Revelation Chapters 4 – 5
Combined, these chapters comprise “The Throne Scene” whereupon God sits and from which the Lamb of God comes forth to open the seals of the book. The student must not forget the fact of GOD THE FATHER, GOD THE WORD, AND GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT are equal (1 John 5:7) while having their separate duties within the plan of salvation. Many confuse the separate duties of these three with “levels of authority.” Jesus, being given all Authority in heaven and in earth (Matthew 28:18) depleted nothing from God the Father’s Authority in receiving this power (1 Corinthians 15:27). Being the head of the body, the church (Ephesians 1:22 – 23; Colossians 1:18) and understanding He has been given to be the head over all things to the church (ibid.) Simply shows Jesus Christ performing His duty within the realm of the godhead. He is the embodiment of the godhead (Colossians 2:9), but certainly, only one of the three comprising this eternal deity.
- Following the recording of the seven letters, John looks and sees an opened door, opening into heaven. REMEMBER THIS IS SYMBOLIC LANGUAGE. He did not “literally” enter heaven but is permitted to “come up hither” and behold things which much be (will happen) hereafter.
- Immediately, he was “in the spirit” meaning this is the conveyance by which he receives the vision. He sees a throne set in heaven and one sitting upon that throne. Both Ezekiel and Isaiah saw visions of this grandeur. Note Ezekiel 1 and Isaiah 6. Both Ezekiel and Isaiah saw this vision as fashioned by the literal temple in Jerusalem. By A.D. 96, the temple John remembered had been destroyed some twenty-six years earlier. Nonetheless, the temple has always illustrated “the place of God” and His throne, the “sovereignty" of His power.
- Only the character of this man receives description: nothing of any personal features (head, hands, feet, etc.). Thus, the colors describe His majestic eternal powers. If we place the jasper stone as being the “stone of Benjamin and the sardine as Ruben’s, then we would have the first and the last (eternal) as represented in the breastplate of the high priest (Ex. 28:17 – 21). The rainbow is unique in that it surrounds the throne rather than being the common arch we see with a rainbow. John describes the color as “emerald.” Since the colors of rainbows (Red – Orange – Yellow – Green – Blue – Indigo – Violet) become pure white light when blended, the emerald color is unique. It would serve us to note it was Judah’s color (Ex. 28: 17 – 21), from which tribe Jesus came. To reach God, one must approach Him through Jesus (John 14:6). Thus, we see in this throne scene the presence of Jesus’ power surrounding the throne: yet the focus is upon the One sitting on the throne and that which surrounds Him in this glory.
- Mixed understandings exist among the scholars as to precisely “who” receives representation by the twenty-four seats upon which are seated twenty-four elders. Whether they represent the combined leadership of the Old Covenant (twelve tribes of Israel) and the initial leadership of the Law of Christ (twelve apostles) or the completeness of rule from the beginning dispensation to the last dispensation, is not certainly defined. However, what we DO know of these twenty-four is the following:
- They sit before God (see also Rev. 11:16)
- They are elders – older, proven leaders (thus, it COULD symbolize both the twelve tribes of Israel and the Apostles). Obviously, being before God, they are His servants to be such leaders and would uphold God’s law.
- They are clothed in white raiment – always symbolic of purity, innocence. (See Rev. 7:14)
- They wear crowns – symbolic of either victory or power or both. In this case, we should accept both as they are a part of the redeemed (see Rev. 5:9 – 10).
- These sounds are powerful and depict the voice of God as sounded forth at Sinai. The seven lamps of fire burning are defined for us: the seven (complete) Spirits of God (one Holy Spirit – the “s” continues the thought of completeness.)
- The sea of glass expresses purity for nothing is obscuring the clarity of sight toward those before the throne. The four “beasts” are better translated as “living creatures” that we might not think of them as fearsome, terrible and of evil. Rather, these living creatures serve and honor God.
- - The first is like a lion (powerful), the second like a calf (servant; industrious), the third had a face as a man (intelligence) and the fourth was like an eagle (swift in flight and powerful). Each of them had six wings (three pairs) and was full of eyes (all-seeing). They did not rest (always in His service) and proclaimed God as “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, is and is to come.” Compare the language of “Holy, holy, holy” to Isaiah 6:3. As they give glory, honor, and thanks to God, …
- The twenty-four elders fall down to worship God, casting their crowns before the throne. This casting is not in disgust, but as an indication of their inferior state compared to the One who lives forever and ever and is the Creator – the Almighty!
- They proclaim to Him, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, honor, and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure, they are and were created.” Thus, these twenty-four elders (esteemed though they were) and the four living creatures (esteemed as they were) are admittedly LESS worthy than God Almighty and in this fashion prove their subordination and allegiance.
CHAPTER FIVE ---
- In the right hand of the One sitting upon the throne is found a book (scroll that was rolled), which has writing both inside and out (can neither receive addition or subtraction from its content) and sealed with seven (complete) seals. Therefore, it could NOT receive reading until opened, and could not be opened without the authorization of the One upon the throne!
- A strong angel (messenger) proclaimed with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book and loose (break) the seals?” This was not a challenge, but a PROCLAMATION proving none of the twenty-four elders or the four living creatures were permitted --- and certainly not John who but an observer of this vision!
- No man in heaven, nor in earth, nor under the earth (living or dead – Phil. 2: 5 - 12) was able (worthy) to open the book nor even to look thereupon.
- This reality saddened John, not so much for “curiosity” but for the reality of UNWORTHINESS. None of mankind in all known existence was WORTHY. (Gen. 6:5; Romans 3:18; 23)
- One of the elders (leaders) informed John he need not weep. Carefully note the language of verse five: “Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49: 8 – 12; Heb. 7:14) the Root of David (Isa. 11: 1 – 16) have prevailed (conquered) to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.”
- John looks and sees from the midst of the throne, four living creatures, and elders, a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns (complete power; rule; authority) and seven eyes (complete penetrating vision) which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. (see 4:5)
- This being came and took (accepted) the book from the right hand of the One upon the throne,
- and having taken the book, the living creatures and the twenty-four elders fall for the Lamb. As they have harps (symbolic of praise) and golden vials of incense (symbolic of prayers – and so defined) …
- they SUNG a new song saying, “Thou art worthy to take the book, and open the seals. You were slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation ...
- and hast made us unto our God kings and priests (1:6) and WE shall reign on the earth. (1 Cor. 4:1 – 16)
- As John continues to see, he hears the voice of many angels round about the throne, living creatures, and elders. The number is ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, meaning “innumerable.”
- These all say with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive POWER, RICHES, WISDOM, STRENGTH, HONOR, GLORY, BLESSING.
- All creatures heard JOHN (“I”) saying, “Blessing, honor, glory, power, be unto Him, that sitteth upon the throne, AND to the Lamb.” It appears most certain John knew the Lamb of God!
- The four living creatures concurred saying, “Amen” as did the twenty-four elders!