The Epistle of Jesus #3: The Throne Room of Heaven Part 1Video Link
Word Doc Link
Joke about Heaven: An 85 year old couple, having been married almost 60 years, had died in a car crash. The last 10 years of life the wife had been real concerned about their health and they ate only low-fat, low-carb, low-calorie healthy meals by the sweet wife’s constant supervision and not a little bit of nagging.
When they reached the pearly gates, St. Peter took them to their mansion which was decked out with a beautiful kitchen and master bath suite and Jacuzzi.
As they "oohed and aahed" the old man asked Peter how much all this was going to cost.
"It's free," Peter replied, "this is Heaven."
Next they went out back to survey the championship golf course that the home backed up to. They would have golfing privileges everyday and each week the course changed to a new one representing the great golf courses on earth.
The old man asked, "what are the green fees?"
Peter's reply, "This is heaven, you play for free."
Next they went to the club house and saw the lavish buffet lunch with the cuisines of the world laid out.
"How much to eat?" asked the old man.
"Don't you understand yet? This is heaven, it is free!" Peter replied with some exasperation.
"Well, where are the low fat and low cholesterol tables?" the old man asked timidly.
Peter lectured, "That's the best part...you can eat as much as you like of whatever you like and you never get fat and you never get sick. This is Heaven."
With that the old man went into a fit of anger, throwing down his hat and stomping on it, and shrieking wildly.
Peter and his wife both tried to calm him down, asking him what was wrong. The old man looked at his wife and said, "This is all your fault. If it weren't for all them bran muffins and rice cakes, I could have been here ten years ago!"
The church at the time of John’s book of Revelation was at a time of crises. The sign miracles like tongues, word of wisdom, word of knowledge were finished or fading. There had been no new word from God, revelation and no more apostles’ writings in over a generation. The Pagan Roman empire and the Jewish religious authorities were arresting and killing the leaders of the churches. And now John, the last apostle, has been arrested, tortured and now exiled to the island prison of Patmos, by a Domitian, the Roman Emperor who called himself, Lord God Almighty and demands that all worship him. He expects John to die far removed from the new sect called Christians that he inspires and leads.
In the midst of this dark, seemingly hopeless, sin filled night, a light, in the form of a letter, arrives by a messenger sent from John. John, now near 100 years old writes and says “I have seen the Lord. He told me to write you this letter and to tell you He is coming back!” The Book of Revelation, the Apocalypse, the Epistle of Jesus was written because Jesus knew his people needed hope and as we read it today, it still has that purpose and that power. To give us hope no matter what is happening, Jesus is coming back!
And now John has been given this vision and the mission to record the scene and send it to the seven churches and finally even to us. So listen as John takes us up with him into the throne room of heaven and remember this vision, remember this place, remember this event because when our world grows dark and our way seems hopeless one day we will stand in heaven’s throne room and see the glory of God seated upon His throne.
Let’s look at Revelation 4 as our focus, like John’s is drawn to the throne and the One who is seated upon it. First notice …
The Throne of Heaven - Revelation 4:1-2
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. 2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
God Summons John
John was summoned by God into the throne room of heaven. And when he heard that summons his spirit went. God called and John went. He says in Revelation 4:2 2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
The throne room of heaven is what John sees as he is summoned up from the earth in his vision. Everything in chapters 4 and 5 takes place in the throne room and everything centers on and draws our focus to the throne and especially to the One who sits on the throne. Our eyes and hearts cannot help but be drawn to the glory of the One who sits there. He is God the Father, the Creator, the only true Almighty God. He is Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient, holy, just and righteous.
God’s glory has been glimpsed and recorded before by Moses in Exodus 33:21-23 And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: 22 And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: 23 And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.
by Isaiah in Isaiah 6: 1- 3 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
and by Ezekiel in Ezekiel 1:26-28 26 And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. 27 And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. 28 As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.
And now in John’s vision here the actual holiest of holies we see the Glory of God revealed as it has never been seen before. In all the Bible, this is the ultimate vision of God and it will not be superseded until we all stand one day, like John in that throne room as we enter eternity.
Summoned In the Rapture
Many see in Revelation 4:1 a symbol for the rapture of the saints. John says, “a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet..; which said, Come up.” The rapture of course is the taking away, the taking up of God’s people from the earth. When God issues that summons, even death itself will not be able to hold us back. When God calls his children home, we will all go home.
Now I know that Revelation 4:1 isn’t definitive in its proof of a pretribulational rapture, but it sure come close. A pretribulational rapture means that God’s people will be taken up before the tribulation of chapters 6 – 19 begins. So even though Revelation 4:1 can’t be used as a proof text but it sure fits the timeline, so very, very nicely.
1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
And while we are here, let me make this point about the view points concerning the rapture. I and most Baptists are pretribulational in the interpretation of the rapture, but there are many good, conscientious, Bible believing, Bible scholars and preachers who are midtribulationalists, meaning the they see the rapture taking place in the middle of the tribulation at the 3 ½ year mark of the 7 year time of Jacobs trouble. They like to call it the pre-wrath tribulation. And there are some who even believe in a posttribulationist view, that the Christians alive when the tribulation starts will have to go through the entire 7 year time of the most horrific, world-wide suffering that has ever been recorded or even imagined. I really don’t think they are right as I can’t see how they church fits into the “Time of Jacob’s Trouble” as the tribulation is called in the Old Testament. But they can believe that and still be okay, not as okay as me, cause I’ve get it right, but they can be okay. What we all must believe is that the Jesus is coming back and this time He will be the lion not just the lamb.
Just as John told those early suffering Christians, we need to believe, “Jesus is coming, in power, glory and victory. And He will reign over all the earth!”
Quote: The Uppertaker
Added to this quote I used last week. “The primitive church thought more about the Second coming of Jesus Christ than about death or about heaven. The early Christians were looking not for a cleft in the ground called a grave but for a cleavage in the sky called Glory. There were watching not for the undertaker but for the uppertaker.” - Alexander MacLaren
And that should be us not looking for the undertaker but for the uppertaker. That’s how we should live every minute of every day, looking for Jesus our uppertaker.
Now our focus changes from John being caught up into heaven to the scene that opens before him as he passes through the portal and steps into the heavenly throne room.
The Throne of God - Revelation 4:3–7
3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. 4 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. 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. 6 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. 7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.
God Seated On His Throne
The key word in this chapter and chapter 5 is throne; it is used fourteen times. In fact, this is a key word in the entire book, appearing forty-six times. Here we see the throne for the first time and in John’s vision the throne is a place of the glory, judgment and mercy of God the Father.
The One seated upon the throne is God the Father. John sees God in His glory and describes what he sees as light seen through jewels. What John is seeing is not seeing the gem stone but the color of the light as it would shine through that gem.
Psalm 104:1-3 Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind:
1 Timothy 6:16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen
These jeweled hues of light symbolize the glory and attributes of God the Father.
A Throne of Holiness - Jasper is a clear stone so this color speaks of God’s purity, His holiness;
A Throne of Judgment - sardine is red like a blood red ruby and it speaks of God’s wrath and judgment.
A Throne of Mercy - The color of light refracting though an emerald is green and that is a color associated with grace and mercy.
A Place of Mercy and Grace - John also sees an emerald-colored rainbow, that completely surrounds the throne, not an arc but a full halo, I imagine it would be like a sunburst, caused by the light of God’s glory. The rainbow that was the sign of God’s covenant back in Genesis 9:11–17, after the flood, is now a full rainbow shows God’s complete and finished mercy and grace to those who are His own.
This mercy and grace is also seen in the 24 elders who sit around the throne of God. These 24 are representative of all of God’s people Old Testament and New Testament who have found His grace. There were 12 tribes in the OT and 12 apostles in the New and so this number represents all the saved, all the believers, all of God’s children of all time.
These 24 are clothed in white raiment symbolizing their holiness imparted to them through grace and they wear golden crowns which symbolize rewards for their service which was empowered in God’s grace.
Victor’s Crowns - These crowns that the elder are wearing are “victor’s crowns, crowns of life” as we first heard promised in Revelation 2:10 …be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
The word crown is the Greek word στέφανος, stephanos, where we get our words for the names Stephen and Stephani, a crown. It comes from a word that means to twine or wreathe. So, these crowns are not the ones that a king or queen would wear but instead these are the crowns that athletes would wear after winning a race, these are the crowns of champions, the champions of Jesus Christ, the overcomers, the victors, the believers.
The Throne Room also shows us a Time of Judgment and Wrath: Then John sees and hears lightning, thunder and voices emanating from the throne. He also sees seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which he identifies as the seven Spirits of God, which is symbol for the full and complete power of the Holy Spirit. All these symbols show that not only is this a throne of glory and grace but it is also a throne of judgment and wrath. Lighting is the fire from heaven that God unleashes upon the prophets of Baal and thunder is always a warning of a storm that is coming. Here the Holy Spirit is not seen as a dove like He was at Jesus baptism, but now as seven burning fires, showing full and complete judgement.
The Throne Room is also a Place of Eternal Cleansing: John now in his vision sees a sea of glass like crystal. This sea was once symbolized by the brazen laver or basin in the tabernacle and in the Temple. It represents cleansing for all who have come to be in the throne room.
The Throne Room Shows us the Godhead, The Trinity
The Father is on the Throne.
The seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which he identifies as the seven Spirits of God, the full and complete power of the Holy Spirit
Then John also sees four living creatures, these creatures were created to sing praise for all eternity to the father, Son and Spirit. The KJV calls them beasts, but they are not wild animals but creations of God.
Revelation 4:6-7 …in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. 7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.
These living creatures have four faces and we have seen them before if we read Ezekiel’s vision of the wheel in a wheel in Ezekiel 1:10-14 10 As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle. 11 Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies. 12 And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went. 13 As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. 14 And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.
Isaiah’s Vision: The Seraphim in Isaiah 6:2 called them the seraphims, “Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
There are differences between these visions, but I think that is due to the perspective of Ezekiel, Isaiah and John. I also believe John sees much more because he has seen an experienced the fulfillment of the Old Testament Messianic prophecies. So he is allowed to see more, because he would understand more.
Firstly, the Seraphim are symbols of God as the creator of all living creatures but in more detail we can see that are symbols of the Son of God in his roles as the King who was also the Servant and the God who was also Man. The four faces of the lion, the man, the ox and the eagle, show Jesus as the King symbolized by the lion, Jesus as the servant symbolized by the ox, Jesus as God symbolized by the eagle and Jesus as man in the face of the man on the seraphim.
Our Seat In The Throne Room
As I think about this scene taking place in John’s vision, this incredible, glorious representation of what the throne room of heaven will be like and all the amazing, unbelievable things we see, I can’t help but think of the most amazing thing, that we are also represented there.
We see the blinding radiance of God on His throne, we are awed of his holiness, we are swept away by His mercy but so thankful that we will not experience His terrible wrath. We see Our Father and Creator seated on the throne, the symbol of His authority and power. We see the living creatures, surrounding the throne but then wonder of wonders, we also see these 24 who are also seated in seats before the throne, seats of honor next to the throne of God Himself reserved for the children of God. It truly will be amazing, that those seats are reserved for us, the children of God. And yet it shouldn’t surprise us because who else would the Father want beside him but his own children.
John writes to Gauis in 3rd John and says, “I have no great joy than to know that my children walk in truth.” That is a sentiment that every parent understands. There is no greater joy, no greater sense of pride than in your children’s achievements, their good works. We have that sentiment in our hearts because it comes from our heavenly Father. When we get heaven we will have a seat beside the throne of our Father, because part of his glory in that throne room will be us, His children.
Ephesians 1:12-14 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
Our faith, our trust, our redemption and the life of service that follows our salvation are those things which bring praise to God’s glory. We are God’s trophies of grace the throne room of heaven is His mantle place where those trophies will sit right beside Him, surrounding the throne shining in and being a part of His glory.
Are you ready for that? Wouldn’t it be terrible to miss this? To not experience such an event. Oh, I could tell you about how eternally horrific Hell is going to be, but can you imagine missing heaven and not seeing this event not in a vision but in person, not recorded in the Bible but in real time, not virtually, but literally, not through the eyes of faith but through the eyes of our newly resurrected, sinless, perfect body. And you know what, you won’t need any corrective lenses to behold this glorious day, though you may wish for some heavenly sunglasses because, Child of God, it is going to be bright. Its okay to get excited, this is our day. The day we see God our Father, what a reunion that will be.
The final aspect of the Throne Room I want us to see is the most beautiful because this is also
The Throne of Praise and Worship: Revelation 4:8–11
And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. 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, 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.
God’s Songs Of Praise
In Revelation 4:8 we hear the first of 20 hymns and songs of praise that are sung in the book of Revelation. In chapters 4 and 5 we have the first 5 hymns, sung to the Father as Creator and to the Son as Redeemer.
Jesus had John witness this and then send it to the persecuted churches of John’s time. This worship scene foretold in Revelation 4 and 5 meant that their own pain would be changed into praise.
The hymns or doxologies are sung like a concert, a concert that is so vast it will fill all of creation. The praise begins with the 4 Seraphim singing Holy, Holy Holy, Lord God Almighty. Notice what the Bible says about their praise, it is not just a song to God, but the giving of glory and honor and thanks to God.
When they finish, then the 24 elders, that represent us the children of God fall down before God and their song breaks forth. “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power, for you have created all things and for thy pleasure they exist and were created.”
This concert of heaven begins in the 24 mouths of the four living creatures and then is taken up and amplified by the 24 elders around the throne. In chapter 5 it will be sung by both the elders and the living creatures and then by thousands and thousands of angels and finally by all of creation, All of heaven and earth lifting their voices in pure joyous, glorious, beautiful, perfect praise. (There will not be a missed note in all that vast univeral choir)
Illustration: Trip to Hear Messiah.
I know I’ve shared this story before but the first time I went to a performance of the Messiah one day with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Symphony. LeeOra and I were from a small mining town in Arizona and had never heard attended a symphony. We had no idea what to expect, our collegd choir director told us to dress like we were going to church and that was about it. We got there and were enjoying the music and the singing. Then the symphony came to the movement called the Hallelujah Concert. And as the orchestra plays and the singers on the stage begin to sing, “For the Lord God Omnipotent Reigneth. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” It very beautiful but then I see people start to stand up, at first I thought the concert was over and they were leaving, like people do during the credits of a movie. (I had been to a few movies before) All over the concert hall people are standing up but they aren’t leaving no they are singing along with the choir and lead singers on the stage. Oh goodness, no one told me it was a sing along. Luckily the words were pretty straitforward, it was pretty easy to remember, Hallelujah.
This standing was a tradition, legend says, started by the King of England when Handel first presented the symphony in London. When the King heard he stood in respect to the risen Lord. When the King stands then all those in attendance also had to stand. From that day on anytime the Messiah is performed and the Hallelujah chorus begins everyone stands and many times join in the singing. That first time we heard it, over 3000 people stood and began to sing. I had never been in a place able to hold 3000 people and I had never heard 3000 people sing praises to my Lord and Savior. Well quite literally, the hairs on my neck and arm stood up, my skin prickled and my tears began to fall. And as best we could we joined in the singing, Hallelujah. Hallelujah, Hallelujah! I remember thinking that was probably a very small sense of what this concert in the throne room of heaven will be would be like one day.
One day God’s children will fall down before the throne of God and will sing with the host of heaven, praising the One upon the throne and it will be the most beautiful concert that has ever been performed. All the music that has ever been played, all the symphonies that have ever been performed, every opera that has ever been sung will sound like the nursery rhymes in comparison.
And as we sing the song of the ages to God our creator, we will take our victor’s crowns and reverently and joyfully place them at the foot of the throne. Our crowns and praise are the only things worthy to be given to God, he praise or our lips and the service of our life laid at His feet. There is no other offering worthy of our God, just ourselves, and just our praise.
Because I’m His child, because I’ve accepted God’s gift of grace, through Jesus Christ sacrifice on the cross, because one day God will call all his family home, I’m going to be there. I’m going to hear that song. I’m going to be a part of that choir. I’m going to hear the Serphim start their song and then on cue, I’ll fall to my knees and praise my Creator. Then I will place my own victor’s crown, the sum total of my life’s work for my God and Savior, at the foot of the throne. There it will join the crowns of all the redeemed of all eternity cast at the feet of Him who is worthy.
Revelation 4:11 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.
Wouldn’t it be tragic to miss such a day? It would be eternally, the most regretful thing that could ever happen to a soul created by God, but who missed the summons of God to “Come up here” and hear, “I will show you great things.”
Don’t miss it, the invitation is open, the door is open and God, the Son and we the children of God are saying Come.