We are going to be examining today a powerful passage of scripture that gives deep insight into the throne of God. We have been in Revelation 4 and have just studied about how John as a member of the church of Jesus Christ was caught away up into the very throne room of God. In this chapter, John describes what he saw and experienced there. Revelation 4:1 says, “Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven…” It is interesting that the first thing John comments on is the throne. It is from thrones and those who sit on them that power and authority flow.
I want to see that throne. I believe that one day when the rapture occurs, we also will be able to experience this incredible place. The only way we would ever be allowed access to such a place is because we are covered in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. John was caught up to a place that was a real place. There were objects, there was atmosphere. There were other types of beings there. And so that leads to the following question: Where is the throne room of heaven?
In order to answer that question, we must understand that the bible speaks of three heavens:
There is the following:
- 1st heaven: the atmosphere around the earth
It is in this atmosphere that you and I live and die. We breath it’s oxygen. We also know that there are evil beings that are here as well. Ephesians 2:2 says, “ in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.” Satan obviously according to this scripture is a work in the air, in the 1st heaven, the atmosphere around the earth.
- 2nd heaven: the universe or outer space
This would encompass all of the planets and stars, and the sun and the moon. This would be considered as the 2nd heaven.
- 3rd heaven: the realm in which God has his throne.
To pinpoint the location of this exactly is really sheer speculation. But what we do know is that the term 3rd heaven is a biblical term. Paul referred to his own experience in 2 Corinthians 12:2 when he was caught up into the 3rd heaven. Paul attempts to keep his identity a secret saying, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows.” And so apparently Paul as well had a glimpse into the third heaven, whether he saw the throne room of God or not is pure speculation. But this does tell us that such a place exists.
One commentator, Dr. Tim LaHaye, has speculated that perhaps the third heaven is behind the North Star. There is a unique verse in Job 26:7 “He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing.” There are a couple of reasons for thinking this. The North Star is used as a guide (Polaris). For centuries, seafaring men and wanderers alike have looked to the North Star in order to set their course. All the other stars appear to circle around the North Star. While modern astronomers know that Polaris does move. In does seem to be in much more of a fixed position. So as we would consider this idea theologically, it would make sense for the God’s place of rulership in the 3rd heaven to be behind the North Star. Just as people look for guidance to the North Star, they look to God who reigns upon His throne for guidance. Modern astronomers have found a great empty space behind the North Star. Could it be that from this realm, hidden from view from the peering eyes of telescopes, where God sits, being the place of authority and the center of God’s rulership for the heavens.
THE THRONE OF GOD
The central object of heaven appears to be God’s Throne. When John’s described his experience, it was to this throne that his eyes first went. It is referred to 18 times in chapters 4 and 5. It is referred to 8 times in Revelation 4:1-6. As other objects are named they are named in reference to their position to the throne. Phrases like “around the throne” and “before the throne” cause the throne to become very important in the mind of John as he describes what he sees.
We know from other scriptures that all believers will be judged at the Judgement Seat of Christ. Is this the throne that will be used as the Judgment Seat of Christ? It is very possible indeed. 2 Corinthians 5:2 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” We will stand before a throne where Christ is seated. He is seen as we will see in a moment as sitting on this throne. “
Another verses that refer to the Judgment Seat of Christ are Romans 14:11-12 “It is written: “‘As surely as I live, says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.’” So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.”
It is believed that this judgment will take place right after the rapture of the Church. This is not a judgment of whether we will be allowed to enter into heaven, but rather rewards will be given or lost according to our service to the Lord. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”
SEVEN THINGS AROUND THE THRONE
Once again, I want to call your attention to the number seven. Seven describes completeness or wholeness in the scripture. There are seven things (or beings) around the throne of God that are mentioned in this chapter.
- THE TRIUNE GOD
In these verses we see the entire Trinity mentioned. Revelation 4:1-2 “After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. 3 And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian.”
- We see the Spirit: John was “in the Spirit”. This means that his being there was a special work of the Holy Spirit revealing to him the things that “must take place after this.” This mention of the Spirit of God shows that the Holy was indeed present there. Just like the Holy Spirit moved in the writing of scriptures, He was active here. 2 Peter 1:20-21 “knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
- We see the Father: Revelation 4:2 says, “…and Onesat on the throne.” There was someone sitting on the throne. What is interesting about this is the Greek does not denote singular or individual characteristics, it refers rather to a presence on the throne, but doesn’t say how many. By writing it this way it gives allowance for the Trinity. There is a reason for this type of writing. Other passages of scripture teach that God the Father cannot be seen.
John 1:18 “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.”
6:46 “No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father.”
1 Timothy 6:16 “who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen” There is light coming from the throne as is evidenced by a rainbow a bit later. The rainbow belongs to the Father Genesis 9:14 “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” What we can deduce from all of this is that John did not see God the Father, but he did see the unapproachable light in the form of a rainbow. But it would have been a violation of scripture for John to have seen the Father. God’s word does not contradict itself.
Other passages teach us that Jesus is “seated at the right hand of the Father.” Colossians 3:1 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” The person that John saw was Jesus, here is how he describes Him in Revelation 4:3 “And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.”
The language that was used describes Jesus as our High Priest. We know that the scripture reveals Him as our High Priest. Hebrews 4:14 “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” It is interesting that he describes him as stones. He was like a jasper and a sardius stone. A sardius stone was a blood red stone, very much like a ruby is red. The jasper stone is not the opaque stone that we know by that name, but rather according to Revelation 21:11 “Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.” So the stone that is referred to as Jasper is like crystal, like a diamond.
Most of the people who would have originally read these words were Jews. They would have known that the breastplate of the high priest had stones in it. Interestingly enough, the first stone is red in appearance, and the last stone is jasper. Exodus 28:17-20 “Then mount four rows of precious stones on it. In the first row there shall be a ruby, a topaz and a beryl; 18 in the second row a turquoise, a sapphire[a] and an emerald; 19 in the third row a jacinth, an agate and an amethyst; 20 in the fourth row a chrysolite, an onyx and a jasper.[b] Mount them in gold filigree settings.”
John e describe him as one who had the “appearance of jasper and sardius. ” Sardius is red, probably referring to the shed blood of Jesus and the sacrifice he made. Jasper is clear as crystal referring to purity and His being glorified. Being the first stone and the last stone, this would signifiy the eternal nature of his priesthood. Jesus is the beginning and the end.
Revelation 4:3 further describes the light coming from the throne. “A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. Not a half arc rainbow like we see but rather a full circle rainbow. Perhaps even a full globe of a rainbow. I can only imagine the beauty of what John saw.
- THE TWENTY FOUR ELDERS
Revelation 4:4 “Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads.” Who are these elders? There are a lot of questioning and theories about who these guys are. What we do know from numerology is that the number 12 is the number God gives to government. There were 12 sons of Jacob and 12 tribes in the Old Testament. There are 12 apostles in the New. Here we see 12 times 2 representing heavens power in governing.
Let me touch on some of the ideas people have had about who they are:
- Are they Angelic Beings? Perhaps they are angels who help God rule various aspects of creation. Then why are they wearing crowns? (nowhere else is scripture are angels crowned) Also why are they wearing white? (other references to white garments have to do with redemption and angels aren’t redeemed.) So I am going to say that they are not angels.
- Are they a representation of the Priesthood as in 1 Chronicles 24? You have to go back to the scripture and study this but basically the priesthood was divided by King David into 24 courses, each course served two weeks at a time in their duties. When they would all get together, representatives from all of the 24 courses would come together. If that is these Elders are, then this places them as representative priests, They are priest that represent the totally of the priesthood. We do not read that anywhere. Perhaps there are twelve that represent the Levitical priesthood. Perhaps there are twelve that represent the “priesthood of believers” in the New Testament. The issue with this is that nothing is said of “representation” at all when these Elders are being referred to, and so if we go with that you are reading into the scripture something that is not there.
- Are they the twelve apostles and the twelve sons of Israel? It is more likely that they are the apostles than the twelve patriarchs (sons of Israel) because the patriarchs did not live lives that were God honoring. So why would they be made Elders.
- Some believe that they are the 24 most outstanding church/Israel leaders. There is some biblical evidence for this. They are conquerors for they do were a victor’s crown. (Two types of crowns mentioned in Revelation, the victors crown, and the ruler’s diadem) They obviously overcame some things in order to receive that crown.
- Then Who are they? Let’s take a deeper look at the actual words given and try to deduce who they are form that. They are Elders. The word Elders is used both in the Old Testament to signify leaders of rank in Israel. The word Elder is used to describe leaders of rank in the church in the New Testament. Therefore, I believe that they are men or possibly women who are people of rank from Israel or the Church. Another thing is that only men, the human race, and never angels in the bible are called Elders. Then according to the scripture, they are given thrones. This signifies some sort of ruling capacity. To try to figure what exactly they rule is difficult. We do know that we will rule with Christ during the Millennium.
So I believe that they are redeemed men that represent the 12 tribes of Israel and the church who will assist God in ruling.
- THE SIGNS OF JUDGMENT
Revelation 4:5 “From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder.” These are easily recognizable of symbols of judgment. One important thing to note is that these come from the throne, so we must realize that the judgments have their origins from God, not the evil that mankind does from each other.
- THE SEVEN SPIRITS OF GOD
Revelation 4:5b “Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.” I believe that those are literal lamps where there is fire. We have already seen this description in Revelation 1:4. We know that there is the Holy Spirit. Just as God manifests himself in three different ways, even so the Holy Spirit may well chose to manifest Himself according to the sevenfold characteristics of the Holy Spirit.
Isaiah 11:2 enumerates these characteristics:
- The Spirit of the Lord
- The Spirit of wisdom
- The Spirit of understanding
- The Spirit of counsel
- The Spirit of power
- The Sprit of knowledge
- The Spirit of the fear of the Lord.
Once again, don’t forget that seven denotes completion or perfection.
- THE SEA OF GLASS
Revelation 4:6 “Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.” It is impossible to be dogmatic about the meaning of the sea of Glass though one can conclude that it is meant to convey stability, because a glassy sea is calm sea, signifying that there is no wind or storm. I have fished only one time when their was a glassy lake, absolutely no wind, and the peace and tranquility of that day still is in my memory.
We have to remember that this chapter prophetically comes after the church ages, and the rapture that we have just seen in type only when John is caught up to heaven. What is about to come beginning in chapter 6 of Revelation is seven years of almost unspeakable calamity on the earth. Yet heaven is calm. It doesn’t matter what is going down here. Where God’s throne is there is peace.
In the Old Testament, there was a large brazen reservoir for water which stood in the court of Solomon’s Temple between the altar and the temple porch, toward the South. It was used for storing the water in which the priests washed their hands and their feet. If you trace the sea of glass back to the Old Testament it may have its roots from the Bronze sea of Solomon’s temple. This symbolized the Word of God for sanctification. Ephesians 5:26 “…to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,”. A “sea” in scripture often refers to people as in Revelation 15:2 obviously refers to people “And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image…”
The stability of the sea of glass speaks to our completed sanctification. Most believers feel the strife between the old self and the new self. This causes them to yearn for ultimate sanctification. Maybe this sea of glass refers to the church of Jesus Christ, now at rest from all striving, and all the battles that we are faced. We are there before the throne of God and feeling peace. Many times we find ourselves struggling to overcome the old self, but we can be assured that one day we will be change and be like Jesus.
- THE FOUR LIVING CREATURES
Revelation 4:6-8 “In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. 8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”
These living creatures are seraphim. There appears to be only four of them in all of the created universe. They are incredibly beautiful and they are engaged in constant worship of God. Even this very moment, they are saying, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. Isaiah saw them as well: Isaiah 6:1-4 “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy , holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
It is believed that they have other duties that they also are involved with. I t may well be that they are leaders of the realm that they depict:
A Lion- leader of the kingdom of wild animals.
An Ox- leader of domestic animals.
A man- leader of the angelic host responsible for the human race.
A flying eagle- leader of the kingdom of the fowls of the air.
The truth is that only eternity will reveal all that these creatures do. It also answers the question. Are we alone in the Universe. Of course not. These creatures are not divine, but rather created for God and for his glory and purpose.
- THE WORSHIP OF THE LAMB
Revelation 4: 9-11 “Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.”
The one who is being worshipped is the Lord Jesus Christ. This is apparent because they are worshipping the creator. John 1:3 says, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” He is sitting on the throne. He lives forever. It is an interesting thought that the 24 Elders would fall down before Him and actually take off the crowns that they have received and present them to the Lord. This is the sign of ultimate honor. Any crown we as believers that we would ever receive, would be because of the grace of Jesus Christ.
Had Jesus not went to the cross. No human being could be present in heaven. It is because of His sacrifice that we are even forgiven. Any goal we achieve, any crown we wear, any honor we get should be reflected back to Jesus.