God on the Throne, Part 2 of 6 (series: Lessons on Revelations)
by John Lowe
What is the significance of the “door opened in Heaven?” A door is an opening through which one may pass from one place to another. The Bible tells us that there is only one door into Heaven. Our Lord Jesus said, “I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:9). He is the only way of access to God. As sinners alienated from God we have no access except through Christ. Remember, there are not two or more doors; there is only one. The open door in heaven that John saw was Christ’s final call to all the redeemed both dead and alive to enter heaven.
But I must remind the unsaved reader that you are in grave danger. The present Age of Grace could come to an end at any moment. If you have not received Christ, you have chosen to be lost forever. Open the door of your heart to Him and He will open the door of Heaven to you.
And the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me. The apostle writes what he heard through the open door. The “voice” that sounded like a “trumpet” is the voice of Jesus calling for John to come in and see the vision. Some Bible commentators have translated “The first voice which I heard” as “the voice which I heard first.” This is the same trumpet voice which Paul described in his divinely inspired prediction of the rapture. “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52, NIV). This will be the last “trumpet” sound of the present dispensation of grace calling up both those who have died in Christ and those in Him who are alive at that time. This will NOT be the last trumpet in point of time. Seven trumpets more are to be sounded after the Church is caught up to Heaven, but these are trumpets of judgment sounded by angels (Revelation 8:7, 8, 10, 12; 9:1, 13; 11:15). This is a trumpet of blessing sounded by God before judgment is poured out on the earth (1 Thessalonian’s 4:16-17). As the trumpet voice summoned John to Heaven, so we await its sound calling us to that meeting in the air. Symbolically, then, this open door in Heaven is to permit the saints to enter.
Which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. Notice that the revelation Jesus is about to reveal is of things that “MUST” happen. They are certain.
Heaven is the vantage point of all true and accurate prophecy, the only safe place of vision. Man may make predictions of events which are to take place on the earth, but if those predictions are not from God’s point of view, they are not to be trusted. Man tells us the world is getting better; God says it will become increasingly worse. Man says that peace among nations is close at hand; God says there will be wars and rumors of wars, nation fighting against nation. Man predicts that in years to come he will have won the battle against disease, famine, and hardship; God says there has to be a fearful looking forward to the judgments of disease, famine, and hardship.
From John’s viewpoint on Patmos, the picture is dark for the Church and bright for the world which hates her and her Lord. But when John is able to see things from God’s point of view, the picture is changed radically. He sees the true Church caught up to Heaven, God is on His eternal throne, and manifestations of divine wrath are in store for the earth dwellers who have rejected His Son. The words “after this” and “hereafter” made it clear that what follows is to take place on the earth after the Church Age has run its course. No matter what may happen on earth, God is on His throne and is in complete control. Let’s not be preoccupied with prophecy from an earthly viewpoint but rather from heavens vantage point for God has a plan and everything will happen just as He planned it.
2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
And immediately I was in the spirit; meaning that when the apostle entered the door into heaven, he fell into a trance. John was not actually caught up into Heaven bodily, for all this was part of John’s vision. The expression “in the spirit” indicates that John’s spirit for the moment left his body, and his spirit alone was caught away into Heaven to behold his glorified Lord. John’s body was not yet glorified, and no man can behold the beauty and majesty of our glorified Lord in an unredeemed and mortal body.
Four times in the book of Revelation, John wrote that he was “in the Spirit” (1:10; 4:2; 17:3; 21:10). This expression means that the Holy Spirit was giving him a vision—showing him situations and events that he could not have seen with mere human eyesight—and is showing him things to come. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you ‘things to come.’” (John 16:13). All true philosophy comes from God through the Holy Spirit (1:10; 2 Peter 1:20-21).
And, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. Among His last words to the church at Laodicea, Christ refers to His throne and His Father’s throne—“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (3:21). Which, if either, did John see in chapter 4? I am not certain that he saw either of these. Note that the throne was being set up as John was looking on. That which is eternal cannot be placed in position or be set up at any given time. The throne in John’s vision is temporal and movable. The vision included the placing of the throne as well as the throne itself.
The One who sat upon the throne is not identified. But those who say it is God the Father argue that the Son approaches the throne in Revelation 5:6, and the Spirit is pictured before the throne in Revelation 4:5. That leaves only God the Father—He is the one John saw setting on the throne. The Father, in essence, is invisible, but in Scripture, at times, He is represented as assuming a visible form. It would be difficult for me to attempt an identification of just which person in the Godhead is seated upon this throne. If we do not know whether His appearance was “like a Jasper and a sardine stone” (4:3) not as to shape, for Deity does not take on any particular shape, except for the brilliance and glory of the splendor of God. They are precious stones which speak of what the triune God is, for they are used to symbolize His appearance. The brilliance of the Jasper stone symbolizes the pure holiness of God, and the deep red of the Sardius symbolizes the blood atonement demanded by God for the remission of sins.
Note, In the Revelation, the throne of God is mentioned in every chapter except 2, 8, and 9. It stands for the majesty of God.
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.
And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone. There is something very interesting here. John makes no attempt to describe God in any human shape; instead, he describes God in “the flashing of gem-like colors,” but he never mentions any kind of form. The description uses the names of jewels. Different versions of the Bible translate these names differently (jasper, carnelian, diamonds, rubies, etc.). Also, we can’t be sure if the ancients used the same names for precious and semiprecious stones that we use today. Nevertheless, the importance of John’s description is in the images of beauty and value that are attributed to God. John gives no literal physical description of God, because God cannot be described. Instead, the character and nature of God are described, because that is what anyone could ever see of God.
It’s the Bible’s way to see God in terms of light. Paul describes God in his pastoral letters as “dwelling in the light that no man can approach unto” (1 Timothy 6:16). And long before that, the Psalmist has spoken of God who covers himself with light as a garment (Psalm 104:2). Luke mentions three stones, the “emerald, the jasper, and a sardine stone.” They were among the precious stones on the breastplate of the High Priest (Exodus 28:17); and they were among the stones which were the foundation of the Holy City (Revelation 21:19).
Nowadays “the Jasper” is a dull opaque stone, but in the ancient world, it seems to have been a clear rock crystal—‘clear as crystal’—through which the light would come with an almost unbearable glistening. Some think that here it means a diamond, and this is not improbable. The blood-red “sardine stone” was said to be found mainly near the city of Sardis, from which it got its name. It was a gem which was frequently used to make engravings, and it may correspond to the modern carnelian. In the vision, it represents God’s justice in executing a fiery wrath against those who have rejected His Son.