Grab your Bible, and let’s go deeper into Revelation 4.
The Holy Spirit is giving John a view of the throne room of God. Let’s be honest for a moment and realize that sometimes we can think our world is out of control. There are people killing each other, people manipulating and cheating others to make themselves feel pleasure, governments or political terrorists raping the communities they rule with no regard for life, Godless ideas being embraced and taught to our children, and so much more.
But the world is not out of control nor will it ever be because of who sits on the thrown of the universe. The God of creation is at the helm and will carry out His plans. One of the reasons I believe we are given this view of God’s throne room is to give us a sense of peace. In the chapters that follow Revelation 4, we are let in on the horrific times that are to come, but we need not fear because of Him who sits on the throne! He is God! He is our God!
Let me ask you this: When you go to prayer, how often do you stop, not speak, and just ponder to whom you are about to speak? Do you approach His throne with total reverence? Is there a holy wonder, respect, and awe in your heart as you go to God? My prayer is that after this study, you will see and savor God with a greater reverence than you did before. May it be so.
Revelation 4:3 And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald.
Now, you have to picture the fullness of this in order to capture the power and beauty of God’s surroundings. The brilliant gemstones it speaks of are:
Jasper: not the opaque jasper stones we know today, but a clear jasper that would be similar to our diamonds today.
Carnelian: also known as rubies.
A little fact about these two stones: They were the first and last of the 12 stones worn on the breastplate of the high priest in biblical times. They create a radiant, rainbow-esque beauty when combined with the emeralds that encircled His throne. Wow!
Revelation 4:4-6 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.
Imagine what it must have been like for John to stand in the presence of the Almighty who “from his throne came flashes of lightning and the rumble of thunder” all radiating amongst a sea of shining glass!
Who are these 24 elders? It is not totally clear to us, but some study brings us to consider that they may represent the 12 tribes of Israel in the Old Testament and the 12 apostles of the New Testament. Or maybe the number 24 is a representation of the fact that the law of Moses has 24 orders to the priesthood. Most importantly, the 24 elders represent those redeemed by God both before and after Christ. Notice the gold crowns on their heads, which symbolize that they had been judged and then rewarded for eternity.
Now, before we look at what is next, remember that we serve a God that is capable of much more than you and I have ever dreamed or witnessed.
Revelation 4:6-8 … And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within.
I am taken aback by the choice of God to install four beings around Him in this form! If I am honest, it’s weird to me, but with a closer look it begins to make sense! Think for a moment with me about what each of these beings represent:
The lion: the most powerful of the wild animals (this represents power)
The ox: the most powerful of the domestic animals (this represents faithfulness)
The human: called to rule over all the land and animals (this represents intelligence)
The eagle: the most powerful of the flying animals (this represents sovereignty)
These beings are the “authority of their species,” and God installs them in His presence to do a mighty and holy work. They are always watching! They have eyes everywhere. Why? We don’t know, but it is pretty awesome. To me it is just another part of the wonder and awe of God and His workings.
This is just a taste of what the Scriptures mean when they say, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him" (1 Corinthians 2:9). My prayer is that this interaction with God’s word this morning draws you to a place of reverence and honor—for He is worthy!
What would you do if one of those beings appeared where you are right now? How would you react to seeing a being so powerful and so far beyond anything you have ever seen? In reading about these creatures that are so different than what we have experienced, we must ask, what is their purpose? Well, beyond watching, if we read on, we discover their purpose.
Revelation 4:8-11 And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty- four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever.
They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
“… by your will they existed and were created …” This includes you and me! It is for His pleasure that we exist and were created! Day and night, they worship and give reverence and glory to God who is so much greater than they are.
In chapter 5, it says there are 100 million angels praising God. Imagine the glory and magnificence in that. Wow! Total reverence! Think about one throne with the being of God (lightning, thunder, the rainbow, beautiful stones). The four living creatures bowing before Him. The 24 elders on their faces and worshiping Him. One hundred million angels submitting in song only to God. Every living creature worshiping Him.
When we pray, it is this God to whom we are speaking. When we meet together to sing praises, this is who we honor and worship! Beloved, we were created to glorify Him. We are commanded to worship Him. As John looks at this most amazing wonder, what position is everyone in as they worship? They are on their faces! This is what a life of reverence looks like—a constant state of being prostrate before God. Prostrate means to put or throw flat with the face down, as in submission or adoration. The Lord of all should bring us to our faces!
Now, we need to regularly find ourselves in this place of worship. Do it now. Get down on your face and just be still before your holy God. Know that He knows you and sees you and hears you. Know that your heart before Him is seen. Worship Him. Honor Him in your silence, in your prayers, and in your singing. Pour out your heart to Him in adoration and thanksgiving.
Do you look to Him and talk to Him with total reverence? Is your reverent worship of Him a daily thing? This huge God wants to have a moment by moment relationship with you—His created, His child. He even calls you His friend!
Too often when we pray or worship God, we are not even thinking about who God is, and yet the very words we speak are for Him. Our mouths are moving, but our hearts are not engaged!
This is the God of the universe to whom we are speaking and singing: the One who is and determines all! The One who determines and decides if I will even take my next breath or if you will even live through the rest of this very day.
Today, I hope and pray that you can see God in a new and powerful way!
May we, day and night, never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” May we cast down our crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”