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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Revelation 4

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-11

The Throne of God - Revelation 4:1-11 gives us a glimpse of the throne of God and its surroundings. This passage of Scripture reveals the beauty of God's throne, the four living creatures who minister to Him, and the twenty-four elders seated on smaller thrones. This scene is one of majestic glory and intense worship of God.

The Four Beasts before the Throne of God - In Revelation 4:6-11 John describes four beasts that stand before the throne of God. These four creatures are probably the same that Ezekiel saw in his vision, or similar heavenly creatures ( Ezekiel 1:5; Ezekiel 1:10).

Ezekiel 1:5, "Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man."

Ezekiel 1:10, "As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle."

We clearly see one of their offices described in this passage in Revelation 4:1-11, where they as they serve as choir directors to lead all of God's creatures in heavenly worship. We read in the opening chapters of the book of Ezekiel that they fly with their wings as they are sent for to set in motion the purposes and plans of God. The fact that they were "covered with eyes, in front and in back" (NIV) can lead us to some speculation. We read in Revelation 5:6 that the "Lamb who stood in the midst of this throne had seven horns and seven eyes, which represented the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. We know that Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that the light of the body is the eye ( Matthew 6:22-23). Thus, these eyes round about these four creatures, which so distinguish them from other creatures, in some way represent their spirits.

The Symbolism of the Four Beasts- The shapes of these four living creatures, or cherubim, standing around the throne of God, have led scholars to much speculation. I believe that their shapes symbolize the character, or person, of the Lord Jesus Christ, just as the twenty-four elders represent the saints of God.

"the first beast was like a lion" - The beast shaped like a lion symbolizes Jesus as the King of Kings, the highest office held by man. Matthews"s gospel is full of passages of Old Testament Scriptures proving that Jesus is the fulfillment of the coming Messiah and King of the Jews. Note:

1 Kings 10:19-20, "The throne had six steps, and the top of the throne was round behind: and there were stays on either side on the place of the seat, and two lions stood beside the stays. And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps: there was not the like made in any kingdom."

"the second beast like a calf" - The beast shaped like a calf represents the most expensive offering that an Israelite can bring from the flock. The calf symbolizes Jesus as the sacrifice for sins on the altar. Also, the book of Mark is a book of miracles, as Jesus ministers to the multitudes. It shows Jesus as a servant, who gives His life as a ransom for many.

Mark 10:45, "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."

Other passages of Scripture show this relationship of servant and sacrifice:

Philippians 2:6-8, "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a Prayer of Manasseh , he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

"the third beast had a face as a man" - The face of a man symbolizes the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Luke presents the human side of Jesus more than any other Gospel. Jesus partook of the role of a suffering servant, the lowest position that a man can hold.

"the fourth beast was like a flying eagle" - The eagle symbolizes the resurrection of Jesus Christ and His exalted position at the right hand of the Father. Note:

Proverbs 23:5, "Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven."

Thus, the story of redemption can been found within the shapes of these four living creatures.

Worship before the Throne of God: God's Divine Attributes Manifested - In Revelation 4:8-11 John describes the process of worship before the throne of God. In this time of worship, the living creatures refer to His omnipotence by calling Him "Almighty." They refer to His eternal nature as the "One who is and was and is coming." John then refers to God's eternal nature again by saying twice in Revelation 4:9-10 "who lives forever." Then the twenty-four elders worship Him by acknowledging Him as the Creator of all things. We find in Romans 1:20 a description of these same divine attributes when it says, "his eternal power and Godhead." Thus, God's divine power refers to Him as the Creator, who is Almighty. His Godhead refers to His eternal nature and the fact that He has chosen to oversee His creation. Thus, we see that these are the most prominent attributes that are manifested before the throne of God. Although creation declares them, as Paul says in Romans 1:19-20, they are most clearly seen in the presence of His throne.

Comparison of Heavenly Visions of Isaiah and Ezekiel to John's Vision- Note the similar experience of Isaiah in Isaiah 6:1-4 and Ezekiel in Ezekiel 1:1-28 to this vision of the throne of God in Revelation 4-5. They are similar in:

1. God's throne

2. God's occupation of the throne and His description

3. Description of surrounding creatures

4. Praise from creatures

Illustration- Revelation 4:1 to Revelation 5:14 reveals to us how God's creatures worship Him. I remember one night when in a dream I was caught up in heavenly worship. I had been oppressed by some words that were said to me and was a little down. When I awoke after having been caught up with such heavenly worship, my spirit was revived again. The Lord was teaching me that we can stay strong in the Lord during the most difficult times in our lives by entering into worship. This heavenly worship will sustain us throughout eternity. It is the way that we have been created to exist.

Revelation 4:1 After 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.

Revelation 4:1"a door was opened in heaven" - Comments- John , in exile, gets a view of eternal reality. Though we are surrounded by a dark world of decay and problems, this is temporal reality, God"s rule and reign is eternal.

God had the door, through Jesus, open to us to worship Him and to know Him.

Revelation 4:1"and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me" - Comments- The voice of Jesus was an invitation to "come up hither." ( Revelation 1:10-11) Then Jesus explains why He is calling John , saying, "I will shew thee things which must be hereafter."

Revelation 1:10-11, "I was in the Spirit on the Lord"s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea."

Revelation 4:1 — "I will shew thee things which must be hereafter"- Comments- Note that the heavenly, unseen reality controls the visible reality. Things on earth are not out of control. God has planned history to fulfill his purpose and His sovereign plan.

The phrase "which must be hereafter" that John uses in Revelation 4:1 is literally translated in the Greek as "what things are necessary to be after these things (take place)." This phrase implies that the letters to the seven churches refer to a period of time that is to precede the Rapture of the Church. That Isaiah , chapter four tells of the events that are to take place "after" the events in the seven letters take place. Many scholars suggest that these seven letters refer to seven historical periods of Church history, which take place during the two thousand years from Christ's first Coming until His Second Coming and the Rapture of the Church, which closes the Church Age. Scholars have picked particular events in Church history and matched them with the characteristics of the churches in the seven letters. The Church is to find its particular characteristics during each of the seven periods in history that match the churches described in these seven letters. I believe that there is a lot of weight to this proposal.

The things that will take place after the Church Age are written in the book with seven seals, first mentioned in Revelation 5:1. When opened by the Lamb, this book will set in motion the events commonly referred to as the Great Tribulation Period.

Revelation 4:2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.

Revelation 4:2"a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne" - Comments- Note that this is John"s first vision of heaven. This throne is occupied by the Lord God Almighty (verse 8). Note Isaiah 6:1. Isaiah first saw the throne, then everything else around the throne

Isaiah 6:1, "In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple."

Why? God's throne is the central focus in heaven, and should be our central focus on earth. Song of Solomon , what do you do on earth with God's throne in focus? You also praise Him!

Revelation 4:2Comments- Note that the earth is under heavenly control. The heavens are not under earthly control.

Revelation 4:1-2Comments- John Is Caught Up into Heaven - Hilton Sutton tells us that the description of John being caught up into Heaven in Revelation 4:1-2 is symbolic of the rapture of the Church. 58] We find a similar description in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 which describes the Rapture of the Church. At that time, we will hear the trumpet of God sound from Heaven and the saints will be caught up. John the apostle, likewise, heard the voice as the sound of a trumpet and was caught up into Heaven.

58] Hilton Sutton, Revelation: God's Grand Finale (Tulsa, Oklahoma, c 1984), 67-7.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the 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 together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."

Sutton compares Paul's description of our translation at the time of the Rapture to John's experience. Just as John was suddenly "in the Spirit" at the sound of the trumpet, so will we be "changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump."

1 Corinthians 15:51-52, "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be change"

Another fact that suggests that the Rapture had just taken place is the fact that a countless number of people, described in Revelation 4:6 as "a sea of glass like unto crystal," are gathered around the Throne.

Sutton tells us that the importance of this event in Revelation 4:1-2 is that it serves to represent the Rapture of the Church immediately before the seven-year Tribulation period. Both depict a swift and immediate translation from earth to heavenly. In this vision, John is being allowed to see what the Church is going to see prior to and during the tribulation period. For in the rest of the vision, John describes things from the perspective of a heavenly view of events on earth, and not as a person on earth who is partaking of these events.

Revelation 4:3 And 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.

Revelation 4:3Comments- The rainbow could represent God's covenant mercy towards mankind as well as all of His creation.

Genesis 9:13, "I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth."

Revelation 4:4 And 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.

Revelation 4:4 — "And round about the throne were four and twenty seats" - Comments- In Revelation 4:4 we are shown twenty-four elders who are seated around the throne of God. They are there to represent all of God's people who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Note Revelation 5:9-10, which shows us that these twenty-four elders are men who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, like you and I have been.

Revelation 5:9-10, "And they sung a new Song of Solomon , saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth."

We are eager to ask the question, "Why the number twenty-four?" Julius Oyet says, "The 24elders signify or represent the twelve tribes of Israel in the Old Testament and the twelve apostles of Jesus in the New Testament. Therefore, altogether, the precious twenty-four seats represent the saints both of the Old and New Testament times, the nation of Israel as well as the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ." 59]

59] Julius Peter Oyet, I Visited Heaven (Kampala, Uganda: Bezalel Design Studio, 1997), 60.

Hilton Sutton agrees, as do many other scholars. 60] In other words, all of God's children will represented at the throne of God. Therefore, it appears that just as there are three people groups on earth, the Jews, the Gentiles and the Church ( 1 Corinthians 10:31), so will there now be two people groups represented in Heaven, the Jews and the Church. Yet, in God magnificent way, they will still be united together, although they will still be recognized as two distinct groups.

60] Hilton Sutton, Revelation: God's Grand Finale (Tulsa, Oklahoma, c 1984), 70-1.

One office of these twenty-four elders is to offer the prayers of the saints up to God's throne.

Revelation 5:8, "And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints."

Also, note the importance of these twenty-four people, who are referred to in Revelation 21. The names of the twelve tribes are written on the twelve gates of the heavenly city of Jerusalem and the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are written on the twelve foundations.

Revelation 21:12-14, "And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb."

Revelation 4:5 And 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.

Revelation 4:5 — "and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God." - Comments- Hilton Sutton says that these seven spirits first mentioned in Revelation 1:4 represent the Holy Spirit. He says that there are seven spirits mentioned in Revelation 1:4; Revelation 4:5 because they represent the diverse nature of the Holy Spirit. 61] If this is the proper interpretation, then it is important to note that this is the first time that the Holy Spirit is represented as being before the throne of God. Sutton suggests that this means the Holy Spirit has completed his assignment upon the earth. When Jesse Duplantis was caught up into Heaven, he saw the throne of God and he met Jesus. When he asked where the Holy Spirit was, the reply given was that the Holy Spirit was still on earth as this time. 62] Therefore, Sutton suggests that these seven spirits represent the fact that the Holy Spirit has completed His work and has now returned to Heaven with the Rapture of the Church and is manifesting Himself as seven spirits.

61] Hilton Sutton, Revelation: God's Grand Finale (Tulsa, Oklahoma, c 1984), 30.

62] Jesse Duplantis, Heaven Close Encounters of the God Kind (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Harrison House, 1996), 118-9.

Revelation 1:4, "John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which Isaiah , and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;"

Scripture Reference - Note:

Psalm 104:4, "Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire"

Revelation 4:6 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 beasts full of eyes before and behind.

Revelation 4:6 — "And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal" - Comments- Hilton Sutton says that the sea of glass represents the multitudes of people who have entered Heaven and have gathered before the throne of God. The word "sea" is used to signify their vast numbers. He suggests that the phrase "like unto crystal" is used because crystal is an earthly substance that clearly shows all of its internal flaws. The Church will stand before the throne as the Bride of Christ, not having spot or wrinkle, but will be holy and without blemish ( Ephesians 5:27). Thus, the Church is represented as crystal.

Ephesians 5:27, "That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish."

We see a "sea of glass mingled with fire" mentioned in Revelation 15:2. This would represent the fire of the Holy Spirit that works to purify those who had been tested and tried with persecutions.

Revelation 15:2, "And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his Mark , and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God."

The fact that there are a countless group of God's children around His throne further suggests that the Church has been raptured and taken to Heaven.

Revelation 4:6 — "and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind" - Comments- John also saw four "beasts" in close proximity around the throne of God. The Greek text uses the word "living (ones)." The most pronounced aspect of their features was the fact that their eyes were located in the front and back of their heads.

Revelation 4:7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a Prayer of Manasseh , and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.

Revelation 4:7Comments- Perhaps some animals on earth were created in the images of such celestial beings that live in heaven.

Revelation 4:8 And 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 Isaiah , and is to come.

Revelation 4:8 — "saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and Isaiah , and is to come" - Comments- Why do the angels cry, "Holy, holy, holy!"? Jesse Duplantis said that when he visited heaven and saw these angels crying these words, he found out that every time the angels behold God Almighty in all of His glory, they see a new aspect of His being. Therefore, this continuous revelation of God moves them to cry these words. Benny Hinn replied to Jesse Duplantis by saying that the Lord once spoke to him that the angels cry out, "Holy, holy, holy!" because of the revealing they are receiving from God. 63]

63] Jesse Duplantis, interviewed by Benny Hinn, This is Your Day (Irving, Texas), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California, July 16, 2002), television program.

In Revelation 4:8 we see the eternal nature of Almighty God when the angels say, "…which was, and Isaiah , and is to come." By this statement they declare that He exists in the past, present and future.

Scripture Reference- Note a similar verse:

Isaiah 6:3, "And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory."

Revelation 4:9 And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,

Revelation 4:10 The 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,

Revelation 4:10 — "and cast their crowns before the throne, saying" - Comments- They give their glory (i.e, the crowns from God) back to God Himself.

Revelation 4:11 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 4:11"for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created" - Comments- Note:

Job 38:4-7, "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?"

Man was created for His pleasure:

Isaiah 43:7, "Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him."

All creation was created for His praise and glory. Note Psalm 148-150.


Verses 1-14

The Vision of Those Who Worship at the Throne of God - In Revelation 4:1 to Revelation 5:14 John the apostle finds himself in the midst of a praise service. No one nor nothing, none of God's creation, glories in God's presence here. To know God in proper perspective is to praise Him, which is simply a commitment to, a confession of, the sovereign power and providence of God. Lack of praise is our failure to know and understand God's sovereignty in our personal lives.

When we praise, we envelope ourselves in God's throne room, and step out of bounds from the destruction of the devil, who is in this world running to and fro. Praise delivers us from the carnal-mind of doom and bondage to sin. We will note that all through the book of Revelation , the saints are not fighting the battles. God is fighting these battles as the church is praising the Lord and serving Him.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. The Throne of God — Revelation 4:1-11

2. The Lamb that was Slain — Revelation 5:1-14

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Revelation 4:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/revelation-4.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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