Rev 4:2-3                              The Throne of God                                                5/15/2005            ßà   

  • The Second Part (Rev 1:19, Matt 7:13-14, Rev 4:1-11)

 

 

 

 

 

#1.       After This (Rev 4:1)

 

 

 

 

 

  • A Throne in Heaven (Rev 4:2-3, John 10:30, Heb 12:29, Ex 28:15-21)

 

 

 

 

 

  • A Rainbow (Rev 4:3, Gen 8:20-22, 9:8-17)

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       Twenty Four Elders (Rev 4:4-5,1:15, Eph 2:6)

 

 

 

 

 

#3.       Giving Praise to God (Rev 4:11, Eph 2:8,10, Phil 2:13)

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 1:19 (2X). Allow me to take you in my helicopter and take a grand overview of the entire Prophecy of Revelation from a distance. What do we see? We see that the objective of this entire Prophecy is to reveal unto us the Lord Jesus Christ. We may think that we already know Him as the One who loves us so much that He was willing to suffer and die for us on a cruel cross. But we do not yet know Him in all His righteousness and wisdom and power, “for of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things”. He is the One who has created all things, and “for His pleasure they are and were created”. Therefore He is revealed to us through history from “the things that were, and the things that are, and the things which shall be hereafter”. And thus, when we look at the Prophecy of Revelation we see that it can be conveniently divided into two parts. The First Part consists of chapters 1,2, and 3. These are the chapters dealing with the vision of Christ and with the letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor. In Rev 1:19 the Lord Jesus commanded the Apostle John, “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter”. “The things which thou hast seen” refer to the vision of the Lord Jesus which John had seen. “The things which are” refer to the situations in the 7 churches. “And the things which shall be hereafter” refer to chapters 4 through the end of Revelation, which is:

  • The Second Part (Rev 1:19, Matt 7:13-14, Rev 4:1-11)

From John’s perspective these were all the things which are still to come. These chapters contain the displacement of the kingdom of Satan by the kingdom of God in Christ. The first part of Revelation contains the revelation of the glorified Christ as the great King and Priest, who is ready for judgment, and who is walking in the midst of the seven churches, and who holds the seven angels of the seven churches in His right hand. Now, an overview of the second part is that it contains a sevenfold picture of the church of all ages, as she becomes manifest in this NT time period, with all her weaknesses and strengths, and with all her good and evil properties. And so, what is the main theme of this 2nd  part? The main theme of the second part of this Prophecy is “The certain displacement of the kingdom of Satan by the Kingdom of God in Jesus Christ”. That is the main theme here. It is a displacement which will be carried out through history, but which will be finalized in the great destruction of the sinful world on the Last Day when the Lord Jesus shall come with His angels and His saints, to judge the nations of the world that know not God. This displacement of the old and sinful order by the new and perfect order of the new creation, is the displacement of the Satanic kingdom of darkness by the glorious Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is the main theme of the rest of this Prophecy. We should keep this in mind. All the visions that are recorded in the second part of this Prophecy serve to throw light upon this general subject. There are in this world only two kingdoms: the Kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of Satan. There are in this world only two kinds of people: the people of God, who are also called the Elect, and all the rest of mankind who are called the Reprobate. In His wisdom God chose the number of the Elect to be far smaller than the number of the Reprobate. We know that from Matt 7:13-14, where the Lord Jesus said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it”. Throughout our lifetime and throughout history those two kingdoms, those two groups of people, are continually at war with each other, even though the Kingdom of Christ has already won the victory in 33 AD when the Lord Jesus was crowned in glory at the right hand of the Father. We need this overview of the entire Prophecy of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, like we need to see the entire forest from our helicopter before we touch down to look at the individual trees. If we would not do that, we would get lost in studying each individual tree, and not see the forest. Please turn now to Rev 4:1 (2X). Now we begin this 2nd part, written from chapter 4 until the end of Revelation. And when we read this second part we should not look at it as if it was history written chronologically. It was not written so that we can find scene after scene of world history, so that we can find in what portion of actual history we presently are, because then we would be able to find the timing of the 2nd coming of Christ. But that is forbidden territory, for the Lord says that no one knows the day or the hour of His 2nd coming. Instead, we must see all these events that must still come to pass as pictures thrown on the screen of symbolism. There is no historical order of these pictures, and there is no attempt made in this Prophecy to point out historical causes and effects. All these scenes are connected with their main cause: the Almighty God and His eternal decree as revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord. And so, when we study these chapters we must remember that the main theme is that the sinful kingdom of Satan is gradually displaced by the perfectly righteous Kingdom of Christ. And we see this process repeatedly in the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and the seven vials, which represent the general outline of this second part. What is pictured in this second part is both contemporaneous and consecutive, which means: history repeats itself. In that ever-repeating history we will see the recurrence of scenes pictured on the screen. We will see that these scenes develop and repeat themselves with ever increasing force and intensity, until finally Christ shall come to establish His own Kingdom forever and in perfect righteousness. Let us now read Rev 4:1-11,

Re 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 hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.

Re 4:2-3  And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.      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.

Re 4:4  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.

Re 4:5 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.

Re 4:6  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 beasts full of eyes before and behind.

Re 4:7-8  And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.             And the four beasts 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, which was, and is, and is to come.

Re 4:9  And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,

Re 4:10  The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

Re 4:11  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.

Let us go back to verse 1.

#1.       After This (Rev 4:1)

Rev 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 hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.

From these words we can see that there was a transition from the first part to the second part. We remember that in chapter 1 John was in the spirit, on the Lord’s Day. But here in verse 2 John writes, “And immediately I was in the spirit“. It does not mean that there was a long interval of time between the first vision, ending with chapter 3, and the second vision, beginning with chapter 4. However, John was conscious of a change, a decided transition from the first vision to the second. The difference between those two visions was characterized especially by a change in scene. The first vision was on earth, with a very definite historical background. John knew those seven churches, and he probably knew also the pastors of these seven churches. And those seven churches were a picture of the whole church as it exists throughout the ages and as it also exists today. But in the second vision John is called to heaven. Heaven is opened to his spiritual eye. It does not mean that John was literally and bodily translated into heaven. But John’s translation was only in the spirit. He received a vision of heaven. So now we will see the future from the viewpoint of heaven, especially from the point of view of Him that sitteth on the throne. And God said, “Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter”. God will reveal to John, and to us, “things which must come to pass hereafter”. This “must” is a divine “must”. It implies the necessity of God’s counsel. God has decreed the entire course of history, and because of that decree things must necessarily come to pass as decreed, and not in any other way. Only God can say these things because only God can cause to come to pass what He in His wisdom has decreed. Behind it all stands the unchangeable counsel of Almighty God who has determined the end from the beginning. And thus we must not imagine that these things will come to pass after the church has been raptured up to heaven. Some people imagine that the church will not have to go through the Final Tribulation Period, because they think that the church will first be raptured before all the evil things of the following chapters will come to pass. But that is not so. The church will go through the Final Tribulation Period, which is clear from the rest of this Prophecy, which was written and which God gave for the comfort of the church in the midst of the tribulation of the present time. And when God says that these things must come to pass hereafter, it does not mean after the church has finished her course, but simply after the present time from John’s point of view. And these things shall come to pass in our time with increasing force and intensity as the day of the draws closer. And then, what did John see?

  • A Throne in Heaven (Rev 4:2-3, John 10:30, Heb 12:29, Ex 28:15-21)

Rev 4:2-3  And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.      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.

This is the first object which John saw. This throne, and He that sat on it, is indeed the central figure in the entire vision. The throne of God is the symbol of royal majesty and sovereignty, and at the same time it is a symbol of the supreme power of judgment. God’s throne is not only a symbol of His majesty, but also a symbol of God as the Judge of all mankind. He who sits on the throne is the Triune God. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all three only One God. For example, the Lord Jesus said in John 10:30, “I and the Father are One”. John could not describe His color or His form. John could only state the general impression of the holiness, and the righteousness, and the glory and the majesty of Him that sat on the throne. “He was to look upon like a Jasper”. A jasper is a valuable gem stone. But what color does a jasper stone have. I looked it up in the encyclopedia. There portrayed is a black jasper, a green jasper, a red jasper and a yellow jasper. It is a silicon dioxide which has been colored by aluminum oxides or by iron oxides, or by both. In other words, just like Him that sat on the throne cannot be described in color or in form, so the jasper stone cannot be defined in color or in form. The second stone mentioned in verse 3 is a sardine stone. A sardine stone or a sardius, is a stone with a bright red color, which reminds us of the fire of God’s holiness and wrath. This symbolizes the second aspect of the throne of God where God is the Judge. We read in Heb 12:29, “For our God is a consuming fire”. The third stone mentioned in verse 3 is an emerald. We read there, “a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald”. An emerald does not have many colors like a rainbow. An emerald is pure green and transparent, not at all like a rainbow. Why does God mention here these three valuable gem-stones? Please turn in your Bibles to the prophecy of Exodus 28:15 (2X). In this passage God described in detail the twelve stones in the breastplate that the priests in the OT wore. What can we learn from this description? Three of those stones are the jasper, the sardius, and the emerald. It is not the appearance of the breastplate, but the words that accompany this description that draws our interest. The words in Ex 28:15-21 reveal to us two aspects of the God of the Covenant. We read in Ex 28:15-21,

Ex 28:15-16  And thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment with cunning work; after the work of the ephod thou shalt make it; of gold, of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine twined linen, shalt thou make it.      Foursquare it shall be being doubled; a span shall be the length thereof, and a span shall be the breadth thereof.

Ex 28:17-20  And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius (2X), a topaz, and a carbuncle: this shall be the first row.   And the second row shall be an emerald (2X), a sapphire, and a diamond.      And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst.        And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper (2X): they shall be set in gold in their inclosings.

Ex 28:21  And the stones shall be with the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet; every one with his name shall they be according to the twelve tribes.

In verse 15 it is called the “breastplate of judgment”. You would think that God would leave out the aspect of judgment in this beautiful description of the priest’s clothing. But no! The word is really judgment. In Scripture God emphasizes the fact that every human being must be judged, and every human being must go through Hell before he can go to heaven. Some will be judged in Christ, and will go through Hell with Christ and in Christ, until we have come out the other end of Hell with Christ and in Christ. Others will be judged for their own sins and will go to Hell for an eternity before they can enter into heaven. But of course, that will never happen because they are there for an eternity. The Elect will be judged in Christ, and for them our God is the God of the covenant. He honors the covenant that He wrote before the foundation of the world, wherein He promised to save them from their sins and from Hell, not for their good works, but for the good works of Christ, our Savior. That is why we read in Ex 28:21, “And the stones shall be with the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet; every one with his name shall they be according to the twelve tribes”. Their names were engraved on the stones of the breastplate of the high priest, who is a figure of Christ as our High Priest. And thus symbolically our names are engraved on the breastplate of Christ, our High Priest. God used the entire scenario of the exodus out of Egypt as a picture of our deliverance out of the house of bondage of sin and Satan. And when we come to Rev 7 and Rev 14 we see indeed that we are represented there among the 144000 of all the tribes of Israel, the Israel of God. And there the symbolism of the Elect as the Israel of God is made complete. Please turn again to Rev 4:3 (2X) And so, we see that God mentioned these three gem-stones to indicate that He is a God who remembers His covenant promises for His Elect. But for all the unsaved He also is a God who holds to His promises. When He promised in Rom 6:23 that the wages of sin is death, and the death that God has in view is an eternity in Hell, God will also keep His promises to all those who do not believe that Christ can save them from their predicament. But why does God compare the emerald to:

  • A Rainbow (Rev 4:3, Gen 8:20-22, 9:8-17)

Rev 4:3, “and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.”

An emerald is green. It is the symbol of nature budding forth and renewing itself in the time of spring, and so it is also a symbol of the new creation after the judgment of the Last Day, and thus it is the symbol of hope with respect to the coming of the Day of the Lord. But round about the throne John saw a rainbow. What is the symbol of the rainbow and what does it have in common with the hope that is portrayed by an emerald? The only other place in the Bible where God focuses our eyes on a rainbow is in Gen 9. Please turn in your Bibles to Gen 8:20 (2X). Let us pick up the context here in Gen 8:20. In Genesis chapter 6 God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of his heart was only evil continually. Then God commanded Noah to build an ark of gopher wood and to take of all the animals two of a kind with him into the ark. It took Noah 120 years to build the ark. During all that time Noah warned the people that God was going to destroy them for their wickedness. They could not say that they did not receive a warning. Then in Gen 7 came the worldwide flood, and in Gen 8 the waters gradually subsided. Then we read in Gen 8:20,

Ge 8:20 ¶  And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

Ge 8:21  And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

Ge 8:22  While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

What did God promise here? Paraphrased God said within Himself, “I will not again curse the ground by using water as the curse, and I will not again destroy every living thing in the same way that I have done, by drowning them in water. Even though the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth, and even though they deserve to be destroyed again and again, I will not destroy them again with a flood”. God picks up this line of thought in Gen 9:8. There we read:

Ge 9:8 ¶  And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying,

Ge 9:9  And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;

Ge 9:10  And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.

Ge 9:11  And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the

waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.

God made a covenant with Noah, and with his descendants, and with all the animals that went out of the ark. It does not mean that God will save animals when this earth will be destroyed on the Last Day. Flesh and blood shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. But God used animals to represent all of His creation, and thus God spoke about His promise to recreate this universe by speaking about His covenant with all the animals. This kind of figurative language appears more often in the Bible. And then God continued to speak about the outward sign of His covenant. We read in verse 12,

Ge 9:12  And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

Ge 9:13-15  I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.                  And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:        And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

Ge 9:16  And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

Ge 9:17  And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.

At first glance the rainbow seems to be a token of God’s promise that He will never destroy the earth again with a flood. But is that all the content of this passage? Is there more? Yes, there is more. God said in verse 16 that the covenant is everlasting, which means that the extent of the covenant is more than the apparent promise. God made a promise not to flood the world again, in order to carry out His commitment to save all His Elect people who are scattered throughout time. God is long-suffering toward this sinful world until all the Elect have been saved. After that He will introduce the end of time. And so, when we consider the rainbow as the sign of God’s everlasting covenant with all His Elect, we see that the rainbow is a symbol of God’s grace with a view to all His works. It supports the view that the three gem-stones also point to God’s covenant with all His Elect. This is what the emerald and the rainbow have in common. Their outward appearance is not similar, but their spiritual meanings are similar. And thus, the vision of the throne, with God to look upon as a jasper and sardius, and with a rainbow around the throne, is a throne of righteousness and grace, holiness and purity, wrath against the world and hope for the people of God. And then we see:

#2.       Twenty Four Elders (Rev 4:4-5,1:15, Eph 2:6)

Re 4:4  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.

Re 4:5  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.

Out of the throne come lightnings and thunderings and voices. This is an entirely different God than the God of love we hear about so often these days. This God sends out lightning and thunder. What does that mean? It means that our God demands that we pay attention to His Word. When we read about lightnings and thunderings we think about Mount Horeb, where God sent out lightnings and thunderings to make the people of Israel quake and fear before Him. God demands that He be heard. There at Mount Horeb God appeared in His majesty as the King of Israel, and as the Lawgiver of Israel. God demands that we listen to what He says. We may also think of the many Psalms which describe the Lord in all His majesty, and coming for judgment in lightnings and thunder. And so, lightnings and thunder are not pleasant signs, but they are signs to those who consider themselves children of God, but in their lives they behave more like children of the Devil. The God of the Bible is a jealous God. If we use His name then He demands that we give glory to Him both in our words and in our life. And then there were voices. John heard these voices over and above the roaring noise from the stormy sea, and John was reminded that in chapter 1, verse 15, He heard Christ speak and His voice was as the sound of many waters. Think of the sound of a waterfall combined with lightnings and thunderings that are louder than the waterfall. That is the description we find symbolizing the majesty of God, both in itself, and in its terrible activity against the sinful world as the Judge of all.

Before the throne are seven lamps of fire burning, which are the seven spirits of God. These seven spirits before the throne represent the Spirit of Christ as He dwells in the church of God forever. Here before the throne stands the Spirit of Christ. It is the Holy Spirit as He dwells in Christ as the head of the church, and therefore it is the Spirit who dwells also in the church. It is also the Spirit of God in Christ through whom the Kingdom of God will be perfected, and in its perfection will exist forever. And so, this is the place of the seven Spirits in this beautiful vision, which is symbolic of the new order that is to come. And then round about the throne John sees twenty four thrones, and upon those thrones twenty four elders. These 24 elders refer to older men. Most likely these refer to the heads of tribes, or to the heads of certain people. Undoubtedly these represent 12 tribes of Israel, representing the OT church and 12 Apostles representing the NT church. And thus the 24 elders represent the fulness of all believers. These elders are sitting around the throne of God. We read in Eph 2:6, “And (God) hath raised us up together (with Christ), and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus”. Here we are, represented by these 24 elders, sitting around the throne of God. The 24 golden crowns symbolize not only royal glory and dominion, but also victory of sin and Satan. Only by the grace of God can we have victory over the Devil. The church is here pictured from its ideal point of view, not as a church in tribulation, but as a church in eternal glory in heaven. They were clothed in white raiment, because they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb.

Please drop down to Rev 4:11. What would be our response, knowing that God has showered us with such great blessings in heavenly places? The 24 elders show us what should be our response.

#3.       Giving Praise to God (Rev 4:11, Eph 2:8,10, Phil 2:13)

Rev 4:11  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.

We do not receive any credit for anything. We cannot receive credit for our believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, because we were dead in trespasses and sins. We were not able to believe. God had to make us alive first and then give us faith. It was all a gift of God’s grace. That is indeed what God said in Eph 2:8, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God”. That faith is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God. We cannot receive credit for any good work we have done after our salvation, because God says in Eph 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them”. God created us. He prepared the good works, and He made us walk in them, because He had it so before ordained. Therefore, “it is God which worketh within us, both to will and to do of His good pleasure”, from Phil 2:13. And so we read in Rev 4:11, “for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created”. We were not created for our benefit, but for the glory of God. Therefore, in the new creation we will all rejoice in glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ and we do it gladly for all eternity. We will never be bored for one moment, since Christ is our Bridegroom and we are His Bride, and we will be celebrating our wedding feast for all eternity.

AMEN.

Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.