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Numbers in Scriptures
Word of God
The Heavenly Place
John caught up to Heaven
God's throne in heaven
The Twenty four Elders
The Seven Spirits of God
begins a new phase in the book of Revelation. The church plays a prominent
role in the first three chapters, mentioned over 18 times. After chapter 3,
the church is not referred to again until chapter 22 verse16. In chapter
4, John the Apostle, called up to heaven, reports to the reader what he sees
and hears. John is the eyes and ears of the believer.
presents the reader with the throne of God and events taking place in
Heaven. This begins a chain of events leading to the return of the Messiah,
Jesus Christ, who Revelation 19 pictures as conquering King. From chapter
4, we see God’s throne and the events surrounding it. Chapter 5 continues
from 4, and takes the reader to the throne itself and the opening of a
scroll with seven seals. The opening of this scroll puts events into motion
leading to the return of Christ in chapter 19.
Revelation, John is reporting to the reader what he sees and hears. John
told to write what he sees; lets the reader see events through his eyes and
ears. In Chapter 4, John is caught up to a scene taking place in heaven.
Although not mentioned explicitly, John’s call up to heaven by a voice
sounding like a trumpet, parallels events in I Thessalonians 4:13-18, John
represents a picture of the rapture. In the rapture, the church is “caught
up” to the presence of Christ with a shout from Christ and the call of God’s
three main views on the timing of the event known as the rapture;
pre-tribulation view understands the rapture to take place before the
seven-year tribulation period.
mid-tribulation view understands the rapture to take place at the middle
part of the tribulation.
post-tribulation view understands the rapture to take place at the end of
The timing of
the rapture is hinged to the tribulation. Following the tribulation is the
“Glorious return of Christ”. (Matthew 24:29)
tribulation is a seven-year period of God’s judgment and wrath on the
earth. This period known as Daniel’s 70th week (Daniel
9:27), the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7) and the day of
the Lord (Isaiah 13:6-9, Jeremiah 46:10, Joel 2:1, Amos 5:18-20,
Zechariah 14:1) is a period of testing(Rev. 3:10). This tribulation period
coming on the earth is unparalleled, there was never a time like it nor,
will there ever be a time like it again (Daniel 12:1, Jeremiah 30:7, Matthew
24:21). Jesus unveils (Revelation) events taking place in this tribulation
period, in Revelation chapters 6 to 19.
are from a pre-tribulation,
viewpoint. From this view, the events taking place on earth, the
tribulation, exclude the believing Church, which is promised to be preserved
from the “Hour of trial which shall come upon the
whole world” (Rev. 3:10). During the tribulation period, God deals
with Israel and the world. At the conclusion of this period, Israel
acknowledges Jesus Christ is indeed the Messiah, and they call out to him.
Christ then returns with the armies of heaven, including the raptured saints
to establish the millennial kingdom. (Matthew 23:37-39, Zechariah 12:9-10)
distinction between Israel and the church is very important in understanding
Bible prophecy, especially in understanding the book of Revelation. The
church after chapter 3 is not mentioned again until chapter 22. However,
Israel, as a nation and a people are in clear view, during this period in
Revelation. In chapter 7 and 14, we see 144,000 from the 12 tribes of
Israel. In Chapter 11, we see the Temple and two witnesses’ prophecy in
Jerusalem. Chapters 16, and 19 the armies of the earth gather north of
Jerusalem in the area known as Megiddo. In the tribulation, God deals with
Israel and not the church. In chapters 4 and 5, we see the church in Heaven,
surrounding the throne praising God. On earth God’s judgment and wrath is
poured out on sin, causing many to find Christ in the midst of the Earth’s
trial. (Revelation 6:9, 7:14-17,13:10, 15:2)
John caught up to Heaven
1 After these
things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first
voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "Come up
here, and I will show you things which must take place after this." Revelation
John now begins to describe events following his letter to the seven
churches. John was in the process of writing a letter to the seven churches
in Asia, Jesus standing in the middle of seven candlesticks is dictating the
letter to John. Following the completion of the letters, chapter 4 takes
place. In Revelation 1:19, Jesus establishes the structure of the book of
the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things
which will take place after this. Revelation 1:19
established a three-fold time structure to the book, past, present and
future. The things which you have seen, is what took place in the
beginning of the first chapter. The things which are, is the present
age the church age covered in the 2nd and 3rd
chapters. The things which take place after this, refer to the time
following the church age, the future.
chapters 6 to 19 detail events taking place in heaven and on earth during
the tribulation period. John is in the position of a reporter, writing down
what he hears and sees allowing the reader participate in the same events.
One Greek word used throughout Revelation is
meaning to perceive with the eyes. John refers time and time again to what
he “Saw”. John is not speaking in metaphor but in reality. He is reporting
to the reader what he actually sees. John actually saw a door standing open
This is not outer space, or just the clouds but the place of God’s
presence. According to Paul, the believer who dies goes right to Heaven.
(Phil 1;23) John is taken into Heaven to witness a future event.
hears the voice like a trumpet calling him, this is the same voice which
identified itself as “Alpha and Omega” (Rev. 1;10-13). This is Jesus,
telling John to come up into heaven. Similarities between the John’s call
into Heaven and the rapture are striking when we compare the two.
I Thes. 4:13-18
John’s caught up
At the end of Church age
At the end of the letters to the churches
Shout from Jesus to believers
Jesus calls John up
Trumpet of God
Voice like a trumpet
Believers on earth
John on earth
Immediately John was in the Spirit
Believers taken into the Lord’s presence
John taken into the Lord’s presence
John into Heaven explains to John the things “Must take place. The words
here are nearly identical to the words used in Revelation 1;19, establishing
the three part division in Revelation.
God’s Throne in Heaven
Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One
sat on the throne.
3 And He who
sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was
a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.
John on the
island of Patmos is taken to Heaven, in the Spirit. Paul explains a similar
experience in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians.
2 I know a man
in Christ who fourteen years ago-whether in the body I do not know, or
whether out of the body I do not know, God knows-such a one was caught up to
the third heaven.
3 And I know
such a man-whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows
4 how he was
caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not
lawful for a man to utter.
Paul is not
sure if his body was there or just his spirit. The word Paul uses for
being “Caught Up” is the same word used to describe the rapture in I Thes.
4:13-18. John like Paul is caught up into the third heaven. The first
heaven is the sky, the second heaven, space beyond the atmosphere and the
third is the presence of the Lord. Ezekiel like Paul and John also
experienced being “in the spirit” and seeing visions from God and writing
about what he saw. (Ezekiel 8:3, 37:1)
Throne set in
immediately ushered to the center of Heaven, and to the throne of God. John
then describes the scene for his reader. John, literally taken to the
throne of God in Heaven describes what he sees. Daniel saw the “Ancient of
days” on his throne and one like the “Son of man” approach the throne(Daniel
7:9,13), Ezekiel saw “Glory of the Lord” as a glorified man, seated on His
throne (Ezekiel 1:27) and Isaiah also so the Lord seated on his throne
(Isaiah 6:1), in descriptions similar to John’s.
John sees a vision of God sitting on his throne. There is a debate whether
this is Father or the Son sitting on the throne. The dilemma here is the one
seated on the throne is described as Creator of all things which is the work
ascribed to Christ. (John 1:1-3, Col. 1;16-17, Heb 1;2-3,10-12, 3:3,4, Rev.
seated on throne is distinguished from the Lamb in chapter 5, who is Christ,
because he is the only one able to open the scroll.
Revelation 22:1,3 both the Lamb and God the Father are pictured as being on
the throne of God.
The one who sits on the throne is described as having the appearance of
Jasper. In the Old Testament, the High Priest would wear a breastplate with
12 stones. Each of the 12 stones represented one of the 12 tribes of
Israel. The priest would bear Israel on his chest as he ministered before
God in the Temple. (Exodus 28:15-20) Jasper was the last stone of the 12,
and took on shades of different color. The Jasper stone referenced here is
clear like crystal.( Rev 21;11) Jasper would represent the tribe of
Benjamin. The crystal clear represent the purity and holiness of God.
Sardius was the first stone on the breastplate and represented the tribe of
Reuben. Sardius was a red stone, like a ruby or carnelian. This would have
represented the redemption of humanity by the blood of Christ. Here we see
the last stone and the first stone of the Jewish Priesthood pictured on the
throne of God.
chapter 1, Christ is also described in terms reminiscent of Israel’s High
Priest. Hebrews (Heb. 9:11,25 10:11,25) describes Christ as our High
Priest, who is at the right hand of God the Father. Here we see Christ in
the very role as High Priest seated on the throne.
The fourth stone on the breastplate was an Emerald, the emerald represented
the fourth son, Judah. John describes a rainbow around the throne with the
appearance of an Emerald. Through Judah, the Messiah came and took away the
sins of humanity. In Noah’s day, God established the rainbow as a symbol of
his agreement to not destroy the earth with a flood. Here the rainbow with
an emerald appearance represents the peace between man and God, the result
of the Jesus the Messiah’s death, who came from the tribe of Judah.
The Twenty Four Elders
4 Around the
throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders
sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads.
John who was
caught up into heaven now begins to describe the surrounding events taking
place in Heaven. He describes something never described in heaven before
this chapter, twenty-four thrones with people seated on them.
describes 24 thrones surrounding the throne of God, the Greek word
means, throne seat, a chair of state having a footstool. There has been
debate about these 24 thrones. Some have argued they represent angelic
authority over God’s creation. While others argue they represent New
Testament saints. To understand these twenty-four thrones, we need to ask
who is sitting on them. What is their background? What do they say?
One of the
arguments put forward is the 24 elders sitting on the throne are angels.
The problem with this argument is in the description of the 24 elders. Five
arguments against the elders being angles are;
Greek word for elder is
means elder, of age. The reason this cannot apply to angels is all angles
are the same age, there is no elder angel.
2. The term
“elder” in the Bible is always used to apply to men, not angels.
3. Elders are
always representing people, in both Israel and the church
4. There are
no visions of elders in both Ezekiel’s vision of the throne (Ezk.1-10) and
Isaiah vision of the throne (Isaiah 6). Christ had not yet paid for the sins
5. These same
elders sing the song of redemption in Revelation 5:9-10, angels were never
addition to the above arguments, the clothing the elders wear, “white
robes”, is the dress of “Overcomers” (Revelation 3;4,5,18; 6:9, 7;9,13,14;
19:14). White robes are promised to the victorious saint.
There are two types of crowns mentioned in the New Testament. One crown is
a rulers crown a
the other is a victors crown known in the Greek as
meaning victors crown or wreath. This crown was given to victors in the
public games. The type of crown the 24 elders have is the “Stepanos” crown.
from the context, the 24 elders are not angels but redeemed saints. The
next question is who are these 24 elder “Saints”? Since they are sitting on
thrones they are in position of authority. Christ promised his saints
positions of authority over his coming kingdom. Jesus in fact promised the
12 apostles they would be sitting on 12 thrones ruling over the 12 tribes of
28 So Jesus
said to them, "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the
Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will
also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
The number 24
matches the 24 orders of priests in Israel (I Chronicles 24:7-19). Since
the apostles are promised positions of authority ruling over Israel (Matthew
19:28). And Old Testament saints, such as David, are also promised
positions of authority in the coming kingdom (Ezekiel 34:24). It is
reasonable to assume the 24 elders are the12 apostles representing the
church and 12 elders from Israel representing Israel, people such as Adam,
Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, David, Isaiah.. etc.
The timing of
this event, follows the rapture and precedes the tribulation period.
elders, the redeemed saints, wear crowns, the event known as the “Judgment
seat of Christ” (I Cor. 3:11-15) might have taken place. This judgment is
not for salvation but for rewards. Similar to an award ceremony in the
Olympics when the winners are given their “Stepanos” crown of victory.
The Seven Spirits
5 And from the
throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were
burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
Israel on the
exodus journey also experienced the lightings and thunder from top of Mt. Sinai
when the presence of the Lord was on the mountain. (Exodus 19:16) The nation
trembled before God and asked Moses to talk to them rather then God.
The thunder and
lightning from the throne also demonstrate the coming judgment about to fall on
the earth in the coming chapters.
describes seven lamps of fire burning before the throne of God. These seven
lamps are different from the seven lampstands which Jesus Christ stood in the
midst in chapter one. These seven lamps of fire represented the seven spirits
of God or the seven-fold ministry of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah 11:2 lists the
sevenfold characteristic of the Holy Spirit.
1. The Spirit of
2. The Spirit of
3. The Spirit of
4. The Spirit of
5. The Spirit of
6. The Spirit of
7. The Spirit of
the fear of the Lord
In the tabernacle
and the Temple the seven lamps of the golden candlestick before the Holy of
Holies was a type of the reality in Heaven. (Hebrews 9;23) The whole
tabernacle and Temple was a microcosm picture of God’s throne and heaven.
The Sea of Glass
6a Before the
throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. Revelation 4:6a
Sea of glass
John also reports on a sea of glass like crystal before the throne of God, those
familiar with the Temple would immediately recognize this as the antitype for
the Bronze Laver before the Tabernacle and Temple. (Exodus 30:17-21, I Kings
The laver was
placed between the altar and the tabernacle and the priests of the Lord were to
wash their hands and feet before they minister in the tabernacle or at the
Christ before His
death, washed the feet of disciples, Peter who at first refused then requested
Jesus wash his hands and head, Jesus replied, those who are bathed only need to
wash their feet. (John 13:9) The water pictured the cleansing of sin, the
repentance of the believer. When we are baptized, the believer is pictured dying
and rising with Christ (Col. 2:12). Paul in Ephesians calls the water the word
which washes us from our sins.
four living creatures
6bAnd in the
midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of
eyes in front and in back.
7 The first living
creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third
living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a
8 The four living
creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they
do not rest day or night, saying: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was
and is and is to come!"
9 Whenever the
living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne,
who lives forever and ever, Revelation 4:6b-9
John now focuses
his attention to four living creatures. The Greek word used here,
means a living being. Ezekiel and Isaiah give similar descriptions of the
living creatures at the throne of God. These four living creatures are the
Cherubs. Two are pictured on the “Arc of the Covenant” covering the “Mercy
seat”. (Exodus 25;17-24) The “Mercy Seat” is a picture of God’s throne, there
the “Glory of the Lord” would appear to the priest ministering before the
Temple. The Arc was a picture of what was taking place in Heaven. (Hebrews
9:23) The living creatures are the reality while the image on the arc was only
a type to represent the reality.
Isaiah who also
witnessed the throne of God describes the Serephim
2 Above it stood
seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he
covered his feet, and with two he flew.
3 And one cried to
another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is
full of His glory!"
Isaiah and John also witnessed the throne of God and reported a description very
similar to John of the “Living creatures” at the throne of God. (Ezekiel 1:4-25)
creatures lead heaven in giving praise to the Lord God and his work. They are
proclaiming the reality of God’s being. They are the choir directors of heaven
leading the saints and angels in praise.
Heavenly worship of Christ
10 the twenty-four
elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives
forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:
11 "You are
worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all
things, And by Your will they exist and were created." Revelation 4:10-11
the “Living creatures” leading praise, the 24 elders representing all of saved
humanity at that point, cast their “Stephanos” or victors crown before the
throne. The saints in heaven acknowledge the one on the throne is worthy of all
The scene in
chapter 4 continues in 5 where the saints the saints along with angels praise
the Lamb, Jesus Christ who died for the sins of humanity.