Revelation Series #8
First View Of The Throne #2
Revelation 4 & 5
Turn with me back to chapter 4 of Revelation. Last week we began what we are calling 'The First View of the Throne'.
And so we are getting out first view of the throne and we are here in part 2 (part deux). We are going to finish up chapter 4 and at least be introduced to chapter 5 tonight.
Let's start where we left off last week. Let's talk about what was around the throne briefly. What was around the throne? (answers and writing)
1. Around the Throne
24 elders, and those are? the church. 24 elders was a picture of the 24 priests which represented all the priests and so anytime they were talking about 'the 24' they were referring to all of the priests. And that's us, that's the church. We have said they weren't angels or spirits. They are crowned, seated, singing, numbered, clothed, (finished answering). That's what's around the throne.
2. From the Throne
What is coming from the throne here in chapter 4, let's go back and read. (answers) Flashes of thunder . . .what verse is that . . . verse 5, "From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder.
Lightning and rumblings and peals of thunder, what does that sound like? Biblically, the presence of God for sure, and you go back to Mt Sinai and you see that. You see that when God's people got out of line. So we've got a picture of judgment going on.
I think this is important, because what else do the 24 elders have? They had crowns. Where'd they get them? Where did they come from? Why did they have on crowns? No, not the great white throne judgment because none of the redeemed are going to be at the “Great White Throne Judgment”, that's for all of those who have rejected Christ. There's another judgment. Let's go over to 2 Corinthians. I'm not going to read that Paul begins to teach, but 2 Corinthians 5:10 gives it to us in just a nutshell. Talking to the church here, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad." What's another word for this judgment seat? Anybody know? It is the “Bema seat”. This is the judgment that we will go thru as believers in Jesus Christ. In II Timothy 4 Paul says, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me a crown . . ." Now there are all kinds of crowns and I don’t know how many there will be but I know some that are listed. There's a crown of righteousness and a crown of glory. There is a crown for those that are eagerly awaiting the second coming. There's a crown for the soul-winner, that's the crown of rejoicing. There’s a crown for the one who has faithfully delivered the Word of God. There are several crowns throughout there. There's a crown of suffering.
Now there is good news here. The “Great White Throne Judgment”, is a judgment where punishment will be doled out. The Bema seat is where blessings or rewards are handed out. This is good news. Now, you can lose something. In 2 John 8 it says, "Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully." Elsewhere, I think it is in 1 John 2 he says don't get to the place that the only thing that gets saved is your soul. In other words, don't miss your rewards. The picture that we have here is that we will receive crowns or rewards for the things we have done. As I read David Jeremiah's writings on this, he said something that I had not heard anyone say before, and I've been chewing on it a bit. He's says you know we've all heard that there are no tears in heaven. He's says “I think there will be some tears in heaven, at the Bema Seat.” He said it's because it's not until we get to the end of Revelation that it says 'he will wipe away every tear from our eye.' Well, if he's going to wipe away every tear then it means there's some there. And I found that very interesting. Never really thought of it before or seen it that way before. Basically what he's saying is it is possible that there may be tears of regret. May be tears where we lose some of our crowns or rewards because we were not faithful to the end. Doesn't mean we're going to lose heaven. Doesn't mean we're going to lose our salvation. But what he's saying is what John said in 2 John and what Paul said, don't let somebody take your reward from you. At this judgment seat, at this Bema seat, God is going to be rewarding us. We need to remain faithful so we can receive what He has for us. He wants to reward us.
Remember I told you one of the greatest things about these crowns is that they're ammunition - for praise. Because we see at the end of chapter 4, when the 4 creatures offer up praise then the 24 elders offer up praise, they begin to lay down their crowns at his feet. And I want to be faithful and I want to be obedient so I can have more ammunition for worship, so that I can have more things to lay down at my Master's feet. And say, I was faithful and here is my crown because you are more than worthy. So, just something interesting to think about there, from the throne, because there is judgment going on there and that's what the crowns are a picture of. The judgment in regard to the good we have done versus the good we have not done, if you will. It is a judgment of rewards or the lack thereof.
We talked around the throne and from the throne last week. So let's shift our thinking to what's before the throne.
3. Before the Throne
We talked about this a little last week.
What are the seven lamps? The seven lamp-stands are the church. Who is the light? It is the Holy Spirit. We tie that back to Isaiah 11:2 that talks about the seven spirits of the Lord. The seven lamps are before the throne now whereas before they were with the churches.
The next thing is a
Now we want to keep remembering the Temple. The Temple is a picture of what is in heaven. Does anybody remember what is in the Temple that is a picture of the sea of glass? (answers) It is called the Laver or the Sea. It was a large basin, 15 feet across, actually it was 10 cubits (15 feet). The span of a hand wide, the rim was. It represented God's holiness and God's holiness requires us to be clean and us to be holy. Before they could go before God and the altar they had to do cleansing through the use of the laver or the sea of glass. As John is looking out over this what he sees is what seems to be a sea of glass, what the people are standing on. My thought was what was liquid on earth that we might get in it to get clean in heaven we stand on it. We stand on God's holiness in His presence before the throne. Before the throne is the Holy Spirit and what stands out to me is that I have to go through the Holy Spirit and be cleansed in order to get to God through Jesus Christ.
Let's spend some time here and talk about the 4 creatures (writing). Four living creatures. This is the word Zoa "Z-O-A". It's not the word 'Theria' that is used in chapter 13, which means wild animals. This word "Zoa" literally means 'living ones'. The King James, I believe, translates this as beasts but they are not beasts they are living ones. A little bit different. Did you see the picture of them? "The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."
These four living creatures, if you were to go back to Ezekiel chapter 1, you would see that Ezekiel saw something pretty much like this. His view of them was a little bit different. Each of them had four faces when Ezekiel saw them. But each of them had the four images, of a lion, of an ox, of a man, and of an eagle. He saw the same ones again in chapter 10 verse 20 and there he told them what they were. Ezekiel 10:20, "These were the living creatures I had seen beneath the God of Israel by the Kebar River, and I realized that they were cherubim." What are these things? Ezekiel 10:20 which has the same picture says that these are cherubim. Now, who can tell me, where is the first place we see cherubim? Genesis chapter 3. What were they doing? They were guarding the garden. It says they guarded the east side of the garden protecting them from the tree of life. Dr Criswell pointed out something I never thought about. He said they had to be protected from the tree of life because they now had the body of death. And that if we, in the body of death, took of eternal life in our dead state we would stay dead. Now just let that sink in for a minute. I saw that this afternoon and I thought, huh, wait a minute. (let that sink in) What he is saying is because we were 'dead' in our humanness if he allowed us to partake of eternity in that state we would remain in that state . . . for eternity. And be dead and never die, we could never be redeemed.
So, they are guarding us from the tree of life, but you know they are not always going to do that. Because when you get to the book of Revelation he says, 'take and eat from the tree of life.' Eat freely. When do we get that? When we are redeemed and resurrected and whole in his presence. Then those cherubim step back at the Father's command and we can eat from it. We are not ready to eat from the tree of life right now. Although we have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb we are not resurrected yet. We are not blessed yet, we are not perfect yet. But in His presence, guess what? It's been uprooted from the garden and it's been replanted. It's in New Jerusalem, waiting. And so it's a beautiful, beautiful picture that we have when we are resurrected, blessed and glorified we can be partakers of the tree.
These cherubim, these four, let's talk about what these four creatures mean. What's the purpose? I want us to see four things that I've found today. By the way, one of the alternate viewpoints of these four that I don't really buy into but it's interesting. It's at least worth pointing out and saying hmm, but I don't think it plays out when you run the whole thing. You have a lion, an ox, a man and an eagle. One writer points out that this may be representations of Christ. In Matthew he is the King he is the lion. In Mark he is a servant, an ox. In Luke he is presented as the Son of Man which would be a man. And in John he is presented as the glorified God, which would be the eagle soaring above it all. It thought that's really interesting. It doesn't really play out because Ezekiel said these were cherubim and there are some other things, but I thought it was interesting.
I remember a story and I can't recall it all exactly but the missionary Adonirum Judson who served in northern India or Pakistan area, where it was illegal to be a Christian, it was illegal to bring about converts. He was thrown into prison and somehow night after night his wife was able to creep into that prison area and tell him, hang on the best is yet to come. The best is yet to come. After awhile she didn't come anymore and he didn't know what had happened and no one would tell him what had happened. And after awhile after tortures and withholding food and all the things they did to him, beating him and literally bringing him to the edge of life he was released. When he was released he went back through the villages and found his family. When he found his family he found his wife at the very edge of death, with very little left in her. All of her weight was gone, all of her strength was gone. He was greeted by his children and then as he came to his wife's bedside she awakened enough to see that he was there and she said to him, "Adonirum, the best is yet to come, the best is yet to come."
We see in these four that the best is yet to come. We see in these four that God is in charge. We see in the 24 elders all of God's church before him and symbolically with these four creature we see that all of creation is before him and praising Him and carrying out His purposes. Before the throne.
Let's go into chapter 5.
READ Chapter 5
4. In the Father’s Right Hand
What do we see in the Father's hand? We see a scroll. What kind of scroll? What is significant about this scroll? It had writing on both sides. It had seven seals. Now just if you want to get a mental picture of this, if this were a scroll like John was used to it would not unroll left to right but right to left. That's the way they write in Hebrew, right to left and so it would be rolled up the opposite way we would have done it. With those seven seals means you rolled one up and you sealed it and you rolled up another on top and you sealed it and you did that seven times. So you have a book here that it written on both sides, so it is full of writing, and it has seven seals. Another thing we see as we are looking, I see a costly book. A costly scroll. Because not just anybody had what it took to open this thing. Not just anybody had the price that it would take, written on both sides, sealed one at a time, one over the other. I see a costly, costly book in the hand of the Father who is on the throne.
5. A Worthy One
Then I want us to see a Worthy One. As we finish the rest of our time here. Did you notice that a call goes out. What is the call? “Who is worthy?” That is the Greek word - AXIOS - It means one that has weight. That is the word worthy. It also means one that has weight that is equal to another. So the question was who is worthy to open the scroll. So this tells me that this scroll is weighty. This scroll is heavy. That tells me that this scroll is serious stuff. That it is awesome stuff, it's dreadful stuff, it's powerful stuff. It's costly stuff. Not just anybody can go up here. Someone that is going to open this scroll has to have weight that is equal to what he is opening and you and I don't have that. The 24 elders don't have that and that's you and I. The 4 creatures don't have that and that's creation. Who is worthy? Who is worthy?
You know, in any crowd there seems to be one who thinks they are. There's always somebody that thinks they can take Lebron James. There's always somebody who thinks they can hit off of Adam Chris Carpenter. There's always somebody who think they can take a tackle Jerome Bettis. There's always someone who says, 'Aw, I can do that.' Here, not a single person stands up. Why do you think that is? Let's talk about that for a minute. Nobody stands up. Because, they know, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are not worthy. What has changed? We're in a different place. We have a different mind. We have a different body. We have a different perspective.
Do you remember the Robin Williams movie Dead Poets Society? How many of you have seen that movie? Do you remember that one of the things he has them do is stand up on his desk because he says you know sometimes you just need to get a different perspective on things. And so he stands up on his desk and he says you need to come up here, every one of you. And some of them don't want to. He makes them all line up and he makes them get up on his desk and view the world from a different perspective. Can I tell you something? That we have a different perspective by the time we get here. And even the most proud of us, is no longer.
John is standing there and the cry goes out, "Who is worthy?" No one is worthy. Not only is no one worthy, but no one thinks they are worthy. That probably means that we've finally gotten it. Why, because we are in God's presence. But no one is worthy. In heaven everybody knows their place and everybody knows who is worthy and it's not any of us. But I noticed something else. Now, there are ten thousands upon ten thousands, better translated would be myriads of angels. In other words, you can't count them, that's how many angels there are. He said a thousand times ten thousand and then, oh no ten thousand times ten thousands. By this point we just say it's just got a bunch of zeroes after it. There are all those angels, there's the cherub, there's the 24 elders, that's all of the church. There are millions of people. But one person stands out. One of things is not like the other. One of these people, and I'm not talking about Jesus stands out from all the others. One person does something that not of the others is doing. John, he cried!
One person out of myriads of people. One person wept. "One of these things is not like the other . . ." Why did John weep when no one else did? Because he was still from our perspective, wasn't he? He still saw things the way we see them. He was the only that hadn't been resurrected, redeemed, glorified, all that stuff. Even though he'd been called up, he was still John and he still didn't get it. You see, all these others understood it. All these others were in the midst of it. And so John begins to cry, "I wept and wept." He didn't just shed a tear. He started crying and he couldn't stop. He says, "I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep!’” Did you notice that there is an exclamation point after it? That said to me that this elder, this church member, now remember this a church member down the annals of history and this is John that walked and talked with Jesus. I think, this is just Pastor Jim here, or sister Jeanene, or brother Mike, he asked, ‘why are you crying? Of all people! You don't get this? You don't know who is worthy?’ John just kind of forgot himself for a minute. That's what I think. And this elder corrected him. It's not that this one elder knew and no one else was smart, it's just that this elder happened to be standing beside John. Because everybody knew. Do you think there was anybody in heaven besides John that didn't know? I don't think so. It wasn't a question of, we don't know who is worthy. No, it was a call to worship. They were saying, there's somebody here who IS worthy! Who's worthy here? That's what they were saying. John just didn't get it, everybody else got and the elder just leaned over and said, “don't cry, man.” And it kind of shook John out of himself and he said, 'see.' And when you say, 'see', you usually point. “See?” See, because here comes Jesus!
John points out across this vast scene. You got to get this whole scene in your head. The thunder and the lightning, and if you go back to chapter 4, and I don't really know if this is true and I'm just trying to read it grammatically it says, whenever the living creatures would say, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty" whenever, then the twenty-four elders fell down and threw their crowns down. Whenever. That means that they did it more than once. That means they kept saying, "Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty" and the 24 elders would say, "man I gotta take my crown off." And then they would say "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty" and they'd take that crown again and put it at Jesus' feet. And they'd do it again, and they'd do it again. And they'd do it again, and they'd do it again. And as they continued to worships the peals of thunder and the lightning and everything in the scene and then finally, as if we were in a movie it pans around and finally it zooms into the center of the throne. And for the first time in the hand you notice there is something. There's been so much going on that John hadn't noticed it, but now he notices it. In the Father's right hand is that scroll. And then the call goes out by a great angel, we don't know who that great angel is. Some have said it may be Gabriel because his name meant strength. That would make sense. But Gabriel or somebody calls out and then there's nobody and John cries. And then the elder says, "See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah - the one that we had hoped for all along, the one that had been prophesied to us, the one that came to us exactly like the Old Testament said he would, exactly like the Old Testament said he would be, with the power that David had, the lion, not only that, but the root of David, what is that? Remember Isaiah 53? When the tree had been cut off and everything seemed dead, a little shoot came up from the root. 400 years of God's silence from Malachi to John the Baptist. But the root wasn't dead. And a little green shoot came up and that's Jesus. The Root of David has triumphed and is able. Has triumphed and is able. That word Triumphed, it means conquered all, it means to go to court and be vindicated, to go to court and take back what belongs to you. That's what the word triumphed means. He has triumphed and He is able.
He says, don't cry, don't weep. There's no cryin in heaven (there's no tears in baseball). Because the Lamb is Worthy I'll give you a few things and we'll be done.
We're going to get to the throne in a minute But there Jesus is looking like a Lamb as if he had been slain. There will be no mistaking Jesus in heaven. You won't have to wonder, 'now which one is Jesus?' There will be no mistaking Jesus. The good news about His resurrection is that we still see His scars. Two or three millennium, however many until he comes will not cause his scars to heal over so that we won't be able see them. He is “Looking as if he had been slain.”
I think back to Jacob, who was in many ways a type of Christ and he wrestled with God in Genesis 32 and for the rest of his life he walked differently.
Jesus Christ wrestled in our sin for us and he always remained different, “as one who had been slain.”
And then, standing in the center, when we say he was standing in the middle of the throne, can we enlarge this to say he was: standing in the center of God's purpose, standing in the center of God's plan, he's standing in the center of God's power, he's standing in the center of God's position. When he's standing in the center of the throne, we find him surrounded by 4 cherubim, which symbolizes all of creation, 24 elders, which is all of the church, and then myriads and myriads of angels surrounding him and worshipping him. We find that he has 7 horns. A horn if you read in the O.T., a horn as a picture was used quite a bit. A horn was a symbol of authority and power. And remember the number 7 is the number of completeness and the number of fullness. So you find on Christ in this image of Christ, 7 horns or complete, full, perfect authority.
Complete, full and perfect power in Christ. You see that he has 7 eyes which are what, the 7 spirits which is who? They are the Holy Spirit. In other words, his power, his vision, his whatever, his source is the Holy Spirit. He was put to death in the flesh and quickened by the Holy Spirit. 1 Peter 3:18.
And I want us to see one thing - They
6. Worship the Lamb
As we get this first view of the throne. As we walk ourselves into the corridors of heaven for the first time, as we begin to think about the end times, I told you at the beginning and I'll try to tell you this every time, at the center of this whole thing is Jesus Christ. This is not the revelation of the anti-Christ, this is not the revelation of the end times, this is the revelation of Jesus Christ. And they worship the Lamb. Look back with me at chapter 5. Before I read that again, let me paint a picture for you of who is worshipping him. 24 elders worshipping him. The church. 4 living creatures worshipping him. So who's worshipping him? Creation. All of creation.
Now I told you something last week and you may be saying I'm messing up here. In a sense these creatures are angels because they are God's messengers but they are not the same kind of angels and here they represent creation. I told you last week that the angels couldn't sing the song of the redeemed. But here you see them singing the song of the redeemed. How could creation, why would creation even have the right or desire to sing the song of the redeemed? Did I mess something up last week?
Go to Romans chapter 8. Could it be that creation is waiting for redemption as much as we are? Could that be? It would be or I wouldn't be taking you away & wasting your time. Romans 8:20 is teaching us. Let me back up to verse 18 and take a run into it.
"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed."
Now let me stop right there. Creation is waiting in eager expectation for the church to be revealed. When is the church going to be revealed? Right here in Revelation 4 and 5. We are not going to have any more question of who the wheat and who the tare is here. God's going to do the separating. They eagerly wait. Why do they wait? Because they are cheering for us? No, because they've got something to be redeemed from too.
<Verse 20>, "For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it (who's that? us), in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."
Every day for the last 6 thousand years creation has been saying, "You guys messed it up." We messed it up for them just as much as we messed it up for us. That tells me that animals weren't supposed to fight. We weren't supposed to be in a vicious world. We weren't supposed to be in a horrible world. We weren't supposed in a world of death and dying and decay. That's not the way God created it, but when we sinned we recreated it. We changed everything. And every since then all of creation has been groaning. And so when these four creatures that symbolize all of creation gather around the throne and they sing the song of the redeemed they have a right to do so. They've been redeemed too. They've been restored as who they were and what they were. This is, this day we are studying here is the day, the beginning of the end of groaning dawns. Because when this begins all of creation knows that it's almost over. All of creation knows that it's full restoration. And it's the new heaven and the new earth and the new Jerusalem come and thing are back the way they were supposed to be.
B. They Sang a New Song
Look back in chapter 5. Verse 9 says, "And they sang a new song". I don't know how many songs have been written from this passage, but whichever ones they were it's not going to be the one we sing up there. It's going to be a new one. "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation." Even creation is excited about this because they know if we get redeemed they get redeemed. "You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth." And then in verse 12 it says, "In a loud voice they sang: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!" And the the earth, the creation, the four living creatures said, 'I knowthasright!' "The four living creatures said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshiped."
Song we used to sing in college went something like this and you can repeat after me.
The Lamb is Worthy; The Lamb is Worthy
The Lamb who was slain; He is Worthy
To receive power; And the riches
And the wisdom; He is Worthy
To receive honor; And the glory
And the blessing; He Is Worthy
The Lamb who was slain
Homework – read Chapter 6 and search the internet for the 4 horseman of the Apocalypse
(questions & discussion)