Revelation 4:1-11 Part 7


1)    After these I looked and, lo, a door having been opened in the heaven and the sound, the first that I heard as a trumpet, speaking to me saying “come up here and I will show you what is necessary to take place after these”.

2)    Immediately I did come in spirit and, lo, a throne set in the heaven, and upon the throne One sitting,

3)    and the One sitting like stone, jasper and sardonyx in appearance, and a bow round about the throne like emerald in appearance.

4)    And round about the throne twenty-four thrones, and upon the thrones twenty-four elders having been clothed in white garments, and upon their heads gold crowns.

5)    And from the throne coming forth lightnings and sounds and thunderings, and seven fiery lamps ablaze before the throne that are the seven spirits of God,

6)    and before the throne as glassy sea like crystal, and in midst of the throne and round about the throne four creatures being entirely of eyes front and back,

7)    and the first creature like unto a lion, and the second creature like unto a calf, and the third creature having the face as of man, and the fourth creature like unto a flying eagle,

8)    and the four creatures one by one of them having six wings each, being entirely of eyes around and within, and they have no pause saying “holy holy holy Kurios The God The Almighty, the Was and the Is and the Coming.

9)    And whenever the creatures will present glory and honor and thanksgiving to the One sitting on the throne, to the One living into the ages of the ages,

10) the twenty-four elders will prostrate themselves before the One sitting on the throne, and they will adore the One living into the ages of the ages, and they will cast their crowns before the throne, saying

11) “worthy are You, the Lord and our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power; for You, You did create all, and by Your will they are, and they were created”.


We begin this morning with the “rainbow”, verse three: “and a rainbow round about the throne like emerald in appearance”.  And here is the passage in which Yahveh introduces the rainbow in His creation.  Genesis nine:


8)    And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying,

9)    And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;

10) and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you. Of all that go out of the ark, even every beast of the earth.

11) And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of the flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.

12) And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

13) I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

14) And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud,

15) and I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

16) And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

17) And God said unto Noah, This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.


Before I comment on this passage, which is flush with covenantal implications, let me read for you, once again, from the prophecy of Ezekiel, chapter one:


26) 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 a likeness as the appearance of a man upon it above.

27) And I saw as it were glowing metal, as the appearance of fire within it round about, from the appearance of his loins and upward; and from the appearance of his loins and downward I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness round about him.

28) As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the radiance round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Yahveh.


“The bow……….”

What I want you to see here, first, is that God didn’t just “dream up” something that would be a lovely sign of His beneficence to Noah and the world.  Rather, as always, God’s creation is a reflection of His glory.  Everything He has made corresponds to His glorious Person.

As we read the fourth chapter of John’s Revelation, the apostle is in the heaven; he is in the archetype that is the pattern for Moses’ construction of the tabernacle in the desert and the temple on the temple mount.  John is in the archetype from which was formed the cosmos.  He is in the archetype from which this world, in all of its diversity, was created.  God is the Original by which all things are patterned.

So when God gives Noah a sign – a bow – it has the appearance of the original glory of God - which Ezekiel saw, and which John now sees in the heaven.  As Ezekiel described it, it was the “radiance” of His glory.  As John sees it, it is “round about the throne like emerald in appearance”.

Listen carefully now to the writer to the Jewish Christians in the nations, Hebrews chapter one:


1)    God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

2)    Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, who he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

3)    Who being the radiance of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down at the right of the Majesty on high.


God the Son, without Whom nothing was made that was made, and Who upholds all things by the Word of His power, is “the radiance of His glory and the express image of His Person”.

These are the same words that Ezekiel uses in his description… “the radiance of His glory”.  The One Who is “the radiance of His glory” took the form of man and purged our sin; and ascended bodily to the heaven and sat at the right of majesty.

The sign of the covenant, shown to Noah after the flood, was “the radiance of His glory”.  As Ezekiel said, it was the radiance of the bow round about, the appearance of the glory of Yahveh.  And as John says, the appearance of the bow round about the throne.

What Noah and his sons saw is what Ezekiel saw, and what John sees here in our text.  The bow after the rain is the effulgence, the brightness, the radiance of the glory of Yahveh.  It is the bow around the throne room judgment seat of God – His very glory.  It is the second Person of Triune God.  He IS the brightness of His glory.

And God gave the earth a sign of God the Son – The eternal Word of God.  It is the “bow” of the radiance of God – His glory.  The Word of God, without Whom nothing was made that was made, is, Himself, the assurance to the earth of its security!  He, Himself, because of sin and the curse, flooded the whole earth and destroyed it.  And now, He, Himself, assures the earth that there will never be a similar destruction; and a replica of His Own glory is placed in the clouds of the heavens as a sign! 

And that bow in the heavens is a prophetic sign of His salvation of the world!  He, Himself, will save the world from sin and the curse.  He, Himself, would receive the “baptism” of the flood of wrath from the Father in order that the world might be “cleansed” in that flood.

Now.  I want to give you just a bit of history of how the sign of the covenant in Christ, which is the radiance of God, has been turned into idolatry and demeaned by man.  This isn’t all of it; it’s just the high spots (or low spots).  But man, because he doesn’t wish to worship the One True God, recognizes the glory of God in what He’s made, but works with all of his heart to make something else out of it.  And in much of the idolatry you can actually recognize the original Revelation of God.

In Greek mythology, for example, and the Romans after them, the rainbow was considered a pathway made by the goddess iris.  She was considered the goddess of the rainbow; and the pathway, i.e. the rainbow, was the connection between the gods and humans!  And I think it’s easy to see the Original Revelation of God from which came this idolatrous version.  As in every case of idolatry and perverted theology, they all begin with God’s original Revelation of Himself in His creation and in His Word.

In ancient Chinese buddhist mythology, the rainbow was a gift from the sun goddess.  It was a “slit” in the sky sealed by the goddess with five colored stones!

In Hindu the name of the rainbow means “the bow of indra”, who is the god of thunder and lightning.

In Norse mythology the rainbow is called the “bifrost bridge” which connects the realms of the gods and humans.

And the Celts fashioned a tale of leprechauns hiding their pot of gold which somehow originates the rainbow in the heavens after the rain.

In the epic of Gilgamesh, a more recent Mesopotamian writing, the great, mother-goddess Ishtar had a diamond-clad necklace which she lifted up into the heavens and declared once and for all that the great flood would never again destroy her children.  The necklace was the rainbow.  That myth is really obvious that it came directly from God’s work and speech in His creation.

Scientists have studied the rainbow, but have yet to come up with a satisfactory explanation.  With light and moisture and reflection and refraction and numbers representing the spectrum of color, they still can’t duplicate a rainbow.  All they can do is explain the theory.  But, you see, there is no moisture and sun and reflected or refracted light at the seat of glory.  But there is a bow round about the throne like emerald in appearance, John says.  And it is the “radiance of the glory of Yahveh”.  And that “radiance” is duplicated in the creation as a sign of the covenant.

In more modern times, the rainbow has been used by many businesses and organizations as an emblem and a marketing insignia. Right here in Tyler we have Rainbow Apparel, and Rainbow Pool Services, and Rainbow Sealcoat, Rainbow Vacuum Sales and Service, and Rainbow Steam Cleaning.  I’m sure it’s the same in every other part of the country.

But it’s the blasphemous national organizations that have co-opted God’s Revelation of Himself, and have, on purpose, twisted that Revelation in order to make it fit what they prefer it to mean!

Jesse Jackson’s “rainbow coalition” was formed at his 1984 run for the presidency.  The “rainbow” was meant to bring disadvantaged folks of every color and creed and sexual orientation together for political power… all under the auspices of a self-proclaimed “Christian” minister.  After getting about ten million people on his side, he bribed large companies for huge amounts of money with threats of bad publicity, strikes, and boycotts of their products.  And the folks he “represented” not only were not “empowered” by him, but they were further disenfranchised!  And that, of course, was on purpose, because if the people are empowered, Rev Jackson loses his power!  He has to keep them disenfranchised in order to retain his power.  And all in the name of the Christian ministry; and with the sign of the covenant as his emblem.

The other profane, contemporary use of the rainbow is the official flag of (what is known as) “lgbt”, the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender/transsexual people.  The rainbow flag is what they use to represent the diversity among the gay culture.

Please remember Paul’s opening statements to the Church at Rome regarding the depravity of man, chapter one:


18) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who obstruct the truth in unrighteousness;

19) because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them.

20) For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse:

21) because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened.

22) Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

23) and changed the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.

24) Wherefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves:

25) for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

26) For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature:

27) and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due.

28) And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting;

29) being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

30) backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

31) without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful:

32) who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practice them.


The apostle Paul, moved along by Holy Spirit, writes that the most profane, the most ungodly, the most vulgar, the most obscene, the most contemptuous of the glory of God, is homosexuality and its “consent” with others (i.e. its practice and teaching of others to participate).  It is, as I’ve said often, the very bottom of the spiral downward into the depths of human depravity.

Also be aware that there are stores and other businesses that market their wares by displaying the “flag” of the “lgbt”.  Sometimes it’s a wide open display; sometimes it’s more innocuous.  But when you see the flag, avoid it.  More than likely that flag indicates affirmation and approval of the practices rather than a readiness to take their money.  It means that the business is gay-and-lesbian-friendly.

There are also major, national businesses that make a special effort to market to this segment of the population.  The reason is that homosexuals, for the most part, have no spouses or children to support.  Therefore they have two to five times as much expendable income to spend on themselves, whatever their amount and source of income.  So you have five percent of the population spending ten to twenty percent of the available, expendable money.

But the point here is that the use of the rainbow flag is one of disdain, contempt and disparagement to the glory of God and His covenant with His creation.  For the lowest form of human depravity to use the radiance of the glory of God in His throne-room judgment seat is just plain human hubris, rebellion and mockery.  So it is most propitious and providential that it is His throne of judgment that is being mocked.  As the writer to the Hebrews said (we read it earlier), the Son of God – the Word of God – is the “radiance of His glory, and the very image of His Being”.

And, by the way, let me mention that recently the McDonalds corporation has marketed itself, in the “lgbt” periodicals, as gay-and-lesbian friendly.  I don’t know whether they’ve begun displaying the rainbow flag, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it.  I’ve never been a fan of their food, but I’m sure I won’t be buying anything else there.  Although, since it is (seemingly) omnipresent on the highways, with its “bows” extending into the sky, I have no qualms at all about stopping and making an urgent “deposit” in one of their stores.  And, further, given their propensity to openly rebel against God’s perfectly clear Word against homosexuality, that “deposit” seems of some corresponding significance to me.

I don’t know whether that’s a legitimate observation to make in a sermon on Sunday morning; but… there it is!

Now I need to make some comments about the color of the bow that John saw “around the throne, like emerald in appearance”.

It is true that every beautiful stone was to be found in the garden, for God had created it all.  And it all corresponded to His glorious Person.  However, emeralds aren’t mentioned there per se.

This very beautiful and rare stone is only mentioned five times in the entire Word of God.  And only one of those five occasions is with reference to the bow around the throne.  And that one occasion is right here in the text of John’s Revelation, chapter four.

It is, I suppose, well known that Emeralds are green – or bluish green in appearance.  And real emeralds (most of the ones you see are synthetic), real emeralds are found in only a few places in the world.  They are all green, and, as I said, they are very rare.

So the question may be asked, “what does green, or bluish green, have to do with the colors of the rainbow?  Are we missing something here?”

And the answer, of course, is “no”!  We aren’t missing anything.  After the flood, the sign of the covenant with God’s creation is the “bow”.  Nothing was said about a “rainbow”.  It was given to the earth after the flood; and it was given to be seen after the rain stopped.  It is a rainbow because it appears after the rain.  And it was a sign that the complete baptism of the earth with water was not going to occur again.

But that leaves us with the question, “why emerald”?  “Why is the bow around the throne of God “like emerald in appearance.  Why is it not multi-colored”?  It’s an important question, because God does nothing without reason; and His Word is consistent and inviolable.  And the appearance to John of the throne in the heaven is what it is for a reason.

 And I ought to tell you right here that the translation in the text is incorrect.  It should read “bow” rather than “rainbow”.  God’s throne does not appear with a “rainbow”.  So you need to change that in your copies to read just “bow”.

The answer to this very important question is found in the text of Hebrews chapter one, which we read earlier.  And I want to read it again for you.  This is critical for our understanding:


1)    God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

2)    Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, who he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

3)    Who being the radiance of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down at the right of the Majesty on high.


The writer of the letter to the Hebrew Christians in dispersion from Israel is writing of The Son of God, Who IS “the radiance of His glory, and the express image of His Person, and Who upholds all things by the Word of His Power….”

That radiance, John writes is “like emerald in appearance”.  Why is He “like emerald in appearance”?  Because, on the breastplate of Aaron, the high priest of Israel and administrator of the entire ceremonial and sacrificial system of the tabernacle, the tribes of Israel were represented by “stones”.  And the tribe of Judah was represented by the emerald stone.

And which was the tribe of Judah?

From Judah came King David and Joseph and Mary  - and Jesus the Christ of God… the emerald Stone on the breastplate of the high priest who first prophetically represented Him in the man-made holy of holies.

This is the Stone the builders rejected – the very radiance of the glory of God in His heaven.  And John sees these things and records them for us in order that we might know Him and worship Him and obey Him.

May our Lord be pleased to allow us this access to His throne on this Lord’s Day.