A Glimpse of the Throne Room
Have you ever wished you could get a glimpse of God, or a picture of what it is like in the glories of Heaven, or what it will be like to worship God in eternity? Because we cannot physically see God, visit Heaven, or even comprehend the myriads of angelic hosts, we often feel in adequate in our worship. For you and me, life is clearly based on what we can see, what we can touch, or even experience, so we often feel inadequate in relating to God the way we think we should be able to.
Through the vision God gave to the Apostle John, we have been given not just a look at the closing years of the “Last Days,” what we call the Tribulation, but we have also been given a glimpse of the heavenly eternal city and even more importantly a brief glance into the very throne room of God.
Over the next few weeks, I want us to look at Revelation chapters 1, 4, and 5. In these three chapters, God has given us a privileged glimpse into the throne room and a vivid description of God as the King who sits upon the throne. This is a glimpse that I believe captures the awesomeness of worship. Chapter one gives us some unique insight into the presence and character of God and His Son Jesus Christ. That is where we will begin today. So even though chapter 1 does not describe the throne room itself, it gives us a majestic description of the most important figures in the throne room. Though we are focusing on verses 4-8, we will begin reading in verse 1.
1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,
2 who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.
3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne,
5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood
6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."
The Triune God Greets You (vv. 4-5a, 8)
Think about this for a moment. John the Apostle, one of Jesus’ 12 disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, who spent 3 years learning from Jesus, and now as a 60 or 70-year-old man has been exiled to an island called Patmos. Why was he sent there? It was because of His testimony of Jesus Christ (v. 9). John even refers to himself as a person who has given testimony about Jesus to everyone meets (v. 2). John tells us that Jesus has shown him, by an angelic messenger, some things that will take place in the future.
So, John begins in verse 4 with a greeting to the churches in Asia. The churches in Asia were under some pretty intense persecutions during this time. It is evident the purpose of this book is to encourage the church to endure the persecutions and challenge them to live godly because ultimately, they are victorious in Christ. You know as well as I do that there is a powerful confidence in Christian living when we know who wins in the end.
This greeting in verses 4 and 5 does not come from John. This greeting comes from God Himself conveyed through the words of John. So, this is personal. The God of heaven gives a personal greeting of grace and peace. Though it was a common greeting, the greeting indicates that God welcomes everyone into this personal understanding of who He is. Peace is a common greeting between Jewish people, but grace, or favor, was a common greeting to others. God extends His unmerited favor, by making a way for peace with Him. So, this is an all-inclusive greeting to anyone who wants to hear what God has to say. In other words, you are welcome to hear what God has revealed to John because God extends unmerited favor and opportunity for peace. Did you notice the three persons of the trinity described to us? First, we see:
~ God the Father (vv. 4b, 8)
This greeting comes from “him who is and who was and who is to come” (v. 4). Notice that this terminology is repeated in verse 8. This is a powerful description of God in terms of time that we can relate to. “Him who is” pictures a God who is right now in this present moment in existence everywhere present. When God told Moses to go to the Israelites in Egypt and tell them that the God of their Fathers sent him, Moses asked God, “if they ask for your name what shall I tell them?” And in Exodus 3:14, God tells Moses to tell the people that “I Am” has sent you. In other words, God is the self-existent One, the ever present One. Here in Revelation, John tells us that “Him who is” greets you with grace and peace.
“Him who was” tells us that God is eternal in the past. Not only does He exist today, but He has always existed in the past. God was already eternal in His existence before the creation of our world. God has always existed. And not only that, but God will be eternally existent in the future as the One “who is to come.” Eternally past, present, and future, this God who is “I am,” the self-existent One, greets you with grace and peace.
In fact, He says in verse 8 that He is “the Alpha and the Omega.” These are the first and last letters in the Hebrew alphabet. He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end. In other words, in relation to time as we know it, God begins it and He ends it. In relation to knowledge and learning, indicated by the alphabet, God is all knowing. He knows everything from the beginning to the end.
Then He finishes verse 8 with one more term describing God the Father as “the Almighty.” This is a term telling us that He is all powerful and there is nothing that can hinder Him in accomplishing His will. This is who God the Father is! This is who greets us with grace and peace.
“Alpha and the Omega" – Omniscient, all knowledge
“Who is and who was and who is to come” – Self existent eternally.
“The Almighty” – Omnipotent – all powerful
This personal greeting of grace and peace comes from God the Father. But John goes on to tell us that this greeting comes from:
~ God the Holy Spirit (v. 4c)
And from the seven spirits who are before his throne.
What is meant by the seven Spirits before God’s throne? Turn with me to Revelation 4:5. We will look at this picture in the throne room of God in a few weeks, but for now I just want to show you what John is referring to as He talks about the seven Spirits before the throne. Try to ignore the other things taking place in the throne room for now and focus on the seven Spirits at the end of the verse.
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.
There are seven torches of fire that are in front of God’s throne which represent the seven Spirits of God. These are not gentle flames but fierce blazing torches before God’s throne. These represent the fullness of the Holy Spirit of God. In other words, we are talking about 7 characteristics of the Holy Spirit not seven different spirits. Isaiah 11:2 describes them to us. In Isaiah we are told that the Messiah will be richly endowed by the fullness of God’s Spirit. Notice how the Spirit is described to us.
And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
Thus, we are not talking about seven differing Spirits of God, but seven aspects of the fullness of God’s Spirit.
~ Spirit of Jehovah – deity, a part of the Godhead
~ Spirit of Wisdom – experiential perception, skill
~ Spirit of Understanding – insight, discernment
~ Spirit of counsel – advice, guidance, information
~ Spirit of might – power, strength
~ Spirit of knowledge – general comprehension
~ Spirit of the fear of the Lord – reverence, awe
Seven aspects of the ministry of the Holy Spirit of God. Now going back to Revelation 1:4, John is telling us that God the Father and God the Holy Spirit send a greeting of grace and peace. But it doesn’t end there, does it? Verse 5 includes God the Son in this greeting.
~ God the Son (5a)
And from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
John sends us a personal greeting of grace and peace from God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and God the Son. Jesus Christ is described as the “faithful witness” telling us that He was the true portrayal of the nature of God. He was faithful in His life as a testimony to God. Jesus Christ was the “firstborn from the dead.” Jesus’ resurrection is what makes it possible for all who believe to experience resurrection to eternal life in Him. Jesus is also the “the ruler of kings on earth,” indicating His sovereignty in the affairs of this world.
Jesus Christ, the One who accurately represents God, and rose in victory over death, and is sovereign in all the world . . . He greets you with grace and peace. Do you see the grandeur and majesty in this opening greeting? From the triunity of the Godhead, John sends God’s personal greeting to you and me. The Triune God of the universe greets you with grace and peace.
As we begin to get a glimpse into the throne room of God, it is vital that we understand the character of the One who occupies the throne. The One who occupies the throne greets us with grace and peace. Let me read this passage one more time and let it sink in. The Creator of the universe sends His greeting.
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
The Triune God greets you! As we continue in verses 5-7, we find the person of Jesus Christ being further described as our Savior.
Jesus Christ Has Freed Us (vv. 5b-6)
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
As John was giving this personal greeting from the triune God - God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit - suddenly he bursts forth in praise for Jesus Christ, the second person of the trinity. John, as an Apostle, loved Jesus and understood well what He did when Jesus submitted Himself to death on the cross of Calvary. Jesus should be given glory and dominion, John says, because as the perfect Son of God, He died for our sin. Through His death, we were made free.
This is the heart of the gospel. Jesus loves us and by His death, He took the punishment for our sin. God made Jesus our substitute. He took the wrath and the punishment for our sin. God’s justice was satisfied, and Jesus’ righteousness was applied to all who believe. Repentant sinners are freed from the curse of sin by the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice.
Not only that, but John says we are made a kingdom. In other words, we form the kingdom of God here on earth. We are a part of His kingdom and not only that, but we are His priests, representatives of this kingdom of God. We are citizens of Heaven in an outpost colony here on earth. We represent the King of the universe before the eyes of this world.
We are freed from our sin. We are made a kingdom. We are His priests. How? Because Jesus has freed us from our sin by His shed blood as the perfect sacrifice. His blood has great power in transforming our lives. Amen!
1 Peter 2:9-10
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Jesus has freed us, He has made us a kingdom, and as such, we are His priestly representatives. Then John says that this Jesus will come again in verse 7.
Jesus Christ Will Come Again (v. 7)
Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
I find it interesting that God’s presence is often visually indicated by clouds. On Mt. Sinai a thick cloud indicated God’s presence. In the tabernacle and Temple God’s presence was indicated by a cloud. When Jesus ascended into Heaven, He went up in a cloud. When Jesus meets the church at the rapture, we will meet him in the clouds. When Jesus comes at His second coming, as indicated in verse 7, it will be with the clouds. Yet somehow, every eye will see His return.
Those who have rejected Jesus, whether it be those of His chosen nation Israel or unbelievers of all nations will mourn their doom of not receiving Him as their Savior. John ends by saying, “Even so,” or so it will be. Amen! A sobering affirmation of condemnation.
John gives us two statements of affirmation with the word “Amen.” Truly this is so. It is a statement of agreement that what is spoken is true. The first statement of affirmation is that Jesus has freed us from our sin. The second statement of affirmation is that unbelievers will wail or mourn on account of their rejection of Him.
There are only two options. Believe on Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and you will become free from the penalty of sin, or reject Him and mourn your eternal destiny separated from God in a place of eternal death. Jesus’ blood can free us from our sin if we simply give our lives to Him. There is great power in the shed blood of Jesus.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight.
As John shows us the Triune God who sits on the throne, we see a God who loves us, greets us with grace and peace, and sent the Son to shed His blood in death to free us from our sin. Do you know Him through faith? Have you put your faith and trust in the blood of Jesus Christ?