Revelation Chapter Four
Brothers and Sisters:
Before we start to interpret Revelation 4 I would like to briefly take you through a study on the Daily ministry of Jesus in the Sanctuary in heaven. In Exodus 25:9, 40 and Hebrews 8:5 God instructed Moses to make the sanctuary on Earth after the pattern that was shown to Moses on Mt. Sinai. God wanted to be sure that we saw on Earth was in harmony with what God wanted to communicate to His people on Earth. So what we see in the sanctuary model is what God wants us to see about the sanctuary in heaven, the real one. Hebrews 8:2
In the sanctuary on Earth God wanted to constantly remind us of His love and care and how He was going to solve all of the problems of life through the sanctuary system. Psalms 77:13; John 14:4-7 So all facets of the sanctuary were designed by God to communicate His holy will to us in a manner that we can understand what He wants to give us.
To go into the sanctuary, in the time of Moses, was to go through a multi-colored curtain doorway, and then you would be in the courtyard that was surrounded by the white curtains. These two concepts show us that to enter into the sanctuary required you to enter by the wounded side of Jesus and then you would be in an area of worship surrounded by the righteous linen/character of Christ. Hebrews 10:20; John 19:34; Isaiah 64:6; 61:10; Zechariah 3:1-5.
Once in the sanctuary you would see the brazen altar where the lamb of sacrifice was offered each morning and each evening for a continual burnt offering. Numbers 28:3-4. This offering was done apart from the offerings that the repentant sinner brought before God for forgiveness of his/her specific sins. In addition to the lambs, a symbol of Jesus, the real Lamb of God John 1:29, a portion of flour was also offered each day as a food offering and a drink offering to communicate the idea that God provided sustenance for His people each day. Numbers 28:5-8. This happened each and every day of the year to be sure the grace of God was present to watch over all of His people.
In addition to the sacrifices the priest was to carry the people of God on His shoulders and on His chest to show that He cared for His people continually. Exodus 28:9-12, 15-21, 29-30. After the altar of sacrifice was the laver, a place where the priesthood continually washed away the sins of the world that he might be always ready to minister in behalf of the people. Exodus 30:17-21.
Next is another vail separating the courtyard from the Holy Place. The Holy Place was the second section of the Sanctuary and housed three pieces of furniture, the seven branched Lamp stand, the Table of Shewbread, and the Altar of Incense. Each of these three pieces of furniture communicated the daily continual care of Jesus in behalf of His people. The Lamp stand communicated the daily gift of heavenly light and the revelation of Jesus – the dayspring or sun rising from on high. Luke 1:78; Malachi 4:2; John 1:1-9; John 8:12 This Lamp stand also communicated the daily care and protection of God’s church and people as revealed in Revelation chapters 1-3.
The Table of Shewbread is a place where God reveals our need for daily sustenance and care. Jesus is the bread of life and He ever lives to make intercession for us to be sure we have food, His flesh, and drink, His blood. Jesus provides this for us each day. John 6:30-58; Leviticus 24:5-9; Numbers 4:7. In Patriarchs and Prophets Ellen White equates the Shewbread to the Manna. PP 354
The last piece of furniture in the Holy Place was the Altar of Incense. On this altar Aaron was to burn incense, the prayers of the saints, as they are offered to God morning and evening as a perpetual offering before God. Jesus mingles His righteousness with these prayers to purify them with His merits. Exodus 30:1-10; Psalms 141:2; Revelation 8:3-4; See Patriarchs and Prophets 353
The next, and final apartment of the Sanctuary, was the Most Holy Place. In the Most Holy Place was the Ark of the Covenant between God and man. This was a single rectangular box that carried the law of God, the bowl of Manna, and the Rod of Aaron – symbolizing that the law of God was the foundation of the Throne of God, that He supplied food and sustenance for all of His creatures, and that He was the Great High Priest that cared for His people. On top of the Ark was the Mercy Seat to show that Mercy is mingled with law to produce the gospel. Above the Mercy Seat were two angels facing down toward the Ark to show the interest of the angels in the plan of salvation. Patriarchs and Prophets 348-349. And in the space between the angels and the Mercy Seat was the most important part of the entire sanctuary service. This space was filled with the Shekinah glory the visible presence of Almighty God. God was the part of the sanctuary that made everything else run and have merit. It also indicates that the presence of God was there every day to take care of His people.
All of these things are necessary for us to understand in order to know that God has infinite interest in us. We are His people, we are His children. He sent His Son Jesus to die for us that we may know that we are ever close to His heart, and that He will do all that infinite God can do to rescue and to bless us. These are all of the facets of the daily care and ministry of Jesus and this is an essential component of our study in Revelation 4-5.
1After 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.
Author: God invited John to come up into heaven, and he came through a door into the Holy Place of the Sanctuary in heaven. John was willing to go and to see and experience and then bring these stories back to us on Earth.
2And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
Author: John did not go to heaven physically (See II Corinthians 12:1-10) but went in the Spirit. When he went and saw he was introduced to a throne and One sat on the throne. It is this writer’s belief that we are looking at the Table of Shewbread in this scene. In Chapters 1-3 of Revelation we see the Candlesticks, and in Revelation 8-11 we see the care and ministry of the Altar of Incense. It would seem most reasonable to conclude that Revelation 4-7 is the ministry of the Table of Shewbread. We will see more information on this in Chapter 5.
3And 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.
Author: It is interesting that in this verse we see a bit of the ministry of the High Priest’s clothing symbolizing the interest and love of God for man. In this verse we see the jasper stone and the sardine stone, the ending and the beginning stones in the priest’s breast plate. Exodus 28:15-21. This does not mean that God wears a breast plate of 12 stones but it shows the continual care and love that He ever has for His people. In addition to the stones we also a have testimony of a rainbow around the throne and this multi-colored rainbow was like an emerald – green for life. We are not told much about the throne but we are told in another throne scene that the throne is sapphire colored. The throne scene is described in Ezekiel 1 with verses 26-28 describing the sapphire colored throne with the rainbow about it with God sitting on the throne. This picture displays the care of God for His people and the remembrance of His covenant given to Noah. Genesis 9:8-17
4And 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.
Author: We find in the throne room that there are 24 elders sitting on thrones. This is an interesting scene for there were 24 thrones and 24 elders sitting. This would indicate that these 24 elders are important for the work of God. The elders in the Bible were present to witness the transactions of important events such as in Boaz’s purchase of Ruth. Ruth 4:1-11. In addition these 24 elders were clothed in white, the righteousness of saints which were made white in the blood of the Lamb of God. Revelation 19:8; 7:14. They also had crowns of gold on their heads which would indicate victory in the battle over sin. Revelation 2:10 These 24 elders are 24 human witnesses of the activities of God in the plan of salvation. The elders most likely consist of Moses, Elijah, Enoch, and the people brought to heaven by Jesus after His resurrection and the resurrection of the people in Matthew 27:50-53; Ephesians 4:8 margin reference where Jesus returns to heaven with a multitude of captives.
5And 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.
Author: Lightnings, Thunderings and voices appears to be a common set of occurrences when in the presence of God. Exodus 19:16-19; Psalms 77:17-18. In the throne room of the Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary were also seven lamps of fire which are the complete manifestations, or seven, of the Holy Spirit of God.
6And 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.
Author: Before the throne of God was a sea of glass like unto crystal. This is a testimony of the laver in the Temple that Solomon built for God where the laver is called the Sea. II Chronicles 4:2-6. This is also the position of waiting for God’s chosen people as they participate in the heavenly activities by faith in Jesus. The sea is a place of cleansing, and a place of being as near to the Holy Places of God as men on Earth can be. Early Writings 55. In the middle of the throne and round about the throne were four beasts full of the Holy Spirit of God.
7And 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.
Author: These four beasts represent the work of God in the four corners of the Earth. These beasts are also represented in Ezekiel chapters 1 and 10. These beasts manifest the qualities of the revelation of Jesus: The lion is equated to Jesus being a King, the calf is the sacrificial qualities of Jesus, the man reveals the humanity and servant hood of Jesus, and the eagle represents the divine qualities of God. These four qualities are also displayed in the four gospels of Jesus. Satan also has his counterpart of these four beasts with his four beasts displayed in Daniel 7 and Revelation 13:1-4
8And 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.
Author: These four beasts has six wings symbolizing their speed to do the work of God, they were full of the seven eyes of the Spirit of God, and they rejoice with the honor of singing praises to God day and night.
9And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth forever and ever,
Author: The four beasts give glory and honor and thanks unto the Father, the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9), who sits upon the throne and who has lived forever.
10The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
Author: When the four beasts lead out the 24 elders follow in spirit and they also worship Him who lives forever, and they cast their thrones before God acknowledging that without Him they would have had no victory over sin.
11Thou 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.
Author: One of the major facets of the worship of God in this setting is that He is the Author of the creation of the universe and thus He is worthy of glory, honour and power.