Revelation 4:26

Wednesday Night Bible Study

February 19, 1997

Introduction

As we've mentioned before, according to Rev. 1:19, the book of Revelation is divided into three sections:

    1. The things which John saw (chapter 1)
    2. The things which are (chapters 2,3)
    3. The things which shall be after these things (chapters 4-22)

We see chapter four as being the things that take place after the age of the church on the earth.

John is called up into heaven to see what will take place, a picture of the church being raptured before the Tribulation.

What John now is going to experience is heaven itself.

We're going to kind of take our time looking at this.

After all, we're going to be spending a lot of time in heaven, so we might as well find out what we have up ahead!

4:1-11 The Throne of God

:1 Come up hither

Last week we looked at the Rapture of the church, and how John is a picture of the church being taken to heaven before the events of the Tribulation begin.

:2 And immediately I was in the spirit

John used the same language back in:

Re 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,

In contrast to what happened in chapter one, this time John is transported "in the spirit" to heaven.

This sounds like the rapture:

(1 Cor 15:50-53 KJV) Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. {51} Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, {52} In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. {53} For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

See also 1Thess. 4:16-17.

Flesh and blood cannot enter into heaven, so John is transported "in the spirit".

:2 and, behold, a throne was set in heaven

It's around this throne that all the activity is going to go on in the next couple of chapters.

This is the throne of God the Father.

We're going to see Jesus later on in this scene, described as "a Lamb as it had been slain" (Rev. 5:6)

As we've talked before, there's a parallel between the tabernacle, and heaven.

The tabernacle that Moses built was supposed to be a kind of model of heaven. (Heb.8:5)

This throne is the same as the "mercy seat" in the tabernacle (Ex.25:7).

:2 one sat on the throne.

God is simply described as "one sat on the throne"

John is going to be very vague about what he sees, because what he sees is very vague.

He doesn't describe seeing a "man" on the throne, contrary to Mormon theology.

The best we could describe it is that John sees a bunch of multi-colored light.

God is a Spirit.

(John 4:24 KJV) God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Isn't it interesting that John is now "in the spirit"?

Paul writes:

(1 Tim 6:16 KJV) Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.

Lesson:

God is still on His throne.

He reigns.

We serve a living King.

We serve the Ruler of the Universe.

:3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone

Again, what John is describing is something like a multicolored light.

There is some difficulty in getting too precise with these stones mentioned by John, many different cultures over the centuries use the same names for various types of stones.

Jasper -

iaspis - jasper, a precious stone which could possibly come in different colors (purple, green, brass color), though in Revelation it is described as being "clear as crystal" (Rev.21:11).

This word in the NT is unique to Revelation (four times), we don't have other places to compare it to.

The light of New Jerusalem is compared to that of a jasper stone (21:11), clear as crystal.

The walls of New Jerusalem are built of jasper (21:18).

Jasper is listed as the first of the twelve precious stones used in making the foundation of New Jerusalem (21:19).

The jasper stone was the last stone of twelve found in the breastplate of the high priest (Ex.28:20)

sardine stone (or, sardius stone)

This one we can peg down a little better.

The sardius, named after the city "Sardis" where it was supposedly found, was blood red in color.

It was the first stone found in the breastplate of the high priest (Ex 28:17)

It is listed as the sixth foundation stone in New Jerusalem (Re 21:20)

:3 and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.

rainbow - the Greek word iris.

We tend to think of a rainbow in the form of an arc, perhaps as much as half of a circle.

But it appears that the picture here may not be that of an arc over the throne, but the idea of a huge circle encircling the throne.

The word could be understood as a "halo", as it is used in:

Re 10:1 And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:

emerald - smaragdinos - of emerald, made of emerald

The emerald was the fourth stone in the high priest's breastplate (Ex.228:18).

It is the fourth foundation stone in the city New Jerusalem (Rev.21:19).

The point is that this "rainbow" is greenish in color.

Summary

What John sees is this throne, with a being made of light that seems to be a mixture of clear, white light, and red light, while around the throne is this circle of green.

What does all this mean?

I don't know.

I'm not going to speculate either.

I prefer to just try to understand the visual imagery here.

Lesson:

We serve an awesome God.

I think that at times we ought to tremble a little bit when we realize we're in God's presence.

Lesson:

God is not far away.

We can look at this and think that God us just too far from us, too different from us.

(Isa 57:15 KJV) For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

He not only sits on a throne, but He's near to us when we are broken hearted.

:4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats

seats - Literally, twenty-four thrones.

These 24 thrones are set up in a circle around God's throne, perhaps around the "rainbow".

:4 upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting

elders - presbuteros - comparative of presbus (elderly); it's used not just of older folks, but of people in a leadership position, it's used of the leaders of Israel, it's used of the leaders of the church.

Missler joke: A little girl comes home from Sunday School, and her mother asks her what she learned. "I learned that all there are in heaven are 24 Presbyterians!"

:4 clothed in white raiment

I think it is helpful to realize that this is simply the clothing of heaven.

"White" is in, in heaven.

When Jesus was transfigured before the disciples, He was clothed in "white raiment" (Matt.17:2; Mark 9:3)

Those in the church of Sardis (the dead church) who overcome, are promised a reward of "white raiment" (Rev.3:4-5)

Jesus advises the lukewarm believers in Laodicea to buy from Him "white raiment" (Rev.3:18)

Those believers who are martyred during the Tribulation will be given white robes (Rev.6:9-11; 7:9-14)

The Bride of the Lamb (the church) is clothed in white linen (Rev.19:8).

The armies that follow Jesus back to earth are also clothed in white (Rev.19:14)

Lesson:

Get your clothes ready!

We're told how to obtain white clothes.

1) They are clothes that have been washed:

Re 7:14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

2) They are clothes that are made:

Re 19:8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

Other translations "righteous deeds of the saints".

As we follow Jesus, we will be doing good, righteous works.

These works are translated into clothing in heaven.

When our deeds are done for the wrong motives, they are going to be burned up.

(1 Cor 3:12-15 KJV) Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; {13} Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. {14} If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. {15} If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

:4 they had on their heads crowns of gold.

Scripture speaks of crowns being our rewards in heaven. There's a:

Crown of righteousness (2Ti 4:8)

Crown of life (Jas 1:12)

Crown of glory (1Pe 5:4)

Who are the twenty-four elders?

    1. They are angelic beings.
    2. They represent the church.
    3. They are a combination rulers among the Old Testament saints and the New Testament saints.

Twelve tribes, twelve apostles.

12+12=24

In other words, the leadership of God's saved humans.

Note:

Unlike other elements of Revelation 4-5, they do not appear in any of the other visions of heaven.

The main visions of heaven can be found in:

Isaiah 6 - Isaiah sees the Lord.

Ezekiel 1,10 - Ezekiel sees God's throne.

Daniel 7 - Daniel's vision of the Ancient of Days.

Numbers 24:10 - Moses and the seventy elders of Israel catch a brief glimpse of God.

1Kings 22:19-23 - the prophet Micaiah saw a vision of heaven, while prophesying to Ahab and Jehoshaphat.

Could this be because John's vision takes place after the Rapture?

It could also simply be because it takes place after the Resurrection, when Jesus took all the righteous saints (OT) to heaven. All NT saints go directly to heaven.

All other prior visions of heaven take place before the resurrection.

:5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices

This kind of stuff seems to follow God around:

When Moses met God on Mount Sinai -

(Exo 19:16 KJV) And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.

Ezekiel in his vision of God's throne, and the angelic beings around it:

(Ezek 1:4 KJV) And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire.

(Ezek 1:24 KJV) And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings.

This is a picture of God's majesty and awesome power.

:5 and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne

This is of course, as in Revelation 1, another glimpse of the "menorah" the lamp that was in the tabernacle (Ex.25:31).

But here we see it from another angle.

Back in Revelation 1, we saw Jesus moving among seven "lampstands", and here we see the flames that come from the lamps.

We were told in Rev. 1:20 that the lampstands were the churches.

But here, another word is used, - lampas - a torch; a lamp, the flame of which is fed with oil

The lampstands (the churches) are what hold the lamps (the flames).

It's the Spirit of God in us that makes the flame.

Lesson:

Is your lamp burning?

(Mat 25:1-13 KJV) Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. {2} And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. {3} They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: {4} But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. {5} While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. {6} And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. {7} Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. {8} And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. {9} But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. {10} And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. {11} Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. {12} But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. {13} Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

Does your lamp have plenty of oil?

Have you been allowing the Spirit of God to fill you?

Have you been "on fire" for the Lord?

:5 which are the seven Spirits of God.

Two suggestions here:

    1. It's most commonly felt that this refers to the Holy Spirit.
    2. We mentioned back in Rev.1:4

      There is a seven fold ministry of the Holy Spirit:

      Isa 11:2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;

    3. I wonder, could it be the seven angels who will be blowing trumpets later on?

(Rev 8:2 KJV) And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.

(Rev 8:6 KJV) And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

Angels are certainly spirit beings, and these ones are described as those which "stood before God".

:6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal

This too was something found in the tabernacle, the model of heaven.

When Moses built his model, it was called a "laver", a wash basin:

(Exo 30:18 KJV) Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein.

When Solomon built the temple, he upgraded it from a washbasin to a "sea".

(1 Ki 7:23 KJV) And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.

Solomon's "sea" held about 10,000 gallons.

In heaven, the "sea" isn't made of brass, it's made of glass.

It's not that it's a big pool filled with glass, it's a big pool made out of glass.

What's it for?

We'd only be speculating.

The earthly "sea" was for cleansing the priests.

I'm not sure there is cleansing needed in heaven.

Lesson:

Are you clean when you approach the throne?

The laver was for the priests to wash in before they entered the tabernacle.

We need to come to God for cleansing, confessing our sins (1Jo 1:9) before we come rushing into His presence!

:6 and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.

We're going to have to wait until next week to tackle the "beasts".