The Apocalypse – Chapter 4
The word Apocalypse comes from the Greek word ‘apokalypsis’ which literally means an ‘uncovering’. In the Bible there are two main apocalyptic books: the book of Daniel and the book of Revelation. Daniel has four visions. The first is of four beasts which he is told represents the earthly kingdoms throughout the ages. The final vision of Daniel is the closest to the end time message which we read in the book of Revelation. In this book Daniel is shown a future time in which an evil ruler arises and wages war against the elect of God. The visions recorded in these chapters prepare for the opening of the seven seals by declaring the power of God as Creator and the love of God as Redeemer. The Throne Room.
A love feast “Behold I stand at the door and knock” The knocking rests upon no merit of yours Though it is in response to the longing of your heart for Me If any man will hear My voice What joy in heaven there will be. Again I say no merit of yours Only the ear bent to catch My tones And to hear the sound of My gentle knocking Above the world and all its lingering groans. Then listen: “if any man hears My voice and opens the door I will come in and eat with him And he with Me, can there be anything more? The rapture you will know as you hear the knocking and the Voice And opening welcome you to My love feast Where all hearts truly rejoice. By the late Andrew Feakin [passed away 16th March 2019]
Keys – The Throne Room
- Those who act on the discoveries they have had of God are prepared for more, and may expect them.
- We ought to receive only such things as are revealed to us. We must not pretend to be wise above what is revealed.
- There is a way opened into the holiest of all, into which the sons of God may enter by faith.
- The more we abstract ourselves from all corporeal things, the more fit we are for communion with God.
- Various gifts, graces, and operations of the Spirit of God are all dispensed according to His will and pleasure.
- We need to remind ourselves that it is only the blood of the Jesus that cleanses us from all sin.
- In His blood we must be washed to be admitted into the gracious presence of God on earth. Also into His glorious presence in heaven.
- There is but one God, and He alone, as God, is to be worshipped.
- We would do well to discover now the most profound humility, reverence, and godly fear.
- They cast their crowns before the throne giving God the glory. Glory for the holiness with which He had crowned their souls on earth. All honour belongs to Him.
- They owe all their graces and all their glories to Him. They acknowledge that His crown is infinitely more glorious than theirs.
- What can any creature pretend to give unto God? But they say, thou art worthy to receive glory.
- He is also the preserver of all things and all things are sustained by Him.
- All beings are dependent upon the will and power of God.
- All true believers are to ascribe their redemption and conversion. Their present privileges and future hopes, to the eternal and most holy God.
- In heaven arises the forever harmonious, thankful songs of the redeemed. Would we on earth do like them, let our praises be constant, not interrupted. United, not divided. Thankful, not cold and formal. Humble, not self-confident.
Yesterday ended with the last of the messages of Christ to the churches, now we come to the prophetical part. Many people struggle with the book of Revelation due to its symbolism and mystery. But clearly, it is a book that aims to ‘reveal’ so together we shall explore and prayerfully learn what the Lord would have us know in these days.
Christ will return!
The book of Revelation is given to the Apostle John whilst he is imprisoned on the island of Patmos. He is shown the spiritual battles between earthly and divine entities, with a final divine judgment over man. In this vision it describes how when it is time for God to judge man and reward the faithful, Christ will return. It will be the ending of earthly life as we know it and the beginning of a new existence close to the divine. So this book is called the ‘Apocalypse’ or ‘end of the world’. Let’s begin with this prophetic message Rev 4:1-7.
‘After these things, I looked, and behold, an open door in heaven. The former voice that I had heard like a trumpet speaking with me was saying, “Come up here and I will show you the things which must take place after these things.” Immediately I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one was seated on the throne. And the one seated was similar in appearance to jasper and carnelian stone, and a rainbow was around the throne similar in appearance to emerald.
Holy, Holy, Holy
Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders dressed in white clothing. On their heads were gold crowns. And from the throne came out lightnings and sounds and thunders, and seven torches of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God. And before the throne was something like a sea of glass, like crystal, and in the midst of the throne and around the throne were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back.
The first living creature was similar to a lion, and the second living creature was similar to an ox. The third living creature had a face like a man’s, and the fourth living creature was similar to an eagle flying. And the four living creatures, each one of them, had six wings apiece, full of eyes around and inside. They do not have rest day and night, saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God All-Powerful, the One who was and the One who is and the One who is coming!”
You have created all things
Whenever the living creatures give glory and thanks to the One who is seated on the throne, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him. They worship the one who lives forever and ever and put down their crowns before the throne. As they do they say, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, because You have created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created.”
Henry says – Here is the second vision of the apostle John. After this, that is, after I had taken His messages from His mouth, and written and sent them to the several churches.” Those who act on the discoveries they have had of God are prepared for more, and may expect them. A door was opened in heaven. Whatever is transacted on earth is first designed and settled in heaven. Here is the model of all the works of God. We can know nothing of future events but what God is pleased to reveal to us. They are within the veil, till God opens the door. Only so far as God reveals things to us ought we to receive them, and not pretend to be wise above what is revealed.
The body is a veil
To prepare John for the vision, a trumpet was sounded, and he was called up into heaven. There he had a sight there of the things which were to come. He was called into the third heavens. There is a way opened into the holiest of all, into which the sons of God may enter by faith. They enter in their spirits when they die, and in their whole persons at the last day. We must not intrude into the secret of God’s presence, but stay till we are called up to it.
A Glorious one upon the throne
We should forget the body when we go in before the Lord, that we may go up to Him in heaven. The vision itself begins with the strange sights. He saw a throne set in heaven, the seat of honour, and authority, and judgment. Heaven is the throne of God. There He resides in glory, and from there He gives laws to the church and to the whole world.
To prepare for this vision, the apostle was in the Spirit. He was enraptured, as before (Rev. 1:10), whether in the body or out of the body he could not tell. All bodily actions and sensations were for a time suspended. His spirit was possessed with the spirit of prophecy, and wholly under a divine influence. The more we abstract ourselves from all corporeal things, the more fit we are for communion with God. The body is a veil, a cloud, and clogs the mind to its transactions with God.
He saw a glorious One upon the throne. This throne was not empty, there was one in it who filled it, and that was God. Here He is described by those things that are most pleasant and precious in our world. His countenance was like a jasper and a sardine-stone. He is not described by any human features, so as to be represented by an image. But only by His transcendent brightness. This jasper is a transparent stone, which yet offers to the eye a variety of the most vivid colours, signifying the glorious perfections of God. The sardine-stone is red, signifying the justice of God.
Pardoning and punishing
This attribute of justice is displayed in pardoning as well as in punishing. In saving as well as in destroying sinners. John then saw a rainbow about the throne, like unto an emerald, Rev. 4:3. The rainbow was the seal and token of the covenant of the providence that God made with Noah. It is a fit emblem of that covenant of promise that God has made with all His people in Christ. This rainbow looked like the emerald. The most prevailing colour was a pleasant green, to show the reviving and refreshing nature of the new covenant.
He saw four-and-twenty seats round about the throne. They were not empty, but filled with four-and-twenty elders representing the representatives of the people. Their sitting denotes their honour, rest, and satisfaction. Their nearness to Him signifies 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 honour and authority given them of God, and the glory they have with Him.
All must be washed
He perceived lightnings and voices proceeding out of the throne. The awful declarations that God makes to His church of His sovereign will and pleasure. He saw seven lamps of fire burning before the throne. These are explained to be the seven Spirits of God (Rev. 4:5), the various gifts, graces, and operations of the Spirit of God in the churches of Christ. These are all dispensed according to the will and pleasure of Him who sits upon the throne.
He then saw before the throne a sea of glass, like unto crystal. As in the old temple there was a great vessel of brass filled with water. In this the priests were to wash when they went to minister before the Lord which was called a sea. So also in the church the sea for purification is the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. He cleanses us from all sin. All who are admitted into the gracious presence of God in heaven or on earth must be so washed.
Continually praising God
He saw four animals, living creatures, between the throne and the circle of elders. They are described by their many eyes, denoting sagacity, vigilance, and circumspection. They had lion-like courage, their great labour and diligence (in which they resemble the ox). Among them was prudence, discretion and speculations, by which they mount up with wings like eagles towards heaven (Rev. 4:7). These wings were full of eyes that in all their meditations and ministrations they are to act with knowledge. Especially to be well acquainted with themselves and the state of their own souls. They watch over their own souls as well as the souls of the people. They continually praised God never ceasing night or day. The elders sit and are ministered unto but these stand and minister resting not night or day.
Now let us observe the songs that he heard. In heaven there will be sights to be seen and sounds to be heard that will please the sanctified eye and ear. He heard the song of the four living creatures, which refers to the prophet Isaiah’s vision, Isa. 6:1-13. They adore one God, and one only, the Lord God Almighty, unchangeable and everlasting. They adore the Holy Father, the Holy Son, and the Holy Spirit as one infinitely holy and eternal Being, who sits upon the throne, and lives for ever and ever.
There is but one God
He further heard the adorations of the four-and-twenty elders, that is, of the Christian people represented by them. The ministers led, and the people followed, in the praises of God, Rev. 4:10, 11. Here observe the object of their worship: Him that sat on the throne, the eternal everliving God. The true church of God has one and the same object of worship. There is but one God, and He alone, as God, is worshipped by the church on earth and in heaven.
They fell down before him that sat on the throne, discovering the most profound humility, reverence, and godly fear. They cast their crowns before the throne giving God the glory for the holiness with which He had crowned their souls on earth. He also crowns them with honour and happiness in heaven. They owe all their graces and all their glories to Him. They acknowledge that His crown is infinitely more glorious than theirs.
Preserver of all things
They said, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power, Rev. 4:11. Observe that they do not say, We give thee glory, and honour, and power. For what can any creature pretend to give unto God? But they say, thou art worthy to receive glory. In this they acknowledge that God is exalted far above all blessing and praise. He was worthy to receive glory, but they were not worthy to praise. Nor were they able to do it according to his infinite excellences.
We have the ground and reason of their adoration, which is threefold. He is the Creator of all things and none but the Creator of all things should be adored. No made thing can or should be the object of religious worship. He is also the preserver of all things and are sustained by Him.
All beings but God are dependent upon the will and power of God. For thy pleasure they are and were created. It was His will and pleasure to create all things. He was not put upon by the will of another. God made all things for His pleasure. He deals with them as He pleases and glorifies Himself by them one way or other. Though He delights not in the death of sinners, but rather that they should turn and live. Yet He hath made all things for Himself, Prov. 16:4.
Ascribe all to Him
If these be true and sufficient grounds for worship, as they are proper to God alone. Christ is one with the Father and Spirit, and be worshipped as such. The same causality ascribed to him. Col. 1:16, 17, All things were created by Him and for Him, and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.
Verses 9-11 All true believers wholly ascribe their redemption and conversion, their present privileges and future hopes, to the most holy God. Thus rises the forever harmonious, thankful songs of the redeemed in heaven. Would we on earth do like them, let our praises be constant, not interrupted. United, not divided. Thankful, not cold and formal. Humble, not self-confident.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
Prayer for the Day
Prayer: Father, I come to You. Help me to act on the discoveries I have of You that I may expect more. Yet help me not to pretend to be wise above what is revealed. Thank You that by faith I may enter into the holiest of all. Help me to abstract myself from all fleshly things, that I be all the more fit for communion with You. May I remember that the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, cleanses me from all sin. May I be washed that I be admitted into Your gracious presence here on earth. Help me walk in profound humility, reverence, and godly fear, knowing that all honour belongs to You alone.
I acknowledge that I owe all my graces and glories to You. You alone are worthy to receive all glory. I declare that You are the preserver of all things and all things are sustained by You. All are dependent upon Your will and power. I ascribe my redemption and conversion, my present privileges and future hopes, to You, the eternal and most holy God. May I now and forever sing the thankful songs of the redeemed. Let my praises be constant, not interrupted. United, not divided. Thankful, not cold and formal. Humble and not self-confident. In Jesus name I ask. Amen.
The Apocalypse – The Throne Room
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