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Chapter 3=    =Chapter 5


: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 show 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.




: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 beast full of eyes before and behind.

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

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

:9 And when those beast give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth forever and ever,

:10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne saying:

:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.


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Statement of Faith

Revelation of Jesus Christ


Verses 1 - 2

Chapter 4 begins the second of the two major visions of the Book of Revelation. Having finished receiving the messages for the seven churches of Asia, John appears to be on the verge of returning from the spiritual to the physcial realm when he looks up and sees a door opened in heaven. He then hears a loud voice sounding like the blast of a trumpet, telling him to "Come up hither..."

There is a teaching in the modern church which says that in this verse we are actually seeing the rapture (catching up) of the church as told in { I Thess. 4:16-17}. Holding to this viewpoint, however, takes Rev. 4:1 completely out of the context in which it is used.

There are a couple of sound reasons why verse 4 is not referring to the catching up of the church. Firstly, the Book of the Revelation which we have now; we have because John, not the church, was caught up to heaven. As it was being revealed to him, he was charged to present it to the seven churches. Showing John, "things which must be hereafter", was the entire reason for him being summoned up to heaven.

Secondly, in I Thess. 4:16 we are told that the dead in Christ will be raised, with "...the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God". The archangel here is seen as descending from heaven with Jesus at that time. Saints are not called to ascend to heaven by a voice which is obviously coming from within heaven itself, as with John here in chapter 4. It is commonly believed that the archangel spoken of in Thessalonains is either Michael, or Gabriel. {Click Here} for more on this subject.

When the church is caught up, Scripture states that it is to appear at the "Judgment Seat of Christ" (Rom. 14:10 ; II Cor. 5:10). There is absolutely no indication in the Book of Revelation that John ascends to heaven for this reason. That's not at all the purpose of his visit to heaven. The purpose for him going there was to preview and record the judgments of God to be poured out upon a wicked and sinful world; and to encourage the faithful not to lose hope in the face of the adverse conditions of that day. These things, he is to make known to the seven churches of Asia; and ultimately to all of the churches of Jesus Christ.

To make this verse portray the rapture of the church, forces us to make John symbolically represent the church; making the raptured church, of the future, the messenger who delivers the Revelation of Jesus Christ to the seven churches of Asia, of John's day. This is an absolutely illogical argument.

The rapture of the church is likened, in Scripture, to the fulfillment of the Jewish marriage custom (Matt. 25:1-10), which will occur with virtually no notice.

While it's true that the word "rapture" is found nowhere in Scripture, the principle which is portrayed by it, is found. Rapture is from the root word, "rapt", which in turn, is taken from the Latin word "rapere"; meaning, to seize.

This is the perfect word to describe a Jewish bridegroom coming for his bride; who in a moment, will be seized by him and carried off to the wedding chamber which he had previously constructed at his father's house. This ancient Jewish tradition will be covered in greater detail when we reach chapter 19.

The catching up of the church will take place before the tribulation period begins, but Rev. 4:1, is not the verse which confirms that event.

It's a preview of the Revelation of Jesus that's being presented; not the actual fulfillment of it. What appears to be occuring here is God's foreknowledge of future events, being presented to John, in real time. For He who is eternally present (the I AM) is able to present the future without any time constraints.

"...a throne was set in heaven..."

Here, in 4:2 John is seeing the setting of a throne in the temple of heaven. The Supreme Court of the universe is now set to convene; and Almighty God, the chief justice of the court, is seen sitting upon the high seat from which Divine judgment is about to be meted out, to a wicked world committed to the agenda set forth by the Antichrist {Dan. 7:26}. From this throne, the decree will go forth establishing the judgments by which all the earth will be recompensed for its deeds {Rev. 5:1}.


"...he that sat was..."

Verse 3

Here we are given a stunning view of Him who sits upon the throne, who's countenance is as a mixture of jasper and sardine stone.

In chapter 21:11, in the description of new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven, we are told that it has the appearance, "...like a jasper stone, clear as crystal..." Sardine (Sardius) stone is fiery red in coloration. This helps us to better understand what John was seeing. Around the throne was the appearance of a brilliant rainbow which was emerald green in color.

So we are seeing here, One sitting upon the throne, whose appearance is clear as crystal (ghost-like, yet dazzling like diamonds), having a brillant redish coloration as the glow of fire, which appears to comes forth and then recede continuously. It's reminiscent of the fiery countenance of the burning bush which Moses observed {Ex. 3:2} ; and being encircled by a brilliant rainbow, emerald green in color. His features were not as clearly pronounced, as when John saw Jesus in the vision of the seven churches; however, John could see, with certainty, that One having a magnificent countenance, was sitting upon the throne.

In the Gospel of John it is declared that no man had ever seen the Father {John 1:18}. This is a statement concerning mortal men. No mortal man has ever seen the Father in His heavenly glory. When John sees Him here, he is "in the Spirit". A majestic site to behold!


"...four and twenty elders..."

Verses 4

The twenty four thrones which John sees here, are certainly the thrones which we read about in {Dan. 7:9}. For in that passage, we see thrones (plural); and not only the throne upon which the Ancient of Days sits.

There is much speculation as to who the twenty four elders, which are seated upon these thrones, might be. Many believe they represent the twelve patriarchs of the Old Testament (sons of Jacob), plus the twelve apostles of the New Testament. Unless the John, who is given the Revelation, is not the apostle John, it difficult to see how the twelve apostles could constitute half of this group, since John the Revelator, would be seeing himself among the group, from outside the group.

One clue we have as to their identity is that they sing to the Lamb of God, "...for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people and nation;..." (5:9)

This verse would seem to dismiss the former idea of patriarchs and apostles, since they were all redeemed from the tribes of Israel, not from "every tribe and tongue and nation..." There is a possibility that these may represent the raptured church, since it indeed is to be redeemed from every tribe, tongue and nation.

These chosen ones are, at least, representative of all believers and appear to form a priesthood which ministers to the Holy One who sits upon the throne. In chapter 5:8, these have golden bowls filled with incense, "...which are the prayers of saints." Later in chapter 8:3 we shall see that these prayers are offered up to Him who sits upon the throne.

"...on their heads crowns of gold."

In the New Testament, the word "crown", as used to denote the head dress of royalty (pronounced dee-ad'-ay-mah, in Greek), is found in only three places. All three instances are found in the Book of Revelation: the "seven crowns" of the dragon (12:3); the "ten crowns" of the beast (13:1); and the "many crowns" of Jesus, at His revelation (19:12). All other references to crowns in the New Testament, are to the garland of victory (pronounced: stef '-an-os, in Greek).

We know therefore, that the golden crowns worn by the twenty four elders are not royal or authorative crowns, but are garlands of the victorious, which have been bestowed upon them, by Him who sits upon the throne of heaven. These are the crowns of righteousness, mentioned by the Apostle Paul {II Tim. 4:6-8}. The wearers have finished the race, prevailing over the world; and it has been granted to them to sit in the presence of Almighty God, King of the Universe.

There is only one King in heaven, and that is the Father, who sits upon the throne. There is also, One in waiting, who is Jesus Christ, the righteous; to be crowned, "...KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS...", when He appears with His bride (the Church) before the Ancient of Days to receive blessings, honor, power, authority and glory {Dan. 7:13-14}. He is destined to be King over all the earth {Zech. 14:9}.

In ancient times, garlands, such as worn by the twenty four elders, were given to the victors in public games which were usually played before Royalty. The race which Paul referred to in II Timothy was a reference to this. The garland was a symbol of excellence, and when bestowed upon a person, signified that the one who wore it had prevailed over all competition; and been given an elevated position before the people, by the king.

A modern day example of this type of commendation would be the winner of gold medal in the Olympics. The Apostle Paul also made mention of this type of crown in {I Cor. 9:24-25}. In that passage, the race (game) was ran with the understanding that only one received the prize (the crown). The crown there is the garland of victory (stefanos), not the diadema of a ruler.

The twenty four thrones upon which they sit are honorary seats. While this is the present case, they are also destined to wear the diadema of kings, in the earth {Rev. 5:10 ; Rev. 19:12}.

As stated above, in chapter 19:12, when Jesus is revealed from heaven, He is seen with many crowns upon His head. Those are true crowns of royalty, which carry with them civil power, that will be bestowed upon the saints, empowering them to rule, jointly with Him, over the earth. These crowns represent His total authority over the kingdoms of the earth {11:15}.

In antiquity, the diadema was a blue band with white markings which was used by the Kings of Persia to bind the turban to their heads. It was the article which distinguished the king from all others who wore turbans. Some diadems also incorporated jewels and precious stones in their makeup, but were not crowns in the sense that westerners usually think of them.

The primary difference between the garland and the kingly diadema is that the garland represents an honorary title accompanied by an exhalted position. It however, lacks the civil or political authority and power which is characteristic of the king's crown.

While there is one King in heaven, He who sits upon the throne; there will be many kings in the earth, the faithful who will be appointed by Him, to that office. The term, "KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS" refers to Jesus, and the saints who return with Him. Those saints are the kings and lords of which Scripture is speaking, not the kings of the present earth, who shall be judged at His Revelation.

The same Greek word used for the crowns worn by the twenty four elders, is also applied to the crown given to the rider of the white horse in chapter 6. His too, is not a kingly crown, but rather the garland or wreath of victory. In that case however, he will earn this honor by prevailing over all would be Messiahs {Matt. 24:5}, to become the sole power to be reckoned with in the world.


"...lightnings, and thunderings, and voices: and... seven lamps of fire..."

Verse 5

The lightnings, thunderings and voices appear to be associated with the four living creatures of verse 8. This becomes more apparent when we look into the first chapter of the Book of Ezekiel, where more detailed information concerning them is brought to light.

The seven lamps of fire, mentioned in this chapter, were covered in chapter 1. {REVIEW}

Verse 6 - 8

"before the throne ...a sea of glass..."

Here we find the first of two times in which the term, "sea of glass" is mentioned in the Book of Revelation. The second time is in chapter 15:2.

In the first instance, we are seeing a vast mirror-like surface, as a sea, extending outward from the throne of God. Here it appears that there are no people in view. In chapter 15 however, we see a multitude of saints, who had gotten victory over the Beast, his image, mark and the number of his name, standing upon it. Those are, most likely, the same group of saints described in chapter 7:9. Of those saints, it is said that they came out of, "great tribulation", which is consistent with those found in chapters {15:2} and {20:4}, who were martyred because of their refusal to receive the mark of the beast, or bow down and worship him.

The use of the word "sea" gives us to understand that a vast company of saints, "...which no man could number...", will one day stand before the throne of God, to eternally offer glory and praise up to Him.

"...four beast..."

Here, John see what he describes as, "four beast" (living creatures). They appear to be literal beings, rather than a symbolic representation of something else. Some believe them to be seraphim or cherubim, the highest orders of angelic beings which God has created.

Jewish tradition states that God created four angels to surround His throne which correspond to the four divisions of the army of Israel. Michael stands to the right of the throne; Uriel stands to the left; Raphael to the rear, and Gabriel to the front. These angels are also said to have no backs; but have four faces in their heads so as to always behold the Almighty regardless of where they are standing relative to the throne.

Whatever the case, these mentioned here in Revelation, are those which are in closest proximity to the throne of God. To get a better picture of them, we can compare the information given here with that which is found in chapter 1 of the Book of Ezekiel.

"...had a face..."

Here in verse 7, we are shown the faces of the beast. They are that of a lion; a calf; a man and an eagle. In Ezekiel this is further clarified, in that each of the "living creatures" has all four of these faces, looking in four directions. Yet in Rev. 4, each creature makes only one of its four faces visible to John, giving the appearance they each have only one face. The bodies of these beings are not described in Revelation, but in Ezekiel are likened to those of men which have bodies, "like burning coals of fire...". In Revelation they are said to have six wings, whereas in Ezekiel they are seen with four wings.

The faces may possibly be representative of the different peoples which are in the world. The lion is suggestive of those who hold the power in the earth; the calf (ox in Ezekiel) may be the ordinary people who bear the burden of keeping the world functioning (farmers and workers of every sort). The face of a man may represent our commonality (all men are of one flesh); and the face of the eagle, the inborn sense within us which drives us to seek heavenly things.

We are created in His image and thus we aspire, rightly or wrongly, to be like Him. Since the days of the tower of Babel, man has collectively sought, with wrong intent, to ascend to heaven and become like the Most High: a notion first put in the mind of man by Satan in the Garden of Eden {Gen.3:5}.

In Ezekiel, the prophet saw what is described as a fiery tornado going forth. Out of this whirlwind, the four creatures were shooting forth as bolts of lightning and then returning to it. They move straight forward from their positions and return in a straight fashion, as well. One might liken this movement to laser beams, which are projected with precise direction and dazzling speed, unlike natural bolts of lightning which are seldom straight when they go forth. Ez. 1:13,24 tells us that as they moved, their appearance was as,

"...burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches going back and forth among the living creatures. The fire was bright, and out of the fire went lightnings... and when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech as the noise of an host..."

Here we possibly see the reference to lightnings and thunderings from Rev. 4:5. The "voices" which are mentioned there as proceeding from the throne probably refers to verse 8, where it is recorded that the four creatures utter without ceasing,

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

Verses 9 - 11 bring us back to the twenty four elders, who upon hearing the words of the four living creatures, cast their crowns (golden garlands) before the throne and fall down before Him, saying:

"Thou art worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honour and power;
For thou hast created all things
And for thy pleasure they
are and were created."

Here we may have the sense that He who is sitting upon the throne is Jesus, for John 1:3 declares, "All things were made by him, and without Him was not made any thing that was made."

The context here, as from the beginning of the book, is that God the Father is the One sitting upon the throne, and by acting through His Word, He made all things to exist. The same Word which caused all things to be created, was made flesh and dwelt among us, even Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God in heaven (John 1:14).

 


CHAPTER SUMMARY

Chapter 4 begins the second of the two major visions which comprise the Book of Revelation.

Initially, John is caught up to heaven where he beheld the setting of thrones. Upon the central throne, He beheld God the Father. Surrounding Him are twenty four other thrones, occupied by twenty four elders. Also around the throne of God, are four beast, who continuously proclaim God as, "...Holy, holy, holy..."

The chapter concludes with the twenty four elders casting their crowns before the throne and offering up honor, glory and praise to Him.

 

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