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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

May 21, 2014

Revelations 4:1-11

  1. Verses 1-2. In this chapter we are going to see John’s view of the throne of God. It is a glorious image. The phrase “after these things” signals the beginning of a new section of Revelation which reveals the terrifying events that will take place in the future. This is the main section of the book and runs through 22:5. John was given a vision of heaven (cf. Ezek 1:1). In this supernatural vision he saw “a door standing open in heaven” and he heard a voice "like the sound of a trumpet." We must pay close attention throughout the remainder of the book to note when John uses the word "like" (nine times in this chapter). John is not saying that the voice is a trumpet. Rather, he is saying that it is an authoritative voice “like” a shrill trumpet blast—powerful, dominating, overpowering, compelling, and victorious. John states that he saw a door opening up. The door signifies entrance by way of revelation into heaven. The command "Come up” refers to the change in scene for John who is about to get a glimpse of the heavenly throne and of events that will take place in the future, we are not sure of how much in the future, but these were events that were to be seen as in the future of those who were the original receivers of this letter.

  2. Verses 3. John sees a throne and a person sitting (symbolizing reigning) on the throne. The being John sees on the throne has the appearance of jasper and ruby. The image would be a brilliant crystal red appearance. The "jasper and ruby stone" were the most precious of all stones. The beauty of God was so dazzling that John could not describe Him. John can only use the things he knows to describe what he saw. The jasper was the last and the ruby the first stone in the breastplate worn by the high priest, Exodus 28:17-20. These stones are in the foundation of the New Jerusalem, Revelation 21:19-20. The diamond and ruby are meant by these stones. These stones are known for their clearness and brightness. There was a diamond between the breastplate and the heart of the high priest. The name engraved on this stone, I believe, is the unspeakable name of God Almighty. The diamond stone next to the heart stood for purity and mercy. The emerald is another precious stone, green in color. Green means "earthly or of the earth.” The emerald was also part of the breastplate, and of the foundation of New Jerusalem. The value of these three different stones is greater than other stones. These are classified as precious stones and are very expensive. This rainbow is green (earthly) to show the covenant between God and man. The first rainbow mentioned was a sign of a promise from God to man. God would never again destroy the earth by water. Sometimes it is called a bow, and sometimes a rainbow. The rainbow encircles the throne as a constant reminder to God and man of the covenant. This is a beautiful sight to behold.

  3. Verse 4. John now shows us what was near the throne. It is my opinion that John sees what is a picture of the angels that sit near the throne. This picture of 24 thrones and 24 elders is a beautiful picture that draws us back to the Old Testament. Let us take a look at a few scriptures (Exodus 25:9 Hebrews 8:5 Exodus 25:40 1 Chronicles 24:1-4, 1 Chronicles: 24:19). The twenty-four courses of priests serving in the earthly Temple were patterned after the twenty-four priests who minister in the heavenly sanctuary. 1) The heavenly tabernacle was the pattern for the earthly. Therefore the 24 elders, who are a priestly class of angels, were the pattern for the Levitical rotation of priests. 2) Angels wear white garments and crowns symbolize authority and position. 3) Each heavenly particular of John's vision -- the throne, four living creatures, and millions of angels are interpreted as literal. Therefore, there is no biblical precept for spiritualizing the 24 elders as anything but 24 elders. Around God's throne are four cherubim, twenty-four elders, and one hundred million angels. The twenty-four elders of Revelation are a priestly order of angels which served as a pattern for the priestly rotation who ministered in Solomon's Temple. Exodus 25:17-19. Everything associated with the earthly tabernacle was patterned after the heavenly sanctuary. See Hebrews 8:5. There is a hierarchy of angels. There are angels, archangels, cherubim and seraphim. Each of these classes of angels has different functions. The cherubim surround the throne of the Almighty, the twenty-four elders surround the throne and the cherubim, and beyond the inner circle are a myriad of angels. Obviously, the 24 elders do not offer up atonement offerings or sacrifices for sin. But their function is related to the earthly priesthood patterned after them.

  4. Verse 5. John shares what he sees; now John shares what he hears as well. The "lightning and thundering" showed the majesty and awesomeness of God. Lightning, earthquakes, and thundering throughout the Bible have been an outward proclamation of God. Even at the foot of Mount Sinai the people were afraid of God, because of just such manifestations. The "seven lamps" are a symbolic number covering all the workings of the Spirit of God. The seven spirits of God refers to the seven eyes of the Lord or characteristics of God. (Zech. 4:10 and Isaiah 11:2) "the seven Spirits" mean the entirety of the power of the Spirit is manifest there at the throne. Fire throughout the Bible has been symbolic of God, as in the burning bush, Exodus 3:2. In Hebrews 12:28-29, we are told to serve God with reverence and Godly fear, because God is a consuming fire. Once again the idea is an awesome image of God.

  5. Verse 6-8a. In front of the thrown was a sea of glass or crystal. Most likely this is symbolic of the idea that the only way to God is through purity. The clear transparent path to the thrown shows that the way to God is through holiness. Those who would approach the throne must be holy and pure. Also in the center with the throne are four living creatures (angels) that have a powerful appearance. All around the throne were the four beasts. Probably a little better translation would have been living ones. The number "four" shows the universality of these beasts or living beings. In Isaiah 6:2-13 and in Ezekiel 1:5-28, these living beings are also called "seraphim" and “cherubim.” These beasts, or living beings, surrounding the throne are full of eyes which means their wisdom was overwhelming. The 4 Beasts or living Creatures are probably angels who guard the throne of God. The eyes symbolize wisdom, and the wings depict movement. They worship God as did the seraphim in Isaiah's vision (Isaiah 6 v.1-3). The lion represents strength (Psalms 103 v.20). The calf service (Heb.1 v.14). The face of a man intelligence (Luke 2 v.52) and the eagle swiftness (Dan 9 v.21). The angelic vision has a strong allusion to Ezekiel 1 v.4-14. The eyes denote wisdom or intelligence.

  6. Verse 8b. The angels sing the praise to God. Day and night. One has to look at Isaiah 6 for another image of this. John sees the constant praise of these angelic beings for the most high. These beings surround the throne and praise God continually. The focus of their worship is on God's purity, His power, and His preeminence. Giving “glory and honor” calls attention to the perfections of God, while giving "thanks" calls attention to the manifold gifts of God in creation and redemption. Knowing angels should worship God should prompt our worship also.

  7. Verses 9-11. When the angels sing, the other angels lay down their crowns in holy submission to the great God. The sequence: prostration, adoration, and humiliation. When the crowned elders prostrate themselves before God and cast their crowns at His feet, these rulers humbly acknowledge His sovereignty and His right to receive worship. This verse reveals that the major purpose of crowns is as tokens of worship. This process is not a one-time event, but goes on “when (whenever) the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne.”

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