Chapter 4

 

A Glimpse of Heaven

 

The Throne and the One who Sits on it. v1 - 3.

 

1. "After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this."

 

After John had received the vision of Christ and the instructions to write to the seven churches he saw an opening into heaven (not literally a door). The first voice that he heard from heaven was the same as that he heard in 1:10, like a trumpet, the voice of Christ summoning him to heaven where he would be shown that which would take place in the future.

 

2, 3. "Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald."

 

Instantly he came under the Holy Spirit's power and was taken up into heaven (c/f 2 Cor. 12:2) and saw a throne with one sitting on it. John does not say that he saw the One sitting on the throne. In other places in Revelation in making reference to this One he says  "He that sits on the throne" and since this person is distinguished from the Son and the Holy Spirit, we infer that it was God the Father (Rev. 6:16). However we know that no man has seen God (John 1:18); what he saw was someone who sat on the throne who had the aspect (the way something or someone looks) of different kinds of precious stones.  A jasper stone was found in the High Priest's breastplate and is in the foundation of the New Jerusalem. It was transparent of various vivid colours and according to Rev. 21:11 represents crystal clear brightness, speaking of the brightness of God's glory and the purity of His being. A sardius is a blood red  gem depicting "His justice..this attribute is displayed in pardoning as well as in punishing, in saving as well as in destroying sinners" (Henry). Encircling the throne is a rainbow; having the predominant colour of emerald (green); a symbol of the covenant promises of God (Gen. 9:13).

 

Those Around the Throne. v4 - 6.

 

4. "Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads."

 

There were twenty four smaller thrones surrounding God's throne and twenty four elders wearing gold crowns sat on these. This picture presents them as kingly in nature but still subject to the One on the Throne (Rev. 1:6). They are dressed in white garments, the righteousness of the saints as given by Christ (Rev. 19: 8). They represent the whole of the redeemed from all nations (Rev. 5:8 - 9).

 

5, 6. "And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back."

 

Lightnings, thunders and voices came from the throne (Ex 19:16) depicting the awesome might, majesty and judgement of God. In front of the throne was "the sevenfold Holy Spirit" and an expanse that looked like a sea of crystal (ice) glass. In the midst of the throne i.e. at the four sides and as if they were part of it, were four living beings (Greek word "zoon" correctly means "living beings", not "beasts").  These beings, known as the seraphim, were full of eyes back and front denoting their limitless vision and as Tatford says "these are... associated with the judicial authority of God's throne."

 

Their Purpose and Occupation. v7 - 11.

 

7. "The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle."

 

These living beings resemble four different creatures and portray different aspects of God's judicial administration: a lion - symbolic of the majestic dignity and sovereignty of divine justice; a calf - symbolic of firmness, endurance and strength; a man - wisdom, compassionate understanding; a flying eagle - penetrating vision and discernment, rapidity of action.

 

8. "The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!"

 

The seraphim have six wings which are full of eyes around and within.   This speaks of their constant vigilance.  Having no need of rest, they continually proclaim the holiness, the omnipotence and the eternal existence of God.

 

9, 10. "Whenever the living creatures give glory and honour and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:"

 

As often as the living creatures rendered glory, honour and thanks to God the twenty four elders (representing all the redeemed) rise from their seats bow down before the Eternal God and cast their crowns before Him in homage.

 

11. "You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honour and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created."

 

J.N. Darby says "the living beings only celebrate and declare; the elders worship with understanding".   They acknowledge that God alone is worthy to receive glory, honour and power as the Source, Creator and Sustainer of all things. By His own will (better than KJV "pleasure") He brought all things into being. Go to Revelation 5 Bible study

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