1 Kgs 8:10-12). God filled these places with His glory to celebrate the time of their dedication. In Revelation 15 He does so in response to the worship of His saints (Rev 15:3-4), who suffered at the hands of the wicked ones who will now taste His severe judgments.
After the Exile in Babylon, Zerubbabel raised up a more modest temple (Hag 1:12 - 2:9) to replace Solomon’s, which had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Chr 36:18-19). This building also was celebrated with a ceremony of dedication (Ezra 6:13-18). A similar service was held nearly a hundred years later to celebrate the completion of the walls of Jerusalem under Nehemiah, which safely enclosed the holy precincts once more (Neh 12:27-47).
The Feast of Dedication as we know it (called Hanukkah today), however, did not originate in Old Testament times. It celebrates the re-dedication of the temple in Jerusalem after its defilement by Antiochus Epiphanes (165 BC). Among other things, Antiochus sacrificed a pig on the temple altar, forbade keeping of the Sabbath, and compelled many Jews to eat pork. After the Maccabbees, a group of Jewish insurgents, liberated Jerusalem from the clutches of Antiochus, they cleansed and rededicated the temple. The celebration which followed became an annual feast of Judaism.
In our text we actually have something along the lines of an “undedication.” The glory of God drives out the angels. But instead of returning in a short while to begin their temple duties, as would be the case for a dedication service, they move on to other, more painful duties.
God marks the unpleasant turns of life as well as the pleasant ones. For the next few chapters things will become very unpleasant indeed.