Revelation 4:2-5

Sunday Morning Bible Study

September 25, 2011


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

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”:

(Re 4:1 NKJV) After 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 this.”

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 Immediatelyeutheos – straightway, immediately, forthwith

:2 I wasginomai – to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being

:2 in the Spiritpneuma – 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 used the exact same phrase back in chapter one before seeing this vision of Jesus walking among the lampstands.

(Re 1:10 NKJV) I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet,
We talked then about the possibility that this was describing a “spiritual” experience, where John was transported to the Day of the Lord.

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” –

(1 Co 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).

Jesus said,

(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 heaven

This is the throne of God the Father.

We are going to see Jesus in this scene in chapter 5
(Re 5:6 NKJV) —6 And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain…
In a few moments we will see the Holy Spirit within John’s account.

This is the same throne that Moses built a model of at Mount Sinai. (Heb. 8:5)

(Heb 8:5 NKJV) —5 who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”
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 the “cherubim”.

:2 setkeimai – to lie; of things that quietly cover some spot; of things put or set in any place, in ref. to which we often use “to stand”; of vessels, of a throne, of the site of a city, of grain and other things laid up together, of a foundation

:2 satkathemai – to sit, be seated, of a place occupied

: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.
Perhaps you 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 fleeing from.
I’ve been watching marriages and relationships within the church go through some great difficulties.
We begin to wonder where God is.
He’s still on His throne. (read this together…)
(Ps 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 of times.
Yet through it all, God is still on the throne.

You don’t need to be afraid if you know God.

In October, 1871, Horatio Spafford, a wealthy Chicago businessman, lost most of his worldly possessions in the famous Chicago fire.
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 me something.”
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 come,
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 sight,
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 appearance

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 He who sat – same phrase as verse 2, “the Sitter”, the “Sitting One”

:3 likehomoios – like, similar, resembling

The “Sitting One” was not made of jasper and sardius, but was “like” these stones in some manner.

:3 in appearancehorasis – the act of seeing; appearance, visible form

This is a word that is built on the word to “see”.  John is “seeing” this person.

The whole description that John gives us is meant to be a visual description.

In a sense, words don’t do justice to what John is seeing, but he’s giving an attempt at describing it.

Paul apparently had an experience himself where he was “caught up” into heaven, and “heard” things that he was not allowed to repeat.

(2 Co 12:2–4 NKJV) —2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

We’re not going to get crystal clear 1080p HD picture of what John saw, but he’s going to try.

: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 sardius”

Both stones 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)

(Re 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.
John wrote,
(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 at all.

Light speaks of God’s purity and goodness.  You can trust Him.

:3 jasperiaspis – jasper

Jasper is a precious silica based stone that can come in various colors, depending on the location where it was formed.

It is commonly found in the colors red, yellow, brown, green, and sometimes blue.

It can be highly polished and was used to make vases, seals, or snuff boxes.

The light of New Jerusalem is compared to that of a jasper stone, but the stone in heaven is “clear as crystal” (Rev. 21:11)

(Re 21:11 NKJV) …Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.

Jasper is listed as one of the elements in the walls of New Jerusalem as well as one of the foundation stones. (Rev. 21:18,19)

(Re 21:18–19 NKJV) —18 The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald,

Jasper is one of the stones found in the Jewish High Priest’s breastplate. (Ex. 28:17-20)

(Ex 28:17–20 NKJV) —17 And you shall put settings of stones in it, four rows of stones: The first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and an emerald; this shall be the first row; 18 the second row shall be a turquoise, a sapphire, and a diamond; 19 the third row, a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; 20 and the fourth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper. They shall be set in gold settings.

:3 sardiussardinos – a sardius

Also known as carnelian, it is also a silica based stone, opaque, with varying shades of red. 

It was also found in the High Priest’s breastplate. (Ex. 28:17)

(Ex 28:17–20 NKJV) —17 And you shall put settings of stones in it, four rows of stones: The first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and an emerald; this shall be the first row; 18 the second row shall be a turquoise, a sapphire, and a diamond; 19 the third row, a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; 20 and the fourth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper. They shall be set in gold settings.

It too is found in the foundation stones of New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:20)

(Re 21:20 NKJV) —20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.

:3 and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.

:3 rainbowiris – 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 John did.

Moses and the Israelite elders did. (Ex. 24)
Micaiah the prophet did (1Kings 22:19-23)
Isaiah did (Is. 6)
Daniel did (Dan. 7)
(Eze 1:28 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 aroundkuklothen – round about, from all sides, all around

Could this possibly be describing a spherical rainbow, like a green bubble around the throne?

:3 likehomoios – like, similar, resembling

:3 in appearancehorasis – the act of seeing; appearance, visible form

:3 an emeraldsmaragdinos – of emerald

A translucent green mineral made famous for us by Dorothy’s city.

The emerald was a stone in the high priest's breastplate (Ex.28:17).

It 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 elders sitting,

:4 aroundkuklothen – round about, from all sides, all around

:24 twenty-four thrones

These 24 thrones are set up in a circle around God’s throne

perhaps around the “rainbow”.

:4 sittingkathemai – to sit, be seated, of a place occupied

:4 twenty-four elders

:4 elderspresbuteros (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?

1) Angelic beings
2) The church
3) Rulers of OT and NT saints
Twelve tribes + twelve apostles
Note: Unlike other elements of Revelation 4-5, the elders do not appear in any of the other visions of heaven. (like Isaiah’s or Ezekiel’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 heaven.

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 resurrection.

:4 clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads.

:4 clothedperiballo – to throw around, to put around; of garments, to clothe one

:4 white robes

We’ve already seen that white robes speak of good deeds. (Rev. 2:18; 19:8)

These “elders” are men who have walked the walk.  They aren’t just men who say nice things, but do nice things.

We’ve already seen this in the letter to the Laodiceans

(Re 3:18 NKJV) I counsel you to buy from Me …white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed …

White robes speak of the good deeds that these individuals have done.

(Re 19:8 NKJV) And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

:4 crownsstephanos – the wreath or garland which was given as a prize in games

To the overcomer in the persecuted church of Smyrna, Jesus promises:

(Re 2:10 NKJV) … Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

To the outreach church of Philadelphia, Jesus warns:

(Re 3:11 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:

(Re 3:18 NKJV) I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire

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.

:5 proceededekporeuomai – to go forth, go out, depart

:5 lightningsastrape – lightning; of the gleam of a lamp

:5 thunderingsbronte – thunder

:5 voicesphone – a sound, a tone; a voice; speech

:5 lightnings, 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.  Voices.


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!”
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 “fervently”.

It takes time to grow in prayer and trust.  We have lessons to learn.

PlayTrust Fall

:5 Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

:5 seven lamps … seven Spirits

We’ve already talked about this with Rev. 1:4; 3:1.

Jesus mentioned the seven Spirits when writing to the dead church, Sardis. (Rev. 3:1)

(Re 1:4 NKJV) —4 John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,
(Re 3:1 NKJV) —1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.

The “seven Spirits” is a way of describing the Holy Spirit.

Isaiah 11:2 describes seven attributes of the Holy Spirit.
(Is 11:2 NKJV) —2 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.

:5 lampslampas – 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.

(Re 1:20 NKJV) —20 The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.
The word used there (luchnia) speaks of the stand, the candelabrum that holds the lamp.
1:13 lampstandsluchnia – a (candlestick) lamp stand, candelabrum
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 away.
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.
(Jn 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:
(Eph 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.
(Is 57:15 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 the lampstand.
He’s closer than you think.