VISION OF GOD IN HEAVEN ON THE THRONE 4:1-8:1
SEVEN SEALS: OPENING OF THE SEVEN SEALS
I. THE THRONE 4:1-3
II. THE TWENTY-FOUR ELDERS 4:4-5, 10-11
III. THE LIVING BEINGS AROUND THE THRONE 4:6-9
In this vision John sees God in heaven seated on his throne. This signifies his complete control of time and history. This is the place where the book begins "the things that are coming." "After these things," meta tauta, means the passing of time from the things that have been to the things that will be.
When John says "I saw" and uses other derivatives of the verb "to see" it does not necessarily or always mean that the things he is about to see are arranged chronological, that is after the thing which he has just seen. The verb "to see" and its derivatives are often used by John as a technique for introducing a subdivision under one of his visions. John is evidently on the earth when he received the messages for the churches. Now he is commanded to enter heaven to receive this vision. He sees a door open into heaven. He hears a voice like a trumpet calling him to enter and receives an invitation to see the things that will occur in the future. Immediately he sees a throne and one sitting on it. God sits on the throne. The word throne is used 45 times in Revelation and only 15 times in the rest of the New Testament. Revelation could be called the throne book. The throne is a symbol of sovereignty, government and judgement. The glory of the one sitting on the throne is described by the beauty of the two stones, the jasper and the sardius. The jasper stone is known for its brilliance. "As clear as crystal," seems to describe the diamond, 21:11. The sardius stone is red and named after the city of Sardis where the best of these stones are found. The red symbolizes both the holy wrath and the redemption of God. A rainbow encircles the throne. This signifies Godís grace in the midst of judgement and his faithfulness to his promises. The rainbow has the appearance of an emerald. The seven flaming lamps stand for the fullness of Godís Spirit as did the seven lamps on the branches of candelabra in the tabernacle, see Zech. 4:2 ff. The sea is the laver of the tabernacle and symbolized the cleansing and purity necessary to approach God. The laver is called the sea in the Old Testament.
Around this throne are 24 other thrones with elders sitting on them. This arrangement seems to be patterned after the Sanhedrin which was in a semi- circle. The Greek word is thrones, although some translations have the word seats. In verse 4, elders is a title. These elders have on white robes signifying purity. They also have on crowns of gold. The word used here and translated "crowns" stefanouV (stephanous) is the word for a victorís crown.
Around the center throne are four zwa, translated living creatures. The word zwa is a different word than the one translated beast in chapter 13. The description of these living creatures match the cherubim described in Ezekiel 10:20. The "im" ending on a Hebrew word makes it plural. The faces of the living creatures show that they represent Godís creation. These living beings carry out Godís commands in creation.
(Rev 4:1 KJV) 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 show thee things which must be hereafter.
1 "DOOR": Cp. Luke 23:45; Heb 10:19 -20
2 "OPENED": Ezek 1:1
3 "TRUMPET": Rev 1:10; cp. 1 Th 4:16
4 "HITHER": Beginning with 4:1 the viewpoint of John is from heaven. As the word "church" does not appear again in Revelation until 22:16, the catching up of John from earth to heaven has been taken to be a symbolic representation of the translation of the Church as occurring before the events of the tribulation described in chs. 6 - 19.
5 "HEREAFTER": Lit. <after these things.> Rev 1:19
(Rev 4:2 KJV) And immediately I was in the spirit; and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
1 "SPIRIT": <Holy Spirit> (N.T.): 4:2; Rev 14:13. (Mat 1:18; Acts 2:4, note)
2 "THRONE": Rev 3:21; cp. Rev 22:3
(Rev 4:3 KJV) 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.
1 "LIKE": Rev 21:11; cp. Ezek 1:26 - 27
2 "RAINBOW": Gen 9:13 -17; Ezek 1:28
(Rev 4:4 KJV) 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.
1 "ELDERS": These elders represent the Church. The very word "elder" has church significance (1 Tim 5:17; Titus 1:5). Crowns throughout the N.T. are exclusively presented as rewards for the faithful in the Church. These elders sit on thrones which are associated with the central judgment throne of God (vv. 2 - 4; cp. 1 Cor 6:2 - 3; 2 Tim 2:12).
The appearance of these elders, already glorified, crowned, and enthroned before the opening of the sealed book of judgment (ch. 5) and before the end-time judgments are loosed upon the world (chs. 6 -18), reaffirms that the Church is not to be subjected to the judicial wrath and judgments of that time (cp. John 5:24; Rom 5:9; 1 Th 1:10; 5:1 - 11; Rev 3:10).
2 "CLOTHED": <Righteousness> (garment): 3:18; 4:4; Rev 6:11. (Gen 3:21; Rev 19:8)
3 "CROWNS": <Rewards:> vv. 4,10; Rev 11:18. (Dan 12:3; 1 Cor 3:14, note)
(Rev 4:5 KJV) 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.
(Rev 4:6 KJV) 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.
1 "GLASS": Rev 15:2
2 "BEASTS": See Ezek 1:5, note
3 "FULL": Cp. Ezek 1:18; 10:12
(Rev 4:7 KJV) 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.
(Rev 4:8 KJV) 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.
1 "SIX": Isa 6:2
2 "FULL": Cp. Ezek 1:18; 10:12
3 "GOD": Isa 6:3
(Rev 4:9 KJV) And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,
(Rev 4:10 KJV) 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,
1 "CROWNS": <Rewards:> vv. 4,10; Rev 11:18. (Dan 12:3; 1 Cor 3:14, note)
(Rev 4:11 KJV) 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.
1 "CREATED": Gen 1:1; John 1:3
2 "THY": Col 1:16; cp. Ps 19:1