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Throne in Heaven Revelation 4

The third creature - face like a man
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The Throne in Heaven

What do you imagine you will see when you enter heaven? God will be there on His throne and many will be worshipping Him. This chapter tells us some of what we will see. Will you be there?

There is a new division beginning with Revelation 4.

The climate and conditions change radically:

  1. Only once is the church mentioned
    1. After this in Revelation
    2. Revelation 22:16
    3. In connection with the world
  2. Church moves to heaven
    1. New home in heaven
    2. 1 Thessalonians 4:17      1 Corinthians 15:51-52
    3. The church has gone to meet Jesus
  3. Church is those who have trusted Christ
    1. Heavenly Church is the bride of Christ
      1. New Jerusalem
    2. Earthly Church now called the harlot
      1. After Rapture some will still be attending church
        1. No one missing
      2. Church of Laodicea
        1. Professes to be Christian
        2. Lacks reality
  4. God has promised deliverance from judgment
    1. Judgment conflicts with God’s promise for true believes
  5. Continuing but not recognizing there is a break after chapter 3
    1. Neglects this natural division (McGee, Thru the Bible: Volume V. [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983], 928)

1. After these things

“This chapter of Revelation opens the throne room of heaven to our eyes and ears”
Vision one took place on Earth. In vision two John is taken to heaven (Easley, Holman New Testament Commentary: Revelation. [Nashville: B&H, 1998], 73).

This phrase is used several times in Revelation marking the beginning of a new vision.

The first occurrence of After these things shows us John’s chronology.
The second occurrence shows us God’s chronology (MacArthur,  New Testament Commentary: Revelation 1-11. [Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1999], 145).

I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven

Ezekiel 1:1      Acts 7:55-56

John was amazed he was being admitted into the third heaven.

2 Corinthians 12:2

John was entering the “very throne room of God.” (MacArthur, 145)

John will be in heaven for the rest of the book of Revelation.

The first voice which I had heard

How do you think John felt hearing the voice of Jesus? He knew that voice!

Like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me

The voice was commanding and authoritative.

Come up here

I think my legs would be trembling!

I will show you what must take place after these things.

Jesus is showing John what is going to happen, and John is sharing that with us!

2a. Immediately I was in the Spirit;

Jesus said “come” and immediately John was in the Spirit.

John was being transported to heaven!

The Holy Spirit was with John.

He was astonished that he saw a throne was standing in heaven.

“A vision of God’s immovable throne reveals He is in permanent, unchanging, and complete control of the universe”² (146).

It is comforting to know that God is in control.

2b. And One sitting on the throne.

“The sovereign, omnipotent Creator of the universe is sitting on His throne as its ruler” (MacArthur, 146).

“The term sitting here indicates the posture of reigning” (MacArthur, 146).

1 Kings 22:19      Daniel 7:9-10       Ezekiel 1:26-28

3. Jasper stone and a sardius in appearance

Revelation 21:11 describes jasper as ‘Crystal-clear’; therefore, it is best to identify this stone as a diamond” (MacArthur, 147).

A sardius, from which the city of Sardis got its name, is a fiery, bloodred ruby” (MacArthur, 147).

These stones are the first and last stones on the high priest’s breastplate, representing the firstborn (Reuben) and lastborn (Benjamin) of the twelve sons of Jacob.

The only way John could describe who was on the throne was with the brilliant colors of jasper and sardius.

And there was a rainbow around the throne

Genesis 9:8-17 tells us when God first used a rainbow. God promised not to flood all the earth again. A rainbow reminds of this covenant. There are very few times a rainbow is mentioned in the Bible.

Besides this reference in Genesis and here in Revelation 4 the only other time is Ezekiel 1:28.

The rainbow here tells us God remembers He will not use a flood during His judgment of the world.

Like an emerald in appearance.

An emerald is green in color.

4. Upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, 

The identity of the twenty-four elders has been studied and debated.

Their identity is still unknown.

Some indicate they are angels but “it seems best to view them as human representatives of the church” (MacArthur, 148).

Evidence of this:

  1. They reign with Christ.
    1. Angels do not sit on thrones
    2. Angels are “ministering spirits” Hebrews 1:14
    3. “Saints will judge the world” 1 Corinthians 6:2-3
      1. Saints are humans
  2. In Scripture elders is not used referring to angels
    1. Only used to indicate men
    2. Normally, older men
    3. Rulers in Israel
    4. Ruler in the church
  3. White garments
    1. Angels do appear in white
    2. More commonly used by believers
    3. Symbolize Christ’s righteous
      1. Given to believers at salvation (MacArthur, 148).
  4. Golden crowns on their head
    1. Angels do not wear crowns
    2. 2 Timothy 4:8

Which humans do they represent? (MacArthur, 149)

  1. “Twenty-four is used in Scripture to speak of completion and representation” (MacArthur, 149).
    1. 1 Chronicles 24 and 25
    2. “Represent a larger group” (MacArthur, 150).
  2. Israel
  3. Tribulation saints
    1. Yet to be converted
    2. Elders are already in heaven
    3. Revelation 7:11-14
  4. Elders are seen in heaven during other events
    1. Worldly kingdoms turn to the kingdom of Christ
    2. 144,000 gather on Mount Zion
      1. Revelation 14:1-3
  5. Represent
    1. Raptured
    2. Glorified
    3. Coronated church
    4. Singing the songs of redemption
      1. Revelation 5:8-10

5a. Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder.

This is a preview of divine wrath chapters 6-19.

Judgment is coming.

Exodus 19:16; 20:19       Revelation 8:5; 11:19

5b. Seven lamps of fire

Looking at heaven John saw a couple of things before the throne

  1. Seven lamps of fire
    1. Burning
    2. Blazing (NIV)
    3. They are the seven Spirits of God
      1. Isaiah 11:2    Zechariah 4:1-10
    4. God is “ready to make war on sinful, rebellious mankind” (MacArthur, 151)
  2. 6a. Sea of glass
      1. Clear
      2. Exodus 24:9-10      Ezekiel 1:22-26
    1. Like crystal
      1. Dazzlingly brilliant
      2. Shining through jewels
      3. Crystal – beyond description (MacArthur, 151)
      4. Revelation 21:10-11 ,18

6b. And in the center and around the throne,

They are in the inner circle which is nearest the throne.

Four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind

  • Revelation 4
    The first creature was like a lion Revelation 4:6b

Living creatures

These creatures are alive!       But they are not animals.

They are guardians (protector) of the throne (Easley, 77).      Ezekiel 1

Ezekiel 10:15 specifically identifies these four living beings:

Then the cherubim rose up. They are the living beings that I saw by the river Chebar.

“The four living creatures are thus cherubim, an exalted order of angels frequently associated in Scripture which God’s holy power (e.g., 1 Samuel 4:4;   2 Samuel 6:2: 11;   Psalm 80:1; 99:1;  Isaiah 37:16).” (MacArthur, 153)

John had a difficult time comprehending this and a hard time describing it.

  1. Full of eyes in front and behind
    1. Awareness
    2. Alertness
    3. Comprehensive knowledge
      1. Did you ever wonder how your mother could see what you were doing?
      2. Then she said, ‘I’ve got eyes in the back of my head!”
      3. No, I don’t think this is the meaning here, but it came to my mind.
    4. Nothing escaped them.
  2. 7. Lion, calf, face like that of a man, flying eagle.
    1. “The four cherubim in relation to the created world”. (MacArthur, 154)
      1. Lion represents wild creatures. “
        1. Strength
      2. Calf is for the domestic animals
        1. Service
      3. The eagle is for flying creatures
        1. Speed
      4. Man is the pinnacle of creation”
        1. Reason
  3. Four living creatures
    1. Like angels
    2. Involved with the coming judgment of the Tribulation
  4. Six wings
    1. Responsibility and privilege to constantly worship God. (MacArthur, 154)

Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. Isaiah 6:2

8b. And day and night they do not cease to say,

Worship continues all the time.

“Holy, holy, holy”

And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” Isaiah 6:3

God is holy. He is completely separated from evil in all forms.

Job 13:11       1 Samuel 6:20       2 Samuel 6:9       Isaiah 6:5

God is giving us grace and mercy. Until the Tribulation He will not bring any deserved judgment on sinners.

During the Tribulation God will not have mercy on us for our sin and we will experience the full fury of God’s wrath.

Experiencing the full fury of God’s wrath will happen during the Tribulation.

God’s grace for us will end. He will not have mercy on sinners.

To escape this, you must put your faith in Jesus Christ.

Is the Lord God, the Almighty,

The four living creatures referred to God as the Almighty       Genesis 17:1

“That term identifies God as the strongest, most powerful being, utterly devoid of any weakness, whose conquering power and overpowering strength none can oppose.” (MacArthur, 156)

Job 9:19       Psalm 115:3       Daniel 4:35       Matthew 19:26

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed 2 Corinthians 9:8

Who was and who is and who is to come.

God was, is and is who is to come.

9. And when the living creatures

The four living creatures are giving praise to God.

Who lives forever and ever

Daniel 4:34        Psalm 93:2        Isaiah 57:15

God will always be there for us.

His eternity means believers will live eternally with God.

“It also means that the punishment of the wicked in hell will last forever.” (MacArthur, 158)

The four living creatures giving glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne elicits a response:

10. Will worship Him who lives forever and ever

They are worshipping Jesus Christ in heaven.

And will cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

They are in the presence of the living God.

The twenty-four elders sing a song of praise.

11. “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God

The elders are singing about God’s glory.

“God has the right both to redeem and to judge His creation.” (MacArthur, 158)

Will you be redeemed or judged?


Scripture quotations taken from the NASB1995. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.

Easley, Kendell H., Holman New Testament Commentary: Revelation. Nashville: B&H, 1998
MacArthur, John. New Testament Commentary: Revelation 1-11. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1999
McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible: Volume V. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983

Laodicea                                                                                         The Lamb of God


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