Heaven is for Real
Revelation Chapter Four
In Chapter Three after Jesus’ admonishments to His church in Laodicea, we were shown a picture in verses twenty and twenty-one of the intimacy with God that He has promised to His people who desire that relationship. Anyone who wants to be one with God is treated to a shared throne with Jesus and the Father. The reality of the grandeur of being and dwelling in the presence of God, is further illustrated for us in chapters four and five.
The apostle John, who has been suffering on his desolate prison island, is about to get a lift. –
After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must be hereafter” (verse 1).
When we open the door of our heart to the Lord (Rev. 3:20) He rewards us with His comforting presence. A door then is opened for us in the heavenly realm. When we receive Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we become linked with another dimension.
The throne of the Father that is the promised seating arrangement for Jesus and His bride, His church, is further revealed to John to emphasize this glorious realty. –
And immediately I was in the spirit and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and One sat upon the throne (verse 2).
John has instantly been transported out of his dreary, earthly surroundings to be encapsulated with the ecstasy of being in the presence of God; the full presence of joy, peace and love that is no longer shrouded, veiled or hindered by an earthly existence.
To some, John’s sudden airlift into heaven represents the rapture of the church, but the phrase “come up here” is used here to link him to the remnant church in Chapter Eleven (11:12) that will ultimately be raptured in the future. John who is a similitude of the bride, still has work to do. He is seen in Chapter Ten being commissioned to share the Gospel during the warning period of the Trumpets that precedes the great tribulation which is unleashed in Chapter Fourteen, “the hour of His judgment” (14:7)
John’s calling up into heaven represents a change in the way he is to begin receiving his instructions. Previously he was being told directly what to convey to the seven churches. Now John is going to be receiving his messages in symbolic visions. He has been elevated to another level of revelation.
We resume our place with John at the foot of God’s throne and we are enthralled with this awesome view of our Creator. John attempts to convey the glory he is witnessing within the limited container of mere words.
And He that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone:…
Here John is seeing God as two distinct jewels, jasper and a sardine. Both of these stones are from the same family of quartz known as chalcedony.
Jasper comes in many colors, but there is one type of jasper called crystallius, which is clear as crystal. Revelation 21:11 describes the glory of God which is the light of the Bride, the New Jerusalem “like a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.” So we can assume that this type of jasper was the similitude of God that John was beholding.
The second stone is a sardine which comes in two types, a carnelian which is a translucent form of quartz ranging in color from a flesh colored yellow to a deep red. The Holman Bible translates sardine here as carnelian. The blood red varieties of this stone were greatly valued for engravings and seals.
So in this vision of the throne of God, we see Him portrayed symbolically as a great crystal jasper with possibly a deep, blood red translucent carnelian centered within the clarity of the jasper, like a heart perhaps, or a soul.
In the previous chapter, John was told by Jesus that He is – “set down with My Father in His throne”
(Rev. 3:21).” John also tells us in the first chapter of his Gospel that Jesus “is in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18). Can we conclude that John is seeing Jesus in the bosom of the Father, represented by the flesh colored carnelian stone? “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30).
John continues to relate what he is seeing. –
…and there was a rainbow round the throne in sight like unto an emerald (verse 3).
We are now seeing a third jewel, a green emerald, and I assume because of the comparison to a rainbow, John is witnessing a variety of shades of dazzling green; the color that symbolizes life, that can also represent His Holy, life-giving Spirit. God, who is the giver of all life, radiates life from His throne in a glorious display of the vibrant color He has chosen to adorn the vegetation upon His earthy footstool.
We are beholding with John a scene of incredible beauty that is bulging within the container of John’s limited vocabulary. We can at best, continue to marvel at this scene within the gift of our imaginations where words are not required.
And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold (verse 4).
I am sure that at least twelve of those elders are saints from the Old Testament. I can’t presume to know exactly who they are. I know Moses, Joshua, Abraham, Enoch, Elijah and Elisha, would certainly be qualified to have these seats of honor before the throne of God. The other twelve could also be the apostles of our Lord, who are also listed as the foundation of the church, the New Jerusalem pictured for us in Chapter Twenty-one, verse fourteen.
Imagine John’s astonishment as he sees himself sitting with the other elders, God’s chosen elite leadership, positioned before the God they have so loved and served in their earthy lifetimes. John is now being shown his front row seat to the spectacular. This is also a point to contemplate as we study the divine seating arrangements of heaven; the bride of Jesus is promised a position of intimacy in God’s as we have previously been shown. While we see from John’s vison that the elders are seated before the throne, their spirits which have been united with God by His Holy Spirit through His Son, are intimately joined to the Father which also places their souls in that same place shared by Jesus and His bride, His entire faithful church.
We would expect that in the presence of God we would hear wonderful music, yet what John hears are sounds.
And out of the throne proceeded lightenings and thunderings and voices…
As God fell upon Mount Sinai and burnt its peak with His fire in order to reveal to His people His authority, we see a similarity in this display before John. God is declaring His power over all of His creation.
Around the throne we were shown the elders and I see them forming a half circle of twelve on either side. Now John tells us what occupies the space directly before the throne. –
…and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God (verse 5).
The Scriptures tell us that God is one Spirit – (John 4:24, Deut. 6:4). However, because He is omnipresent He has the ability to operate as more than one. "And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh" ( Joel 2:28).
In order for God to pour out His Spirit upon everyone at the same time, multiples of His Spirit are distributed like raindrops from one central Source. We see this principle illustrated for us in the second chapter of Acts. The Holy Spirit descended as multiple tongues of fire upon the heads of the one hundred and twenty believers and apostles of the Lord at the same time. –
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them ( Acts 2:1-3).
The one Spirit of God the Father is bestowed in individual portions upon each believer because God is the God of the individual.
The seven lamps made their initial debut in Zechariah 4:2. The prophet sees a vision of seven lamps and in verse ten we are told that the lamps are "the eyes of the Lord which run to and fro through the whole earth." Plural eyes represent God’s omnipresent Holy Spirit. One eye can see in one place, two eyes can see more and many eyes can see all over the place! The seven spirits here in Revelation 4:5, are also called “eyes” in Rev. 5:6.
The fire of the Holy Spirit is also sometimes manifested and used in conjunction symbolically with plural eyes. In Ezekiel’s vision we see cloud and fire, both elements that are used to represent the Holy Spirit, manifesting with the plural eyes that were on the wheels (Ezekiel 1:4, 1:18).
In the book of Daniel, Chapter Ten verses five and six, the eyes of the “man clothed in linen” (Who is sometimes viewed as a similitude of Christ) are likened to “lamps of fire.”
Therefore we conclude that the seven lamps (eyes) before God’s throne represent His omnipresent Holy Spirit.
John continues to relate to us what he sees.
And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal:…..
The crystal sea is mentioned again in Chapter Fifteen, verse two, where we see that it is “mingled” with fire during the devastations that are being released upon the beast’s kingdom. This makes me wonder if that sea is a magnifying lens that enables those from heaven’s domain to view what is transpiring upon the earth?
…..and round about the throne were four beasts full of eyes before and behind (verse 6).
I believe that these beasts represent creation and the plural eyes that cover their bodies are again representative of the omnipresent Holy Spirit. We are being shown that God sees all of His creation and there is nothing that can be hidden from His view.
And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle (verse 7).
All four of these beasts are also symbols used in astrology, with the eagle being a higher form of Scorpio. Pagan man worships creation, and allows himself to be guided by the stars instead of God’s Word. So here we see the objects of man’s worship, worshipping the Truth. –
And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come’ (verse 8).
A vision contained in second Ezra in the Apocrypha describes an eagle with multiple wings and Ezra is told that those wings represent nations. Therefore, the multiple wings on these beasts could symbolize the people of many nations that have submitted themselves to God through His Son.
Previously we saw that the eyes adorned the beasts outwardly, now we see that they have eyes within. This interior vision enables creation to see beyond the outer, visible world and gives insight to the reality of God. When we see who God truly is, all that is good, right, perfect and precious, the natural response can only be unending worship. This is the place where all that is created finds fulfillment.
One of the pastors I met had this insight. These creatures are continually seeing a different aspect of God. Each new revelation produces an exclamation of “holy” that will continue throughout eternity, for there is no end of the glory and revelations of the Almighty they are beholding; the God who fills the past, inhabits the present and is our future.
The creatures continue their praise and…
And when those beasts give glory and honor and thanks to Him that sat upon the throne, who lives forever and ever, (verse 9).
The sight and sound of these representatives of all creation worshipping before the throne inspires the following response from the elders. –
The four and twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne saying, (verse 10).
Overcome by the atmosphere of adoration God’s creation is inspiring, these ones who occupy the highest positons in God’s kingdom are overwhelmed again with the humility of being in the presence of One so great. Knowing nothing they have done in their own strength has earned them these golden crowns of reward, they are cast at the feet of the One who has worked in their lives to earn them for them. The only thing that they can claim as their own before God is their submission to Him illustrated by their place on their faces before His majesty.
You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for you have created all things, and for Your pleasure they are and were created (verse 11).
Praise here is inspired by the recognition that God is the Creator of all, and is the source of all life and goodness and is worthy to be praised. The earth and the heavens are not accidents, they were planned and designed on the drawing board of God’s love. You and I, and the beautiful planet God has given us to enjoy, were made to give God pleasure and it is God’s pleasure to give. He is love, (I John 4:8) and love cannot be true love unless it is giving. God bestows His blessings upon His creatures because it gives Him great pleasure to do so.
It is so sad that the majority of humankind it seems, has not recognized this fact about our Creator and instead races off on its own away from Him toward the dark abyss of their own creation. God’s love however, never ceases to try and woo them back. And thus after we have witnessed the glory and perfection of God in this first vision in the throne room, we proceed to witness the affirmation of God’s love in His provision for man’s salvation illustrated for us in part two of John’s amazing record of his sojourn in heaven in Revelation's Chapter Five.
To be continued....
copyright 2016 by H.D. Shively
Revelation Chapters Two and Three | Revelation Chapter Five
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