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The Book of Revelation
“The Throne Room of God”
I find it interesting that today is Super Bowl Sunday. The reason why is because what we’re going to be looking at over the next several weeks is kind of like one of those programs you pick up when you go to a sporting event.
When you go to a sporting event the ushers call out, “Get your programs. Get your programs here. You can’t tell the players without a program.”
Today we’ll be looking at the playing field; the throne room of heaven, and the players; those the Apostle John saw when taken by the Spirit to the throne room in heaven.
Next week we’ll see the quarterback and what the stakes are, or more succinctly the purpose of this vision.
Today we’ll be looking at each of these players and try to figure out just who and what they represent.
Read Revelation 4:1-3
We begin looking at the center of the field, or more literally, the center of the universe, the throne of God.
People have been searching for something to guide their lives by. Throughout time humanity has been searching the heavens for meaning. From the early Egyptians and Babylonians, and even today, eyes are turned to the heavens to find meaning and purpose. Today we call this astrology, or divination based upon the position of stars in the universe in relationship to the earth.
The Babylonians were more studious in their search, and several wise men were searching the heavens based upon biblical prophecy for the coming of the King. And when the Star appeared in the East, off they went and found the Messiah, Jesus.
But as we look at the heavens, the Bible reveals there are three.
The third heaven is where the throne of God resides. Beyond our universe “a throne is set in heaven.” (Revelation 4:2)
When we look at what happens in the first six verses of chapter four it becomes clear that everything in heaven is located in relationship to it. The first six verses says, “around the throne,” “from (or out of) the throne,” “before the throne,” and “in the midst of the throne.”
The reason everything centers upon the throne is because the Lord is the One sitting on it.
When I think about this I like to think of it as what the North Star has been to humanity since the dawn of time. Like the North Star is set in the heavens and is constantly guiding sailors on their way, the throne of God is the fixed center of the universe.
Since the North Star is the only constant with stars and galaxies in constant rotation, could God’s throne reside in the space behind the North Star? Behind the North Star there exist empty space. Stars and Galaxies are found in all directions, but there is an empty space in the northern part of the universe.
This brings what Job said to the forefront, and it wasn’t until we had the Hubel Telescope and all these other huge telescopes that we found out that there was even an empty space out there.
Job said, “God stretches out the north over empty space … (and) He covers the face of His throne, and spreads His cloud over it.” (Job 26:7, 9)
And so the center of the Universe and of our lives is the Lord, and when we look to Him as the sailors look to the North Star to guide them, He will guide us.
Now Paul describes the Lord God who is sitting on the throne. And the question is, how do you describe what is indescribable?
Why are the jasper and sardius stone chosen to represent the Lord God.
Next we see a rainbow all around the throne, in the appearance like emerald, or green. Green is the color of life, if something is green it’s living, and we serve a living God, not like the dead gods of other religions. Further, the rainbow represents Gods mercy and grace as that sign of His covenant made with humanity after the flood.
Read Revelation 4:4
The twenty-four elders do pose some difficulty, and while more recent scholarship point to the possibility of them being angels, this has several real challenges including the fact that they are wearing white robes which in Revelation are described as being worn by the saints and they’re white to show the righteousness of Christ, being made white through the blood of the Lamb.
This is also seen in the song sung by these twenty-four elders to the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, the Lamb, Jesus Christ saying they were the ones redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, Revelation 5:9.
The crowns we see on their heads are not royal crowns, or “diadems,” but rather they’re the victor’s crowns, or “stephanos.” These are crowns worn by redeemed humanity because only humanity has overcome and is victorious over sin and death, not through themselves but through Jesus’ sacrifice.
Of the saints who die during the tribulation it says that they overcame the Devil and the Antichrist by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, Revelation 12:11.
So it’s better to see them as redeemed humanity, either as the twelve patriarchs and twelve disciples, or as a representation of redeemed humanity in the priesthood.
The case for them being the patriarchs and apostles is seen later on as the patriarch’s names are on the 12 gates of the New Jerusalem, and the apostle’s names are written on the New Jerusalem’s foundational walls, Revelation 21:12, 14.
The case for them representing the priesthood of redeemed humanity is seen in 1 Chronicles 24 when King David divided up the Levitical priesthood into twenty-four groups who were to serve the temple in two week stints during the year.
Read Revelation 4:5
Here we see the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit. But before we get to His description, we see proceeding from the throne lightning, thunder, and voices.
I see this as God’s pronouncements of His righteous judgment upon humanity’s wickedness, as humanity as broken God’s law and rejected His means of redemption, His Son Jesus who took humanity’s place upon the cross. Jesus took our place and died the death we all deserve.
I’m not surprised that this is the same thing that proceeds from God at the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai.
“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.” (Exodus 19:16 NKJV)
Speaking of this event it says that the sound of the trumpet was the voice of the Lord, and the people begged that His words not be spoken to them anymore, Hebrews 12:18-19.
Then John sees the Holy Spirit as seven lamps of fire, which he described as the seven Spirits of God. These are not seven separate Spirits, but rather they are the seven characteristics of the Holy Spirit that the Bible describes as the Holy Spirit ministry to the Messiah.
“The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.” (Isaiah 11:2 NKJV)
How can you describe the Holy Spirit? He’s not humanly visible unless He embodies some other form. It’s only when the Holy Spirit came as a dove at Jesus’ baptism that we know the Holy Spirit descended upon Him. It’s when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples in the upper room as cloven tongues of fire that we know the presence of the Holy Spirit descended upon them filling and baptizing them.
Also with the number seven being the number of God and perfection, these seven lamps of fire represent the seven-fold ministry of the Holy Spirit to the Father and Son.
Read Revelation 4:6-11
As we continue in God’s program, we see the strangest creatures, the four living creatures that are around God’s throne.
They may be the same as the seraphim of Isaiah 6, who had six wings and how were before the throne of God crying, “Holy, holy, holy is the lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.” (Isaiah 6:3 NKJV)
We also see four living creatures in Ezekiel vision each having faces, each having a face of a lion, ox, man, and an eagle. When compared to the living creatures in Revelation, however, we see a difference, and that is four wings verses six, and while Ezekiel said each creature had four faces, in Revelation it says that each creature only had one face.
How to reconcile these two visions is difficult but not impossible. What I see is that each views the throne room from a different perspective, vantage point, and for a different purpose. In Ezekiel God’s throne is on the move throughout the universe, where John is taken to the center of the universe and the throne room of God.
Now, there are some real interesting symbolism and links, like the living creatures link to the four gospels.
And while there are other sorts of comparisons, like the characteristics of these creatures to the Lord’s attributes, all these are speculations. What we know is that they are the closest to God’s throne and surround it on all sides, speaking of them being guardians. Having eyes all about speaks of them being aware and alert as to what’s happening in the realm, and their function is to glorify and honor God day and night without stop.
Now some have talked about how weird they look and how would God create them in this manner, but He did so that they could fulfill their function and purpose. If you think they’re strange then consider God’s creation of the ostrich, or the duck billed platypus.
John finishes by recording their praise.
“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come! … 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.” (Revelation 4:8, 11 NKJV)
Now it says that whenever these creatures give glory to God, the twenty-four elders fall down and cast their crowns before the throne.
One thing we see in heaven is constant praise of God, and so my question is why won’t we do it here. We should be in constant praise of the Lord God who not only created all things, but because He has redeemed us through the blood of the Lamb.
Now there is something that most people miss, and that’s how the living creatures sing praise day and night, and every time they do the twenty-four elders hit the ground in praise.
Let me tell you how I see this playing out. Here they are seeing God in the fullness of His glory, and every time a new aspect of God’s glory is revealed and the elders again and again for all eternity hit the ground in total awe.
There’s nothing boring about this. Throughout eternity you’re seeing a new aspect of God’s glory and all you can do is hit the ground.
So let’s end our time together this morning in praising the Lord who is worthy of all praise.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study