REVELATION CHAPTER FOUR
Revelation 19: 7-9 - Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
CHAPTER FOUR PREFACE
We have reached the end of the Church Age, typified by the seven messages to the seven churches in Asia Minor. Although these messages apply historically to seven local churches in 96 AD (and perhaps, doctrinally to local churches in the Tribulation) they represent, in type, the history of the Church Age, which can be seen by a comparison of the first church (the church at Ephesus), with the last church (the church at Laodicea). The word "church" disappears in Revelation 3:22, and is not mentioned again in chapters 4 through 21. There is something else, too. The Holy Spirit is spoken of as being in the midst of the churches, on earth with the churches in Revelation 2 and 3. Yet, the Spirit (spoken of as seven Spirits) is found up in the third heaven in Revelation 4:5, indicating there has been both a change in the churches' position, and in the position of the Spirit.
It is equally clear that we have now come to the Third Division of the Book. The Three Divisions of the Book do not overlap nor are they concurrent. The word "hereafter" permits a "time space," while the words "after these things" refer to the things that shall immediately follow the completion of the "Church Age," as prefigured, historically, in the Messages to the Seven Churches.
As noted above the Church disappears from view with the close of the third chapter and is not heard of again as "CHURCH" until chapter 21. However, the nineteenth chapter, where her (the churches') marriage to the Lamb is announced. Revelation 19: 7-9. The removal of the Church at the end of the third chapter opens the way for God to renew His dealings with Israel, and take up the broken thread of Jewish History. This portion of the Book of Revelation, from chapter three to the end of chapter nineteen is largely made up of symbols taken from the Old Testament. These symbols include the Tabernacle, Ark of the Covenant, Altar, Censer, Elders, Cherubim, Seals, Trumpets, Plagues, etc., is fairly conclusive evidence that we are here back on Jewish ground, and that the Dispensation of the Church is complete.
The last or "Seventieth Week" of Daniel's "Seventy Weeks" is now in course of fulfillment. It is clear, therefore, that we must look for the explanation of these symbols to the Old Testament.
Revelation 4: 1 - 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.
The scene now changes from earth (Patmos) to Heaven. John tells us that "After This:"
A door opens in heaven. Heaven only opens two times in the Book of Revelation once when somebody goes up, and in Revelation 19 where somebody comes down. Notice that when the door is opened here in this verse, there is a voice and a trumpet. If we will compare this passage with 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18, there will be no doubt in our minds as to what the voice is, or what the trumpet is. This is the Lord calling somebody (in both passages), and they respond by ascending through the clouds.
"Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter." And John adds, "Immediately I was in the Spirit."
The experience of John was similar to that of Paul, who was caught up into "Paradise" or the Third Heaven. Whether in the body or out of the body they are uncertain, at least Paul was. 2 Corinthians 12:1-4. The difference between them however was, that, while Paul heard words that he was forbidden to speak, John was told to "Write in a book" the things he saw and heard, and send them to the Seven Churches in Asia.
In this "Rapture" of John we have a type of the RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH, and it is at this place in the Book that the "RAPTURE" of the Church takes place.
After the confession of Peter at Caesarea Philippi, that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16: 13-28), and Jesus had said that upon the rock of that confession He would build His Church. He said to His Disciples "Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man COMING IN HIS KINGDOM." And then we read in the next chapter (and there should be no chapter division), "And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was TRANSFIGURED BEFORE THEM." Matthew 17: 1-9. Now this "Transfiguration Scene" is a type of the Second Coming of Christ, Moses being a type of the "Resurrected Saints," and Elijah of tile "Translated Saints." Warning we are going to see these two again in Revelation chapter 11!
This "Transfiguration Scene" was a rehearsal of the manner of His Second Coming that Christ promised to His Disciples that some of them should not "taste of death" until they saw it. Also the statement made to Peter as to John, "If I will that he TARRY TILL I COME" (John 21: 20-23), finds its fulfillment in John's being caught up in vision and beholding this before his death. This is what he would have witnessed and experienced if his life had been prolonged until Jesus came back. Thus John was permitted to live, until in vision, he saw the Return of the Lord.
As alluded to above, the "Rapture" of the Church is described in 1 Thessalonians 4: 15-18. Note, more carefully now, how John's taking up corresponds with this. He was summoned by the "VOICE OF CHRIST," and it will be the "SHOUT of Christ" that shall summon the saints at the Rapture. It was with a "LOUD VOICE" that Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb. John 11:43. And as it was a Trumpet like Voice that summoned John, so it will be a TRUMPET CALL that will summon the Saints at the Rapture.
As confirmatory proof that the Church is "caught out" at this time and place, we have in the description of the Throne, the statement that the Holy Spirit in the Seven-fold plentitude of His power, is BACK IN HEAVEN. In none of the Epistles is the Holy Spirit invoked along with the Father and the Son, except in 2 Corinthians 13:14. Why? Because He is viewed as abiding on the earth with the Church, convicting of sin, comforting believers, and gathering out the elect, but here He is no longer on the earth but back in Heaven, and before the Throne. This is the strongest kind of evidence that the Church at this time has been "caught out" and is no longer on the earth, for when the Holy Spirit goes back to Heaven, He will take the Church with Him. And the presence of the Holy Spirit in Heaven is conclusive evidence that the events that follow are to take place after the Church has been caught out, and therefore the Church is not to pass through the Tribulation.
Revelation 4: 2 - And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
"I was in the spirit." Notice the expression again. "In the spirit," as in Revelation 1: 10. This is not in the sense of a person being in the Holy Spirit, as a born-again believer is in Christ. This is being "in the spirit," in the sense of a remarkable, miraculous transformation of a shape or structure into another dimension. (When we compare this with 1 Corinthians 15:49-52, and we will see that it matches the "Rapture," or the "catching out" of the Body of Christ. Paul says that this mystery will take place "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye," at the "sounding of a trumpet." We are told in 1 Thessalonians 4 that it takes place "with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God." Here in Revelation 4:1,2 we have all the elements present - a voice, a trumpet, a calling up, a change into a spiritual condition, "in a moment.")
John is transferred immediately up into the third heaven. We say "third heaven" because 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 clearly distinguishes three heavens. (Not the "seven heavens" of Milton which have nothing to do with Bible revelation.) The Bible delineates three heavens.
The first heaven is located from the ground to the clouds, as in the statement, "He cometh in the clouds of heaven."
The second heaven is located up where the sun, moon, and stars are, as "the sun, moon, and stars are in the heaven."
The third heaven is located beyond the constellations, nebulae, galaxies, and star clusters, into the presence of God Himself, which, by the way, is north as we shall learn later.
If there is any doubt as to whether or not Revelation 4:1,2 is a picture of the Rapture of the Church, let the reader observe that John, who writes here of himself and his own experience, turns out to be a type of the Body of Jesus Christ! If there is any doubt in ours minds, we should note note the following references and study them carefully.
Notice, first of all, in Ephesians 5, the Lord Jesus Christ's body, "the Church," bears the same relationship to Him that a wife bear's to her husband. Notice further, that the original relationship of wife to husband is the relation of Eve to Adam (Genesis 2). Therefore, Eve, and a man's wife, stand in relation to their husbands as the Body of Christ, the Church, stands in relation to Christ. Now we need to grasp this truth for several reasons. When Adam saved his wife, he had to die to save her. Christ had to die to save the Church. Adam's wife was part of his body; Christ's wife is part of His body "bone of His bone, flesh of His flesh" (Ephesians 5: 28-33). Adam's bride was taken from below his heart, and his side was pierced so that a rib could be extracted. Jesus Christ was crucified, and was pierced below the fifth rib, when He died on the cross for sinners. The Bible said, "Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it" (Ephesians 5:25). Adam had to die, or sleep the sleep of death in order to get his wife; so Christ dies (and is in the ground three days and three nights) to get His wife. Adam's wife is "bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh." She is his body. Christ's wife is "bone of His bone, and flesh of His flesh." She is His body. Adam's bride is obtained by the shedding of blood. Christ's bride is obtained by the shedding of blood.
Now, all of these things point indirectly to John the Apostle. The Lord Jesus Christ loved John in a special way that He didn't love the others, and John knew it. Now, John 3: 16 tells us that God loved everybody, but the Bible points out that He "loved the church, and gave Himself for it" a special kind of love. The same is true of John. Although Jesus loved all the disciples, and "loved them to the end" (John 13), John is loved in a special way - notice John 21:20. This "disciple whom Jesus loved" is John. Notice John 13: 23,25. John is lying right on the Lord's side, below his chest, exactly where Eve, the type of the bride of Christ (the church), came from, below the heart. To repeat: John is loved in a special way and knows it, as the church is loved in a special way. John is lying, at the Lord's Supper, right where the church is going to come from - the heart.
That isn't all. There is a statement about the future of the Apostle John that clearly indicated that he is a type of the Body of Christ. Notice John 21:21-24. John the Apostle is told that he will "tarry" until the Second Coming of Christ. This can only be true in the sense that John was alive in Revelation 1, when God caught him up in the Spirit and dragged him clean through nineteen hundred years of time, set him down in the Tribulation, and showed him the Second Coming of Christ. John did die, but he did see the Second Coming of Jesus Christ before he died. This leads the A-Millennialists and Post-Millennialists to think that Christ came back before John died! Of course, this is a booby trap. John, in 96 AD, is caught forward "in the Spirit" to the "day of the Lord," and sees the Second Coming of the Lord, and writes about it in the Book of Revelation. So John is plainly a type of the Body of Christ, the bride of Christ, the Church. The word "John" means "beloved." So when John is caught up in Revelation 4: 1,2, he pictures the catching up of the Church, the Body of Christ.
There is something else; in Revelation 4:1 we have the expression, "Come up hither." This expression occurs three times, and only three times, in the word of God. These three times are important to notice, as these three times signal a "catching out," or a "catching up" of saints in various dispensations. The first reference is here - Revelation 4:1. The second reference is Revelation 11:12. The third reference is in Proverbs 25:7.
Now, lest we get too complicated, too deep, or too "far out," lets return again to our simple diagram that we drew at the beginning of this study. Now, this expression occurs three times in our Bible "Come up hither." It occurs one time at a "catching up" of Old Testament saints. This takes place at the 2-inch mark, at the resurrection of Christ. It occurs again at the "catching up" of New Testament saints. This occurs at the 8-inch mark, the end of the Church Age. It occurs the third time to represent the "catching up" of Tribulation saints. This occurs at the 10-inch mark, simultaneously with the Advent of Jesus Christ. (Draw a line, going up, alongside the crucifixion of Christ. This will represent a Rapture of Old Testament saints [Proverbs 25:7]. Draw a line going up at the 8-inch mark- the Rapture of the New Testament Church [Revelation 4:1,2]. Then draw a line going up just before the 10-inch mark, going up to meet the Lord coming down - the Rapture of Tribulation saints [Revelation 11: 12-15].) This is one of the great, hidden mysteries in the word of God that many Christians are never taught.
John in the
Spirit on the
Day of the Lord.
Church Age Tribulation Millennium
The Bible teaches three raptures:
This means that "the first resurrection" is the first resurrection of saved people, and has three parts to it. (This is justly so, as all harvests have three parts.) To illustrate this resurrection, Paul likens it to a crop that you would plant in the ground. Notice that in the great chapter on resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15, he clearly indicates the Resurrection has three parts to it. Notice, in 1 Corinthians 15: 22-24, that the first resurrection has three parts to it, just like a crop has three parts to it. Every crop has:
1. Firstfruits - the first part which you pick when it gets ripe.
2. Harvest - the part that ripens later on.
3. Gleanings - the part that ripens at the end.
1 Corinthians 15:22 says. "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." And further in verse 23, "But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming." (We go out and pick a few of the first fruits of the crop that gets ripe, to start with; then there's the harvest - New Testament saints.)
1 Corinthians 15: 24, "Then cometh the end" (after we harvest we always have some gleanings left), "when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power."
1 Corinthians 15: 25,26, "For he must reign"(Millennium), "till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (Revelation 20 - at the end of the Millennium). Hey, the devil see his end here in the Book of Revelation, why should we think he hates this book so much?
The first resurrection, then, has three parts. This is why John does not say in Revelation 20 that "this is the first resurrection," until all three parts are over. The first part is Old Testament saints; the second part is New Testament saints; the third part is Tribulation saints. Therefore, there are three "catching ups":
1. "Firstfruits" - Old Testament saints at the resurrection of Christ.
2. "Harvest" - New Testament saints at the Rapture of the church at the end of the Church Age.
3. "Gleanings"- Tribulation saints at the Second Advent.
All three parts of this resurrection are mentioned in Deuteronomy 16: 16, and they are marked by three Jewish feasts, given to the Jews. (Stop here! We are getting dangerously close to trying to date the Rapture, which, of course, we cannot do. But, the three raptures are mentioned there, and the feasts that God gave to Israel mark them.)
Now, returning to our text in Revelation 4: 1,2, we plainly have a picture of the resurrection, and the Rapture of the body of New Testament saints, the church, in the resurrection of John, the beloved (a type of the Body of Christ). He is "caught up," and he observes the events that take part in the second part of the Book of Revelation - the events that will describe the Tribulation. Therefore, you can be absolutely certain that any event found in Revelation 4-19 occurs in the great Tribulation. Events that occur after Revelation 4 will not be found in the Church Age. This is important because cultists such as Seventh-Day Adventists, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and many others take passages found between Revelation 4 and Revelation 22 and apply them to the Christians in the Church Age. Of course, this is a case of "wrongly dividing" the word of truth. We are told to "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2: 15). This is wrong division. The Book of Revelation is clearly divided into three parts, and we are now in the second part, beginning with chapter 4 and ending with chapter 19.
"And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne." This, of course, takes John up into the third heaven. (Here he writes about the things that Paul was forbidden to write about in 2 Corinthians 12: 1-4.)
Revelation 4: 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.
The first thing John saw in Heaven was a Throne. The Throne was not vacant, but One sat upon it, upon whom to look was like looking at glistening gems, such as Jasper and Sardius. The occupant of the Throne was no other than God Himself. In Revelation 21:10-11, John in describing the New Jerusalem says, that its light is the "GLORY OF GOD." A light like unto a stone most precious, even like a JASPER stone, clear as crystal. This corresponds with John's declaration in 1 John 1:5, that "GOD IS LIGHT."
Ezekiel in describing his vision of the "Throne of God" says--" And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake. Ezekiel 1: 26-28.
Now there are two things in Ezekiel's Vision that correspond with John's Vision of the "THRONE OF GOD." First that the form of the one who sat on the Throne could not be clearly distinguished or described, but that it was RESPLENDENT WITH LIGHT, which veiled the form or person; and secondly, that there was a RAINBOW ROUND ABOUT THE THRONE. The person of God then, as He sits upon His Throne, is veiled in a Glory that can only be compared to the shining of some beautiful gem. But one of the remarkable things about the Throne of God is, that it is surrounded by a "RAINBOW" that is emerald in color. The first mention we have in the Bible of a Rainbow is in Genesis 9: 13-17. "I do set My BOW in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a COVENANT between Me and the Earth." A Covenant that God would not destroy this earth again by a Flood. But that Rainbow was only SEMI-CIRCULAR, such as we see in the heavens in summer after a shower; but the Rainbow Ezekiel and John saw around the Throne of God was CIRCULAR. In this world we only see half a Rainbow, or the half of things, in heaven we shall see the whole of things. The Rainbow is the sign of a Covenant based on an accepted Sacrifice, the Sacrifice of Noah (Genesis 8:20-22), and the Rainbow about the Throne of God is the sign of a Covenant based on the accepted Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. The difference between Noah's Rainbow and the one around the Throne of God is, that Noah's is composed of the seven primary colors, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet, while the one around the Throne of God is EMERALD. What does this "CIRCULAR GREEN RAINBOW" about the Throne of God signify? It signifies that God is a Covenant keeping God, that His promises as to this earth shall be fulfilled. Even though He is about to bring great judgments upon it, He will not destroy it, but it shall pass through those judgments safely. He will redeem it, and bless it, until its hills, and valleys, and plains, shall teem with the green verdure, fruitful orchards, and bountiful vineyards of the long Millennial Day that is to follow those judgments.
Now, note some of the distinguishing points of difference. But, before doing so, let us look:
In heaven is appears as a prelude to the STORM. On earth the rainbow occurs after a storm. By this contrast we can see that there is an awful time ahead, a time of fiery judgement. The prophets referred to it with bated breath as that GREAT and DREADFUL DAY OF THE LORD. (Revelation 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 1:7 - 9.) We might well cry in trumpet tones: "Flee from the wrath to come!"
In heaven the rainbow is green. In green there is that softest and most refreshing of all hues to the eyes, in green there is something on which the eye does not fear but loves to rest. So to the eyes of the believer the rainbow about the Throne of God speaks of eternal peace and rest. But just the existence of the rainbow about God throne promises a dreadful storm to come. In Ezekiel Chapter 1, he describes to us a vision he had of the Throne of God - the rainbow there was sardine in color or a fiery, blood-red color because God was ANGRY with His people. What color is God's rainbow to you?
In heaven the rainbow is full circle; on earth it is at best a doublet or even rarer, up side down, but in all cases these are half circles speaking to incompleteness or imperfection. The rainbow in heaven is a full circle, it is complete, and it is perfect. Heaven meets all of our needs. Whatever the longings of our souls, heaven will meet.
On earth the rainbow is a fleeting thing, in heaven it endures forever.
Revelation 4:3 - Oh, what a lesson in salvation! John met with Christ on this earth, and then saw the Father on the Throne. Oh, what a terrible, fearful thing it is to the turn from Christ when He invites lost souls to come - for God out of Christ is a consuming fire. He who was sardine under the Law has ended as jasper by the Revelation of His Son.
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.
The "crowns" can be connected with the crowns of rewards. The white raiment can be associated with the Judgment Seat of Christ and the marriage of the Lamb, in Revelation 19, where we are told that "fine linen is the righteousness of saints." If this is so, the twenty-four elders represent saved people from the Church Age, who are saved, "washed in the blood," and have earned rewards. However, these twenty-four elders are almost impossible to identify. Some people say that they represent the Old Testament saints: some people say that they represent the "Twelve Patriarchs" and the "Twelve Apostles." But, when they occur again in Chapter 5, they are saying that God has "redeemed them by His blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation," implying that they are representative of saints, saved in this age. Of course, they would be up in heaven in Chapter 4 because the Church Age ended in Chapter 3. Why there are twenty-four of them is impossible to tell.
Twenty-four is the number of the Priestly Courses as given in 1 Chronicles 24: 1-19. When David distributed the Priests into "Courses" he found there were 24 Heads of the Priestly families, and these 24 Heads he made representative of the WHOLE PRIESTHOOD. As the "Elders" are representative of both the Old and New Testament Saints, and the Old Testament Saints are represented by the Twelve Tribes of Israel, and the New Testament Saints by the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb, they together make up 24 representative characters. Twenty-four is the Jewish number (12) doubled. It may mean "Jew" and "Gentile" in Christ. It may be typical of the Twelve Apostles that began the Body of Christ, and the Gentiles who were saved later. The references that may help us to identify them are Psalm 107:32,1, Chronicles 24:1, 1 Peter 5:1, Exodus 3:18; Hebrews 11:2. They are undoubtedly men of some kind, as they appear to be in Revelation 4:9,10.
That these "Elders" were REDEEMED MEN is further evidenced by the "Song" they sung. "And they sung a NEW SONG, Saying. Thou art worthy to take the Book, and to open the Seals thereof, for thou wast slain, and hast REDEEMED US TO GOD BY THY BLOOD, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God KINGS and PRIESTS; and we shall reign on the earth." Revelation 5:9 - 10.
"He hath put a new song in my mouth" Psalms 40:3. Notice there was singing until the Psalmist had been delivered, established, and assured. It is indeed a puzzle of how gloom and doom has become associated with religion. For the Bible is a book of singing, of songs. Solomon composed 1005! Even in the most solemn of Books, Revelation, there is great gladness and joy, for we can find more singing than woe. Nine times is "woe" mentioned, but there are ten songs sung by eight different choirs (Revelation 4:8-11; 5:8-14; 7:9-14.)
It is a remarkable fact, that the only singing in the Bible is in connection with redemption. Now this could not be said of angels, or any other created heavenly beings, for they have not been redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb, nor are they to be "Kings" and "Priests" on the earth.
The New Song
The New Song Begins on the Rock - Psalm 40:1-3.
The New Song Continues in the Rock - Isaiah 42:11
The New Song is Enriched at Consecration -
2 Chronicles 29:27
The New Song Increases in Volume as We Follow on to Know the Lord - Isaiah 24:14
The New Song is Mightily Helped by Prayer - Acts 16:25.
While the "Elders" sit on Thrones and wear Crowns, they are not dressed in royal robes but in "white raiment," the garment of a Priest. They are the members of a "ROYAL PRIESTHOOD." 1 Peter 2:9. That the time has not yet come for them to reign is clear, for they are engaged in Priestly duties, having "Golden Vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints," in their hands. Revelation 5:8. These saints are not the saints of the Church, but perhaps the Jewish saints on earth during the "Tribulation Period," whose prayers are so beautifully prewritten in the Psalms.
Revelation 4: 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 "Throne" was not the "Throne of Grace" for out of it proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices, which remind us of Mt. Sinai, and proclaim it to be the "Throne of Judgement."
Where were these lamps before? If you say, they were in the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3, you are right! A further proof that the church has left the earth and is now in heaven.
Revelation 4: 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.
Before the Throne was a "SEA OF GLASS." The surface of this "Sea of Glass" was unoccupied, but later is seen mixed with fire (Revelation 15: 2-3), and occupied by martyrs of the Tribulation Period who get the victory over the Beast, and who have harps, and sing the Song of MOSES AND THE LAMB. This "Glassy Sea" reminds us of the Brazen Sea" that stood before Solomon's Temple (1 Kings 7: 23-45), and thus was in front of the Ark of the Covenant, the "Mercy Seat" of which was the earthly Throne of God in Old Testament days.
Right here it might be well for us to remember that the earthly Tabernacle erected by Moses, with all its vessels and instruments of service and mode of worship, was patterned after the "Heavenly Tabernacle." Hebrews 9: 23.
A knowledge then, of the Tabernacle and its various parts and vessels of service, will help us to understand John's Vision of the "Heavenly Tabernacle." Like John, Paul was "caught up" into Heaven, and saw the "Heavenly Tabernacle," and he most beautifully and clearly makes a comparison between it and the "Mosaic Tabernacle" in his Letter to the Hebrews.
The "Throne" that John saw in Heaven corresponds with the "Mercy Seat" of the Ark of the Covenant. The "Four Beasts (Living Ones)" with the "Cherubim" that guarded the "Mercy Seat." The "Four and Twenty Elders" with the "Priestly Courses" that officiated in the Tabernacle. The "Seven Lamps (Spirits)" before the "Throne," with the "Seven Branched Candlestick" of the Holy Place of the Tabernacle. The "Sea of Glass" with the "Brazen Laver for cleansing, that stood in front of the Tabernacle. The "Altar" under which John saw the "soul of Martyrs" with the "Altar of Burnt Offering."
If the "Throne" section of the "Heavenly Tabernacle" corresponds with the "Most Holy Place" of the "Mosaic Tabernacle," and the "Four and Twenty Elder" section with the "Altar of Incense" and "Seven Lamps of Fire" corresponds with the "Holy Place," then the "Sea of Glass" and the "Altar" should correspond with the "Court" of the Tabernacle. This will help us to relatively locate what John saw in the Heavenly Tabernacle.
So John is caught up to the third heaven; he sees the throne with the Lord on it, and it is surrounded by twenty-four elders on thrones, and four beasts (cherubims) around the throne; it's a wild scene. But, it is so; the problem, of course, is to believe it, and receive it.
Before going on and finishing Revelation 4, we should understand that John was "caught up" to a real, literal place in the universe, and that place is up there now. The scripture has much to say about this "dwelling place" of God, its location, distance, size, nature, and inhabitants, and it is very clearly defined. It is the abode of "God the Father" in the third heaven, on the throne, above the sea of glass northward.
Now, these verses that we are about to study will reveal something that is unknown to "modern science." so these verses will come as a shock to many people reading this. But these verses, as they stand, where we find them, in the context, plainly teach that the essence of God is located in a direction in the universe, and that direction and place are clearly given and described. (The concept that God is "spirit," or shapeless, formless, and bodiless, of course is the absolute concept of God's essence. The Bible says, "God is a spirit," and as a spirit God cannot be located in any one particular place. But God, being God, is able to manifest Himself in different places, at different times, in different ways. The orthodox Jew, and some other groups, say that since "God is a spirit," and has no form and has no shape. Therefore, He never manifests Himself in any form, in any visible shape, in any way, but is always a vague, neuter essence - a nonentity that kind of "fills the universe" in a sort of naturalistic, pantheistic way. This concept is not a Biblical, Christian revelation, given by God Himself. God's revelation of Himself in the New Testament is a Father, Son, and Holy Spirit a Trinity, able to manifest Himself in thousands of ways, but choosing to manifest Himself in certain ways, and these ways are revealed in the Bible.
Although God is everywhere - David said, "If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there," God is not indwelling the body of an unsaved man in the sense that He indwells the body of a saved man. Again, the Holy Spirit did not indwell the bodies of Old Testament saints in the sense that He now indwells New Testament saints. Again, the Holy Spirit is not on this earth in the Tribulation in the sense that He is on this earth in the Church Age. To "get the sense," we must be born again (1 Corinthians 2:14).
So, when the Bible speaks about the location of God in the third heaven, it is talking about the "theophany," the appearances of God in bodily shape, and the center (or location) of God's operation in the universe, as He is in the manifestation of His glory. Of course, God is manifest in other senses, but this is the sense of His absolute glory, above and outside the material creation.
Here are some of the references.
Job 26:5-13 - In this passage, notice a number of things. Notice that "dead things are under the water." The things that are "under the water" are connected with hell. The area that is over the water is called "the north" and "the empty place." Over this north or "empty place" is a solid covering that keeps a human being from seeing "the throne of God." (Remember that John was caught up to the throne.) This location is beyond the solar system, where "day and night have an end" (Job 26: 10). Notice, too, that the "water" that is mentioned between this throne and hell below it is divided (verse 12). In this water is Satan (verse 13).
The next passage is Job 37:9,10. Observe the connection of the direction "north" with God. "Cold out of the North. By the breath of God frost is given: and the breadth of the waters is straitened." Notice, again, the connection of "the waters" with north, and the "throne of God" in connection with north.
Next, in Job 37:18, we are told that the sky is a solid object - strong like a "molten looking glass." That is, it is like frozen crystal, or ice - molten, poured, or as a frozen looking glass. It is not transparent, but reflects back. This can not be the sky over our heads, because we can see right through the sky over our heads. This sky (Job 37:18) is a good deal higher!
Read, in Job 37:22, the connection of north with God again. (The reason why we should study the quotations from the Book of Job, is that the Book of Job is the oldest book in the Bible. The events recorded in it are not as old as the events recorded in Genesis, but the date of the writing of the Book of Job precedes the date of the writing of the Book of Genesis. Consequently, if we want information on the formation, foundation, and the structure of the universe, we do not go primarily to Genesis 1, we should go to Job.)
Notice Job 38:30. The waters are said to be "hid" where you can't see them. (You can see the ones in the Atlantic and Pacific!) "The face of the deep is frozen." This is not the face of some lake in Palestine, nor is it Lake Michigan. This is the face of the D-E-E-P. It is frozen. The "face of the deep" then, is like a strong molten looking glass, and it is frozen, and it is north. If there is any doubt in our minds about what the "face of the deep" is, we should go to Genesis 1. In Genesis 1:2, we learn that the "face of the deep" is not the Atlantic or the Pacific Oceans, or the Baltic, or the Black or the Dead Seas.
Genesis 1:2 says, "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."
What follows is the re-creation of the universe. Now, notice in Genesis 1:6-9 that in the re-creation of the universe, that it is composed of an open, hammered-out, flat space called "a firmament." Above this firmament is a body of water, and below this firmament is a body of water. This universe is constructed in a flat open space, which contains the stars, sun, moon, galaxies, constellations, nebulae, and star clusters and it is called "heaven" (Genesis 1:14-17). Above this heaven is water (vs. 7), and below this heaven is water. There are waters above and below the second heaven.
Turn now to Psalm 148. Here, the Holy Spirit tells us that the waters above the heaven (whose top going northward is frozen), are not the clouds. Some Bibles might tell us that these waters above the firmament are "clouds," or the "vapor." This is a gross error that comes - as all errors do - from changing the plain English and trying to prove something that is in line with science. The Bible tells us the earth is round, that it hangs upon nothing [Isaiah 40 22], that day and night can be in the earth at the same time [Luke 17:31,34], and so many other scientific statements. Wherever you find "modern science" stating one thing and the Bible stating the opposite, the science is always, absolutely, one hundred percent, dead wrong, every time. In the Louvre, in Paris, there are 572 miles of shelves of books whose "scientific facts" are now considered obsolete! Don't worry about changing the Bible to meet the demands of "modern science."
Psalm 148:1- "Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the Lord from the heavens (notice the plural - three heavens, 2 Corinthians 12:1-4): praise him in the heights." The heights of what? It is not the "heights" of a mountain; for the context is speaking of something a good deal higher than Mt. Everest.
Psalm 148:4 - "Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters (plural) that be above the heavens" (plural).
Psalm 148:5- "Let them praise the name of the Lord: for he commanded, and they were created." Notice the context is the creation- Genesis 1. God made a firmament between the two bodies of water.
Psalm 148:6 - "He hath also stablished them forever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass." In plainer words, these waters don't move out of place. They are held in suspension above the universe, and below the universe, by God's decree on atomic structure, nuclear fission and sustaining power (Hebrews 1:2-4).
Psalm 148:7- "Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps." (Notice how the scriptures come down to earth from the universe? Now we are down to the ground, but in verses 1-6 we were clean over our heads!)
Psalm 148:8- "Fire, and hail: snow, and vapours; stormy wind fulfilling his word." Then the "vapors" are on this earth, and they are not the "waters above the firmament" spoken of in Genesis 1: 4-6! The waters above the heavens are not vapors and clouds. Vapors and clouds are on this earth, and the "waters" are above the second heaven, which means that the "face of the deep" is frozen - going northward. The temperature up there is absolute zero, going up. There is water over your head that would make the Pacific and Atlantic look like a spittoon! We Christians, will someday be caught up to heaven; we will be caught up through this celestial body of water exactly as the children of Israel came out of the land of Egypt and passed through the Red Sea, or as Joshua went through the Jordan River, coming into the promised land. The temperature of this third heaven is probably at "absolute zero," where all molecular action ceases, and hence, all passage of time ceases.
Above that place in heaven, going northward, is eternity. If we traveled northward at 150,000 miles a second, it would possibly take us a good 500 years to get up there.
Isaiah 57:15 "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place." (Brother, it's high! That place is up!) Now, turn to the scriptures that deal with this empty place over the north.
Isaiah 14:12 - "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!"
Isaiah 14:13 - "For thou hast said in thine heart. I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the NORTH."
Isaiah 14:14 - "I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High."
The passage plainly teaches that God's abode is straight north, over the empty place, through the firmament, out through the waters, up through the door, into the throne room, over the "empty place over the north," and this direction is north. It is indicated by the Polar star, God's one fixed direction in this universe is straight north.
Psalm 48:2 - "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the SIDES OF THE NORTH, the city of the great King." If there is any doubt as to whether this is heavenly Jerusalem, or earthly Jerusalem, look at the expression "the sides of the north." (Compare this with Isaiah 14:13.) "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation of the sides of the north." Satan would never say that he was going to ascend and put his throne above the throne of God at Jerusalem in Palestine. When Satan used the expression "sides of the north" above the heights of the stars, he was talking about taking a trip somewhere, and he was going a good bit beyond where man will send a rocket before Christ comes back. This is the expression in Psalm 48: 2 - "the sides of the north, the city of the great King."
Now, as if to wrap it up and try to make it very plain, the Holy Spirit has made a substitution in Psalm 75:6,7 where He lists four directions, and then, for a touch of humor, He leaves out one direction and puts the word "God" in as a substitute for the direction!
Psalm 75:6- "For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south." What you should expect next would be "but from the north." But the Holy Spirit knocks out one direction and makes this substitution: "But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up allother" (Psalm 75:7). Now this is no accident. "God" has been substituted for "north."
In case you think the Bible is stretching a point, don't forget:
From these passages we have learned a number of facts. We've learned that although God is everywhere in the sense of Spirit, even His Holy Spirit is not manifest everywhere in the same sense. For example, the Holy Spirit is in hell manifesting God's judgment. The Holy Spirit deals with a sinner in the sense of convicting him of sin. The Holy Spirit indwells the heart of the believer, forming in him the Holy Ghost - the bodily shape of Jesus Christ (Galatians 4:19).
Yet, God in His glory (and manifestation of power from His center of operation), is "on the throne" in the throne room, located over our heads (probably north), at several million light years, up into the firmament, out through the water, in through a frozen sea of glass, which is like a molten looking glass.
On that throne, between four supernatural beings called "cherubim," surrounded by twenty-four elders, is God, the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, sitting at the right hand of the Father in the heavens. That is, the Bible literally means what it says, exactly as it says it, where it says it. When we Christians say that we believe that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead and that He is now "seated at the right hand of the Father," do you know what we mean? We mean that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead, and He is seated at the right hand of the Father. We know where we are going, and we know how to get there (John 14:1-8).
Revelation 4: 7 -8 -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. 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.
When John sees the throne, it is transparent; so, he sees the beasts right through the throne, and around the throne.
Now, in many commentaries these beasts have been made to represent various things. But, there is no reason for not believing that these beasts are literal beasts. These beasts are found as literal beings in Ezekiel 1 and 10, where they are called "cherubim." They are found in Genesis 3:24. Supernatural beasts like them, called "seraphim," are found in Isaiah 6. There is no reason for not believing they are supernatural beasts (real beasts as we find them), when we remember that replicas, or remnants, of these supernatural beasts are found in all the Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, and Hittite monuments. Greek mythology and Chinese mythology all have their centaurs, satyrs, and ogres. People who worship demons have always had this same thing in mind - a half-man and half-beast. There isn't any reason to believe that there isn't a basis for this superstitious worship. Anybody who watches "The Twilight Zone" and "The Outer Limit" ought to realize by now that there is always a basis of truth for a lie.
These beasts are described in Ezekiel 1 and Ezekiel 10, and they are called "cherubim." There are four of them present, as in Ezekiel. The amazing thing about this passage is that when we study the Bible, we find that there were five of them! When Ezekiel sees them in Ezekiel 1, there are four, and when John sees them in Revelation 4 there are four. But, if you will turn to Ezekiel 28:14, you will find that there were five. There is one Cherub missing from the four in Revelation 4. The one that is missing is the Cherub "over the throne." In Revelation 4 they are round about the throne, and in the throne. But, in Ezekiel 28, you read of one Cherub being "over the throne." (We are going by exactly what it says, as it says it.)
Now, look at Ezekiel 28:14. "Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth." None of the other four cherubim are said to be "anointed." If you will read Ezekiel 1 and 10, you will find that this is the only one that is said to be anointed. This is very important because the word in Hebrew for "anointed" is "messiah," and the word for it in the New Testament is "christ." This cherub is a "christ"! He is not the Lord Jesus Christ. He's not the holy, anointed One of God - the Lord Jesus Christ, but he is a Christ. (This is very important because later on this cherub appears as the Antichrist.)
"That covereth." This cherub was over something that was underneath him. Look at Ezekiel 28:16. "By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire."
Notice this is said of no other cherub. There is the "sides of the north" - the heavenly Mt. Zion, spoken of in Hebrews 12. This is the "covering" cherub.
This cherub (Ezekiel 28) is so special that in verse 12 he is said to "seal up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty." In verse 13, he is said to have been "in the Garden in Eden." In verse 14, he is said to be "anointed," and in verse 15, he is said to be the originator of "iniquity!" There is no doubt about who he is; he is the "Lucifer" referred to in Isaiah 14:10-13, of whom we have just read.
Then there were five cherubims, which means that one cherub has been "kicked out"; he is no longer over the throne. The reason this is so significant is because of the nature of the fifth Cherub, and the nature of cherubim themselves. (Cherubim are drawn on Valentine cards with little baby faces, and wings on their backs, and little bows and arrows, but these are not the cherubim of the word of God.) Turn to the Book of Revelation and look at the description carefully.
4:7 "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." Then these four beasts have four different faces.
4:8 "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."
These four beasts, in their stationary position, have six wings for each cherub, and no "wheels." (The cherubim in Ezekiel 1 had "wheels" and they were moving and travelling.) The cherubim in Revelation 4 are stationary around the throne. Look carefully at the different faces - lion, calf, man, and eagle. Go back now to Ezekiel 1 and pick up these cherubim with a slightly different description.
Ezekiel 1:5 says, "Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man."
Then, a cherub looks like a man when you see him. That is, he has a face, head, shoulders, arms, stomach, legs, back, chest, neck, feet, etc. (Hence, the Devil, who is said to be the "anointed cherub," is often drawn as a man. Hence, he appears as "an angel of light." An angel, of course, in the Bible is a man.)
Ezekiel 1:6, "And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings."
This is a little different description. It can mean that each one had all four faces.
Ezekiel 1:7, "And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass."
Although all appear as men, and although all have wings, and although four different faces are present, please notice that all four have the feet of a calf. In plainer words, all have a "split foot." (Hence, the Devil, the anointed Cherub, is often referred to by some people as "old split foot.") Notice, too, that a calf walks on its toes, as do all animals. The bottom part of an animal's foot, the hoof, is actually a toenail. All animals walk on their toes. This is why a horse can run like lightning. The part of the horse that is his foot is the part from the ground to the first joint, which we would call a leg. This means that these beasts walk on tiptoe, as a calf. Strangely, 20th century women, who like to slenderize their bodies, and give their bodies a sleek, smooth appearance, nearly always put their legs up on three-inch heels, walking on the toes.
Ezekiel 1:8, "And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings."
Ezekiel 1: 10, "As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle." All four of these cherubims are said to have the combination of four faces, and each cherub, then, would have one face for each direction. If this were true each would have eight eyes. John says "eyes round about."
Ezekiel 1:18, "As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four." The description is similar to a flying saucer with portholes all around the upper disc.
These creatures, each one of them, can see in four different directions at one time. The eagle looks one way, the lion looks another, the man looks the other, and the ox looks the other. They are said to have four wings, and "wheels" (Ezekiel 1:15-23). Notice the "frozen sea" over their heads (vs. 22) is as the color of the "terrible crystal" ice. These beings are slightly different from those in Revelation 4, but different only because of their situation. In Ezekiel 1, they are flying, carrying the throne (vs. 26). In Revelation 4, they are stationary in the third heaven, by the throne.
Now, remembering that the faces are ox, man, lion, and eagle, turn to Ezekiel 10:14 and you will discover that the fifth cherub had only one face. (The reason why the Bible has changed the word here is so that you can identify Lucifer! The reason John says lion, calf; man and eagle, and Ezekiel says lion, ox, man and eagle, is found in Ezekiel 10:14.) If John had said, in Revelation 4, lion. Ox, man, and eagle, you never could have identified the fifth cherub missing. By saying lion, calf, man, and eagle, we can assume that the fifth cherub was an ox.
Ezekiel 10:14, "And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle."
To sum it up - northward, in the third heaven, over the sea of glass, and over that throne, we have God's Person and glory seated, in a light that no man can dwell, approach unto, or see (1 Timothy 6:16). At the right hand of that immortal life (the soul of God), is seated the Man, Christ Jesus. Around that throne are four cherubim. These four cherubim look like men. They have one thing in common, they all have feet like a calf. These four cherubim have four separate faces. They have the face of a calf, lion, eagle, and man. When these cherubim pick up this throne and bring it back to this earth at the Second Advent (which Ezekiel has a vision of in Ezekiel 1), they will assimilate each other's faces, so that each one will have four faces. Each cherub will have the face of an ox, a lion, an eagle, and a man. Originally, in Genesis 1:1, there was a fifth Cherub who was over the throne, who is no longer present. This Cherub looked like a man (as cherubim do), had a split foot like a calf (which all cherubim have), had wings (hence, angels are drawn as having wings, although no angel ever had wings - cherubim have wings), had a face like an ox with two horns on his head. This "anointed Cherub" who "covers" is named "Lucifer." Hence, he is drawn as a man with two horns on his head, a split foot, and a pointed tail, as a serpent would have.
A cartoon of Satan is not a cartoon at all: it is a picture of Satan in his original position. But, in his original position, he was not red. The color red is a description of his present state as a "red dragon" (see Revelation 12:3-10). Originally, the Cherub appeared in a brilliant halo of light, covered from head to foot with precious stones, full of wisdom and beauty, knowing just about everything that God knew, being perfect in beauty, being over the throne - geographically, over the throne of God - with a face like an ox, two horns on his head, four wings on his body - a winged "angel of light." Through sin he degenerated into a "red dragon," called a "serpent," was worshipped by Aaron in the form of a golden calf, was worshipped by Jeroboam in the form of a golden calf, was worshipped as an ox by a Baal or bull worshipper.
The Devil was an "anointed Cherub" with a face like an ox, with two horns, and wings. In his present condition, he is a serpent - a red "dragon" with seven heads. When he appears, he appears neither as a cherub nor as a serpent. When he appears, he appears as "an angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:11-14). When Satan appears, he appears as a thirty-three-year-old, wingless, male "christ".
Revelation 4: 9 - 11 - 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.
Here, we have the scene in heaven where God Almighty is receiving the worship of the beasts and the four and twenty elders. This is the scene that John beholds when he is caught up to the third heaven, and his journey is a type of the Rapture of the church.
Psalm 36:8 - They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. Apparently, then the Lord has His pleasures and delights as we. What are the pleasures of the Lord? He has pleasure in the beauties of creation. Here in Revelation 4:11 we are taught that that all things were created for His pleasure.
He hath no pleasure in the death of the wicked - Ezekiel 18:32.
He hath no pleasure in wickedness - Psalm 5:4.
He has pleasure in uprightness - 1 Chronicles 29:17.
The Lord hath no pleasure in those who break their vows - Ecclesiastes 5:4.
The Lord takes pleasure in His people - Psalm 47:11; 149:4
Are we honoring Him and giving Him pleasure? Can we sing the new song just for Him?
Is there something our home group can pray with you about?