Revelation 4:1-5 NLTse Then as I looked, I saw a door standing open in heaven, and the same voice I had heard before spoke to me like a trumpet blast. The voice said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after this.” (2) And instantly I was in the Spirit, and I saw a throne in heaven and someone sitting on it. (3) The one sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones–like jasper and carnelian. And the glow of an emerald circled his throne like a rainbow. (4) Twenty-four thrones surrounded him, and twenty-four elders sat on them. They were all clothed in white and had gold crowns on their heads. (5) From the throne came flashes of lightning and the rumble of thunder. And in front of the throne were seven torches with burning flames. This is the sevenfold Spirit of God.
When we see a door open in Heaven, we know it must be important. What is happening in Heaven? In previous letters John told about doors opening. “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia. This is the message from the one who is holy and true, the one who has the key of David. What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open. “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.” (Revelation 3:7-8 NLTse). Was John writing about this door that opened in Heaven?
The word, “then,” tells us something. After John recorded those letters to the churches, he saw this vision of Heaven. John recorded a sequence of events in Heaven. First those letters had to be written, given to angels, and delivered to the churches. Once that task was competed, John looked up and saw an open door. John tied this vision in with the previous story that had a voice. John heard the same voice he heard earlier.
It was the Lord’s Day, and I was worshiping in the Spirit. Suddenly, I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet blast. It said, “Write in a book everything you see, and send it to the seven churches in the cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.” When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands. And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. (Revelation 1:10-15 NLTse).
We see how that voice was Jesus. We also see how John took us back to the description of Jesus in chapter one, tying chapter one and four together. The serious Bible student will see how all those chapters, stories, and letters in Revelation are tied together. John recorded Revelation to emphasize that point. The age old method of cutting Revelation apart to study it doesn’t agree with the way Revelation was recorded.
John used the voice he heard to send us back to a particular point in the Bible, a reference point we have to respect. We see how the voice is tied into all seven churches, and the sevenfold Spirit of God confirmed that message. The statement, “this message is written for this world,” is very specific, and provides its own, unique method of guiding readers.
The voice of Jesus, told John, “Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after this.” When Jesus sets an order of events, we have to respect the sequence. The question is, why did John, the man who loved Jesus, not mention Jesus by name in chapter 4? Why use the voice to identify Jesus? That is the unique writing style Jesus uses. That style of writing sends readers back to the proper spots in the Bible to find answers. This shows us exactly how Jesus and the Bible reveal answers. Men do not always use that style of study. Some times they use less than reliable man made styles. Methods of study that more or less rely on personalities, traditions, and preconceived ideas. None of which are close to the Spirit guided study method.
John saw someone sitting on a throne. Since John already gave a vivid description of Jesus in another location, who could the figure on the throne be? It seems we have two choices, God or the Holy Spirit. Since the Bible doesn’t contain a description of the Spirit in physical form, we have to think the figure on the throne is God. When we read more of the story, we see how John confirmed that Jesus was in a different location in that scene.
Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth. (Revelation 5:6 NLTse).
When we look ahead, we see how chapter 5 is tied in to chapter 4, as well as chapter 1, and all the information in between. Studying Revelation is not as easy as people want the world to think. It cannot be explained using a single sentence, series of sentences, or one story taken out and made to stand on its own. Jesus designed Revelation to show how stories are related and interwoven to give a specific message no one can alter. That is the scene inside the door Jesus can open and no one can shut. No matter how hard the world tries to cover up Revelation, the book is still here to show us how to gain the proper understanding.
John described God using the only words he could think of to tell about His brilliance, gemstones. Why John decided to use gems, which are usually rather small to describe the largest being he ever encountered is a mystery all its own. But what else did John have? The only other thing was a rainbow. We can see how John is trying to describe colors.
Have you ever tried to describe the colors of a sunset? Words cannot describe everything, but people do try. We can’t even be sure of the colors John saw, based on the fact, jasper and carnelian come in a variety of colors from yellow, to red, and shades of blue. Jasper has a wider range of colors, reds and greens being the most common. Carnelian usually comes in yellows, oranges, reds, and shades of brown. Most of those colors are found in a sunset, but John chose not to reference a sunset in his description of the scene he saw.
John used an emerald to describe the back of the throne. Emeralds are normally green, but John described it like a rainbow. Was that the shape of the glow, or was the glow primarily green?
You’ll notice John didn’t mention too many particular colors. People tend to drift off the subject when colors are mentioned, claiming this color represents this, that color represented that. Which may be true in one particular story, but that doesn’t hold true for every story in the Bible.
John also saw twenty-four elders on twenty-four thrones. The seats must have been elaborate for John to call them thrones. John saw a throne or two during his time. You have to wonder how they compared to those he saw in Heaven. Without a doubt, God’s throne surpassed the other twenty-four. Now we have a set of thrones to consider. “Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne. “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.” (Revelation 3:21-22 NLTse).
Those thrones established a link with the end of the previous chapter. The throne at the end of chapter 3 is a promise. The twenty-four thrones John saw in chapter 4 are a reality. Thrones in different time frames, but the same general location, Heaven.
The white the elders wore and their crowns set up more connections to previous chapters.
Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life.
(Revelation 2:10 NLTse)
All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine.
(Revelation 3:5 NLTse)
I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God–the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.
(Revelation 3:11-12 NLTse)
John is establishing a view of Heaven using words recorded in previous stories to fill in details. The churches were given a view of Heaven, then John was shown a vision of Heaven confirming the promises in those letters. John is showing how messages from Heaven are confirmed, another important feature in Bible Study. We have to be able to show how and where messages are confirmed. Without that confirmation, how do we prove the message is from Heaven? John is writing in a style that not only provides that confirmation, but teaches us how confirmation is established.
John used a series of light sources to complete his description of the vision he saw. One is lightening accompanied by thunder. Light and sound, visions and voices go together. Then John sees seven torches with flames in front of those thrones. John included the interpretation for those torches in his story. Those torches represent the seven Spirits of God. We are right back in chapter 1, and the seven letters given to those angels. There is a connection between those elders and the Spirit.
The vision John saw was in Heaven. A door had to be opened for John to see that scene. The doors and room were enormous, without measure, something no human hands could have ever made. Colors filled the room, along with light. Colors no person could describe. All the colors in the rainbow, but not the colors we have to strain to see, or obstructed by anything. The colors were real, like John could reach out and touch them.
John saw God’s throne, the center of the room, and center of attention. Those colors centered on God and radiated out from His throne. There were also flashes of lightening accompanied by the sound of thunder. Something was happening. Something new was being introduced. Something important was about a happen in Heaven, and it was John’s job to witness and try to describe the events that were about to unfold.