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John Brown :: Revelation 4

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Revelation 4


A. The key to understanding the book of Revelation is in Revelation 1:19 "Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. (NKJV)

1. The book is divided into three sequential events:

a) (#1) "The things which (John) had seen" = This by the way, was shown to him in chapter 1 and that the Glorified Christ in all of His Heavenly Majesty!

b) (#2) "The things which are" = this time period represents the Church Age. The time of the 7 churches which we just completed in chapters 2 and 3.

c) And finally "the things which will take place after this." = That is, the things that will take place after the church age. = This is represented in chapters 4 through 22.

B. So, in this scene, the church has been raptured and the Lord is about to execute judgment upon the "earth dwellers" described in Revelation 3:10 "Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. (NKJV)

1. This gives us the proper "picture" for the opening of chapter 4.

a) There is one word that predominates this chapter and it is the word "throne"!

(1) It appears 12 times in these 11 verses and no less than 37 times in the book of Revelation.

(2) One might get the impression of judgment as the throne suggests!

(a) And the next 18 chapters will unveil judgment like the earth, (and the people dwelling on it) has never seen since the creation.

(b) Lets take a look at chapter 4!


A. Revelation 4:1 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this." (NKJV)

1. The first thing we notice is "...a door standing open in heaven..."!

a) A door gives right of passage from one place to another.

b) This door is in heaven and it is giving John the right to enter heaven.

c) Scripture tells us that there is only one door to heaven!

(1) John 10:9 "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. (NKJV)

(2) John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (NKJV)

(a) John would not have been permitted this privilege without being born again!

2. The next thing we notice is the "...voice like a trumpet...."

a) Paul has already described the rapture in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed -- 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (NKJV)

(1) This trumpet sound will close the dispensation of grace (the church age).

(2) This trumpet of blessing will call God's children home!

(a) John, in this chapter represents all of us who will be caught up in the air to meet the Lord!

(b) John was not only given a vision, but invited to "come up here" = he was spiritually translated in heaven!

B. Revelation 4:2-3 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. 3 And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. (NKJV)

1. John had to be "in the spirit" because his earthly body had not yet been "transformed" for space and time travel!

2. The first thing he saw upon entrance to heaven was "a throne."

3. The Greek word for "set" is present continuous, meaning that it "was being set" right before John's eyes.

a) Most commentators believe that this is the "judgment seat of Christ" before which all Christians must stand!

(1) Yes, ALL Christians will face a judgment!!

(2) Romans 14:10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. (NKJV)

(3) 2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (NKJV)

(a) This is a judgment for works and not for salvation!

(b) 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (NKJV)

4. "...He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance..."The Lord warned not to make any image of HIM because it "misrepresented" Him.

a) God cannot be captured on canvas or carved in stone!

(1) Whom John saw was "like" jasper and sardius stones. Not in shape, but in brilliance and magnificence.

(a) By the way, jasper is red and symbolic of judgment and sacrifice.

(b) The sardine stone was purple, symbolic of royalty!

5. Notice the rainbow!

a) This rainbow unlike anything we have ever seen is "around" or "round-a-bout" the throne.

(1) It is a complete circle, where as we loose part of ours due to the horizon!

b) The Bible refers to the rainbow only 4 times.

(1) The first is in Genesis promising mercy to mankind even in the midst of judgment.

(2) The second is in Ezekiel 1:28 as Ezekiel describes his vision of God.

(3) The third is here in verse 3.

(4) And lastly in Rev 10:1 again dealing with a vision of the Lord and His throne.

(a) So, unmistakably, John is in the throne room of God!

C. Revelation 4:4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. (NKJV)

1. There are at least 4 reasons why these elders are human and not angels:

a) All angels are the same age. There can be no "elders" among them.

b) The term "elder" is only used in the Bible for human men.

c) These "elders" are wearing white, a promise to overcoming believers.

d) And these "elders" are also wearing crowns also promised to "overcomers".

2. These 24 "elders" represent all believers of all ages.

3. But they are also individual men, the representative "elders" of all humanity!

a) There are in Genesis, 24 patriarchs listed in the line of the promised seed of Abraham.

b) Perhaps these are the men. No one is absolutely sure!

D. Revelation 4:5 And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. (NKJV)

1. These "rumblings" from heaven are indicative of judgment one again!

a) If you will remember, the same thing happened a Sinai when the Law was given. Then like here, the Lord was not dealing in grace!

2. As we have said, the number 7 in scripture symbolizes completion and fullness.

a) So, then, seven separate spirits represent the "fullness" and "completeness" of the Lord's Holy Spirit!

E. Revelation 4:6-9 Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. 8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." 9 Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, (NKJV) (The SEA OF GLASS)

1. 2 Chronicles 4:2-6 Then he made the Sea of cast bronze, ten cubits (15 feet) from one brim to the other; it was completely round. Its height was five cubits (7.5 feet), and a line of thirty cubits (45 feet) measured its circumference. 3 And under it was the likeness of oxen encircling it all around, ten to a cubit (18 inches), all the way around the Sea. The oxen were cast in two rows, when it was cast. 4 It stood on twelve oxen: three looking toward the north, three looking toward the west, three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east; the Sea was set upon them, and all their back parts pointed inward. 5 It was a handbreadth thick (3 inches); and its brim was shaped like the brim of a cup, like a lily blossom. It contained three thousand baths (17.4 thousand gallons). 6 He also made ten lavers, and put five on the right side and five on the left, to wash in them; such things as they offered for the burnt offering they would wash in them, but the Sea was for the priests to wash in. (NKJV)

2. Exodus 30:18-21 "You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base also of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. And you shall put water in it, 19 "for Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in water from it. 20 "When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to the LORD, they shall wash with water, lest they die. 21 "So they shall wash their hands and their feet, lest they die. And it shall be a statute forever to them -- to him and his descendants throughout their generations." (NKJV)

a) These priests were already washed by the blood of the Lamb, therefore the sea before John was hard and crystaline. The priests were able to "walk" right into the presence of the Lord!

3. Ezekiel also described these "living creatures" that are before John at the throne: Ezekiel 1:10 As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle. (NKJV)

a) There is much speculation about these creatures, and no doubt, each face is significant and symbolic.

(1) You will notice that the oxen in 2 Chronicles face North, South, East, and West.

(2) Perhaps each face keeps a certain watch over the throne!

b) One thing is for sure, they are there to worship the Lord

c) Day and night they cry:

(1) ..."Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!"...

(2) It is interesting that their "holy"'s are in threes. Perhaps for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

(3) Or maybe it is for God's work of creation, redemption, and final restoration!

(4) Whatever the reasons, they dedicate their existance to glorify and honor the Lord eternally!

(5) And notice what happens when they do!

F. Revelation 4:10-11 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: 11 "You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created." (NKJV)

1. The "elders" cannot worship the Lord while they are on their own thrones.

a) They are compelled to fall at His feet in worship!

2. Notice also that although the crowns were earned and deserved, they were unbecoming in His presence!

3. Their thrones seemed unimportant and insignificant compared to Him.

4. Notice also, "the redeemed" cast their crowns before the Lord as they praise His name!


A. Revelation 4:11 "You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created." (NKJV)

1. Before we can be redeemed we must believe that we were created!

2. There is no room in Christianity for evolution!

3. These heavenly being have no problem believing that He is the creator of all things!

4. Therefore they give Him praise as such!

Revelation 3:14-22 ← Prior Section
Revelation 5:1-14 Next Section →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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