Summary: View of Heaven from one who was actually there, unlike some of the stories we hear in our day.
2b. The things which are (in heaven)
(4:1) Come up hither. Oh the strange work that popular theologians have done with chapter 4 , verse 1. In this simple passage, John is addressed by Jesus, and told to come up to heaven for further revelations. Incredible to me is the notion that here, Jesus is actually calling His entire Church to Heaven! The statement is made by believers in this interpretation, pre-tribulation rapturists all, that , from this point on, the Church is absent in the book of Revelation! And when it is pointed out in several places that believers are indeed on earth, the response is made that these believers are really not the Church , but “tribulation” saints, whatever that means. A conclusion is made, and facts to the contrary are explained away. This is not good exegesis, to say the least!
Evidence. For those who desire to look at it, the evidence for the Church being in the book of Revelation after chapter 4 is strong:
1. Definition. First, we assume that by “Church” we mean the saints, or as in Daniel, “holy ones”, a term used over 40 times by New testament writers to refer to the Body of Christ, the people of God. We also assume we are talking about a people who have been promised by Jesus, Paul, and Peter a life of persecution often ending in martyrdom .
2. Passages that don’t say “Church” but are Church:
5:8, The worshipers in Heaven pour out before God prayers from the saints.
6:10-11, martyrs are here received to God and told that their fellow-martyrs will soon join them. They have been slain for the Word of God and their testimony.
7: 13 ff, the same believers referred to in chapter 6 are now standing before the Throne, having come out of the Great Tribulation by means of martyrdom.
8:4, The prayers of the saints are now seen as incense.
12:11, The same saints as in chapters 6 and 7 are seen in a flashback in the context of the Beast who persecuted them.
12:17, Those who keep the commandments of God, as brother John loved to talk about in his writings (John 12:49-50, 13:34, 14:15,21,31, 15:1-12, I John 2:3-8, 3:22-24, 4:21, 5:3-6, II John 4-6) and have the testimony of Jesus Christ, are distinguished here from the persecuted Israelites who are in the process of being hidden and sealed, and therefore unreachable by antichrist. He now vents his fury on the only “saints” left, the Church.
13:7, As in Daniel 7, the man of sin is seen here being given the authority to conquer the saints. He overcomes their body, and they overcome him by going straight to Jesus.
14:6, The everlasting Gospel is being preached all over the world. I wonder who does this job? A company of angels? The 144,000? Why not the same group that has always preached it?
14:13, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. To die in the Lord is to be a member of Christ. Members of Christ are the Church.
15:1-4, Singing the song of Moses and the Lamb, those who died in the Lord, those who seemingly were conquered by antichrist, now are around the Throne.