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Displaying items by tag: Throne of God

Saturday, 03 September 2016 00:20

29. Round and about the throne * Revelation 4:5-8

5  And out of the throne proceeded lightning and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

6  And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind.

7  And the first living creature was like a lion, and the second living creature like a calf, and the third living creature had a face as a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle.

8  And the four living creatures had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.


***Lightening, thunderings, and voices ***: Verses 2, 3, and 4 of this chapter give a detailed description of the throne of God. In verse 5, we start to see some important activities happening in that throne room. There are flashes of lightning, thunderings, and voices coming out of the throne. This description reminds us of the scene at Mount Sinai, when God was giving the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19:16; Exodus 20:18). These are not the only time when the presence of God is associated with thundering and lightning (Job 40:9; Psalm 77:18; Psalm 104:7; Ezekiel 1:13). Out of the throne comes the active and powerful presence of God.

*** Seven lamps burning ***: Right in front of the throne, there are seven lamps. These lamps are burning, and they are the seven Spirits of God. The Greek word used for lamps here is the word lampade, which refers to a hand-held torch that has a wick and is fueled with oil. In Zachariah 4, we have seven lamps which were the eyes of the Lord “which range throughout the earth”. In Revelation 5:6 we read that the seven Spirits are seven eyes sent out to all the Earth. As we discussed in lesson #5, the seven Spirits of God are the perfect representation of the Holy Spirit. He is present there, before the throne.

*** The sea of glass ***: John mentions the sea of glass in Revelation 4:6, and also in Revelation 15:2. Here in chapter 4, he describes this element as being located in front of the throne. He compares it to three things: sea, glass, and crystal. The sea gives the idea of water and movement. Glass and crystal are solid and static objects. All of them have a translucent quality, and can become reflective depending on how light hits their surface. It is not clear if the glass description refers to a smooth flat section of glass, or to broken pieces of glass and more of a textured look. Revelation 15:2 adds yet another descriptor: fire. John says he "saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire". Also, he says the victorious people are standing on this sea of glass and fire. In chapter 4, the saved people are not there yet. And the fire, although present as the Holy Spirit standing in front of the throne of the Father, is not mentioned as being in or on the sea of glass at that time. In terms of Sanctuary language, the water element was represented as the bronze basin. The basin was sometimes called the sea (2 Kings 25:13-16; 1 Chronicles 18:8; 2 Chronicles 4:6; Jeremiah 52:17,20). The priests had to wash themselves there before sacrifices and before entering the Tent of Meeting. It was a symbol for baptism, as we saw in study #9. In Matthew 3:11, we read the words of John the Baptist, referring to Christ: "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire". Daniel 7:10 mentions a river of fire that was flowing out of the throne of God. It is interesting to note that in Revelation 15:2, when the saved people are standing on the sea of glass, fire is there mixed in. But in chapter 4, which is a scene that happens before the people get there, the fire is described separately. Very likely, this is not a literal combination of sea, glass, or fire. The sea of glass seems to be a hard to describe place. The point is, it marks an important area before the throne of God where the overcomers will stand one day.

*** The four living creatures ***: This is not the only time these beings appear in Revelation. They are always found near the throne of God, serving and worshiping Him (Revelation 4:6,8-9; Revelation 5:6,8-9,14; Revelation 6:1-8; Revelation 14:3; Revelation 19:4). This is also not the first time in the Bible where they are mentioned either. We can read about them in Ezekiel 1:5-10; Ezekiel 10:12,14,20-22; Isaiah 6:2-3. They remind us of the golden cherubim on the Arch of the Covenant in the Earthly Sanctuary. (Exodus 25:18-21; 1 Kings 6:23-28). The image of God sitting between cherubim is seen in other passages of the Old Testament as well (2 Kings 19:15; Psalm 80:1; Psalm 99:1; Isaiah 37:16). Isaiah calls them seraphim, and tells us they praise Him saying “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:2-3). In Revelation 4:8, John also tells us that they do not rest during the day or night, and remain praising God continually, “saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Both in Isaiah, and in Revelation, we see these beings praising the Trinity.

Full of eyes in front and behind, and inside; having six wings each and four different faces: Ezekiel 10:12 describes them as being “full of eyes all around”. He also says they each have 4 faces: as of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle (Ezekiel 1:5-10). Ezekiel saw one being with four faces, and John sees four beings, each with a different face (Revelation 4:7). Ezekiel had a long and detailed description of these beings. But it seems that for John, they are not the focus of the scene, and perhaps only one side of each of those beings was revealed to him. It could also be a different order of angels. Regardless of their specific anatomy, their role seems to be very special. They lead the praise and worship, and they serve God very closely. These beings are also involved in the opening of the first four seals (Revelation 6:1-8). There are different views as to what each of their faces represent. It could be a reference to their strength, service, intelligence, and swiftness. It could also be a symbol for the qualities of God’s character, including His ability to see and know everything.

*** Overview ***: There was lightning and thundering coming out of the throne of God. That means the throne was not empty. The magnitude of His glory could be felt, seen and heard. The Holy Spirit was also in the scene, in all his perfection and fulness, described as the seven Spirits of God. But not all members of the Trinity were present there. Jesus was not there. Even so, the heavenly creatures near the throne of God kept worshiping the Trinity continuously, by saying: “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty” (Revelation 4:8). This description refers to a moment in time, when neither Jesus nor the overcomers were present. No one was standing on the sea of glass just yet. Just from what we read in chapter 4, we can understand that this happened before the Second Coming of Christ. A time when Jesus was not there, but when the Holy Spirit was. In reality, the Holy Spirit is omnipresent. His appearance in the throne room does not prevent His activities from happening on Earth at the same time. But for the sake of John’s understanding, as well as ours today, this is how it was shown to John. We can understand that this part of the vision seems to describe what was happening in Heaven before Jesus’ ascension. Chapter 4 show us what it was like to be standing there, in the presence of God.

Saturday, 27 August 2016 01:20

28. An open door to the throne * Revelation 4:1-4

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 here, and I will show you 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 carnelian stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in appearance like unto an emerald.

4   And round about the throne were four and twenty thrones: and upon the thrones I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white clothing; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.


In chapters 1 to 3, we have Jesus walking in the middle of the churches, and the focus is on what is happening with the church here on Earth. The text in chapter 1 uses symbology that refers to the Old Testament Sanctuary. In that chapter, we studied the references John made about the candlesticks, the items of bronze, and the priestly outfit. The last of the seven letters to the churches in Asia end with a promise to the one who overcomes. It says that the overcomer will sit with Jesus in His throne, just as He sat with His Father, in His throne (Revelation 3:21). This verse is the perfect segway to chapter 4, where we see the description of the events that are taking place in Heaven. These events hold the key to the understanding of the rest of the book of Revelation. The Sanctuary language continues in chapter 4 and 5, where we read about things that happen around the throne of God.

*** Opened door in Heaven, and the invitation from the One with the voice like a trumpet ***: After John received the message about the churches, he looks up, and sees an open door in Heaven. Then, John hears the One with the voice like a trumpet. It is the same voice he first heard in Revelation 1:10 (lesson #7). Jesus is calling John to come up through the open door. Jesus wants to show him what must take place in the future, from John’s perspective. This statement also reminds us of what Jesus told John in Revelation 1:19. But here, John is not asked to write down the things Jesus is showing him. He is invited to see them. Upon hearing this invitation, John is immediately taken in a vision, receiving the message from Christ. Just like he said in Revelation 1:10, he is “in the Spirit”. This door that John goes through leads to a room in Heaven, and he sees a beautiful throne there. The word door (in the Greek thura), occurs many times in the Old Testament, and most often than not, it refers to the Sanctuary or the Temple. This is very significant, because we will see in the following verses, that this open door was the passageway to the Heavenly Sanctuary.

*** The throne and the One who sat on the throne ***: John initially sees a magnificent throne. The throne of God is found in 16 of the 22 chapters of Revelation, and in many instances the throne is used to represent God Himself. The throne is the central theme of chapter 4. Everything is described in relation to the throne. John then sees the One sitting on the throne. He identifies Him as “Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come” (Revelation 4:8), and “Lord” (Revelation 4:11). But in other verses, John refers to God as “the One sitting on the Throne” (Revelation 4:3,9,10; Revelation 5:1,7,13). The image of God sitting on His throne in Heaven is often depicted in the Old Testament, where He reigns in all His glory and power (1 Kings 22:19; Psalm 47:8; Psalm 93:1-2; Psalm 97:1-9; Psalm 99:1-5; Isaiah 6:1; Ezekiel 1:26; Daniel 7:9).

*** Description of God: He looks like a jasper, a carnelian, and an emerald stone ***: Some Bible versions translate carnelian (in Greek sardiō) as sardius, or ruby. Emerald (in Greek smaragdinō), is sometimes translated as turquoise. All three of these stones were found covering the king of Tyre (Ezekiel 28:13). They are also in the foundation of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:19). But since the Sanctuary symbolism is so strong in this chapter, we must concentrate on what we find there to help us understand the meaning of these stones. They are found on the breastplate of the High Priest in the Old Testament (Exodus 28:17-20). Sardius and Jasper are the first and the last stones on the breastplate. They represent the tribes of Reuben, and Benjamin respectively. And the emerald is the 4th stone on the breastplate, representing the tribe of Juda. Under the light of the Sanctuary language, we see that this description of the stones are identifying the One who sits on the throne as having the same characteristics as Christ: “the first and the last” (Revelation 1:11,17), and the “Lion from the tribe of Juda” (Revelation 5:5). The One who sits on the throne is one with Christ.

*** The rainbow around the throne ***: Ezekiel 1:28 also described the rainbow around the throne of God, saying it “was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.” The rainbow is a 7-color arch that God placed in the sky after the flood, as a perpetual covenant between God and His people. It was to remind them that He would never destroy the Earth with water ever again (Genesis 9:12-17). We can understand that the glory of the Lord itself is for us a reminder of how trustworthy He is.

*** 24 thrones and 24 elders, dressed in white and wearing a crown ***: John's attention is drawn to the other thrones. He first sees 24 of them, and then he mentions the 24 elders. In the Old Testament, we read about the group of 24 priests who took turns as the Sanctuary officials (1 Chronicles 24:1-19). Once again, the Sanctuary symbolism is present here, and it is not out of place. Interestingly enough, they are not present in the throne visions of the prophets in the Old Testament. Even though they are not present in the Old Testament visions, their presence here is actually not all that surprising. In verse 4, John gives a brief description of the elders. They are mentioned in other parts of the book as well, so let’s look at all the information we have on these elders, so we can figure out who they are. Are they angels? Are they human? We can draw a parallel between this description of the 24 elders and the promises made to the one who overcomes throughout the book of Revelation. The overcomer is promised the things that the elders already have:

  24 Elders Those who overcome
1) They sit on thrones around the throne of God (Revelation 4:4) They will sit in a throne with God (Revelation 3:21)
2) They are wearing white robes, and have the stephanos crown on their head (Revelation 4:4) They will wear white robes and a stephanos crown of victory (Revelation 3:5; Revelation 2:10)
3) They worship God (Revelation 4:10-11; Revelation 5:14; Revelation 11:16; Revelation 19:4) They will worship God (Revelation 7:10)
4) They have on their hands harps and bowls of incense, which are the prayers of the saints (Revelation 5:8) They will have harps (Revelation 15:2), and they pray/cry out to God (Revelation 6:10)
5) God had made them kingdom and priests, and they will reign on the Earth (Revelation 5:10)* They are made kingdom and priests (Revelation 1:6), They will reign on the Earth (Revelation 2:26-27)
6) They were redeemed by the blood of Jesus (Revelation 5:9) They are redeemed by the blood of Jesus (Revelation 7:14)

* From the Textus Receptus manuscripts, which is one of the manuscripts that some of the earlier Bible translations were based on, such as the King James.

All unfallen creatures, such as angels or other celestial beings, worship God. The fact that the elders worship God does not help us identify them more specifically. These unfallen beings never sinned, and so, they cannot be considered to be redeemed. It becomes evident that the elders could not be unfallen beings or angels, since Revelation 5:9 says the elders were redeemed by the blood (according to Bible translations based on the Textus Receptus manuscripts). Other arguments supporting this view are that there are no promises in the Bible made to angels, saying they will reign on the Earth. God’s chosen people on Earth are the ones called to be kingdom and priests. Only His redeemed people receive the promise of a white robe of righteousness and a victory crown. Angels are never portrayed as wearing victory crowns. And finally, only the redeemed are promised to sit on a throne with God. Angels are always mentioned as standing or falling down in the presence of God. We can clearly see that the 24 elders must be humans. Humans that have been glorified already. But how did humans end up in Heaven before the Second Coming of Christ?

As we studied in lesson #10, when humans die, the norm is that they are not immediately taken to a place of eternal fire, or to Heaven. The Bible teaches that the dead actually don’t know anything (Eclesiastes 9:5), they are as if they were asleep (Psalm 90:5; John 11:11-14;  1 Thessalonians 4:13), and that people’s reward will be given to them on the last day (Revelation 22:12). However, the Bible mentions a few special people who got their reward earlier, and had the privilege to be taken to Heaven before the Second Coming. We know that Enoch, Moses and Elijah were taken to Heaven (Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5; Jude 1:9; 2 Kings 2:11; Matthew 17:3). Enoch and Elijah never actually experienced death. The Bible also tells us that when Christ died, and resurrected, “the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints that slept arose” (Matthew 27:52). As it was the custom of a victorious king in the ancient times, upon winning a battle against His enemy, Christ took with Him the spoils of war. In other words, He took for Himself people who were to be integrated into the population of Jesus' own Celestial Country. Psalm 68:18 and Ephesians 4:8 tell us that Jesus led a group of captives when He ascended. Those people had been tied down to their brief existence on Earth, and slaves to their grave. They were in bondage. But Jesus took them out of that condition. We don’t know how many were resurrected at that time, but it is possible that they were the ones taken to Heaven to serve as Sanctuary officials, serving as priests and kings - living representatives of humanity in Heaven. The fact that there are 24 of them is also relevant, because it is twice the number 12. The number 12 is prominent in Revelation, because it relates to the 12 tribes of Israel (standing as the church in the Old Testament time), and the 12 disciples (Standing as the church from the New Testament forward). The New Jerusalem is described as having 12 gates named after the 12 tribes, and 12 foundations named after the 12 apostles (Revelation 21:12-14). The number 12 + 12 represents the totality of God's people throughout History.

All the Bible texts we reviewed in this study, tell us that it is not the norm to go to Heaven after death. Actually, those captives, as well as Moses, were resurrected first, before being taken up to Heaven. And that is what is going to happen on the last day as well. Those who died in the faith of Jesus will be resurrected first (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Over and over, we see that the people who died on Earth and that were (or are going to be) taken to Heaven, always, without exception, go through the process of resurrection first - including Jesus. The group of the 24 elders is likely formed by those people mentioned in the Bible, who were taken up without experiencing death like Enoch and Elijah, and also the ones who were resurrected and then taken up, like Moses. They are the perfect representation of the people of God that will be joining them in the last day: “[…] and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

*** Overview ***: The first four verses in chapter 4 have two main themes, which will be recurring over the next chapters: the throne of God, and the 24 elders. The throne however, is the central focus, since everything is described using the throne as the point of reference (upon the throne, around the throne, from the throne, before the throne, in the midst of the throne). John describes the throne as something spectacular, and he uses some of the precious stones from the Old Testament High Priest garment to help with this description. God’s unbreakable covenant is also present, and represents the unfailing glory and mercy of God. God’s word is true, trustworthy. He has the first word, and the also final. The description of the throne of the Father reminds us of the atributes used to describe Christ. The throne of God is a direct reference to the Father Himself, and His unity with the Son. The parallelism with the Old testament Sanctuary is very evident, and is a strong indicator of where John is in this vision: the Heavenly Sanctuary. The Sanctuary on Earth was only a copy (or shadow) of the one which is in Heaven (Hebrews 8:2,5). Now that we situated where this vision is taking place, we can expect to see some of the things that were found in the Earthly Sanctuary. And we do: there are 24 elders, who serve as priests - they carry “bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 5:8). These elders represent the redeemed of God.

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