January 23, 2011
I greet you once again in the Name of Jesus!
Revelation 1:19 says, “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter. [Rev. 1:19 KJV] This verse spells out for us the three-fold division of the book of Revelation, and lets us know the book is written in chronological order. Chapter 1 covers the things John had seen, or the vision of the resurrected Christ. Chapters 2 – 3 covers happenings of John’s day with regard to the seven churches, while giving us also a panoramic overview of the entire Church Age; which is soon coming to an end. The largest section of the book, chapters 4 – 22, cover the things that will begin happening after the Church Age and beyond into eternity.
In these chapters the Holy Spirit through the Apostle John covers the seven major events of Bible prophecy. While scholars may debate the timing of these events, most all agree that these events will indeed transpire. The seven major events covered are as follows:
- The Resurrection, or rapture of the Church.
- The rise of the Antichrist.
- The Great Tribulation
- The Battle of Armageddon
- The Second Coming of Christ
- The Kingdom Age
- The Perfect Age
Again, scholars differ as to the timing of these seven events, but most all agree that they will occur. The first event in the above list is of course the resurrection, or rapture of the Church. I submit to you that this is the very next event to occur on the prophetic calendar. Notice that I use the words resurrection and rapture interchangeably. I do so because they are one in the same event. Some will say they do not believe in the rapture. However, if you ask those same people if they believe in the resurrection of the just, most will without exception answer in the affirmative. However you cannot biblically say that you believe in the one while denying the other because they are in fact one in the same event. We will have more to say on that momentarily.
John writes in 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. [Rev. 4:1 KJV] We are introduced to the future at this point. There is a clear change of scenes, or locations here. Heretofore the events happening on the earth were being portrayed, here the events and location are clearly heavenly. In the Greek text the phrase, Meta tauta, “after these things” appears at the front and the end of the verse. The events about to be unfolded are going to occur after the events of the Church Age. “Door” here is a literal opening in heaven. It is the Greek, thura – a door, entrance, gate, or even portal. You could translate verse 1, “After this I looked, and behold, a portal was opened in heaven.” The word translated, heaven is the Greek, ouranos.
By extension this word can refer to heaven as the dwelling place of God. However, it is more literally portraying the idea of being elevated to the sky. This portal, or door was opened in the sky and John was called to come up to be shown things that would occur after the Church Age. It would seem that John was in quite a position here. Look with me just a moment back to Revelation 1:10. John writes, “ I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.” Most commentators that I have read after see this phrase, “The Lord’s Day”, as a reference to the first day of the week, or Sunday. This view certainly could be what John had in mind here. We know from early Church history that Augustus Day, or the Emperor’s Day, was the first of every month. It was a day that money payments were made. It became easy then for early Christians to take this term, already in use, and apply it to the first day of the week in honor of the Lord’s Resurrection on that day. We know this to be the case. However, I believe it is possible that there is another thought here.
John was caught up in the Spirit, a state of ecstasy where the natural processes are suspended and one is in union with the things of God, or the spirit realm. John was , stay with me here, transported from the point in time he occupied in the prison colony on the isle of Patmos, to the very end of the age. He saw the catching away of the Church, the rise of the Antichrist, the entire Tribulation period, the battle of Armageddon, the Second Coming of Christ, the Kingdom Age, and the perfect age to come. He was in the Spirit on the Day of the Lord. The Complete Jewish Bible translates verse 10, I came to be, in the Spirit, on the Day of the Lord; and I heard behind me a loud voice, like a trumpet. [Rev. 1:10 CJB] I believe this an accurate translation that truly conveys what occurred.
John is caught up into the very Throne Room of Heaven to be given this preview of the final consummation of all things. The scene is clearly no longer earthly. The Church Age has ended at this point, and the Body of Christ is now in Heaven as we get to chapters 4 and 5. The Church is no longer mentioned as being on earth in the remainder of the book. There are symbolic references to the Church here on out, which we will point out as we come to them. The first reference to the Church being in Heaven is in verse 4. John writes, “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.” [Rev. 4:4 KJV] First, lets consider the significance of the number twenty-four. It is of course a multiple of twelve. Twenty-four is the number associated with heavenly government and worship. We are told both Moses and David ordered all things connected with the Tabernacle and Temple worship by direct revelation from God, and as a copy of things in the heavens. [See Hebrews 8:5; 1 Chronicles 28:12, 19] Seven times in Exodus 40 we find the phrase, “As the LORD commanded Moses”, showing the divine ordering of all that was done.
It was so with the twenty-four courses of priests in the earthly Temple; these were formed on the “pattern of things in the heavens.” Now we see twenty-four seats (Lit. “Thrones”, although lesser thrones than the Throne of God), and upon them we see sitting twenty-four elders (Greek, presbuteros). I believe this shows the divine order of heavenly government as it regards believers. We see representatives from the entirety of the company of the redeemed. They represent the heads of the Old and New Testament churches respectively, the Twelve Patriarchs, and Twelve Apostles. These individuals are not angelic as some have proclaimed, but rather redeemed men. How do we know? The Word tells us they were, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. The white robes represent the righteousness of saints, and we see victory crowns on their heads, signifying endurance in conflict. They had run their race and won.
The heavenly scene must have beggared description as it continues in verse 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. [Rev. 4:5 KJV] This speaks of judgment as it rumbles through heaven as the saints are informed of what is about to occur on the earth. Some commentators have seen the, “Seven lamps of fire” corresponding with the seven lampstands from chapter 1,which represented the seven churches. These two symbols are not the same however as the text itself makes clear. The “seven lampstands” represented the seven churches, whereas the “seven lamps of fire” are indicative of the “seven spirits of God” before the Throne. This symbol speaks of the fulness of the Spirit on the Lamb.
Next John sees, “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.” [Rev. 4:6 KJV] Many see the “sea of glass” as representative of the Church at rest in Heaven. Since a “glassy sea” is understood to be a calm sea. However, as Dake points out, this is more than likely the actual floor of the Throne Room. [See Vs. 6; 15:2 – 4; Cp. 1 Kings 7:23 – 26; 2 Chr. 4:2 – 15]
Who are these, “four beasts?” Actually, “beasts” is an unfortunate translation. It is from the Greek, zoa, and would have been better translated, “living creatures” or “living ones.” They seem to be a special created angelic class, they are distinct from the 24 Elders, ordinary angels, cherubim, and seraphim. We see the same terminology in Ezekiel 1, where they are referred to as, “living creatures.” In verse 8 we see that their primary function is to worship and give testimony to the triune Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. “Holy, holy, holy” calls attention to the infinite holiness of God.
In verses 9 and 10 we read, “And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, 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…” Again, these 24 elders are representative of the entire company of the redeemed, they cast their crowns before Him in acknowledgement that everything they had received, they received from Him.
Verse 11 says, 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. Here we see the purpose of creation.
We next come to chapter 5 as the heavenly scene continues. There should not have been a chapter division between chapters 4 and 5 as they cover all one scene. Next time we will look at chapter 5 as we witness the greatest real estate closing in history, as God the Father takes back the title deed to the earth. It promises to be very enlightening. Plan to join us.
The Weekly Word is found in Revelation 5:1 – 5. Here the Bible says,
And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. [Rev. 5:1 – 5 KJV]
Until next time, this is THE WEEKLY WORD.
Pastor Kevin E. Johnson