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Sunday, January 6, 2019

The TTUF STUDY on The REVELATION of JESUS CHRIST – Chapter FOUR


As previously stated in Chapter One, the LORD Himself dictated what John would write concerning this revelation: “the things that [John] had seen”, namely the vision of Christ among the seven lampstands and those things recorded in this initial chapter. 
Then “the things which are” – those churches and their situations as recorded in Chapters Two and Three, and finally “the things which shall be hereafter” (metatauta or literally “after these things”) – those things that will occur after the histories of those seven churches (REV 1:19). 

The word "hereafter" is a pivotal point in which those things past are finalized, and that which is ahead is something entirely different or new – which presently is the perspective of this apostle as he is transitioned from the Earth to the heavenly domain where the remainder of this revelation is granted to him.

This transition is remarkable in more ways than just the apostle’s relocation, but in the relocation of the church herself (represented by the seven lampstands as seen in Chapter One). As well as this, the tenure of God’s plan of the ages is also in transition, how He deals with the enemies of Israel and the world at large.


Up until this point in the Scriptures, we are instructed by the LORD to “love our enemies”, to be blessedly “merciful” and not seeking God for judgment and wrath, but rather to beseech the LORD to extend forgiveness towards those who persecute and hate us (MATT 5:44; ACTS 7:60).

However, as we shall see, in these following chapters in Revelation, this changes dramatically and suddenly – and while the connection may not be readily comprehended, understanding of this change has to do with what is instructed in DANIEL 9 – and we will get to this at the appropriate time.

So, without further ado, let’s get into this study.

REVELATION 4:1-2
After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. 2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne
.

There is a door that John sees in this vision, and its location is in heaven. We speak of “the portals of heaven” but in reality, there is only one, just as there was only one ark and one door that led into the ark (GEN 6:16). There was likewise only one door that led into the tabernacle (EXOD 29:4). There is only one “path of life” (PSALM 16:11). There is only one name under heaven whereby we must be saved: JESUS! (ACTS 4:12).

We understand the words of Jesus as He declares Himself as the Door in JOHN 10:7,9. He is the one and only Way to the Father; JOHN 14:6. Were it not for Christ and His finished work at Calvary, John would not be able to have been transported there, but he is summoned by Majesty and His voice which is like a trumpet call and in an instant, the aged apostle finds himself delivered there!

Here is a portrait that shows John as a type of the church, being delivered from this present evil world at “the sound of the trump”, “in the twinkling of an eye”, the rising of the dead and the transformation of those yet living in the body of Christ (1 COR 15:52; 1 THESS 4:16-17).

GALATIANS 1:4
Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father
:

The LORD tells John He is going to reveal to him what will happen, what “must be hereafter”, that is, those events seen by visions once the seven churches are dealt with by letters. 

These are not things that might be, or potentially could be, but these are deemed as those things that “must be” by the eternal eyes and knowledge of God, Who sees and knows all things. This future is as unavoidable and unchangeable as the past!

Many believe that this entails what will happen “after” the church age in general, as these churches listed in this precise order in Chapters 2 and 3, map out the history of the church from the days of the apostles to the last stage of the church universal as she is found in these that endure to the end: Philadelphia and Laodicea (as well as Thyatira and Sardis).

Thus, “hereafter” could easily be understood as “after the church age” – and the age that follows that corresponds to what we read in Daniel – the 70 weeks prophecy concerning the judgment and chastening of Israel, but again, we shall get into that later.

Once John is translated there, he sees a throne set in heaven; this is not to say that the throne is just then established before his eyes, but that he sees this throne situated in the glories of heaven, both eternal and steadfast: the veritable ‘command center’ of the created universe, of things both seen and unseen. 

There is one sitting on that throne, and He is the One Who commands the innumerable legions of cherubim, seraphim, arch-angels, angels as well as fallen angels and even demons; He it is that with but a spoken word could align all the stars of the universe into single file or snuff them all out leaving creation is complete darkness. He it is that the Father exalted above all others!

PHILIPPIANS 2:9-11
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father
.

Enoch was likewise translated (HEB 11:5) as was Elijah (2 KINGS 2:11). The idea of a global rapture/resurrection seems outlandish to the world, and sadly – even to the modern church. Yet if we genuinely believe GENESIS 1:1, where it simply states that “God created the heavens and the earth” – out of nothing more than His spoken word of Almighty power, then nothing is outlandish or far-fetched or too hard for God to accomplish (JER 32:37).

Scientists today are gaining greater understanding of the inner workings of the reality of space-time and the quantum nature of dimensionality; they are finding the technology whereby they can transmit sub-atomic particles from point A to point B without traveling across the distance between them.

If mankind in his limited knowledge can do that with electrons, then God can do this with resurrected/raptured – and glorified – bodies, amen?

We truly have no idea what reality will look like once we arrive in the domain of heaven, having put off our old tents (our present earthly bodies; 2 PET 1:14) and put on our houses (our glorified bodies; 2 COR 5:1), and what abilities we will enjoy.
We get a glimpse of this from what Scripture tells us of our risen LORD’s body post-resurrection. His ability to cross dimensions without the conventional use of our normal three dimensions is revealing.

While we may not comprehend the multi-dimensionality of the eternal God, we can extrapolate on beings of lesser dimensions than ourselves and appreciate how we as three dimensional beings employ greater power and abilities than they and how God is the same – having exceedingly greater abilities than us simply because of His (probably) infinite dimensionality.

Consider the following article by www.godandscience.org: The Extradimensional Nature of God.

REVELATION 4:3-5
3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. 4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. 5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God
.


We will be seeing various stones (precious gems) throughout descriptions of visions in this book, particularly where the New Jerusalem is concerned, but we also note the mention of three gems here in our text: the jasper, the sardius and the emerald; it’s useful to make some observations in this regard. Here we have a chart of the 12 patriarchs of Jacob, in order of birth and the 12 precious stones of the high-priests breast plate:


The Twelve Sons of Jacob
The Twelve precious stones of the High Priest
REUBEN – “Behold a son” The first born
SIMEON – “God hears”
LEVI – “Joined”
JUDAH – “Let God be praised”
DAN – “Judge”
NAPHTALI – “my wrestling”
GAD – “good fortune”
ASHER – “Happy”
ISSACHAR – “man of hire”
ZEBULUN – “Dwelling”
JOSEPH – “May God add”
BENJAMIN – “Son of my right hand”
Sardius

Topaz
Carbuncle
Emerald
Sapphire
Diamond
Ligure
Agate
Amethyst
Beryl
Onyx
Jaspar



John sees the LORD seated on His throne and describes Him in such glorious light as would be expressed by how light reflects off various gems; in this case, the jasper and sardine (sardius) stones. The jasper stone comes in various colors, but predominately in purple (traditionally the color of choice for royalty) and blue (speaking of the heavens, symbolic of being “heaven sent”). The sardius stone is almost always a bright blood red color, which speaks of redemption.

Upon the gold breastplate of the high priest (EXOD 28) were twelve precious stones, each representing one of the twelve patriarchs of Israel, beginning with Reuben and ending with Benjamin. These two precious stones described in vs. 3, the jasper and the sardius corresponds with Benjamin and Reuben, their names respectively meaning “Son of my right hand” and “behold a son” the first born of Jacob.

The LORD Jesus Christ is certainly the only begotten Son of the Father and seated at His “right hand” (PSALM 110:1; MATT 26:64; HEB 1:3; 10:12; 12:2), and He is also “the firstborn among many brethren” (ROM 8:29).

We also see a rainbow about the throne, but rather than showing the primary colors as we are accustomed to, this one is emerald in color. We remember that God set the bow in the heavens after the Flood as a covenant promise to the Earth that He would never again flood all the world as He once did (GEN 9:13-16).

So, we can rightly associate the rainbow with a covenant of promise – and which of the twelve patriarchs is associated with the emerald of the high priest’s breastplate? It’s Judah, and this speaks volumes for us, does it not?

Here the LORD Jesus, seated in the heavenlies, upon the throne of glory is surrounded by this emerald rainbow, a covenant promise to Judah, or precisely, the government of Israel (for it was from the tribe of Judah only that the kings of Israel were chosen from, and likewise THE King of Israel, the Messiah comes from this tribe, as foretold in prophecy (GEN 49:10; REV 5:5) who will rule Israel in the coming Millennial period (LUKE 1:31-33)! 
The LORD Jesus is the KING of Kings (and LORD of Lords! REV 17:14; 19:16) and is crowned with many crowns (REV 19:12). He is not only the King of heaven over angels and saints, but will also rule on Earth, over the Gentile nations (MATT 24:30; ISAIAH 60:3-4). And He is the King of Israel as well:

JOHN 1:49-50
49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. 50 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these
.

JOHN 6:68-69
68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. 69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ
[Messiah, King of Israel], the Son of the living God (See also MATT 16:13-16).

JOHN 12:12-13
12 On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
13 Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord
.

If we look to the meaning of the names of these three patriarchs, they read as follows:
“The Son of My right hand, behold [the] Son; let God be praised!”

REVELATION 4:4
And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold
.

These seats are not merely chairs, but thrones, seats of power (from the Greek, thronos); thus, these elders wield authority as rulers. They are clothed in white raiment, associated with the righteousness of the saints (REV 19:8) and wear crowns of gold (stephanos – used in ancient Greece and Rome as rewards to those who won at the Games) which are victor’s crowns (as opposed to diadems or crowns of potentates and kings), commending these elders as overcomers (1 JOHN 5:4-5).

The identification of these twenty-four elders is something of a minor mystery: we know that they are saints, overcomers, elders wielding authority and rank, but who precisely are they? 
They are twenty-four in number, and some have suggested that the twelve apostles are included in these ranks, along with twelve prophets from the Old Testament and this is entirely possible, however I have a different perspective that is elaborated on by Thomas Ice of The PROPHECY BLOG ― NEWS AND COMMENTARY FROM A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE; follow this link: Who Are The 24 Elders OfRevelation?

Crowns of this nature (stephanos) were never attributed to Old Testament saints as they are idiomatically to the church. Of Israel, only Judah was designated to rule, yet here we see these twenty-four elders reigning from these seats of authority as a single unit (this would mean that this body consists only of Judah, were this the case).

There is the instance of the twenty-four officers that represented the twenty-four courses of the priests of Levi – Old Testament priests never wore crowns, nor were any of them promised such. 

Only the church has been promised crowns for victorious and faithful service as has been seen already in the two prior chapters. That Levitical priesthood could be a biblical type or foreshadowing of that other priesthood of which Melchizedek is a type of Christ, Who is our High Priest (HEB 5:5-6; 7:24-26). 
We know His offices are manifold, and that He is King, as well as High Priest (something that was forbidden by God to Israel: the rulers of the Kingdom were only from Judah; priestly ministers only from Levi). Christ and His church employ both offices. We shall rule with Christ (REV 2:26) as His bride, and we are considered priests in His kingdom (1 PET 2:9), just as Israel will one day rule with YHWH in the kingdom of Israel.

REVELATION 4:5
5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God
.

The very first mention of lightning in the Bible is found here when Moses and all Israel came before Sinai and the presence of God was known:

EXODUS 19:16
And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled
(Read of this awesome, majestic event in the context of the entire chapter! Imagine what it would have been like to be there, and witness this for yourself!).

The first time we read about thunder was earlier in EXODUS:

EXODUS 9:23, 29
23 And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt.
29 Intreat the Lord (for it is enough) that there be no more mighty thunderings and hail; and I will let you go, and ye shall stay no longer
.

In REVELATION we see that these lightnings and thunderings (and voices) issue from the throne, denoting the power and the judgment of God as Creator and Ruler over all creation. AND take notice of this as well:

In the vision that John received, when he saw Christ before him, as He walked in the midst of the seven lampstands; this vision he received on Patmos while still on Earth. But since the beginning of this chapter, John was no longer on Earth, but in Heaven, and apparently so are these seven lampstands!

What did the LORD say that these lampstands represent? The seven churches (REV 1:20; representing the entire church throughout the ages); the church is also known as the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 COR 3:16), and so it’s no surprise whatsoever that here in vs. 5 these seven lamps are “the seven Spirits of God” that indwell all believers in the church (1 COR 6:19). Another indication that the church, the body of Christ, will be transported to heaven prior to the unleashing of the seven seals of Judgment.

Let us proceed:

REVELATION 4:6-9
6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.
8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
9 And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever
,

Before the holy throne of God there is a sea, a sea of glass, which denotes calmness. The sea is many times idiomatic of the nations of the world, which, due to the curse of sin, are constantly in turmoil, strife, contention, wars, etc. Isaiah puts it succinctly:

ISAIAH 57:20
But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt
(See also ISAIAH 17:12-13).

Here was have contrary conditions between the domain of God and the domain of men; the former tranquil, at peace, and beautiful, the latter troubled in turmoil, strife and hostility.

Next, we see these four beasts, and “beasts” is an unfortunate term, for it conveys the idea of wild, fierce and feral animals. The Greek word used here is zoon, and it refers to the general classification of “living beings”. All creatures are living, thus all fit into this classification, however, given the description and location of these ‘beasts’ they can be nothing other than angelic beings, and even more particularly, ‘super-angels’ or cherubim standing about the very throne of God!

The writers of GOT QUESTIONS (www.gotquestions.org) comment:

Who are the four living creatures in Revelation?
“The four living creatures are found in Revelation 4:6–9; 5:6–14; 6:1–8; 14:3; 15:7; and Revelation 19:4. The texts that describe these creatures do not indicate that they are figurative—they are real, actual beings. The four living creatures (literally “beings”) are a special, exalted order of angelic being or cherubim. This is clear by their close proximity to the throne of God. Ezekiel 1:12–20 suggests that they are in constant motion around the throne.
Revelation 5:6–14 describes the duties or purposes of the four living creatures. They fall down and worship the Lamb, Jesus Christ, offering the same reverence to Him that they did to the Father (Revelation 4:10), proof positive of the deity of Jesus Christ. Along with the 24 elders, they have “harps and golden vials full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” Harps are frequently associated with worship in the Old Testament, as well as with prophecy (2 Kings 3:15; 1 Chronicles 25:1). Incense represents the prayers of the saints. Therefore, taken together, the four living creatures and twenty-four elders hold in their hands all that prophets ever prophesied and believers ever prayed for—all about to come to pass.
“The purpose of the four living creatures also has to do with declaring the holiness of God and leading in worship and adoration of God, and they are involved in some way with God’s justice, for when He opens the first four seals and sends out the four horsemen to destroy, their powerful voices, like thunder, command “come” (Revelation 6:1–8). The horsemen respond to the summons of the four powerful creatures, indicating the power the creatures possess. That power is seen again in Revelation 15:7 when one of the four unleashes the last seven plagues of God’s wrath on mankind.
“The four living creatures are very similar, if not the same, beings as those in Ezekiel 10:2,14,20 and Isaiah 6:1–3. They are four in number, full of eyes, have faces like the beings in Ezekiel 1:10, have six wings (Isaiah 6:2), and offer worship as the beings in Isaiah 6:3, saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord.” They may not be the exact same beings, but they definitely are comparable and probably of the same order.
“In summary, these beings are an exalted order of angels whose purpose is primarily that of worship (Revelation 19:4). They are very similar to the beings in Ezekiel 10 and Isaiah 6:1–3, and they are in some ways involved in God’s divine justice.”
Further, the bizarre appearance of these mighty, well-nigh god-like powerful beings may be explained by that which they represent.

REVELATION 4:6-8
. . . and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. 7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. 8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within . . .

They are “full of eyes before and behind (and within)” – that is, these have the ability to perceive all things round about, discerning and knowing. Nothing would take these creatures by surprise – they are ever vigilant, ever watchful, ever perceptive.

These creatures appear as things known to us: a lion, a calf, a man and an eagle. These creatures were the emblems upon the flagstaffs of the primary tribes of Israel: Judah, Ephraim, Reuben and Dan respectively (Judah the Lion, etc). These are also the attributes of Christ Whom these holy cherubim guard at His throne: Jesus the King of Judah (Lion); Jesus the Servant of YHWH (Calf or Ox); Jesus the Son of man (the Man) and Jesus the Son of God (Eagle).

For more on this, have a look at the chart and article that gets into the remarkable details of all of this! 

REVELATION 4:9-11
9 And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, 10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created
.

These grand and powerful creatures are caught up in holy rapture as they worship day and night unceasingly the LORD God Almighty or YYWH Eloheim! And as they do, the twenty-four elders likewise fall before the throne and worship the LORD. This worship by the elders in one aspect employs the casting down of their crowns before Him Who sits on the throne. Why is this considered worship?

These crowns as you recall are victor’s crowns, granted to those who overcome – and we know the only means by which we can overcome sin, death, this fallen world that lies in wickedness and the devil is by our faith in Christ; that God-given faith is what enables Christ to do His holy work in our hearts and lives, and so we overcome solely because of Him

Thus, the credit and glory belong to the LORD and these elders rightfully cast their crowns at the nail-pierced feet of the LAMB of God Who redeemed us by His blood! He is worthy indeed to receive glory, honor and power – for He is the creator of all things.

He created you as well as the stars that fill heaven; He created both because it was His pleasure to do so; think of that: He created you and derived pleasure from doing so: you are unique, one of a kind, with never another just like you, just as God intended when He made you. His love for us is limitless and expressed fully and completely in the Person of Christ, the LAMB of God Who takes away the sin of the world.

All He asks of you is that you accept this revelation of the Gospel by faith, repenting of your sins and trusting in Christ’s finished work on the Cross which paid the penalty for all of our sins, and rendered the verdict of “not guilty” over us and furthermore granted the right to become the children of God.

For more on the Gospel, read this article!


And so there we have chapter 4. Next time we shall examine chapter 5 and what’s been referred to as “the title deed of the Earth”!

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