Morning Bible Study
Last week we
made a transition from the age of the church, described in chapters 2-3, into
the time of the future. John becomes a picture of
the church as he experiences a sort of “Rapture”:
these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And
the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me,
saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after
From this verse
on, we have been transported with John into a time that could start tomorrow, into
a place known as heaven.
4:2-7 The Throne Room
:2 Immediately I was in the Spirit;
:2 in the Spirit
– pneuma – spirit
There is no definite article (“the”) in the Greek.
It could indeed
refer to the Holy Spirit (capital “S”), that John was transported by the Holy
Spirit to heaven.
I think it
refers to John’s own human spirit.
John is describing a literal “out of body” experience where John’s spirit
is caught up into heaven.
John has been “transported” into heaven, with the date and time
synchronized to what takes place after the age of the church.
There is a reason John is caught up “in the spirit”, and not in his “flesh”
15:50–53 NKJV) —50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit
the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell 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 trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the
dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible
must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
Our physical bodies are incapable of living in heaven.
If you had been
able to hitch a ride on the last Space Shuttle up to the International Space
Station, and had managed to find your way into the airlock without a space suit,
when you activated the airlock, you would not survive.
Why? Because your body is not
designed for space.
Your body is also not designed for heaven.
To visit heaven, you either need to go “in the spirit”, or
get a new body (like in the Rapture).
(Jn 4:24 NKJV) God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
John is now literally “in the spirit”.
Our worship of God is what comes out of our “spirit”. We
can raise our hands, sing at the top of our lungs, stand on our feet, but true
worship is what comes from the inside, from the spirit. It may be expressed outwardly with our
bodies, but it all starts on the inside.
:2 and behold,
a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.
:2 a throne set in
This is the throne of God the Father.
This is the same
throne that Moses built a model of at Mount Sinai. (Heb. 8:5)
The Tabernacle in the wilderness contained within it a model of this very
same throne room, known as the “holy of holies”.
The model of
the actual throne itself was called the “mercy seat”, the solid gold lid to the
Ark of the Covenant.
(Ex 25:17–22 NKJV) —17 “You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold;
two and a half cubits shall be its length and a cubit and a half its
width. 18 And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make
them at the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 Make one cherub at one end, and the other
cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim at the two ends of it of
one piece with the mercy seat. 20 And the cherubim shall stretch out their
wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and they shall face one
another; the faces of the cherubim shall be toward the mercy seat. 21 You shall put
the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony
that I will give you. 22 And there I will meet with you, and I will
speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are
on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment
to the children of Israel.
Here in John’s vision of heaven, you are going to see the “mercy seat” and
:2 One sat
on the throne
There is no Greek word for “one” here.
It’s understood as part of “sat” (aorist participle), a “sitting
Person”, a “sitting One”, the “sitter” is God.
God is still on the throne
The throne isn’t vacant.
God is still in charge.
Sometimes our lives get kind of crazy.
It seems at times that the whole world is falling apart.
have a loved one who in a health crisis (or perhaps its you)
The economy of
our country is very, very difficult.
Jobs are hard to find. California
is no longer the state everybody is moving to, it’s the state that everybody is
I’ve been watching
marriages and relationships within the church go through some great
We begin to wonder where God is.
He’s still on
His throne. (read this together…)
46:1–5 NKJV) —1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in
trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the
mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though its waters roar and be
troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah 4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place
of the tabernacle of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of her, she
shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
In the book of Revelation, we haven’t even seen the start yet of the worst
Yet through it all, God is still on the throne.
You don’t need to be afraid if you know God.
1871, Horatio Spafford, a wealthy Chicago businessman, lost most of his worldly
possessions in the famous
In the autumn of 1873, Spafford placed his wife, Anna, and their four
children on the Ville
du Havre sailing from New York to France. He was forced to stay in the
United States for several more weeks to settle some business matters before he
could journey to join the family in Europe.
The evening of November 21 the Ville du Havre was making its way
peacefully towards France when in the middle of the night it was suddenly rammed by
another vessel, the Lochearn.
Spafford’s wife survived, but all of the children were lost at sea. Spafford heard of the shipwreck but didn’t
know the fate of his family.
A cable arrived from Wales stating that the four daughters were lost at
sea, but his wife was still alive. He was crushed with what had happened. All
night he walked the floor in anguish. Toward the morning he turned to his
friend, Major Whittle, and said, “I am glad to trust the Lord when it will cost
On the way across the Atlantic to join his wife, the captain announced that
they were now passing the place where the Ville du Havre was wrecked. This
is what Spafford wrote that day …
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should
Let this blessed assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
Beloved, as hard as things are for some of you, the truth is, God is still on the
throne. Things may seem like they are
falling apart, but God is our strength.
:3 And He who
sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance;
:3 like … in
The language that John is using is telling us that he’s trying his best to
describe in words what is in actuality indescribable.
(1 Co 2:9
NKJV) But as it
is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the
heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
This One that John is describing isn’t literally made of these stones, but
he’s describing it the best that he can.
:3 a jasper and a sardius
In John’s description, he is combining “jasper” and “sardius”, not as
separate qualities, but as describing the same thing, literally, “like in appearance of a stone of jasper and
were considered precious gems and could be red in color.
Both stones are
found in the breastplate worn by the Jewish High Priest.
Both stones are
part of the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem.
When John describes the light of New Jerusalem, he compares it to a jasper
stone, but the stone in heaven is “clear as crystal” (Rev. 21:11)
NKJV) …Her light was
like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.
I wonder if John is seeing some sort of a reddish light show from the
throne. Paul writes about God:
(1 Ti 6:16
NKJV) who alone
has immortality, dwelling in
unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be
honor and everlasting power. Amen.
(1 Jn 1:5
NKJV) This is
the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness
Light speaks of God’s purity and goodness. You can trust Him.
and the fourth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper. They shall be set in
the second row shall be a turquoise, a sapphire, and
:3 and there was
a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.
– iris – a rainbow
The word “iris”
is used to describe the colored part of your eyeball around the pupil.
We think of
colors and half a circle, but this is a full circle, a one color rainbow.
There have been others like Ezekiel, who have had glimpses of heaven like
NKJV) Like the
appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance
of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness
of the glory of the Lord.
This rainbow is the “glory” of God.
:3 an emerald
– smaragdinos – of emerald
emerald was a stone in the high
priest's breastplate (Ex.28:17).
was also a foundation stone in the
city New Jerusalem (Rev.21:19).
We think of a
rainbow in terms of a band of colors. This one is green.
:4 Around the
throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four
thrones are set up in a circle around God’s throne
– presbuteros (Presbyterian) – elder,
of age; rank or office
The word is used to describe the leaders of Israel (Mt. 15:2) as well as the leaders
of the church (1Tim. 5:17).
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!”
Who are they?
2) The church
3) Rulers of OT
and NT saints
Twelve tribes +
Note: Unlike other elements of Revelation 4-5,
the elders do not appear in any of the other visions of heaven. (like Isaiah’s
This could be because John's vision takes place after the resurrection of
Jesus and after the Rapture of the church.
At the resurrection, Jesus took the righteous OT saints to
By the time of the rapture, all the NT saints will be in
heaven as well.
All other prior visions of heaven took place before the
:4 clothed in white
robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads.
:4 white robes
We’ve already seen that white
robes speak of good deeds. (Rev.
These “elders” are men who have walked the walk. They aren’t just men who say nice things, but
do nice things.
– stephanos – the wreath or garland
which was given as a prize in games
To the overcomer in the persecuted church of Smyrna, Jesus promises:
NKJV) … Be
faithful until death, and I will give you the
crown of life.
To the outreach church of Philadelphia, Jesus warns:
NKJV) Behold, I
am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.
To the church of Laodicea, Jesus counseled:
NKJV) I counsel
you to buy from Me gold refined in the
These 24 elders had golden crowns.
If I understand correctly, these are not cheap little costume props. These
crowns are rewards
that were earned through much difficulty, through much fire.
These crowns are prized possessions.
Keep this in mind next week w/vs. 10.
:5 And from the
throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices.
thunderings, and voices
I believe John is seeing and hearing God at work.
(Ps 29:3–9 NKJV) —3 The voice of the Lord is
over the waters; The God of glory thunders; The Lord is over 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 breaks
the cedars, Yes, the Lord
splinters the cedars of Lebanon. 6 He makes them also skip like a calf,
Lebanon and Sirion like a young wild ox. 7 The voice of the Lord divides the flames of fire. 8 The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; The Lord shakes the Wilderness of Kadesh. 9 The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth, And
strips the forests bare; And in His temple everyone says, “Glory!”
How does God work? With His “voice”. Thunder.
Answers to prayer
God plans, speaks, and works all on His own. He is the Creator. He is the Lord of all. He is sovereign.
But God also responds to our prayers.
Like those before the throne.
Elijah was in a
sort of showdown with the prophets of Baal.
The test was to see who was really God.
Was it Baal or was it Yahweh?
The prophets of Baal yelled loudly, jumped up and down, and even cut
themselves, but there was no answer.
Elijah took his turn and offered a simple prayer:
(1 Ki 18:36–39
NKJV) —36 And it came to pass, at the time of
the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near
and said, “Lord God
of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God
in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these
things at Your word. 37 Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are
the Lord God, and that You
have turned their hearts back to You again.” 38 Then the fire of
the Lord fell and consumed the
burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the
water that was in the trench. 39 Now when all the people saw it,
they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord,
He is God! The Lord, He is
God answered with lightning. Later God answered Elijah with rain.
Elijah was no different than us.
(Jas 5:16–18 NKJV) —16 Confess your trespasses to one
another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective,
fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like
ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the
land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave
rain, and the earth produced its fruit.
God answers prayer.
Grow in prayer. Learn to pray
It takes time to grow in prayer and trust. We have lessons to learn.
:5 Seven lamps
of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of
:5 seven lamps …
We’ve already talked about this with Rev. 1:4; 3:1.
The “seven Spirits” is a way of describing the Holy Spirit.
describes seven attributes of the Holy Spirit.
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.
– lampas – a torch; a lamp, the flame
of which is fed with oil
In Revelation 1,
John saw Jesus walking among “lamp stands”, which Jesus told us was the churches, us. (Rev. 1:20)
Here we see the
actual “flame” of the lamp.
We are the lamp stands. The Holy Spirit is the fire of the lamp.
God is not far away.
We can look at Revelation and think that God and heaven are just too far
Yet the actual fire for the lamp is put inside of us when we believe.
Jesus told His followers that one day the Holy Spirit would be IN them.
14:16–17 NKJV) —16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper,
that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot
receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He
dwells with you and will
be in you.
Paul says the Holy Spirit is our promise, our “taste” of heaven:
1:13–14 NKJV) … you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the
guarantee of our inheritance…
The help of God is right around the corner.
A corner that I must turn.
The Message) A Message
from the high and towering God, who lives in Eternity, whose name is Holy: “I live in the high and holy places, but also with the low-spirited,
the spirit-crushed, And what I do is put new spirit in them, get them
up and on their feet again.
He not only sits on a lofty throne, but He's near to us when we are broken
hearted. He’s near when we are humble.
Let the Oil of
God fill your lamp. Let the Fire burn in
He’s closer than you think.