“And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.” – Revelation 5:6-8
After Jesus finished dictating the letters to the seven churches in Asia, John heard a voice calling him higher – “which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter”. The next two chapters describe what John saw and heard as he was called into the very presence of God.
The sight that unfolded was more than words can convey but John wrote as he saw and could best describe. The first he saw was the Throne of God –
“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” – Rev. 4:3
‘This jasper is a transparent stone, which yet offers to the eye a variety of the most vivid colors, signifying the glorious perfections of God; the sardine-stone is red, signifying the justice of God, that essential attribute of which he never divests himself in favor of any, but gloriously exerts it in the government of the world, and especially of the church, through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ (taken from Matthew Henry’s commentary.)
“and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.”
The rainbow was the seal and token of the covenant of the providence that God made with Noah and his posterity with him, and is a fit emblem of that covenant of promise that God has made with Christ as the head of the church, and all his people in him, which covenant is as the waters of Noah unto God, an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure. This rainbow looked like the emerald; the most prevailing color was a pleasant green, to show the reviving and refreshing nature of the new covenant. – (It is not an emblem of moral decadence the modern world tries to make of it!)
Next, John saw four-and-twenty seats round about the throne, not empty, but filled with four-and-twenty elders, presbyters, representing, very probably, the whole church of God, both in the Old-Testament and in the New-Testament state; not the ministers of the church, but rather the representatives of the people. Their sitting denotes their honor, rest, and satisfaction; their sitting about the throne signifies their relation to God, their nearness to him, the sight and enjoyment they have of him. They are clothed in white raiment, the righteousness of the saints, both imputed and inherent; they had on their heads crowns of gold, signifying the honor and authority given them of God, and the glory they have with him. All these may in a lower sense be applied to the gospel church on earth, in its worshiping assemblies; and, in the higher sense, to the church triumphant in heaven.
As John tries to absorb all this, there are “lightnings and voices proceeding out of the throne”. These Lightning’s and voices out of the throne speak of the terrible magnitude of God’s judgments on the earth and are spoken of several times in Scripture –
“And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.” – Rev. 8:5
“And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.” – Rev. 16:17,18
“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.” – Exodus 19:16
I think most of us are so far removed from the presence of God that it is hard for us to understand the awesome power of God’s direct words – words that can shake and crumble everything not built on Him, like a huge earthquake. And lightnings so shattering bright as to expose every hidden thing, burning away all worldly motivations and chaff. John had to be “in the spirit” to be able to bear the sight. But, this was just the beginning! Next, he saw the seven-fold Spirit of God burning like lamps –
“and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.”
These are the full manifestation of the Holy Spirit which are referred to in 1 Corinthians 12. This fullness of Spirit rested on Jesus – Isaiah 11:2.
“And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD”
The spirit of the Lord referred to here is the full manifestation of the Holy Spirit as outlined in 1 Corinthians 12: the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, supernatural faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, divers kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. All these rested upon Jesus and He paid a great price to give them to His body on earth – the Church! How dare we declare them irrelevant for our time assuming we don’t need them!
It is the same Holy Spirit Jesus promised to send when He ascended into heaven. The Spirit is likened to lamps burning before the Throne – they give Light to all who enter – they burn away anything unholy. They expose all things ungodly.
John had to be called up to this Throne by God Himself and John could only face it by being in the spirit. The last time any Hebrew experienced this, they cowered in fear and asked God to stop speaking – even Moses trembled in fear.
“For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) – Hebrews 12:18-21
John’s amazement did not stop here – “He saw before the throne a sea of glass, like unto crystal.” No one could stand before God without being totally exposed and reflected to himself and to God!
In the temple there was a great vessel of brass filled with water, in which the priests were to wash when they went in to minister before the Lord (and this was called a sea), so in the gospel church the sea or laver for purification is the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, who cleanses from all sin. In this all those must be washed that are admitted into the gracious presence of God on earth or his glorious presence in heaven. In other words you cannot come near God without cleansing!
Finally, around the throne John saw a sight that must have challenged his grip on reality! He saw four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf (or Ox), and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And they do not rest day or night, saying:
“Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!”
They are often likened to the four Gospels which liken Christ to the Lion of Judah, the Ox bearing man’s sin, the Son of Man, or the eagle which soars above into the heavens. They constantly declare Holy, holy, holy because as they circle the throne of God they constantly see something new and wonderful about God.
“You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.”
The message is clear – God is the Creator! This earth did not happen by evolution or the intervention of aliens but, God did it all! Those who are guided by the worldview of humanism and evolution will never be able to understand or benefit from this Revelation given by Jesus.
The beginning of chapter five reveals this truth.
“And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it.” – Rev. 5:1-4
God alone holds the future of mankind in His hand and only Jesus is able to reveal this future and bring it to completion. Chapter Five will begin to reveal this future but, that must come in my next posting.
I end this article with a song by Day of Destiny which joins with earth and heaven in giving honor to Him who alone is worthy to open the seals. Rain falls from the heavens then flows back to the sea from which it came, changing and refreshing the land. So the Word of God is given to all who will receive Him. It cleanses us, refreshes us, and shapes us according to God’s will. I pray we will all receive this refreshing life from Jesus.
(Day of Destiny, used by permission – can be found on YouTube)