Thoughts and Applications for Revelation 22:1-6

 

Do you long for intimacy with Christ as Lord and love of your life? In this passage, He shows us He restores and seeks us to be renewed and to be in Him. Christ gave us grace from His love to make Him our home of faith and motivation in life. Then, He prepares an eternal home for us too. The question is, as Christians, do we give back our worship, praise, gratitude, and devotion to Him? Are we at home with Him as our main inspiration, impulse, and comfort in this life, not just in the life to come (John 14:23)? We can be assured He cares and loves us beyond description; but, do we love Him back? God has a purpose for this world and for our lives and it is all about communion in and with Him. We must find a way to increase our awareness and love for Christ in our daily lives so our lives mean something more than just “what I want” and “what I can get.” It must be Christ-focused, for this is what Heaven is all about too! 

This incredible passage is more about hope—hope that we need more than anything else including eschatology, the study of end times. Our hope of Heaven is our fuel, our motivation—like gas is to a car; it will get us through life, the great times and the tough times, our adversities, so our soul will travel well.  It is about our motivation to grow in faith, to be loyal to our Lord so we look to Him and not our troubles and trials. Heaven is our hope of hope, and so much more; it is a reality, a wonder, and a place we will be forever and ever. Our biggest problem has been solved, that of our sin causing us to die with no hope or salvation. Christ paid that debt. As a Christian, we have been saved; if you are not saved, you can be and then you can become a new creation in Him, set for eternity (1 Cor. 6:9-11; 2 Cor. 5:17)! 

Christ brings us Heaven! He brings peace and a future to us who do not deserve it. Because of Him, we have hope and a future and most of all, we have Him both now and forevermore! What is better than that?! There is nothing that can be a greater motivator and comfort than knowing for certain who Christ is, what He has done, and what place He has for you and me! Now, let us live our lives as if that is true—because it is true. And, keep in mind these powerful passages as well as John 14 in mind, as love and obedience are connected in Him! 

Questions to ponder: 

  1. Why do you think John gives us this preview of Heaven? What does it mean to you to have “hope beyond hope?”
  1. How do you feel knowing that you have access to God and His life-giving blessings and renewal now, and not just in Heaven?
  1. How does Hope help you be encouraged so you can encourage others? What and when are you going to do this more? How is Hope a vital fuel and stimulate necessary for all that we do successfully in life and for Him? What are some other valuable faith stimulants and how can you use them? What can you and your church do to implement these hopes?
  1. What can your church do to help its people see and feel Hope and the wonder of Christ? How will this help prosper and grow your church even in times of stress, suffering, and confusion?

© 2007 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org

The Two Prevailing Views of Revelation 22:1-6

 

(Chapters twenty-one and twenty-two deal with the literal versus the non-literal interpretation of Scripture). 

The Literalist View: Sees this passage as the continual, exact description of our inheritance and hope—Heaven. This passage also sets up the second coming of our Lord.  Some in this camp debate whether the Temple will be rebuilt and if this, along with the previous and coming passages, describes this new temple built on the mount, as the armies of the Muslim world seek to destroy it while God protects it. Some of this theory’s main points are that God will use this altar of the Holy of Holies as His main communion with humanity in a millennial kingdom or in a Heavenly kingdom. Some in the non-literalist camp hold to this view too. 

The Non-Literalist View: They see this passage as clearly symbolic drawing mainly from the Old Testament in Ezekiel 47 and the New Testament in John 7 as meaning God keeps His promises and will provide for us in abundance now and forevermore. This is about how God dwells among us through His Church and that our purpose is to worship Him. Others see this as our future abode of Heaven and eternity. Some see this as about the advancement of the Gospel and the building of the Church for His glory. The Church becomes the refuge of Ezekiel (Ezek. 17:22-23; 47). 

The point in these views

Most in the literal camp are the futurists and dispensationalists who do not always do a good job at looking to context or word meanings or genres, which are essential for accurate Bible interpretation. In contrast, many in the non-literalist camp miss the point of the passage all together. Remember, these are man’s theories read into the text, and not necessarily taken from the text. What do we need to know? God does not always give us explanations to live by; He gives us His promise and His empowerment! God is most concerned with what these images represent—the “living water” from John 7:37-39. He is our substance, hope, and life that we are to live for now and that we will have forevermore.

Exegetical look into Revelation 22:4-6

 

  • See his face. God’s self-disclosure and our extreme blessing of eternity will enable us to see our Lord and be in His presence face to face. Currently, God cannot be seen, but in some phenomenal way, He will allow us to. In ancient cultures, to see a king’s face meant blessing and honor; to be removed from the king and not be able to look onto his face meant punishment and banishment (Ex. 33:20; Esther 7:8; 2 Sam. 14:24; John 1:14-18; 1 Cor. 13:12).
  • His name will be… This refers to the seal of God’s ownership, as names meant not only possessions, but also who possessed you and that person’s character. This also means that Christ is LORD Supreme; He is our “all in all.” (1 Cor. 15:27, 28; Rev. 3:12; 14:1; 21:2, 10)  
  • On their foreheads means that God marks and protects the faithful who accept Christ as Lord and Savior, and who He claims as His. In ancient times, the forehead and hands were the only parts of the body that were visible to others. This, too, is symbolic; God will not “rubber stamp” people or give us some kind of a visible mark, tattoo, “branding,” or a “cross sign” (because the Hebrew letter Taw, looks like an X or cross sign), nor is this some kind of replacement for circumcision. God sees us as important and worth protecting (Ex. 13:9-16; 28:38; Deut. 6:8; 11:18; Is. 44:5; 66:19; Ezek. 9:4-6; Gal. 6:17; Rev. 7:3)!
  • No more night. The original curse of sin is “no longer;” it is removed along with all subsequent curses. This is an image of sin and how God works it out, that even though we do not deserve it, we need it; we need His grace and redemption. This may imply that God resets His creation back to its previous “un-fallen” state where sin has not affected it (Gen. 3:14-19).
  • God will give them light. In Jewish literature (Wisdom of Solomon), this also meant righteousness (Ex. 34:29-35; Dan. 12:3; 2 Cor. 3:13; Rev. 21:23).
  • They will reign. All of God’s people are holy to Him, and in the future, each of us will reign with Him. This means we will partake in His authority and rule as His representatives and holders of His promise.(Psalm 2:8-9; Dan. 7:18, 27; Matt. 25:21-23; Luke 19:17; 1 Cor. 15:41; Col. 1; Rev. 1:6; 5:10; 2:26-27; 20:4).
  • Trustworthy/faithful and true refers to a Jewish oath/testimony that gave credence to the veracity, importance, and reliability of the promise or statement spoken. This is also a characteristic of God, who is faithful and true (as in, He is personal and reliable); thus, so is His Word. He is the One who is completely trustworthy and faithful. In context, these are the final sayings of the Angel, and then he signs off (Psalm 2:7; 89:27; Prov. 14:5, 25; Isa. 8:2; Jer. 42:5;Acts 13:33; Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:20-23; Col. 1:15-18; 1 Tim. 6:13; Rev. 1:3-5; 2:10-13; 3:14;19:11;22:18).
  • God of the spirits of the prophets/flesh is a name and title of God meaning “Lord of the Spirits,” the magnanimity of God as Lord over all, even those of humanity’s most influential (Num. 16:22).
  • Things that must soon take place. A declaration of closure restating what was first said. The point here and throughout Revelation is not just for the future events, but also how we conduct ourselves in them. Whatever unfolds is irrelevant if we do not have the strength of faith to endure and learn from it (Heb. 1:1-2; Rev. 1:3, 7; 22:10).  (See Revelation 1:1 study).

Exegetical look into Revelation 22:1-3

 

  • River of the water of life means that what is needed for life, even life itself, comes from God. It perhaps refers to the Garden of Eden, and the rivers that flowed there. This also refers to the river that flowed under Jerusalem; each of these themes means Paradise and “God with us.” Water means life, both in the ancient world and now; water is everything to life, and the growing and prospering of crops. Without it, everything dies. The Greeks saw water and river together to mean “virtue” and John uses this imagery to represent the Spirit and renewal in his Gospel. This also means Jesus is the answer to our thirst in life and for salvation! God is our abundant supply of all we need now and forevermore (Gen. 2:10-14; Psalm 46:4; Ezek. 47:1-12; Joel 3:18; Zech. 14:8; John 4:10-14; 7:37-39).
  • Each side of the river… down the middle. This image is indicative of Eden found in Ezekiel 47:1-12 meaning “God nurturers us and extends His abundance and promises to us.” (Psalm 36:8; 46:4; Ezek. 34:27; 36:30 47:1-12; Joel 3:18; Amos 9:13; Zech. 13:1)
  • Tree of life refers to the garden of Paradise and Heaven. In context, it means the guarantee of an everlasting life, and that this life is to be abundant, vivid, pure, and true. The central focus of Heaven is our effectual, eternal relationship in and with Christ. The images from Genesis and Ezekiel mean having access to God’s blessings and Fruit. The tree of life was in the Garden of Eden from which humanity was locked out after the Fall. And, this refers to trees that are always fruit bearing, not just in their season, just as God’s Blessings are continual and forevermore. The promise here is the restoration of Paradise, and that this tree will grow again (Gen. 2:9; 3:22-24; Ezek. 47:7-12; 2 Cor. 12:2-4; Rev. 2:1-7, 14, 19)!
  • Healing of the nations. This is not about political boundaries or even people groups; it is about people in general. For the Jew, “nations” meant Gentiles or everyone. Through Christ, there is no division or caste. We have direct, intimate access to Him. This also means that Jesus is Sovereign and greater than any nation, government, power, or authority. And, in context, it means no sickness or divisions or conflict or prejudices—thus, countries are not needed (Ezek. 47:12; Rev. 1:6; 2:26-27; 20:4, 6)!
  • No longer will there be any curse. This means restoration and refers to “Paradise” and “pleasure garden.” This points to our restored, sinless state and/or the millennial kingdom, that God will reverse the Fall and remove the curse of sin from the universe (Gen. 2:8; 3:16-19; Ezek. 28:13; Zech. 14:11; Luke 23:43; 2 Cor. 12:4; Rev. 2:7). 
  • His servants. This suggests that there is no special elite class in the Kingdom of God. We all are His servants; we are all special and anointed to serve (Matt. 5:8; Rev. 1:1).

Revelation 22:1-6: What are the Contexts?

 

This passage brings to a close John’s visions with a testimony to their importance, veracity, reality, and truthfulness. This passage also sets up the promise for Christ’s return. This is also about our assurance in Christ—that we will receive our rewards, comfort, and bliss in Him, but that we can also have it now—just as a taste—in our trials, setbacks, and failures and still be triumphant in Him as long as we have faith and allow it to mature and keep growing. Heaven is not just a carrot on a stick to those in persecution to show them what awaits them. Heaven gives hope and a sign to stay on His path; it is a reality, it is a wonder, it is a comfort and a means by which to stay focused on Christ rather than on our circumstances. Best of all, it is real and one day we will be there for all time! 

This passage is also describing Paradise in the similar imagery Isaiah uses to show the splendor and wonder of a rebuilt Temple and a restored Jerusalem, but now it is about Heaven (Is. 51:3). This is a renewal of the imagery and reality of the Garden of Eden that somehow in some shape will be restored. The original Garden of Eden was a setting in nature; now, it is being described in the previous passage as a city, a contrast showing how God loves and works through humanity, bringing us to Him. The main point is not of the ecstasy of Paradise; it is about our intimacy with God who is with us, Immanuel, “God among us,” “God with us.” The garden imagery is that of God empowering and keeping us; this is the real, effectual Paradise of which we have just a taste now, but will come to fruition in eternity. This is also about our blessings for being with and in Him as God is the One who loves us and restores our communion with Him. God restores His creation back to its utopian, unfailing state before sin entered into it. 

As Adam and Eve started out in the Garden of Eden of perfection and utopia, and then it was ruined by their sin, now it is resurrected beyond measure for all those in Christ to live in and enjoy. The Bible starts off the history of humanity in a garden; after our journeys in sin, our fall, pride, struggle, and the work of Christ redeeming us, we end up back in the garden of Paradise—the garden of being in Him! This symbolism is based on fact and gives us hope and a sense of the reality and presence of God in our lives and His working in our church. This is meant to inspire us for the deployment of our faith so we can be confident in the reliability and steadfastness of our Christian life. He is empowering us. It is more than just a preview of what is to come; this is real. His presence is a genuine, effectual presence, a hope, and abundance for us now! 

How is God keeping your church faithful and watering you now? What fuels the faithful in your church? What can your church do to better “water” its people? 

Revelation 22:1-6

Introduction 

The Water of Life! 

We have access to God and His life-giving blessings and renewal! Now, the angel shows John more of Heaven—the water and river of life flowing from God Himself, coursing down upon His faithful, watering the Tree of Life. This is the essential life of the universe that also heals the nations and fuels the faithful. God’s creation is no longer under the curse of sin; it has been renewed. Instead of evil and strife, there will be praise and worship of the Lamb. The faithful will see His face and bathe in His presence; our loyalty will be set and pure, and the Lord will shine upon us all! Then, the angel reassures John (and us through the ages) that these Words are from God and they are trustworthy and true. We can have hope beyond hope of His wonder beyond wonders. We have a future in and with Christ as Lord; we have a place in Him for eternity! 

Why does John give us this preview of Heaven? Perhaps it is all about Hope, that vital fuel and stimulate necessary for all that we do successfully in life and for Him. It is also the fuel for us to be encouraged so we can encourage others—to prosper and grow in times of stress, suffering, and confusion. He has prepared a place for us; what is more wonderful than that (John 14:1-6)!? 

Do you fully realize that all things are under His control? How does this affect your hope and staying power? 

How can this passage help you endure for the future? What do you think it meant to a persecuted people? What would it take for you to earnestly feel and see that God is in control? What do you need to do? 

What needs to take place to reassure you that these words in Revelation are from God and they are trustworthy and true? God has prepared a place for us; what is more wonderful than that? How is this fact going to assure and inspire you?

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

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?