Summary: Changing our focus so it is on God - his position, power, and perfection.
OUR CONSTANT FOCUS - REV. 4
The very first time I went whitewater rafting was one summer when I worked at a Christian camp in central Alberta. We got some instructions on the bank before setting out, had a lengthly discussion about safety equipment and procedures, and some practice in basic techniques along the shore. I was very clear of my role - and very focussed on what I was supposed to do as the "Right-Front" paddler. Our guide explained that the way we kept ourselves in the boat (which is a bit of a priority, I’ll admit), was by wedging our feet into the bottom of the boat. Unfortuately, I was more focussed on my paddling responsibility than on keeping myself in the boat, and so the very first rapid we hit I went tumbling out of the boat and began whitewater rafting "bareback!". Quite simply, my focus was wrong and I paid the consequence. Luckily, we had been instructed in what to do should we fall out of the boat, and so as soon as I hit the near-freezing water (and the initial "OH NO I’M GOING TO DIE" panic subsided), I adjusted my focus and did what I needed to do to remain safe and get pulled back into the boat. And I can assure you that once back in the boat my focus was adjusted and I spent much more time concentrating on staying in the boat.
The point is, I had to adjust my focus. Sometimes we need to adjust the focus of our lives as well. Often our tendency as human beings is to take our eyes off of God and look only at the situation life finds us in, and we get overwhelmed.
My main point this morning is that our focus must be on God - we must always be focussed on God. We’re going to examine chapter 4 of the book of Revelation, and from this find three areas that need to be our constant focus, in the midst of difficult times and during those rare times when life is running along smoothly: first, we need to Focus on God’s position; second, we need to Focus on God’s power; and third, we need to focus on God’s perfection.
I want you to turn to Revelation chapter 4. As you’re finding it, let me give you just a bit of background on the book of Revelation before diving into this chapter, because I know that there is a great diversity in how people feel about this particular book of the Bible - some people are really scared by it, some are intrigued and curious, still others find great encouragement and comfort, and lots just decide to ignore it because they can’t figure any of it out!.
The purpose of the book of Revelation is very clear - it was written to encourage Christians. It’s main, number one purpose, is encouragement. Now, some of you who have read the book and remember the plagues and death and war and strife and terrible pain that is described, as God pours out His wrath on the world; you may be wondering how this could possibly be a book of encouragement. Well, the answer is in the broad perspective of the entire book. I can over-simplify it by saying this: There is a huge struggle between God and Satan, between good and evil, and it’s ugly and painful and difficult, and God wins. Satan is destroyed. There is where the encouragement lies - God wins! Satan can do his worst, can throw everything in his arsenal at us as God’s children, but it is not going to be enough. God will be victorious and Satan will be crushed and rendered powerless for eternity. The encouragement is found in the security that we know the end of the story! We know who wins - who is more powerful - who is more worthy of our love and service
The first three chapters of Revelation are a series of visions for specific churches that existed at the time of the writing of this book, with specific instructions for each. Revelation chapter 4 begins a new section, where John’s visions of the cosmic struggle between God and Satan, and the eventual outcome, begins. It is fascinating and instructive that the entire revelation begins in the throne room of heaven, with the focus (1) on God’s position - in the center, on the throne, (2) a focus on God’s power and (3) a focus on God’s perfection. This chapter sets the tone for the rest of the book.
(read Revelation 4)
I. Focus on God’s Position
We need to constantly have our focus tweaked so that we are centered on God. The very first thing I want to look at in Revelation chapter 4 is the Focus on God’s position. John, the recipient and recorder of these visions, is ushered into the very throne room of heaven (verses 1 and 2 describe his invitation and response). He writes (vs. 2-3) " At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian (these were precious stones, jasper likely a clear stone,and carnelian a firey red stone). A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. " So we see, from this picture of the throne room of heaven, that God is in the center. Everything else - the emerald rainbow, the thrones of the 24 elders, even the 4 living creatures mentioned a little later on, are described as around the throne of God - focussed exclusively on God’s position in the center of heaven. John sees God on His throne in the center of everything else. God exalted above everything else. God in control of everything - period. This is the first Focus - on God’s position