1 1 Commentary by Ron Thomas. Questions by John C. Sewell. The Throne in Heaven Revelation 4:1-11
2 2 The Throne in Heaven Text: Revelation 4:1-11, 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. 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 beasts full of eyes before and behind. 7. 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. 8. 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. 9. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,
3 3 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, 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. Introduction: I. Those who hold a premillenial view see in this chapter what is designated as the rapture. A. John R. Rice once wrote: It is important to notice the effect of verses 1-3 in setting the order of events concerning the second coming of Christ. These verses evidently picture the rapture. If they do not, then there is not a single reference in the entire book of Revelation of the rapture of the saints, and that would be almost unthinkable in a book the theme of which is The Revelation of Jesus Christ at His second coming ( Bible Lessons on the Book of Revelation, Sword of the Lord Publishers, Wheaton, IL, p.8, n.d.). B. The invitation to John to come up hither is so similar to that which the church anticipates at the rapture that many have connected the two expressions (John Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Moody Press, p. 103, 1966). C. Here is another: The concept that the book of Revelation beginning with 4:1 is future, from the standpoint of the twentieth century, is a broad conclusion growing out of the correspondence of these prophecies to anything that has been fulfilled. A normal interpretation of this section which understands these prophecies as literal events would require that they viewed as future (John Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Moody Press, p. 101, 1966).
4 4 D. The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge accepts the idea of rapture, but not from this passage of Revelation. 1. To accept the doctrine in this section is to say that John is a type the church. 2. One cannot base a doctrine on a type, and proof of the timing of the Rapture must rest upon the direct statements of Scripture elsewhere. There is no need to search to Apocalypse for a direct mention of the pretribulation Rapture of the church, when the doctrine is clearly stated elsewhere (p. 1510) Thessalonians 4:13-18, But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. 4. However, beside this reference there is a question mark, making these verses doubtful support for the generally held view of the Rapture.
5 5 Commentary: The Throne of God Revelation 4:1-5, 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. 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. 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. 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. I. An open door in heaven. (4:1) A. John heard the first voice. 1. The idea of a trumpet is two-fold. 2. Loud and significant. 3. A call to warning (action) pay attention! B. What must take place after this? Barnes got it exactly right when he said, There is no intimation here when they would occur, or what would be embraced in the period referred to. All that the words would properly convey would be, that there would be a disclosure of things that were to occur in some future time (E- Sword.) II. The throne in heaven. (4:2)
6 6 A. John was in the spirit. 1. Out of the flesh? 2. Guided by the Spirit (inspiration)? B. John saw the Throne and One sitting upon it. 1. Revelation 22:1, 2, And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: III. Description of Throne and Surroundings. (4:3-4) A. Appearance. 1. Of Him. a. Precious stones (jewels). b. John 4:24, God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. c. 1 John 1:5, 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. d. 1 John 4:8, He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 2. Of Throne. B. Around the Throne. 1. Twenty-four:
7 7 a. Thrones. b. Elders. c. They had received three of the blessings Jesus pronounced upon those who overcame. d. Revelation 2:10, 26, 27, Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. e. Revelation 3:5, 21, He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 2. White garments and gold crowns. IV. From the Throne. (4:5) A. Flashes of lightenings, rumblings, and peals of thunder. B. Exodus 19:16, And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
8 8 The Four Living Creatures Revelation 4:6-11, 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. 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. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, 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, 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. I. Before the Throne. (4:5-6) A. Seven. This number seven is sacred to the Hebrews. It represents perfection. 1. Torches (lamps) of fire. 2. The seven Spirits of God. Compare with verses below. a. Revelation 1:4, John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; b. Revelation 3:1, And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
9 9 3. One lampstand with seven branches (?). a. Exodus 25:31-37, And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same. And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side: Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick. And in the candlesticks shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers. And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick. Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold. And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it. B. Sea of glass like crystal. C. Four living creatures. 1. Isaiah 6:1-10, In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house
10 10 was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. 2. Ezekiel 1:5-14, Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle. Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies. And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went. As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of
11 11 fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning. 3. Ezekiel 10: 1-22, Then I looked, and, behold, in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubims there appeared over them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne. And he spake unto the man clothed with linen, and said, Go in between the wheels, even under the cherub, and fill thine hand with coals of fire from between the cherubims, and scatter them over the city. And he went in in my sight. Now the cherubims stood on the right side of the house, when the man went in; and the cloud filled the inner court. Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD's glory. And the sound of the cherubims' wings was heard even to the outer court, as the voice of the Almighty God when he speaketh. And it came to pass, that when he had commanded the man clothed with linen, saying, Take fire from between the wheels, from between the cherubims; then he went in, and stood beside the wheels. And one cherub stretched forth his hand from between the cherubims unto the fire that was between the cherubims, and took thereof, and put it into the hands of him that was clothed with linen: who took it, and went out. And there appeared in the cherubims the form of a man's hand under their wings. And when I looked, behold the four wheels by the cherubims, one wheel by one cherub, and another wheel by another cherub: and the appearance of the wheels was as the colour of a beryl stone. And as for their appearances, they four had one likeness, as if a wheel had been in the midst of a wheel. When they went, they went upon their four sides; they turned not as they went, but to the
12 12 place whither the head looked they followed it; they turned not as they went. And their whole body, and their backs, and their hands, and their wings, and the wheels, were full of eyes round about, even the wheels that they four had. As for the wheels, it was cried unto them in my hearing, O wheel. And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle. And the cherubims were lifted up. This is the living creature that I saw by the river of Chebar. And when the cherubims went, the wheels went by them: and when the cherubims lifted up their wings to mount up from the earth, the same wheels also turned not from beside them. When they stood, these stood; and when they were lifted up, these lifted up themselves also: for the spirit of the living creature was in them. Then the glory of the LORD departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubims. And the cherubims lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight: when they went out, the wheels also were beside them, and every one stood at the door of the east gate of the LORD's house; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above. This is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river of Chebar; and I knew that they were the cherubims. Every one had four faces apiece, and every one four wings; and the likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings. And the likeness of their faces was the same faces which I saw by the river of Chebar, their appearances and themselves: they went every one straight forward. II. The Living Creatures: (4:7-8) A. Like a lion. B. Like an ox.
13 13 C. Had the face of a man. Notice the word face. D. Like an eagle in flight. E. Their description and words. 1. These four living creatures were full of eyes. This suggests their all-seeing capability. Some call it all-knowing capability. 2. They have six wings. Angels. a. Isaiah 6:2, 3, Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 3. Their proclamation. III. Worship of Him on the Throne. (4:9-11) A. Their praise of Him on the Throne. B. They prostrate before Him on the Throne. 1. Led by the four living creatures followed by the twentyfour elders. 2. They cast their crowns before the throne an indication of willing subjection. 3. Roper noted that conquered kings were compelled to cast their crowns before the conquering king. Here, the victorious ones cast the crown given them by the Lord God Almighty before His glorious Throne.
14 14 Note: Chapter 4 is the introduction and description of the glorious Throne of the Lord God Almighty. The imagery comes from Old Testament passages and they convey the might and glory of God. Moreover, created beings are before His throne and it is because of Him that they are there. Psalm 148:5, Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created.
15 15 Questions Revelation 4: Describe the One sitting on the throne. 2. Define and describe jasper and carnelian. 3. What encircled and surrounded the throne? 4. How were the twenty-four elders attired?
16 16 5. What came from the throne? 6. What was before the throne? 7. Describe the four living creatures. 8. What were the four living creatures doing and what happened when they did it? 9. What is premillennialism?
17 Summarize Isaiah 6: Summarize Ezekiel 10: Summarize Ezekiel 1: What connection is there between Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 1, Ezekiel 10 and Revelation 4.
18 What is the Rapture? Is the Rapture a Biblical doctrine? 15. Who are the Four Living Creatures?.