A Commentary on Revelation Chapter 4
INTRODUCTION TO REVELATION CHAPTER 4
Come with me and we will see the grand inauguration. First we are introduced to the Majesty On High–God himself is described in resplendent glory. Then we are introduced to heavens ruling class, the twenty four elders. What were they preparing for? None other than the coronation. Heaven’s ball room is filled with guests, no one had ever seen anything this elegant, excitement was in the air, praises were emanating from celestial beings. Then came the great announcement: The Lion of the tribe of Judah, The Lamb of God, The Root of David had appeared– The throne room was filled with applause. Lightening, Thunder, and voices–It was a “heavenly fireworks” seraphim’s and cherubim’s led in the “glory chorus” of Holy, Holy, Holy. They were proclaiming that Jesus the creator was worthy to receive power, honor and glory, for he had created all things.
EXPOSITION TO REVELATION CHAPTER 4
1 After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. 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.”
It was fitting for John to describe what he saw in heaven before he begins the recital of the great events that were about to be enacted. This chapter is given entirely to the setting forth the occupants and forces of heaven who were to direct all of the coming events. He first describes in symbolic language what he saw. We must bear in mind that the language is highly figurative even to the throne for that was only “set” in heaven, like the “movies,” where everything is set for the panorama that follows. First we see a door standing open and just through the door we get a glimpse of the triune God with all his attendants. Wow! What a scene. Like the sound of a trumpet a voice says come up hither, and I will reveal to you the future.
In the [Or my] thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. Ezek. 1:1
2 At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.
Enraptured John’s flesh no longer hinders his vision and senses.
I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. ll Cor. 12:1
John sees the royal seat of God and Christ and describes his radiance and splendor.
3 And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne.
Jasper is a precious stone–quartz like, variegated with divers colors, some sea green dazzling in brilliance. The Sardine stone (Carnelian NIV. and Ruby in the ASV) Blood red in color. In the heavenly scene God appeared like the crystalline brightness of Jasper and the fiery Sardis stone.
Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, [Or lapis lazuli] and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking Ezek 1:26-28
4 Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads.
If these elders are the 12 patriarchs and the 12 apostles then the resurrection had taken place before John begins his recital of the great events given in panoramic form which is unthinkable. The Twentieth Century New Testament gives the name councilors instead of the name elders. These 24 are the ruling aristocracy of heaven.
As I looked, “thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened. “Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire. (The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time.) “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. Dan. 7:9-14
5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits [Or the sevenfold Spirit] of God.
Out of the throne proceeded lightning’s and thunder. Symbols of God’s proclamations
On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. Ex. 19:16-20
Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God These seven lamps burning before the throne symbolized the Holy Spirit. Observe Solomon’s throne:
Then the king made a great throne inlaid with ivory and overlaid with fine gold. The throne had six steps, and its back had a rounded top. On both sides of the seat were armrests, with a lion standing beside each of them. Twelve lions stood on the six steps, one at either end of each step. Nothing like it had ever been made for any other kingdom. I Kings l0:18:-20
6-7 Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle.
And before the throne there was a sea of glass. Like a sheet of ice (NEB). Four beasts full of eyes before and behind. They are four seraphim’s or Cherubim’s. The same as Ezekiel and Isaiah saw. They are attendants of God and the workers of his purposes and judgments.
Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. Isa 6:2
and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man, but each of them had four faces and four wings. Ezek. 1:5,6
Then the cherubim rose upward. These were the living creatures I had seen by the Kebar River. Ezek. 10:15
8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
“Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come.”
All of this symbolizes that Gods government is sovereign, firm, enduring, intelligent and rapid in its execution. That God is past, present future, eternal, everlasting.
And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory. Isa. 6:3
9-11 Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”