David continued our series in Revelation today, looking at chapter 4:1-11, in which John receives another vision, getting a glimpse of the reality of heaven.
In this vision ‘John is opening our eyes to the unseen world’ (Tim Chester). We learn that heaven is not a faraway place disconnected from reality, but rather another dimension of reality where God dwells.
1. On the throne
Firstly, in John’s vision he sees a throne. From here until the end of Revelation the throne is mentioned 47 times, imploring us to consider its significance. The throne of heaven is a symbol of hope to us living on earth, because although life may seem chaotic, spiraling out of control, we know that everything is not as it seems, for there is a heavenly throne. John uses imagery that displays beauty, majesty and radiance to describe the One who sits on the throne, and as we see in verse 8, this is ‘the Lord God Almighty’. Therefore, we can have hope amidst the chaos of this world because we know who sits on the throne.
2. In front of the throne
Firstly, the seven lamps refer to the Holy Spirit, indicating that the Holy Spirit is completely present, as seven represents completeness. Then the 24 elders represent the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles: the people of God before and after the first coming of Jesus.
Furthermore, the sea is significant. The sea is often seen as a place of chaos and evil in the Bible, as we see later in chapter 13 when the beast emerges from the sea. However, in this vision, the sea is of ‘glass, clear as crystal’. Before the throne, the sea of chaos is stilled. We learn in Revelation 21 that the sea is gone in the new heaven and new earth. Evil does not have the final word.
3. Round the throne
Four winged creatures, like a lion, ox, man and eagle, representing the whole of creation, surround the throne. Far more important than the creatures’ identity is their activity; they are in continual worship before God. This heavenly reality is true right now. We get to join in this worship, proclaiming,
We were created to worship the One who sits on the throne.
- How aware are you of the heavenly reality that God sits on the throne?
- Pray that we will be a worshipping people.
‘The single, most reliable indication that our vision is clear is that we are a worshipping people. People who worship with their lips and hearts, with their minds and bodies. People who worship with their words and deeds. People who surrender everything to the One who sits on the throne.’ (Darrell Johnson)