VISION OF THE THRONE
these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first
voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up
here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”
Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat
on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in
appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an
emerald. (Revelation 4:1–3).
to this point in the Revelation, John has experienced two things: first, the
vision of the Glorified Christ in chapter 1 and, second, receiving the letters
to the seven churches of Asia in chapters 2 and 3. The statement “after these
things” seems to indicate more than just the chronological progression of the
narrative. It may be there was a break of some kind after John recorded the
seven letters. John had an overpowering experience in seeing the glorified
Christ that knocked him to the ground. There seems to be no break between
chapters 1 and 2, so it may have been that John immediately began taking
dictation, writing the letters to the churches after he first saw the Glorified
Christ. Also the information given by Christ in these letters may have added to
the stress of the aged Apostle as he would have been familiar with the churches
addressed and very concerned over the conditions Christ mentions. It may be that
at this point Christ paused for some time, allowing John to recover from the
initial shock of what he was experiencing.
the break was a few minutes or several hours cannot be ascertained from the text
and it is of no consequence other than to acknowledge there was a pause before
the Revelation continues.
says “after these things I looked. This suggests that after he collected his
senses a new vision appeared to him, the vision being “a door standing open in
heaven”. While the word door is correctly translated in English, it does not
necessarily suggest the type of door we think of as being the way into heaven.
And, the heaven where he sees this door does not necessarily mean the heaven we
think of as the eternal heaven.
had a similar experience, which he recorded in Ezekiel 1:1,
it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of
the month, as I was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens
were opened and I saw visions of God.
Hebrews spoke of the sky above the earth as a solid expanse, much like a curtain
stretched out over the earth; in other words, they defined the heavens buy what
they looked like to the eye.
also see this in the vision recorded by Isaiah in Isaiah 34:4,
the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled up like a
scroll; All their host shall fall down as the leaf falls from the vine, and as
fruit falling from a fig tree.
know the heavens we see from earth are actually the portion of the universe that
can be seen from our little planet, but without that knowledge, it is very easy
to think of the sky as a curtain, or perhaps a movie screen, that could simply
be rolled up and put away.
used to be in movie theatres that a curtain covered the screen and this curtain
was opened as the projector began showing the movie. In John’s experience, as
he looked up, it appeared that the sky was opening up like a curtain to reveal
what he was about to see next.
the movie analogy, as the curtain open, John hears a familiar theme announcing
the beginning of the vision. The various movie studios had their unique themes
that played at the opening of a movie announcing the movie was from Fox Studios,
MGM, Universal Studios, Warner Bros., etc.
theme John heard was like a trumpet speaking to him saying, “Come up here, and
I will show you things which must take place after this”.
sounds like what John heard in chapter 1:10, “I was in the Spirit on the
Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet”. What was
the theme played by this trumpet? “Things which must shortly take place. What
he heard here was the same theme he heard at the beginning of chapter one”.
John not already know this? Why the repetition? Through this announcement Christ
is giving John the assurance that He is still in contact with John and the
visions he is about to see are coming directly from Him. It is also a
restatement of the first principle of the Revelation: “things that must
shortly come to pass”. Not only was it important for John to remember this; it
is of vital importance that we and all readers of the Revelation remember it as
John had seen the vision of the Glorified Christ in chapter one and then
received the letters to the seven churches of Asia in chapters 2 & 3, the
actual Revelation—the movie—begins here in chapter four.
I was in the Spirit
chapter 1:10 John records that he “was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day”.
The repetition of the phrase at the beginning of chapter 4 seems to support the
idea that there had been a break between the seven letters and what follows. It
makes no sense for John to say that he was in the Spirit and then say he was
immediately in the Spirit. This seems to indicate that he was in the Spirit when
the events started; he was then released from being in the Spirit and was now
immediately brought back into the Spirit to receive what follows.
he was able to look into the heaven of this Revelation, being in the Spirit does
not imply that he was taken bodily into the heavens. Dr. Albert Barnes gives a
was at once absorbed in the contemplation of the visions before him. He was
doubtless still in Patmos, and these things were made to pass before his mind as
a reality; that is, they appeared as real to him as if he saw them, and they
were in fact a real symbolical representation of things occurring in heaven.
Vision of the Throne
have no idea what John might have been doing just prior to his experience in
chapter four; being an elderly and devout man, he may have been sitting in his
room contemplating the things he had just experienced. In his reverie, he opens
his eyes and sees the curtains of heaven open; if you please, the movie begins. He
hears the voice of the Glorified Christ speaking to him and immediately he is
overwhelmed by the Spirit of God. From this point on, he is no longer in control
of himself as he is visually transported into a most glorious environment.
any sense that he has traveled any distance he finds himself in a throne-room.
The first thing that captures his attention is “a throne set in heaven”.
John is privileged in a way no other prophet of God has ever been. Isaiah “saw
the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe
filled the temple”. (Isaiah 6:1) This vision takes place in the temple at
Jerusalem. Ezekiel “was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the
heavens were opened and I saw visions of God”. (Ezekiel 1:1) John was
privileged to be visually transported by the vision into the presence of God in
is overwhelmed by the presence of One that sat on the throne. Notice that he
does not describe His appearance, but rather John attempts to describe His
magnificence. As a throne is the seat of authority of a king, John sees this
splendid one in terms that describe, not just a king, but the eternal king of
the kingdom of God.
first impression he has of the glory of the King is that of a jasper stone. The
jasper is an opaque quartz with a smooth surface that is of varying colors. The
stone can be polished to a high shine and was often fashioned into seals, such
as a king would use. Its vivid colors and use by royalty represent the glorious
perfections of God.
second impression that occurs simultaneously with the first is that of a sardius
stone. The sardius is a red stone; red being a color of royalty. The red color
also signifies the justice of God, which is an essential attribute of God
considering the nature of the Revelation, which is about things that must come
to pass. The justice of God is manifest in His mercy towards those deserving of
mercy and retribution on those deserving retribution.
stones were used on the breastplate of justice worn by the high priest. The
Glorified Christ is the king in the kingdom of God and He is our high priest. As
the high priest, He wears the perfection and justice of God over His heart
indicating both His passion to save mankind from sin and to punish those that
reject His gracious offer of salvation.
the throne is a rainbow that gave the appearance of an emerald. Going back to
Genesis 9:13, we are given to understand that the rainbow is the seal and token
of the covenant God made with Noah and all mankind after the Great Flood. As
such, it is an appropriate symbol of the covenant that God made with Christ as
the head of the church and all who are in Christ. As the ark was the means of
safety for God’s people during God’s judgment on a sinful world by the
flood, so the church is the means of safety for God’s people in this wicked
and sinful world. As the rainbow shows its colors and beauty as sunlight shines
through the rain, so does the gospel reveal its beauty when Christ breaks
through and appears in the battle against sin.
He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So we
may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to
me?" (Hebrews 13:5–6).
emerald is also a stone in the high priest’s breastplate of judgment. This
stone with its pleasant green hue dominates the colors of this rainbow, showing
us that God’s covenant of salvation is always on the heart of God.
Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is
longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should
come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9).
count slackness” or, “as some people think.” There are those that
willingly reject the claims and requirements of the gospel. This is tragic for
them as they could be saved from sin. God made the promise of salvation to all
mankind through the atonement in Christ, but to refuse to accept that gracious
gift is to your eternal detriment. God is not slack or slow in delivering on
this promise, the moment you repent of your sin and place your faith in the
atonement of Christ, you are forgiven and born again.
as John sees the curtain of heaven part, he sees another representation of the
Glorified Christ. He sits on the throne of the kingdom of God. The predominant
impression given is a reflection of the breastplate of judgment worn by the high
priest in that we see royalty, justice, and the everlasting covenant of the
gospel. Not only is the Glorified Christ king of the kingdom, always remember
that He is our high priest.
we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was
in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly
to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time
of need. (Hebrews 4:15–16).
you come to His throne and found mercy and grace?