Chapter 7

A Throne Room Scene

INTRODUCTION

After Jesus gave John the messages for the seven churches, John is taken up in vision to heaven. There in a large room, possibly the heavenly temple, John sees a throne with the Almighty God seated on it.

Surrounding the throne are a large number of heavenly beings, angels, twenty-four elders and four strange and awesome creatures. He then witnesses a pageant played out in which a lamb representing Christ is found worthy to open a scroll of extreme importance. We will take a look at the opening of the scroll in the next chapter, but for now, let's join John in heaven.

SCRIPTURE

Rev. 4:1 After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." 2At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. 3And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. 4Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. 5From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. 6Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. 7The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. 8Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

"Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come."

9Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

11"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power,

for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."

Rev. 5:1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, "Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?" 3But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals."

6Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9And they sang a new song:

"You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.

10You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."

11Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12In a loud voice they sang:

"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!"

13Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing:

"To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!"

14The four living creatures said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshipped.

COMMENTARY

The timing of this throne room vision is important, mostly because it sets the stage and the timing for the opening of the seven seals. Let's look at Rev. 4 verse one again.

Rev. 4:1 After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this."

Jesus delivers His messages to be given to the seven literal churches. After Jesus finishes His petition to the church of Laodicea, the scene changes.

John says, "After this:. He is shown a door already open in heaven, not into heaven. This door was most likely into the heavenly sanctuary which is also God's throne room.

Jesus' trumpet-like voice is heard. "I will show you what must take place after this."

If we hold the 7 churches to be seven periods of time, with our present period represented by the final church of Laodicea, then the "after this" would be the beginning of the tribulation, i.e. after Jesus ends His intercessory ministry and as He rides out at the head of the armies of heaven on a white horse.

"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. . . . The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine" linen, white and clean. (Rev. 19:11, 14)

Let's see if this matches up later in our interpretation.

From the subject characters of the vision, e.g. four living creatures, a lamb with 7 eyes and 7 horns, we see that the vision is primarily symbolic. In fact, some explanations of the symbols is provided such as in

Rev. 5:6 Then I saw a Lamb, . . . He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

This will help make more sense as we go along.

As John enters the throne room, he sees a marvelous being, the Almighty God, sitting on a throne.

3And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne.

Both jasper and carnelian are forms of chalcedony, more commonly known as quartz. Jasper has a greenish color and carnelian has a reddish color.

The light from this Most Holy Being creates a greenish (emerald colored) rainbow halo around Him. The power and might of the Almighty is apparent from the "flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder" that emanate from the throne.

4Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. 5From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. 6Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

We will look more at the 24 elders later.

The Seven Spirits of God

The seven spirits of God seems like a unique concept except as we look at the imagery as symbols of God's perfect and omnipresent Spirit. Let's see what more we can learn.

Rev. 1:4 John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, [John is recalling the seven lamps here and Jesus words following]

Rev. 3:1 "To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.

Rev. 4:5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.

Rev. 5:6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

In our present text (Rev. 4:5), the seven spirits of God are symbolized as lamps. In Rev. 5:6, the Lamb (a symbol of Jesus) has seven eyes, again representing the seven spirits of God. Jesus said to His disciples,

Matt. 6:22 "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.

Luke 11:34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness.

Since the eyes are the lamps of the body, the symbolism of eyes and lamps is consistent. Note that Jesus holds the seven spirits of God (Rev. 3:1) or controls them, even as a person controls his eyes. Note Jesus controls onto whom He will send the Spirit.

John 15:26 "When the Counselor [the Holy Spirit] comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.

John 16:7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

Recall that when the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit come upon them in the form of tongues of fire, one might say from the lamps in front of the throne of God.

Acts 2:3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.

The Twenty-Four Elders

From the 12 references to the twenty-four elders in Revelation, it apparent that these twenty four play a very important role in the worship of God and in intercession on behalf of God's people. Let's look at some additional texts on the elders.

Rev. 7:11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshipped God,

Rev. 7:13 Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes --who are they, and where did they come from?"

Rev. 11:16 And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshipped God,

Rev. 19:4 The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried: "Amen, Hallelujah!"

The identity of the twenty-four elders is uncertain, but it is possible that these were some of the saints resurrected at Christ's death that accompanied him back to heaven at His ascension (see Matt. 27:52, 53 and Eph. 4:8-10). Their ministry in offering up the prayers of the saints symbolized by incense (Rev. 5:8, Psalms 141:2, 3), parallels that of Christ himself symbolized as the angel offering up incense before the altar and throne as part of the daily service in heaven (Rev. 8:3-5, Ex. 29:38-46, 30:7,8). Christ is our high priest ministering in the heavenly temple (Heb. 4:14-10:18). He can fully represent mankind, because He Himself has experienced the temptations and weaknesses of man (Heb. 4:15).

It only makes sense that since the ministry of the high priest was aided by other priests, that Christ's ministry in heaven would also be aided by priests who had also experienced and overcome the temptations and weaknesses of man.

The Four Living Creatures

It is most likely that these four living creatures are other symbols of the four creatures seen by Ezekiel by the river Kebar, surrounding the throne of God. Ezekiel called these cherubim.

In doing some research on cherubim the following was discovered.

The Ark of the Covenant had a cherubim at each end of the Atonement cover. God's presence on earth dwelt between the two. The Israelites recognized that God sits enthroned between the cherubim and this was mentioned in a number of the Old Testament references.

Exod. 25:18-20 And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends. The cherubim are to have their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the cover.

Ps. 99:1 The LORD reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake.

Isa. 37:16 "O LORD Almighty, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.

Ezek. 10:14 Each of the cherubim had four faces: One face was that of a cherub, the second the face of a man, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle. 15 Then the cherubim rose upward. These were the living creatures I had seen by the Kebar River.

Ezek. 28:14 You [Lucifer, Satan] were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones.

Cherubim, due to their proximity to the throne of God, were the highest ranking angels. Satan was such a privileged cherub before wickedness was found in him.

One commentator noted that in the camp of Israel during the time of the Exodus, the sanctuary was set up in the center. The tribes that camped directly to the front, rear, and each side of the sanctuary had on their standards or flags, the ox, eagle, lion and man. It should be noted that angels (and corresponding "spirits") have the ability to materialize in many different forms.

This commentary on this chapter will be completed at a later time. - Please go on to the next one.

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