What does Revelation 4: 1-5 mean to us now?

One day, this door will be open to us and we will be there.

The question is, are you ready and have you lived the life He has called you to? God calls us to be earnest in pursuing a serious, deep—rooted, and determined faith. It is a call to persist in our faith and determination, regardless of obstacles—physical limitations, spiritual depression, spiritual warfare, or our circumstances. If everything came to us instantly, there would be no growth, no appreciation, no maturity, and no faith. Faith requires resistance and struggle to make it flourish and grow. God is not the One Who always holds us back; it is usually our refusal to reach out and seize the opportunity. It is we who refuse to exercise our faith and grow. It is we who speak just a simple prayer with no earnest thought behind it, with no zeal or realization of God’s mercy and grace. We get so caught up in our own struggles that we do not look past the crowd to call His Name. We do not realize that He will stop, look, and listen—just for us!

God has given you an open door. What does it take for you to answer and to open it?

Questions to Ponder:

  1. Can you imagine what Heaven will be like? Or, is it so far above your ability to imagine that it is a mere hope?
  2. John, Ezekiel, and Daniel all used images and metaphors to describe this wonder. What do you suppose are the reasons for this?
  3. Why do many Christians today get so caught up in these images that they miss the point of the message? Have you ever done that?
  4. Many misguided interpreters read into a Bible text, stringing together other passages out of context to create a grand theology out of injudicious reading and insert ideas that are not in the passages. What could be causes and motivations for this? Why are we called to read His Word with “exegesis,” or a right explanation and analysis of the text from what is actually in it?
  5. One day, this door will be open to us and we will there. The questions are, are you ready, and have you lived the life He has called you to? What do you still need to do?
  6. What would it mean to your faith and relationships to be better at seizing the moment and taking advantage of the opportunities He gives? Remember, the application is that all who are in Christ are His representatives, both individually, and collectively as the whole assemblage of all Christians who are the Church. How can you make this so in your life and church?
  7. In the meantime, as we wait to see all this for ourselves, how can we fuel our perseverance and productivity by His marvel? What can you do to further persevere with your call and faith?

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

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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).

Exegetical look into Revelation 4:1-3

This passage is cycle one (Rev. 4:1-8:1) in a series of seven heavenly visions given to John by Christ (Rev. 4:1-22:5). In this first cycle, God is presented on His Throne as the King of Kings, as The Supreme Majesty in sovereign control of all things. He is the One who rules and governs us; we are the ones who are to bow to His supremacy and surrender to His Lordship. The centrality of His Supremacy in this passage gives hope to those who are suffering, and purpose to those who have lost theirs.

  • After this. This is a literary reference to the transition from the epistles to the seven churches over to John’s heavenly visions.
  • I looked. This possibly refers to a vision, or a vibrant dream (Ezek. 10:1; 44:4; Dan. 10:5).
  • A trumpet said. This means God is preparing to give a command or the pronouncement of His Word (Ex. 19:16). Here, many misguided interpreters read into the text a “rapture,” and string together other passages out of context to create a grand theology out of injudicious reading and inserting ideas that are not in these passages, such as 1 Cor. 15:51-54 and 1 Thess. 4:16-18. This is called “isagesis” which is a personal interpretation of a text from our own ideas. However, we are called to read His Word with “exegesis,” or a right explanation and analysis of the text from what it actually says. Also, because the word “church” does not appear until chapter 22, many think this means the church is not on earth during the last days. Again, this is reading into a text our ideas and not God’s. We are never to stretch or construe Scripture according to our whims and/or opinions. Rather, we are to plainly seek what He has for us from what He has clearly revealed to us.
  • Come up here. This phrase is expressed in the same way Moses was called up to Mount Sinai and how Paul was “caught up” in to heaven (Ex. 19:3, 20-24; 24:12; 34:2; Ezek. 1:1; John 1:29, 51; 2 Cor. 12:2; Rev. 11:12-19; 17:1; 19:11; 21:9).
  • What must take place after this. This indicates past, present, and future, and refers to what is referenced in Revelation. It is for the present and future as well as rooted in the past, but not completed as of this writing. Some misguided interpreters find the “rapture” in this phrase, which is again, totally reading into the text what “we want” that just is not there, not only violating the rules of biblical interpretation, but also (and ironically) the plain meaning and point of this passage, which is bowing to Christ and His ways rather than our ways and ideas (Dan. 2:28-29, 45; John 19:35; Rev. 1:1, 19).
  • In the Spirit. This means spiritual exaltation and prophetically inspired¾the wonders of the Lord, giving him this vision and insight for God’s glory and not John’s. This is a state of being sensitive to spiritual understanding, not necessarily “charismatic” worship. The Holy Spirit provided John the visions and took him to places he could actually see. Thus, he is recording authentic images he saw in reality; this was no mere dream. This can also mean that John was caught up or transported to God’s Throne. However, these particulars are irrelevant to the meaning (1 Chron. 25:1-6; Ezek. 2:2; 3:12-14, 24; 8:3; 11:1, 24; Acts 10:10; Rev. 1:10; 4:2; 17:3; 21:10).
  • There before me. The representation of God ruling from his throne in heaven is a standard image from the Old Testament. This is a figurative depiction, not a literal description of our Lord (Psalm 47:8).
  • Throne in heaven. Denotes a throne and refers to the earthly kings pompous dignity and prestige in contrast to God’s Preeminence and actuality of having a throne. This is an image of the Old Testament Tabernacle where the “copy” of God’s Throne Room, made for His presence, was made known. Now, John sees the real heavenly version in a corporal state to condescend to his and our understanding (Ex. 24:9-11; 25 (25:40)-40; 1 Kings 5-7; 22:19; 2 Chron. 2-4; Isa. 6; Ezek. 1; 10:1; Dan. 7:9-10; Heb. 8:5-6; 9:1-14; Rev. 3:12; 7:15; 11:19; 14:15-17; 15:5-16:1, 16:17; 21:22).
  • Someone sitting on it. His greatness and splendor surpasses all understanding, as He is supreme and Head over the Church. Either the details are not given to us, or we are not able to comprehend with our human minds in our present state (2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:13-15; 5:23; Col. 1:15-20; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1:5-9).
  • Appearance of jasper and carnelian… emerald… around the throne. This is an image of God’s purity and overwhelming elaborations, magnitude, majesty, and brilliance that is “reflected.” “Precious stones” means precious and nothing else is like it, and that He dwells in unapproachable light “whom no one has seen or can see” (Ezek. 1:26-28; Dan. 7; 1 Tim. 6:16).
  • Rainbow refers to God’s mercy and grace, which we are called to reflect (Gen. 9:12-15).

Revelation 4:1-5

Introduction

“The Throne”

God stands above and opens His door to His Home for us to see. One day, we will see Him there, but for now, we can only imagine how it will be! John gets the great, anticipated glimpse that all people of all times have wondered about¾what will it be like, the wonder of wonders, the layout and look of our eternal home. Imagine what you would see: His awesome sight! Imagine what would you hear: His voice! God tells John to come on in and take a look at what must take place. And John is there, in Heaven. Whether this is a physical transportation or a fantastic vision matters not. He gets to see what only a handful of men have seen while they still roamed this earth. John saw God’s throne and the entire splendor that was there. There are no earthly words, none that even Greek or Hebrew could contain that would adequately describe what God has revealed to him. John is overwhelmed, but manages to grasp what few early images and metaphors existed that could describe this wonder. This passage starts off with a series of heavenly visions (chaps 4-8) as an attempt to convey this marvelous spectacle that is perhaps beyond our ability to even imagine.

God is portrayed as pure and as brilliant as precious, glowing gemstones, and a sea of glass is surrounded by further reverence and majesty. Elders and representatives serve as a house of worship, praising Him, clothed in His grace and presence. Yet, in this serenity are His supremacy, intensity, and power that are overwhelming and glorious. This was more than a foretaste of things to come; it was a show of strength and a demonstration of hope to those in distress and despair. One day we will be called there; but, in the meantime, we are fueled with His perseverance and productivity by the marvel of Him. He is to be our Hope so we can persevere with our call and faith. It is a call to seize the moment and take advantage of the opportunities He gives (1 Thess. 4:13-18).

Revelation is a book that describes events that are indescribable to a people in persecution who need hope and a purpose to cling to. It is not a book of mysticism, because the symbols do mean things that we can understand with a little research and O.T. understanding. Because of the subject, John can only use metaphors and word pictures to put it into writing because no mere words of earthly origin can adequately convey it. If we just see this as mysticism, we miss the point of what God is saying!

What would it mean to your faith and relationships to be better at seizing the moment and taking advantage of the opportunities He gives? Remember, the application is that all who are in Christ are His representatives, both individually, and collectively as the whole assemblage of all Christians who are the Church. How can you make this so in your life and church? In the meantime, as we wait to see all this for ourselves, how can we fuel our perseverance and productivity by His marvel? What can you do to further persevere with your call and faith?

What does Revelation 3:1-6 mean to me?

Veneer is a thin facing of “finishing material” such as a fine layer of quality wood, a fraction of an inch thick, that is adhered to the surface of a cheaper substrate, such as in furniture making. So, a much cheaper piece of wood is used for 99% of the project, and then it is covered with this veneer. It looks good for a time, but it will not last, eventually falling apart. On the other hand, a quality piece of furniture that is made from solid, quality wood lasts for decades, perhaps even centuries. It may be good to use veneer in our woodworking, but it must not be used in building a church. A church that has a faith made from veneer, without depth or meaning, is deceptive. It “covers” the bad or low quality, and it gives false hope and no substance to those who are in need and who want to be sincere in their faith. This can be a Mormon Church with all the hospitality, welcoming, friendship, and camaraderie, and where you feel at home. You are appreciated, feel at home and cared for, yet, beneath the picture of seeming health and vitality is emptiness and deception. There is no real purpose for such a church, no spiritual formation in Christ, no authentic faith or discipleship in the real precepts of the Lord. Rather, it disgorges false teaching that leads a person nowhere except further away from our Lord. We can expect this in a cult, but what about in your church? A church must be real. When we practice hospitality, it must come from a heart that wants people there and wants them to grow in Him. If not, it is veneer; it is fake, and it dishonors our Lord!

Questions to Ponder:

1. How does a church become a fake or a façade? What are some of the things that hinder our purity in our faith and devotion to Christ?

2. Why would a dead church refuse to repent and turn themselves back to Christ? What are some of the things that such a church would worship and/or focus on instead? How does Christ feel when He is neglected?

3. How does a church exhibit faithfulness and point to the reputation of Christ? How does yours? How should it? What can you do to make His reputation better in your work, school, and community?

4. What more can you do to show that you are devoted to Christ in sincerity and with authenticity? What can you do to better please Christ with persistent obedience regardless of the past or what you will face in the future?

5. Have you ever considered that you represent Christ, and your faith and obedience are your clothing? How is your “clothing?” What can you do to have better clothing? What can your church do to be more proactive with opportunities and collective faith? What specific things need to be put into action?

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

Exegetical look into Revelation 3:4-6

There were people in this church of Sardis who remained faithful, who took what Christ gave them and made it grow as they were called to do. Jesus says we are worthy because He gave us grace and anointment for our sins; we are dressed in “white,” as being pure in Him before God. But we can easily “soil” our purity before Him when we keep sinning and refuse to acknowledge our sins and repent from them. When we have the maturity to repent and seek Him and follow Him and not our pride or the world’s ways, we become victorious. Our faith will be firm and we will never be erased from His Book of Life! We must listen to Him and remove anything that hinders our purity in our faith and devotion to Christ.

· People in Sardis. Jesus knows who are His own; He wants us to be His own (John 10:3).

· Not soiled their clothes. Pagan temples would not let worshipers in if they had on old or dirty clothes, as it was an insult to the god. This means we must seek to be our best for His glory; if not, we are insulting the real God-Christ!

· Dressed in white referred to the robes that the priests who represented a god wore. We represent Christ, and our faith and obedience is our clothing (Rev. 3:18; 6:11; 7:9, 13; 4:4; 19:14). How is yours?

· Worthy. Even though we were deeply loved even before the cross or our faith in Him, we will be accountable for our actions and where our trust, faith, and heart have been placed. Will it be in Christ, or in the world?

· The Book of Life is basically the heavenly roster of the saints who have been found by Christ as faithful, who received their election, and who persevered. All ancient cities had rosters of who lived there and those added and expelled, like a census. Like a city roster, the Book of Life contains the names of all the people who are currently living. When a person dies, those who have claimed Jesus as Lord, who have received their election, let it become rooted in them, and have been faithful and obedient remain in this book. All others are blotted out. Once our names are in His book and we are saved by His grace, we are secure in our faith and in eternal security (Ex. 32:32-33; Psalm 69:28; Dan. 12:1; Phil. 4:3; Rev. 13:8; 17:8; 20:12-15; 21:19, 27).

· Acknowledge/I will confess means accepting Christ, being saved, receiving His election, and confessing Him. When we receive His grace, we confess Him and then He will make us good and acceptable before the Father (Matt. 10:32; Luke 12:8).

Exegetical look into Revelation 3:1-3

Sardis is in Turkey, and is the modern-day Sart. It was founded in the 8th century BC, and was the former capital of the ancient Kingdom of Lydia, famous for red dyes, wool, and, of course, immorality. They worshiped many pagan gods including Artemis and Kore and the goddesses Cybele and Demeter. It was a natural, seemingly invulnerable citadel that was famous for its great wealth. An “acropolis” was built there (similar to the one in Athens Greece), on Mount Tmolus. It stood 1,500 feet above the valley. A large, wealthy Jewish community was there, too. These people were respected amongst the Gentiles for their commercial prowess. What sets this city off from Thyatira and the others is that there is no indication of persecution there. The early Christians had it good, with no significant problems with the Jews, guilds, or government. They became wealthy and comfortable; because of this, they were set up for complacency. The biggest danger to a person’s faith and the health of a church is complacency, which results in the lack of growth! Wealth, in and of itself, is not wrong or bad; however, it is our prideful thinking that we do not need God but can do life and our church by ourselves and by our own efforts that is a slap in the face of our Lord.

· Holds the seven spirits of God is a title for Christ, referring to His fullness and importance that is beyond measure. The meaning of seven is not numerical but rather denotes completeness. The Holy Spirit attests to this by His various roles as Counselor, Bearer of Wisdom, and Fruit, etc. (Isa. 11:2; Rev. 1:1-8).

· Seven stars. Jewish texts often display angels as stars. In contrast, pagans saw stars as the rulers of their destiny. It is, in fact, God, who is LORD, who is that Ruler (Rev. 1:12-20).

· I know your deeds. Their prosperity was meant to be a blessing and a tool, but they turned it into greed and self-satisfaction.

· A reputation. Sardis and this church had a good reputation that was, perhaps, overrated. Both were sinking from their former glory because they were not constant in their efforts. In the Christian life, it is not about proving ourselves so we can then take it easy; rather, it is our persistent obedience that pleases Him, regardless of the past or the future. We can never take a reputation for granted; it must be fueled with consistency and fervency.

· Being alive meant that at one time, this church was doing well. This implies that the spiritual life is like an organism that must be fed and cared for if it is to grow. Our Christianity must be nurtured or it will wither.

· You are dead meant that spiritual life, faith in Christ, and growth in Him were all absent. If we are not growing, we are dying, or perhaps are already dead.

· Wake up/be watchful meant we must be on guard against sin, temptations, and for anything else that would diminish our character or conquer our church. This is a call to realize what we are doing wrong and to get it right. It is more of a challenge to be pure when everyone else is in sin.

· Deeds complete/perfect before God possibly infers that no Fruit or love was found (Rom. 7:4-6; 1 Cor. 13:1-3; Gal. 5:6, 22-23; Col. 1:3-10; James 3:17).

· Remember indicates that we should never forget who Christ is and what He has done for us! Don’t do life or His church on your own; He wants to be involved as LORD, not consultant or contributor, and He is not to be ignored, either.

· I will come like a thief means “stealth,” as to be surprised when you think you are invulnerable and safe. Sardis was a fortress that many saw as impenetrable, yet it was easily conquered twice by people sneaking in through the water caverns and sewers at night while the men who were guarding the city were drunk. This meaning here does not refer to the image of the End Times as it does in Matthew, 2 Peter, and later on in Revelation. Here, it means to “break in,” as to dig into the clay and brick sides to get inside the home or sneak into the fortress like the Trojan Horse. Here, it is a metaphor, and does not refer to a literal thief who would rob us, but that Christ’s judgment will come if a church refuses to repent. This judgment will not be predicted or expected. It will be a surprise and a shock (Ex. 22:2-3; Matt. 24:42-44; Luke 12:39-40; 1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 16:1-5)!

This is a call for us to be vigilant and ready, and not to slack off from our spiritual formation or become complacent. Does Jesus need to cry out to your church to wake up and get it right?