Revelation 4:58

Wednesday Night Bible Study

February 26, 1997

Introduction

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 be spending a lot of time in heaven, so we might as well find out what we have up ahead!

So far, we've seen:

God's throne.

God was like a clear, reddish light upon the throne.

There was a greenish halo ("rainbow") around the throne.

Around the throne were 24 littler thrones, with 24 elders sitting on them (possibly representative of the leaders of God's people in heaven).

The 24 elders had white clothes and golden crowns.

4:1-11 The Throne of God

: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.

Psalm 29:3-5 The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters. 4 The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. 5 The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.

Lesson:

God is speaking, are you listening?

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

This appears to be, 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?

Jesus told the story of the virgins who were waiting for the coming of the bridegroom.

They all had their lamps, and waited late into the night, for His arrival.

But when they heard Him coming, the foolish virgins realized their lamps had gone out, and they didn't have any more oil.

They ended up missing out on the grooms arrival.

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?

Illustration

Charles Spurgeon used to tell something like this to his students concerning the secret of having people come to your church:

"Just get the preacher on fire, and the people will come to watch him burn!"

:5 which are the seven Spirits of God.

Two suggestions here:

It's most commonly felt that this refers to the Holy Spirit.

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;

I wonder, could it be the seven angels who will be blowing trumpets later on? (don't put too much into this idea, it's just a suggestion see Acts 17:11)

(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. (Heb. 8:5)

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

These four beings are surrounding the throne of God.

:6 were four beasts

Beasts - zoon - a living being

Isaiah refers to these beings as "seraphim" (Isa 6:2)

Ezekiel also had a vision of these same beings, but adds a bit more detail:

(Ezek 1:4-14 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. {5} Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. {6} And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.

John records that they have one face and six wings, but this is simply a matter of perspective.

{7} And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. {8} And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. {9} Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward.

They are joining wings with each other, encircling the throne.

{10} As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.

John records the same four faces, but doesn't realize that each cherub has all four faces, he only sees one side of each of the cherubim.

{11} Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.

It's possible that there are two more under the two covering the body.

{12} And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went. {13} As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. {14} And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.

Later on in his writings, Ezekiel refers to the same creatures, and identifies them with a name:

Eze 10:15 And the cherubims were lifted up. This is the living creature that I saw by the river of Chebar.

Actually, the King James is a little awkward, a single being is a "cherub", more than one are "cherubim" (not cherubims).

Background note:

The Jewish rabbis has names for these four beings around God's throne:

Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael

(Bemidbar Rabba, sect 2. fol. 179. 1. Vid. Pirke Eliezer, c. 4.)

These are the same beings that were a part of the design of the tabernacle (and the temple):

Exodus 25:17-22 And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. 18 And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. 20 And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. 21 And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. 22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

Moses was to meet with God "between the two cherubim", on God's throne.

Lesson:

Come to the throne.

God wants to meet us too at His throne.

(Heb 4:15-16 KJV) For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. {16} Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Moses calls it a "mercy seat", Hebrews calls it a "throne of grace", it's all God's throne.

Jesus understands our needs, and when we come to the throne, we will find help, not condemnation.

:6 full of eyes before and behind.

These living creatures were literally covered with eyes.

Ezekiel records:

Eze 10:12 And their whole body, and their backs, and their hands, and their wings, and the wheels, were full of eyes round about, even the wheels that they four had.

What does this mean?

It means that they see a lot going on.

It means that they probably understand a lot of things.

But I'm not sure this necessarily goes beyond where they are physically located.

They see what God is doing.

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.

Some have suggested that these beings are pictures of the four gospels:

Matthew - the face of a man - he begins his Gospel with the genealogy of Christ, as man

Mark - by the lion - he begins his Gospel with the voice of one crying in the wilderness

Luke - by the ox - he begins his Gospel with an account of Zacharias the priest, offering in the temple

John - by the eagle - he begins his Gospel, the first face or leaf of it, in a very high style, and with the divinity of Christ:

Others see it differently:

Matthew - Jesus as the Lion of the tribe of Judah

Mark - Jesus as the ox, the servant of Jehovah

Luke - Jesus as the man, the human Jesus

John - Jesus as the eagle, the Son of God

Problem:

There's no need to see these beings as representative of anything but themselves.

Ezekiel clearly identifies them as the cherubim around the throne.

Also, Ezekiel clarifies that each being has the same four faces, so this kind of blows the idea away of each creature being a separate gospel.

These beings aren't representative of anything but themselves, they are the cherubim.

Note:

As we've seen already, Ezekiel is able to see all sides of these beings, and records that each being has the four different faces.

Ezekiel also records that when the creatures move, they don't ever turn, after all, if they've got eyes all around, why turn to watch where you're going?

Apparently John is only able to see one side of the beings, and so records that each being has a different face.

What do these qualities represent?

We can only speculate:

Gill: their strength may be fitly expressed by "the lion"; their indefatigableness in the service of God, by "the ox": their wisdom, prudence, and knowledge, by "the face of a man"; and their swiftness in obeying the divine commands by "the flying eagle"

B.W. Johnson: These angelic intelligences represent the courage of the lion, the patient strength of the ox, the intellect of the man, and the swiftness of the eagle.

Actually, why do they need to represent anything?

:8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him

Though Ezekiel only saw four wings on each being, Isaiah agrees with John, in that they each had six wings (Is.6:2)

:8 and they were full of eyes within

We mentioned this back in verse 6.

This ability to see all, would apparently include the One who is on the throne.

I would suggest that the very things they see about God are what's causing them to speak out like they do.

Lesson:

The better you know God, the more you'll worship.

:8 and they rest not day and night, saying,

rest - anapausis - intermission, cessation of any motion

In other words, these guys never, ever take a break from what they're doing.

All day long, all night long, these cherubim are crying this out.

Lesson:

Worship is important.

There are some people who claim that they don't want to go to heaven, because all you do in heaven is sit around and worship God.

This is incorrect on several points:

First, we'll be doing a lot more than worshipping God all the time, that's the job of the cherubim.

Second, if worshipping God seems boring, it's only because

The person doesn't understand who God really is, and

They don't realize just who it is they're talking about.

They don't understand how awesome worship is.

If you're never opened your spiritual eyes and found yourself in God's presence, then you don't know what I'm talking about.

When you find yourself before God, you realize that you MUST worship Him.

:8 Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

An important part of worship is having correct theology. Worship is more than just saying "I love You, God". That's the ultimate result, but worship starts by having a correct understanding of who God is, who you are worshiping.

Lesson:

Know the God you worship

1. Holy

God's purity.

God is not like us. If we're not careful, and we've stopped growing in knowing Him better, we can tend to "anthropomorphicize" God. We start attributing our human qualities to Him.

Be careful:

God does not think lustful thoughts, God does not get mad at people on the freeway, God does not talk about people behind their back, God does not enjoy everything on TV (if any), God does not go to "R" rated movies (willingly)

We need to remember Nadab and Abihu. (Leviticus 10)

Nadab and Abihu got toasted because they didn't see the difference between themselves and God. They had been tipping the bottle a little and came rushing into God's presence as if it didn't matter. Be careful!

(Lev 10:3 KJV) Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified (treated as holy) in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.

2. Lord

Does He have control of your life?

Jesus said,

(Luke 6:46 KJV) And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

You can't call Him Lord if you don't obey Him.

Worship involves LORDSHIP. Is He your master?

How can you offer up true worship when you hold back a part of your life?

3. Almighty (Ps.91)

:8 pantokrator - (pas, all, every, of every kind, krateo, to be strong, mighty, to rule, be master, prevail) almighty; all powerful

In the midst of our hardest trials, we need to remember that God is all powerful. He is able to deliver us.

There is nothing He can't do!

Psalms 91:1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

4. Eternal and Unchanging

Lit., "who was continually in the past, who is continually now, and who is continually coming."

Three observations:

He has a great track record. (He was)

We can depend on Him, He'll be there. (He is)

He knows the path ahead. (He is to come)

Why is it we run to all these other things for help, when He's there?

We put all this trust in doctors and psychologists who have maybe 20, maybe even 40 years of experience and knowledge.

But what's that compared to God?

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.