Mar 102018
 

Revelation 4

The Throne in Heaven

1 After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”

  • After this = After Jesus gives his sermon to the seven churches.
  • A door standing open in heaven – the door is open so John can see in.
  • An open door in Revelation is a big thing. It means that something is being revealed. A revealing – an unveiling – a revelation. Here John can see heaven.
  • Continuing on, John is seeing things from God’s perspective.

At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.

  • Just think, we all have doubts or we want to see proof. Here for John heaven is opened and he comes to see the throne.
  • In the Spirit = Divine Revelation
  • We now see heaven and earth coming together. This is what is happening when we sit in church – this is the divine worship service.
  • There is only one church – not one on earth and one in heaven.
  • Think how this relates to Ephesians 2 as it shows us seated in the heavenly realm.
  • Also, this helps with understanding Revelation 20 where we see ‘they reigned with Christ for 1,000 years.’ It didn’t begin in Revelation 20, it began here (or in Ch 1) – a kingdom of priests reigning with Christ.

And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald.

  • Just as Moses was not allowed to see God directly, we see the same with John.
  • The glory is too much – this is the best John can do to spit out a description. This is better than what Moses got which was to see God’s backside.
  • See how Paul speaks of God in 1 Tim 6:16 “who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.”
  • The description is diamond like (jasper). The glowing red of carnelian and a halo around the throne – the rainbow.

Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads.

  • Not just one throne but 24 other thrones and the 24 Elders representing us, ruling and reigning with God.
  • A critical note – thrones in Revelation are always a heavenly scene.
  • 24 = 12+12 = the whole OT people of God plus the whole NT people of God.
  • Clothed in white = God’s righteousness = the holiness of Christ.
  • Crowns = these are representing us as the saved people of God = the Church.

From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God,

  • The scene around the throne is like what we saw on Mt. Sinai.
  • This reminds us who is there – the Lord himself. The very same Lord.
  • We don’t need to guess. The 7 burning torches are the 7 Spirits of God.
  • All of this is to tell us God is here and God reigns.

and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind:

  • Sea of glass – could there be something here about baptism?
  • The 4 living creatures – eyes front and back = ever watchful – all seeing.
  • They are always alert to do God’s will – they appear to be the closest to the throne.
  • In v. 8 we will see that they never cease praising God.

the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight.

  • ) Lion = The King of the Beasts
  • ) Ox = Also known as a calf/young bull = King of the domesticated beasts
  • ) Face of Man = King of all of God’s creation
  • ) Eagle = King of all birds of flight.
  • These can be compared to the living creatures in Ezekiel 1:5-14
  • There are some variances, but the important thing is that it was a common way to describe things.

And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”

  • Six wings = Compare to Isaiah 6:1-2 –“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.”
  • The 6 wings are not unique to John and Revelation.
  • Eyes all around & within. Seems to be more descriptive than what we saw in v. 6
  • The Holy, Holy, Holy scene here seems to be a modified version of what the cherubim sing in Isa 6.
  • The Holy, Holy, Holy = the Sanctus.

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever,

  • Giving thanks no matter who you are.
  • The eternality of God.

10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

  • This is a summation of the one who reigns.
  • We will see this as we continue through Revelation – only God reigns.
  • Satan does not reign – Anti-Christ does not reign – Political leaders do not reign.
  • However, we will see ch 6-19 that the Church does suffer the attacks of the world, especially the unbelieving world.
  • The Church is going to suffer the attacks of Satan and his henchmen – the Anti-Christ and other powers as well. But we also see the Church is gathered around the throne.
  • So, not even the gates of hell will prevail against it and thus the praise we see here in chapter 4.
  • This is literally the refuge of the Lord – this is Psalm 46 language – this is the language of the ark – God’s refuge as God gathers a people to himself.
  • Therefore v. 11 can say “You are worthy” — Why?? Because you have created all things.
  • This proves who God is and who is not God.

 

  80 Responses to “The Weekend Word”

  1. I am listening to a rapture theology friend of the blog making a case for the rapture here in chapter 4 pointing to nothing in the text.
    But I have learned to be cool with it.

  2. That’s one of many weak links in the pretrib scheme…

  3. I agree that the absence of the church in Revelation 4 is not the strongest argument for pretrib.

  4. I said in the book introduction that Revelation continues to flash back between the church on earth and God in heaven. Something like the church is going through all this trouble but back in heaven we see God in control.
    So there is no absence in of the church on earth, this is a heavenly scene in chapter 4.

  5. Reading MLD’s teaching here is not without value for me… there are nuggets …. reminds me of a time when i was a kid walking up the driveway… evidently someone walked before me who had a hole in their pants pocket… as i walked i spotted a coin and picked it up and then another and further on another (it was a long driveway) by the time i reached the end i had a handfuk of pennies, nickels and dimes… i guess the hole wasnt large enough for quarters or half dollars (50 cent pieces were common coinage back then) to fall thru…. 😶
    God keep

  6. MLD – I agree that it does switch back and forth. There is a marked silence about the church for the next 15 chapters, though, so it does make ya think.

  7. Josh, as we go through the book, I will show from the internal texts the ever presence of the church on earth — but you will have to wait 🙂

    All groups of Christianity see the church present in the Revelation. The historic premil, the amil, the post mil. The only ones who don’t are the premil dispensationalists.

  8. That’s what makes us premil. We read it differently. No shocker there.

  9. Verse 7 – MLD, do you not see a relationship to the book of Daniel with these descriptions?

  10. Josh,
    To your #8 – I don’t think that the rapture and your view that the church is absent sources itself at being premil. The historic premil people have no rapture or any of the Israel / Jewish stuff.
    The source of seeing a rapture and the absence of the church is uniquely from your dispensationalism

    To your # 9 – yes I do, and I think there are similar descriptions in Ezekiel. Word count restrict all that I can say – so if other things are noted, we discuss here in the comments.

  11. “The source of seeing a rapture and the absence of the church is uniquely from your dispensationalism”

    Possibly, I’d bet I could find earlier sources if I tried. But why would that matter? I agree that this is one of the distinctions that pre-trib folks believe.

    “yes I do,”

    Cool, was just curious.

  12. Josh, perhaps you misspoke at #8 and meant to say pre trib instead of premil

  13. No, pre-trib is premil. I was just more specific after your response.

  14. What I am saying is that all trib positions and no trib is premil – but to not see the church comes from a trib position not a mil position.

    But it doesn’t matter – the church is documented throughout Revelation — otherwise it is a Jewish book that needs to be appended to the OT.

    We will get to that.

  15. “What I am saying is that all trib positions and no trib is premil – but to not see the church comes from a trib position not a mil position.”

    Correct.

    “the church is documented throughout Revelation”

    Of course, I disagree, but then again, that is why I am pretrib. 🙂

  16. How does any of this square with Jesus’ call to go out and make disciples, feed the poor, care for the widows & orphans, visit the sick, those imprisoned?

    This is such a waste of time to speculate on these things.

  17. Josh that’s great! So as we get to the various spots where I show the church on earth after ch 4 then you will no longer be pre trib 😉

    My point at my #2 was that pre trib pre mil dispensationalists just put the rapture where they want when the text says nothing. What we had was the mention of the rapture here and then right into a teaching of the rapture.

    But hey, it’s not in the chapter related to this article so we don’t need to go on.

  18. ( |o )====:::
    I notice you neglected Jesus’ command to teach.

    I must ask, is your question directed to the Apostle John for writing such controversy?

  19. G – You must have taken a few seconds out of your orphan feeding session to join our conversation. Sorry to bother you such.

  20. @17 – Of course we don’t get the timing of the rapture from this passage of scripture. It is from all the scriptures on the subject combined. The church being absent during this part of Revelation is just confirmation.

    Of course, the 144,000 is an exception, and the great multitude who are saved during the tribulation.

  21. Teach, but teach what, exactly?
    This wearisome End Times speculation continue to erode and derail the church’s witness to the world, the great commission. What does the unbeliever actually EXPERIENCE from us? Is there outreach with the characteristics of Jesus very plain teaching in the Gospels?

  22. Jesus did some end times teaching in the Gospels, even.

  23. Josh, may your words be remembered.

  24. G – Why are you being a jerk?

  25. The writer of The Revelation reported what he saw, experienced.
    How does what he saw and experienced stand the test of Jesus’ teaching, words, actions and commands?

  26. It is right in line with Jesus’ words, actions, and commands.

  27. G, what about that promised blessing from reading (experiencing) this priority book?

  28. Josh at 20 – I know that al through the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s and probably into the 2,000s the basic rapture theology teaching was ch 4 v 1 the “Come up here…” was taught as the rapture.
    For those who have backed off that – congratulations. 🙂

  29. “ch 4 v 1 the “Come up here…” ”

    Yes, it is still taught. I agreed with you that this was not the best argument. See my #3.

  30. Not all of us who read and study the Revelation of Jesus Christ by John are speculating about so-called end times. Many of us see this book as an essential discipleship manual. It was after all written to the churches and introduced with the words of Jesus calling his church to overcome.

    It is an overcomers manual.

    It is about how to overcome the many enemies faced by the church. It is about facing apostasy and winning through.

    Pretrib readings are fading away and no longer carry much attention. We will get a fresh flash of pretrib speculation with the 70th anniversary of Israel coming up but these dates and ‘seasons’ are becoming obsolete and fading away like the Temple in AD 68

  31. Much truth there BAbs, though I disagree that the Pretrib position is going away. Perhaps a more reasoned pretrib that doesn’t set dates or even approximate dates is what we will see coming forth.

  32. BD,

    I’ve been saying the same for a while…with all due respect to Josh, I don’t think the system is theologically sustainable in a age where other options are being exposed to people online.

  33. @ 32 – Why would that be? It didn’t become popular because people were not aware of other views.

    But it’s fine. If pretrib dies with me, not a big deal.

  34. Obviously I agree with Babs here. In my 2 part introduction to the book I speculated that Revelation was John’s first attempt at writing a Gospel of Jesus as it is all about Jesus and his church.
    As part of the speculation was that it was too difficult for his catechumens – so they pestered him to write one more in line with the others 3.

    So went my speculation as it is so obviously not of the pretrib pre mil dispensational version.

    If it wasn’t my speculation, it should have been 🙂

  35. Josh,

    Many people in the churches that teach the doctrine are utterly unaware that there are other views, or they’ve been told that other views are from the pit.

    That doesn’t fly anymore…

  36. Thanks BD, for advancing it as a vision of an “overcomer’s manual”. There’s much richness to for us to see and motivate us when we view it from that lens, and that frees us from the endless speculation of rapture heresy which has rendered the church distracted and ineffective from Jesus’ words, teachings and example in the Gospels

  37. MLD,
    “G, what about that promised blessing from reading (experiencing) this priority book?”

    When read as a overcomers’ manual and prophetic revelation of Jesus’ triumphant example as The Lamb That Was Slain the whole value of the book is realized

  38. Maybe, but I’d guess the same is true from the other side, too. I see the pre-trib position as the best, clearest reading of Scripture. There are many brilliant, level-headed professors still teaching it. But again, if it goes away, then it clearly wasn’t of God, and I’ll be fine with it.

  39. Generous Orthodoxy violation alert @36 – yellow flag, 15 yard penalty for illegal use of the heresy word! 🙂

  40. “rapture heresy”

    Michael, are you still allowing that kind of talk here?

  41. The internal eschatology of the scripture is so often read in a flat fashion. We read the Bible as if it was written directly to us. Recapturing the historic setting of the scripture is essential to understanding the message.

    All of the NT writers were living in imminent expectation of dire circumstances. Their alarm is clear and unmistakable. It is also clear that they are writing about the things that HAVE happened in their time as if they were written about long anticipated dreams that HAVE come true. So they give us a sense of something long hoped for that is realized. Of course that is the revelation of the Davidic king and his kingdom. The imminent danger seems to be the end of national Israel not the end of the space time universe. The fact that we live on the other side of this alarm has blinded us.

    The ‘world’ did end. It happened just as Jesus had foretold, just as the writer of Hebrews was declaring, just as Paul foresaw. It just wasn’t the whole world. It was the world into which Jesus came that ‘received him not.’

    Pretrib is an attempt to read something future that is past.

    There is a future. Revelation anticipates it but it is a return to Eden not Israel, it is new heaven and new earth and a temple made without hands for the habitation of the Father not temple #3 for bloody sacrifices.

    anon

  42. G-man and Dread agree,

    It could be new creation here and now

  43. “Michael, are you still allowing that kind of talk here?”

    Look…there is only one of me and I can’t police this place 24/7.

    GMan, that is an unacceptable comment…if you’re expecting to be heard in a civil manner, you must give what you expect…

  44. How about, “Rapture Aberrant Teaching, which renders it’s followers distracted by endless speculations about when their escape from a world which Jesus calls them to be effective in, redeem, care for, and love their fellow humans, thereby proving the Gospel to be real and His resurrection powerful to transform the lives of His followers to be come willing examples of self sacrifice, kindness, forbearance and focus on His transcendent kingdom in the here and now…”

    …this might clarify what the rapture aberrant teaching is about

  45. I agree with some of what BD says here. I am assuming that you are going with a preterist view, 70AD is the end of the world you speak of?

  46. Many people in the churches that teach the doctrine are utterly unaware that there are other views, or they’ve been told that other views are from the pit.<<<

    That's the truth. Two examples:

    1. A CC pastor was teaching the Bible class at the local CC high school, where I also taught. He gave a completely bogus description of the Amil and Postmil views. There was a Lutheran student in the class who was appalled who came to me and I had a tense conversation with this pastor who, to his credit, did apologize to the class the next day for getting it all wrong. (He had that LCMS kid giving him the evil eye so he had to make amends.)

    2. I attended a CC Bible College class where the teacher, a different CC pastor, was unable to explain the Amil and Postmil views so I had to explain them, to the embarrassment of us both. He had begun by making erroneous statements which I had to correct (you know me) and finally he just said "OK, YOU explain it then," which I did. I was a rapture-believing evangelical at that time so how is it that I knew more on this topic than the CC pastor did? Believe me, I didn't enjoy making this pastor look dumb.

  47. 70 AD is the game changer

  48. G- I don’t see why any understanding of the end time would keep me from being an effective Christian right now. I think you are promoting a false dichotomy based on your bad experience.

  49. I will wholeheartedly agree that the pretrib doctrine has caused myriad and often strange issues.

    However, I think if we use Josh as an example of one who holds it instead of the nutcases we’ve all encountered, then we can discuss it with generous orthodoxy.

  50. I am sorry you guys had bad experiences.

    It does seem that many cults use an aberration of the premil view, so I get that there is some inherent danger. That doesn’t mean that it is false, just easily abused.

  51. Josh,
    My experience and conclusion that the “rapture” is a despicable and aberrant teaching is based on many years at rapture theology centered churches in the Bay Area and years at CCCM, listening to years of ChuckSr tapes, seeing the distraction of thousands of church members who thronged to “prophecy updates” from ChuckSr, Chuck Missler, and seeing the current Evangelical movement in the US supporting values which are antithetical to the clear teaching of Jesus.

    Study history. The social movements which ended slavery weren’t based in escapist theology.

  52. G – I’ve never been to a CC, never listened to even 1 Chuck Smith sermon, and would vote for almost anyone over Trump.

    I am sorry for your bad experience.

  53. This is a challenge to discuss irenically, but it’s great practice.

    I might have even stronger negative feelings about the doctrine than Gman…but the use of pejorative language and emotion doesn’t clarify whether something is biblically right or in line with the tradition of the church.

    I know some great brethren who hold to this doctrine…and we fellowship around more important things. 🙂

  54. I think most groups have their outliers who take distinctives to an extreme. I won’t call them secondary issues because to these folks they are primary and a major part of the Gospel.

    Calvinists and TULIP
    Some RC and EO can appear to esteem St. Mary over Christ
    KJV only people
    Folks who spend most of their life attempting to prove a literal view of Genesis (Creationists)
    Liberal churches that are all about feminism and homosexual issues.

    Every group has them and it all detracts from Christ. People get over involved in these things because I think they are bored with Jesus, Who is not boring at all, IMO.

  55. My bad experience is definitely NOT isolated.

  56. And some Pentecostals, who are overly interested in signs and wonders.

  57. ” People get over involved in these things because I think they are bored with Jesus,”

    Yes…

  58. G- I didn’t say it was. It seems that everyone in this thread had a bad experience. I don’t seek to minimize that at all.

  59. @53 agree

    Xenia @ 54 – 100% agree. Home run.

  60. I was a Baptist until age 30. My Baptist churches did believe in the Rapture but it rarely came up. It was only when we began attending CC that we began to hear numerous sermons about it and people seemed pretty enthusiastic about the End Times. And then there were the Chuck Tapes, where it really seemed to assume a prominence.

  61. Calvary Chapel took on the doctrine as part of its identity and as a boundary marker…that’s a whole different ballgame than just holding it as a doctrine.

    That’s why you have a bunch of CC clergy who opted out of SSI…and now have to work until they die because of it.

  62. Michael,

    Reviewing my comments…

    “Teach, but teach what, exactly?
    This wearisome End Times speculation continue to erode and derail the church’s witness to the world, the great commission. What does the unbeliever actually EXPERIENCE from us? Is there outreach with the characteristics of Jesus very plain teaching in the Gospels?

    The writer of The Revelation reported what he saw, experienced.
    How does what he saw and experienced stand the test of Jesus’ teaching, words, actions and commands?

    Thanks BD, for advancing it as a vision of an “overcomer’s manual”. There’s much richness to for us to see and motivate us when we view it from that lens, and that frees us from the endless speculation of rapture heresy which has rendered the church distracted and ineffective from Jesus’ words, teachings and example in the Gospels”

    Which of these comments are you taking exception to?

    …and how do you feel about the comment,

    “G – You must have taken a few seconds out of your orphan feeding session to join our conversation. Sorry to bother you such”

    ?

  63. G – the way I saw it, two friends were having an amiable conversation about a passage of Scripture. You showed up, tried to shame us and told us to shut up. That is why I responded the way I did. I thought you were being rude and hypocritical.

    I will apologize for the attitude, and we can move on if you’d like.

  64. moved

  65. …and never any shame intended toward either of you

  66. apologies to you and all

  67. Sorry I misunderstood your first comment then. All is good on my part, and I appreciate your grace.

  68. I think people get irritated if Josh and I have a conversation that turns out amiable like we were having – because our generous orthodoxy was on display. 🙂

  69. I can go back to condemning MLD to Hell if you’d all like that better 🙂

    I had a thought as this thread played out. From G’s visceral reactions, to some of the other stories.

    I had my worst church experience in an “elder led” church. Awful, abusive, completely off the rails. It’s how I ended up at the phxp actually. Now, I know the Scriptural arguments for elder led polity, and there is some merit to those arguments. BUT! I will never step foot in an elder led church again.

    I see that is the way for many of you with Pre Trib teaching, and I do not blame you one bit.

  70. MLD, Josh, I love when you do Generous Orthodoxy.
    My bad.

    #JesusNeedsBetterPRThanMe

  71. I never felt abused in my 25 yrs at CC and SBC – not by the teachings and not by the teachers — and remember, I was with Chuck, Greg and Ship (no one would know the SBC guys I served under).

    Pre Trib, Pre Mil dispensationalism is not abusive – it is wrong, but not abusive. and they do have some pretty good movies (well back in the day – today they are pretty cartoonish)

  72. Slightly off-topic, but not…
    Is there a good book that deals with the iconography of Revelation, i.e. Lion, Ox, Man and Eagle for the evangelists; the Ghent altar-piece of the vision of the Mystic Lamb, etc? I looked around but couldn’t find anything – scholarly or otherwise. I’m sure there must be something out there…

  73. #68

    It doesn’t irritate me when folks are gracious to each other and display generous orthodoxy.
    Just the opposite.

    Maybe it’s really you?

    🙂

  74. bob1 – well it brought out a snarky comment from you – so there may be some truth to what I said.

  75. bob1 – how bout you eat a live duck, feathers and all.

  76. We told him, MLD 🙂

    Duane, I was just scanning some of my resources and I don’t see anything like that.

  77. #76 Josh

    Strange, isn’t it? So much of Christian iconography comes out of the Revelation…

  78. I was sure I would find something pretty quick, but no.

  79. #78 Josh

    Another thesis for you to do…

  80. 🙂

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