Exegetical look into Revelation 4: 4-5

What would a glimpse of heaven do to and for you?

The point of this portion of Revelation is to motivate us as a Church to get right, and get busy in Him. How many churches do we know who are indifferent, who just get by and do nothing to exercise their faith or show who Christ is in their lives? Such a church is exercising faithlessness to the point that they actually scheme to not grow in Him, revealing their breach of faith and disloyalty. Such a church will not reach out. Their programs are superficial and inclusive to themselves and not available to others who need them; thus, they are not worthy to be called Christians.

  • Encircled the throne…surrounded by is a parody of a kings court, showing his importance. These images can help us see God’s centrality and eminence. These are visions of angelic courtiers as attendants serving in a royal monarch’s court (1 Kings 22:19; Job 1:6; 2:1; Psalm 89:6-7; Ezek. 1; Dan. 7:9-10)
  • Twenty-four other thrones. In the art of that period, the image of a few (such as priests) means there are many more than depicted. Thus, the number does not mean an actual number. This applies through most of Revelation. Numbers are symbols, not accounting or actual numbers.
  • Twenty-four. The number 24 can mean many things such as the 24 books of the Jewish cannon, or the 24 orders a Jewish priest at the time took, or the completeness of the 12 tribes and 12 Apostles, indicating all who bow to Christ. These numbers are symbolic and not actual accounting as there were 14 apostles and 13-14 tribes depending on context of the listing. (Joseph was two.) (Deut. 21:6; 1 Chron. 24-25; Isa. 24:23; Dan. 7:9; Acts 1:26; Rev. 5:5-14; 7:4-17; 11:16-18; 14:3; 19:4).
  • Twenty-four elders. Elders refers to those with authority. In the context of a church, they are God’s representatives called to declare and serve Him wholeheartedly and righteously. Referring to God’s “cabinet officials” denoting those “with wisdom” as His attendants who worship and serve Him, there are two theories¾Angels or people, or perhaps an exalted category of Angels. Perhaps, it refers to the Church as triumphant; others say it indicates the ancestors of Christ. However, the passage and context suggest celestial representatives, which can mean the Church¾as those who are redeemed or God’s servants¾or, more precisely, both. This is also suggestive of how a healthy church functions with elders who seek wisdom, serving and worshiping God. The application is that all who are in Christ are His representatives—individually, and collectively as the whole assemblage of Christians as the Church.
  • Dressed in white. White, in ancient times, was associated with good and purity. In contrast, black was associated with bad. The dead were buried in white and priests were dressed in white (Rev. 3:4).
  • Crown refers to victory.
  • Flashes of lightning. Special effects in ancient times indicated an important event. Here, it is pointing to God’s self-revelation. It is the symbolic representation of the awesome majesty and power of God. It refers to God’s Supremacy and Authority and our duty to heed His voice and reverence Him. It is also a symbol of the fake god, Zeus’ authority and vengeance (Ex. 19:16-19; Job 37:5-6; Psalm 18:11-15; Ezek. 1:4, 24; 43:2; Dan. 10:6; Heb. 12:18-29; Rev. 8:5; 11:19; 16:18).
  • Rumblings and peals. An illustration of God’s mighty power coming to deliver His people (Psalm 18:12-15; 77:18).
  • Seven lamps/torches refers to the seven churches that are representative of God’s Temple here on earth, as all churches are. The image that God is Light refers to the Church as the body of believers whose duty it is to be a light and a witness for Christ. This is why some commentators take this as meaning the Holy Spirit; however, the theme is that His character is the Light we follow and proclaim, and refers to the O.T. account of how God’s Glory descended into the Tabernacle. Now, our purpose is to point to His glory, as the Church is the light of the world. Proclaiming the Church as a lamp stand is saying the Church is significant as the true place of reverence to God (Gen. 1:3; Ex. 25:31-40; 1 Kings 7:49; Zech. 4:2; Matt. 5:14-16; 18:20; 28:20; John 1:4-5; 8:12; 14:18; Acts 26:13; Eph. 1:10; 5:8-13; Phil. 2:15; 1 John 1:4-5; Rev. 1:12-13; 2:9; 3:9).
  • Seven spirits of God means an angelic court pointing to God’s Fullness. The word, seven, means completeness, perfection, and its importance is compounded. Some believe this is referring to the seven celestial beings (Rev. 8:2). However, context and word meaning attest to the Holy Spirit and His various roles as Counselor, Bearer of Wisdom, Fruit, etc. (Isa. 11:2; Zech. 4:2-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Pet. 1:1-2; Rev. 1:4; 4:5; 5:14).
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