The Book of Revelation (part 13)
April 8, 2020
The Book of Revelation (part 13)
God: The Sovereign Owner and Sustainer of All Things
We are going through the book of Revelation verse by verse on Wednesday nights. Our world is changing. Jesus’ return is soon! I want you to be informed as to what the scriptures have to say about His Second Coming and what we should be doing to prepare for that day!
The book of Revelation is an unveiling of last things. It is the revelation to us of what God will do to judge Satan and remove him and his cohorts from this fallen planet, claim this planet again as His own, rid the earth of the curse that came in the fall of man, and prepare the earth for its eternal future filled with His glory and with redeemed human families.
Ephesians 1:9-10 (PHILLIPS)
For God had allowed us to know the secret of his plan, and it is this: He purposes in His sovereign will that all human history shall be consummated in Christ, that everything that exists in Heaven or earth shall find its perfection and fulfilment in Him.
What is happening now with the coronavirus very well could be another situation that is a prelude of things to come. Before Jesus returns, there is worldwide upheaval that is coming that will make this look small. The rest of the book of Revelation shows what will transpire just before the Second Coming of Christ.
The last two lessons, I have drawn attention to what I believe is a timeline to the Second Coming of Christ. I have covered the birth pangs that Jesus mentioned in Matthew 24:4-8; the Great Tribulation in verses 9-28, the rapture of the church which is signaled by cosmic disturbances when the light of the sun, moon, and stars is dimmed. Matthew 24:29-31, Jesus comes to take believers out of the earth just before the ensuing Day of the Lord judgments come upon the earth. The first part of Daniel’s seventieth week, or what is typically called the tribulation, is the wrath of man or the antiChrist, and the last part of this time of God, which begins in Revelation 8.
And now we come to Revelation 4. Let’s go verse by verse and make some comments.
Revelation 4:1 – NKJV
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.”
Here, John was most probably seeing into the spirit realm. This is the gift of discerning of spirits coming into manifestation. With this gift, a person is able to see into the spirit realm.
The word discern means to see. Prophets in the Old Testament were called seers. Abraham saw the Lord. Moses saw the Lord. Isaiah saw the Lord. Daniel saw the Lord. Elijah saw the Lord. These, along with so many others in the Old Testament, saw the Lord. These were manifestations of discerning of spirits.
Back in Revelation 1:10, John was in the spirit. Here, it is not clear whether John had an out-of-body experience like Paul mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12, or whether he was just praying and had a vision.
The word door is an opening or a portal.
Strong’s # 2374. θύρα thyra; apparently a primary word (compare “door”); a portal or entrance (the opening or the closure, literally or figuratively): — door, gate.
When we pray, particularly in other tongues, there is a door of varying degrees created into the realm of the spirit where God, Jesus, heaven, angels and such exist.
Through that portal or opening there is no sense of time. It is an eternal realm.
Revelation 4:2-3 – NKJV
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.
Here John actually sees the throne of God in heaven. When a person is “in the spirit,” spiritual things are much more distinct, and spiritual gifts may manifest. Here, the gift of discerning of spirits comes into manifestation, and John sees God.
Jasper is usually a variety of colors such as brown, yellow, red, green, orange or brown.
Sardis stone is usually a shade of red.
God is light (1 John 1:5). White light, seen through a prism, is comprised of seven colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.
God has painted our world with colors that come from Himself. He is the sum total of all that is. When you walk outside and see nature in its beauty, realize that it all came from the God who created all things from Himself! He owns it all!
Next, John saw a rainbow of colors around the throne. From earth, a rainbow appears as a half circle. From an airplane, it often seems to be a circle. The rainbow circling the throne could be pointing to the absolute faithfulness of God to His Word! Noah saw a rainbow as a promise of God’s protection. Here, John saw a rainbow which could be tied to God’s promise to judge the earth and to right every wrong throughout history.
Listen to God speaking to Noah:
Genesis 9:13-17 – NKJV
I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. 14 It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; 15 and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
God promised He would never flood the earth again, but this next judgment is by fire, not water. The rainbow is God telling us He will take care of us in the middle of the storm.
Revelation 4:4 – NKJV
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.
The next thing John sees is twenty-four thrones seated around God’s throne, which is in the center of them.
It is not clear as to who is seated on these thrones.
Some theologians think that the twenty-four elders come from the raptured church, which is now in heaven.
Others believe the twenty-four elders may be twenty-four courses of the Old Testament priesthood.
Some believe the twenty-four elders are comprised of a representative from each of the twelve tribes of Israel plus the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.
Most scholars lean towards these twenty-four elders being angels of a high order, like cherubim and seraphim, who bear the holiness of God. The text leans toward this view.
Notice they are clothed in white robes and wear gold crowns. This is the clothing of those who are cleansed by the blood of Jesus…
Revelation 3:5 – NKJV
He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
Revelation 6:11 – NKJV
Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.
Revelation 7:9 – NKJV
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands
Revelation 19:7-8 – NKJV
Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. 8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
Revelation 19:14 – NKJV
And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.
Revelation 4:5 – NKJV
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.
The thunder and lightning here speak of the just and judicial righteous judgments of God, which will come to the earth before Jesus’ return.
Revelation 8:5 – NKJV
Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.
Revelation 11:19 – NKJV
Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.
Revelation 16:18 – NKJV
And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth.
The lamps of fire stand for the seven spirits of God. Seven is the number of perfection, and so this refers to the complete fullness of the Holy Spirit!
Isaiah 11:2 – NKJV
The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
Revelation 4:6 – NKJV
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.
This sea of glass is like a mirror and is probably referring to the all-knowing eyes of God that in their pristine purity see all, and thus God knows all. God’s calm, steady, clear, firm, unobstructed rule over the universe may be represented here.
This sea of glass is also mentioned in Revelation 15:2.
Revelation 15:2 – NKJV
And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God.
You may find this interesting from the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary:
(JFB) like … crystal–not imperfectly transparent as the ancient common glass, but like rock crystal. Contrast the turbid “many waters” on which the harlot “sitteth” (Revelation 17:1, 15). Compare Job 37:18, “the sky … as a molten looking-glass.” Thus, primarily, the pure ether which separates God’s throne from John, and from all things before it, may be meant, symbolizing the “purity, calmness, and majesty of God’s rule” [ALFORD]. But see the analogue in the temple, the molten sea before the sanctuary (see on Re 4:4, above). There is in this sea depth and transparency, but not the fluidity and instability of the natural sea (compare Rev 21:1). It stands solid, calm, and clear, God’s judgments are called “a great deep” (Ps 36:6). In Rev 15:2 it is a “sea of glass mingled with fire.” Thus there is symbolized here the purificatory baptism of water and the Spirit of all who are made “kings and priests unto God.” In Rev 15:2 the baptism with the fire of trial is meant. Through both all the king-priests have to pass in coming to God: His judgments, which overwhelm the ungodly, they stand firmly upon, as on a solid sea of glass; able like Christ to walk on the sea, as though it were solid.
And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back.
The living creatures here envelop the throne of God on all sides. Again the eyes depict that God sees everything. He knows everything. God is omniscient and also omnipresent. Here, nothing can escape the watchful eyes of these living creatures.
Revelation 4:7 – NKJV
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.
The four living creatures may represent the attributes of God symbolically – His all-knowing and His omnipresence.
The face of the lion may refer to God’s majesty; the face of the ox of His labor and patience towards us; the face of the man His intelligence; and the face of the eagle His ultimate sovereignty. (From Olive Tree Digital Library – The Bible Knowledge Commentary)
Some of the early church fathers saw these faces on the living creatures as a manifestation of Christ in the four Gospels: Jesus in Matthew represented as the lion (authority); Jesus in Mark represented as the ox (Jesus the servant); Jesus in Luke represented as the man (Jesus the incarnate human); and then Jesus in John represented as an eagle (His Divinity).
(Adapted from Olive Tree Digital Bible: Bible Knowledge Commentary).
These living creatures were seen by Ezekiel hundreds of years before John lived.
Ezekiel 1:4-14 – NKJV
Then I looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north, a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself; and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire. 5 Also from within it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man. 6 Each one had four faces, and each one had four wings. 7 Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the soles of calves’ feet. They sparkled like the color of burnished bronze. 8 The hands of a man were under their wings on their four sides; and each of the four had faces and wings. 9 Their wings touched one another. The creatures did not turn when they went, but each one went straight forward. 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. 11 Thus were their faces. Their wings stretched upward; two wings of each one touched one another, and two covered their bodies. 12 And each one went straight forward; they went wherever the spirit wanted to go, and they did not turn when they went. 13 As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches going back and forth among the living creatures. The fire was bright, and out of the fire went lightning. 14 And the living creatures ran back and forth, in appearance like a flash of lightning.
Ezekiel 10:12-14 -NKJV
And their whole body, with their back, their hands, their wings, and the wheels that the four had, were full of eyes all around. 13 As for the wheels, they were called in my hearing, “Wheel.” 14 Each one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, the second face the face of a man, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.
Revelation 4:8 – NKJV
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, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”
Isaiah saw these creatures too:
Isaiah 6:1-4 – NKJV
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. 2 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!”
4 And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.
These living beings have to do with the holiness of God, for they cry out Holy, Holy, Holy.
The margin of my Nelson’s NKJV Bible mentions that Holy is mentioned nine times in the Majority text.
These beings emphasize God’s holiness. God’s power is related to His holiness.
Modern America recognizes that God is love, but it forgets that God is holy. Because God is holy and we are sinful, we need salvation. Without it, we cannot enter the Holy Atmosphere where God is.
Hebrews 12:14 – NKJV
Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord
Leviticus 11:44 (NKJV)
For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
Exodus 3:5 (NKJV)
Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.”
1 Peter 1:14-16 (NKJV)
As obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; (15) but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
2 Corinthians 6:14 – 7:1 (NKJV)
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? (15) And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? (16) And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.” (17) Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” (18) “I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.” (7:1) Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV)
Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. (22) Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ (23) And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
Revelation 4:9-11 – NKJV
Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 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.”
The New Spirit-Filled Bible notes bring out that the word worship here is:
; Strong’s #4352: From pros, “toward,” and kuneo, “to kiss.” To prostrate oneself, bow down, do obeisance, show reverence, do homage, worship, adore.
In the NT the word especially denotes homage rendered to God and the ascended Christ. All believers have a one-dimensional worship, to the only Lord and Savior. We do not worship angels, saints, shrines, relics, or religious personages.
(From Olive Tree Digital Library: New Spirit Filled Life Bible Notes).
In chapter four, God is revealed as the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. He owns all, and is over all. He is the Sovereign One who owns the earth.
Next week, we will begin with Revelation Chapter 5. We will look at the scroll in God’s right hand!
- Do you see God as the owner of all things and sustainer of all things?
- Do you live as though God sees all and knows all?
- Do you have the confidence that there is no greater power than God’s power?
- Do you have an expectation that in your future, regardless of what happens, God will take care of you?