Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.” Revelation 4:9-11
Revelation Chapter 4 is really the beginning of John’s prophetic vision. In Revelation Chapter 4 John is allowed to see a vision of the heavenly throne room. And we see John’s description of what this heavenly throne room looks like in the first eight verses of Revelation Chapter 4.
After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 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 ruby. A rainbow that shone like 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. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
“‘Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,’
who was, and is, and is to come.”-4:1-8
What John sees in this heavily throne room are four things.
- A throne in heaven-The one seated on the throne is God the Father, and John is deeply and acutely aware of God’s presence. Yet, John does not attempt to describe God directly, for God’s glory is too great for words and beyond description. Since God “lives in unapproachable light” (1 Timothy 6:16), John can only speak of a diamond-like brilliance and a fiery presence. Carnelian stone was a brilliant red precious stone, symbolizing God’s redemption.
- Twenty-Four Elders seated on twenty-four thrones-Some believe these elders represent the entire church, or company of believers, in heaven. Others believe they may be ruling angels; however, we should note that angels stand around the elders. Also, the crowns they wear are victors crowns, the kind prepared for believers, not angels. Still others believe the elders represent Old Testament Israel (12 tribes) and the New Testament church (12 apostles of Christ) joined in worship to God and Jesus Christ. In this case, the twenty-four elders would symbolize, or represent, God’s entire church-both Old and New Testament-because Christ’s personal sacrifice secured the redemption of God’s people of all time. Regardless of your view of the twenty-four elders it is important to remember they are real individuals who talk with John in Revelation 5:5 and 17:13.
- Seven Lamps-The seven lamps represent the seven spirits of God, which in turn represent the presence of the Holy Spirit at God’s throne. The language may come from the sevenfold (i.e., seven-aspect) expression of the Spirit in Isaiah 11:2. The number seven represents the fullness and completeness of the Spirit and his work. The Holy Spirit is like a burning fire filled with judgement against sin and with God’s purity.
- Four living creatures-These four creatures and their faces probably represent the entire living creation. All of God’s living creatures will bring glory and honor to him and eventually be liberated from the curse of sin. The description of these creatures somewhat resembles the cherubs of Ezekiel 1:5-14, expect in Ezekiel all the beings look the same. The creatures have six wings like the the seraphs described by the Isaiah in Isaiah 6:1-2, symbolizing both humility and swiftness. Note that these are presented as real, rational beings, not just symbols. The eyes reflect extreme intelligence, alertness and awareness of what is going on all around; but more importantly these four living creatures are engaged in the act of worshiping God.
And now we can finally come to our actual verse of the day. And in the last three verses of Revelation Chapter 4 we see the worship that is going on around God’s throne intensifies when the elders fall on their faces and lay down their crowns as they acclaim the worthiness of God. The elders recognize that whatever authority their crowns may afford them pales in comparison to that of the sovereign creator God, who granted them that authority. These crowns become offerings in worship when the elders lay them at the foot of God’s throne as they declare his worthiness to receive glory, honor and power. Their doxology also includes the reason God is worthy of worship: he created all things, and the only reason anything exists is because God willed it.
Today’s Bible Readings:
1 Samuel 24-25, John 10:22-42, Psalm 116:1-19 and Proverbs 15:20-21
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