Chapter Four The visions of Revelation now begin in earnest. Upon seeing a door standing open in heaven and hearing a trumpet-like voice promising to show him of things which must take place, John is transported to the throne room of God. He describes what he hears and sees with vivid and colorful imagery. The One on the throne radiates like jasper and sardius stones, surrounded by an emerald rainbow. The colors may reflect the characteristics of God, such as holiness, righteousness, justice, and mercy, or they may simply signify His splendor and majesty. (1-3).
John takes special note of twenty-four elders clothed with white robes and crowns of gold, sitting on thrones around the throne of God. Summers and Hailey suggest that they depict the twelve patriarchs of Israel and the twelve apostles, who represent the redeemed of both covenants now united in Christ. Note that in Rev 5:8-9 they do seem to speak in behalf of the redeemed (4). From the throne proceeded lightning, thunder, and voices, which may illustrate divine power and judgments coming from God. Before the throne are seven lamps of fire, explained as the seven Spirits of God. This likely symbolizes the Holy Spirit in His work of illumination and revelation of God's word to man (Summers). A sea of glass like crystal is also before the throne, perhaps symbolizing the transcendence of God that presently separates God and His people (5-6a). There are four living creatures, similar in some respects and yet different in others, united in their constant praise of God for His eternal holiness. Though not exactly like the cherubim seen by Ezekiel (cf. Ezek 1, 10), they appear to serve similar functions. Hailey suggests they may be a special order of heavenly beings, perhaps the highest and closest to the throne, who serve God's majestic will (6b-8). As the four living creatures praise Him who sits on the throne, the twenty-four elders join in by falling down, casting their crowns before the throne, and praising God as the Eternal Creator (9-11). This scene, along with that in chapter five, appears designed to set the stage for what follows. At the outset, we are shown the first guarantee of ultimate victory: God is on His throne! (Summers) The praise offered by the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders reinforce the truth that the One on the throne (and in ultimate control) is none other than the Lord God Almighty, Eternal and Holy, the Creator who holds all things together. He is therefore worthy of glory, honor and power! He is the one to revere, not some man! POINTS TO PONDER * The implication of the vision of God on His throne * How this vision along with the one in chapter five sets the stage for what follows OUTLINE I. THE THRONE SCENE (1-8) A. JOHN TAKEN TO HEAVEN (1) 1. After seeing the Lord and hearing the letters addressed to the seven churches 2. Upon seeing a door standing open in heaven, and hearing a trumpet-like voice a. Being told "Come up here" b. In which he will see "things which must take place after this" B. HE DESCRIBES THE THRONE SCENE (2-8) 1. The One on the throne a. Like a jasper (sparkling white) b. And a sardius stone (fiery red) in appearance c. With an emerald rainbow (various shades of green) around the throne 2. The twenty-four elders a. Sitting on twenty-four thrones around the throne b. Clothed in white robes c. With crowns of gold on their heads 3. Other elements around the throne a. Lightnings, thunderings, and voices proceeding from the throne b. Seven lamps (the Seven Spirits of God) burning before the throne c. A sea of glass, like crystal, before the throne d. Four living creatures in the midst and around the throne 4. The four living creatures a. Unique characteristics 1) The first was like a lion 2) The second was like a calf 3) The third had a face like a man 4) The fourth was like a flying eagle b. Similar characteristics 1) Each had six wings 2) Full of eyes in front and back, around and within 3) Do not rest day or night, praising the holiness of the Eternal God II. GOD PRAISED AS THE CREATOR (9-11) A. PROMPTED BY THE LIVING CREATURES (9) 1. Whenever they give glory, honor, and thanks 2. To Him who sits on the throne, the Eternal One B. OFFERED BY THE TWENTY-FOUR ELDERS (10-11) 1. Who fall down before Him who sits on the throne 2. Who worship Him who lives forever 3. Who cast their crowns before the throne 4. Who proclaim God worthy to receive glory, honor, and power a. For He created all things b. And by His will they exist and were created REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - The throne scene (1-8) - God praised as the Creator (9-11) 2) When the Lord finished with His letters to the churches, what did John see? (1) - A door standing open in heaven 3) What did John hear? What was he told he will see? (1) - A voice like a trumpet, saying "Come up here..." - Things which must take place after this 4) What was the first thing he noticed? (2) - A throne set in heaven, and One sitting on the throne 5) How does John describe the appearance of the One on the throne? (3) - Like a jasper (sparkling white like a diamond) and a sardius stone (fiery red) 6) What is the color of the rainbow around the throne? (3) - Like an emerald (various shades of green) 7) What is around the throne? (4) - Twenty-four elders with crowns of gold, clothed in white robes, siiting on thrones 8) What proceeds from the throne? (5) - Lightning, thunder, voices 9) What stands before the throne? (5) - Seven lamps of fire burning (the seven Spirits of God) 10) What lies before the throne? (6) - A sea of glass like crystal 11) What is seen in the midst and around the throne? How are they described? (6-8) - Four living creatures - One like lion, one like a calf, one with a face like a man, and one like a flying eagle - They have all have eyes in front and back, around and within, and six wings 12) What do they proclaim without rest, day and night? (8) - "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!" 13) When the creatures offer glory, honor, and thanks to God, what happens? (9-10) - The twenty-four elders fall down before God on the throne - They worship Him, casting their crowns before the throne 14) Why do the twenty-four elders deem God worthy of glory, honor, and power? (11) - He created all things, and by His will they exist