What does Revelation 4: 6-11 mean to us now?

Any church, no matter how good it has been in the past, can easily fail when we think we no longer need to put our best efforts forward. It is when we stop growing, stop learning, and stop reaching out to Him and to others that we fail as His church. When we live in the past, we are not living now¾we actually are not living at all. Keep in mind that just about all churches were good and vibrant at one time or else they would never have been formed. It is when we fail to keep those things going that we fall short. 

The Church is to be under His rule and kingship, not our committees and trends. We are to surrender to His lead and to His Way so we can proclaim His supremacy and majesty. If not, we engage in spiritual warfare, but not the kind that most Christians think of, as in our battling Satan. Rather, it becomes us battling God for control so we can conform His church to our pleasures. Satan does not need to battle us when we are already battling God. He will fuel our battling and provide the weapons, but he does not even need to do that, we are so good at it ourselves. Satan’s objective is to manipulate those with bad intentions to battle the righteous and godly, to lead us astray, and/or to get us too busy to see Christ in our everyday lives. 

Looking forward to His eternity? Great! But, consider this. We do not need to be in His Throne Room; He is here with us now. We just need to see His hand upon us now, feel His presence, and allow His supremacy to lead us in His way. In the end, God wins out. Satan’s spiritual warfare against us is as futile as our war against God. He wins! There is no other way; His way is the best and most glorious for us and for Him. Satan wants our eyes distracted so we do not see Christ’s majesty, with the goal being that we worship him and not Him. God wants us in spiritual purity and faithfulness in and to Him. The choice is given, the call is made; the choosing is up to us! How will we lead and manage our spiritual journeys? How will you lead and manage your church? Will it be His supremacy or your inclinations? Which way do you think will win out? Then, why would a person of faith in Christ choose to run his or her life or church by any way other than His? 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. What would a glimpse of heaven do to and for you? How would this glimpse of heaven motivate you and your Church to get right and get busy in Him?  
  2. How do some churches battle God for control of His church for their pleasures? How will you lead and manage your spiritual journey? How will you lead and manage your church so you are not battling Him, but rather, serving Him? 
  3. Any church, no matter how good it has been in the past, could easily fail. How does the breakdown of putting our best efforts forward contribute to this?  
  4. What about that when we stop growing, stop learning, and stop reaching out to Him and to others, our churches fail? What can your church do to prevent this?  

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

The Four Main Views of Revelation 4: 6-11

Preterist view sees this passage as a courtroom with a Judge who is Sovereign, and who pronounces those who are guilty in the next chapter. They see the phrase of “after this” as meaning it will happen right away and thus has already taken place in the first century. The 24 elders represent the worship of Christ, but are not angels or people. Rather, they are just an image made up for John to grasp His Throne. Others see the creatures and elders as angels or separate created entities that guard God (who needs no guard) and proclaim His Glory and Lordship. They also see this passage as an assault on the zodiac and astrology. 

Futurist view sees this passage as the turning point from dealing with the Church to dealing with the “last days” that have not occurred as of yet. In addition, they see the phrase “after this” and “the triumphant” as referring to after the Church age and thus, since the Church is no longer mentioned much, they mostly believe the Church will not be a part of these events because it has been “raptured” (even though there is little to no scriptural support for this theory, 1 Cor 15:51-54, 1 Thess. 4:16-18, and Rev. 7:9-17; 22:16 are twisted out of their context as they ignore word meanings and other phrases used for the Church such as “redeemed” and “saints” in Rev. 5:8-9; 8:3-4; 11:18; 13:7-10; 14:3-4, 12; 15:3; 16:6; and17:6,  seeing these as meaning characteristics of the church but not the church玅a big stretch away from the actual meanings for this view). The 24 elders represent the first 24 ancestors of Christ listed in Genesis 5 and 7 (this is a big stretch, reading into the text what is not there); others see them as exalted angels who serve God, and some see this as the 24 elders adhering to the Levitical orders (1 Chron. 24:4; 25:9-13) and functioning as priests. Others say they represent the redeemed. They see the seven lamps and spirits as referring to the Holy Spirit. They see the sea of glass as solid, meaning we no longer need the cleansing of the water because of Christ. The four living creatures are living entities that can represent the attributes and qualities of God, the attributes of nature, or as four portraits of Christ from the four Gospels, as King, Servant, Son of man, Son of God. However, such views are wildly speculative and not rooted in Scripture. Their function is to praise God and execute His sovereign will. 

Idealist view sees this passage as a vision, depicting the entire church age. They ignore key words and context. They see the phrase “after this” as meaning “this is what I saw” (not what the words actually mean). They see these images as representative of the Ezekiel and Isaiah passages combined into one series of images of God’s purity and holiness. They see these beings as a separate class of angels or celestial representatives. The 24 elders represent the twelve patriarchs and the twelve apostles of the Church (1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 21:12-14). They also see the seven lamps and spirits as referring to the Holy Spirit. The elders and such are to glorify God because He is Worthy and reassures the people who are being persecuted. 

Historicist view sees this passage as depicting the Sovereignty of God and the privilege we have to know Him and worship Him. These images parallel the ancient courts of kings such as King Solomon, who had the lions carved on either side of his throne, as well as the Babylon and Roman emperors who had similar images on their thrones. The 24 elders represent the entirety of the Church triumphant that replaces the Jewish priests and sacrificial system with Christ as Lord. However, these angelic hosts were real beings, depicted according to our ability to comprehend. These depictions are in humanistic terms so we can get how glorious God is, far beyond any human rule. The images refer to God’s stability, preeminence, and His ability and right to govern through His rule, wit, power, intelligence, vigilance, and energy.

Exegetical look into Revelation 4:9-11

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

This passage is about coming before our Lord, and our worship from our gratitude for who He is and what He has done for us as individuals. He is the depiction of the centrality of His Supremacy as Christ. Christ is the Priest, Head, Lord, and Prime Shepherd of the Church. He is the object and reason why we meet and function. Christ is the destiny and pattern we follow and emulate. 

  • Fall down before him. Anyone who comes before God falls “prostrate.” This is a form of reverence and homage. 
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  • Worship him. An essential element is that all who proclaim God as Lord must also worship Him. Here, it refers to songs of praise for who He is in glory and what He has done in deeds (Ex. 15:11; Isa. 6:3; John 20:28; Rev. 1:6). 
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  • Lay their crowns…you are worthy means the recognition that God alone is worthy of our praise and worship.
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  • You created acknowledges God as the creator of all things and Sovereign Lord over all. He made it and He gets to run it and all that is in the universe, including you and me! 

How is God exclusive and pure? How does this fact help you to come before God? 

What can your church do to better reverence God, not just in song, but also in motivations and behaviors? 

Why does the Church exist? What about your church? Why is this so often forgotten in our boardrooms and planning? 

How does this passage give hope and encouragement to the persecuted church?

Exegetical look into Revelation 4:6-8

John tells us in his Gospel that “He must increase and we must decrease.” (John 3:29-30) If we refuse this vital call, God just may allow those hardships to come our way, breaking us down so we will yield and grow as His child. Just as good and loving parents will discipline their child, God will discipline us. But, this is not a personal attack; rather, it is a way to help us grow and be better used by our Lord (1 Cor. 1:30; Col. 1:27; 1 Thess. 4:3; 5:23-24; 1 Pet. 1:5).

  • Sea of glass. This is an image of worship, as the temple had the “Bronze Sea” referring to the “basin” in the heavenly temple (Rev. 15:5-6, 8; 16:1, 17). Elsewhere, this image of water and worship is found when the Red Sea (Sea of Reeds) was parted by God, as was the Jordan River’s parting (which was actually a greater miracle). These images indicate that all that exists is submissive to God’s supremacy, and He has victory over all that oppose Him. In conjunction, water also means that He supplies us with all we need (Ex. 24:10; Deut. 11:11; 1 Kings 7:23-25; 2 Kings 16:17; 2 Chron. 4:2-6,15, 39; Psalm 11:4; Isa. 51:9-11; Jer 27:19; Ezek. 1:22; Rev. 11:19; 14:15, 17; 15:2).
  • Crystal indicates the magnificence, precious purity, and beauty of His Throne and Being as with verse three (Rev. 21:18-21).
  • Four living creatures. A figurative image from Ezekiel and Babylon descriptions, this possibly refers to angelic ministers to God who act as protectors, guardians, and servants, giving their adoration. The point is that “God is Great;” God is universally glorious, and greater than any earthly power or king. This may also be an assault on the powers and authority of Babylon and Rome. To read into these images more than what is there misses the point of the passage and muddies the waters of Revelation (Gen. 3:24; Ex. 25:17-22; 1 Kings 7:29; 1 Chron. 12:8; 28:18; Psalm 18:10; Isa. 6; Ezek. Chaps 1, 10).
  • Covered with eyes. Not necessarily a literal depiction, this perhaps means that nothing gets past them; they are all seeing.
  • Like a lion… like an ox… like a man… like a flying eagle. Basically, these images mean the entire scope and sinful nature of all creation. Lion is the greatest of beasts, the ox is the greatest domestic beast and servant to man, the eagle is the chief of birds, and man is the chief of all (Isa. 6:3-5).
  • Six wings. Ezekiel had similar visions where he saw four living creatures (Ezek. 1:6-11)
  • Holy, holy, holy, is from Isaiah 6:3, and is an expansion of God’s divine name, power, and holiness found in Exodus. This is referring to the holiness of God and our duty and call to worship Him and Him only (Ex. 3:14-15; Isa. 41:4; Rev. 1:4).

Revelation 4: 6-11

Introduction

Heaven Exposed to Us!

General idea: A picture of a heavenly Choir, of all of creation praising God and His wonder as Almighty, Holy and Worthy. And so begins a foretelling of what will come about. The previous passage from 4:1 through 22:5 describes a series of heavily visions in seven cycles (see background article) that John receives from Christ, climaxing with the final judgment. The purpose is not just eschatology (End Times), but rather to give the persecuted church hope and encouragement, and chastisement to those in leadership who are “bent” on false teaching and bad motives. The goal is that we get our churches lined up to His will and call.

John gives us a picture of worship, as God is exclusive and pure. This is about how we come before God, because He is the Supreme and Sovereign Lord over all. John explains His Throne Room in terms of earthly metaphors of earthly kings, except that an earthly king thinks he is in control and deserves the veneration of his subjects. God alone deserves such praise. An earthly king holds court by force and control, whereas God has earned the right to be in command, and He alone is worthy. He has the right to rule and dictate His decrees over us¾over all, because He is the One who created everything. There is no one greater; He deserves our wholehearted worship and reverence. This does not include only praise and song; it means putting Him first in all that we do in life. Real worship is how we reverence Him, not how we sing about Him. He wants our obedience and veneration over all else (1 Sam. 15:22-23; Rev. 5:8; 11:19; 15:5-8)

Get this essential point: Revelation is not just about what will happen in the future, but also what is happening now with the practice of our faith and how we lead our church. We are called to open our eyes to His wonder and worship Him solely-not our ways and trends, and not our pride and feelings. Revelation is about His church and that we run it His way, worshiping Him alone. Church and worship are not about what we feel we need or desire; rather, it is about Christ and what He intends.

How do some churches battle God for control of His church for their pleasures?

How will you lead and manage your spiritual journey?

How will you lead and manage your church so you are not battling Him, but rather, serving Him?

The Four Main Views of Revelation 2: 1-7

Preterist view: Sees this passage as addressing actual historical churches.

Futurist view: Believes as the Preterist and Historicist, too. Many theologians of all these views hold that they are historical and point to all churches, and that there is no hidden meaning in these chapters.

Idealist view: Sees these churches as symbolic with no specific reference in history, place, or time, but rather as a template for church history and the seven ages of the Church. Both Idealists and Historicists see Ephesus as the Apostolic Age to 100 A.D.; Smyrna is the church under persecution 100 to 300 A.D.; Pergamum is the church after Constantine and the Dark Ages of corruption 313 to 500 A.D., false teaching, and carnality. Thyatira is the Middle Ages of the power of the Papacy and corruption, 500 to 1500. Sardis is the Reformation 1500 to 1700 (Reformed denominations attack this position because Sardis is described as actually being dead). Philadelphia is the church with evangelism and missionary movements,1700 to the present. Laodicea represents the liberal churches from 1900 to the End of Days.

Historicist view: Sees this passage as parallels to all churches, which every church that ever was or will be will fall in one of those seven “categories.”

Questions to Ponder:

1. How would you appraise your church from this letter? What is your church doing right as listed here, and what is it doing wrong?

2. This church of Ephesus is being praised for its good and is also threatened with judgment if they do not start to love. Why would Jesus use such strong language with them?

3. Why do you suppose this church had trouble with loving? Do you think people could become victims of the ugly that happens when a key component of doing Church is left out?

4. Why would someone think that are “improving” Christianity by teaching people to compromise their faith so they can join in the culture?

5. What happens when we run our churches to please ourselves or for our comforts and ideas? Do you believe that if we refuse love then we are refusing Christ and we will be judged for it?

6. What is the condition of your church? What can you do to implement the prime purpose of glorifying Christ as a purpose statement or active slogan that is understood and applied?

7. What can you do to carefully and seriously examine your own church so you are all doing your best for His highest? What would it take to make the needed improvements? How would the people in your church handle some examination?

© 1992-2009, R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

What does Revelation 2: 1-7 mean to me?

Revelation was written to the Seven Churches of Asia Minor, which is now modern Turkey (Rev. 1:4, 11). The principle purpose for the writing is to encourage and chastise them for how they were running their churches (Rev. 2:1-3:22). John was fully convinced that Christ would triumph over the forces of Satan and his work in the world. He then exhorted them to be faithful and discerning between what is false and what is truth, and warned them not to worship the Emperor or to comply with evil, apathy, or compromise. He restated the importance of discipleship and Christian formation so they (we) could be authentic Christians of excellence and distinction, bringing no disrepute to Christ or His Church.

God’s purpose for John in Revelation is not that he be condescending or judgmental. Rather, it is so he could offer hope and encouragement to the Church. At the same time, it points out the issues and problems so we can address them and move from our ways to His Ways. If we just sit and point fingers at problems, ignore them, rationalize they are OK, or worry we might offend people and do nothing about fixing them, we do the Church, God, and ourselves a disservice. We are called to know what we are doing and His precepts so we can be better for His glory. Let’s take a hard look at our church and see where we are with what He has called us to, and have the courage and fortitude to fix what we are not doing right so we can seek being our best for His glory.

Jesus ends this letter with the importance of listening and heeding His precepts. We are to allow the flow of the Spirit, and to be Sprit-led, not self-led, especially with how we lead the Church. A church can only be successful as long as love is penetrating and being modeled from its leadership and members. When love is lost, so is the church (1 Cor. 13)!