“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. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. 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.” Revelation 4:1-3.
In his vision John now sees heaven opened and a great voice tells him to come and see what is there. He sees the great throne room of God in heaven, bright and full of beautiful colors.
In these visions everything has a meaning; so these colors have a meaning also. The Rainbow: this has several meanings. We know the rainbow first appeared as a sign of God’s promise not to again destroy the earth with a flood. It tells us about God’s mercy mixed with His justice, and the Gospel of Salvation mixed with the Law of God. It also is a symbol that Jesus uses; wherever in prophecy we see clouds and that rainbow, we know that Jesus is there.
Satan has stolen that symbol, as he steals everything that Jesus gives us, and he uses it for his own purposes. He uses it as a symbol for New Age spiritualism. But we know it truly belongs to Jesus.
Jasper anciently was red and purple and the ‘sardine’ stone was bright red. Red was a symbol of royalty and red and purple were usually worn by kings. Red also reminds us of the Blood of Jesus shed for our sins, and when put together with blue which means Gods justice and Law, we see purple; justice and mercy mixed together.
Emerald is a green stone. Green is a symbol of life and faith, and the beauty and simplicity of trusting in God. When Jesus comes in the clouds, a great rainbow will be around Him.
“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.” Revelation 4:4
Here we see a wonderful sight, twenty-four ‘elders’ sitting around the throne of God. Who are they? Why are they there? Well, we can figure that out as we look at the clues given to us.
First the number; twenty-four is 2 X 12; there were 12 tribes of Israel and 12 disciples, together that is 24. This represents God’s people from both the Old and New Testament times. It is very clear that these ‘Elders’ are human beings that God has taken to heaven ahead of time to help with the judgment. All proper courts use a jury and it has to be made of ‘peers’. That word means ‘equals’. We could not have a jury of angels, or beings from other worlds, that would not be fair. No, these are a jury of people from earth.
We know this because it says they thank God for redeeming them from earth. (See Revelation 5:9) So who are they? We don’t know their names, but when Jesus rose from the dead, He raised a lot of people at that time, and when He went to heaven to continue His work for us there, He took these ones with Him to present to His Father. (See Matthew 27:52, 53)
“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.” Revelation 4:5
Here is a wonderful scene, it shows us how busy Heaven is, working for our salvation.
Lightenings: When the angels come and go from the throne of God on their errands to help people on earth, they are like bolts of lightening. Faster than any spaceship man can even imagine, faster than light; these powerful messengers come and go bringing power and help to God’s children on earth.
Thunderings and voices: This means messages from God going forth to do their work at different times in the history of God’s people here on earth.
The Seven Lamps: Where did we see those? Why in chapter 1. The candlesticks and lamps are the same thing; they are the congregations of God’s dear children through all the ages, and the work of the Holy Spirit in them and for them. We are shown them as right before the throne, the center of God’s attention.
When you are tempted to feel all alone or afraid, read these verses and think about that great throne room and those powerful forces all working hard to save you and me.
“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. 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.” Revelation 4:6, 7
Now we see something very different; four ‘beasts’ or ‘living creatures’ are before God’s throne. Now it may be nice to imagine that God has some wonderful and strange beings in His universe and I am sure that He does; but this is prophecy, and in prophecy everything has a meaning and is shown us for a reason. Read about these ‘creatures’ and then turn over in your Bible to Ezekiel 1 and also 10, and there you will find similar descriptions of these four ‘creatures’. Both of these word pictures are telling us the same story, and both are symbols with much meaning for us.
They are symbols that represent God’s true people and their work on earth. They are shown as if they are already right there in heaven, in front of God’s throne, because God’s attention is focused on them; but they are really here on earth. It is the same as the lamps or candlesticks, they are shown as if they are in heaven, but they are God’s congregations here on earth.
Let’s look at what this interesting word picture shows us. ‘Full of eyes’; eyes in prophecy mean several things; knowledge, the Holy Spirit, and spiritual awareness. Remember that the last church, Laodicea, is ‘blind’; it is not ‘full of eyes’.
But the people of God represented by these ‘creatures’ have the Holy Spirit, and He has been teaching them knowledge of God’s Word. They are using the ‘eyesalve’, and are spiritually aware of what God is doing in this world.
We’ll look at the faces later; but notice what they are saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy. Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” They are telling others about God and their lives are bringing honor to Him. When we live the way Jesus has taught us to live, our lives are like Jesus’ life on earth was, and we bring honor and glory to Him that sits on the throne. It is just as if we were right there before God’s throne, praising Him.
I want to live in such a way that my life is bringing glory and honor to God, don’t you? Then when we read about these wonderful creatures, we can know we are a part of them.
“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.” Revelation 4:7
These four symbols were also around the sanctuary on banners in ancient Israel and represented the four main tribes one on each side, North, South, East and West. Now in Ezekiel we see that each ‘creature’ had four faces; here they have one each, but the same four faces. The meaning of the faces is the same.
Traditionally these four symbols are also used for the writers of the four gospels.
The Lion: refers to royalty. God’s children are ‘Kings and Princes’ of the heavenly kingdom; we are ‘children of the Heavenly King’. Also, Jesus is the ‘Lion of the tribe of Judah’, and His children are like Him. It also stands for courage and bravery.
The Calf, or Ox: This stands for sacrifice, as these animals were used for sacrifices. It also means service, as the ox was a hard working beast of burden. These people of God have sacrificed all for Jesus, and they serve faithfully as did Jesus when He was on earth.
The Man: These are real people, doing a real task on earth. The symbol of a man stands for wisdom and knowledge.
The Eagle: The eagle, like the lion, can stand for courage, and the wings also mean speed; but the main thing that the eagle means in this prophecy is ‘eyesight’. The eagle can see details at great distances; they have some of the most wonderful eyes in all creation.
What we see here are a people, who have the messages of Prophecy, which gives them the ability to see spiritual things and also to see great distances into the future. They are going forward with speed and courage to carry this message to others.
“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.” Revelation 4:8
Wings in prophecy stand for speed, and the carrying of a message, and here we see six of them. Even the fastest prophecy beast in Daniel 7 only had four wings.
Wings represent many things: In Exodus 19:4, wings “carried” the Israelites out of bondage. Ecclesiastes 10:20 says, “that which hath wings shall tell the matter.” One of the things that wings represent is that they carry something; in the case of God’s last day people, it is the final warning from God. Another thing that wings represent is speed, as in Daniel’s vision concerning Alexander the Great. The final work will be rapid and the message of warning shall go out to the world very quickly by simple ways.
Another very common usage of wings in the Bible is as a covering, such as this text from Ruth 2:12: “a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.” In Ezekiel 1, two of the wings “covered their bodies.” God’s people will be ‘Under His Wings’ of protection and love, as they speed on errands of mercy and carry the message to the entire world.
In this verse we also see a clue about the message they carry; they talk about God ‘which was, and is, and is to come.’ Notice the start of the three angels’ messages in Revelation 14:7, we see that same message; God who was: He was our Creator and Redeemer; He is: He is our God and is with us right now, and the judgment is happening; and He is to come: Jesus is soon coming back to earth to take His people home.
These are very exciting times to live in, when the most wonderful messages ever given are going out to the world and Jesus is coming very soon.
“And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, 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, 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.” Revelation 4:9-11
These heavenly beings are thrilled as they learn more and more of the Goodness and Love of our Wonderful Heavenly Father and the Lamb, and they are overcome with joy and gratitude and fall down on their faces and offer their crowns to Him.