Let us journey with John to the throne room of God
By Don Ruhl
In Revelation 4:1–3, John receives an invitation to see the glorious beauty of God. The invitation begins with these words,
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this” (Rev. 4:1).
Since we are entering the presence of royalty, a trumpet-like voice announces the invitation. Listen to the wonder with which John writes, obvious from his use of “behold” in this and the next verse.
Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne (Rev. 4:2).
He sees something wonderful and wants us to see it with him. See John’s graphic emotion. The throne rooms of men bring reverence into our hearts and mannerisms. The uncommon sights of majesty silence us. However, earthly thrones are but as children’s toys in comparison to the splendors of the heavenly throne. Kings of earth do not surround themselves with other thrones, but the One sitting on this throne is not jealous nor is He threatened by others. John does not tell us who sits on the throne, but the things surrounding the throne will show us who it is.
And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald (Rev. 4:3).
A jasper can be many colors, chiefly brick-red to brownish red, but some commentators believe this is a diamond. Revelation 21:11 speaks of “…a jasper stone, clear as crystal” (Rev. 21:11). The King’s glory is bright with a translucent appearance like jasper. A sardius stone is also transparent, which, like the jasper, was used in the Aaronic priest’s breast-plate, and like jasper, is part of the foundation of the holy city, new Jerusalem. See the emerald rainbow around the throne. A rainbow is a sign of God’s covenant to be merciful, that He will not send another world-wide flood. Rainbows are spectacular, and this rainbow adds to the awesome appearance of God on His throne. Interestingly, this rainbow is dominated by green or varying shades of green.
Next Revelation 4:4–11 shows the glorious beauty around the throne,
Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads (Rev. 4:4).
Thrones surround the throne, because he is King of kings, and they recognize Him as such. Twenty-four thrones are significant. There were twelve tribes of Israel and twelve apostles, each holding prominent places in their respective dispensations. Revelation 21:12 says that the twelve gates of heaven are named after the twelve tribes of Israel. Revelation 21:14 shows the twelve foundations of the heavenly Jerusalem with the names of the apostles. You see, heaven is for people of both time periods. In Matthew 19:28, Jesus promised the apostles that they would sit on thrones. In Revelation 4, they wear white garments that have not been soiled, for they are holy. Crowns of gold adorn their heads, for they lead a multitude of people.
Now see the majesty of the throne,
And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back (Rev. 4:5, 6).
Lightning and thunder fill us with awe and humility, impressing us with magnificent power. Lightning and thunder often accompany exhibitions of God,
Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail (Rev. 11:19).
Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled (Ex. 19:16).
The throne is exceedingly majestic in beauty, but the One on the throne makes us tremble. John heard voices, though undiscernable at first, as his senses were inundated with sights and sounds of unparalleled glorious beauty. Soon he will be attracted to what the voices are saying and he will tell of their neverending proclamation, and who they are. For now, the voices are simply part of the overall scene.
Seven lamps of fire burn before the throne. In the Book of Revelation, there are seven beatitudes, seven churches, seven golden candlesticks, seven stars, seven seals, seven horns, seven eyes, seven angels (several times), seven trumpets, seven thunders, seven thousand, seven heads, seven crowns, seven plagues, seven golden vials, seven mountains and seven kings, so there are seven lamps of fire, which are the seven Spirits of God! Seven lamps of fire provide light, perfect light, for God is perfect light, having no darkness in Him (1 Jn. 1:5). The lamps are the seven spirits of God, showing that God is the light of heaven, which harmonizes with Revelation 21:23,
The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light (Rev. 21:23).
Are you taking in all the sights that John shows you? Can you see in your mind the crystal-like glassy sea? Glass and crystal fit well into the picture of transparent brilliance. The sea is like a sheet of glass, because it is calm and clear, with no tempestuous wind or trouble. God is in control of all things, as when Jesus calmed the sea. A sea is large, seemingly neverending, and open, able to hold many. Therefore, before the throne, there is room for all, because God is merciful toward His people. He is not wrathful like a storm-tossed sea, for the storms of life ended so that there is an emerald rainbow.
There are four living creatures close to the throne. Since they are close to the throne, seven times later in the Book of Revelation they are prominent in things issued from the throne (5:6; 6:1, 6; 7:11; 14:3; 15:7; 19:4). The living creatures see everything, being full of eyes, not only in front, but in the back. They are now pictured,
The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within… (Rev. 4:7, 8).
These creatures employ power like a lion, service like a calf or an ox, intelligence like a man and speed like a flying eagle to fulfill God’s will. Each one had six wings, like the seraphim in Isaiah, doing the same work as the seraphim. Perhaps they are the same. The eyes are detailed now, but the description is different slightly. In verse 6, the description was “before and behind.” Now, “round about and within,” further emphasizing the ability to see all things. Some commentators believe the eyes are on the wings. The work of the creatures is ceaseless. They are doing it even now, because worship never ends in heaven. Ezekiel chapters 1 and 10 and 3:13, record similar manifestations of the four living creatures and the glory of God. The eternal proclamation of the living creatures is,
…“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” (Rev. 4:8).
This triple declaration is a spine-tingling announcement, impressing upon our hearts that God is holy. In fact, their declaration comes in three parts of three:
Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!
The One on the throne was, is and is to come, which is perhaps the New Testament way of saying God is the “I AM THAT I AM” of the Old Testament. If God will ask us what we want to do in heaven, one thing that I would like to do, if He permits it, is join with the living creatures and announce the holiness of God, so that the posts of the door are shaken (as in Isaiah 6) and the inhabitants of heaven fall down and worship the Great God of Heaven (as here in Revelation 4).
The elders are on thrones, but fall in worship before the One on the great Throne,
Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: (Rev. 4:9, 10).
The living creatures give worship to God, for He is the One sitting upon the throne; He is the One who lives forever and ever; He is the Holy One. Therefore, the elders follow the living creatures in worship to God. Can we neglect to glorify Him? It is logical for the elders to fall in humble worship being in God’s presence and hearing the holy announcement. They show what it means to worship God. With humility, they cast their crowns before God, emptying themselves of any self-worthiness, acknowledging the worthiness of God. They also proclaim God’s worthiness,
“You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created” (Rev. 4:11).
God is worthy! Sadly, as secular humanism continues to invade the church, convincing us we are worthy of self-admiration, worship of God becomes more unpopular. Only by grasping the holiness of God, seeing Him as the One who appears gleaming like jasper and sardius, will we worship the Lord God as the elders do. Literally, in the Greek text, it says that God is worthy to receive “the glory and the honor and the power.” He is glorious in beauty. So, the twenty-four elders, “In the excess of gratitude, self is forgotten” (Vincent).
As the elders confess, God created all things by His will. Creation was not trial and error, nor did He simply put the spark into non-living matter and watch what came up. It was deliberate to the last detail.
The redeemed shall be accepted into the throne room of God. If our origin is attributed to God, so is our destiny. He formed us and He will either save or condemn us in the end; it all depends on whether we are followers of Jesus Christ.
Savage Street Church of Christ, 220 NE Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon, 97526-1310, 541-476-3100, Rdruhl@aol.com