Revelation, Chapter 4

This will begin by giving you the scripture from the King James Version of the Bible, then will go into our description of what the verses mean. You will be able to read various additional information contained in more specific files under "Research Materials".

To skip the Introduction for Revelation chapter 4, Chapter 4 Scripture Begins Here

Chapter 1 was about the past where chapters 2 and 3 were about the present. (John's Day) From Revelation chapter 4 to 22 is all about the future.

We have completed the study of the seven churches, now we will see the door of heaven opened.

Chapter 4

4:1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door [was] opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard [was] as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.

What do you think is being talked about in this first verse? (Some believe this is depicting the Rapture)

The door signifies entrance by way of revelation into heaven. The command "Come up hither probably does not refer specifically to the Rapture, but rather to the change in scene for John who is to receive revelation about future events. This begins the final section of the book describing the events that follow the church age.

Matthew 24:31 - And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. All the elect are gathered and assembled before Christ. This is the culmination of world history, ushering in the millennial reign of Christ.

This will be the trumpet of assembly (the silver trumpet of redemption) "four" means the entire world. We've all hear the saying: "from the four corners of the earth I'm sure. This assembly will not be just Americans, but the true believers from every country of the world. These "angels" are ministering spirits who carry out these orders of their Lord and Master. The "He" here is Jesus (Messiah), but now He is Lord of lords and King of kings.

This "sound of a Trumpet" could be a literal trumpet blowing, or it could be the voice of our Lord sounding like a trumpet. This is the last chronological mention of silver in the Bible. There will be no silver in heaven. "Silver" means redemption, and there is no silver there; because we have already been redeemed. There is only gold in heaven. In the Holy of Holies, there was only gold, because in the presence of God, there was only gold. This gathering together of His elect is what is commonly referred to as the rapture of the church. His church has no denomination. It is "all" who truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

I Thessalonians 4:16-17 "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:" "Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. To really understand read all of this account. I have chosen just two verses from the account for here. This will happen so quickly that you would not even have time to blink your eye.

The "I" in verse 1 is of course John who is writing this. Jesus has been speaking in the previous chapter directly.  Now we hear from John about the things he saw. This is after Jesus finishes His messages to the seven churches.

We will see the number "seven" throughout Revelation.  Seven means "spiritually complete".  Perhaps in this number, God is saying, this is it. There is nothing else to read.  If you can't get the message in Revelation, you cannot receive it.

John takes a look toward heaven and is startled "behold". The door of heaven is open.  Jesus is the door to heaven. The door of heaven is not closed to the believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus opened the way to the very throne of God, when the temple curtain was torn from the top to the bottom (opening the way to the holy of holies), when He died on the cross, Matthew 27:51.

The word "looked" is important also.  We must seek before we can find. Jesus is coming back for those who are looking for Him.

Notice, this door was "opened" in the past tense.  It is not going to be opened. Jesus opened it for us.  It is now open to believers. Heaven is presently the dwelling place of God.  It will also be our eternal home.

There are several other instances in the Bible where the door of heaven was opened. Many prophets, also, have seen a vision of the heavenly.

Ezekiel speaks of his look into heaven. Daniel had a glimpse into heaven. When Stephen was stoned to death, he saw into heaven.

When Stephen looked into heaven, he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Most times Jesus is seated at the right hand because His work is completed, but I believe that He was standing to receive His faithful servant, Stephen, home.

This door has never been closed to the true believers.

The first voice that John hears in V-1 is either the voice of Jesus Himself, or the voice of Jesus' own personal messenger.  It makes no difference; the message itself is from Jesus. When the Lord calls us to meet Him in the air, when the church is caught away, we will hear the trumpet; the silver trumpet of redemption.

In Both Matthew 24:31 and I Thessalonians 4:16 I read at first the voice and the trumpet seem to be interchangeable. The voice of Jesus and His personal angel are a little confusing, as well. Either way the message is from Jesus.  This trumpet was talking with John.

The voice that John heard was like a trumpet.  This is a powerful voice; it gives a true sound. This voice is talking to us, as well as John.

The voice said, "come up hither" to John, but is always saying to us, "come up hither". Get your mind off the things of this world and look heavenward. The call of Jesus has always been "come". In this specific sentence, He tells John "come up hither", then adds why.

Jesus, the voice, says, "I will shew thee things which must be hereafter."  John will be shown a look into the future.  John could have had a vision of this, or he could have been transported into heaven for a moment in time to see all of this.  We do know that viewing something from the earth makes us see just the here and now. From a heavenly point, we can see yesterday and tomorrow.

Notice that these things of the hereafter must be. Why must they be? Because God ordered it from the beginning of the world and God never changes. We must change to fit His plan, not the other way around.

John is not told a specific time in the hereafter, only that it will be later than the present time he is in.

John is now seeing into the future, after the believers in Christ are raptured into heaven, in this particular scene.

4:2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and [one] sat on the throne.

John was already in the Spirit we know from a previous lesson, but this means a deeper experience in the Spirit. A double dose of the Spirit, you might say.

John was changed or transported, instantly. This throne, as we said before, has been seen by many in the Bible. The word "one"  does not literally mean "one" but, I believe it means the unity of the trinity.

The word "sat" is indicative that the work is complete.

A throne shows rulership and power.  Notice that the "throne" was "set in heaven"; set is past tense.  This throne is occupied even now in heaven, where Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father.

4:3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and [there was] a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.

The "jasper and sardine stone" were the most precious of all stones. The beauty of God was so dazzling that John could not describe Him. The jasper was the last and the sardine the first stone in the breastplate worn by the high priest, Exodus 28:17-20. These stones are in the foundation of the new Jerusalem, Revelation 21:19-20.

The diamond and ruby are meant by these stone.  These stones are known for their clearness and brightness.

There was a diamond between the breastplate and the heart of the high priest. The name engraved on this stone, I believe, is the unspeakable name of God Almighty.  The diamond stone next to the heart stood for purity and mercy.

The emerald is another precious stone, green in color.  Green means "earthly or of the earth".  The emerald was also part of the breastplate, and of the foundation of New Jerusalem.

The value of these three different stones is greater than other stones. These are classified as precious stones and are very expensive.

This rainbow is green (earthly) to show the covenant between God and man. The first rainbow mentioned was a sign of a promise from God to man. God would never again destroy the earth by water.  Sometimes it is called a bow, and sometimes a rainbow.  The rainbow encircles the throne as a constant reminder to God and man of the covenant. This is a beautiful sight to behold.

4:4 And round about the throne [were] four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.

The twenty-four seats were actually thrones.  Miniature thrones in authority, subordinate to God, but nevertheless they surround the throne of God.

The twenty-four elders who represent the redeemed in heaven acknowledge that humans were created by God for His good pleasure. Their response of praise recognizes the sovereignty of God over our lives.

One of the most controversial questions raised by this vision of the throne of God is the identity of the 24 elders.

In Rev. 5 v.9 the Scriptures tells us the four and twenty elders sung a new song. "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou are worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed "us" to God by the blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.

Notice "and hast redeemed us" thus revealing their human nature. These 24 elders are redeemed men. Once their human nature was confirmed, it became obvious that the Rapture was pictured by Rev. 4 v.1 as occurring before the Tribulation. Rapture For this scene, which is of the throne of God in heaven just before the 7 year Tribulation as defined in chapters 6-19, pictures twenty four men or "elders" in the presence of God.

Twelve is a spiritual number which has to do with representation. The number twenty-four, I believe, could be two twelve's.

The twelve prophets represent the believers of the Old Testament. The twelve disciples represent all believers from the New Testament.

There are many other schools of thought on the twenty-four.

John, "the faithful witness" observes these events immediately after the church age has been concluded and just prior to the beginning of the Tribulation. These men, whether 12 who represent Israel and 12 who represent the church, or 24 outstanding Christian leaders in all church history, makes no difference, they all are redeemed men! They are redeemed saints who are in heaven just before the revelation of the Tribulation that follows. Like John, they are part of the pre-tribulation rapture in their glorified bodies worshiping all three members of the Trinity. This scene in heaven does not occur in the middle of the Tribulation or at its end, but before it begins.

These Old Testament believers were looking forward to Messiah and were preached to, when Jesus preached in hell and brought captivity captive out with Him.

Notice all twenty-four were dressed in white robes. White robes are worn by believers in Jesus, who have washed their robes in the blood of Jesus and are made white as snow.  All through the Old Testament people like David were looking for the Savior. They believed, even though they were looking forward instead of backward to Him.

There are over thirty-seven Old Testament scriptures which mention the coming of Jesus Christ. These were fulfilled, every one.  It is not absurd to speak of Old Testament believers.

These crowns that they had on their heads were gold.  This showed that they had nothing to do with these crowns being put on their heads. Gold means the purity of God.  God placed these crowns on their head. The grace of God placed these crowns on their head. They did nothing to earn them. It was a free gift from God for believing. Crowns show rulership, and we believers are promised that we will reign with Jesus.

4:5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and [there were] seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

The "lightnings and thunderings" showed the majesty and awesomeness of God. Lightning, earthquakes, and thunderings throughout the Bible have been an outward proclamation of God. Even at the foot of Mount Sinai the people were afraid of God, because of just such manifestations.

The "seven lamps" are a symbolic number covering all the workings of the Spirit of God.

The seven spirits of God refers to the seven eyes of the Lord or characteristics of God. (Zech. 4:10 and Isaiah 11:2) "the seven Spirits" mean the entirety of the power of the Spirit is manifest there at the throne and emanates out to the twenty-four or all Christendom. Fire throughout the Bible has been symbolic of God, as in the burning bush, Exodus 3:2. In Hebrews 12:28-29, we are told to serve God with reverence and Godly fear, because God is a consuming fire.

We do not completely understand God, but we must accept and trust God. This Spirit of God which is burning is to illuminate the minds and Spirits of all who will accept it.  Jesus is the Light. Somehow, all three are present in these lamps (Spirit) that illuminate.

4:6 And before the throne [there was] a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, [were] four beasts full of eyes before and behind.

This "sea of glass" reminds us very much of the laver in the tabernacle in the wilderness. Just as this symbolized baptism in the temple, this, too, could symbolize the need for baptism on the way to the throne.

All around the throne were the four beasts.  Probably a little better translation would have been living ones. The number "four" shows the universality of these beasts or living beings.  In Isaiah 6:2-13 and in Ezekiel 1:5-28, these living beings are also called "seraphim" and "cherabim". These beasts, or living beings, surrounding the throne are full of eyes which means their wisdom was overwhelming.

The 4 Beasts or living Creatures are probably angels who guard the throne of God.  The eyes symbolize wisdom, and the wings depict movement.  They worship God as did the seraphim in Isaiah's vision.  (Isaiah 6 v.1-3) The lion represents strength, (Psalms 103 v.20) The calf service, (Heb.1 v.14) The face of a man intelligence, (Luke 2 v.52) and the eagle swiftness. (Dan 9 v.21) The angelic vision has a strong allusion to Ezekiel 1 v.4-14.

The eyes denote wisdom or intelligence.  These beings looking "before and behind" means they look back into times past and, also, look forward into things to come. These living ones, or living beings, also denote the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Those books truly are full of wisdom. Matthew does look back at the history of Jesus, and chapter 24 looks ahead to the end times.

4:7 And the first beast [was] like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast [was] like a flying eagle.

The four living beings show the four gospels: MatthewJesus is shown as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. The genealogy of Jesus is in Matthew, showing that Jesus truly was the Lion of the tribe of Judah.

Even though the four gospels tell the same story in essence, they also show four different personalities.  You can easily see why these beasts, living beings, are symbolically the four gospels.

4:8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about [him]; and [they were] full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

Holy, holy, holy. This is the cry of these heavenly creatures who know God as He really is. It has been suggested that each "holy" is directed to one of the members of the Trinity. Then these creatures remind us of the One who "is to come." The return of Christ is guaranteed in the words of these heavenly hosts. In Acts 1:9-11 angelic beings describe how Christ will literally return "in like manner as ye have seen him go". Here these angels in heaven reaffirm that promise.

The six wings spoken of in Isaiah 6 seem to show humility, obedience, and reverence to God. The number six makes me believe, also, that these wings show work and activity (six day work). It seems here that one of their tasks was to proclaim the holiness of God. I really believe the three "holy" and "Lord God Almighty" indicate Father, Word, Holy Ghost.

The "which was, and is, and is to come" just furthers that thought and shows us the eternity of this three in one.  We do know from First John 5:7 that there are three in heaven.  "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one."

4:9 And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,

This "when the beasts give glory and honour and thanks" is a never ending thing. The four gospels have proclaimed this in the past, are proclaiming it now, and will proclaim it for all of eternity.

"The giving of "honour" goes on and on and on. The giving of "thanks" is to the Spirit of God, the Trinity.

The song of the living beings is giving praises not just then, not just now, but continuously. We see by this honor given it should be all glory and all honor, etc. The eternity of God is so difficult for us to understand because our minds are programmed to a life of just under one hundred years here on the earth.

4:10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

At the presence of God it is a normal thing to fall down prostrate at His feet. The "four and twenty elders fall down before" shows their great humility at the presence of God. A deep respect and honor should be given God.

"him that sat on the throne" is very interesting. God the Father is on the central throne, but immediately on His right hand sits God the Son, Jesus. The "throne" encompasses both the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The word "worship" has been misunderstood by so many.  We sing about it in our songs and use it in our prayers.  Do we truly know how to worship? Our churches call Sunday services, worship, but again, very little true worship goes on. The word that was translated "worship" here means "absolute reverence to God, to adore Him". One of the meanings of the word means to "kiss", like a dog licking his master's hand. Absolute humility and adoration of God is what it really means. Do we go to church to humbly worship and adore our God? A deep respect and honor should be given God.

Why do they "cast their crowns before the throne"?  These crowns are the victorious crowns that Jesus has placed on their head. They, or we, have done nothing to earn the crown. These crowns belong to Jesus, not us. He won the victory.  He placed them on our head. Everyone benefits from the victory, but Jesus won it. This is another act of humility on their part. When they throw the crowns at Jesus' feet, they are telling Him that they are His because He won them.

4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

We see here the worthiness of God and why He should be praised. It is, in our society, the popular thing to worship the created rather than the Creator. We are warned about this over and over throughout the Bible. Not only in terms of getting our priorities mixed up and thinking too much of money, jewels, family, homes, automobiles, and recreation (which can certainly become a God to us), but many are actually worshipping the sun, moon, stars, and rivers.  In far too many Christian homes today we see totem poles, Buddah's and all sorts of horoscope paraphernalia.

God is a jealous God. He will not allow the believer to mess around with false Gods.  How could we compare the Creator of it all to His creations?  We must recognize God to be supreme to all others in every way.  Before the world existed, He spoke, and it became. The power of his Word created all that we know.

I believe it is good to understand why He did not just leave well enough alone, and live as He was, and not bother with all of this.  We have been such a problem and heartache to Him. The earth and all that's on it, was created for God's pleasure. He created us so that He could fellowship with us. We are to Jesus like our children are to us. They are great joy, but at the very same time, they can bring us hurt. The joy far outweighs the hurt.  Perhaps that is the way it is with God dealing with us. The joy outweighs the sorrow. We see here that the whole universe was created for God.

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