Summary: Revelation 4:1-4 The Throne and the Lamb The Invitation From Heaven God on his Throne *Absolute Sovereignty *Indescribable Glory
The Throne and The Lamb
The Vision of God's Throne
We are starting a new series today, “The Throne and the Lamb,” based on Revelation chapters four and five. Chapter four picks up where we left off last summer, John writing to seven churches and encouraging them in the midst of persecution with a vision of the throne of God. We have gone from the ground level to the command center to show those under Roman persecution that God is ruling from his throne. Contextually, chapter four is the stage set up for the drama that unfolds in chapter five. Let me tell you where we going today before we read the text. We will start by looking at Jesus' invitation to John to come up to the throne room of heaven and then we will look at God's absolute sovereignty and his indescribable glory.
The Invitation From Heaven (vs. 1)
“After this” points to the start of another vision and another section of Revelation. Chapters one through three give us the perspective from earth; chapters four and following give us the perspective of heaven. 'Look and behold' is a common introduction to a prophetic vision in the Old Testament . John sees a door opened to heaven, waiting for him. John receives this grand invitation to come up to the throne room of heaven and we are included on his coattails as he is told to write it down for us. The Jews spoke of three heavens. The first heaven consisted of the earth's atmosphere where the clouds and birds are. The second heaven was where the sun, stars, and moon are. The third heaven was the dwelling place of God. When Paul said he was caught up to the third heaven, he was referring to the dwelling place of God and the temporary abode of saints who have died until heaven descends and is engulfed by the new creation in chapter twenty one. John is invited into the very presence of God to see heaven's perspective.
The first thing John hears is a voice which he heard in chapter one, the voice of the risen Lord. This voice is like a trumpet - loud, startling, commanding his attention. It is like a trumpet but it is not an actual trumpet. In these chapters John uses analogies, symbols, and similes because God is immense and can't be described literally without belittling him. Human language is too weak and inadequate to describe God literally! The voice commands him to come up so he can show him what must take place. Jesus is going to pull back the curtain of heaven so John can see history from the perspective of the throne room. That verb, must, points to divine necessity and divine determination. It is more than just a knowledge of the future, he is guiding history. God has ordained the events of history to ensure that they take place yet in regards to evil he does it in such a way that man is morally responsible and he is innocent of evil. This leads us to the One who wields history to his own end, God on his throne.
God On His Throne (vs. 2-3)
Now this description of the throne room becomes utterly fantastic yet this is not stuff for the drawing board but for igniting the imagination. How do you describe the indescribable? You grasp and grope for words that are weak and inadequate like a blind man groping to describe unfamiliar surroundings. So John uses analogies, expressing heavenly realities in earthly similes. This throne and the one who sits on the throne transcends all attempts to explain it. In the rest of our time together I will attempt to describe the first two aspects of this throne, absolute sovereignty and indescribable glory.
• Absolute Sovereignty
The first and most obvious thing John sees is a throne that stood in heaven with one seated on the throne. The throne is central to everything in heaven and earth and to chapters four and five. The center of everything is the throne - not a person, not a political party, not even us but God. The throne guarantees his sovereignty over all things, over all history, over all people, over all his enemies, even over Satan. Thrones are the central power source for governmental rulers but God's throne is in heaven so he rules over all the nations. Scripture says that heaven is his throne and the earth his footstool meaning nothing is outside of his rule; the earth and all its nations are under his feet, insignificant. The throne guarantees that the victory is secure, the control room of heaven has everything under control; history is unfolding just as planned. The rule of this throne goes unchallenged. This throne is above all human thrones, especially Rome.