The Vision of the Throne Room: The Throne, The Beasts, The 24 Elders
1After 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.
A. After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven:…Edit
John is on the island of Patmos and hears a voice behind him. He turns around and sees Jesus in splendor. Jesus speaks to John, telling him to write to the seven churches.
Now Jesus has finished that narrative and John looks up. The phrase "After this" is a transitional phrase to a new vision. Similar phrases will indicate transitions to new visions or new parts of the same vision further in the book. Here the visions really begin. A opening opens up in the sky above.
B. and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me;…Edit
This is simply a repetition of 1:10. Jesus is still the one talking to John. The trumpet is still an emblem of heralding or announcing something of great import.
C. which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter…Edit
Jesus tells John to come with Him and He will show John things which must be in the time to come after John is finished receiving his vision. These are the things which must shortly come to pass (1:1).
2And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
A. And immediately I was in the spirit:…Edit
John is in a spiritual state, his body still on Patmos. Paul speaks of something along these lines in 2 Corinthians 12:1-4. Ezekiel likely endured this same experience. It is an indication that what John was seeing had symbolic meaning rather than literal.
B. and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne…Edit
John is seeing something very similar to what Ezekiel saw (Ezekiel 1:26;Ezekiel 10:1) and Daniel (Daniel 7:9). He witnesses a throne, a symbol of authority. That this throne is in Heaven indicates ultimate authority. A person is sitting on the throne.
3And 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.
It is important to remember that no man can see Jehovah in His full glory and live. These description are therefore not literal descriptions of God, but symbols with a specific purpose related to the overall message of John’s vision.
A. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone:…Edit
John begins to describe the person who sits on the throne. He is like jasper and sardius, two stones of the high priest’s breastplate (Exodus 28). Both of these stones are the color of blood.
B. and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald…Edit
Read Ezekiel 1:28. John is still seeing similar symbols to Ezekiel’s vision. From Genesis 9 we understand that rainbow to represent God’s promises, His covenants with man. The emerald is also a stone set in the high priest’s garments, a green stone.
4And 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.
The twenty four elders or leaders sitting around the throne and clothed in raiment of purity are those who have authority over the church and represent it, both from the Old and New Testament. They have authority symbolized in the crowns. Here is a representation of all God’s faithful before and after the cross in their leadership (the twelve patriarchs and the twelve apostles). In the book of Revelation there are a number of different symbols that represent the same things (in order that the message is not misunderstood). Here is but one that indicates the totality of God’s people throughout time.
5And 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.
Read Exodus 19:16. These symbols here simply indicate that the person on the throne is God. The seven lampstands which are the seven spirits are representative of the spirits (the messengers) hearing the message coming ultimately from God the Father. Note again the wrong capitalization of the word “Spirits” here. There is only one Holy Spirit. These seven cannot be a person of the Godhead. Therefore in this throne scene we understand this to be a figurative picture representing the message from God the Father being prepared to be sent out. It is not a literal description of God the Father or His throne for no man may see the Father and live (Ex. 33:20). John would have died.
6And 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.
A. And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal:...Edit
This is a reference back to the molten sea in the Temple (1 Kings 7:23f). The sea was used for the washing of the priests who came before God in the OT Temple. To sea it here is to be reminded of the purity men must have to come before God.
B. and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.Edit
7And 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.
- Lion – strength; kingship - ADD REFERENCES
- calf (ox) – endurance/long suffering; - ADD REFERENCES
- man – wisdom/intellect; - ADD REFERENCES
- eagle – omniscient justice/swift justice/protection for righteous - ADD REFERENCES
8And 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.
A. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him;...Edit
The wings here are the same as the seraphims in Isaiah 6 and the four creatures in Ezekiel 1, they represent the capacity of God to be everywhere all at once affecting events. In this vision, John sees the creatures with six wings like Isaiah though Ezekiel only saw four wings. There is no contradiction or discrepancy here. Remember, these are symbols. In Ezekiel the four wings represent God’s working everywhere in the Earth. In Revelation, the number six shows God working everywhere in the affairs of man, essentially the same meaning.
B. 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.Edit
In Isaiah 6 as in Ezekiel 1, the seraphim indicate the initiation of the message the prophet is to take to his audience. John, also, sees these seraphim and for the same reason. The omnipotent, eternal Jehovah has a message for His people. He does not rest but watches over them with constant vigilance.
9And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,10The 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,11Thou 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.
John sees here that when the seraphim worship Jehovah God, the 24 elders respond by worshipping as well. Remember, these 24 elders represent the leadership of God’s faithful people throughout both the Old and New Testament time periods and thus all of God’s faithful throughout time (4:4). Their crowns represent the authority they have to rule over God’s people. That they cast these crowns before God, shows their submission ultimately to God’s will as the ultimate ruler and Creator. We see this in the very statement that they make after casting down their crowns. Jehovah is worthy to receive glory and honour from those who follow Him, and also power. Not that men have the capacity to empower an omnipotent God, but men have the capacity to submit to the will of God, granting Him power over their lives though humans have the free will and capacity to not do so. The statement of the 24 elders is powerful because in it we understand that we were created by God to please God and is also indicative of the free will and capacity to act on that free will that God created us with.
In Truth and Love,