Summary: If you could travel to the center of the world, what dfo you think you'd see and experience? And how would you get there?
“The Great Unveiling: Journey to the Center of the World”
If you could travel to the center of the world, what do you think you’d see and experience? As a young boy I loved the Jules Verne movie classic “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” In many ways it was a film ahead of its time. Today we’d call it ‘science fiction.’ It was a thriller as it portrayed the sights and sounds, the beauty and dangers, of a world and life never seen before. It may have been pure fiction, but it ignited my imagination to new dimensions. (Hollywood has since made a new version, but it’s never quite the same as the original.) Revelation 4 & 5 always remind me of the Jules Verne classic. John didn’t sign up for a journey, or buy a ticket to a movie; yet on a lonely island he was whisked up into a journey to the center of the world and told to share it. For John it was not fiction but reality, and it ignited his imagination, beyond what mere words could describe. As he traveled to the center of the world, what did he see and experience?
John first views THE SOVEREIGN GOD (4:2-8), and he’s overwhelmed by the sense of power. He discovers, in fact, A CENTER OF POWER. After looking at the Church (chapters 2 & 3) and the evils and persecution she faces in the world, John now sees the great throne of heaven in all its’ splendor. And immediately he notices that it’s not empty! Our world’s systems and governments would have us believe it’s empty – but it’s not! The morality, amusements, judgments, and persecutions of the world make it seem like it’s empty – like the throne room of heaven has been boarded up and the key thrown away – but it’s not. Our culture would have us live as though the throne is empty – but it’s not.
At this time of judgment John sees that GOD IS ON THE THRONE! John makes no attempt here to put a form or shape on God; he’s unable to do that. The best he can do is to describe its effects – a series of lights that flash from precious stones. Paul, in writing Timothy, exclaimed that Jesus dwelt in heaven in unapproachable light (I Tim. 6:16). And the light that is prominent communicates holiness and judgment. The holy God is seated upon the throne of judgment. Behind the faces and forces of evil that seek to dominate and destroy our world, behind the persecutions of Christ’s Church, behind our sufferings and struggles, behind all our unanswered questions, at the center of the world our holy God is seated on the throne.
Notice (vs. 3) that THE RAINBOW OF MERCY SURROUNDS THE THRONE. The rainbow is completely circular – not a half-circle as we’re accustomed to – to remind us that God’s work and our hope is complete and full. Storms will break out but will not destroy us, because GOD WILL BE TRUE TO HIS COVENANT. God rules with grace! Also surrounding the throne are the elders, God’s people. No matter what circumstances on earth, God’s cherished people will be crowned in heaven; no matter how victimized on earth, they will be victorious in heaven! And as God speaks in thunder and lightning John sees the four living creatures, who represent all creation. They stand ready to do His will, to guard and protect the throne; nothing unholy and evil can ever enter in. These bodyguards will make possible the perfection of Rev. 21 & 22! God is secure on His throne! John has no doubt that God will reign forever and ever! Words cannot be sufficient to describe what he has seen!
And guess what? These body guards, these creatures are praising God! John discovers that this center of power is also A CENTER OF PRAISE (4:8-11). It’s almost a sensory overload for John. He’s in heaven, looking at God and all the creatures – and they’re joined together singing, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” And as they sing they CAST THEIR CROWNS AT THE FOOT OF THE THRONE! These are the crowns they had earned and been awarded personally by God – but they return them to Him in total submission. Just like a king who casts his crown at the feet of the man who defeated him, so the heavenly host here casts their crowns in humility before the victor of their lives. And we, today, and anytime, can cast our earthly crowns – our glories – at the foot of God’s throne and submit to Him. John, in his first epistle, said he hoped that we would not shrink at the appearing of Christ. Will you? Or are you ready to lay down your crowns, your glories, your accomplishments before Him?