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Wednesday, April 11 2012
We have been studying the book of Revelation, and today we will look at chapter 4.
As we go further in our study to understand and know how the chapter before us today fits into the whole book.
Rev 1:19 provides us with a simple outline of Revelation: "Therefore, write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things."
In 1:12-18. You will find "The things you have seen" gives us an insight to the vision of the glorified Jesus "The things that are" refers to the seven letters that are found in Rev Chapters 2 and 3.
". . . The things which shall take place after these things"
Refers to the visions of the rest of the book of revelation
In other words, Revelations Chapters 4-22 is a prophecy of future events, yet unseen, things that are to come etc.
It will also help us to determine the following:
· The One sitting on the throne.
· What surrounded the throne?
· The twenty-four elders attired
· What was before the throne?
· Who are the Four Living Creatures?
· What were the four living creatures doing and what happened when they did it?
John writes in
"Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne."
As soon as John heard this invitation he experienced a spiritual transference. His body remained on the earth, but he caught a glimpse of glory. He saw a throne "standing in heaven." The throne symbolizes the sovereign authority to rule. The word "throne" is mentioned 14 times in this one chapter. Yet, it is only used a total of 14 times in the other 26 books of the New Testament. That is why this chapter is usually referred to as; "the throne chapter of the Bible."
Looking into heaven, John records what he saw "One sitting on the throne". The person on the throne was God the Father. John actually saw God sitting upon His throne! Can you imagine anything more glorious? The word "sitting" describes the position of a king who is actively reigning. For example, if a politician is "seated," he is said to be in office. If an unelected official is put out of office, he is said to be "unseated." John sees God "seated," meaning He is actively exercising the duties of His executive office, administering over the affairs of His creation.
So these stones are used to portray something of God's eternal glory, awesome holiness, and majesty. "Jasper" was a clear, crystal-like gem, a translucent rock. The jasper gem that John saw was evidently a diamond, not what we identify as jasper today. It portrays the purity and brilliance of God's holiness.
Since such a stone picks up and reflects light, it calls our attention to the fact that God is light, a holy God who reveals and unmasks darkness. A "sardius" stone was blood red, undoubtedly portraying God's wrath and justice, but it would also look at His redemptive work of love and grace in the person of the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world through His death on the cross
The 24 elders don't appear anywhere else in the Scriptures. The identity of the 24 elders (presbuteros) is difficult to determine. Yet I believe these elders are men. Jesus told the church at Laodicea, in chapters 2 and 3, that whoever will overcome will sit down with Me in glory. Here are some people sitting. He told the church in Thyatira, whoever was faithful would rule with Him, with a rod of iron. Here are some people with crowns who are sitting on thrones. He told the church at Sardis that if they would be faithful He would clothe them in white. Here are some people clothed in white. He told the church at Smyrna, he who overcomes, I will grant to him a crown (stephanos), and here are some people wearing crowns.
In Mark Gospel chapter 10:35-45, John and his brother James were struggling who would be on the throne with Jesus. But in this scripture we see 24. These thrones referred to here are arranged in a circular form, around the throne. There is no mention of "first or second chair" as James and John were hoping if Jesus allowed them or grant them their wishes.
My Probable interpretation is the 24 thrones as 24 seats of authority given to the faithful.
These thrones are seated "elders" representing Gentile believers. The point here is not who these "elders" are by name, but what they are doing?falling on their faces before God in worship (4:10-11)
The "seven lamps of fire" are said to be the "seven spirits of God." These spirits symbolizes the sevenfold ministry of the Holy Spirit reference In Isa 11:2-3
The "lamps" signify the unique role of the Holy Spirit in executing judgment. The Spirit will carry out this judgment.
John describes these four living creatures:
"The first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle."
These four characterizations are the same as those in Ezekiel 1:10 but it is difficult to decipher their meaning. Again, the word "like" expresses similarity. The four creatures likely represent four classes of created beings: wild beasts, domesticated animals, human beings, and flying creatures.
John then writes in that these four living creatures have "six wings are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, ?HOLY, HOLY, HOLY IS THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.' "
These creatures seem similar to the seraphim (lit burning ones) of Isaiah 6:2-3, in that they each have six wings. Their many eyes suggest alertness, comprehensive knowledge, and constant vigilance "Around and within" probably mean that they had eyes even on the undersides of their wings so they could move their wings without interrupting their vision. Their movements did not detract their constant vigilance. They ascribe holiness to God day and night, constantly without stopping. There will be no need for rest in heaven!
This verse reveals several aspects of God's character that are adored. First, He is worshipped as the Holy One.
God is holy in two ways:
· He is separated from all that He created and is not to be identified with the physical and material universe;
· He is also separate from sin. The holiness of God emphasizes both His transcendence as well as His moral purity.
Holiness, in this verse, refers to God's attribute of absolute moral purity, but it also seems to mean more. The phrase ("Holy, Holy, Holy") in verse 8, is reminiscent of the words of the seraphim in Isaiah 6:3, thereby suggesting the same God whom Isaiah envisioned as the holy One
John brings his vision to a climax as he writes
"And when the living creatures give glory and honour and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, and the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ?Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honour and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.'"
The four living creatures give praise to eternal God. The focus of their worship is on God's purity, His power, and His pre-eminence. Giving "glory and honour" calls attention to the perfections of God. While giving "thanks" calls attention to the manifold gifts of God in creation and redemption
From Suffering to Glory
Paul was writing In Romans 8: 18 not as a novice but as someone who has seen God in suffering and in His Glory;
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
Knowing angels worship God should prompt our worship also. Do we have any cause not to praise Him or thank Him? Like these four living creatures, we give God honour and reverence, not for His sake (because He is of Himself full of glory to which no creature can add anything), but for our own sake.
Contributor: Clem Roberts