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Sea of Glass

SEA OF GLASS. In the vision of heaven in the Revelation, a glassy sea is seen before the throne of God (Rev.4.6; Rev.15.2). It is translucent, “clear as crystal.” Nearby stand the victorious singing saints. The sea symbolizes God’s purity and holiness and also the victory of the redeemed hosts who have crossed it.

GLASS, SEA OF (θάλασσα ὑαλίνη). In a description of heaven (Rev 4:6), before the throne of God is what seemed like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. Around it were gathered the beings who participated in worship before the Lamb opened the sealed book (ch. 5). Later, the sea appeared to be mingled with fire (Rev 15:2); appropriate to the judgments that were about to be poured out on the earth. Around the sea, the victorious saints sang the song of Moses and the Lamb, connecting this episode with the celebration of Israel’s victory over Egypt beside the Red Sea (Exod 15). The crystal sea fitly symbolizes the purity of God; the mingled fire speaks of His holiness inflamed by just wrath.

SEA OF GLASS (θάλασσα ὑαλίνη). A part of the description of the heavenly council chamber (Rev 4:6). It has been regarded in numerous ways. Some have considered it the counterpart of the lavers in Solomon’s Temple, which stood there as a symbol of the purity that was required of any man who would approach God (1 Kings 7:38). Others have thought of it as only a descriptive detail given for the purpose of making the heavenly scene more impressive. In subsequent material the sea was a reservoir of evil out of which the “beast” arose (Rev 13:1). It was also the barrier that separated God from His people, over which they must pass to come to Him (15:1-3); and one of the principal descriptive phrases concerning the new heaven and earth was that there would no longer be any sea (21:1). In John’s cosmology, the sea—whether on earth or in heaven—indicated separation, and in the spiritual context all that separated men from God.

The glassy sea stood in John’s symbolism before the throne of God as a mute reminder that the entire universe was afflicted with rebellion against God. John’s theology had a precise universal opposition between good and evil and between God and Satan that approached dualism. This is due to the seriousness with which he regarded the reality of evil. It was not, however, a true dualism because John regarded God as the creator of all things (4:11), even the sea of glass.