Title: You Can Never Imagine!
Text: Revelation 4:1-11.
CIT: John is invited to heaven and sees God’s throne.
Theme: Learning about the throne of God and things to come.
When many savings and loan institutions failed in 1989, the federal government had to dispose of numerous properties. One was most interesting was the six acre NcCune mansion in Paradise Valley, Arizona. It was built in the 1960's by Walker NcCune for his young bride. The house contains 53,000 square feet and includes an ice skating rink, an Olympic swimming pool, a fourteen car garage, its own beauty salon, guest house, and a ballroom with an $80,000 chandelier. Oddly enough, Mrs. NcCune didn’t like it and refused to move in. She never lived in it. Perhaps there are others who don’t like Paradise Valley, AZ, and wouldn’t be satisfied with the NcCune Mansion but no one will be dissatisfied with the mansion Christ has prepared for us in heaven.
There are no chapters of the Bible so exciting, so thrilling, and so worshipful as chapters 4 and 5 of the Book of Revelation. The Lord welcomes us to heaven and gives us a brief look at what heaven looks like, what takes place there, and what we can anticipate for ourselves in the future.
I invite you to travel along with John and me as we take a tour of God’s throne room in heaven this morning. First, see:
I. The Words of Invitation to the Throne (v 1).
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.”
The first vision John saw included a beautiful revelation of the Person of Jesus Christ, and it included a message from His lips to be sent to the seven churches in Asia Minor.
According to the outline Jesus gave us in Revelation 1:19, John was to write “what he saw” about the risen Christ, these are the Book of John and the Epistles of I, II, & III John, and Revelation 1; about “things which are,” this was the letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor in revelation 2 and 3; and “the things which take place after this,” which refers to everything John saw from Revelation 4:1 until the end of the book. I see two things here:
a. The Vision He Saw.
John saw “an open door in heaven.” It reminds us of Ezekiel’s prophecy where “the heavens were open and I saw visions of God.” Recently, we saw an open door which could never be shut for all true believers in Christ. The last time heaven opens is when John sees the Lord on a white charger sent from heaven to join in the battle of Armageddon.
What a wonderful day that will be, when my Savior I shall see. What a glorious day that will be when the Jesus calls me home through those open doors just like He does John here in our Scriptures. Amen! Second, see:
b. The Voice He Heard.
John heard a voice inviting him to heaven. It was “like a trumpet speaking with me.” I believe that daily Jesus looks down from heaven and invites certain believers to come home. I believe that is what happens when people die. I think it will be something simple like here, “Come up here!” I also believe that there is going to be one day that Jesus will call His church home. Those who are dead in Christ will rise first and then those of us who are alive will follow. I believe it will also be something simple. Oh, it will be a trumpet call, but simple, “Come up here!” And, the Bible tells us there is going to be a day when Jesus calls all of humanity from the grave for the great White Throne of Judgment.
Can I ask you a question? Will you be ready when He calls? Second, see:
II. The Wonders Of The Throne (vv 2-7).
Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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.
What a spectacular sight this must have been for John. Amen! Human words are totally inadequate to describe what John sees, but they will have to do until we see it ourselves. Jesus wants us to “behold” what takes place and is described here. Notice first,
a. Who Is On The Throne.
The first thing John saw was a throne in heaven. This throne is above all other thrones. Before John can do much more than notice the throne, he sees someone setting on the throne itself. He tells us later that its God Himself.
Human words failed at this point. God’s form simply has the “appearance of jasper and a sardius stone.” We really are not sure what these precious jewels were and they don’t seem to symbolize anything. Simply said, this is the only way John could explain what he saw. Imagine the brilliant reflected colors of reds and greens as they flashed off of God’s throne. Along with the rainbow around God’s throne, they create an impression of transcendent glory.
b. What Was Around the Throne.
There are three things around the throne. Lets quickly look at these. First:
1. The Rainbow.
The throne of God is not surrounded by danger signs or warning lights. It’s surrounded by a rainbow emblematic of God’s faithfulness and His grace. Someone has said that on earth we only see half of the rainbow, when we get to heaven, we will see the whole thing. How truly beautiful that will be.
God is faithful. He is full of grace. I am totally convinced that grace is not the beginning thing — it’s the whole thing. God is looking for people to bless who won’t take credit by saying, “It’s my praying or my witnessing or my spirituality or intense study,” but rather, “It’s only grace that has brought me thus far.” You see, grace is the only thing that truly allows the Lord to get all the glory. His Amazing Grace. Next,
2. The Elders.
Their joint rule with Christ, their white garments, and their golden crowns all seem to indicate that these 24 represent the redeemed. The question is which redeemed? Not Israel, since the nation is not yet saved, glorified, and coronated. That is still to come. Their resurrection and glory will come at the end of the 7 year tribulation time. Tribulation saints aren’t yet saved. Guess what, only one group will be complete and glorified at that point — the church. Here elders represent the church, which sings the song of redemption. They are the overcomers who have their crowns and live in the place prepared for them, where they have gone with Jesus. Third,
3. The Creatures.
These four creatures impress me. You can let your Bible study go wild here. These living creatures are described in greater detail in Ezekiel 1and 10, where we are informed they are cherubim. Cherubim are first seen in the Garden of Eden. After driving Adam and Eve out of the Garden after they had sinned, God employed cherubim with flaming sword to keep Adam and Even from eating of the tree of life and living forever in their fallen condition. Then, in the Book of Exodus, cherubim are seen again on the mercy seat.
Since the early days of church history, Iranius and others recognized that the four faces of these cherubim correspond with the four Gospels: Matthew presents Jesus as King, typified by a lion. Mark presents Him as a Servant, the ox representing servitude. Luke presents Jesus in His Humanity, seen in the face of a man. And John presents Jesus as the Son of God, pictured by the eagle who not only soars higher than any other creature, but is the only animal able to look directly into the sun, even as only the Son of God beholds the glory of the Father.
But there is more that intrigues me. In chapters 1 and 2 of the Book of Numbers, God declares that His people were to camp in a certain order as they traveled through the wilderness. He told the Levites to surround the tabernacle on the north, south, east, and west sides. God’s ministers and servants were to sleep closest to Him.
Numbers 2 goes on to say that on each of the four sides were to be three tribes of Israel. Judah, Issachar, and Zebulon, were to camp on the east side and were known as the Camp of Judah. What is the symbol, the ensign of Judah? The Lion.
Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin were to camp on the west side, and were known as the Camp of Ephraim. Their symbol was an ox.
Reuben, Simeon, and Gad were to camp on the south side and were known as the Camp of Reuben, whose symbol was a man.
Dan, Naphtali, and Asher were to camp on the north side and were known as the Camp of Dan, signified by an eagle.
The configuration is that of a Cross — which is as applicable practically as it is significant spiritually. We haven’t even begun to discuss their wings, their eyes, and their praise of the Master. I find the study of these four creatures quite interesting. Next, see
c. What Comes From the Throne.
The simplest understanding of the lightening, thunder, and voices that proceed from the throne is that this display announces a coming storm of judgment that will be poured out upon the earth. “Lightnings, thunderings, and voices” introduce a mighty display of God’s presence, God’s power, and God’s punitive wrath.
I remember as a little boy being extremely afraid of thunder and lightening. Can you imagine the lightening, the thunder, and all the noise that is going to precede God’s judgment. I think I’ll opt out of that. Amen. Fourth,
d. What Is Before the Throne.
We are told in verses 5 & 6 that there were two things before the throne. First,
1. Seven Lamps of Fire.
These seven lamps of fire are the seven spirits of God mentioned previously in Revelation 1:4 and 3:1. The Holy Spirit is illuminating the Word of God and the minds of God’s people. Second,
2. The Sea of Glass.
Again John’s words failed him. He didn’t say he saw a Sea of Glass but what looked like a sea of glass. When you and I get to heaven, the throne will catch our eye, the One on the throne will warm our heart, and the crystal sea before the throne will bring us peace. If you haven’t done so lately, I encourage you to take time to sit in the presence of the Lord. Think on Him, talk to Him — and you will find the troubled waters of your heart and soul become like glass. All that God is; all that heaven is; brings us to a point of praise and adoration. Last, see:
III. The Worship Around the Throne (vv 8-11).
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!”
Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 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:
“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.”
Fourteen times in this one chapter the word “throne” appears. Revelation 4 is the “throne room” of the Bible. It centers on the exaltation of God the Father and climaxes with the worship of all heavenly creatures. These verses clearly reveal the primary objective of all believers and all creation – the glory, the praise, and the worship of Almighty God.
You might ask, “Why is worship important?” Good question.
First, worship is the program in heaven. If you want heaven in your heart or home tonight, if you feel as if you’re trapped in a hellish situation at work or in a terrible situation in a relationship, you can bring heaven into it by worshiping Him.
Second, worship is the purpose of creation. You see, everything exists for one reason: to please God. Therefore, to the extent you please Him is the extent to which you will experience fulfillment in the deepest part of your soul.
How do we worship? The word itself tells us. “Proskuneo” in Greek means “to turn and kiss.” Thus, true worship is any sincere expression intended for the Lord’s pleasure. Worship is the program in heaven, the purpose of creation on earth. May His will be done in our lives, as it is in heaven.
In Memphis, they have several large Victorian homes. I used to dream of owning a homelike those when I grew up. They are so beautiful. I have since been able to tour several of those houses and they looked a lot better on the outside than they did on the inside.
God has done so much more for us. His word tells me we have a mansion in heaven that nothing can destroy. It also tells us that we won’t be disappointed.
God the Father, the Creator of everything, deserves and desires our worship and praise. We should fall down before Him to honor, glorify, and give Him thanks every day of our lives. To Him belongs all glory.
I want to ask you this morning, do you have a personal relationship with God the Father through Jesus? If not, I want to invite you to come as we sing and receive Him.
Something else, are you glorifying God in all that you do? If not, come as we sing and begin anew today.
There might be something else that you need to do. You might need to follow the Lord in believer’s baptism. You might need to come and join the fellowship of this church. Whatever it is, we invite you to come sing.
FBC, Hughes, AR 07/26/09