And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”
Indicates that John is seeing into heaven
Notice that “come up” is 2 nd person singular.
Paul was also caught up into the heavens (2 Cor 12:2)
Moses ascended up on Sinai (Ex 19:3; 20)
Ezekiel saw heaven opened (Ezek 1:1)
John sees the great staging room of history.
4:2) At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.
John’s spiritual rapture into the heavenly throne room scene.
The throne is the centerpiece of the vision.
From first to last John’s vision is dominated by this symbol of divine sovereignty. The final reality which will still be standing when heaven and earth have disappeared is the great white throne (20:11).
4:3) And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne.
The appearance of the one sitting on the throne is taken from Ezek. 1:26, 28; 9:2; 28:13 and Exod. 24:10; 28:17-20.
These texts talk about the same stones as that of Rev. 4:3, which based upon the OT background and theophany scenes represent God’s sovereign majesty and glory.
these stones are linked to God’s glory in Rev. 21:10-11, 18-23.
“ Rainbow” The rainbow in the throne room scene illustrates the fact that God’s righteous judgment is seasoned with mercy, for this was the symbolic meaning of the rainbow in the covenant with Noah.
“ This rainbow is second in importance only to the throne. It tells us that there is to be no triumph for God’s sovereignty at the expense of his mercy, and it warns us not to interpret the visions of disaster that follow as though God had forgotten his promise to Noah” (Caird, The Revelation of St. John, 63).
Notice how non-anthropomorphic the vision is.
4:4) Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads.
Who are the elders?
(1) stars; (2) angels; (3) OT saints; (4)angelic, heavenly representatives of all saints; (5) Patriarchs and apostles representing the OT and the NT saints together; (6) representatives of the prophetic revelation of the twenty-four books of the OT.
Thus the saints of old along with the representatives of the church have received their reward; white robes, crowns of gold, and kingship. They are pictured in an angelic outfit to remind the readers that already a dimension of their existence is heavenly.
Elders are present for the purpose of laying down their crowns.
4:5) From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder.
Lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder are indicators of God’s judgment, thus we can make the claim that all of the judgments come from God’s throne (Rev 8:5; 11:19; 16:18)
Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.
Lampstand is symbolic from Zech 4:2-3, 10 for the Spirit of Yahweh.
In the Zech vision a lampstand is described as having seven branches; this description is followed by an interpretation of the lamps as the “spirit of Yahweh” (Zech. 4:6).
4:6) Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
There are several interpretations for the sea of glass: (1) the laver in Solomon’s temple, (2) God’s holy separateness and splendor in heaven, (3) the heavenly counterpart to the Red sea, (4) the embodiment of evil.
The sea is the representative of cosmic evil from the rival creation narratives in the ancient world (Isa. 51:9-11; Psa. 74:12-15; Ezek. 32:2).
The first thing that John mentions in the vision of the New Heaven and Earth is that the sea is no more.
In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back.
John is getting the allusion of the living creatures from Ezekiel 1:5-21; 10:12-15, 20-22 and Isaiah 6.
They are four in number, corresponding to the four winds of heaven in the four directions of the compass (Zech. 6:5; Rev 7:1). Their eyes, seeing in every direction (v. 6), mirror the all-seeing eyes of God (Rev. 1:14; Prov. 15:3; 2 Chron. 16:9)” (Poythress, The Returning King, 105).
4:7) The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle.
The four living creatures have been compared to: (1) the four quarters of the Zodaic (Ox, Lion, Scorpion—symbolized as a man, Aquarius; which together would represent the creation in totality, (2) the fullness of life and power inherent in the divine name, because, each of the creatures is the head of its species, (3) the early church fathers said that they are the four gospel writers.
It is likely that the four living creatures are representative of the whole created order of animal life.
4:8) Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."
The hymn that the living creatures sing interpret the vision of verses 2-8a to mean that God is holy and sovereign over creation, which demonstrates his worthiness to be praised, worshiped, and glorified. (Beale, Revelation, 332).
The hymns make explicit the main point of the vision and of the whole chapter: God is to be glorified because of his holiness and sovereignty.
The phrase “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty” is from Isaiah 6:3. In Hebrew it is called the Qedussah .
Hebrew doubles the adjectives to make it a supurlative.
“ Lord God Almighty” stands for divine sovereignty and infinity rule over history. (Amos 3:13; 4:13; 5:14-16; 9:5-6, 15; Hos. 12:6; Nah. 3:5; Zech 10:3; Mal. 2:16).
4:9) Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever,
The final phrase used to describe God is that of the one “who lives for ever and ever.” A similar phrase is used in Dan. 4:34 and 12:7; in both places it is used to reference God. He is the only one who lives into the age of the age; whereas, the earthly kings only reign for a breath of time. Their empires are like grass.
4:10) the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
From this vision, Christians are encouraged not to give in to those pagan kings who would desire worship. We are to persevere in the same way that Daniel did in Dan. 4:30-33 and 11:36-37. He stood strong in the face of a king who arrogantly tried to elevate himself to the stature of a god. Only One is worthy of worship, and it is He who lives into the age of the age.
The sole function and purpose of the elders is to lay their crowns down and worship.
4:11) "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, `for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."
The title “Lord and God” function in a polemical manner to combat the emperor worship that existed in John’s day. The basis or reason for this praise of God is twofold: (1) He is Creator, (2) He is the sustainer of all created things.
In verse 8, God is praised as the one who was and is and is coming. This is a variation of 1:8 which said “who is, and who was, and who is to come.” Why would John change the verb tenses in these two verses?
Answer: In the throne room vision, He is highlighting God’s creative activity; thus, he is taking the reader back to the beginning “the one who was.”
This doxology also serves the purpose of encouraging persecuted Christians…