Revelation Series #7
First View Of The Throne #1
Have entitled this section, "First View Of The Throne". We are in Revelation chapter 4. This is going to be part one. I think we are going to get the rest of it next week.
Let me ask you some questions:
When someone's says the word, "heaven" what pictures, what thoughts come to mind? When you hear the word "heaven" . . . (comments)
What are some common misconceptions that you think most people have about eternity? (comments)
Have you read any book or articles by people that claimed to have visited heaven, and what did you think about what you read or heard? (comments)
Does the thought of heaven entice you, scare you, make you nervous or fill you with joy? (comments)
Chapter 4, verse 1. Now you found out from me at least what I believe last week regarding chapter 4 verse 1. And what I believe is that we're not going to be here after chapter 4 verse 1. That we, being the church, are going to be in heaven. You certainly have the right to disagree with me because there is room for argument in that. To me it's just clear. If you weren't here last week and would like to get the notes, I have not posted them up on the website yet but I will be doing that and you can order the tape.
There is certainly room to disagree. There will be things that we will talk about as we go through Revelation that I will say, "Here is what I believe and why I believe it," and here's some room for you to think something different, but let's read chapter 4.
READ Revelation 4
Wow, can you see that? Whatever you've thought about heaven, we're going to begin to get a glimpse of it tonight. Can you see it? Can you feel it?
Last week I title the study 'A Front Row Seat', to Eternity. A front row seat to the judgment. Can you imagine lightning flashing, thunder pealing, awesome creatures, thrones, crowns, a sea of glass, a myriad of angels, a rainbow of precious stones, the Ancient of Days, the Lamb before the Throne. That is the picture that we are beginning to see tonight. God knows how to paint a picture, doesn't he?
Let me just give you some background before we look at just two things tonight. We're going to look at who's on the throne and we're going to look at what is around the throne, those 24 elders. That's all we're going to look at tonight. Next week we will look at the creatures and the things before the throne, look at the judgment that begins to come out from the throne.
FOUR BASIC VIEWS
Remember there are four basic views that those that believe different things about Revelation can be divided (kind of) into. Four basic groups and those groups have sub-groups if you will. I always try to give you a picture of what each of those groups believe and then what I believe and why I believe what I believe. There is the Historist view, the Preterist view, the Futurist view and the Spiritualist view. Remember the Historist view says Revelation is basically a picture of history. The Preterist view says all of the book of Revelation was fulfilled in those early days, in that 1st or 2nd century AD. The Futurist view says most of Revelation is still yet to come, actually chapter 4 and all that is following is still yet to come. And the Spiritualist view says the whole thing is a spiritual picture and none of it is literal, it's all a picture of God working out His plan.
Just in a nutshell, not to go into great detail, in regard to this first part of who is on the throne, the
Historist view could sum all of that up in "God is Sovereign". God is in charge, God is on the throne. History is being played out and God is on the throne.
The Preterist, those that believe that all of Revelation happened shortly after Christ would say that we are introduced to a heavenly courtroom. The judge is at the bench, if you will. They would say that the plaintiffs are the martyrs and the accused would be Jerusalem. Since John was told at the beginning of this that these things would 'shortly happen' they would say that these things were just about ready to happen, that they weren't something down the road or centuries or later. That they were just around the corner.
The Futurist would say, as we said last week, that this passage marks a major transition: those things which we have seen, those things which are, and those things which will be after the church age. So the Futurist would say this is the place where that transition begins to happen into 'the things that must soon take place.’ Some of the Futurists believe that when John is taken up into heaven that is what is called a 'rapture' a translation or being caught up. There are some Futurists that would not believe that the rapture happens right here at chapter 4 verse 1. But they would still believe that beginning here and following through chapter 19 would be what we would call a seven-year tribulation period.
The Spiritual view, they would actually divide Revelation up into seven groups, this part being Act II of those seven. It is interesting in that viewpoint they believe chapters 1-3 and especially 2-3 are a view of the church throughout history from an earthly viewpoint and beginning in chapter 4 the same thing happening again but we see it from a heavenly viewpoint. So chapter 2-3 would be history from here and chapter 4-5 would be history from heaven and it's the exact same thing.
So let's go back to this scene and I believe no matter your viewpoint there are some things for us to get.
READ vv 2-3
1. Who Is It ON the Throne?
Let's talk about who it is for a minute. On the throne
- A. Who is it? Is it The Spirit?
We see the Spirit is described as seven lamps. Remember we saw the Spirit in chapter 1 as a seven-fold Spirit and we tied that back to Isaiah 7:2 where he describes the Spirit as being seven-fold. Who is on the Throne? You might find this interesting - that God the Father, the God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are all equal, right? They all can do the same thing, they are all God, and yet they are very distinctly placed in order that they might be able to carry out the things that God would do. Why is it that the Holy Spirit takes an almost subservient picture in this? If you remember Jesus said that when the Spirit would come, that the job of the Spirit was to draw attention to the Son. The job of the Spirit is never to take center stage. The job of the Spirit is to remind us of everything Jesus said, to empower us, to strengthen us, to be our intercessor. So it's not unusual then to see the scene in heaven and find the Spirit doing the same thing. Does that make Him any less powerful? Does it make Him any less God? No, it just means He knows what His position is that He has taken and He continues to do it. Also want you to notice that when you see the Spirit as the seven lamps, and what other seven did we see? The seven lamp stands and those were what? The churches, that's right. Please, we've made this distinction before, the Spirit is the lamp. What is the difference between and lamp and a lamp stand? The lamp stand holds the lamp and the lamp is the light. We don't want to miss that. This is not the churches. These lamps. This is the Holy Spirit in His fullness. Remember seven is a perfect number. The lamp stands just hold the lamp. The lamp stands just hold the light.
So we see the one on the throne is not the Holy Spirit. Because He is in front of the throne as the seven lamps, the seven lights, if you will, the fullness of God in that revelation as the Holy Spirit.
- B. Who is it? Is it the Son?
We know it's not the Son because in chapter 5 we're going to see that the Son is standing at the throne. Now I'm going to give you a little heads up into what we're going to see in a few weeks.
The Son is standing. Don't miss the significance. Where is the Son right now as we speak? He is seated, at the right hand of the Father, ever interceding on our behalf. I don't want you to miss this. When we started in Revelation He was where? He was walking in the center of the churches. In the middle of the lampstands, holding the seven stars who are the pastors. Now He is no longer walking in the center of the church because . . . the church is gone! That's why it has to be that. The church is now in heaven. So He is not in the center of the churches, He's not seated anymore.
In Ephesians it says He is seated. The reason He is seated is because at the cross He said, 'It is finished.' He doesn't need to be standing anymore. Salvation is completed, every provision has been made for us. He was seated.
But we see Him now standing.
One, because we are coming in and
Two, because He is getting ready to do the last thing He needs to do. Jesus is standing because He is going to take back what is His. He finished salvation but He is not done with us and He is not done with this world. And so He came for us and got His church and He brought us into heaven and so He's standing. But He's also standing because He's about to go get His land. He got His people and He's about to go get His land. He finished the work of salvation and He's about to exact judgment on all those who have rejected the salvation that He offered. And so He's standing. Because He is about ready to begin the final thing that He has yet to do, the thing that it still unfinished.
- C. The Father is on the throne.
So, who is on the throne? There is only one person left.
Now, let's talk about
2. The Glory of the Throne for just a minute.
What did it say? Talk to me about these precious stones. Two kinds. Help me a minute. Jasper, which we don't hear the term too much. It's clear and the best thing we can describe it as would be a diamond. By the way, each of these precious stones that are mentioned are all on the breastplate of the high priest in the Old Testament. Remember everything in the Old Testament is a picture of what is in heaven. Everything in the Old Testament is a picture of the work of God. It is for the purpose of showing us heaven.
1) This one of Jasper is a picture of God's purity and God's holiness.
2) What was the second stone? Sardius or Carnelian. Guys if you ever go to San Francisco and want to get right with your wife, take her to the Carnelian Room on the top of the Bank One building on the 50th floor. Just trust me on that one. But save up before you go. The best thing we could use to describe that would be a Ruby.
Now, we have a clear stone and that's God's purity and His holiness. What do you think the Red stone symbolizes? (varied answers - No not Jesus blood, we're not in the age of salvation anymore - where are we now?) We are dealing with God's wrath and judgment. We're getting ready to see a picture of God that we have never seen before. The closest thing we have to it is some of the O.T. stuff.
What was the third precious stone mentioned here?
3) An emerald. What is significant about this emerald as it is laid out for us? An emerald what? A circle, what kind of circle? Don't miss this. It's not just any circle, it's a rainbow circle. Rainbows can't be in a circle can they? Yes, every rainbow is a circle. I'm going to come back to this in a second but just let say this is representing God's grace and mercy. Now where does the rainbow first come in? Let's talk about a rainbow. With Noah. God said every time you see a rainbow in the sky you will remember that I will not destroy the world again by flood. By the way, just a little Old Testament history for you, when an archer came home he would hang is bow up in the doorway and that let everyone know that the hunting was done, the killing was over. So when God hung a bow in the sky He was saying that the killing is over, the hunting is done, for now. But if you've ever been in an airplane you'll find that a rainbow is a circle. When we see it, we see it as an arc. But if you see it in it's completeness, and this is why this is important, Habakkuk 3 verse 2 says, ‘In wrath, remember mercy.’ Habakkuk ties together wrath and mercy. Revelation 10:1 when it talks about Jesus coming in judgment it says He has a crown around Him that is a rainbow. So even in His judgment and wrath, the mercy of God is always evident, is always there. Noah saw and we see the rainbow as half of what it is. But John is taken into heaven and from that viewpoint he sees it in its completeness. He sees it in its fullness. You see we can’t miss that God’s mercy is merciful but its completeness demands justice.
Think about this with me for a minute. If there is no judgment then mercy is not mercy. Let that sink in for just a second. If there is no judgment then mercy is empty. Who needs mercy if there is no judgment. When your big brother or older cousin had you down and they’re holding you down and they’re not letting you up and you say, ‘mercy’. Well, if they can’t really take you down, you don’t need to cry for mercy do you? If we don’t see it in its fullness it loses its power. Mercy is powerful because we are ‘condemned already’ Jesus said in John chapter 3. If we don’t understand that, if we miss that then we are only seeing half of it.
Because justice demands judgment, and the judgment for our sin is so great, and the price that Christ paid on the cross is priceless and beyond our reach; then mercy is wonderful in its completeness at the throne of God.
Isn’t that good? Don’t miss that.
3. Who Is It Around the Throne? 4:4
So we’ve looked at the throne, we’ve looked at who’s on the throne and we’ve looked at His glory. Now I want us to spend just a few minutes. Let’s talk about these 24 elders. When I say it like that it sounds so simple doesn’t it? Like I’m going to be in just about 5 minutes. Let’s talk about these 24 elder for a minute and I want to break this down and then I’ll come back and talk with you about some of the other viewpoints. But before we do that let me just break it down and let’s get a picture and then we can go back and look at what other people say and some different viewpoints. Then you can make up your own mind.
So, let’s talk about who they are first of all. These people.
- A. Who Are They?
1. Description There is a description of of these people, so let’s start there (writing) with who they are. Let me give you a description. They are:
b. clothed, all of these things are significant,
d. enthroned and that’s interesting because I bet most of you thought there was only one throne in heaven. Probably the first time you realized that there is more than one throne in heaven. There’s a couple of things tonight you are probably going to see that you neve thought you’d see before. You didn’t know they were there.
e. they are numbered, specifically numbered and
f. they are singers. Let’s talk about these things for a minute.
2. Options - I think there are three options for who they are. They are either
a. spirits, they are
b. angels, different things spirit and an angel, or they are
c. men and I use ‘men’ in the people sort of way. Not men as in male but men as in humans.
3. Who they are Not. So first of all, let’s talk about who they are not.
a. They are not spirits. “Why do you say that Pastor?” I’m glad you asked that because I’m going to tell you. Spirits are never listed and would not be listed as being clothed. They are not clothed. Nor would they be listed as sitting or seated. Because they are spirits. Nor would they have a crown. Here’s what Dr. Criswell said, ‘It is incongruous to our thinking and it is certainly foreign to the revelation of God that spirits should be clothed, crowned and seated. There is no such conception as that either in the mind of a rational man or in the Word of God. They are not spirits.’
b. Let me give you the second thing that they are not. Can anybody guess? They are not angels. Now remember we are using this to determine who these elders are. I’ve gotta be really honest with you guys. I’ve never really paid much attention to these 24 elders. I’ve read the book of Revelation before, I’ve attended classes on the book of Revelation before and honestly never really paid any attention to these 24 elders. And boy, was I missing it. Because once you get this, at the end of the day, it’s going to change the whole way you look at the rest of Revelation. Once you get on who these people are. They are not angels.
(1)First thing I want you to see, and I’m not necessarily taking these in order, angels are never seen on thrones. Angels never see on thrones. Angels are servants, not rulers. This is significant. Angels were created for one purpose, that is to serve God. They were created for acts of obedient service, for act of service in worship and that’s it. Angels were not created to rule. Angels don’t have authority over you. Angels don’t have authority. Angels are never see on a throne. Now they have authority over one another in a hierarchy sort of way, but they are not rulers, they are servants.
(2) Angels are never significantly numbered. Not in a way that determines, this is how many of them there are. You hear of angels being talked about as ‘ten thousand times ten thousand’. How many is that really? That’s not really ten thousand times ten thousand. That’s like when they asked Jesus how many times should I forgive and He says ‘seventy times seven.’ He’s not saying forgive 490 times. He’s saying just don’t stop forgiving. And so when he says there are ten thousand times ten thousands he’s saying you can’t count them. There’s just a bunch of them. He’s saying it doesn’t really matter how many there are, there are just a bunch of them. One of the words that’s used in scriptures for angels is ‘myriads’, which literally means, you can’t count them. Kind of goes back to the sands in the sea kind of thing, you can’t count them. Listen to me, not only can you not count them, but it’s really not that important how many they are. This is significant because it is important how many elders we have here. He says there’s 24 elders because that is an important number. He says, aw there’s a bunch a angels. It’s important. Angels are not significantly numbers.
(3) Angels are listed separately from the elders as we move on in Revelation. Revelation 7 verse 11 lists the angels and then it lists the elders. So we could just stop right there. If they are listed separately then they can’t be the same thing. We’re not going to stop right there but we could. I want to make sure you understand that these are not angels.
(4) Let me give you one that is going to blow your mind, some of you. Angels don’t sing. How many of you knew angels didn’t sing? Honestly? I even wrote down in my notes, ‘but Pastor, haven’t you seen the Christmas programs? Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ – is that tradition or is that theology? It’s tradition because Luke 2:13 says, “the angels were saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest’.” It says that ‘the angels appeared with him praising God and saying. . ’ Not singing. Very significant. Angels don’t sing. I know that blows our tradition and it messes up all of our Christmas programs. It messes up all those cute little kids in angel outfits.
(5)Well if angels are not on thrones, angels are not crowned. Let me tell why angels are not crowned. Because the word here that is used for crowned, if you remember years ago the week before Easter I preached a message ‘Crown Him with many Crowns’ and we talked about two kinds of crowns. We talked about a crown called a stephanos, which is a victors crown and we talked about a diadema, which is a kingly crown or a rulers crown. This crown that is mentioned here, that the elders have on their heads was a stephanos. It’s the crown of a victor. Angel don’t have crowns because they’re not overcomers. What has an angel had to overcome? They are not overcomers, they are just servants, obedient servants.
(6)Let me give you another one. Elder, it calls them elders. What is an elder? (answers) A leader, a servant-leader, older, more mature. The word I’m looking for is mature. What does that insinuate about his past? That he once was not. That insinuates that there has been a transformation process, there has been a growth process, there has been a development process. He was younger, he is now older. Angels are just angels. Angels don’t mature. I know that blows Hollywood out of the water. There are no little baby angels. Now they could take on the form, if they were doing something for God, but angels are timeless. Angels would not be defined as elder. As one who has matured because they are exactly as God created them. “boom”, there’s an angel. ‘boom’ there’s another angel. ‘boom’ there’s another angel. They could not be elders because they have not matured. Is that simple but yet . . . Now we are started to get somewhere about who they are not.
(7)The last reason that they are not angels and I want to write this down and I kind of alluded to this in the one before last; Angels are not redeemed. These elders sing about being redeemed in chapter 5. Angels are not redeemed because angels have never been under the penalty of sin. Angels have never been in need of salvation. So angels have not been redeemed. And if angels have not been redeemed, then the angels can’t be the elders because the elders have been redeemed. Whoever these 24 are, they were sinful men and women. They were sinful people. They are redeemed. Whoever they are, they are not angels and they’re not spirits. Whoever they are, they have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
- B. Again, Who Are They?
So, who are these 24 elders that are around the throne? We come back to that question.
Let me ask you some questions.
1. Who would be significant enough to have a definite number? Would it be perhaps someone who the scriptures says the very hairs on your head are numbered? That’s somebody pretty significant. Angels are just ‘a bunch of ‘em’. But you are so significant that not only did he number the elders but we remember Jesus saying that we as people are so important that He even knows the hairs on our head.
2. Who was created to rule? Man was. Adam and Eve were created and were place in the garden and God told them to take dominion. God gave them authority in the garden. Even when Noah came out of the ark, God gave renewed dominion over this earth. Man was created for the purpose of ruling. He was given that rule and we have read in Rev. 1:6 that we have been raised up as a kingdom of priests. Who is seated with Him in heavenly places according to Ephesians 2? We are. Eph 1 says Jesus was seated. Eph 2 says that we are seated with Him, and so who was created to rule? Man was.
3. But on this side of Calvary, a redeemed man. Who sings? Not angels. We do. Men and women bought by the blood of the Lamb.
I was thinking about this and maybe I’m taking it a little bit too far but in order to really sing, I think you have to have a sense of your own unworthiness. Why do you sing love songs? Because you are amazed that she loves you. You are amazed that he loves you. You have to have a sense of ‘oh my goodness this is way more that I deserve.’ In order to really sing the way we were meant to sing you gotta have a sense of that. Who sings? The answer is man, if you haven’t caught on yet.
4. Who is victorious? Who is an overcomer? Man. Blood-bought, foreknown, predestined, called, justified, sanctified, glorified, led in triumphant procession, more than conquerors. Men and women of God. That’s who is victorious.
5. Who is clothed in righteouseness? Isaiah 1:18 says, ‘Come now, let us reasons together says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet they will be white as snow, though they are red as crimson they will be as wool.” Zachariah 3:4 says, “Take off your filthy clothes. I have taken away your sin and I will put rich garments on you.” Romans 3:14 says, “Clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ.”
These 24 elders are the redeemed of God. These 24 are those that have been saved by the blood of the Lamb, who have been set free by the cross. So that’s who they are, but we have one more step here that we need to know then. And maybe you’re trying to figure out and determine this. We know these 24 are people. We know that they are blood-bought, redeemed of the Lamb, but here is my last question.
- C. Which ones?
Now that’s a good question isn’t it? Do you think I could tell you who these are? If I can tell you exactly who these 24 are would that be an amazing thing? It’s really not. Last week I believed what I believed more when I got done preaching more than when I got started preaching, that’s how good the Word of God is. I believed more at the end of the day than at the beginning of the day. I want you to get this. Which ones?
1. Now remember, everything that God instituted on the earth is a picture of what God is doing in the spiritual realm. You need to get this. That’s very important because this 24 elders this picture of 24 is not a new thing. There were 24, and you can define it in different ways, 22 orders or divisions of the priesthood in the Old Testament. You say where do you find that Pastor. I Chronicles, you don’t have to go there now, but write it down. I Chronicles 24 and 25. In the Levitical priesthood there were 24 divisions of the priesthood. That’s not 24 people, that’s 24 divisions. And so when you talked about the 24 in regards to the Levitical priesthood who did that include? Every last one of them. Everyone that was a Levitical priest was included in the 24. Don’t get ahead of me know, but I’m getting ready to tell you who these 24 are. In Ezekiel 8:16 and 11:1, Ezekiel has a vision and in his vision he sees 25 men standing between the porch and altar with their back turned to God. You say, 25, now wait a minute, that’s not the right number. The number is 24. 24 orders but who is the next one? It is the high priest. These men had their back turned on God, this is a judgment. He was saying you people are in the house of God with your back turned on God. The high priest plus all the rest of the priests comes out to 25. The high priest was the significant number and the other 24 represented everybody. If you talked about the 24 in regard to the priesthood you were talking about every priest, every last one of them. 25, the high priest and all of the rest of the priests.
Who is the high priest now? Jesus Christ. Hebrews tells us we have a high priest who is not unaccustomed with or unfamiliar with our ways but has been tempted in every way and yet without sin. So, because of Him we can approach the throne of God with confidence and receive mercy and find grace. Because of our high priest, Jesus, who is ever interceding on our behalf. We have a high priest.
2. Now, Daniel 7:9, talks about this picture that we are talking about today with the thrones except Daniel sees it from a different viewpoint. Daniel says that he saw thrones, plural, set up in heaven with the Ancient of Days taking His position. There is nobody on the thrones in Daniel 7 verse 9 except the Ancient of Days. But it says thrones, plural, being set up. Why do you set something up? Preparation. Because something’s getting ready to happen. Somebody’s gonna get ready to take those seats on the thrones. So Daniel saw in his vision of the end times from the beginning being set up.
3. I Peter 2:5; 9 talks about you and me. And he says blood-bought, redeemed spirits, filled with and empowered by the Holy Spirit, called-out are members of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, he says that we are holy nation, he calls us a peculiar people, I like that, that’s the King James, a unique people, but I like that peculiar, think that would be a great name for a band. Peculiar or peculiar people. A people belonging to God.
4. So, 24 is a complete number for the specific number of ALL the Priests.
So, Here the 24 elders are none other than all of the Royal Priesthood from all of time. It is the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The KNOWN numbered of God, in a Complete number 24. It is a number for all who have been and will be redeemed up until Revelation 4:1. Peter is There, John is there, Paul is there, they are part of the priesthood. Mary is there. Mary Magdalene is there. The woman at the well is there. Why? Because they are part of the priesthood of God. Lydia is there. Great missionaries like Lottie Moon we talk about at Christmas time, she’s going to be there. Martin Luther is going to be there as will be Martin Luther King Sr. and Jr. The Ethiopian Eunuch is going to be there. Native converts from every continent are going to be there. Tribal Africans are going to be there. Aborigines from the Australian outback are going to be there on thrones. Celtic Christians and Redeemed Romanians and the saved from Guarnecia, Los Jobos, Las Negritas, El Sitio, Las Tablas, and San Salvador, El Salvador. The sanctified St Louisans are going to be there. Billy Graham is going to be there. And you are going to be there. And I’m going to be there. Praise the Lord!
5. When you see these 24, now get this, when Daniel saw the thrones and they were empty, being set up, getting ready. Jesus tells us in John chapter 14 ‘I go to prepare a place.’ Now I’ve thought about the verse differently today than I ever thought about that verse. Because I’d read Daniel 7:9 that says thrones are being set up. You see, when Jesus went back to prepare a place He didn’t just go get me a house to live in. He didn’t just go get me a room as the NIV says, He didn’t get me a mansion as the King James says. Those things might be there, but He also got me a throne. Because Daniel 7 says he’s setting it up. And Jesus says he goes to prepare a place for you and me. He’s setting up the throne room. Surrounding the throne are little thrones where we’ll be seated. See there’s a throne there for you and there’s one for me. I believe there’s one there for all of the redeemed, not just 24 special people. But that number 24 represents all of us that are a part of the church of God. Daniel saw those as empty thrones, why? Because Daniel saw the rainbow as an arc. From this vantage-point. But John went to heaven and he saw it as a circle. He got to see it in its completeness and in its completeness it wasn’t an empty throne, it was a seated throne. In its completeness it was done. As he saw a holy nation, a royal priesthood. Blood-bought, redeemed saints of God singing, <SONG>
“Thou art worthy, thou are worthy thou are worthy oh Lord. To receive glory, glory and honor, glory and honor and power. For Thou hast created, hast all things created, Thou has created all things. And for Thy pleasure they are created. Thou art worthy oh Lord.” Can you sing it again? (repeated)
So when you see 24 elders in Revelation you need to see yourself. Because that’s you. If you are bought by the blood of the Lamb, if you are caught up in the twinkling of an eye, you’re going to be one of those. You’re going to be seated around the throne. Isn’t that good news?
This is sort of anti-climactic, but there are some other ways at looking at these verses. To me as I looked at it, this is what makes most sense to me in my spirit and it matches up, the best I can tell, with Scripture, but I’m definitely not going to say I have all the answers. I think I’m in good company in interpreting it this way. Some as far back in recent history as guys like Matthew Henry.
Historists would not attempt necessarily, some would identify these as the saints. Of those that don’t identify those, Adam Clark suggests that the image may be taken from the smaller Sanhedrin in Jerusalem which was 23 elders. Another Historist, Barnes speaks when he recognizes the 24 as the church triumphant, as we have talked about.
A Preterist viewpoint, the apparent majority would say that these are the church. J Adams would say that the 24 doesn’t necessarily represent the church or an assembly of the priesthood. He would distinguish them from the church because he would say in 5:9 where they sing ‘you have redeemed men from the earth’ that would be separating them from men because they are not speaking in the first person. But how many of us have sung hymns that are not written in the first person. We sing about God. And that’s what is happening, in my opinion, in 5:9. He doesn’t see them as angels though because they are distinguished in 5:7. He would say that they probably don’t represent any particular group, they are just “a complete picture of the heavenly court here to create the proper effect,” ‘they help carry the story forward much like the chorus does in the greek tragedy.’ So he would just see these as extras. I don’t. The Preterist would see the lightning and thunders similar to Mt. Sinai and just using that picture there.
Futurists, most of them would be along the line of where we’ve been and what we’ve talked about. Some have said that these represent 12 from the tribes of Israel and 12 representing the apostles and that’s who the 24 would be.
The Spiritual viewpoint would see these as celestial representatives of the redeemed. White robes being their purity, crowns suggest victory in Jesus, joy, similar to what we have said.