A Glimpse of the Throne Room
The Seated One
So far in this series of messages on Revelation chapters 1, 4, and 5, we have seen some powerful images of our Triune God and more specifically, Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, God’s Son. In the first part of chapter, 1 we found a powerful and personal greeting of “grace and peace” from the Triune God of the Universe.
It is a personal greeting from:
God the Father (vv. 4, 8) –
“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
God the Holy Spirit (v. 4) –
“The seven spirits who are before his throne.” - Spirit of Jehovah, Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Might, Knowledge, and Fear of the Lord.
God the Son (v. 5) –
“Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.” – The One who accurately portrays God, who is the first of many resurrections, and who is sovereign ruler.
It is a greeting for everyone who will hear what the Triune God of the universe has to say. Then in the second half of chapter 1 we find Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, being displayed as the One who stands in the midst of the golden lampstands (vv. 12-13, 20). The lampstands represent the church and we see the power of Jesus Christ put on display in His church. His presence brings great power to the church. His refining power continues to shape and purify His church (vv. 14-15). Ultimately, we found that Jesus Christ, the Son of Man has ultimate sovereign power in the church (v. 16).
Why is this true? Because Jesus is the “Living One” (v. 18). He died for the sins of the human race, but He rose from the grave and is now alive forever more. He holds the keys to Death and Hades. Do you know the Living One, the One who holds the keys to eternal life and death? Chapter one of Revelation has given us a glimpse of the magnificence of the God we love and serve and His Son who has brought us salvation. Now as we move to chapter 4, John is given a glimpse into the very throne room of Heaven itself. Let’s begin by reading verses 1 through the first part of verse 6 in Revelation 4.
1 After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this."
2 At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.
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.
4 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.
5 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,
6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.
Transported to the Throne Room (vv. 1-2a)
John has just given God’s message to the seven churches of Asia. Each church in chapters 2 and 3 had differing struggles and strengths. Just like the church today, each church has its strengths and its struggles. If you were to read these two chapters, you could probably find a close description to the Longville Bible Chapel among one of the seven churches of Asia. But John says “After this” indicating after God revealed His message to the churches, John is given an invitation.
John describes what He sees as a “door standing open in heaven.” In other words, John has been granted open access into the very throne room of God. Then John hears the voice he first heard in Revelation 1:10, the voice that sounds like a trumpet. The sound may have sounded like a trumpet in some aspect, but the voice is certainly loud and commanding attention like that of a trumpet. John said the voice said to him, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." Not only has John seen open access, but he has received an invitation from God Himself. Remember, the sound of the trumpet is the sound of the presence of God (Moses on Sinai in Exodus, rapture of the church in Thessalonians).
The purpose for this visit is simple. God wants to reveal to John the things that “must take place after this." I am not sure I can even imagine what this must have been like for John. Was he scared, excited, trembling, or enthusiastic? Remember, John spent 3 years under the teaching and instruction of Jesus, and he considered himself the “one whom Jesus loved.” John watched as Jesus was crucified on the cross in a horrific death. John saw the empty tomb, he saw Jesus in His resurrected form, and he watched as Jesus ascended into Heaven. John has been a faithful witness about his relationship with Jesus Christ, so much so that he had been banished to this small island for preaching the Gospel, the island of Patmos. Now John is invited into the very presence of God into the throne room. Wow!
John says in verse 2 that “at once I was in the Spirit.” Like what we saw in Revelation 1:10, John was taken out of the normal space and time dimension of our lives and transported spiritually into the glories of the throne room. This is not a mystical dream that John had. This is a vision of reality. In other words, what John is about to describe to us is real. Though we may struggle at some of the things he sees, he is describing as best he can in human terms what he is seeing. This is a real place that exists outside our realm of time and space and worship takes place there even as we speak. What is the first thing John sees as he is transported through the open door into heaven?
God Seated on His Throne (vv. 2b-3a)
Behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian.
The first thing that captures John attention is the throne. 14 times in this short chapter, the word throne is used in reference to God’s throne and then two more times it is used to refer to the thrones of the 24 elders. Everything that takes place here centers around the throne of God. It is the central focus of all that takes place in the throne room.
Today we read plenty of books about people who have been to Heaven. In their descriptions they emphasize family, friends, bright lights, peace, tranquility, etc., but when John enters the door of Heaven, he is taken directly into the presence of God in the throne room. John says that the throne he saw “stood in Heaven.” the word “stood” actually would be better translated as something fixed in place or laid in position. But the idea is that it is fixed and unmovable indicating that the throne will never change hands, it is unchangeable, and so is the sovereign rule of the One who sits there.
** Illustrate changing earthly kings and kingdoms
John then describes the One who sits on the throne. The One on the throne is seated, He is in the position of rule and reign. It is from this position that commands are made, justice is determined, and judgment is executed. The orders for all that John will see in Revelation chapter 6 to the end of the book will come from this One seated upon the throne. Though John does not name Him here, we know from 1:4 that God, the eternal existent One, is on the throne.
John describes the splendor and brilliance that emanates from the One seated on the throne. God has the appearance of Jasper, but unlike what we know as jasper today, John was describing something clear like a diamond. Revelation 21:11 describes jasper as “crystal clear.” Probably something like diamond. Carnelian, sometimes called Sardis, is known for its fiery red color. So, the Jasper, like a diamond reflects the light into an array of rainbow colors and the Carnelian emanates a fiery red color. The picture we have of the One seated on the throne is splendor, magnificence, power, and judgment. John doesn’t say this, but I imagine it was difficult to look directly at the One seated on the throne. As his eyes move away from the One seated on the throne, John begins to describe what he sees surrounding the throne.
Surrounding the Throne (vv. 3b-4)
And around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. 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
All of these colors of light, bright and beautiful refracted like a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. This probably indicates that green was the dominate color being seen. This rainbow that surrounded the throne may have been the result of the crystal-clear Jasper refracting the light like a diamond. Don’t you love the implications of this? The rainbow has always indicated the faithfulness of our covenant keeping God. God is faithful to his promises and you can count on what He says. Unlike today’s use of the rainbow that attempts to make different lifestyles of sin acceptable, God’s rainbow reminds us of His faithfulness to keep what He has promised
John sees 24 thrones that surround the throne of God. On the 24 thrones are seated 24 elders. These 24 elders are human beings in glorified existence. These are not angelic beings because they are called “elders” and they are on thrones. These elders are co-reigning with Christ. Angels are never described as co-ruling on thrones and are never called “elders.” They are 24 representatives of the church that are part of co-ruling with Christ. There are several passages that talk about this, but remember what Jesus told His disciples during a dispute about who is the greatest? In reference to the Millennial Kingdom, Jesus says His disciples will rule with Him on thrones.
"You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
The 24 elders that John sees on these thrones are clothed in white garments. Jesus is described in a white robe in chapter 1 indicating His righteousness. When believers are described as being clothed in white garments, it always symbolizes Christ’s righteousness imputed to believers at salvation. In Revelation 3:5, the believers in Sardis were described as clothed in white garments. In other words, they have the righteousness of Christ.
Further, John sees golden crowns on the heads of these elders surrounding the throne. These golden crowns are the στέφανος, Stephanos crown, the victors crown. In athletic events it is the crown of the one who wins the race. James tells us that the Stephanos crown is given to those who endure because of their love for Christ.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
These 24 elders are representatives of the church, and they rule and reign with Christ, and they wear the righteousness of Christ, and they wear upon their heads the victor’s crown because of their love for Christ. Then something coming from the throne catches John’s attention.
Coming from the Throne (v. 5a)
From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder.
Since the throne is the place of God’s presence, out from the very presence of God comes the precursor of the judgment to come. Why do I say that? These sights and sounds that John describes to us as coming from the throne are all things that illustrate the power of God in judgment. If you read the book of Revelation, you will find that over and over God’s judgments are accompanied with these same sights and sounds.
For instance, at the seventh seal judgment in Revelation 8:5 it says:
Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.
Or how about the seventh Bowl Judgment in Revelation 16:18?
And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake.
Our glimpse of the throne room cannot be complete without the understanding of the judgment of God for sin. There will come a day when the things described in chapters 6-20 of Revelation will be poured out on the earth as God’s righteous wrath comes upon this sinful world. These sights and sounds that John was experiencing coming from the presence of God represent the judgment of God to come. Finally, in verse 5 and 6, John sees something before the throne, or in front of it.
Before the Throne (vv. 5b-6a)
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.
John sees seven torches of fire which he tells us are the seven Spirits of God. We talked about this in our first message in this series in Revelation 1. If you remember, the greeting of grace and peace comes from the Triune God of Heaven. In Revelation 1:4, John told us that this greeting of grace and peace comes from each part of the Godhead, including the seven Spirits before His throne.
From Isaiah 11:2, we found that the seven Spirits of God are actually seven aspects of ministry that the Holy Spirit has. 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
John tells us that these seven torches that represent the seven Spirits of God. The seven burning torches of fire were not there to provide light, there was already plenty of that with God’s presence. The torches were not gently burning candles either, but fiercely burning flames of consuming fire. This is the picture of the consuming power of the Holy Spirit in all seven aspects of His fullness. Remember the appearance of the Holy Spirit’s coming in Acts 2? It appeared as tongues of fire upon the believers. We have this consuming power available to us today.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
The power of the Holy Spirit is represented by the seven torches before the throne of God. John also describes to us a “sea of glass, like crystal.” This is not water, but the extent of the floor before the throne went on forever, like looking out over the sea. It looked like glass to John that sparkled and shined like a crystal. This is the vast floor that went out from in front of the throne. Surely it was a beautiful scene to look at.
In this glimpse of the throne room of God in Heaven, we see God seated upon His throne. He is fixed eternally as the King and Ruler of His creation. From Him emanates splendor, magnificence, power, and judgment. Believers will one day co-rule with Jesus Christ as they will be clothed in His righteousness and wearing the victor’s crown that is won through a life given to Him.
For those who do not believe, for those who do not accept the free gift of righteousness, there will be judgment for their sin. They will face God’s judgment of eternal separation in the place of eternal death.
But if we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, give our hearts and lives to Him, we will be filled with the fullness of God’s Spirit. We can have the fullness of His power to live for Him.
As we have been given a glimpse of the throne room with its vast floor that extends into eternity, my question to you this morning is simply this, “Have you put your faith, your life, your all into the hands of the One Seated on the Throne? Do you believe and accept what Jesus Christ has done for you on the cross, paying the penalty for your sin? Are you clothed in His righteousness?