The Letter To Laodicea…
Revelation 4:1-5 KJV
(1) After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
(2) And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
(3) And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
(4) And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
(5) And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
Chapter 4 begins a new section in the book of Revelation… “Jesus Christ In The Midst Of Heaven”. Prior to this section, our attention was placed upon earth and the Lord in the midst of His assemblies, communing with them and instructing them.
In chapters 4 and 5, we will have our attention switched to the great worship taking place in heaven. This worship will be pointed toward Christ and the Father.
A very brief outline of this section of Scripture:
Vision Of Heaven 4:1-5:14
- Worship Before The Throne (4:1-11)
- The Throne Of God (vs 1-5)
- The Four Beast’s Worship Of God (vs 6-11)
- The Scroll And The Lamb (5:1-7)
- Worship Of The Lamb (5:8-14)
THE EXPOSITORY STUDY:
Revelation 4: –
(1) After this I looked,
Following John’s receipt of the vision of Christ’s messages to His seven local assemblies, he begins to receive a new vision from God.
and, behold, a door was opened in heaven:
John sees a door that leads to heaven beginning to open. This helps us to understand that this vision is about to reveal activities taking place in heaven. Just like an open door allows us to see into another room, this open door will allow John to see heaven and heavenly activity taking place.
and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me;
As the vision begins, John hears a voice speaking to him. By implication, this voice appears to be coming from heaven. John describes the voice as being like a trumpet. In other words, it was a loud, clear, easily understood voice. This voice is probably the voice of an angel that will be showing John the greatness of heavenly worship..
A trumpet was used in Bible times to call an assembly to worship. This is perhaps also a part of the reason why this voice was described as being like a trumpet. It was inviting John to approach and view a scene of great heavenly worship taking place.
which said, Come up hither,
John is now invited to “come up hither”. In other words, this voice is inviting John to, through receipt of this vision, enter into heaven and view its worship.
(Please remember, John’s spirit and body are physically located on the isle of Patmos, and throughout this vision, both will continue to reside on this island. He was not literally, physically taken into heaven. He was allowed to view heaven by means of this vision, and in that sense would “come up hither” to heaven)
and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
As his vision continued, he would be shown things that would take place from this point forward. In other words, he would see events that would take place from the time he received this vision through the eternal reign of Christ on the New Heavens and New Earth.
The previous section of our study revealed to John what was taking place slightly before and during his time (the seven local assemblies and their condition before the Lord [Revelation 1:19, 2:-3:]). Now, he will gradually begin to see what will take place in his future and the future of the world which will culminate in Christ’s second coming and His eternal rule.
(2) And immediately I was in the spirit:
John was now “in the spirit”, in other words, he was surrounded by the Holy Spirit’s power as the Spirit intervened in the life of John (Rev 1:10). This allowed him to receive this vision as also the prior ones. This was a common phrase used to describe the Spirit’s intervention in a Christian’s life allowing him to serve the Lord in great ways (Rom 8:9, Gal 5:16, 25 etc), including the receipt of visions (Ezek 37:1, 17:3, 21:10),
This is not teaching us that John’s spirit left his body and ascended to heaven. Based upon a proper understanding of the Biblical phrase “in the spirit”, there is no reason to believe this is speaking of John’s human spirit within him. Also, please note “spirit” in most translations is capitalized helping us to understand that we are talking about the Holy Spirit of God, not John’s human spirit. (See NKJV, ESV, ASV, ERV, ISV etc.)
and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
As John receives the vision from the Lord, the first thing that attracts his attention is the throne of God with God seated upon it.
The throne was looked upon as a seat of authority. When one sat upon the throne, it was an outward declaration of the great authority that they held. In this case, we will see in the following verses, it is God who is sitting upon this throne clearly revealing that He is the ultimate Authority Holder over all of His creation.
(3) And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone:
God is now described as appearing like a “jasper and sardine stone”.
The jasper stone was a clear stone found in multiple colors (Rev 21:11,18-19). Its clearness is a picture of the great holiness and justice of God. Upon him is no filth nor imperfections. He makes no mistakes nor is He unfair or unjust. He is the sinless God who is perfectly just and holy.
The sardine stone was a blood red stone. It points to shed blood which, in turn, reminds us of a two-fold truth about God. Firstly, it reminds us of the shedding of the blood of lost mankind as they face His wrath for their sins. Secondly it reminds us of His great grace and mercy shown in the shed blood of Christ for His people.
In both, we have seen His great justice and holiness. As a holy and just God, He cannot allow sin to go unpunished. Therefore, either the sinner must be punished, or a substitute must be punished (Christ on the cross).
and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
Here the Lord’s faithfulness (rainbow) and role as Life-giver (emerald) comes into view.
Of course, the rainbow is a constant reminder of the Lord’s faithfulness. The rainbow was placed in the clouds to remind us of His faithfulness to the promise He gave to Noah. Likewise, the color of an emerald, green, reminds us of new life.
When we are told that John saw “a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald”, he seems to be describing a rainbow that is made up of varying shades of green. What a wonderful picture for us all to try to imagine. A throne surrounded by a beautiful rainbow filled with many shades of green!
(4) And round about the throne were four and twenty seats:
John now notices that surrounding the throne of God are 24 “seats”.
It is important for us to notice that the word “seats” comes from the very same Greek word as “throne”. In other words, John saw 24 smaller thrones surrounding the throne of God. This helps us to understand that whoever is sitting in these seats (thrones) are holders of authority. Implied is that their authority is delegated authority coming from the greater authority of God.
and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
24 elders are sitting on these thrones.
They are described as clothed in white raiment picturing righteousness that clothes them. This can also be a picture of the white robes warn by the priests.
They also have crowns of gold upon their heads. The Greek word for crown here is a word that is used to describe rewards given to those who are victorious. One of the great rewards believers are promised is to share in Christ’s authority. This involves the authority to judge, gain victory, and to reign with Him (1 Corinthians 6:2, Revelation 5:10, 19:14, 20:4-6, 22:5 etc). The gold on the crowns reminds us that this reward of authority originates, is delegated by, and perpetuated by, God Himself. It is all because of Him!
Who are these elders? These elders represent all of those who are saved by God’s grace from both OT and NT time frames who have died and whose spirits are now in heaven with God (Rev 5:8-10). It represents the redeemed as those who share an eternal citizenship and inheritance with Christ as members of the Lord’s nation and family. They are given the white robes as believer priests and the gold crowns of victors and ruling authorities. They are like the 12 tribes of Israel (symbolic of God’s OT followers) added to the 12 apostles (symbolic of God’s NT followers.) They are believers of all ages who possess Christ’s righteousness and receive great blessings and rewards for their faithfulness throughout eternity. They are surrounding the throne of Christ, enjoying communion and citizenship with Him (as priests), recognizing His authority and sharing in that authority (as victorious rulers).
These 24 elders represent God’s redeemed and their POSITION as the eternally blessed of God.
(5) And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices:
John’s attention returns to the throne of God where he sees God’s greatness on display. John sees lightning and hears thunderings and loud voices (like trumpets), all three of these are used as pictures of the greatness of God’s presence in the Old Testament.
Some examples include His presence upon Mt Sinai at the giving of His law and as He led the Israelites through the Red Sea (Exo 19:16, 20:18, Psa 77:18). Also in Revelation, His presence during times of wrath upon the earth is symbolized by these in Revelation (8:5, 11:19, 16:18)
and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
Not only did the 24 elders upon thrones surround the throne of God, but also standing in front of the throne of God were seven burning lamps (implied: they are lamps containing olive oil which represents the Holy Spirit throughout the Scriptures).
Here, we are told that the lamps represent the seven-fold ministry of the Holy Spirit (the seven Spirits of God) in the lives of God’s people. Their arrangement in front of the throne helps us to understand that these ministries of the Spirit are performed at the bidding of God the Father. This is much like servants who would approach the throne of a king awaiting the King to speak and give them His instructions.
Although Christ not specifically mentioned in this section of our study, we can learn much about Him when we recognize He is equal with God (John 5:18, John 10:30). The same attributes of the Father are shared by the Son. These include His great authority, sinlessness, justice and grace. Not only that but also He is the source of all life, being Creator of the Universe and Redeemer of His people.
What a wonderful Savior who is an equal person of the Godhead.
THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION (SUMMARY)
Our study brings to mind the preeminence of our God. As John saw the heavenly throne of God, he saw a grand display of the greatness of God. Folks, we serve a great Lord. He is a Lord who cannot be described through mere words, nor through the symbolism found in the book of Revelation. Although we see Him as a great Lord who far surpasses everyone and everything around us, we must always remember this is but a glimpse of His true supremacy. When we enter into eternity with Him, it is only then that we will begin to see Him as He is…
1 John 3:2 KJV – “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”
May we always think upon His greatness and allow those thoughts to motivate us to trust Him in the fearful times, obeying Him during times of persecution and love Him no matter what our lot in life. He is the Supreme Almighty God, in whom we have the privilege to love and serve.
May the Lord bless us as we seek to see Jesus in the pages of the book of Revelation.
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