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Revelation Notes
Part Three- 4:1-5:14

ã Copyright Ron Graff, 2000-2013

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The Revelation
- Outline
- Introduction & Part 1

- Part 2

- Part 3


The Rapture

       4:1-22:21 BLB
      (The things which will take place...)
  1B.  The scene in Heaven  4:1-5:14 BLB
    1C.  View of the Heavenly Majesty  4:1-11 BLB
      1D.  The Throne  4:1-3 BLB

1 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. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne.

Beginning the third major portion of the Revelation, the program, or plans, of Jesus Christ for the future, John saw a door in Heaven and was told to come up there.

Heaven is used in at least three senses in the New Testament. Paul spoke of being caught up into the "third heaven" in 2 Corinthians 12:1-4. These three "levels" of heavens would be:
1) The sky: the atmospheric sphere surrounding the earth in which the clouds form and the birds fly (Genesis 1:6-8, James 5:18).
2) The heavens: outer space, or the universe where the Sun, Moon and stars exist (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 19:1; Matthew 24:35, Acts 1:10-11; Revelation 21:1.
3) Heaven: the place where God dwells (Matthew 5:16; 6:9). This "third heaven" is not necessarily a physical place in terms of our limited three-dimensional world, but may be a spiritual place since "God is spirit," (John 4:24), but according to Revelation 3:12, the New Jerusalem will descend from it! It is the place from which Jesus descended before He became a man (John 3:13; 6:38), and the place where He has now returned to sit at the right hand of the Father (1 Peter 3:22).

The summons to Heaven is a picture of the Rapture. It is very interesting that the word "church", which is used repeatedly in the first three chapters, is completely missing after this point. This fits perfectly with a view that the Church will be caught up to be with the Lord before the Tribulation begins. The same expression is used in Revelation 11:12 where the Two Witnesses are raised from the dead and caught up into Heaven.

John stood before the heavenly throne and saw an image of God which could only be explained in terms of the most beautiful and valuable of earthly treasures, sparkling jewels like jaspers, carnelians, and emeralds.

      2D.  The Elders  4:4 BLB

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.

Various interpretations have been suggested for the Twenty-Four Elders. They are mentioned but not identified elsewhere in the book (Revelation 5:8; 11:16; 19:4). They could stand for the twelve patriarchs of the Old Testament and the Twelve Apostles of the New Testament. The Heavenly Jerusalem has twelve gates with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, and twelve foundation stones with the names of the Twelve Apostles (Revelation 21:12-14). Some have thought they are angels, but since they are dressed in white, which is symbolic of the imputed righteousness of the Saints (Revelation 21:8), and they are wearing crowns of gold, it is more likely they represent redeemed human beings from the earth. Many Scriptures refer to believers' crowns We may receive the crown of life (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10), the crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8), and the crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4). Paul referred to those whom he had introduced to Christ as his joy and crown (Philippians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:19)

      3D.  The Surroundings  4:5-6b BLB

5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.
6a,b Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

The power and majesty of God are symbolized by lightning and thunder. The Holy Spirit is seen again as the Seven Spirits of God. (See Revelation 1:4). Here He is symbolized by seven blazing lamps. In chapters 1 through 3 there were Seven Lampstands which represented the Seven Churches. The lampstands were holders of the oil lamps, but the fire itself comes from the blessed Holy Spirit! In fact, according to Zechariah chapter 4, where a vision is given of two olive trees constantly supplying oil to the lampstand, even the oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Zechariah 4:6 says, Then he answered and said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts.

The crystal sea before the throne of God is thought by some to be the "sea of humanity," but it probably fits the context better to see it as a symbol of purity and tranquillity of God's dominion.

      4D.  The Four Creatures (living beings)
              4:6c-8 BLB

6c 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."

The imagery of this portion is almost identical to Ezekiel chapter 1 where there is a vision of the throne of God, being borne by four "living beings". These four beings are identified in Ezekiel 10:14-22 as Cherubim, angelic beings often identified with the worship and praise of God. Satan himself had been one of the Cherubim before his rebellion (Ezekiel 28:12-19). The figure of the two angels above the Ark of the Covenant depicted Cherubim also (Exodus 25:17-22).

As in Ezekiel's vision, these angels were covered with eyes (Ezekiel 1:18 ;10:12), symbolic of the omniscience (all-knowing) attribute of God.

The four faces of the Cherubim depict the highest representatives of several categories of earthly creatures: the lion, king of wild beasts; the ox (bull), king of domesticated beasts; the eagle, king of flying creatures; and man, the one to whom dominion of all earthly creatures is given. The purpose of these symbols may be to impress us with the power, intellect, and station of these privileged angelic beings. They are seen constantly praising God.

Their message is about the holiness and the sovereignty of God. His holiness is emphasized by the three-fold repetition of this attribute: "Holy, holy, holy..." The word holy means "set apart." It is built on a Greek word that means "to venerate." When used of God, the word refers to His purity, majesty and glory.("Holiness, Holy, Holily", Vine's Expository Dictionary, Electronic Version) Thus God is transcendent. He is above and apart from His creation. He is righteous in all that He does. God's sovereignty or absolute power is emphasized by the word "Almighty" found in both places where He is called "the one who was, and is, and is to come." (Revelation 1:4,8; Revelation 4:8) "Almighty" is the translation of the Greek word pantokrator meaning the "all-ruling one (one who rules over all).

      5D.  The Worship  4:9-11 BLB

9 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."

These verses prepare the reader to trust God's goodness and His judgments in the terrible events that will soon be revealed. Angelic and human representatives ( the Twenty-Four Elders) glorify God as the creator of all things. They fall down and worship God. The word for "worship" is the Greek word proskuneo, which means "to prostrate oneself in reverence or adoration." It is wise to focus on the righteousness of God before viewing the dreadful judgments He will permit.

    2C.  Vision of the Holy Mystery  5:1-14 BLB
      1D.  The Scroll  5:1 BLB

1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals.

The scroll was the "book" of the first century. Made from papyrus or parchment, sections of which were glued together, manuscripts of whole books of the Bible could be very long. They were rolled up in such a way that the current "page" could be scrolled to the right or to the left, revealing the previous or the next "page" of text. If the contents of a scroll was private, it could be sealed by the placement of wax or other substance at the end of the rolled-up manuscript which would have to be broken, presumably by the intended reader, before it could be read. In this case there are seven seals: one at the beginning, and six more at strategic portions of the manuscript. Thus the reader could scroll through the writing to a certain point, and then encounter another seal, temporarily gluing the manuscript to the remainder of the roll. This seal would then need to be broken by the intended reader before proceeding. Each of the succeeding seals would likewise need to be broken to continue the story.

      2D.  The Search 5:2-4 BLB

2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, "Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?"
3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it.
4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside

In John's vision, a search was conducted throughout the universe to find one who had the right to open the seven-sealed manuscript.

      3D.  The Savior  5:5-7 BLB

5 Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals."
6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
7 He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne.

One was found who was worthy to open the seals. It was The Lord Jesus Christ, called here the "Lion of the Tribe of Judah," a reference to his lineage in the kingly tribe of Judah, and "The Root of David," meaning He was a rightful heir to the throne of David. Above all, He is "a Lamb" which had been slain. This, of course, refers to His work of Salvation for all who will believe by sacrificing His own life in our behalf! This is why John the Baptist pointed Him out by saying, Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)

Here is a striking picture of the Holy Trinity. Jesus is seen standing in the center of God's throne, yet He takes the scroll from the Father who is sitting on the throne. And He "has" the Seven Spirits, previously identified as the Holy Spirit! In this symbolic vision, the Holy Spirit is depicted as seven horns, a picture of His perfect power, and seven eyes, illustrating His perfect knowledge or omniscience.

      4D.  The Song 5:8-10 BLB

8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
9 And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."

In response to Christ coming forward as the Lamb who was worthy to open the seals, the Twenty-four Elders fell down and worshipped Him as they had worshipped the Father on the throne previously (Revelation 4:10). Symbols of their worship include harps which are used to help them sing praise to Him, and golden bowls of incense which is immediately interpreted as the prayers of the saints.

In their song they proclaimed Christ worthy because of His death by which men were purchased. This relates to the concept of redemption, the Old Testament instruction about buying back one who has been sold into slavery.(Leviticus 25:25-28, 47-55). All of mankind is seen as sold into slavery because of sin. But Jesus Christ paid the price to redeem each person who believes in Him by His own sacrificial death. Those who are purchased are said to be from all ethnic groups. Our modern, and often divisive, concept of "race" is not found in the Bible. We are all one race: the human race, but we are of various tribes, languages, nations and people.
Those who have been redeemed have been given many privileges. They are a kingdom, meaning that they will reign with Christ when He returns as King of Kings. They are priests, meaning that they have the privilege of intercessory prayer - praying in behalf of others. This is reminiscent of Peter's description of believers: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;" (1 Peter 2:9 NAS)

      5D.  The Saying  5:11-14 BLB

11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders.
12 In a loud voice they sang: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!"
13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!"
14 The four living creatures said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshipped.

The conclusion of this glimpse into the glorious scene in heaven is a great symphony of all creation in a doxology (from the Greek word doxa, "glory"). This offering of praise and honor and glory and power is given to Him who sits on the Throne (God the Father) and to the Lamb (God the Son). The impact of this scene is to prepare the reader to trust God's righteousness and love as the awful events of the Tribulation unfold in the following verses.


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Last Updated: 2/9/13
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