Revelation 4:1-11 Part 9


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”.


As we continue now with verse five and beyond, let’s remember that we’ve entered, with John, into the “Holy of Holies”, our God’s Throne – the throne of judgment and redemption.  And what John sees and records is most holy; and it needs to be treated with the utmost reverence and care.  And so we proceed with caution, trembling with John in fear and awe at all that is before him and around him.

Please bear with me as I take my time with this; we’re not moving very fast.  I hope there’s not an urgency to move along, because I just can’t do that.  This is, arguably, the most majestic Revelation with which we’re blessed with access.  I need time to digest it; and the whole Church of Jesus Christ desperately needs to see it and hear it.

The presence of this Revelation for the Church is substantial, and, as I continue to deal with it, the consequences of the absence of this text in the preaching of the Church has been grave.  It has been called the “capstone” of the written Word, and it is certainly that for a reason.  And that reason is that it is essential to the understanding of all the rest!  I’ve gained so much clarity regarding the entirety of Scripture due to this study so far; and I feel, now that we’ve done what we have, (I feel) that we would be somewhat destitute without it.

And regarding the state of the Church in our time, nothing has sobered me more than preaching in this fourth chapter.   More and more I’m seeing the Church in America following blindly after the direction of the country; and the country is veering wildly toward “natural law” as its god.  And it has been for a long time.  Natural law is this country’s ba’al.

Ba’al was the universal god of the Canaanites… their god of “nature”; and Israel was to destroy all Canaanites and all remnants of their idolatry.  But Israel never did believe God; and she didn’t obey God’s instructions.  She syncretized instead.  She syncretized with the ba’al god of nature.  And a “syncretized” worship of our Triune God is idolatry.  And hopefully that will become even more clear as we move further into the Revelation of the throne of God.


“And from the throne coming forth lightnings and sounds and thunderings”, verse five.


Just as it was in Exodus chapter nineteen, John describes the audio and visual manifestations present in the heaven.  And please see that lightnings and thunders proceeded from “the throne”.  These effects did not come from creatures around the throne.  Let’s read from Exodus nineteen:


16) And it came to pass on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the sound of a trumpet exceeding loud; and all the people that were in the camp trembled.

17) And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount.

18) And mount Sinai, the whole of it, smoked, because Yahveh descended upon it in fire; and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.


Thunderings, lightnings, shaking, fire, smoke, trumpet sound… this is the glory cloud.  The throne of judgment and redemption appears at Sinai as God prepares to give Moses and Israel the law of the covenant.

And the lightnings, sounds and thunderings that John sees and hears in the heaven are identical to that which Moses and Israel heard in The Sinai.  These things come from the throne of God.

Listen to the Word of God as He reproves and instructs Job in chapter 40:


6)    Then Yahveh answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,

7)    Gird up your loins now like a man: I will demand of you, and declare unto me.

8)    Will you even annul my judgment? Will you condemn me, that you might be justified?

9)    Or have you an arm like God? And can you thunder with a voice like Him?


And here’s the Psalmist in Psalm 77:

16) The waters saw thee, O God; The waters saw thee, they were afraid: The depths also trembled.

17) The clouds poured out water; The skies sent out a sound: Thine arrows also went abroad.

18) The sound of thy thunder was in the whirlwind; The lightnings lightened the world: The earth trembled and shook.


And then, lastly, from Isaiah 29 as the prophet prophesies against Israel:


6)    She shall be visited of Yahveh of hosts with thunder, and with shaking, and great noise, with whirlwind and tempest, and the flame of a devouring fire.


“And from the throne coming thunderings and sounds and lightnings….”  The things that John sees and hears are coming directly from “the seat”… the throne of Yahveh of Hosts, all exactly the same as in the older Scripture.

And because the cosmos is made in the “likeness” of that which is in the heaven, the creation itself corresponds to the Archetype, doesn’t it?  The creation has thunder, and lightning, and earthquakes, and hurricane-tempests and funnel clouds that look similar to the glory cloud at Sinai, and fire and smoke… all in the “likeness” of that which is in the heaven.

“and seven fiery lamps ablaze before the throne that are the seven spirits of God”.  This is the original in the heaven for the seven continually-burning lamps on the lampstand in the holy place of the tabernacle.  There are seven fiery lamps – torches – ablaze before the throne of God in the heaven.  It is Holy Spirit in His seven-fold fullness of activity.  Listen to the Word of God through the prophet Zechariah, chapter four:


2)    And he said unto me, What do you see? And I said, I have seen, and, behold, a candlestick all of gold, with its bowl upon the top of it, and its seven lamps thereon; there are seven pipes to each of the lamps, which are upon the top thereof;

3)    and two olive-trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.

4)    And I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord?

5)    Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these are? And I said, No, my lord.

6)    Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of Yahveh unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith Yahveh of hosts.

7)    Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain; and he shall bring forth the top stone with shoutings of ‘Grace, Grace’, unto it.

8)    Moreover the word of Yahveh came unto me, saying,

9)    The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that Yahveh of Hosts hath sent me unto you.

10) For who hath despised the day of small things? for these seven shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel; these are the eyes of Yahveh, which run to and fro through the whole earth.


So Zechariah is shown the seven-bowl candelabra from the tabernacle, the “likeness” of the seven fiery torches before the throne, as the operation of Holy Spirit in the building of the new temple of Jesus Christ.  And Holy Spirit is the very eyes of Yahveh in the seven-fold “fullness” of His activity.

And also please note that it was the fiery torches that descended upon the crowd from the Throne of God at the preaching of the apostles at Pentecost.

Now let’s listen to the prophecy of Ezekiel, chapter one:


“And as I looked, behold, a storm wind was coming from the north, a great cloud with fire flashing forth continually, and a bright light around it, and in its midst something like glowing metal in the midst of the fire.  And within it there were figures resembling four living creatures….”


And then this:

Now over the heads of the living creatures there was something like a firmament, like the awesome gleam of crystal, extended over their heads….


And then….

And above the expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a Throne….


And also hear the prophet Isaiah from chapter six:


1)    In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple.

2)    Above him stood the seraphim: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.

3)    And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is Yahveh of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

4)    And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.


And from Psalm 18:


7)    Then the earth shook and trembled; The foundations also of the mountains quaked And were shaken, because he was wroth.

8)    There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, And fire out of his mouth devoured: Coals were kindled by it.

9)    He bowed the heavens also, and came down; And thick darkness was under his feet.

10) And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly; Yea, he soared upon the wings of the wind.


“And before the throne as glassy sea like crystal…” verse six.  And listen to God’s instructions to Moses regarding the building of the tabernacle in Exodus thirty:


18) Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and the base thereof of brass, whereat to wash. And thou shalt put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein.


Inside the tabernacle complex, between the altar of whole burnt offering and the holy place, was a large, brassy “sea” of water, made from the brass mirrors that the women of Israel gave for its construction.  And its place in the tabernacle was the “likeness” of the glassy, or transparent, “sea” like crystal, which was seen by Ezekiel and by John at the throne of God. We read this from Ezekiel:


“Now over the heads of the living creatures there was something like a firmament, like the awesome gleam of crystal, extended over their heads….”


The “firmament”.  The limits of God’s created cosmos, and the throne of judgment and redemption above it all.  Ezekiel said this in chapter one:


“And above the expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a Throne….”


Later on in the Revelation (chapter fifteen) John sees this:


2)    And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire; and them that come off victorious from the beast, and from his image, and from the number of his name, standing upon the sea of glass….


The victorious ones, the ones who “overcome”, are seen by John as standing on the firmament, in the Presence of Almighty God at the Throne, having their sins remitted at the altar of whole burnt offering, and having been washed clean before the Holy Place.

John’s view of these things in chapter fifteen occurs just before the seven messengers of God release the seven plagues upon the harlot – the abomination of desolation.

So the “laver” of the tabernacle corresponds to the transparent “sea like crystal”, which is the firmament of the creation.  And all who transcend the firmament, to be admitted to the Throne-room/Holy of Holies, have been included in the whole burnt offering and washed in the baptism of Holy Spirit.  They alone, having overcome, have bold access to the Judgment Seat, Jesus Christ being their advocate.

As we move slowly and carefully into the last verses of this chapter, verses seven through eleven (actually the last part of six through eleven), I am instantly confronted with the fact that not much worthwhile has been said about them.  Almost to a person, commentators have “glossed over” the whole chapter, much less these last few verses.

As I’ve said before, our primary Theological mentor, John Calvin, didn’t write a commentary on the Revelation, although he did write one on the prophecy of Ezekiel.  So we do have some insights from him.

A couple of comments, a paragraph or two, or even a page or two make up the corpus of work in most cases; and when there is a more extensive attempt at explanation, it can only be referred to as (and I’m going to be gracious and charitable here) it can only be referred to as blasphemous nonsense.

The issue here is God’s complete sovereignty over what He, Himself, has made; and His total independence from all that he has made; and the fact that He is clearly seen, known and discerned in all that He has made, because it is all “patterned” after Him in the heaven!  In other words, there is a correspondence in the cosmos to its Maker.  In many ways it is all in the “likeness”, or image, of the One Who conceived it and spoke it into being.

Here’s a couple of very short passages just to remind you of His sovereignty over all that He has made.  First is from Isaiah 46:


9)    Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me;

10) declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done; saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure;


And then, from Acts twenty-five…..this is Paul’s address to the Athenians in the midst of all of their gods and myths:


24) The God that made the world and all things therein, he, being Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

25) neither is he served by men's hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he himself giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

26) and he made of one every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed seasons, and the bounds of their habitation;

27) 27 that they should seek God, if haply they might feel after him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us:

28) for in him we live, and move, and have our being;


He gives to all “life, and breath, and all things”.  “In Him we live, and move, and have our being”!!

In response to these declarations of God’s absolute sovereignty in His Own creation, let me read for you a paragraph from a leaflet published by one of the largest “evangelical” churches in the United States.  Here it is:


“In the beginning God created choice.  Before God made anything – earth, sky, or man – He had already made up his mind that man was to have a choice.  Not limited choice like what color socks to wear today.  God gave man complete power of selection, so complete that man could choose – or reject – God.  God placed himself in a rather risky position when he armed man with such a tool.  He gave man a weapon to use against God….  Genuine love must be voluntary.”


Compare that to Paul’s words as he spoke to the Athenians and their idolatry:  “In Him we live, and move, and have our being”. 

In the evangelical statement, man is animated by nature; not by God.  That’s ba’alism in its most modern form.  Rather than being creatures of God, and rather than being ruled sovereignly by God, we have our own natural existence.

And it doesn’t really matter whether one believes in a “big bang” twenty billion years ago, or some mythical, transcendent “god” who flung the world into existence and lets it run on its own – “naturally”.

The latter is called “deism”, and its god is “natural law”.  Along with “creative evolution”, it’s become widely acceptable to many calling themselves “christian”.  Both of these are neo-ba’alism; and both are abhorrent.

Ba’alism is the underlying “religion” in American education today; and it is the essential element of the philosophy of the nation as a whole and how it operates.  In addition to that, the ba’alistic “natural law” is what is taught at almost all of the Christian colleges – and not just in the science departments either!

God’s Word teaches us that God created all, and that He sustains life directly… not indirectly.  “Nature” does not exist!  The word “nature” implies “natural law”; and God hasn’t given His creation any inherent power of development.

God created all by calling it into existence by the Word of His Power.  And He sustains it, and all life, by His active Presence.  He does not create and sustain His creation by processes, as in “natural processes”.

The idea that there is a god who wound up the “universe” and let it run its course, and that there is a “nature” that has intrinsic, or inherent, power to continue and to develop, is called “deism”, not Christianity.  Theistic evolution is “deism”, not Christianity.  To any extent to which natural process replaces the direct actions of Almighty God in the heaven, to that extent the philosophy, the religion, is ba’alism.

Science and medicine and physics and mathematics can be studied because God doesn’t change the way He activates His creation!  What most everyone now calls natural, or physical, law is actually a generalization on their part.  And I say “generalization” because God’s governance of His Own creation can’t be fully known by man in the same way that God knows it.  But man can study it and be helpful to mankind because of the way God normally activates His creation.

Matter, space, time… all of it created and ruled by God.  And all of it activated directly by God.  And His rule is called “law” (not natural law). 


“While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease”  Genesis 8:22. 


You see, those are “covenant regularities” directly from God.  God almost always does things the same way.  He certainly doesn’t have to, but He does; and He’s covenanted to do so!  So man can confidently explore the world and space and the moons and the planets, and learn to work it and work in it!

Environmentalists, on the other hand, are always fearful of imminent doom of some kind because of their belief in natural law, because if man damages that natural law, we’ll all die!  Well, environmentalists aren’t stupid, they’re just blasphemers!

Maybe we ought to spend the next thirty trillion dollars on gravitational issues, because if the earth veers off of its path around the sun, we’ll all freeze to death!

But this is what we’re looking at, and learning, as we study through the Revelation.  We see the “Being” of God – the “Person of God” – Father, Son, Spirit.  And we see, through John’s sight and hearing, the sights and sounds and creatures and other elements of God’s Presence in the heaven.

And subsequently we see “likenesses” of His Presence in the creative and sustaining activity of God from His heaven.  He made the entire cosmos to be “like” what John sees in the Presence of God.  And, therefore, we should expect His “activities” in His cosmos to be “like” His activities in the heaven.

And, to take that a step further, we should expect our own activities to be “like” – to be “similar” in many ways – to the activities around the throne in the heaven!

Next Lord’s Day, along with the things said today, we’ll look closely at the four “living beings” that John saw, and as he recorded in verses six through nine.  And we’ll review what we’ve said here today, because it is most critical that we understand what God did in creating this cosmos, and what He does in sustaining it and activating it.  The “living creatures” are central to that understanding.

I leave you with a quote from A.W. Pink in his book - The Sovereignty of God:


“The sovereignty of God.  What do we mean by this expression?  We mean the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the godhood of God.  To say that God is sovereign is to declare that God is God.  To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand or say unto Him what doest Thou (Dan. 4:35).  To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will (Ps. 115:3).”