Revelation 4 Worship

May 7, 2006  Revelation 4   John’s Vision of the Throne 

            In the 1st chapter of Revelation John has a vision of Jesus Christ and in chapters 2 & 3 Jesus reveals to John His evaluation and warnings of the 7 churches.    We do not see the church again in Revelation.   We see the saints in heaven and we see the bride of Jesus as the New Jerusalem in the last chapters.   Then in chapter 4 John is shown the throne room of heaven.  In verse 1 John looked and he heard.    He heard and he saw.   Heaven is a real place.   Someday the saints will be there.  Someday we will be there.   It is a wonderful place beyond description.   John talks about the open door.  

      There are 4 open doors in Revelation.   The 1st open door is the open door that Jesus set before the church in Philadelphia.   God puts before the Christian an open door for service and to preach the gospel.   We need to look for that open door and walk through it.   In chapter 3 Jesus says behold I stand at the door and knock if any man hear my voice and open the door I will come in to him and sup with him and he with me.   This is an invitation to the lukewarm church at Laodica.   These words are often used for salvation for unbelievers but they were written to a church.   He may have written that to unbelievers in that church or perhaps to believers who were shutting him out of their life and not walking with him.   The passion of the verse is for communion and fellowship.   Jesus desires to be 1st in our lives and He desires close fellowship with believers.   In chapter 4:1 there is an open door for John to view the heavenly throne room.   This is a great and wonderful opportunity and blessing for John.   In Revelation 19 John sees heaven opened again and he saw a white horse and He who sat on him was called faithful and true and in righteousness and judgment He makes war.  That is Jesus.  Revelation is about Jesus, the throne in heaven and the final victory.

            Verse 1 says after these things I looked.   There are several visions in John but Revelation is one revelation.  It is not Revelations but Revelation.  That Revelation is made up of many visions the first is in chapter 1.   We see similar changes in chapters 4, 7, 15, 18, & 19.   Most of the following chapters have a then I saw or then I heard or after this I saw.  John has a vision of Jesus in chapter 1 and then Jesus speaks to him about the 7 churches.   Chapter 4 is like a new or different vision or his second vision.  This is an important transition.    God takes us from the churches to His throne room.   We go from earth and churches with all of their problems right into the throne room of God.   The church is blessed but the 7 churches had things to work on just like we do today. 

     I assume John was lifted into heaven because the voice said come on up.  It was John’s spirit that was lifted up.   In Revelation 1:10 John said he was in the spirit.    It’s interesting in this passage that John is told I will show you things to come.   You would expect that John would see future things.  But the 1st thing John sees is the throne and someone sitting on it who is of course the Father.   The focus is on God.      It is the Father and it is worship.   I find it fascinating that John is told you will see things that take place later.   One way to look at that is that God is still on the throne even in the end days.   That is really great.  John I am going to show you the future and the future is on the Throne.   And isn’t it interesting that is not what people seek to go to.   Typically people want to speed through this and get into all the mysteries of the last days.   Shouldn’t we caught up with the Father and with worship?    It is not the wars and famines and trials of people and Armageddon but it is a scene of worship.   In Revelation 6 they call upon the mountains and rocks to kill them but before that John is caught up in worship and majesty and glory.     It is better to be before the throne in worship then laboring over the end days.        We would have more victory and more joy in our life if we spent more time at the throne in worship.    We will worship Him for eternity.

     John is given a taste of heaven.  A taste of heaven and a taste of hell is life changing.   What he heard was the voice of Jesus and it sounded like a trumpet.  John fell before Jesus like a dead man in chapter 1 but we do not see any cleansing taking place.   In this chapter verse 2 says that he was immediately in the spirit.    It reminds us that quickly we will be transported into heaven.    He was in the spirit and transported spiritually into heaven.   Only by the authority of God should that ever happen.   And in the demonic people leave their body and God has forbidden that.   Here it is OK because Jesus tells John to come up.   Come up and see and write what you will be shown John.   The theme of what John sees is the throne of God, which is mentioned 12 times in this chapter and 40 times in Revelation.  It is a very important word.     What he sees is similar to what Ezekiel saw.  John is not swept away into some mystical place but transported by spirit into heaven, which is a real place.   John tells us who is on the throne, what is going on around the throne, what comes from the throne, what stands before the throne, and what is in the center of the throne around the throne and what is directed to the throne.   The throne is encircled by a rainbow.   It is a complete rainbow not a half rainbow. .   John mentions a rainbow in the appearance of emerald, which reminds us of the color green.  The rainbow symbolizes God’s covenant of mercy and grace. From the throne came peals of thunder and flashes of lightening perhaps representing the coming tribulations.   It also represents power.    Some who claim to have visions of heaven speak of trivial things and bizarre things but John speaks of the glorious throne of God and the majesty of Him who sits on the throne.   He speaks of worship.  John speaks of power, glory and purity. 

            John was amazed and astounded by what he saw.    Handel who wrote Handel’s Messiah was once asked what was the inspiration for Him to write that?    Handel’s Messiah is that wonderful Hallelujah chorus.   Handel replied I saw the heavens open and I saw the throne of God.    That my friends will inspire us and we still get blessed and lifted when we sing the Messiah.     Seeing God will change a person.      The throne is not a piece of furniture folks.  It is a symbol of God’s rule and authority.   It is a symbol of power and glory.  In Revelation 21 John writes but I saw no temple in it that is the New Jerusalem, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.  The indication in this verse is that it is not a building at all and certainly not furniture.  It is God and Jesus.  The throne is a place of power and authority.  God rules from heaven.  God is on the throne.   It is not Washington DC or Moscow or Peking.   It is not Satan but it is God.   It is not a gun or a nuclear bomb.   It is not you and I.  I am so glad that God’s throne transcends all of the earthly stuff.   

      There is comfort for us because God is on His Throne.   God rules and God reigns and He is on His throne.  Therefore we should worship Him.  Hebrews 4:16 tell us that it is a throne of grace.  It is also a throne of judgment because God will judge man and God hates and judges sin.  John does not name the one sitting on the throne but we know who is on the throne.   Isaiah said I saw the Lord sitting on the throne, lofty and exalted with the train of His robe filling the temple.   His glory fills His temple.   When we think of thrones we think of ruling kings and we think of authority, power, respect, and order.   We think of a ruler and guards and various dignitaries around the throne.   God’s throne is similar.   We do not have a picture of God.   There is no camera shot of God.   He has not been photographed.  John just draws our attention to the one seated on the throne.   God is greater than what human words can explain.  God is the center of attraction. 

            Others in scripture have seen similar.   Micaiah saw Him on His glorious throne and wrote I saw the Lord sitting on His throne and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right hand and on His left I Kings 22:19.   The Psalmist said God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne.   Ezekiel, Daniel, Isaiah and John were terrified and humbled by their vision of God and His throne.   Any true vision would create a sense of respect, awe and humility.   Paul wrote that he could not even speak of the things that he heard.   Jude warns those that speak in an unrespectful way about the spirit world.  John speaking to describe God said he who sat there was like jasper and sardius stone in appearance.   The sardius and jasper stones were the first and last stones on the high priests breastplate which represented the first and last of the 12 sons of Jacob, Reuben and Benjamin

            John then sees 24 thrones and 24 elders.   Some think of them as angels but it is probably best to view them as human representatives.   Nowhere in scripture do angels sit on thrones nor are they pictured as ruling, reigning, or crowned.  Their role is to be ministering spirits sent to minister to and to serve saints or Christians.   They are not our servants because they are sent from God and they serve God.   We are always to serve God.   We are His servants.    He serves us – but God is not our slave.  His will be done not your will and not my will.   Jesus always submitted to the Father and we are to do the same.   The only thing we should ask for before God is that His will be done period.   The word elders are never used in scripture to refer to angels.  The 24 have been likened to the 12 tribes of the OT and the 12 apostles in the NT.    The elders have crowns and crowns represent victor’s crowns and won by those who have endured the trial.  Angels are not pictured with crowns.   Christ promised the crown of life to the loyal believers in Smyrna.     Jesus and God are the only ones worthy of crowns.  Our joy will be to cast ours before Him.   He is worthy. 

            John saw flashes of lightening and heard peals of thunder.  That is associated with God’s presence.   We see similar in Exodus 19 and Ezekiel chapter 1.    In Exodus 19 God told the Israelites if they so much as touched the mountain they would die.    It is also associated with God and judgment later in Revelation.   There are 7 lamps burning before the throne, which are the 7 spirits of God.   We think of God as the Father, Son and HS.   In talking about Jesus in Isaiah 11:2 scripture says 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.   There are 7 descriptions of the HS in this passage.   The spirit of knowledge and the spirit of might and the spirit of the fear of the Lord are all associated with the 7 spirits of God.   The 7 spirits represent the HS.   God has not given us the ability to totally understand God.   To understand God would mean that we would have to be just like Him and we are not.   We are sinful fallen human beings with the HS within us.  Before the throne was something like a sea of glass.  Exodus 24 and Ezekiel 1 speak of similar.   It speaks of purity and being able to see right through it.  The story is told and probably just a story that Solomon had a similar floor in his palace and when the Queen of Sheba came to his palace that she raised her robe thinking that she would walk in water to get to Solomon’s throne.    It is interesting that people are advertising in a similar way today by using computer graphics.  

            The 4 living beings are identified in Ezekiel as cherubim.  They are not animals.    Ezekiel and John struggle to describe them.    How can anyone possibly describe heaven to man?  Zondervan bible dictionary states that it is hard to describe them.   The creatures that John sees are different than what Ezekiel saw.   We do not know how many of them there are.    These living beings are an exalted order of angels and associated with God’s power.   Other passages are I Samuel 4, II Samuel 6 & 22 Psalms 80 & 99 Ezekiel 10 and Isaiah 37.  Scriptures point to Cherubim in the earthly tabernacle and in heaven.  Warren Wiersbe compares the heavenly sanctuary to the earthly tabernacle and temple.   The earthly temple has the holies of holies and the heavenly one has the throne of God.  The earthly has 7 candles sticks the heavenly has 7 lamps Earthly the bronze laver the heavenly the sea of glass the earthly cherubim over the mercy seat the heavenly 4 living creatures around the throne the earthly priests the heavenly elders the earthly the brazen altar the heavenly the altar the earthly the incense altar the heavenly the incense altar the earthly ark of the covenant and heavenly the ark of the covenant.    Cherubim were stationed at the Garden of Eden to keep Man from going back in.   Satan before his fall was an anointed cherub.    It is interesting to read chapter 1 of Ezekiel where Ezekiel had a vision of heaven and then in chapter 2 he was called to minister and preach.   

     The scene in heaven culminates in worship directed to God.   This passage is a hymn of praise.   These living creatures focus on God’s holiness and they cease not to worship God day and night.   They never tire nor wear out.   They never rest nor sleep.   They are always on the job.  God always was always will be and always is.   The astro physicists have done 4 mathematical equations and believe that creation is 40 billion years old.   I am not saying that I believe that but if that is true these creatures have worshipped for over 40 billion years.  They never get tired and they never get bored.  Over and over and over again they say holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty.   They also worship His power.  Lord God Almighty.  They worship God by ascribing worth to Him.   They say You are worthy O Lord to receive glory and honor and power for You created all things and by Your will the exist and were created.   Worship is the activity of heaven.  The eternal activity of God’s creatures in heaven is worship.   That is what heaven is about.   Heaven is s place of continual worship.   Yes we will reign and rule with Jesus but we will worship.