V11After these things I looked, and behold, a door [standing] open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like [the sound] of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.”. It is important to see that with this chapter a new part of the book starts (see Rev 1:1919Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.). This new part (which is also the last and longest one of the book) starts with “after these things”, which is after the events that are dealt with in the previous two chapters. Therein you have seen the development of Christianity on earth, wherein the true believers were addressed. From chapter 4 all true believers have been taken up in heaven. That has happened at the coming of the Lord Jesus for the church and all Old Testament believers (1Thes 4:15-1815For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.16For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of [the] archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.17Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.18Therefore comfort one another with these words.).
Now the way is free for God to do His work with the earth (cf. 2Thes 2:66And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed.). He will judge the world and cleanse it from everything that is in contrast with Him. After these judgments the Lord Jesus will come to the earth to reign a thousand years. He will fulfill all promises that have been prophesied by all prophets. No word that God has spoken will remain unfulfilled.
Christ will show the whole work to John that God will do after the rapture of the church. John sees “a door [standing] open in heaven”. From there the first voice that he “heard, like [the sound] of a trumpet” (Rev 1:1010I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like [the sound] of a trumpet,) – which is the Lord Jesus – speaks with him. The voice is saying to him to come up to heaven in order to see everything that will happen on earth. And you are allowed to look over the shoulder of John!
V22Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne.. Directly after the command to come up, John was in the Spirit. He doesn’t have to do that by his own power, which would not even be possible. Therefore he receives the power of the Holy Spirit. You also cannot get insight in the future of the Lord Jesus by your own efforts. You need the Holy Spirit to show you that (Jn 16:1313But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.). You are to give Him the room for that and there should be no hindrances because of unconfessed sins or because of a walk after the flesh.
The first thing that John sees in heaven is “a throne” and One Who sits on it. You stand in the throne hall where things are governed and judgment is given. This is the place of action for the rest of the book. The word ‘throne’ appears no less than forty-two times as the throne of God and still five more times with another meaning, while it appears only fifteen times in the rest of the New Testament.
The throne “was standing”, which indicates the stability and firmness of the Divine authority, in contrast to all earthly unsteady and changeable thrones. It is also set “in heaven” and therefore beyond all earthly thrones. Also all earthly thrones will at once be made visibly subjected. That the real government finds itself in heaven should be an encouragement for each who as a believer suffers under ungodly authority.
Also there is Someone on the throne. It seems that John is not able to get a right vision of Him. From the description he gives, is shining a great brilliance. The Person Who sits on it is resplendent, full of glory and radiance. It is no one else than the glorified Son of Man Who has received the whole judgment of the Father in His hands (Jn 5:22,2722For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son,27and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is [the] Son of Man.).
V33And He who was sitting [was] like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and [there was] a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance.. John uses images from nature to describe the splendor of Him Whom he perceives on the throne. He first mentions two gemstones. Gemstones reflect the light of the sun in numerous colorful beams. They are used to describe the glory of God in the new Jerusalem (Rev 21:1919The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald;). Twelve gemstones are on the breastplate of the high priest (Exo 28:17-2017You shall mount on it four rows of stones; the first row [shall be] a row of ruby, topaz and emerald;18and the second row a turquoise, a sapphire and a diamond;19and the third row a jacinth, an agate and an amethyst;20and the fourth row a beryl and an onyx and a jasper; they shall be set in gold filigree.). Of these precious stones that are on the breastplate, the ‘sardius stone’ is mentioned first and the ‘jasper stone’ last.
The “rainbow” is the symbol of the faithful covenant of God with the earth. He reminds us that the flood destroyed the earth and also the blessing afterwards (Gen 9:8-178Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying,9“Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you;10and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth.11I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.”12God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations;13I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.14It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud,15and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh.16When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”17And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”). This symbol also indicates that God’s judgments have a limit and that He in the midst of the wrath also remembers mercy (Gen 8:11But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided.; Hab 3:22LORD, I have heard the report about You [and] I fear.
O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years,
In the midst of the years make it known;
In wrath remember mercy.
). The rainbow “around the throne”, which is not a half but a whole closed circle, announces that His kindness never ceases, but is everlasting.
An ‘emerald’ has a beautiful green color, the typical color of creation. This is the color of the rainbow as the glorified saints will always see him. While the judgment over the rebellious man and the evil is announced, the remembrance of God’s grace and promises towards His creation are vividly before their eyes.
V44Around the throne [were] twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones [I saw] twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads.. The Lord Jesus does not reign alone. Beside Him there are “twenty-four thrones”, and on them “twenty-four elders”. The number of ‘twenty-four’ indicates two times twelve. In these twenty-four elders the believers from the Old Testament and the New Testament are symbolically represented. You can understand that when you remember that God’s people in the Old Testament is originated from the twelve sons of Jacob and that God’s people in the New Testament is built on the foundation of the twelve apostles of the Lord Jesus.
The “white garments” indicate the purity and priestly character of the elders. They sit on thrones like kings, as fellow kings with the Lord Jesus. They carry “golden crowns on their heads”. These crowns are no tiaras, but garlands which are received by the overcomers. The value of it is not the material value, but the public homage. You may consider that an encouragement for yourself. When on earth you are faithful to following the rejected Lord, you will soon be allowed to reign with Him.
V55Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And [there were] seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God;. Everything that goes out from the throne proclaims the judgments to come. It reminds us of the appearance of God on Mount Sinai (Exo 19:1616So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who [were] in the camp trembled.; 20:1818All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw [it], they trembled and stood at a distance.). The throne here is not the throne of mercy, what he is to you today (Heb 4:1616Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.). Also in the millennial kingdom of peace the throne is a throne from which blessing comes in the form of a stream of water (Eze 47:1-121Then he brought me back to the door of the house; and behold, water was flowing from under the threshold of the house toward the east, for the house faced east. And the water was flowing down from under, from the right side of the house, from south of the altar.2He brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate by way of [the gate] that faces east. And behold, water was trickling from the south side.3When the man went out toward the east with a line in his hand, he measured a thousand cubits, and he led me through the water, water [reaching] the ankles.4Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water [reaching] the knees. Again he measured a thousand and led me through [the water], water [reaching] the loins.5Again he measured a thousand; [and it was] a river that I could not ford, for the water had risen, [enough] water to swim in, a river that could not be forded.6He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen [this]?” Then he brought me back to the bank of the river.7Now when I had returned, behold, on the bank of the river there [were] very many trees on the one side and on the other.8Then he said to me, “These waters go out toward the eastern region and go down into the Arabah; then they go toward the sea, being made to flow into the sea, and the waters [of the sea] become fresh.9It will come about that every living creature which swarms in every place where the river goes, will live. And there will be very many fish, for these waters go there and [the others] become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes.10And it will come about that fishermen will stand beside it; from Engedi to Eneglaim there will be a place for the spreading of nets. Their fish will be according to their kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea, very many.11But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt.12By the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all [kinds of] trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.”). But before that happens, many judgments are to come from the throne first, so that the blessing may flow freely.
With the throne of God the Spirit of God is related. The Spirit is represented here in sevenfold in “seven lamps of fire”. The number ‘seven’ indicates perfection and ‘fire’ symbolizes judgment. The judgments of God are different to each situation, but always perfect. They are executed without a chance of mistake under the perfect working of the Spirit of God. It is a good thing to consider that the God Who you may call Father is at the same time a consuming fire regarding everything in your life which is not in accordance with Him (Heb 12:2929for our God is a consuming fire.; cf. 1Pet 1:1717If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay [on earth];).
V66and before the throne [there was something] like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind.. It is remarkable how everything in this chapter is related to the throne. You have read about (Someone) on the throne, (the elders) around the throne, (lightning, etc.) which was proceeded from the throne and (the seven Spirits of God) that were before the throne. Now you see something else before the throne and even something else in the midst of the throne.
We first look at what was before the throne: something “like a sea of glass, like crystal”. That reminds us of the big laver in the temple of Solomon, that is called the ‘sea’ (1Kgs 7:2323Now he made the sea of cast [metal] ten cubits from brim to brim, circular in form, and its height was five cubits, and thirty cubits in circumference.). That laver was filled with water with which the priest was to wash his hands and feet before he entered the sanctuary. The water here is ‘crystal’. In heaven there is no more need for washing. That the sea stands before the throne means that the purity in heaven is perfectly in harmony with the holy character of the throne.
In order to have a little understanding of what the four living creatures in the midst of the throne represent, you need to read some verses from the book of Ezekiel (Eze 1:5,10,185Within it there were figures resembling four living beings. And this was their appearance: they had human form.10As for the form of their faces, [each] had the face of a man; all four had the face of a lion on the right and the face of a bull on the left, and all four had the face of an eagle.18As for their rims they were lofty and awesome, and the rims of all four of them were full of eyes round about.; 10:12,1412Their whole body, their backs, their hands, their wings and the wheels were full of eyes all around, the wheels belonging to all four of them.14And each one had four faces. The first face [was] the face of a cherub, the second face [was] the face of a man, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.). When you compare what John sees of it to what Ezekiel sees of it, you see that the living creatures are related to the judgments of God on earth that are characterized by four things. That they are related to judgments appears already from their position in relation to the throne. They found themselves in the midst of it, which causes them as it were, to be identified with the throne.
That there are four of them emphasizes the generality of the judgment. The number ‘four’ is typical for the earth. You hear it in expressions like: four wind directions, four corners of the earth, four seasons. The four living creatures are with regard to the earth not only omniscient in their judgment, but they exercise it also with a full insight in the future (“full of eyes in front”) and in the past (“and behind”). This insight belongs to God’s nature, which makes Him act with full knowledge of all circumstances, of all causes and of all consequences.
V77The first creature [was] like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature [was] like a flying eagle.. The characteristics of His judgments are compared with four of His creatures:
1. In the first place there is “a lion”. The lion is the king among the animals that does not turn away from any (Pro 30:3030The lion [which] is mighty among beasts
And does not retreat before any,
) and against whom nobody can resist. In the lion you see the power and majesty of God’s kingdom and judgments.
2. His judgments continue steadily, like “a calf” that is plowing continues steadily.
3. His judgments are executed with wisdom and insight, with which He has gifted “man” as a creature above animals.
4. Finally you see in the “flying eagle” the fastness in which the judgments out of heaven will strike the earth (cf. Deu 28:4949“The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand,).
Now read Revelation 4:1-7 again.
Reflection: Mention the things that in this portion are in relation with the throne.