Week - 10 The Throne Room OF Heaven Revelation 4 & 5 Part 1
Updated: Dec 15, 2021
Authored by Jerry Marshall
John was commanded to write about certain sights and sounds that he had never seen or heard before. For at this point, he is transported from the Island of Patmos where he was exiled (Revelation 1:9), into the very abode of God - into heaven itself - into the very throne room of God; while still under the commission of God to "write therefore what you have seen."
Such an experience forces him to use a lot of comparison statements. In this chapter he speaks of hearing a voice like the sound of a trumpet. He describes the One who sat on the throne in heaven having an appearance of jasper and sardius. He describes what was before this throne as what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. He sees four living creatures in the center and around the throne. He describes the first as being like a lion, the second as being like an ox or calf, the third had a face like a man and the fourth was like a flying eagle.
It would be from the vantage point of the throne room of God in heaven that John would see the unfolding of the divine program for the end times.
The primary activity of this place is worship. Thus, we are able to glean some practical insight into the essence of the kind of worship that is acceptable to the living Lord who sits enthroned in heaven.
There are three features of this vision that captured the attention of John. The first is a door standing open to heaven, the second is the very throne of God and the third is the worship that is expressed in paradise.
I. The Door in Heaven (Revelation 4:1)
A. The vision (1a)
“After these things…” indicates the completion of the first vision that John beheld of the resurrected and the exalted Lord (chapter one), as well as the completion of the commission of the Lord for John to write what he had communicated to the seven churches in Asia (chapters two and three).
This opening phrase also signals the beginning of the second vision of this book
(four total). This vision is the longest recorded in the book of Revelation. It begins in this chapter and is completed in the sixteenth chapter.
The incredible context from which John would receive this second vision is heaven itself. For he looks and there before him was an open door to heaven. The Apostle Paul also had such a privilege that he describes as being caught up to the third heaven.
2 Corinthians 12:2-4
2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.
Paul described this place as paradise, the third heaven; the first being the earth’s atmosphere. The second would be the interplanetary and interstellar space and the third being the very throne room of God.
It was the place to which Jesus ascended having completed the redemptive plan of God. From this vantage point, John would behold the divine design for the final days of the world as we know it.
B. The voice (1b)
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.”
This is the voice of the ascended and exalted Lord Jesus. The same voice which John heard at the beginning of his first vision from which he was commanded to write the things which he had seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things (1:10-11,19).
John compares this voice, as he did in the first chapter to the sound of a trumpet - clear, authoritative and commanding; the voice of the Lord issues forth in a command. “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”
Some have seen an implication of the rapture of the church in this command but a careful study of the text reveals that the verb “come up,” is singular referring to John alone. This command is one in which the enablement of the Lord must be provided or else it would be impossible to obey. John would not be transported to heaven for his final glorification but rather for the purpose of the revelation of what will take place after these things.
After what things? Let’s go back to (1:19), where there is not only a command for John to write essentially what is the content of the book of Revelation - but also the chronology of events recorded in this book.
“Therefore, write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.”
The things which you have seen, refers to the first vision of the exalted Lord that John received (1:12-20). The things which are, refers to the letters to the seven churches in Asia found in chapters two and three. The things that will take place after these things - marks an important transition in the book of Revelation from the church age to the final days which eventually end in the Second Coming of the Lord, the establishment of the Millennial kingdom, and finally the eternal state (4-22).
The center piece of this vision is not the door to heaven but on the one who dwells in heaven and the throne that He alone rightly occupies.
II. The Throne in Heaven (Revelation 4:2-8)
“In the Spirit ...” is descriptive of a condition in which one is so under the control of the Holy Spirit that such a transport is made possible. The command to come up to heaven is made possible now through the controlling power of the Holy Spirit which is descriptive of the condition that John was in which now enables him to obey the command to come up into heaven.
Unlike many today who claim to have made this trip and testify of things that seem to be trivial and even bizarre, the first thing that captures the attention of John is the center piece of heaven, and that is the very throne of God and him who sits upon it.
For this is the seat from which our sovereign God exercises His sovereignty over all things directly or indirectly. It is the place from which the providence of God is initiated. It is the seat of divine power, ultimate power and unlimited power.
This vision debunks the notion that random chance governs the universe. It is Him who sits enthroned in heaven, the Creator of all that exists and therefore, the Sovereign One of all that He has created.
A. On the throne (2-3a)
Revelation 4:2–3 (NASB)
2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. 3 And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance.
Although John does not name the one sitting on this throne, it is obvious that he is beholding God the Father because He is distinguished from the Lamb mentioned in the fifth chapter (God the Son), and the Holy Spirit mentioned later in this chapter (4:5). This is similar to the vision that Isaiah spoke of when he gazed upon Him who sits on the throne in heaven.
I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, lofty and exalted, or high and lifted up, with the train of His robe filling the temple. (Isaiah 6:1)
Daniel had a vision of the Lord on his throne. So did Ezekiel (1:26-28).
The only way that John could adequately describe this One who sits enthroned, was by the brilliance of His reflective transcendent glory emanating from His person, which John describes as an appearance of Jasper and sardius, which are precious stones. Jasper is not to be understood as it is today which is sort of dull and opaque. The key to its probable identification is found in Revelation (21:11).
11 (New Jerusalem) It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.
From this description, we can determine that the reflective and transcendent glory of the Lord was diamond-like, flashing the many facets of the perfection of the sum of His character revealing the colorful spectrum of the awesomeness of the One enthroned in heaven.
Sardius or carnelian was a fiery deep red stone. It was the stone for which the city of Sardis was named. This stone came to John’s mind as he attempts to convey to the reader another dimension of the colorful display of the transcendent glory of God.
The One who sits enthroned in heaven is manifested by this colorful, pulsating, reflective display of His transcendent perfection and glory.
B. Encircling the throne (3b)
A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne.
The rainbow in the Bible symbolizes both the covenant of God with Noah as well as the judgment of God. The chances are that this emerald rainbow is just simply the reflective outer rim of exploding colorful display of the emanating glory of the Lord coming from His person. Sort of like a halo, or some sort of an aura of the majesty of God’s perfection casting forth in a rim or halo of the color green.
The word Rainbow in the original language literally means a circle of light, a
fiery-like ring, thus a halo or some sort of reflecting aura which encircles.
The most spectacular laser light show, cleverly devised by a technician of our day, would pale in comparison.
C. Surrounding the throne (4)
Revelation 4:4 (NASB)
4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads.
There is little agreement among Bible scholars about the identity of the twenty-four elders who surround the throne of God in heaven. Some understand these elders to be referring to some angelic beings of an exalted order whose chief purpose is to worship before the throne of the Lord and to be ready to serve Him at His beckoned call.
But nowhere else in the Bible are angels ever described as “elders,” nor are angels ever described in the Scriptures as seated upon thrones or ruling or reigning. Their chief responsibility is to be ministering spirits sent out to render service to those who will inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:14).
This title, along with what they are wearing, as well as the fact that they are seated upon thrones, have promoted some to say that the twenty-four elders are a representation of all true believers who are absent from the body but present with the Lord, clothed with the righteousness of Christ and reigning with Him upon their thrones.
Others have identified the twenty-four as being a composite of the representative heads of the twelve tribes of Israel, (Old Covenant people) and the twelve Apostles (New Covenant people).
More important than their identity, is what they do.
D. From the throne (5a)
Revelation 4:5 (NASB)
5 Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God;
These natural forces of a pending storm have been associated with the presence of the Lord in other places in the Scriptures (Exodus 19:16-19).
The display of these natural forces is a manifestation of the glory of the Lord as well as a display of the sounds of omnipotence, especially as God exercises His holy judgment. These seem to be the associated sounds of the throne room of God, the ambience of heaven.
E. Before the throne (5b-6a)
Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.
These seven lamps are either a symbol of the perfection of the Lord - or more than likely the symbol of the presence of the third person of the Trinity who is the Holy Spirit. He has already been identified in this book in this manner (cf. Revelation 1:4-5).
What John beheld at the base of the throne of God is a vast sea-like expanse of glass as clear as crystal. In John’s day, glass was somewhat dull and semi-opaque. But not this sea of glass, it was a clear and shinning as crystal.
Although much has been written and discussed about the meaning of this sea of glass, it is probably an additional phenomenon which adds to the awesome splendor of the throne room scene. There is a similar record of such a scene in Exodus (24:10), where Moses, Aaron, and the elders of Israel, “Saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself.”
F. The center and around the throne (6b-8)
Around the innermost circle most closely to the throne of God are these four living creatures that we know from other portions of Scripture to be angels of an exalted order. Their primary responsibility is to be unceasingly involved in the worship of the Lord specifically, declaring the majesty of His Holiness, His omnipotence and His eternality.
Ezekiel (10:15), identifies them as cherubim. Isaiah calls them Seraphim
(Isaiah 6:2-3). There is a much more detailed description of them found in
Obviously, much has been written and debated about the unique features of these four living creatures. Some have understood John’s description of what each of the living creature looked like as representative of all that God has created.
The one who was like a lion might represent the untamed creatures that God has created. The one who was like an ox or a calf represents the domesticated creatures, and of course the third, having the face of a man, represents mankind who have been created in the image of God. The fourth creature, which John describes like a flying eagle, would represent those flying creatures all created by the One who sits enthroned in heaven.
The truth of the matter is that we are not sure what all of these descriptive details mean, but we know for certain that they are angelic beings, and we know for certain where they are what they do and say.
Revelation 4:8 (NASB)
8 … day and night they do not cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.”
The repetition is done for the sake of emphasis. It makes the point very clear that God is a holy God, which speaks of the moral perfection of the character of God as well as His transcendence from all that He has created, and all that has been touched by sin and evil. God is separated, set apart from that which is fallen and flawed.
Secondly, these angelic beings declared that the One who sits enthroned is the “kurios,” the ultimate master the Sovereign One. The “theos,” the One who is God and the only true God and finally, the “pantokrator,” the One who holds sway over all things, the omnipotent One who is the Lord God Almighty; He is the sovereign God who is all powerful.
And finally, they speak of the eternal presence of the Lord; He is the One, who was,
and is and is to come.
III. The Worship in Heaven (Revelation 4:9-11)
A. The focus of worship (9)
Glory is a translation of the Greek word Doxa, which can also be translated praise. It is the basis for the English word Doxology. It conveys the idea of elevating the character of God with words of adoration and praise.
Honor is a translation of the Greek word “Time,” which means to give high respect, or it is descriptive of an attitude one has toward something or someone who is greatly valued. It is the basis for the name Timothy, which literally means honoring God.
Thanks - is from the Greek word “eucharistia,” which is the attitude thanksgiving in reflection on all that God has done.
All of this is directed toward the One who sits enthroned in the splendor of His majestic holiness, the eternal One who alone is the exclusive focus of worship. The only true God! No one else or nothing else should ever be the focus of our adoration, devotion, praise or thanksgiving.
B. The acts of worship (10)
Revelation 4:10 (NASB)
10 the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
This is the first of six times recorded in Revelation that the 24 elders fall down in worship. It is a profound gesture of homage in recognition of Him who sits enthroned in heaven. Aware that God alone is responsible for the rewards they have received, they divest themselves of all honor and cast it at the feet of their King
They cast their crowns before the throne of God in recognition of the fact that had it not been for God's grace and mercy, they would have never obtained these crowns.
C. The words of worship (11)
Revelation 4:11 (NASB)
11 “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”
1. About the one who sits enthroned.
It is not the most powerful man on earth, nor the wealthiest person who ever lived, nor is it the most popular person from our world, nor is it any of the people that you live to impress or seek to win a favorable reputation from, nor is it a loved one, nor your husband or wife or your children, nor is it any person who held a high office in the church or in any country - nor is it you!
The One who sits enthroned in heaven has the right to sit enthroned in your life.
Please note that this throne in heaven is exclusively occupied by the only true God. The Lord does not share this throne - for He and He alone is the only worthy one to sit in the divine seat of power.
2. About the substance of worship
He is holy, omnipotent, eternal and sovereign. He is the creator of all
William Temple years ago, defined worship in this way: "To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, and to devote the will to the purpose of God."
A worship service then is not about us it’s about Him who is to be the focus of our worship. Worship is not something that others do for us - rather worship is to be done by us. In the throne room of God, worship is not a noun but a verb, and certainly that must be true when we worship.
1 John F. MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible, (Dallas: Word Publishing) 1997.
Worship was the sum of the existence of the four living creatures as it should be for you and me. To worship properly is to express one’s adoration for who God is and what He has done. It is also expressed in serving the Lord according to His purposes and for His glory. Jesus told the Samaritan woman, that the kind of worshippers the Father seeks are those who worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). In this statement of our Lord, we have the subjective and objective aspects of genuine worship.
Sometimes it’s hard to identify what you see, let alone communicate what you have seen for the first time to others. You are left with the limited literary device of comparison language. But what John saw, those of us who are true believers will see when we enter into His presence and are glorified.