Revelation 4

Chapters 4:1-8:1 form a full vision and should be viewed and studied together.  The throne room part of the vision of chapter 4 is really the overwhelming and most detailed part of the vision.  Chapter 5 is the vision of the lamb and the scroll.  Chapters 6-8 are the opening of the  scroll. 4:1  The throne vision puts the events of the book in perspective.  God is reigning far and above the earth that is about to go through the worst seven years of history.  He will be controlling the events and his throne remains stable and unmoved. "after this" is "meta tauta"  which means "next" as in "after the time of the historical churches in Asia" John is seeing the beginning of the vision so that he will understand what takes place in the rest of the book. 4:2  John is in the Spirit and is seeing the source of the events that will transpire in this book. The events of Revelation show that nothing happens or has ever existed apart from the purpose of God. 4:3 4:4 There are 13 different views of who the elders are. a) the heavenly fulfillment of the 24 priestly divisions of the temple. (1 Chr. 3:6; 24:7-18) b) 24 ruling stars or judges in the heavens C) 24 represents fullness D) They are symbolic E) They are a class of angels Some say the mentioned angels, the four living creatures and the 24 elders are all angelic beings The 24 elders do these things: Wear white robes and gold crowns Prostrate themselves before God in worship. They offer their crowns and say “Hallelujah” and “amen” The sing hymns of praise to God They have harps and censers. The censers represent the prayers of the saints. Individual elders speak with John and act as an interpreter for the vision They are judges, “Then I was thrones and seated on them were those to whom judgment was committed.” (20:4) They are mentioned seven times in Revelation The number 12 (and 12 doubled, 24) does seem to represent a full number: 12 months, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles, twelve gates in the New Jerusalem, 12 angels at the gates, 12foundations, 12,000 sealed from each tribe, New Jerusalem is 12,000 stadia. These verses contain a reference to these elders in the book of Revelation: 4:9-11 5:5-14 7:11-17 11:16-18 12:10-12 14:3 19:4   The 24 elders are: 1) human 2) representatives of a larger group sent (selected) to worship 3) from the church age and after the rapture Reasons for believing the 24 elders are a group of humans representing the worshippers from the raptured church: 1)  Angels never are seated on thrones.  Angels are never pictured as ruling or reigning.  Angels are "ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation." (Heb. 1:14) 2)  Thrones indicate authority and rule ship.  Since these 24 thrones encircle the Lord's throne they should be seen as authorities/rulers established by the Lord, for the Lord and under the Lord.  But, they are still rulers.  The church is promised as a reward of faithfulness the right to rule with Christ in the future. Rev. 2:26-27 Rev. 3:21 Rev. 5:10 Rev. 20:4 Matt. 19:28 Luke 22:30 1 Cor. 6:2-3 2 Tim. 2:12 3)  The Greek word for "elders" is "presbuteroi".  This word is never used to refer to angels.  It means "an old man, an elder".  It is used in scripture to refer to an older person, a senior, forefathers of Israel, Heads of tribes and families, members of the Sanhedrin, managers of public affairs, those who the Holy Spirit raised up to lead churches.  To describe these "elders" as angels here would be inconsistent with the meaning of the word and the previous use of the word in scripture. 4)  White garments are seen on angels and on the righteous men.  In Revelation white garments symbolize Christ's imputed righteousness, good deeds of the saints and a faithful life.   Rev. 3:5 Rev. 3:18 Rev. 19:8 Rev. 5)  The crowns on the heads of the elders finalizes the evidence that these elders are men.  Through out the NT crowns ("stephanos") are promised to believers.  The "stephanos" is the victors crown.  The "diadem" is the kingly or imperial crown.  Here the word is "stephanos". Rev. 2:10 1 Cor.9:25 2 Tim. 4:8 James 1:12 1 Peter 5:4 Since angels are not struggling against sin they can not be winners or losers.  It is out of line to see an angel with a "stephanos" or the crown of the victor. It is clear these 24 elders are victorious humans.  These questions still remains: a)  Who are they? b)  Why 24 of them? The number 24 these men to be representatives of a larger group: a)  24 is used in scripture to indicate:         - completion       - a group of representatives representing a larger group b)  24 officers that represent the 24 divisions of the Levitical priests (1 Chron. 24:4-5, 7-18) These 24 men represent the church: a)  It can not be Israel since the whole nation has not yet had the veil removed and gone through the time of judgment seen in the book of Revelation.  When these 24 elders are around the throne, Israel is still on the earth. b)  It can not be the tribulation saints.  These are yet to be martyred.  Rev. 20:4 says, "I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge.  And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God.  They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands.  They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousnad years."   The tribulation saints will rule and be seated on thrones for the millennium.  Here the tribulation has yet to begin. c)  It can not be angels due to the thrones, the crowns, the term "elder". d)  It must be the church that has been raptured before the tribulation begins and has passed through the judgment seat of Christ already since they have their rewards. These 24 elders are also seen in Rev. 11:15-18 when the kingdoms of the world become the kingdom of Christ Rev. 14:1-3 when the 144,000 meet on Mount Zion Rev. 19:1-4 when God destroys Babylon and her religion and economics Isaiah 24:23 speaks of the Lord setting up his kingdom on the earth and it says, “For the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and His glory will be before His elders.“ (NAS) Clothing is clearly used in the vision to communicate the character of a new figure introduced into the vision: 7:9 The 144,000 10:1 the mighty angel 11:3 the two witnesses 12:1 the woman in the heavens 17:4 the great prostitute 18:16 the great city 19:8 the Bride of the Lamb 1:13 Christ 15:6 7 angels with bowls 19:14 armies of heaven 4:5 Lightning and Thunder are associated with God's presence in the Bible.  They are seen when God's throne is in view.* Exodus 19:16 Ezekiel 1:13 Thunder and Lightning seem to come from God's holiness and thus his judgment. In Hebrew poetry the thunderstorm is a symbol of the divine power and glory. Before the throne were: Seven lamps of fire, in 1:12-13 it was a lucnia or a lampstand for the tabernacle with 7 branches with wick and oil that produced a soft light inside a tent. Here in 4:5 the word is lumpadeV or torch. It was used outside as a fierce, blazing torch. This torch was the seven Spirits of God which is a description of the Holy Spirit in all His fullness. Isaiah 11:2 and Zechariah 4:1-10. a) The seven aspects of the Holy Spirit are from Isaiah 11:2: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Strength, Knowledge, Reverence and Deity b) In Zechariah it is power c) In Revelation 1:4 it is grace and peace d) Here in Rev. 5:4 it is judgment. A fiery torch is used in war as in Judges 7:16, 20 (Gideon) and Nahum 2:3-4: “The chariots storm through the streets, rushing back and forth through the squares. They look like flaming torches; they dart about like lightning.” 4:6 Sea of glass—The still, perfectly calm sea could represent the contrast of the raging sea on the earth (the turmoil of the nations) Since it is clear it may indicate God being able to see into every event and heart below his throne as Hebrews 4:13 says, “Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Exodus 24:10 “Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself.” 4:7 The Holy Spirit is represented by 7 torches here the attributes of God are represented by the four living creatures. -full of eyes represent the omniscience and omnipresence of God -lion, the king of the beast, represents the majesty and omnipotence -ox, the domestic animal of service, represents patience and labor -man, God’s greatest creature, represents intelligence and rational power -eagle, greatest bird, symbolizes the sovereignty and supremacy of God. Ezekiel 1 Ezekiel 10:15 calls the four living creatures cherubim, 4:8 “Holy, holy, holy” In Hebrew the double use of a word adds emphasis. Using it three times means it is referring to the infinite, here the infinite holiness of God. There are 5 hymns sung in chapters 4 and 5. Hymns are sung through out the vision in Revelation: 4:8; 4:11; 5:9-10, 12, 13; 7:12, 15-17; 11:15, 17-18; 12:10; 15:3-4; 16:5-7; 18:2-8; 19:2-6 Hymns help with the interpretation. In chapter 4 and 5 the choirs get larger each time a song is sung until the final song is sung in 5:13 by “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them.”