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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 4

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

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Verses 1-11

Revelation chapter four begins with the Greek word "meta autos". And the first verse begins and ends with the same Greek words. The words literally from the Greek are "after these things". So as we come to this phrase, "after these things," our minds should flash back to chapter Revelation 1:19 ,where the book of Revelation was divided into three basic divisions. "Write the things which you have seen, the things which are, and the things which will be after these things", "meta autos". So obviously we are coming into the third section of the book of Revelation, after these things. After what things?

Well, it seems to me that it would be quite apparent and obvious. It would be after the things that he was just talking about. And the things that he was just talking about were the things of the church; so, after the things of the church. For we had in chapters two and three, the messages of Jesus to the seven churches of Asia, which as we pointed out represent seven periods of church history.

So, after these things, the things of the church,

I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show you things which must be after these things ( Revelation 4:1 ).

I believe that when the church has completed its purpose upon the earth and has finished its witness, or as Paul describes, "when the fullness of the gentiles is come in," that the Lord is then going to catch away His church into heaven.

Paul said, "behold, I show you a mystery. We are not going to all sleep, but we are all going to be changed in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye. The trump of God shall sound, the dead in Christ shall be raised incorruptible." First Thessalonians Rev 4:16-17 ,Paul said, "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord."

So, I believe that the church is to be raptured. And I believe that the point of the rapture in the book of Revelation is in here in chapter Revelation 4:1 . I believe that John was taken by the Spirit unto the day of the Lord and experienced through the Spirit the rapture of the church. When the Lord had completed His messages to the churches, then the call to John was "come up hither and I will show you things, which must be after these things, after the things of the church".

So as we enter then into the fourth chapter, we enter into the post-church era upon the earth. We will be coming back to the earth in chapter six, but it is the post-church era, when God now judges the world for its ungodliness and unrighteousness and for its rejection of His Son. But the church, with John here in chapter four caught up into heaven,

And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat upon the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald ( Revelation 4:2-3 ).

So the basic color that emanates from the throne is a green, along with the sardine red, along with the jasper which is a clear crystalline-type of a stone with a purple hue.

Now, Paul told us in Timothy that God dwells in a light that is unapproachable by man. And here in heaven, even in our glorified bodies, we only see the radiance of the glory of God as it emanates from His throne like a brilliant light, the predominant color being green, the rainbow about the throne like an emerald, green in color, with the sardine red color and the jasper stone in brilliance in coloring and light.

And round about the throne there were twenty-four lesser thrones: [thronus in Greek translated 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 ( Revelation 4:4 ).

The twenty-four elders clothed in white raiment are representative of the church according to most Bible scholars. These twenty-four elders are representative. The fact that they are in white robes is the church is to be clothed in white robes, the righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus said to the church of Laodicea, "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"( Revelation 3:21 ). The twenty-four lesser thrones. Now we see the heavenly scene sitting in white robes upon their thrones.

And out of the throne [that is the throne of God] there proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God ( Revelation 4:5 ).

Now again it is important that we place in our mind the tabernacle that Moses built in the wilderness, because we are told in the book of Hebrews that the tabernacle was actually a model of heavenly things. If you want to know basically what heaven is going to look like, you can go back to the tabernacle and you can get an idea of what the throne of God is like in heaven.

And there in the tabernacle we remember when the priest came into the holy place on the left-hand side, there was the seven candlesticks coming out of the one base. And these seven golden candlesticks, we now know from the book of Revelation, are representative of the Holy Spirit and the presence of the Holy Spirit there before the throne of God, the seven-fold work or the complete work of the Holy Spirit. We remember that in the Holy of Holies there was that Ark of the Covenant that Moses made covered with the gold lid, which was the mercy seat, upon which there was carved these golden cherubim with their wings touching the corners of the Holy of Holies of the tabernacle.

And so as we go on in the reading of the description here of heaven, we next come to these cherubim. These angelic beings created by God who seem to be the highest order of angelic beings.

And 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 living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. And the first living creature was like a lion, and the second was like a calf, and the third had a face as a man, and the fourth was like a flying eagle ( Revelation 4:6-7 ).

Now, there are those Bible scholars that see in this the four phases of Christ as represented in the Gospels. The first, Matthew, presents Jesus as the lion of the tribe of the Judah. The lion, of course, is known as the king of the beast. The second, like a calf, as Mark presents Jesus as the suffering servant. The ox is considered the top of the domesticated animals. The third, like a man, as Luke presents Jesus as the Son of man, and man the crowning order of God's creation. And the fourth, like an eagle, as John presents Jesus as the Son of the living God, and the eagle being the greatest of the flying foul.

These cherubim were first mentioned in the book of Genesis. When God drove Adam out of the garden after his sin, He put the cherubim at the gate of the garden lest man should return to the garden and eat of the tree of life and live forever in a sinful state. The cherubim are again mentioned in the book of Ezekiel, as in chapter one and in chapter ten. Ezekiel had a vision of the throne of God, which parallels the vision of John here in the book of Revelation. As Ezekiel saw the cherubim, each had the four faces, so on each side a face, and the faces of the ox, and the lion, and the man and the eagle in the vision that Ezekiel had. And for background you should probably read Ezekiel one and ten to find parallel passages to John's vision here of the throne of God in heaven. And it is Ezekiel that names these creatures as the cherubim.

Now from the book of Ezekiel, also we know in the twenty-eighth chapter that that was the position that was once occupied by Satan. That the Lord speaks of him declaring that he was one of the anointed cherubs. So he had a place that was very close to God, for the cherubim are about the throne of God in their worship of God. And Ezekiel tells us that at one time Satan was one of these anointed cherub.

Again in a parallel passage Isaiah six, Isaiah also saw the throne of God. And when he got the vision of the throne of God, he said, "Woe is me, I am a man of unclean lips. I dwell amongst a people of unclean lips" ( Isaiah 6:5 ). And he saw a seraphim, which is probably in the order of the cherubim. Cherubim is only the plural of cherub. So you have heard of cherubs, so the plural of cherub is cherubim, as the plural of seraph is the seraphim. The "im" is a plural in the Hebrew.

So he saw the seraphim, who came to the altar of God with a live coal and touched his lips and said, "Now, are you clean." But we find here in John's vision of them that,

each of them had six wings; 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 ( Revelation 4:8 ).

And so they are there around the throne of God declaring the holiness of the eternal God.

And when these living creatures give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, [the eternal God] four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou 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 ( Revelation 4:9-11 ).

And so here we see the first scene in heaven. And this will probably be one of the first scenes that you will observe in heaven as John did; the throne of God and the cherubim about the throne of God, and the worship of God as He sits upon the throne.

And then the response to the declaration of the holiness of God made by the cherubim are the twenty-four elders responding saying, "Thou art worthy to receive glory and honor and power." Why? First of all, because You have created all things, not that You have allowed all things to evolve. You created all things. And not only that, but it is for Your pleasure they are and were created. Here is a statement of fact that is important for us to accept. I was created for God's pleasure. That means I was not created for my own pleasure.

Thus, I should not seek to please myself, because then I am not answering the purpose of my existence. I should seek to please God; then I am answering the purpose of my existence. But the interesting thing is when I live to please God I find great pleasure myself. Therein is happiness. Therein is satisfaction. Therein is fulfillment when I live to please God. "If any man seeks to save his life, he is going to lose it, but if he loses his life for My sake," Jesus said, "you will find it"( Matthew 10:39 ). And to really find what living is all about, you have got to just live for His pleasure. Thus, you are answering the purpose of your existence and thus your life is fulfilling and rich.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Revelation 4". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/revelation-4.html. 2014.
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