Revelation Lesson 13: The Throne Room of Heaven
Revelation Chapter 4:2-11
“Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones, I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices.
“Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:
“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!’
“Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:
“You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.’”
Last week we talked about the Tribulation and the Rapture. These are events that are soon to happen; and we Christians need to be ready and watching for the Lord Jesus to call us. It is amazing some of the things that are out there. I have very devout brothers of mine that will tell you they have no idea what is going to happen; we will know when it happens. Others were set on one understanding and then changed based on some ‘new’ information. I understand their dilemma.
Just yesterday I saw a short video outlining four (4) views of the end times; and if you were not familiar with the scripture, maybe a newly born Christian or an inexperienced one, it would be easy to find yourself confused or maybe not even willing to investigate because you think it does not matter. There are some important things that help us to frame our thoughts and come to the right conclusions on a matter in the scripture.
Last week we mentioned Enoch and Elijah; these two men for sure were ‘caught up’ to be with the Lord. So, we have clear examples of the rapture in the scriptures. In the New Testament, we are told often by Jesus that we are to watch (Matthew 24:42-44). The idea of watching is paired with the fact that we do not know the ‘hour’ that the Lord is coming back. If, as some teach, the Tribulation begins and then Jesus comes for us, we could predict with some degree of accuracy when Jesus would return for us.
In Daniel 9:27 we are clearly told that they, the world system at the end, will sign a treaty with Israel for 7 days (7 years); and in the middle of the week (3.5 years), the agreement will be broken. There is no mystery here. If the world system announces, and they will, that a Peace Agreement has been met and we see the Temple being built, we could literally count 3.5 years and know exactly when Jesus would return for us. We would know the ‘hour.’ The same is true for any scenario that happens after the Tribulation starts and we are still here.
We are told over and over again exactly how long that period is. There are some that believe that the events of the Tribulation have already started and we have been experiencing them since Jesus left. But the Apostle Paul was very clear that this was not the case; and in fact, he believed that Jesus could return in his lifetime. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 when talking about the return of the Lord to get the ‘dead in Christ’ and ‘we’ that remain, Paul uses the term ‘we’ 4 or 5 times to refer to the immediacy of the Lord’s return. He thought that Jesus could come at any time, even in his time; and he expected it.
This epistle, 1 Thessalonians, was written in about 52 AD. The city of Jerusalem had not even been sacked by Rome as yet; but Paul taught that Jesus’ return was imminent. This should be the position of the New Testament church; any other scenario leaves no room for the idea of immediacy.
Finally, the rebirth of Israel puts us on a direct path with prophecy. There is an Israel around that will require a ‘covenant’ as explained in Daniel 9:27. If you have been alive in the last 50 years and care to know, the world led by the US has made 11 attempts since 1967 to get a lasting peace treaty with Israel. And, as I write, the current US administration is working to this end. If Paul was still around, he would be outside doing jumping jacks as rapture practice.
John leaves the earth and its confines and finds himself in the Throne room of the Living God. There is a Supreme Being to whom we will all answer. God is that Person. Mankind hates the idea that we have someone to answer to. We love the idea of being the captains of our own ships, but this is not the truth.
John sees a throne and One who sits on it. He is covered in jasper (bright white) and Sardis (red). These are also the first and last stones in the High Priest’s breastplate (Exodus 38:8-13) and may give us the idea that the One on the throne is both the First and the Last. John sees an emerald green rainbow over the throne, God’s reminder to us that He will never again destroy the earth by the means of a global flood.
While we do have a few monarchs still living today, the idea of absolute sovereignty is lost on them. We in Canada have the Queen of England as a head of state, but she does not command life and death like monarchs in the Biblical days. Even the POTUS is not absolute; he has the Congress and the Senate to answer to, so to speak. But the One who sits on the throne in Heaven is an absolute ruler; no one will judge Him. He in turn judges everyone from Adam to the last person on earth, to Lucifer and his minions and his earthly counterparts, the Antichrist and false prophet. There is an absolute and final authority, the King of Heaven.
John sees 24 other thrones and 24 elders who sit on them. There is much speculation about these; and I will admit that I am still researching them, but in Matthew 19:28 we find this verse and a promise from Jesus,
“Jesus said to them, ‘I assure you: In the Messianic Age, when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, you who have followed Me will also sit on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel.’”
The apostle Peter testifies to having left all to follow Jesus during his earthly ministry, and Jesus promises him, ‘I assure you’ that he would sit on one of the 12 thrones in heaven judging the 12 tribes of Israel. From the context, we can get that Jesus was addressing the 12 apostles.
We know that Judas was not going to be in heaven; and that later on they added Matthias in Acts 1 to replace Judas; and then God called Paul, and he was an apostle out of season. In 1 & 2 Timothy, Paul introduces himself as an apostle. So, it is God who knows who makes the final cut. But those who followed Jesus during His earthly ministry would have 12 thrones to judge from.
I still do not know who will be on the other 12; they may be for the nation of Israel representing the two vessels of the Gospel, Israel and the New Testament church. John sees lightning, and he hears thunder and voices. He sees the Holy Spirit represented in Seven lamps of fire and Seven spirits. In Isaiah 11:2,
“And 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.”
We see seven workings of the Holy Spirit mentioned here in Isaiah, beginning with the “Spirit of the Lord,” and then 6 other functions of the Holy Spirit. He is also like Jesus, a source of Light to the world. He illuminates us and lives in us, bringing understanding and wisdom into our frail and failing bodies.
John sees the Majesty of the Throne Room; it is bright and filled with the power of God. We are in for a sight in Heaven when we get there. As Paul says 1 Corinthians 2:9, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, the things that God has prepared for those who love Him.”
His Praise and Worship
With His Majesty, God deserves praise and worship. His glory, His holiness and His goodness are worthy of constant praise. I do not think that the ones praising Him are doing so out of compulsion but out of a genuine regard for the Majesty of the One on the Throne.
We will look at the two songs that are sung:
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God almighty who was, and is and is to come” – this song marks God as one with neither beginning nor end and one who is ever present. There is no time outside of God, and God is not bound by time. We have past, present and future; God simply IS! He sees the beginning and the end at the same time since He is not bound by time. As such, He can reign supreme over every stage of man’s existence and have His sovereign will executed as he pleases.
The second song celebrates His creative power and that He and He alone sustains us.
We live in an arrogant time; we, mere men, have this idea that we can – through some power of our doing – destroy God’s creation. As if we can destroy what God intended to last for an eternity. As if we can destroy what God has built. God is the God who created and sustains the earth, and one day He and He alone will melt it back to its foundations and build a new one.
God is worthy to receive praise because He made all things and He keeps all things. But, as a society, we have forgotten God; and our pride has fooled us into thinking we can destroy God’s work. How God must laugh at these pundits who rail at Him in futility. Sadly, a lot of so-called evangelical Christians have fallen into this trap of the devil. This is not to say that we should not be careful with creation. God has given us the earth to feed us, bewilder us with its beauty, and its primary purpose is to bring glory to God. “The heavens declare the glory of God,” we are told by the Psalmist.
In the midst of these thrones and the constant worship are four living creatures. There is much discussion as to what these represent, and each one sounds so well laid out as you read it. But as I was studying, two of the ideas made the most sense to me and seemed to tell the story that we are to get here. These 4 represent the height of creation in four areas according to Rabbi Anin,
“There are four which have principality in this world: among intellectual creatures, man; among birds, the eagle; among cattle, the ox; and among wild beasts, the lion: each of these has a kingdom and a certain magnificence, and they are placed under the throne of glory, Ezekiel 1:10, to show that no creature is to exalt itself in this world, and that the kingdom of God is over all.”
But then we see that the person of Jesus can also be seen in these 4 creatures; and as this is the Revelation of Jesus, this may also work together with the previous ideas,
“The four different faces of the cherubim are often taken as symbols of Jesus as represented in each gospel. In classical church architecture, these four “characters” are repeated often as a motif that signifies both heaven and the four gospels.
“Most have seen Matthew as the “Lion” gospel, showing Jesus as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Mark is seen as the “Ox” gospel, showing Jesus as a humble servant, a worker. Luke is seen as the “Man” gospel, showing Jesus as the perfect man, the second Adam. John is seen as the “Eagle” gospel, showing Jesus as the man from heaven, the sky.”
Whenever these creatures gave thanks, honor and glory to the One on the Throne, everybody chimes in. The elders throw their crowns on the floor, and the whole group raises their voices to praise and worship the One on the Throne. Heaven is loud, bright and busy. God is the center of the universe, and we need to understand that and appreciate that.
What does this mean for you and me?
Is the Lord God the Majestic Ruler of your life? Have you and I given in to His Sovereignty over every aspect of us?
We have been bought with a price, and we are not our own. Jesus paid for redemption with His precious and priceless blood. Yet so many of us live as if we rescued ourselves and we are not owned by someone else. We are free in Jesus, but not just free to ourselves. We are free to serve Him.
And lastly, how is your praise and worship? Do we praise God with fervour and effervescence? Is it genuine and from a truly thankful and reverent heart that simply cannot but cry out in praise, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God almighty?” Or, “You are worthy O Lord to receive glory and honor,” and we mean it.
I make a joke every now and then that a lot of Baptists like me are going to be a bit out of place for the first while in Heaven – some who like it as just piano music only, with a reverent level of singing. Heaven, as I said before, is loud, bright, musical and filled with awe. For too many of us ‘old’ Christians have lost the ‘awe’ of God. We have forgotten that it is okay to praise God with the same energy that we cheer our favorite team or band. It is okay to sing at the top of our lungs and to sing the angels quiet because they have no clue what redemption is.
I have attached the Revelation Song performed by the Newsboys; crank it up and get ready to sing in heaven. If you don’t like the style of music, there are multiple versions online.
“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”