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4:1-5:14 A VISION OF HEAVEN
Vision of the throne (4:1-11)
Jesus has shown John the present state of the churches as he sees them. He now shows him, again from the divine viewpoint, certain things that are going to happen as God works out his purposes in the world. By means of a vision of heaven, John begins to have some understanding of how God sees the world’s affairs. He is given a glimpse of the place where God, the possessor of absolute authority, reigns majestically in indescribable glory (4:1-3).
In this vision the throne on which the Almighty sits is in a large flat area that looks like a sea of crystal. The seven blazing lamps in front of the throne suggest the burning power of God’s all-seeing Spirit, while the lightning and thunder coming from the throne create a feeling of overwhelming awe. Twenty-four elders seated on smaller thrones encircle the throne of the Almighty. They appear to be angelic beings that belong to one of the heavenly orders (cf. Isaiah 24:23), but they cannot cross the sea of crystal to share God’s throne. His position is unique (4-6a).
Between the elders and the throne of God are four ‘living creatures’. These are probably heavenly beings of another order and resemble the cherubim of the Old Testament. Like the cherubim they appear to be guardians of the throne of God (6b-8; cf. 1 Samuel 4:4; Psalms 80:1; Ezekiel 1:4-28; Ezekiel 10:15-17).
The significance of the vision becomes clearer when the living creatures and the elders begin to sing praises and worship God. The vision’s central meaning is that in heaven God is worshipped unceasingly. He is the Creator and Lord of the universe and he is always in control. The persecuted Christians need never doubt his power or his wisdom (9-11).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Revelation 4". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany