Magnifying God’s Majesty
Purpose: To extol God’s glory.
Aim: I want the listener to gain a deeper sense of reverence for God.
INTRODUCTION: The Reader’s Digest told the story of young Matthew, age 4, who was eating an apple in the back seat of the family car. “Daddy,” said Matthew, “why is my apple turning brown?” His father gave this explanation: “Because once you eat the skin off of an apple, the meat of the apple comes in contact with oxygen molecules in the air. The oxygen causes oxidation, which thus changes the molecular structure on the surface of the apple so that light is reflected off of the apple differently so that it appears to have darker color.” There was a long silence from the back seat, and then Matthew said softly, “Daddy, are you talking to me?”
As we read the book of Revelation, sometimes we wonder if God is just talking over our heads. Some of the symbolism is difficult to understand, but if we study carefully it is amazing what we can learn.
What we will learn today should transform your prayer life. I’ll explain why in a few minutes.
When John was taken into heaven his attention was captivated by FIVE different things. Last week we saw:
1:1-20 I. John’s Vision of the Past “the things which you have seen”
2:1-5:14 II. Christ’s Vision of the Present “the things which are”
2:1-3:22 A. The testimony of the church on earth
4:1-5:14 B. The throne of God in heaven
4:1-11 1. God’s unchallenged authority
Vs.1-3,5a a. The sovereign One
Vs.1 (1) God’s will is inevitable “what must take place”
Vs.2a (2) God’s rule is fixed “a throne was standing”
Vs.2b (3) God’s work is finished “One sitting on the throne”
Vs.3a (4) God’s nature is holy “like a jasper stone”
Vs.3b (5) God’s judgment is right “sardius in appearance”
Vs.3c (6) God’s promises are certain “a rainbow around the throne”
Vs.5a (7) God’s presence is powerful “flashes of lightening … thunder”
➽Vs.5b b. The Holy Spirit “seven lamps of fire”
This refers to the “the seven Spirits who are before His throne” in chapter one verse four. The key to understanding that this refers to the Holy Spirit is in Isaiah 11:2 The Spirit of the Lord will  rest on Him, The spirit of  wisdom and  understanding, The spirit of  counsel and [5[ strength, The spirit of  knowledge and the fear of the Lord. (NAU)
This is very similar to a vision that Ezekiel had in Ezekiel 1:13 In the midst of the living beings there was something that looked like burning coals of fire, like torches darting back and forth among the living beings. The fire was bright, and lightning was flashing from the fire. (NAU)
Notice that the Holy Spirit is between us and the throne. The Holy Spirit is a magnifying glass that allows us to see God in His fullness.
The primary responsibility of the Holy Spirit is to magnify God. 1 Corinthians 2:10-12 10 For to us God revealed them [i.e. the gospel] through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, (NAU) Be careful of churches that put more emphasis on the Holy Spirit than they do Jesus Christ.
Vs.6a c. The sea of glass “a sea of glass like crystal”
Compare what we see here to Revelation 15:2 And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God. (NAU)
“It is well known that ancient monarchs created something similar in front of their thrones, -- an area paved in a way to indicate the separation between the king and his subjects. It emphasized their majesty and greatness over all. Perhaps the primary point of the sea of glass before the throne of God is to picture the holiness, majesty, and purity of God Himself, and that He is separate from His creation. The transparency or clearness of that sea of glass might emphasize God’s penetrating gaze into all things that take place on earth.”
Then John also saw:
➽Vs.6b-8 d. Four special creatures
➽Vs.6b-8a (1) What are these creatures? “four living creatures”
These creatures may be the same as those in, Ezekiel 1:4-10 4 As I looked, behold, a storm wind was coming from the north, a great cloud with fire flashing forth continually and a bright light around it, and in its midst something like glowing metal in the midst of the fire. 5 Within it there were figures resembling four living beings. And this was their appearance: they had human form. 6 Each of them had four faces and four wings. 7 Their legs were straight and their feet were like a calf’s hoof, and they gleamed like burnished bronze. 8 Under their wings on their four sides were human hands. As for the faces and wings of the four of them, 9 their wings touched one another; their faces did not turn when they moved, each went straight forward. 10 As for the form of their faces, each had the face of a man; all four had the face of a lion on the right and the face of a bull on the left, and all four had the face of an eagle. (NAU)
John’s vision is also close to what Isaiah saw: Isaiah 6:2-3 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” (NAU)
Some people think that the four creatures refers to the four pictures of Christ we have in the Gospels.
LION Matthew The Sovereign Messiah “the lion of the tribe of Judah”
CALF Mark The serving Messiah
MAN Luke The seeking Messiah “the Son of Man”
EAGLE John The superior Messiah
It might make more sense to interpret this scene more literally. These living creatures might represent all of earth’s living creatures.
These verses parallel God’s promises to Noah in Genesis 9:10 and with every living creature that is with you,[man] the birds,[eagle] the cattle,[calf] and every beast of the earth [lion] with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth. (NAU)
This would bring to life what Paul said about creation in Romans 8:19-23 19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. (NAU)
Notice now what these creatures are doing.
➽Vs.8b (2) What do these creatures do?
➽(a) They praise God’s purity “Holy, Holy, Holy”
HOLY means “set apart for God.” The fact that it is repeated three times may allude to the Trinity.
We must never forget how separate from sin God is!
Exodus 15:11 “Who is like You among the gods, O Lord? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders? (NAU)
1 Samuel 2:2 “There is no one holy like the Lord, Indeed, there is no one besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God. (NAU)
Revelation 15:4 “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; For all the nations will come and worship before You, For Your righteous acts have been revealed.” (NAU)
1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 12 and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you; 13 so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints. (NAU)
➽(b) They praise God’s power “LORD God the Almighty”
God is referred to as the ALMIGHTY nine times in the book of Revelation. For example, Revelation 19:5-6 5 And a voice came from the throne, saying, “Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.” 6 Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. (NAU)
➽(c) They praise God’s permanence “who was and who is”
Compare Revelation 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (NAU)
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (NAU) We can praise God that He will never change. Which means He will never change His mind about washing away our sin.
➽(d) They praise God’s return “who is to come”
Jesus is coming! Listen to what it will be like when the Lord comes back to earth: 2 Peter 3:10-13 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. 11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. (NAU)
CONCLUSION: Today we have seen a picture of all of creation praising God in His throne room. “This whole chapter is a picture of what is and what will be. Our departed fellow Christians are in heaven now singing praises. When this world ends and the next one begins, the whole universe, from every blade of grass to every living creature, will be redeemed and rejoicing. The wolf will lie down by the lamb (Isa.11:6). The stars of a billion galaxies will be our home. The fire of judgment will not destroy this universe. It will purge it of sin and sorrow…”
One day, all those who belong to Jesus will gather together in a grand chorus and sing:
“This is my Father’s world,
And to my listening ears,
All nature sings, and round me rings
The music of the spheres.”
Let’s redraw in our minds the picture of what John saw in heaven:
We see a throne that was a gleaming, blinding white. There was also a blood red color.
There was a rainbow that was mostly green that was circling the throne.
Before the throne was what looked like a sea of glass that was shimmering with light, and yet was transparent.
John saw lightening and heard thunder.
There were seven blazing torches, and four living creatures constantly praising God.
All of this should transform our prayer life because this is where we are when we pray.
Hebrews 4:14,16 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (NAU)
I don’t know what problems you are facing this morning, but I know that God is on His throne and He is in perfect control.
Jim Elliot said, “God is still on His throne, we’re still His footstool, and there’s only a knee’s distance between!”