The Throne in Heaven
After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”
“After this” denotes another vision following the previous one of chapter 1, along with these letters to the churches. This verse immediately signifies the Exodus 19 scene, where God calls Moses up on to the mountain to receive the Word of the Lord.
• Notice that “voice” and “trumpet” are interchangeable terms. A trumpet is symbolic term for a loud, shrill cry of a voice. In the Book of Revelation it can be referred to as “the sound of a trumpet” or “the voice of an archangel.”
Like Moses, John is called up to receive God’s revelation of what is to come. He is articulating, just like Moses, that he is receiving divine revelation from God that he is to pass on to the people of God, concerning the things that God is showing, and the things that God is saying. This is also John’s ordination as a prophet.
Remember how Revelation chapter 1 broke this down to: “The things which you have seen”, which encompasses Revelation chapter 1, and then “the things which are”, which are the letters to the churches in Revelation chapters 1 & 2, and now in Chapters 4-22, “the things which shall shortly be hereafter.”
At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.
Here John conveys that he received revelation in the same way as Old Testament prophets, and these words are authoritative.
The throne symbolism immediately takes an ancient Israelite to Daniel 7. Revelation chapters 4 and 5 flow in detail much like Daniel chapter 7.
“As I looked,
thrones were placed,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat; His clothing was white as snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool; His throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came out from before Him; a thousand thousands served Him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him;
the court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.”
He has a throne. John is reminding us that there is One who sits on the throne over all, who has the final say, not some emperor or ruler who tries to force believers to compromise and deny God’s precepts to avoid persecution or punishment. Jesus said not to fear those who only have power to kill the body (men). But rather fear Him (Yahweh) Who has the power to destroy both body and soul in Hell.
And He who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian (sardine), and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald.
Imagery: The jasper and sardine stones symbolize glory and honor. There is divine glory seated here. The stones and the rainbow around the throne symbolize majesty. Rainbow symbolism would remind the early church of the covenant promise with Noah, and represents God’s salvation and resurrection life. The rainbow was a promise of never again destroying earth with water. But the earth will be destroyed with fire. Fire symbolizes final judgment. But a rainbow is the symbol of new creation, new life. After the flood, which can represent baptism, new life came forth. The corruption was washed away. It represents a new creation, a resurrected life, that we are looking for as believers. And secondly, it also represents judgment, because with the flood was judgement on the wicked. The two edged sword….repentance or rebellion are met with the proper responses of either blessing or cursing.
“As it was in the days of Noah so shall it be in the coming of the Son of man.” Jesus said that. What happened in the days of Noah? Eight people got on the ark and the rest of the world perished. It was a day of celebration for Noah and his family, the righteous, and for the rest of the world it was a horrific day of terror and eternal judgement. The wicked were taken, the righteous were left. Remember Jesus’ words, “One will be taken away and the other left.” The righteous are those who are “left behind”, despite what your dispensational nonsense folks have said. Sorry Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. But, hey! you made a lot of money pushing false doctrine on the minds of people. That’s what American Evangelicals and Dispensationalists are good at, right? Sad.
What is being done with the rainbow in today’s society? It is made to represent “Pride” in the face of Almighty God. God hates pride. But it goes deeper than that. The kind of pride it is being used to represent mocks creation and the plan of God for mankind. It is more than a mockery. It is an all out assault against the Lord, Himself. A world beast system bent on doing its own thing and despising Him in the process, taking the symbol of His Covenant promise as a mockery to His holiness and authority.
“Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around.
Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.”
Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads.
24 seats of 24 elders? White raiment? Crowns of Gold?….. What are they?
• 24 seats/thrones = seats of authority
• 24 elders: This is Old Testament priestly language. In 1 Chronicles 27 you find 24 orders of the priests that would carry out the service of God in the House of God.
• Elders are governmental positions. Most biblical scholars agree that you would have had 12 representations from the Old Covenant that God made with Abraham and Moses, and 12 representatives from the New Covenant: The Church and its Apostles. There were 12 fathers of the tribes of Israel of whom they bear their names: Jacob’s (a.k.a. Israel’s) 12 sons. Jesus hand chose 12 apostles. So we see 12 Jews from each covenant, the Old and New represented in the plan of God.
• White robes/ raiment = symbolic of purity and holiness
• Crowns of gold were things Christ told these seven churches that they were working toward…. getting a Crown of Life.
• Crowns of Gold = symbolizes Eternal Life
From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God,
***Remember everything seen in these chapters (4 & 5) is a symbolic look into the heavenly temple.
Lightnings and thunders and voices out from the throne? (This is seen again in chapter 6) And seven lamps burning which are the Seven Spirits of God.
What do we see in the temple? A menorah with seven branches having seven lamps; one lamp on each branch. Lightning and thunder…..Exodus 19 and 20, Ezekiel 1, 2, and 3 all present this type of imagery of the throne scene, revealing the living creatures, and their attributes, thunder and lightning, sounds/ voices of many waters, trumpets/loud cries, and so on. Remember the entire Book of Revelation is “signified/symbolized“ with Old Testament allusions. This is the key to interpretation of the message. So, so, so important!
But those passages and others all use this imagery to depict what?…… God’s presence.
These visionary things accompany the presence of God throughout scripture. In Acts 2, when the disciples were corporately filled with the Holy Spirit, there was a rushing mighty wind that came sweeping in. We see that same description in Ezekiel 1:4…
“As I looked, behold, a stormy whirlwind came out of the north, and a great cloud, with brightness around it, and fire flashing forth continually, and in the midst of the fire, as it were gleaming metal.”
We also see trumpets depicted throughout these passages, which symbolize a shrill cry or loud voice. The terms: trumpets and voices, are used interchangeably. The sum of it all depicts judgment coming!!!
and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind:
Imagery in verses like….Daniel 7:9-10, as we’ve seen…and in…
“And their whole body, their rims, and their spokes, their wings, and the wheels were full of eyes all around—the wheels that the four of them had. As for the wheels, they were called in my hearing “the whirling wheels.” And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of the cherub, and the second face was a human face, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.”
Read Ezekiel 1:4-28. It describes the living creatures in the same way, pointing the reader of Revelation chapter 4 to think of those passages. Not only would ancient first century Christians have known the passages John spoke of, but also the historical context.
•Sea of glass is symbolic imagery of the laver they would use to wash in the tabernacle and temple. Are you seeing why they made the furnishings for the temple that they made? Because all that stuff describes the “temple” functions in ontological ways.
•And in the midst of the throne (room) there were four beasts around the throne, and they were full of eyes. (see Ezekiel chapters 1-3.) Verse 7 tells us what they are.
the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight.
•The four fixed Zodiacal signs are symbols of these four faces: The fall and spring equinox and the summer and winter solstice are depicted as these very likenesses. The ancient near east was in tune with the heavens. Some in the evil context of astrology and idol worship. But many were in tune with what the Creator intended them to be about: Genesis 1:14
And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years,
But in verse 7, these are descriptions of the cherubim surrounding the throne of God. Again, John speaks of allusions to Ezekiel 1, 2, and 10 as well as Isaiah 6.
• Heavenly beings are often referred to as “hosts” or “stars” in scripture. But as I stated, the people of the ancient world, in the Middle East, were very in tune with the constellations and the stars. This is how the Bible states that the Magi found Jesus. This is how they could tell the times and seasons that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 16, by discerning the skies and stars. Many ancient near Eastern people really thought that those stars and constellations were deities, especially pagan nations, and those who worshiped other deities. These stars obviously were not deities, but these people were very superstitious.
And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!”
They worship the self existing God: the eternal One. In His throne they dont cease to tell Him how worthy He is, how holy, how perfect, how great, how set apart.
Why is John saying all of this stuff? Because these Christians, in this day, were being forced by their emperors to bow to them and compromise in order to save their own lives. He is reminding them, in their persecution, “There is but One who is worthy of their praise and for them not to lose sight of the goal. Don’t bow in worship to the emporer, dont bow to pagan deities, don’t bow to losing social or economic status, because those things are all temporal, but I Am life eternal.”
And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever,
These creatures clearly worship the One on the throne, Yahweh, and when they do, the twenty-four elders bow down and cast their crowns of gold at His feet. Isaiah chapter 6 gives imagery of what they are doing in crying “holy, holy, holy.”
And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who is seated on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
Here, again, we see the elders of each covenant bowing before the Lord of Sava’ot (hosts), the Ancient of Days, and casting their crowns of gold at His feet in worship. It depicts the fact that none are worthy of any crown but One: Jesus. For it was not by anyone’s personal merit that they deserve to be before the throne of Christ. But rather, all who are there, are there because of what He has done in making a way to follow Him, and empowering them to do so. Without His sacrifice, the faithful and righteous believers would still owe a debt of sin that could never have been paid.
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they existed and were created.”
Here it tells why we were created. “For your pleasure, Oh God, all things were and are created.” We were created to worship Him. But what is worship? Is that the 30 minutes we lift our hands and sing hymns during church? Hardly, although that is pleasing to God when the person to whom those hands and voices belong are living righteous lives in service to Jesus. True worship is a loyal life of obedience and submission to the known will of God: A life set apart for Christ; living examples of faithfulness. This pleases God. Worship means to serve. The terms “worship” and “serve” in scripture are synonymous. When we live to please God, we will be pleased in so doing and we appropriate all the promises of God to be released in our lives.