God's Throne - Revelation 4
Title “The Divine Perspective: the Throne of God” (Revelation 4)
Introduction In Revelation 4, John takes us on a tour of the place where the universe is, always has been, and forever will be governed. Everything began from this throne; everything will culminate before this thorne. This is the place of God’s ultimate and complete sovereign authority over all things.
- God’s throne is what the church needs to see; throne-room perspective is what enables the church to overcome. The seven letters to the churches from chapters 2 and 3 admonished and encouraged, rebuked and comforted; now, the vision of God’s throne will and orient them. This is crucial: we see so clearly the state of this fallen world, full of broken people, and it is so real that it begins to control us, but we need to see how things are in heaven in order to be controlled by what is ultimately real. Throne-room perspective will capture, clain, direct and equip us. One moment in this transforms our lives; even a glimpse of God’s splendor, glory, and majesty puts chaos in order and gives strength, joy, and purpose.
- So what did John see? He saw “One seated on a throne” - precious, brilliant, so indescribable, yet John foregoes any anthropomorphism that might temper the feeling of incomprehensibility, of being at a loss for words. We are at once given something plain and secret, accessible and mysterious. The secret things belong to God, but He has given His Son, the Lamb, and He is the One to whom we look (Revelation 5).
John saw extraordinary beings in extraordinary activity around the throne. While we cannot see God, we can see the response of those who, just as God’s church is meant to make His grace visible so that people will come to know Him. These extraordinary beings include the 24 elders, sitting on thrones, and though there is plenty of speculation as to who these elders are, their continual response to God is worship: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
John also saw flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder, expressions of nature, both terrifying and majestic.
There were seven torches of fire representing the seven spirits of God - the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and the fear of the Lord (as referenced in isaiah 11); these comprise the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s presence, holy ability and capacity for any and every circumstance.
John saw a sea of glass, more reflective than clear, a mirror at once magnifying the throne’s splendor and acting as a barrier to the throne in its unapproachable holiness (this barrier will be removed in Revelation 21 with the advent of the New Heaven and the New Earth).
Finally, John records seeing four living creatures who embody God-glorifying service: the noble lion, the strong ox, rational man, and the swift eagle. When God commissions work to be done, it is done with nobility and dignity, with strength and intelligence, with swiftness and care.
- Vision of God’s throne causes us to worship. The constant refrain of “Holy, holy, holy!” expresses the truth that God is above all and there is none like Him. He is the highest and most worthy. There is no glory like His glory. The nature and essence of this worship is not merely prescribed ritual, but admiration and awe in the presence of He who is of ultimate worth. Whether we are singing or sleeping, working or resting, at home or away, we are always worshippers, doing all we do for His glory.
Vision of God’s throne fills us with trust and hope. The seven spirits of God have all we need. When we are discouraged and downcast, there is a lion full of courage to overcome. When we are weak, the strength of an ox is there to carry and pull and move forward. When we are confused, the man of intelligence and understanding is there to clarify. And when we are falling, the eagle is swift to rescue, to catch us on its wings.
Conclusion Revelation chapters 4 and 5 are a pair; Revelation 5 shows us Christ in His power and purity, compelling the extraordinary beings of heaven to sing a new song. For all we see and for all it is meant to stir up in our hearts, there is one thing that we should say, full of confidence - He is still on the throne.