Revelation 4

 Someone IS In Charge!

Lorraine Day, M.D.

“No one can read Revelation 4 without getting the message that however confused things appear to us on our sad and troubled planet, there really is ‘Someone upstairs’ who is in charge.

“We got the same message when we read Daniel.  ‘The Most High rules the kingdom of men.’ Daniel 4:25.  ‘There is a God in heaven.’  Daniel 2:28. God Cares, M. Maxwell, p 152

Rev 4:1  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 show you things that must be hereafter.

Those who believe in the Secret Rapture often use this text as support for their doctrine. "Come up hither," means they say, that God is going to take the righteous away secretly. That interpretation is certainly a "stretch" and not believable. On the contrary, God wants to show us what is happening from His point of view. He wants us to understand events in their spiritual context, not just from a physical 'sense-knowledge" human point of view.

God is showing John things to come from His (God’s) point of view.

Verse 2  And immediately, I was in the Spirit (in vision): and, behold a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.

“In the vision of the wild animals and the judgment, Daniel saw a throne on which the Ancient of Days took His seat.  See Daniel 7:9,10.  Now it was John’s turn to see it: ‘Lo, in heaven an open door.’ and inside the open door, ‘lo, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne!’ ” Rev 4:1,2.  Ibid.

Others who have seen God’s throne.

“Besides Daniel and John, God has also let others see His throne.  The Old Testament prophets Isaiah, Micaiah, and Ezekiel saw it; so did Stephen and Paul in the New Testament.  In vision, Isaiah wrote, ‘I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up.’  Alongside the throne Isaiah saw six-winged seraphs singing, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.’ “ See Isaiah 6:1-5  Ibid.

Verse 3  And He who is sitting is, to my vision, like jasper stone and carnelian.  And a rainbow around the throne is, to my vision, like an emerald.

“The emerald rainbow assures us that God will remember His covenant with every living creature (Genesis 9:9,17).  There shall not be another deluge.  These days will be like the days of Noah in many other respects (Matt 24:37; Luke 17:26).”  Concordant Commentary p 387.

Verse 4  And round about the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the twenty-four thrones elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and on their heads golden wreaths (not "crowned").

We have reason to believe that these twenty-four elders are human beings because in the next chapter of Revelation they praise Jesus for “redeeming them by His blood.”

Rev 5:9,10  “And they (the elders) sung a new song, saying, ‘Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and have redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.

Also note that the “redeemed” are out of “every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.  The number “4” (tribe, tongue, people and nation) symbolically means  EVERYONE, such as the “4 corners of the earth.”  That includes the whole earth.

These human beings seen in heaven were probably from the group that was resurrected when Jesus was resurrected.

Matthew 27:50-53  Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, lets out the spirit (breath).  And lo! the curtain of the temple is rent in two from above to the bottom, and the earth quaked, and the rocks are rent, and the tombs were opened.  And many bodies of the reposing saints were roused, and, coming out of the tombs at His rousing, they entered into the holy city and are disclosed to (seen by) many.

In the Scriptures, we never see these people again on earth.  It is reasonable to assume that they were taken to heaven when Jesus ascended.  Although the Bible does not tell us, they may have been some of the faithful, such as John the Baptist, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and others.

They  are wearing the garments of righteousness and the golden wreaths that have been promised to the overcomers in the letters to the Seven Ecclesias in Revelation, Chapters 2 and 3.

“These ‘elders’ are mentioned twelve times in Revelation (4:4,10; 5:8,11,14; 7:11-13; 11:16; 14:3; 19:4) and are apparently the fulfillment of Isaiah’s apocalyptic forecast that Yahweh would manifest His glorious reign “before His elders” (Isa 24:23 NASB).  The number 24 has often been understood as the addition of 12 and 12, suggesting twelve representatives each of Israel and the Church, but it would be arbitrary to split the group of elders into two units. 

“The twenty-four elders do not function as judges, but as royal priests that worship God with songs of praise, lay their crowns (wreaths) before the throne (Rev 4:10), hold harps in their hands and present the prayers of God’s people to God in their golden incense bowls (Rev 5:8).  In ancient Israel, twenty-four priestly orders from the tribe of Levi were set aside to minister the order of worship, and also twenty-four orders for the ministry of prophesying, with the accompaniment of lyres, harps, and cymbals (1 Chron. 24:4; 25:1, 6, 9-31). 

“In Revelation the ‘elders’ are distinguished from the angels of God (5:11; 7:11) and constitute a new and unparalleled group before the throne of God.  They form a major feature of the vision of Rev 4.  They may be seen as glorified men who have been victorious over sin and temptation.  All died as victors.  They have three characteristics that fulfill the promises of Christ to the faithful ones in Rev. 2-3:  the thrones, white garments, and crowns (wreaths) of victory (see Rev 3:5, 11,21).

“Coming as it does (Rev 4) right after these promises (of Rev 3), the vision of the twenty-four elders seems to be assurance of the heavenly reality of the promises.”  End-Times Prophecies of the Bible, Hans LaRondelle, p 110

“These figures are given a status and honor denied to the highests angels, even to the living creatures; but their status and honor correspond perfectly to the promises made just a bit earlier in Revelation to the elect.”  Hurtado, Journal for the Study of the New Testament 15 (1985): 105-124

Verse 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.

This is reminiscent of God’s appearance on Mt. Sinai to give the Ten Commandments - which are a transcript of the character of God.

Exodus 19:16,18  And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that were in the camp trembled in awe.

God’s “Spirit” is represented by fire.  We know that God will use His “fiery law” (Deut 32:3) to burn the sin out of our lives.

Verse 6  And before the throne it is as a glassy sea, like crystal.  And in the center of the throne and around the throne are four animals (living creatures) replete with eyes in front and behind.

John saw “four living creatures” unlike any beings he had seen before.  Obviously, with “eyes in front and behind,” they can see Everything!

Verse 7  And the first animal is like a lion (representing wild animals), and the second animal is like a calf (representing domesticated animals), and the third animal has a face like as a human being (representing man), and the fourth animal is like a flying vulture (representing birds).

These four living creatures represent all of creation - at least all of creation that was destroyed by the flood.  (The fish and sea creatures were obviously not destroyed by the flood.  They just had more water to swim and live in.)

Verse 8  And the four animals, each one of them having six wings apiece, around and inside are replete with eyes.  And they have no rest day and night, saying,

Holy! holy! holy
Lord God Almighty (All-Sufficient)!
Who was and Who is and Who is coming!

“This sequence of past, present, and future is intentionally formulated in distinction from the descriptions in 1:4 and 8, in order to proclaim God’s rulership in history, from beginning to the final judgment (see Rev. 21:5).  This characterization of God guarantees the promised destiny of humanity.  The Creator will not abandon the works of His hands (Ps 138:8).  HIS “coming” determines the world’s future.  He is never just a spectator of human affairs, but actively involved in shaping them.”  Ibid., p 111.

John had read about these beings before, in the writings of Isaiah and Ezekiel.  They were the same beings Isaiah had reported seeing near the throne, who sang, “Holy, holy, holy.”  Isaiah called them seraphs (or the plural, seraphim).  He remembered each of them as having six wings.  See Isaiah 6.

Ezekiel saw them too in his visions of the throne.  In Ezekiel l he called them living creatures, but in Ezekiel 10 he called them cherubs (or cherubim).  To Ezekiel each one seemed to have four wings and four heads, the heads of a man, a lion, an ox and an eagle.  See Ezekiel 1:6,10. 

Unlike Ezekiel, John thought that each had only one face; but the four faces he saw represented the same four categories of creation that Ezekiel saw.

The Wings

“When we first see the cherubim, guarding the way to the tree of life (for this tree was a source of the life they represented) NO wings are mentioned (Gen 3:24).  When they form part of the mercy seat, they seem to have had TWO wings (Ex 25:20).  When Ezekiel sees them they have four wings (Eze 1:6).  Here they have SIX wings each.”  Concordant Commentary p 388

“Wings” can represent Speed in Revelation, but they can also represent God’s “Care” for us - He gathers us under His wings.

“Ezekiel tells us they looked like living coals of fire.  Here they are full of eyes.  Ezekiel calls them by the same name they are given here when he says; ‘It is the animal which I saw under the God of Israel at the brook Chebar; and I know that they are cherubim’ (Eze 10:20).  According to these passages they do not seem to be confined to a set physical manifestation, but conform to their spiritual activity and environment.  Isaiah calls them Seraphim or Burning Ones in connection with the title Adonai.” Ibid.

Verses 9-11  And whenever the animals should be giving glory and honor and thanks to Him Who is sitting on the throne, Who is living for the eons of the eons (Amen!), the twenty-four elders, also, will be falling before Him Who is sitting on the throne and will be worshiping Him Who is living for the eons of the eons (Amen!).  And they are casting their wreaths before the throne, saying,

Worthy are Thou, O Lord, our Lord and God
To get glory and honor and power;
For thou dost create ALL,
And because of THY WILL they WERE, and ARE created.

This certainly looks like the 24 elders are saying the following:

“And because of THY WILL they (ALL) WERE (originally) created, and ARE (Re)created (Redeemed).


© Lorraine Day, M.D. 2006. All Rights Reserved.
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