|Points of discussion of NMD 04 Revelation 4 Throne of God
|NMD 04 point of
|Contents of points of discussions and possible answers
Revelation 1 Assignment of John
Revelation Chapter 4 starts with the words “I will show you what must take place after this” what is meant by that and where can you find a similar text in one of the previous chapters?
The command John received can be read in Rev 1:19 special attention is asked for the wording of “what you have seen”. What John had just seen was Christ, his crucifixion at Golgotha and his resurrection from the dead. The wording of “what is now” are the 7 churches. These churches together form the church history. The last part of his command in verse 19 states “What will take place later” and in Rev 4:1 the same wording however now in the past tense. This refers to what takes place after the period of the church which means that the period of the churches is finished for God (after Rev 2 and 3). I am not saying that there will be no more churches as they will most certainly be there. However, it is good to remember that the Christians who heard His call will not be there. Remember the call to everybody in all churches was “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”.
||Where is the Church in the book of Revelation mentioned again after chapter 4?
John is a representative of the ‘church’ in Rev 4 and is privileged to have a glimpse of heaven in advance and see what is to take place there preliminary to the judgement that will come upon the world. In a vision he saw in Rev 4 a part of the rapture of the church that actually still has to take place.
In Rev 4:1 a voice said to him: “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this”. That voice, which sounded as a trumpet, heralds a new era. The era of the church on earth is ended. This also links up with the vision of the rapture of the Church that is proclaimed with ‘the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God’.
For the time being the ‘church’ is no longer mentioned in Revelation in the New Testament message. It is as though it has disappeared, is taken away or, just like John, hears the command: ‘Come up here’.
We recognise the church in Revelation 19:14 when she victoriously returns with Jesus, the Word of God, who she follows ‘riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean’. The book of Revelation does not want anything to do with those who deny the existence of heaven and hell. Both are portrayed in reality and sometimes in bright colours.
||What captured John most, reading Rev 4?
John was captured by the magnificent, majestic and all embracing appearance of the throne of God. The vision is so impressive, so glorious, that John, in deep reverence, does not even dare to utter the word ‘God’. As a Jew, he might have had difficulty to say the word ‘God’ because the Jews principally try to avoid this. John speaks of ‘someone’ who sits on the throne, but further on it is clear that this ‘someone’ is God Himself.
Revelation 4 Throne of God
How is God described by John in chapter 4 and what does he show us?
John tried to find the most splendid things that he knew to describe God’s majesty And the One who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian’.
According to the description of Theophrastus in around 360 BC and later on by Pliny 60 AD jasper consists of different varieties of quartz with a delicate colour, often translucent, with pinkish tints and different shades of blue and green. The diamond is one of the most precious stones. It reflects beautiful colours in bright sunlight, translucent and without fault. Its name originates from two Greek words that mean ‘unbreakable’ or ‘unconquerable’, owing to the hardness of the stone and therefore it has become the symbol of power and fearlessness.
John uses the precious stone carnelian to illustrate the appearance of God. This stone is also a variety of quartz with a deep orange to brownish red colour. The carnelian was famous in the time of the Bible because it was always used in signet rings.
In the precious stones mentioned by John, we see on the one side the gloriousness and colourfulness of God’s presence and on the other side His inscrutability and the depth of His richness.
Revelation 4 Throne of God
Around the throne of God there are 24 more thrones, of whom are those thrones?
John’s attention is drawn, to the 24 thrones in verse 4 that are surrounding God’s throne. Thrones: one expects kings to be sitting on thrones, or people, who act as rulers, but John says that those who sit on the thrones are ‘elders’ and that there are 24 of them. Who are these elders?
Their number 24, indicates that they represent groups of people. In the Old Testament temple priests or singers were also divided into groups of 24 men. The priests were representatives to God of all the people.
These 24 elders were seen by many Bible interpreters as the representatives of the church that John prophetically sees as risen and present at the time that the book with the seven seals is opened and the beginning of the Judgement of the Lord over the world takes place. The number 24 (2×12) reminds us of Biblical numbers. In the Old Testament we see the 12 patriarchs as the fathers of the Jews and in the New Testament the 12 apostles as the ‘elders’ of the Christian Church. These 24 elders represent the risen believers from the Old and the New Testament.
||What more does John see and hear looking at the awe-inspiring throne of God?
Johns vision quickly returns to the awe-inspiring throne of God. He sees and hears flashes of lightning, rumbling and peals of thunder, things that often frighten people. We often come across these flashes of lightning, rumbling and peals of thunder in Revelation, which become more violent every time. They seem to indicate the beginning of God’s wrath over this world.
||Can you describe what John sees before the throne of God and what the “sea of glass, clear crystal” reflects?
John saw in front of the throne, the Holy Spirit as seven burning lamps, ‘These are the seven spirits of God’. The number seven represents the fullness of the Holy Spirit. In Revelation 1 we have studied these seven spirits of God (Is 11:2).
The ‘sea of glass, clear as crystal’ is mostly explained as a picture of rest, which is given to human nature through God’s undertaking. Indeed, people are sometimes compared in the Bible with the sea. However, is it not more likely to have a heavenly meaning that was known to John from his early experiences?
||What is the difference between the “sea of cast metal” in the earthly Temple and the sea of glass in the heavenly sphere?
We see in the earthly temple the ‘sea of cast metal’ a sea of casting, an enormous water cask used for the cleaning of the priests. There is not a ‘sea of cast metal’ in the heavenly sphere but a ‘sea of glass’ a cleansing cask, that is transparent, so that all eventual pollution of the water can be seen immediately. Here we see that those who will be allowed to enter the heavenly sanctuary are completely cleansed, washed in the blood of Christ.
||John sees four remarkable creatures and what would be the function of these four creatures?
John sees four remarkable creatures, which are completely unknown to him, although they tend to have some recognisable likenesses. These ‘living creatures’ are different to any creature we know. Actually, such creatures are not known on earth. John had quite a problem to describe them.
They were “like” a lion, an ox, a face like a man, an eagle. They each had 6 wings and were covered with eyes all around, even under their wings. Actually they looked very much like the creatures that Ezekiel described in chapter 10 verse 20 as an introduction to the visions that he saw. Ezekiel explains as follows: ‘I realised that they were cherubim’.
We come across cherubim many more times in the Bible: they guarded the entrance to the Garden of Eden; they stood on the atonement cover of the ark of the covenant and they were embroidered on the ‘veil’ of the temple.
You tend to take it for granted that God continually takes care of his creation. You can see that clearly by the four living creatures and their tasks carried out. Most of the Bible interpreters find it difficult to explain what these creatures are. Without a doubt they form an order of ranking of the large variety of spiritual creatures that are found in the heavenly realms, seraphs, cherubim, thrones, dominions, governments, power, princes, archangels and angels.
They seem to be important creatures because they are seen ‘in the centre, around the throne’ of God. It seems they carry the throne of God just like the cherubim in Ezekiel 10.
||Describe the relationship of the four “living creatures” and a possible role which they might play in relation to the chosen people of God, Israel.
The appearance of the “living creatures” seems to be related to the creation. They are made known to us as in verse 7 the heads of four groups of created earthly beings; we see:
the wild animals,
the tame animals,
the birds’, as lion, ox, man, eagle.
They fulfil an important part in God’s plan with the creation. Actually, the whole of Revelation is related to this creation that has turned away from God.
It seems that they also play a part with regard to God’s chosen people. The old rabbis said in the Talmud by the remarks made about Numbers 2, that the 12 tribes of the children of Israel camped with 3 tribes at each side of the Tent of Meeting, each group under a standard, so that there were 4 standards:
The standard of Judah: a lion
The standard of Ephraim: an ox
The standard of Reuben: a man
The standard of Dan: a flying eagle
Once more it was said in verse 6 that they were covered with eyes and in verse 8 “all around, even under their wings”. They serve God by watching over everything that takes place in His creation, whether correctly or incorrectly, seen or unseen. “The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of man” as is written in Psalm 14:2.
This is a matter to consider for those who think that God does not bother with creation any more: these “living creatures” that represent creation, directly in the sight of God, have as written in verse 8 never stopped by day or night proclaiming three times Holy to “the Lord God Almighty who was, and is and is to come”. It is as though they look to see if the holiness of this creation corresponds with the holiness of God.