Lesson 19 – Revelation 4:1-8a

Lesson 19 – Revelation 4:1-8a

Revelation 4:1 – The Bible records the accounts of two people who actually were taken there in visions.

In 2 Corinthians 12:4, the apostle Paul wrote of someone being transported to the third heaven (the abode of God). But was forbidden to speak of what he saw there.

The apostle John also had the privilege of visiting heaven. Unlike Paul, John was told to give a detailed description of his vision, which we see in Revelation 4 and 5. In those two chapters, John recorded the second vision he saw, the first being his vision of the glorified Lord Jesus Christ in Revelation 1:12-17. Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1), wrote descriptions of heaven as well, but John’s description are the most complete and informative.

The expression “after these things” occurs many times in Scripture and speaks of a transition. The expression in v 1 relates to John’s experiences, but the expression occurs earlier when God is speaking in Revelation 1:19. There it marks the important transition in the book of Revelation from the church age (” things which are “) followed by ( ” things which will take place ” ), found in Revelation 4-22.

The phrase “after these things” is used throughout Revelation to mark the beginning of a new vision (Revelation 7:915:518:119:1).

Many scholars believe that v 1 marks the rapture of the Church, while this may be the case it should be noted that it is only John and not the Church which is called up. This position is in keeping with the Lord’s promise to spare His church from time of Jacob’s troubles or the tribulation before the Lord returns spoken of in Revelation 3:10. The church will be raptured before the time of tribulation, which is described in detail in chapters Revelation 6-19.

The door that John saw open in heaven brought him to the very throne of God. It was from heaven that John describes the events that will take place. The first voice John heard was a voice like the sound of a trumpet this is the same voice that spoke to him in his first vision (Revelation 1:10). This is the voice of the Lord Jesus. His voice is likened to the sound of a trumpet because of its authoritative quality.

The Lord ordered John to come up here (to heaven). The reason is clearly stated: to see future events, things that must take place. The word must is a most important word. The events of world history are not by chance. They do not simply happen. They are of God, of His will—things that must happen. God works them out. They are according to His divine will. God is sovereign. He rules over the world. History is in His hands and under His ultimate control.

Revelation 4:2 – John saw God and the throne of God. This was not a piece of furniture, but a symbol of God’s sovereign rule and authority (Psalm 11:4103:19Isaiah 66:1) located in the temple in heaven (Revelation 7:1511:1914:15, 17; 15:6-8; 16:17) according to Revelation 21:22 the heavenly temple is not an actual building but symbolizes God’s presence.

The Lord is described as sitting on His throne as its ruler. Unlike its use in Hebrews (Hebrews 1:310:1212:2), where it depicts Yeshua is resting in His finished work, sitting here refers to His reigning. The thought is not resting because the work of redemption has been accomplished, but reigning because judgment is about to take place.

Though John does not name the One sitting on the throne, it is obvious who He is.
-He is the One Isaiah saw in his vision (Isaiah 6:1).
-The prophet Micaiah also saw Him on His throne (1 Kings 22:19).
-Daniel also saw a vision of the heavenly throne room (Daniel 7:9-10)
-The most detailed look at God on His heavenly throne outside of Revelation is given by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:26-28).

Today people claim to have visions of God, but they lack credibility when set against Biblical testimonies of those who have seen the Lord (Isaiah 6:5Ezekiel 1:28Daniel 7:15). These men were terrified by their visions.

John described He who was sitting on the throne as being like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance. This description brings to mind Ezekiel’s vision. Revelation 21:11 describes jasper as ” crystal-clear “; for this reason it is best to identify this stone as a diamond. The glory of God appeared like the facets of a brilliant diamond. A sardis, from which the city of Sardis got its name, is a fiery red ruby expressing also beauty of God’s glory. The sardis and the jasper were the first and last stones on the high priest’s breastplate (Exodus 28:17-20), representing the first (Reuben) and last born (Benjamin) of sons of Jacob. John’s vision of God’s throne is not one of peace and comfort but speaks of the terror of God’s judgment.

John makes no attempt to describe God in any human shape.

Revelation 4:3-4 – The rainbow that surrounded the throne represents the mercy of God and His grace given to man by God (Genesis 9:11-17).

John also saw around the throne twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones he saw twenty-four elders seated on thrones that surround God’s throne. This shows that they are near God, being honored with His presence and enthroned with God, that is, they are given a permanent place in His presence forever and ever. They are clothed in white which speaks of the purity and holiness of God and of Christ. There is no imperfection in them at all.

They have crowns of gold on their heads. This means that they hold positions of authority to oversee for God, they rule and reign for God. Who are the elders of Revelation? Opinions vary there are three major thoughts.

1) They are thought to be the twelve patriarchs and the twelve apostles combined the heads of the believers, of both the Old and New Testament. Supporting this idea is the fact that the patriarchs names are on the twelve gates of the New Jerusalem and the apostles’ names are on the foundations (Revelation 21:12, 14). Everything about the elders is also promised to believers: the thrones, the white clothing, and the crowns.

2) Some suggest that they are a council of angelic beings surrounding God (1 Kings 22:19Psalm 89:7Isaiah 24:23). The reasons for holding this position are as follows: The angels are said to be organized in special ranks or orders. The various ranks are bound to have leaders or elders responsible for overseeing each of the ranks (Romans 8:38Ephesians 3:10Colossians 1:16). Angels are clothed in white (Matthew 28:3Mark 16:5John 20:12Acts 1:10). Angelic beings are said to have thrones, however, crowns are never said to be worn by angels (Romans 8:38Ephesians 3:10Colossians 1:16). Further, a council of angelic beings are said to surround the throne of God in the Older Testament (Psalm 89:7Isaiah 24:231 Kings 22:19). An angel is more likely to reveal future events to John during his vision than is an elder believer.

3) In the Older Testament there were thousands of priests. Of course, they all could not come together at the same time to serve in the temple so King David, divided the priests into twenty-four groups, each group served two weeks at a time (1 Chronicles 24). When the twenty-four priests met in the temple precincts to serve their two week ministry, the whole priestly house was represented. Therefore, the elders in heaven are said to be the symbolic representatives of all the redeemed of the Lord.

John nowhere says who the elders are. He only speaks of them as part of the multitude of heavenly beings that worship and serve God and His Son, the Lord Jesus. The church, on the other hand, is repeatedly promised that we will rule with Messiah (Revelation 2:26-273:25:1020:4Matthew 19:28Luke 22:301 Corinthians 6:2-3 ; 2 Timothy 2:12). The term elders are never used in Scripture to refer to angels, but always to men. It is used to speak of older men in general, and the rulers of both Israel and the church.

Further, ” elder ” would be an inappropriate term to describe angels, who do not age. Crowns are never promised in Scripture to angels, nor are angels ever seen wearing them. The victor’s crown was worn by those who successfully who competed and won the victory (Revelation 2:101 Corinthians 9:252 Timothy 4:8).

Revelation 5-6a – Three things are now added to the throne of God to show how awesome the presence of God is:

1. There is God’s voice that is so commanding that it sounds like a combination of many voices and of lightnings and thunderings (Revelation 4:5).

2. The seven torches of burning fire are a symbol of the Holy Spirit in all of His fullness and completeness.

3.There is a sea of glass stretching out before the throne. The elders of Israel saw a similar sight (Exodus 24:10), so too Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:22, 26). God instructed the temple to have a brazen sea and the tabernacle and temple were shadows of real things in heaven (1 Kings 7:23). Since there is no sea in heaven (Revelation 21:1) what John saw at the base of the throne was a vast pavement of glass, shining like sparkling crystal.

Revelation 4:6b-8a – The four living creatures who surround the throne of God are the closest beings to God. They are angelic beings who are the guardians of God’s throne and of His holy presence (Revelation 5:614:3). They are always found near the throne of God. They have six wings and are full of eyes. Their function has to do with the holiness and wrath of God (Revelation 6:1, 7; 15:7). They declare the holiness of God day and night. They are beings who were created for this very purpose. They seem to be the same beings as the cherubim seen in Ezekiel’s vision (Ezekiel 1:4-2510:4, 15).

Cherubim are an exalted order of angels frequently associated with God’s power (1 Samuel 4:42 Samuel 6:2;Revelation 22:11Psalm 80:199:1Isaiah 37:16).

After Adam and Eve sinned, God drove them out of Eden and stationed cherubim at the entrance to keep them from returning (Genesis 3:24). Two carved cherubim were placed in the Holy of Holies, symbolically guarding God’s holiness (1 Kings 6:23-28).

Satan, before his fall, was the ” the anointed cherub who covers “; his duty was to attend God’s throne (Ezekiel 28:14; 16). John chooses certain animals on earth to describe characteristics that he notices. One being was like a lion which is a symbol of supremacy, one like an ox (calf) a symbol of strength, one like a man symbolizing intelligence, and one like an eagle a symbol of speed.

Their function is to glorify and honor God day and night. The four living creatures are involved with the coming judgments of the Tribulation. One of them calls forth the rider on the white horse (Revelation 6:1-2). Another will decree economic disaster upon the earth (6:6), while another will give the seven angels involved in the bowl judgments their bowls (Revelation 15:7).

Their six wings denote that their supreme responsibility and privilege is to constantly worship God. From Isaiah’s vision, we learn that the seraphim (possibly the same beings as the cherubim) used their six wings in the following manner: ” with two [they] covered [their faces], and with two [they] covered [their] feet, and with two [they] flew (Isaiah 6:2).

Four of their six wings related to worship; with two they covered their faces, since even the most exalted created beings cannot look on the unveiled glory of God without being consumed. They also used two wings to cover their feet, since they stood on holy ground. Worship is thus their privilege, calling, and permanent occupation.

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