God on the Throne, Part 1 of 6 (series: Lessons on Revelations)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

Lessons on the Book of Revelation

By: Tom Lowe Date: 7-13-15


Lesson: III.A.1: God on the Throne (Revelation 4:1-11)


Revelation 4:1-11 (KJV)

1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.
8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. The phrase “which was, and is, and his to come” describes God’s transcendence over time—he is eternal (1:4).
9 And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,
10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.


Introduction

At this point we should be reminded of the threefold division of the book as it appears in 1:19: “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter” (KJV).
• “The things which thou hast seen”—the vision of the glorified Christ in chapter 1.
• “The things which are”—the history of the Church on earth prewritten from Pentecost to the Rapture as seen in the letters to the seven churches in chapters 2 and 3.
• “The things which shall be hereafter”—the future events to take place after the true Church has been taken out of the earth as recorded in chapters 4 through 22.

In chapters 2 and 3 we saw the Risen Christ walking amidst His churches upon earth. Now the scene changes to the courts of heaven. With this passage, John’s writing transition’s from the letters to the churches to the vision of heaven. He begins with a vision of God Himself.

From 4:1 to the end of the book all the events follow the rapture of the Church. By this time God will have completed His Church and the Church will have completed her mission on earth. In fact, the word “church” does not appear again in the book until the end, where the glorified Lord speaks to the churches (22:16). We are now living somewhere toward the close of the second period designated by the phrase, “the things which are,” awaiting our Lord’s coming to rapture the Church to Himself. Thus we are about to view the thrilling panorama of wonders which are to take place after the church’s mission on earth has ended and she is caught up to be with Christ, “things which must be hereafter.” If we miss this divine division of the book we have lost the key to its understanding.

God has never relinquished His sovereignty and majesty, thus we are reminded of God’s power and authority of which the throne is a symbol. “The Lord hath prepared His throne in the heavens; and His kingdom ruleth over all” (Psalm 103:19). Presently, during this Age of grace, God’s throne is one of grace and mercy where sinners and saints may come boldly to “obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). But the throne in Revelation 4 appears after the rapture of the saints, when the present dispensation has ended and a new dispensation of judgment has begun.

After the Church is raptured, and the Holy Spirit will not be here to restrain the forces of evil, this earth will become a living hell. The rapture takes place in verses 1 through 3 of chapter four. As already noted, the overcomers will be

caught up, and the masses will be “spewed out” at the same time.


Commentary

1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.

After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven. Verse 1 opens with an introductory phrase that John often uses in Revelation to begin a new vision—“After this I looked . . .” After writing letters to the seven churches, John looked and saw a door standing open in heaven. It is God who opens the door, so this is God revealing these visions to John and to us.

“A door was opened in heaven” for the Apostle John. There are three possibilities here. (a) It may be that he is thought of as already being in heaven, and the door is opening into still more holy parts of heaven. (b) It is much more likely that the door is from earth to heaven. Primitive Jewish thought conceived of the sky as a vast solid dome, set like a roof upon a square flat earth; and the idea here is that beyond the dome of the sky there is heaven, and the door is opened in that domain to give the apostle entry into heaven. (c) The door was standing open—John saw an open door—he did not see it in the act of opening.

John is transported in a vision through an open door up into heaven, where he can see things happening on earth or in heaven, according to the visions he saw. In the early chapters of the Revelation, there are three of the most important doors in life.
• “The door . . . opened in heaven”—the door of revelation is the THIRD door mentioned in Revelation. “I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven,” declares the apostle. God offers to every man the door which leads to the knowledge of God and of life eternal.

More than once the New Testament speaks of the heavens being opened; and it is of the greatest significance to see the object of that opening.
• There is the opening of the heavens for vision. “The heavens were opened and I saw visions of God” (Ezekiel 1:1) which were very similar to John’s vision. The chief differences are that the cherubim in Ezekiel each have four faces; here they have only one. The former possess “wheels full of eyes round about,” but here the creatures themselves possess the eyes. God sends to those who seek him the vision of Himself and of His truth.
• There is the opening for the descent of the Spirit. When Jesus was baptized by John, He saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon Himself (Mark 1:10). When a man’s mind and soul seek upwards, the Spirit of God descends to meet them.
• There is the opening for the revelation of the glory of Christ. It was the promise of Jesus to Nathanael that he would see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man (John 1:51). Someday the heavens will open to disclose the glory of Christ; and inevitably that day will bring joy to those who have loved Him and amazement and fear to those who have despised Him.
• The FIRST door mentioned in Revelation is the door of opportunity in Philadelphia. “Behold,” said the Risen Christ to the Church at Philadelphia, “I have set before you an open door” (Revelation 3:8). That was the door of the glorious opportunity by which the message of the Gospel could be taken to the regions beyond. God sets before every man his own door of opportunity.
• The SECOND door mentioned in Revelation is the door of fellowship in Laodicea (also called “the door of the human heart.”). This door is one of revelation. John is going to pass through a door that will allow him to see the God of the universe and all of the glory that controls the world.
• says the Risen Christ, “I stand at the door and knock” (Revelation 3:20). At the door of every heart there comes the knock of the nail-pierced hand, and a man may open or refuse to open. The picture that usually accompanies Revelation 3:20 shows the door closed; representing the closed door of the human heart. While the door remains open for Gospel preaching and Bible teaching, Christ stands at the door of the individual’s heart, knocking and asking to be admitted. Many continue refusing to let Him enter, while a few, who recognize their lost and sinful state, received Him. But at the close of this present age, when the last soul has received Him, He will open the door into Heaven and call His own to their heavenly home which he had been preparing for them that love Him (John 14: 1-3). It is this great event to which we give attention now.

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