The Throne of Heaven

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Scripture Focus- Revelation 4

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Revelation is introduced as “The revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place.” Ch 1:1

Jesus is presented as “The Faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.” Ch 1:5

The Apostle John is spoken of as a “Brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus.” Ch 1:9

 John is given a message to deliver to the 7 Churches in Revelation in Chapters 2-3.

Church at Ephesus left its first love.

The Church at Smyrna the persecuted church.

The Church at Pergamum compromised with the world.

The Church at Thyatira tolerated sin.

The Church at Sardis was spiritually dead.

The Church at Philadelphia that endured patiently.

The Church at Laodicea was spiritually lukewarm.

Now we come to a transition point in Revelation where the scene of the vision given to John focuses on Heaven, specifically the Throne of Heaven.

Back in Ch 1:19 Therefore write what you have seen, what is, and what will take place after this.

V1 is the key to understanding the rest of Revelation. Come up here!

Everything we will consider from here on out, is yet to be fulfilled, still to come in the future.

Time is revealed: What must take place after this– refers to after the Church Age. After this reveals the beginning of things to come. After Ch 3:22 the church isn’t mentioned here on earth. This is one of the primary arguments for holding to the belief that the church will taken up into Heaven prior to the time of the Great Tribulation.

When we look around in the world, it seems out of control. Many situations in the world make no sense at all. When we consider God is on his throne in Heaven and all of creation is in his control- he is working out his providential plan, life and eternity come more clearly into focus.

The throne reveals the power of God.

Imagine what John must have felt when he encountered God sitting on the Throne in Heaven. Have you given much thought to the fact that you will stand before His throne some day? Our life’s journey will be finished, our burdens gone, our brokenness healed forever.

The appearance of the throne was magnificent- The one who sat on the throne had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. Jasper is a clear stone, and probably resembled a diamond. The carnelian also known as ruby. The jasper and carnelian were the first and the last of the 12 gemstones worn by the High Priest (Exodus 28:17-21). The appearance of the throne was enhanced by a rainbow resembling an emerald encircling the throne.

There were 24 elders around the throne- seated on lesser thrones were 24 elders dressed in white and wearing crowns of gold on their heads. The crowns were like the ones given to the winners in Greek games. The crowns indicate the elders had been judged and rewarded by God. The 24 represent the 12 Patriarchs and the 12 Apostles. In Rev 21:12-14 the New Jerusalem is described as having twelve gates after the 12 tribes of Israel. It is built on 12 foundations which contain the names of the 12 Apostles.

The elders were clothed in white clothes (purity and holiness) and were wearing golden crowns on their heads (symbolizing the authority to rule with Christ).

God’s throne reveals the power of God- Coming forth from the throne- flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder. This is reminiscent of the scene on Mt. Sinai when God gave the Ten Commandments to the Israelites. Exodus 19:16 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.

Seven fiery torches were burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God. Seven is the number of completeness and fullness. The seven torches reveal an abundance of light around the throne of God. The golden lamps stood in the area of the Tabernacle and Temple in front of the Holy of Holines.

Before the throne was a sea of glass similar to crystal – clear like God’s understanding and insight. In the Temple there was a great brass basin filled with water where the priests would wash before they ministered before the Lord. The sea of purification for us is the blood of Jesus.

Isaiah 40:21-22 Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been declared to you from the beginning? Have you not considered the foundations of the earth? God is enthroned above the circle of the earth; its inhabitants are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like thin cloth and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

All of this and yet God invites us to know Him. . .to trust Him. What do you need to trust God in his power for?

The throne reveals the holiness of God.

In the midst of the throne and around the throne were four living creatures full of eyes in the front and back.

The first- like a lion (boldness and courage)- Jesus as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. The second- like an ox (strength and tenacity)- Jesus as the Suffering Servant. The third- had a face like a man (intelligence)- Jesus as the Son of Man. The fourth- like a flying eagle (swiftness)- Jesus as the Son of God come down from Heaven.

The imagery comes from the prophecy in Ezekiel 1:5-6 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. These creatures serve God as messengers. Ezekiel referred to them as cherubim in Ezekiel 10:20-21. They protected and guarded. In the Old Testament they watched over the Tree of Life and the Ark of the Covenant. Nothing escapes their watch.

Each of the four living creatures had six wings, around and inside they were full of eyes, and they had no rest day or night. In the prophecy of Isaiah the angelic beings had six wings- two to cover their faces, two to cover their feet, and two for flying. In Ezekiel they are depicted with four wings Along with the elders there are praises and Amen directed toward the throne- Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, who is, and who is to come.

The root meaning of holy is to cut or separate. A holy thing is cut off from and separated from common use. The Bible speaks of holy ground, holy assemblies, holy Sabbaths, a holy nation, a holy city, holy promises, holy men and women, a holy faith. What is separated from the common and devoted to God is holy.

Charles Hodge- The holiness of God is not to be conceived of as one attribute among others. It is rather a general term representing the conception of God’s consummate perfection and total glory. It is His infinite moral perfection as the crown of the God-head, holiness is God’s total glory crowned.

God’s holiness is his pure essence which determines all that he is and all that he does. Hymn- Holy, Holy, Holy! Reginald Heber- Holy Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee; Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and mighty! God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!   Psalm 99:1-9 God reigns, is enthroned and is exalted over all the people.

God is Holy. We are not. This is the purpose for which he sent Jesus into the world.  Habakkuk 2:20 The Lord is in his holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before him. Does the holiness of God direct how you live your life?

The throne reveals the worthiness of God.

The twenty-four elders worship God by falling on their faces before his throne.You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power.

Glory for who he is and what he has done.

Honor is reverence toward him.

Power is recognizing his strength.

Because you have created all things, and by your will they exist and were created.    

The astronomer Dr. Peter Edwards explained the majesty of the universe: There is no way, I think, that the human mind can comprehend the true immensity of the universe. We are happy to understand the size of an elephant, or the size of a tree, or maybe even the size of (a) cathedral. But if we go beyond that our brains just start to run out of gas.

We pointed the Hubble telescope at what…appeared to be a very ordinary patch of the night sky. If you imagine holding up your finger with a grain of sand on it and looking at the patch of sky that grain of sand blocks out, that’s the field that the (Hubble) telescope zoomed in to.

What the telescope saw was incredible. There are 10,000 galaxies in a patch of sky the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length. If this tiny patch of sky is like every other, then we can calculate how many galaxies are out there.

The visible universe contains around 100 billion galaxies. Each one of those galaxies contains around about 100 billion stars. That means the visible universe contains something like 10,000 million million million stars. That means there are more stars in the visible universe than there are grains of sand on the earth.

God created. God saves. God sustains. God rules.

Think about how self-centered our concept of heaven often is. We talk about heaven in terms of what will be there for us. Heaven is where I will have everything I could possibly want. But heaven is not centered on us but on God. Every creature around the throne exists for one purpose- to give praise to God because he is worthy.

Praise to God should come from the heart. Praise to God should be visible.

Jesus was worshiped at his birth. Jesus was worshiped by his disciples.  Jesus was worshiped on Palm Sunday, the Sunday before his crucifixion in the Triumphal Entry. He rode into Jerusalem on the back of a borrowed colt, one that had never been ridden before. He made public his claim to be the Messiah and King. He will return again.

Does your worship reflect that God is worthy?

We will one day cast our crowns before the throne of heaven in praise to God. 

In ancient times when one king defeated another, the defeated king would fall down before the victorious king. He would take his crown off and throw it on the ground at the feet of his conqueror. It was the king’s way of saying- All that I ruled is now yours. All that I called mine, all that was in my power, is now yours.

The twenty-four elders received their crowns from God and they respectfully returned them to God to give him glory and honor.  They cast their crowns.

The Tribulation (6-19) The Millenial Reign (20:10-15) The Eternal State (21:1-22:5) The Benediction (22:6-21)

Are you ready?