Revelation - Chapter 4
Worship in Heaven
John’s Vision of Heaven: 4:1, 2.
Revelation chapter four unfolds the things that will happen in heaven (Rev 1:19). Chapters 4 and 5 are the introduction of the prophetic events mentioned in the rest of the book. John’s vision reveals God as the creator and sovereign of all things. Everything owes their existence to God and He has absolute power over all things. He is the God who sets this universe in motion and controls all things. The glorified Christ invites John to come up to heaven to gaze the things to come. The phrase “after this” occurs four times in Revelation (Rev 7:1, 9; 15:5; 18:1). John’s vision follows his vision of Jesus and the seven churches (Rev 4:1). Christ alone provides access to God the Father. The open doors reveal God’s plan for the future to His servants (Mat 3:16, 17; Acts 7:56; John 1:51). This scene shows a major shift in the book of Revelation and unfolds the enthroned God. Nothing happens in random and nothing could stop God from accomplishing His purposes. The Old Testament also records the visions of God’s throne. God confirmed His covenant to Moses in a vision (Ex 24:1-11). Prophet Isaiah was commissioned in a vision (Isaiah 6:1-13). Ezekiel was called to warn Judah in a vision (Ezekiel 1:1-2:9). Daniel received the dream about the promise of deliverance of Israel in a vision (Dan 7:1-28). John identifies with the suffering churches in his exile to Patmos. In the midst of these sufferings, John was invited to the throne room of Lord God almighty to see He is seated on the throne,reigning and worshiped by the heavenly beings.
The Throne in Heaven: 4: 3-5.
There are different views about Jesus’ call to John “come up here”. Some thinks it is an individual call. Others think that this points to the rapture of the church before the great tribulation. Others believe this speaks of believers meeting with Christ in the air when He returns. The most important truth is that God reigns over His creation. This would motivate us to love the Lord and live in anticipation of Christ’s return. The first thing John saw in heaven was a throne. The throne symbolizes God’s absolute rule and His majesty. The one sitting on the throne is none other than God Himself (4:3, 5). This throne is neither the great white throne nor the judgment seat of Christ. John envisions the one who is sitting on the throne like jasper and a sardine stones. There was a rainbow round about this throne. The Jasper stone is crystal-clear white stone representing the purity and glory of God (21:11). The Sardine stone is brilliant red in color representing God’s redemptive nature. The rainbow speaks of God’s mercy and faithfulness (Gen 9:13-16). The purpose of this vision was to encourage the persecuted believers. God rules all things and one day this earth will cover with His righteousness, and He will bring an end to evil. Christ's death and resurrection ensure this.
The Four Living Creatures and 24 Elders: 4:6-8.
The throne of God was surrounded by 24 thrones and 4 elders sitting on the thrones. They were clothed in white garments with golden crowns on their heads. Their identity is not given. Some suggest that these elders are the angels. Perhaps they are the representatives of the redeemed people who are ruling and reigning with Christ. Their white garments is the garment of righteousness and their crowns are the rewards for their faithful service (Acts 20:17; 2 Tim 4:7, 8). The elders sitting on the thrones indicate they are given position of authority. From the throne came flashes of lightening and thundering voice. This shows the coming judgment of God (8:5). In front of the throne, seven lamps were burning. Many scholars believe the seven lamps represent the perfect ministry of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2). Before the throne, there was sea of glass like crystal. This is a picture of calm and harmony in heaven. In the center and around the throne were four living creatures. First like lion, the second like an ox, the third has a face like a man and the fourth is like a flying eagle. Each of them has six wings and is full of eyes. They represent the angels worshiping God day and night. They are heavenly cherubim (Ezekiel 10:15, 20; Isaiah 6:3). They join 24 elders, worshiping God. God is holy and separate from His creation. God’s holiness characterizes all He was, He is and He will be. He does all things according to His eternal council. God’s greatness and holiness demand our submission and worship.
God is Worthy of Worship: 4:9-11.
The living creatures gave glory, honor and praise to God who lives forever. God ought to be praised always for his goodness and for the wonderful works to the children of men (Psalms 107:21). Worship is the activity going on forever in heaven. The 24 elders fell down and worshiped the one sitting on the throne. Roman citizens had to acknowledge the authority of their emperor by falling down before him. To bow down means to recognize the greatness and authority of God. Praise and worship are the central theme in the Bible. To worship means to ascribe honor to God. Our worship starts with offering our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God (Rom 12:1, 2). God is worthy of our worship. It is a continual submission to God acknowledging His greatness. It is our privilege and duty to worship God who saved us. As someone said it is a missing jewel among Christians today. The 24 elders cast down their golden crowns before God because He alone is worthy of worship. These are the crowns (stephanos) for faithful service. It is an acknowledgement that all that we are and we do is because of God’s grace. Elders worship God because He is the creator and redeemer of all things. They exist by the will of God. God holds all things together and bring them to perfect completion according to His sovereign purpose. This thought should encourage the Christians who endure persecution. God in heaven rules all things. One day this rule will cover the whole earth and He will bring an end to evil. Do you love this creator? Christ's resurrection ensures this truth. It is sad that many people refuse to recognize this truth.