Summary: The Vision of God's Throne, continued Revelation 4:1-6 The Twenty Four Thrones Displays God's Inherent Majesty (vs. 4) The Convulsions of Heaven Displays God's Judgment (vs. 5) The Sea Displays God's Unapproachableness (vs. 6)
The Vision of God's Throne, continued
The Vision of God's Throne, continued
October 19, 2014
We started a new series last week, “The Throne and the Lamb,” based on Revelation chapter four and five. Chapter four picks up where John left off encouraging seven struggling churches in the midst of suffering with a vision of the throne of God. We have moved up to the control tower and are given a birds eye view of God ruling from his throne. Contextually, chapter four sets the stage for the drama that unfolds in chapter five. Last week we began looking at this vision of the throne room of God in heaven, John describing heavenly realities in earthly similes. The throne is in the middle of heaven pointing to God's absolute sovereignty. God can say 'what must take place,' because God makes it happen. The one sitting on the throne had the appearance of highly reflective stones that enhance God's glory. The rainbow reminds us of both God's judgement and God's mercy. Judgment against sinful humanity who are indifferent to this throne and mercy to those who seek shelter in Jesus Christ. Today we continue to look at the throne, the twenty four thrones surrounding the throne of God, the heavenly convulsions, and the sea of glass.
Big idea – Everything about the throne inspires both inspire awe and wonder as well as fear and dread and show us that humanity cannot approach the throne without the work of the lamb.
The Twenty Four Thrones Displays God's Inherent Majesty (vs. 4)
John tells us that around the throne are twenty four more thrones with twenty four elders sitting on them. Who or what are these elders? I think they are angels because these elders do a number of things that are reserved for angels in the book of Revelation and other apocalyptic literature. First, they mediate the prayers of the saints. They also interpret the visions for John. These elders are associated with angels several times in Revelation. They are frequently distinguished from God's people. They also sit on their thrones whereas the saints stand before the throne. Therefore, I think it is best to understand these elders as a special class of angelic creatures with dignity and authority in God's heavenly court. They are an elite group compared to the rank and file angels of heaven. They are clothed with white like angels are in the gospels and wear gold crowns pointing to royalty. They serve in God's royal court, his heavenly council. This does not mean that God needs counsel but he is often described in anthropomorphic ways so that we can better understand God. The point is that these angels act as dignitaries around the throne and are spectacular creatures in their own right but God is more so! They help to convey the status and importance of the one who is sitting on the throne.
The Convulsions of Heaven Displays God's Judgment (vs. 5)
Next John sees convulsions coming from the throne in the form of flashes of lightening, rumblings, and thunder. Storms and natural disasters have incredible power. Before nuclear power nothing was more powerful nor terrifying than natural disasters. Tornadoes rip apart houses like they were wet tissue paper and split trees like toothpicks; hurricanes devastate whole cities; earthquakes can bring cities to a halt. Electrical storms that light up the black sky and the violence of thunder can be so deafening that together they send children under their bed covers or running to their parents bedroom! This is a theophony inspiring dread and awe. It is an allusion to Mount Sinai when God gave the law to Israel who cowered in fear. Then it occurs three more times in Revelation after God's judgement, acting like an explanation point. Here it anticipates and shows the origin of the the coming judgment. Then before the throne are seven torches of fire which are the seven spirits of God. Remember that seven is the number of perfection or completeness; he is not saying the Spirit is made up of seven spirits. The Spirit is blazing before the throne and is the all powerful agent by whom God will fulfill his plans and purposes in the world. Fire is an allusion to the beginning of the church when the Spirit fell on the day of Pentecost empowering the church to overcome the opposition of Rome.
The Sea Displays God's Unapproachableness (vs. 6)
Before the throne is 'as it were, a sea of glass, like crystal.' John tells us that the floor of the throne room is like a blue sea, transparent and reflective, vast and inaccessible. There are two Old Testament antecedents to this vision of the throne room. The first is in the book of Exodus when Moses and the elders are given a vision of the throne room and under God's feet was a clear sapphire stone pavement. Clear like the sky separating God above from humanity below. The other is in the book of Ezekiel, above the heads of the four living creatures is a sapphire colored expanse, like a sky canopy and above that was the throne. Again the floor of heaven is like a vast expanse that separates God above from humanity below. Only John has sees a vision from inside the throne room itself seeing the throne floor, vast and expansive, blue and clear, displaying and enhancing the inherent majesty of this king, so great that no human can get to him.