Revelation Ch 4 - The Control Room of Heaven - God as Ruler/Creator
Has anyone seen a Big, Blue Box?
You are lost - a bushfire is roaring towards you, with clouds of burning eucalypt oil vapour swirling into a firestorm - there is a clearing, and in it a blue phonebox with a flashing blue light - a strange man in an odd hat & long scarf beckons to you - "Come in!" - inside the box is a jaw-dropping sight - a mix of nuclear submarine, oriental palace and op-shop - and now it whisks you away to a different galaxy & time. Well, John's experience is far, far above a joy-ride in the Tardis with you-know-Who.
Pictures and symbols again
4 main symbols here in chapter 4 (and we should keep in mind the saying "if you prick the book of Revelation it bleeds the Old Testament").
1. An Open Door to Heaven v1
- Jacob (Genesis 28:12-17) saw a stair to Heaven & Jehovah at the top. ("in .. your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed");
- John sees a door, and is invited/commanded to come in, and by Jesus the Lord Christ (1:10ff), the descendant of Jacob. Note: no one can enter heaven unless God opens the door - no one can know what is to come unless God reveals it.;
- Note the words "after this" - John sees the open door into heaven immediately after the letters to the seven churches are dictated to him. The same Greek words are used at the end of verse 1, "after this" referring not to the open door, but to the things that John is about to see through the open door. It is in John's "now" time and not some time in the future, 2000 years from John's time.
2. A Throne in Heaven, and He Who sits on it
- verses 2,3,5,6a - This must be the King;
- He is seen as sparkling, flashing brilliance - gem stones (first & last were on the Jewish High Priest's breastplate - jasper is uncertain, the sardius/"sardine" was fiery red);
- a shining rainbow surrounds Him (He sits amidst His covenant of old with Noah, an agreement of mercy, then symbolised by the rainbow. Every rainbow reminds us of this.);
- Ezekiel 1:26-28 - the same One is described there, with the appearance of a man, and as described by John in Revelation chapter 1, where it is without doubt Jesus who is being described. Ezekiel says it is the "LORD", that is, LORD Jehovah. (The Hebrew word translated "LORD" is in fact "YHVH", "Yahweh" or Jehovah.). Jesus is One with the LORD, Jehovah!;
- Daniel 7:9 is similar. Lightnings, rumblings (voices), thunders as at Mount Sinai (Exodus chapters 19 & 20) - there too it is Jehovah centre stage;
- "Awesome!" At Sinai Israel trembled - what about us? He is King, and Judge, Exodus 24:9-11
- a clear pavement "as a sea of glass". Not a troubled sea, but solid, calm & clear;
- 7 fiery spirits of God (7 is the number of completeness) - the Holy Spirit is here too - "The Lord Jehovah Reigns!".
3. Four Living Creatures in Heaven, verses 6b-8. Who, What are these?
- Certainly they are a part of God's great creation. Comparing these verses with Isaiah 6, and Ezekiel 1 & 10, there is a strong case for them being the Cherubim (Ezekiel 10:20) - they are not cute little angels, as commonly drawn in art. They are fierce & fiery - defending God's throne, and praising His glory & goodness;
- Ezekiel 28:11-19 shows a wicked cherub, who fell into evil - Satan, the fallen angel;
- They are majestic as the lion, strong as the ox, wise as a man, swift as the eagle (as God who made them is);
- they are full of eyes - they see & see chiefly Him;
- What are they doing? What's their focus? Their ceaseless cry is "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come" (same as in Isaiah 6, where they are also called the Seraphim).
4. There are Other Thrones in Heaven
- Who sits on them? - v4, 9-11; v4 introduces them - 24 elders;
- 12 patriarchs for Old Testament church;
- 12 Apostles for New Testament church;
- BC & AD, Old Testament & New Testament. See Revelation 21:9-14 - one church, with 12 tribes and 12 apostles. This is very clear;
- What are they doing? What's their focus? They leave their thrones, bow before Him on the one Throne, cast their crowns (which are themselves His gifts - Revelation 2:10) at His feet - they delight to give their best - to them God is better than any crown;
- Their song, "Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created." Focus is their God, the great Ruler/Creator. He rules by right as Creator of all things, including you and me;
- When? Whenever the 4 cherubim cry out to God's glory. Maybe you are thinking "I don't like church that much!". But note, "whenever" implies set times - "I always eat breakfast" doesn't mean I am shoveling cornflakes 24 hours a day. It is truly said "I can worship God on a surfboard" (or walking, or sailing, or cross-stitching, or.....) & not just as an after-thought - every wholesome thing done with delight and thanksgiving to God is worship. Our problem here and now is that we just don't do it well! That's why we need to meet at agreed times to worship Him together. But there in heaven they do it perfectly well, and with endless delight and endless variety (Psalm 16:11), but just one Object of worship.
"O the joy to be in Heaven.....to have finally won the race."
This line is from 'Make Every Effort', copyright Bryson Smith and Phillip Percival, 1997. Will you win this race? Will you be there? You can, through trusting in this Jesus, God and King, and the great Rescuer.
(John saw something else in the Control Room of the Universe - God the Ruler/Redeemer, Who we will meet in chapter 5.)
Click here for the next Revelation article Revelation Chapter 5 - The Control Room of Heaven - God as Ruler/Redeemer
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Last updated: 14 Aug 2021
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