Sun, Mar 19, 2000

The Throne of God: Revelation 4:1-6a

Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.

THE THRONE OF GOD

REVELATION 4:1-6a

A visiting minister was substituting for the famed pastor Henry Ward Beecher. A large audience had assembled to hear the popular pastor. At the appointed hour, the visiting minister entered the pulpit. Learning that Beecher was not to preach, several began to move toward the doors. The visiting minister stood and called out, "All who have come here today to worship Henry Ward Beecher may withdraw from the church! All who have come to worship God, keep your seats!" No one then left.

- Selected

As the church age comes to an end, after the bride has been caught up to be with the Lord, we will be gathered around the throne of God. We saw this illustrated for us by John, hearing the sound like a trumpet calling him and immediately he is before the throne of God. And as we saw last week, it spoke of the rapture of the church. This morning we are going to see that heaven is a place of worship, as the focus is the throne of God. So lets read through part of this chapter, and we will then finish up this chapter over the next couple of weeks. Lets begin reading in Revelation chapter 4, beginning in verse 1 and lets see what the Lord has for us this morning. (Read Revelation 4:1-6a).

Now why is this important for us to understand? Because we are not only going to see the throne of God, but the one who created the heavens and the earth will be seated upon this throne. It will be like planning a trip, doing the research of what you are going to see, so when you get there you can enjoy the majesty of it all. That is what we are going to be doing this morning as we get a glimpse of the throne of God and of Him who sits upon the throne.

REVELATION 4

VERSES 1-3

First of all, who is this that is seated upon the throne? I believe it is speaking of God the Father. And the reason I say that the eternal Father is seated upon the throne is because here in chapter 4 and into chapter 5 we will see the Father and the Holy Spirit setting the stage for the revelation of Jesus Christ. And as we move into Revelation chapter 5 we will see Jesus portrayed as the Lamb who has been slain come and take the scroll out of the Father’s hand . Remember that this book is the Revelation of Jesus Christ. And we will see Jesus in all of His glory sitting on the throne of David, ruling and reigning on this earth in the kingdom age.

Remember what we are told in Psalm 2, "Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; you shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel." Psalm 2:6-9.

Also, in Revelation notice the difference between the one who sits on the throne, God the Father, and the Lamb, Jesus Christ. In Revelation 6:15-16 "And the kings of the earth, thegreat men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!" And in Revelation 7:10 we read, "...‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!"

Now this is not a critical issue, but it is interesting to me, God the Father’s throne is in heaven, (Mark 16:19, Hebrews 1:3). And Jesus is going to come back to set up His throne on the earth and sit upon the throne of David. We read of this in Luke 1:31-33, "And behold, you willconceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will begreat, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throneof His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." (Also see Matthew 25:31).

And now we see the glory of God the Father who is sitting upon His throne. In fact, in Psalm 104:1-2 we read "Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, You are very great: you are clothed with honor and majesty, Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment, who stretch out the heavens like a curtain." This represents the glory of the invisible God for light is used figuratively as it speaks of the holiness and purity of God.

And here in Revelation we see the light which is emanating from the Father is like a Jasper and Sardis stone. These two stones were the last and first stones on the breastplate of the high priest. (Exodus 28:17-21). The Jasper stone was crystal clear and represented the tribe of Benjamin, Jacobs youngest son. The Sardis stone was ruby red and represented the tribe of Ruben, Jacob’s eldest son.

Benjamin means "son of my right hand" and Ruben means "Behold a son." Thus, what we see emanating from the Father is this, "Behold, the son of my right hand!" Think of it this way. The nation of Israel represented God before the people and from these people, the Jews, God would send His Son, the Son of His right hand to redeem the people of this world and set them free from their sins.

Also around the throne of God was an emerald or green rainbow. The word "around" is the Greek word IRIS and it literally means "halo." Thus, this emerald rainbow made a complete circle around the throne of God. Now you may be thinking, "Okay, I see what the other two stones represent, but what in the world does this emerald rainbow represent?"

To understand what this is all about you don’t need to go to the commentaries. You don’t need to read the words of men. But what you need to do is let the Scriptures speak for themselves. You see, the first time we read of a word or phrase it lays down for us what the definition of the word or phrase is. It is called the Law of First Mention. And again, this basically is telling us that each time a word, phrase, or incident is used in the Bible, that is the key to its meaning elsewhere in the Scriptures. Keep that in mind as you are studying the Word of God.

Now where do you think the idea of a rainbow is first mentioned in the Bible? The first place we see it is in Genesis chapter 9. It is right after God destroyed the world by a flood because of the wickedness of man, that the thoughts of man were continually evil and they refused to repent and get right with God. And yet there was a man named Noah, who was perfect before God, his heart was right before God. Thus, God spared him and his family, 8 people in all, through this judgment.

Lets pick up this story in Genesis chapter 9, beginning in verse 8. "Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying: ‘And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth. Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.And God said: ‘This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, andevery living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in thecloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be,when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I willremember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’ And God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth." Genesis 9:8-17.

What did God do after He poured out His wrath upon this sinful world, destroying them by a flood? He put a sign in the sky, a rainbow, for Noah and all of his descendants to see. And this sign was to be a comfort to all of mankind that God would not destroy the earth by a flood again. You have to remember that the first time rain came upon the earth, it was a devastating rain of judgment, destroying all but Noah and his family. Prior to that the earth was watered by a mist that came upon the land at night.

But could you imagine Noah and his descendants, that every time they saw a rain cloud, how nervous they might be! But God is giving them a sign to comfort them, the rainbow, and He is telling them that no matter how intense the storm clouds may look, He will not destroy the world by a flood. And God is faithful, we can trust in Him. The next time God will judge this world will be by fire!

Another interesting thing about this is that the emerald stone was also located on the breastplate of the high priest. And this stone represented the tribe of Judah, whose name means "praise." Think about it this way. When you see this emerald rainbow encircled around the throne of God, it tells us of His eternal covenant with us. What do I mean by that?

Jesus is the lion of the tribe of who? Of Judah! And so our Savior, Jesus Christ, came from the tribe of Judah, and that should cause us to praise Him! You see, when we look to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God’s judgment passes us by and God’s mercy is shown upon us. We don’t get what we deserve, death!

But if we refuse to turn to Him, if we refuse to make Him Lord and Savior of our life, if we refuse to look upon the Lamb of God that came to take away not only our sins but the sins of the world, then you will see God’s judgment come upon you. You see, God’s eternal covenant with us is unchanging, for He is faithful and true to His Word. It is up to us to either receive it or reject it. God has done His part, now it is up to you!

So when you come before the throne of God, and see God the Father sitting upon the throne, we see His love for us, as we see Jesus emanating from His throne. It is as John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

In Christ we have access to the throne of God. We read of this in Hebrews 4:14-16, which says"Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." God’s door is always open to us, He is never too busy, He is never too tired, He is never not concerned about us. But if you don’t know Christ, you have no bases in which to approach Him by. You can’t come in your own righteousness, but only in the righteousness of Christ that has been imputed to us by faith. Remember what Jesus said in John 14:6, "...‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." And just think, one day we will stand before Him, the one who sits on the throne!

VERSE 4

1. Now around the throne of God are 24 elders or PRESBUTEROS in the Greek. Who are these elders? Some feel they are created beings like angels or cherubim. Others feel they represent the saints from the Old Testament and the New Testament. That is, the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles. Lots of views with lots of reasons why they feel their particular answer is right and the others are wrong. To tell you the truth, I disagree with both of these.

Now I don’t think I am more intelligent than these other people, but I will share with you what I think the Scriptures say, and you can take it or leave it. You see, I think these 24 elders represent the church. When Isaiah and Ezekiel were given a vision of God, these 24 elders were not seen around the throne. Why? Because the church was not born yet, the day of Pentecost had not come.

Also, notice that they are dressed in white robes and in Revelation 19:8 we see the saints are dressed in white robes of righteousness, which is imputed to us through faith in Christ. These elders also are wearing gold crowns, or STEPHANOS in the Greek, which is the victors crown. It is as Paul said in II Timothy 4:8, "Finally, there is laid up for me the crown ofrighteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not tome only but also to all who have loved His appearing."

And if you are still not convinced, this should do it. This is the one that seals it up for me and it has to do with the song they sing in Revelation chapter 5. Beginning in verse 9 we read "And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.You see, angles or cherubim can’t be redeemed nor are they given crowns, nor are they made kings and priests in the kingdom age. I do believe this is speaking of the church, for who else could sing this song of redemption?

But why the number 24? What is that number suppose to represent? It seems that from the Scriptures the number 24 speaks of a representation of a group. Let me show you what I mean. In I Chronicles chapters 23 and 24 we see king David divide the priests into what you might call shifts. Each one would serve about 2 weeks. When these 24 elders or priests gathered together, they represented the many thousands of priests. You see, they all could not minister at one time, for the huge number would be overwhelming. Thus, the 24 elders here in Revelation represent all the redeemed who have died in the Lord or who are living at the time of the Lord’s return for His bride at the time of the rapture of the church.

Also, these are not the tribulation saints, or those who receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior during the tribulation period and are martyred for their faith. We can see that in Revelation 7:9-12, which says "After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen." Notice this speaks of a great multitude in heaven, but who are they?

Well, lets read on and see what the Scriptures have to say in verse 13 of Revelation chapter 7, where we read "Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, ‘Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?’ And I said to him, ‘Sir, you know.’ So he said to me, ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." Revelation 7:13-17. So this multitude is not speaking of the elders, but those who die in the Lord or get saved during the tribulation period and die for their faith. There is a difference between the elders, who represent the church, and the multitude that are saved out of the tribulation period.

And as Peter says of us, the church, in I Peter 2:9-10, "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praisesof Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.So I feel, and I believe the Scriptures support this, that these elders are a representation of the church, who are before the throne of God.

VERSE 5

As we stand before the throne of God we see God the Father seated upon the throne. Also, we see the Holy Spirit spoken of as the seven lamps of burning fire. In the tabernacle, which is a representation of the throne of God, the 7 branched oil burning lamp stood on the right side just in front of the Holy of Holies. This lighted the way to the presence of God. And it is the Holy Spirit that opens our eyes, helps us to see the light, to bring us to God. And again, the number 7 represents the completeness or the manifold working of the Holy Spirit.

And so, as you look at the throne of God, you see the Father sitting upon the throne, you see the Holy Spirit around the throne, and as we get into Revelation chapter 5, we will see the Son, Jesus Christ, on His right side. The trinity may not be spoken of with the word "trinity" but the idea fills the pages of the Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments.

VERSE 6a

In the tabernacle we read of the sea of brass, which was the laver or the tub that was used by the priests to wash themselves in before they engaged in the service of the Lord. They were to approach God not with the dirt of the world on them, but as clean. And what do you think the tub looked like when they were done bathing? It was dirty, it had the dirt of the world in it.

But, in heaven, the sea of glass, not brass, is crystal clear. Why? Because all of our sins have been washed away by the blood of Christ. Thus, we are holy, clean before God, and we don’t need to wash anymore as we stand before God. It is as John said, "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin."

The laver also symbolizes to us the Word of God which washes and cleanses us by its purifying words. In Ephesians 5:26 we are told that the Word of God has a cleansing effect upon our lives. That it washes all the dirt that has built up upon us during the day. Just as we need to wash and cleanse our physical bodies, we also must wash and cleanse our spiritual lives with the Word of God.

Also, as Jesus prepared to wash the disciples feet, we read in verse 8 of John 13, "Peter said to Him, ‘You shall never wash my feet!’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.’ Simon Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!’ Jesus said to him, ‘He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.’ For He knew who would betrayHim; therefore He said, ‘You are not all clean." John 13:8-11.

For all those who have come to Christ, they have been bathed in the blood of Christ, they are clean. But there is that dirt that gets on us as we go out in the world, and Jesus says that you daily need to wash your feet, and as we have seen, that is done as we get into the Word of God and allow the Holy Spirit speak to our hearts over areas we need to change. It is as David said in Psalm 119:9-11, "How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Yourcommandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You!"

Now it is interesting to me that we are to stand firm on the Word of God and in Revelation 15:2 we see those who have come out of the tribulation period standing on the sea of glass before the throne of God, and thus, in Revelation chapter 4 we too are standing on the sea of glass or the Word of God. You see, God’s Word will abide forever! Thus, the people of God will stand firmly on His Word forever!

Now as we continue on next time we are going to see worship, worship, worship going on in heaven. You see, God desires our worship of Him. And in heaven we see the cherubim worship God. We will see the elders, who are representing the church, worshiping God. And thus, we too will worship God in heaven.

This morning, who did you come to hear? Who did you come to worship? If it is not the Lord Jesus Christ, you are missing out on what God desires of your life. As I Chronicles 16:29-34 says, "Give to the LORD the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come before Him. Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth. The world also is firmly established, it shall not be moved. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; and let them say among the nations, ‘The LORD reigns.’ Let the sea roar, and all its fullness; let the field rejoice, and all that is in it. Then the trees of the woods shall rejoice before the LORD, for He is coming to judge the earth. Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever." May we have hearts of worship, may we desire to worship the King of kings and Lord of Lords.

I hope that I have given you a glimpse of what the throne of God is like so when you get to heaven, you will see it in all of its majesty, but for now, you have a picture in your mind of what it will be like. Next week we are going to see the heavens explode with worship!

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