ON REVELATION - LESSON 10
Is in Charge
have a problem." When Commander Jim Lovell spoke those words he was
more than 200,000 miles out in space. An oxygen tank aboard Apollo 13
had just exploded, causing serious damage to the service module. But
the message reached Mission Control immediately, and hundreds of engineers,
physicists, and computer experts got right to work. With their accumulated
wisdom, they came up with a rescue plan. They talked the astronauts
through the procedures step-by-step. Out in the vast darkness of space,
the friendly voice of Mission Control guided Jim Lovell and his companions
safely back to Earth.
infinitely wise Creator of the universe has His own communication system
which reaches across the vast heavens to individual human beings in
need of rescue. His Mission Control site, from which He rules the galaxies,
is of course, far more complex than the control center of NASA. But
in Revelation 4, God invites John to take a look inside His "control
room" in heaven. The result: a mind-boggling vision.
4 in its entirety.
When you have done this, return to verses 1 and 2.
If you visit someone
and they throw the door wide open with a big smile and exclaim, "Come
on in! Wonderful to see you!" how does it make you feel? How would
you feel if the person welcoming you was a head of state, the leader
of your country? Pretty special. You'd be able to relax in presidential
quarters. Well, God did something like this for John. The door He
threw open so graciously led to the very throne room of heaven, where
He showed John some impressive sights.
In chapter 3 God's
voice is described as thunder coming from the throne. Here God's
invitation sounds like a trumpet blowing.
Why did God invite the apostle John into heaven's throne room by means
of a vision?
(Revelation 4:1, 2.)
As a reward for John's faithful service.
To show John things that must take place.
So that John would understand why God has to punish the wicked.
Exciting news for
John. God is going to show him the future; the apostle will be looking
at events on planet Earth that haven't happened yet! Guess what?
You get to look over John's shoulder and listen in!
One on the Throne
In verse 3, John
describes the One sitting on the throne in a very striking way. To
picture divine glory, he refers to brilliant jewelsthe fiery
sardius stone and the flashing jasper. A whole rainbow of colors
seems to encircle the throne.
Two other verses
in Revelation 4 also identify the One sitting on the throne. Read
verses 8 and 11.
2. How do the four living creatures that are around the throne describe
God? (Revelation 4:8.)
As the Lord God Almighty, the One who was, who is, and who is to come.
As the King of kings and Lord of lords.
the Ancient of Days.
How do the twenty-four elders who are around the throne describe God?
the Bright and Morning Star.
the Creator of all things, the One who is worthy to receive glory, honor, and
the Everlasting Father.
there is mesmerized by the Almighty. The four living creatures can't
stop proclaiming His glory. The twenty-four elders fall down before
Him and worship. They know they're in the presence of the Maker of the
universe, the Lord of lords, the center of all things. He is the One
who leads the galaxies in their synchronized celestial dance and who
also touches lives on planet Earth. God, through John, invites you into
His throne room. He wants to show you the future of our world because
He cares about your individual future. There's great peace in
really knowing God cares about you.
Throne Room and the Throne
others in the Bible were also given remarkable glimpses of God on
His throne. The prophet Daniel saw the "Ancient of Days" clothed
in snowy white on a throne that seemed ablaze with glory. A fiery
stream flowed from it (Daniel 7:9, 10). Isaiah was shown God "high
and lifted up [exalted]" on a throne. The train of His robe filled
the temple, and six-winged "seraphims," or angels, hovered above
Him (Isaiah 6:1-3). Ezekiel pictured the Almighty and His throne
as having the "color of amber with the appearance of fire all around
within it" (Ezekiel 1:27). His throne rested on an "awesome crystal" (vs.
22), or expanse, sparkling like ice. Living creatures whirled around
Him within a brilliant light like "a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy
day" (vs. 28). Just before his martyrdom Stephen received a vision
of God's glory on His throne and saw "the Son of Man standing at
the right hand of God" (Acts 7:56). All those privileged to look
into heaven put the experience in similar words. If you find some
of their descriptions hard to understand, remember they are human
beings trying to picture in human language the most spectacular sights
in the universe.
think about: If you had to describe God to someone, what would
you tell him or her?
Roman aristocrat named Cornelia once received at her house a wealthy
lady who proudly showed off her jewelry. Her visitor then challenged
her hostess to display her finest stones. Cornelia gestured
toward her two young boys, who had just entered the room, and replied, "These
are my jewels." Those two boys, Tiberius and Gaius, grew up to become
the famous reformers of Rome's agrarian laws. When Bible writers
describe God's glory in terms of brilliant jewels, they also reflect
something of the way He feels about His children because to the heavenly
Father, His redeemed people sparkle in His hand "like jewels in a
crown" (Zechariah 9:16).
That glorious rainbow
John and others saw above God's throne echoes the same truth. The
rainbow first appears in Genesis 9, after the worldwide Flood which
destroyed the earth. God lifted it up as a sign that He would never
again destroy the world by water. Whenever the sky darkened and the
rains poured down, the rainbow would always remind people of God's
promise. It's like a greeting card assuring us that God's word is
trustworthy, and that we're important to Him. We are His children,
His jewels. And each of us can "grow up" to do great things for Him.
The next few verses
in Revelation 4 describe activity from the throne, before the throne,
and around the throne of God. Let's examine these three descriptions.
What did John see and hear coming from God's throne when he was shown
room in vision? (Revelation 4:5.)
A waterfall, a rainbow, and the sound of trumpets.
earthquake, a great wind blowing, and angels singing.
thunder, and voices.
John hears thunder
as God speaks. He sees lightning as the angels flash from the throne
of God to carry out His commands. Where are the angels going? They're
traveling from "Mission Control" to Earth. While the tragedy of sin
and suffering grips this planet, all the attention of heaven is focused
on our individual needs. Every frail voice whispering, "God, we have
a problem," is instantly recognized. God immediately responds in
the way His infinite wisdom knows is best. All the living creatures
whom the prophets saw swirling about God's throne are not some distraction.
They are an extension of God's concern for you and me. The voice
that thunders is friendly; it's God talking us through His rescue
Verses 5 and 6
tell us what is going on before God's throne.
What else did John see before the throne in God's throne room? (Revelation
Lamps of fire and a sea of glass, like crystal.
Pavement shining like gold and beautiful trees with golden fruit.
covered with delicious food and angels serving one another.
Imagine the scene.
A throne sitting on a crystal sea. Like a prism, the "sea of glass" spreads
the dazzling colors of the beautiful rainbow above it. It also reflects
the light of seven blazing torches. The Holy Spirit in all His perfection
is represented by the number seven in various ways. And the Holy
Spirit is yet another way in which God reaches out to His "jewels." The
Father wants us to experience His wonderful qualities. He wants to
live in us. That's what the Holy Spirit is all about. God's great
love makes the Spirit available to each one of us.
Read verses 6
and 10 and note the activity around the throne.
6. What does John see going on around the throne? (Revelation 4:6, 10.)
flying here and there as God assigns them tasks to carry out.
living creatures and twenty-four elders praising and worshiping God on
redeemed from earth playing harps and bowing down before the throne.
In ancient Israel,
priests who served at the temple were organized into twenty-four
groups. They made sure the Hebrew system of festivals and holy
days flowed uninterrupted throughout the year. Similarly here,
the twenty-four elders on twenty-four thrones have a special task
of worshiping God and singing praises to Him, because He is the
Creator of all things. During their anthem of devotion, the elders
take off their crowns and lay them before the throne of God.
think about: If you had a crown of gold what would cause
you to lay it before another person?
we come to "four living creatures." From descriptions in Isaiah 6 and
Ezekiel 1 we can identify them as angels. They are each pictured in
highly symbolic language. The lion represents strength. The ox symbolizes
a willingness to serve. The face of a man represents intelligence. The
eagle depicts swiftness and keen perception. The many wings suggest
the speed with which the divine will is to be carried out. These creatures
are "all-seeing" in a very graphic way.
The four living
creatures actually portray four dimensions of Jesus' character.
He is a king (the lion), but also a servant (the ox). He is a human
(the man's face), but also soared above as fully divine (the eagle).
What characteristics do you appreciate the most about Jesus?
Isn't it wonderful
that, early on in the book of Revelation, God gives us these striking
word pictures of who He is and how much He cares for us? He's taking
us on a tour of His heavenly Mission Control. He's showing us that
in everythingin His omnipresent Holy Spirit, in the flight
of angels, in the work of supernatural beingsHe acts ceaselessly
on our behalf. Are you important to God? No question! The throne
room of heaven demonstrates that fact.
Now let's look
at Revelation 5. This chapter continues our tour of the divine
throne room. But the focus shifts from God Almighty on His throne
to the Lamb of God before the throne. The Lamb is now the center
of attention. As the scene opens, the attention of the universe
is riveted on a great drama unfolding before the throne. John sees
God the Father seated on His throne, holding in His right hand "a
book written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals" (Revelation
5:1). In ancient protocol the right-hand side, especially of a
sovereign, always signified favor or highest standing. In other
words, this book has special significance. But its message is sealed.
Next, John sees a powerful angel. What question does the angel ask in
a loud voice?
long will it be until sin and sinners are destroyed forever?"
is the judgment to be held and when will it begin?"
is worthy to open the scroll and loose its seals?"
8. Why does John begin to cry following the angel's question? (Revelation
Because sin and sinners will soon be destroyed.
Because the judgment will not take place for another thousand years.
Because no one could be found to open the scroll and loose its seals
It appears that
no created being in the entire universe can unseal the scroll's
secrets (vs. 3). It's going to take someone extraordinary. And
that means there must be something extraordinary in this book.
Think about it! Not one of the twenty-four elders, not one of the
four living creatures, not one of the innumerable angels, can open
the book. All stand silent. John is so distressed by this predicament
that he begins to weep.
Have you ever
felt so hopeless and overcome by a tragedy in your life that all
you could do was cry?
If you did
not know how to find comfort and hope in your time of crisis,
the next few verses will point you to a solution that lasts forever!
One of the twenty-four
elders comes up with a solution. Let's follow the drama as it unfolds.
9. What solution to the problem does one of the twenty-four elders discover?
Sinners need not be destroyed with sin; they can be redeemed by God's
The judgment will confirm God's justice and His mercy.
Lion of the tribe of Judah is able to open the scroll and loose its seals.
The Lion of the tribe of Judah is also described as: (Revelation
A Lamb with seven horns and seven eyes.
A white horse.
strong and powerful angel.
The number seven
represents perfection. Horns symbolize power. The seven eyes and
seven spirits represent the all-seeing Spirit of God working efficiently
on our behalf.
11. Why is the Lamb (Jesus) worthy to open the scroll and loose its seals?
Because He has created the heavens and the earth.
Because He was slain and has redeemed the saints by His blood.
He has given visions to His servants the prophets.
is the Lamb?
Jesus went to the Jordan River to be baptized by John the Baptist, John
spoke these words: "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of
the world!" (John 1:29).
The apostle Peter
referred to Jesus in the same way: "You were not redeemed with
corruptible things, like silver or gold, . . . but with the precious
blood of Christ as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1
Peter 1:18, 19).
The Lamb is none
other than Jesus the Son of God who died on the cross of Calvary
to save us from our sins!
As soon as Jesus,
the Lamb of God, takes the sealed scroll in His hand, heaven's
silence is broken by thunderous ovations of adoration and praise.
Harps ring out. Voices grow ecstatic. Heavenly beings are moved
to bow before the Lamb. The throne room of God is filled with intense
celebration. All are overcome by the same realization: "Worthy
is the Lamb who was slain!"
What do all the beings in heaven declare that the Lamb is worthy to receive?
(Revelation 5:11, 12.)
Power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and blessing.
The worship and adoration of everyone on earth and in heaven.
Equal power with God the Father in governing the universe.
shows us exactly why the Lamb is so highly honored. It states that
those who are saved and receive eternal life will have "washed
their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." As we
noted previously in Revelation 1:5, Jesus Christ "loved us and
washed us from our sins in His own blood."
A very successful
pop star had begun to feel that his life of nonstop limos, adoring
fans, and champagne had left him pretty empty. After one concert,
a young man began to talk to him about Christ, and the singer found
himself listening, then praying, then pouring his heart out to
God. He confessed his sinfulness to the God who had shed His blood
to save him. And the pop idol made a remarkable discovery: "I was
washed, cleansedI couldn't believe it. Suddenly, when I admitted
that I was sorry for the life I had led without God, everything
collapsed, and I was perfectly balanced. I had been given day one
God can indeed
wash away the pain and guilt of your past and give you day one
again. That's what it means to wash your robes in the blood of
the Lamb. Christ's death on the cross turns forgiveness into a
free gift. If you haven't done so already, you can accept that
gift right now. Simply acknowledge that you are a sinner, that
you can't earn salvation; believe that Jesus died for your sins,
and accept Him as your Lord and Savior. You can do it by repeating
the following prayer. Say it out loud to God.
I need You. I am sorry for my sins and ask You to forgive me.
I believe that Jesus died for my sins. I give You my life and
receive Jesus as my Savior and Lord. Make me the kind of person
You want me to be. Thank You for hearing me and helping me
to follow Jesus. In His name. Amen.
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