Prophecy 52, Vision Two, Things Hereafter – Revelation 4:1-11
In our last study, we were reviewing the three doors mentioned in Revelation. We had reviewed: (1) the open door for evangelism and missions and (2) the door of the human heart. Today we start with the door of revelation.
NOTE: Once a person has opened the door of his heart to Christ, Christ reveals the glorious things of Himself, of God, of heaven, and of this world. Further, Christ reveals some of the events that are to take place as history unfolds itself — some of the events that surround the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the end time.
There is the door of REVELATION.
“…I looked, and behold, a door was opened in heaven…” (Revelation 4:1, emphasis added, KJV)
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which THE HOLY GHOST [HOLY SPIRIT] teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural [unsaved] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are FOOLISHNESS unto him: neither CAN HE KNOW THEM, because they are SPIRITUALLY DISCERNED” (I CORINTHIANS 2:12-14, emphasis added, KJV).
Not only did John see a door open to heaven, he also HEARD a commanding voice, the very same voice he had heard in the first vision (Revelation 1:10). This is the second quick thing that happened to John.
The third quick thing that happened to John was that the voice CALLED JOHN TO COME UP HERE INTO HEAVEN.
NOTE: God makes the reason very clear why John is supposed to go up to heaven! The reason is clearly stated: TO SEE FUTURE EVENTS, THINGS THAT MUST TAKE PLACE. The word “must” is a very important word.
- The events of history do not take place by chance.
- They do not simply just happen.
- They are of God.
- They are of God’s divine will – things that must take place.
- They are things must happen.
- God works them out.
- They are according to His divine will.
- God is SOVEREIGN.
- God RULES OVER the world.
- History is in God’s sovereign hands. Events that are coming are completely under God’s ultimate control. Nothing can modify or change them!
The fourth quick thing that John experienced was that he was immediately IN THE SPIRIT: he was having a deep, intense spiritual experience with God; he was in an ecstatic state with his mind and spirit taken up and above this earth and into heaven (Revelation 4:2).
The fifth quick thing that happened to John was that he saw the most astounding sight imaginable: God and the throne of God. John emphatically declares that HE SAW GOD sitting on the throne of God (Revelation 4:2-3).
Let’s think for a moment about the throne that John saw.
- First the throne is in heaven.
- The throne that he saw was God’s throne.
- It is the throne that is above all thrones. We are reminded that God is sovereign and no one reigns supreme over Him.
- This throne is the supreme seat of sovereignty and power.
- God is the supreme Majesty of the universe.
- God is the one who controls and holds all the events of history in His hands.
- God is the supreme authority over ALL THE WORLD AND the coming events of the end times.
- No person or being can cause the events to take place but Him.
- The Lord Jesus Christ is returning to earth and the events of the end times are going to happen.
- But they are going to happen because of the Lord Jesus Christ.
NOTE: The throne is set in heaven. That is, the events are set forever. God rules and reigns forever. There will never be an end to His rule. This is great security to the believer. God has promised to deliver and keep the believer from the hour of trial, the great tribulation (Revelation 3:10).
NOTE VERSES REVELATION 4:2-3. God is described: THERE IS THE SIGHT OF GOD SITTING UPON THE GREAT THRONE.
THINK ABOUT IT: The appearance of the One on the throne is so glorious and majestic that HE IS INDESCRIBABLE. No human shape or form can describe Him.
God is described in terms of light, the dazzling light of the most precious gems and jewels of that day. He is seen in all of His brilliance and dazzling splendor. Revelation 4:3)
“Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou are clothed with honour and majesty. Who coverest THYSELF with light as with a garment: Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain: who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: Who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind: who maketh his angels spirits; His ministers a flaming fire: who laid the (4) foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever” (Psalm 104:1-5, emphasis added, KJV).
“Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting” (I Timothy 6:16, KJV).
“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God IS LIGHT, and in Him is no darkness at all” (I John 1:5, KJV).
“Then Jesus said unto them, ‘Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.’ These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did not hide himself from them” (John 12:35-36, emphasis added KJV).
Revelation 4:4 – the Elders of Revelation: In John’s vision there was the sight of twenty-four elders sitting around the throne of God.
- They are seated upon thrones that surround God’s throne. This shows that they…
- are near God, being honored with His presence.
- are resting in God, being fulfilled, complete, and satisfied.
- are enthroned with God, that is, they are given a permanent place in His presence forever and ever.
2. They are clothed in white. This means that they are clothed in the purity and holiness of God and Christ. There is no imperfection in them at all.
There is only one way that a person can be acceptable to God:
- by being clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Revelation 3:18; Romans 3:21-22).
- Christ and Christ alone is sinless.
- He alone is the Perfect and ideal Man.
- He and He alone has made the perfect sacrifice for sins.
- therefore, Jesus Christ alone is acceptable to God.
- if a person is to ever be acceptable to God, he has to be clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
- as the perfect and ideal man, the righteousness of Jesus Christ can stand for all and cover all men.
- therefore, when a person REALLY believes and trusts in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, God counts that person’s belief as righteousness (Romans 3:21-22).
- God counts that person as BEING IN CHRIST, AS BEING IN THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST.
NOTE: If a person is not IN CHRIST, if he has not been clothed in the righteousness of Christ, then he shall appear naked in the great day of judgment. He shall be ashamed before God and REJECTED BY GOD.
The great counsel of God: This is the great counsel, the great advice of the Lord Jesus Christ, His great message to the lost is: buy of me the white clothing of my righteousness. Putting on my clothing, my righteousness, is the ONLY WAY you can ever be acceptable to God (paraphrased from Revelation 3:18; Isaiah 61:10; Ephesians 4:24).
- They (the Elders, Revelation 4:4) have crowns of gold on their heads. This means they hold positions of authority; that they are given some duty and responsibility to oversee for God; that they serve God by overseeing some rule and domain; and that others serve under them. Simply stated, they rule and reign for God, serving Him by managing some vast rule and domain of the universe.
Opinions vary about who they are, and the views differ drastically. When all the views are considered, the strongest arguments boil down to three major points:
- They are thought to be the twelve patriarchs and the twelve apostles combined – the heads of the believers of the church of both the Old and New Testaments. That is, they are thought to be the heads and representatives of all the believers of both the Old and New Testament.
- They are thought to be angelic beings, a council of angelic beings surrounding God (I Kings 22:19; Ps. 89:7; Isaiah 24:23).
- They are thought to be priests in the Old Testament; there were thousands of priests. Of course, they all could not come together at the same time to serve in the temple. Thus, King David, divided the priests into 24 groups, each group to serve two weeks at a time in the temple.
Here are all the Scriptures in Revelation that mentioned the elders.
- The elders sit on thrones surrounding the throne of God (see Revelation 4:4; Revelation 14:3; Revelation 19:9).
- The elders cast their crowns before the throne of God (Revelation 4:10).
- The elders worship God (Revelation 4:9-11; Revelation 5:8- 11; Revelation 5:14; Revelation 7:11; Revelation 11:16; Revelation 14:3; Revelation 19:4).
- One elder encourages John when he weeps (Revelation 5:5).
- One elder brings the progress of the saints to God (Revelation 5:6).
- One elder explains part of the vision to John (Revelation 5:5; Revelation 7:13-14).
Note two significant points about the Elders:
- The elders are mentioned right along with God, Christ, the living creatures, angels, and with the redeemed believers who are already in heaven. They are set apart, or distinct, and different from each of these. Therefore, if the elders are angels as some believe, they are the leaders or elders of the angels. If they are believers, then if they must be leaders or elders from among believers.
- John nowhere says who the elders are. He only speaks of them as part of the vast array of heavenly beings who worship and serve our God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
JOHN ALSO SAW THE AWESOMENESS OF GOD’S THRONE:
Three things are now added to the throne of God to show how awesome the presence of God is.
- There is God’s voice which is so commanding that it sounds like a combination of many voices and of lightnings and thunderings (v. 5). This shows just how majestic and awesome the voice of God is. His voice flashes and thunders the great pronouncements of God.
- The WILL of God sounds forth from the throne of God with the speed of lighting and with the awesomeness of thunder. And all His will is done.
- The events of history take place as He has ordered. This particular sight of God’s majestic pronouncements is a scene of the coming judgment. The awful storm is about to break loose on the earth beneath.
- The seven torches of burning fire are a symbol of the Holy Spirit in all of His fullness and completeness (v.5).
- There is a sea of glass stretching out before the throne (v. 6). The sea looks like a transparent glassy sea, as if of crystal.
- The elders of Israel saw a similar sight (Exodus 24:10).
- Ezekiel himself saw a similar sight (Ezekiel 1:22, 26).
- God had instructed the temple to have a brazen sea stretch out before it, and remember: the tabernacle and temple were shadows of real things in heaven (I Kings 7:23).
- The sea of glass symbolizes at least three things:
a. The glassy sea shows us the value and preciousness of God’s presence. In the old days it was almost impossible to make pure glass. Pure glass that was as clear as crystal was considered to be as valuable and precious as gold (Job 28:17).
b. The glassy sea shows us how clearly God is able to see everything that is out before His throne. It stands for His omniscience and penetrating vision into all things. Nothing is hidden from Him who is upon the throne of heaven.
c. The glassy sea shows us the spectacular purity of God, as clear and pure as perfect glass and crystal. The glassy sea shows us how far away God is from the impurities of a contaminated world.
As you have studied, I would like to challenge you with your vision of God as seen in today’s study.
- What did you think of the door that was opened in heaven?
- How did the statement that John was to see things of the future “things that MUST take place” impact you?
- What did you decide about the fact that John was in the spirit.
- What impressed you most about what John saw immediately.
- What did you decide about the 24 elders sitting around the throne of God?
- What did you decide about the only way a person can be acceptable to God?
- What did you decide about a person being “in Christ”?
- What conclusion did you come to concerning “who” the elders are?
- Finally, name one thing about the throne of God.
NEXT STUDY will begin with Revelation 4:6 and the four Beasts.
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