Notes on the Book of Revelation
The Throne of God in Heaven
In chapter 4 we see a vision of God the Father on the throne surrounded by the 24 elders, the Holy Spirit, and the four beasts. Note that Jesus and the multitude of angels that usually surround the throne are not mentioned in this chapter. This is explained in chapter 5.1
Chapters 4 and 5 are a description of the heavenly sanctuary.
Location = Revelation 4:2, 5, seven lamps are in the Holy Place; Exodus 26:35, candlesticks on the Southside, table of shewbread on the Northside or on the sides of the north; Psalm 48:2, Mount Zion on the sides of the north; Isaiah 14:13, Satan wanted to sit on the sides of the north upon the mount of the congregation; on the table of shewbread were two stacks of 6 pieces of flat bread representing the 12 tribes of Israel (the congregation), Leviticus 24:6; so in chapter 4 we are seeing a scene of the throne in the Holy Place; Leviticus 24:8, Table of shewbread to be ministered every sabbath; brings our minds to the Word of God but more specifically to the sabbath commandment; Exodus 20:11, The sabbath is a sign of creation; another reason to keep the Sabbath = Deuteronomy 5:14-15, A sign of creation and redemption; everything unfolds in relation to the table of shewbread (whereas the churches unfolded in relation to the candlesticks).
The two stacks of six pieces of flat bread also represent the Father and the Son on their throne.
Revelation 4:1,After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter.
4V1: A door was opened = This is the door that was opened to the Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary. We know this is the Holy Place because of the seven lamps in verse 5 which represent the seven branch candlestick and in Revelation 5:8 it mentions the prayers of the saints which is associated with the altar of incense in the Holy Place. The door was opened because Jesus was about to return from His first coming and sacrifice on the cross. See Revelation chapter 5 for more details.
4V1: Voice like a trumpet = The voice of God; here specifically referring to the voice of the Father since Jesus is not present until chapter 5; but it is clearly also the voice of Jesus.
Revelation 1:10-11 says, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.”
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 says, “Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 says, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
Revelation 4:2, And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
4V2: In the spirit = John was in vision. He was not actually in heaven, he was shown a vision of heaven.
4V2: One sat on the throne = This is the Father since Jesus is not there yet. In Revelation 3:21 Jesus says that He will sit with His Father on the throne, so in chapter 4:2 when it mentions one sat on the throne it is referring to the Father alone on the throne before Jesus arrives. As mentioned in the overview, Jesus and the multitude of angels are not here yet.
4V2: The throne = Here it is referring to the ‘throne’ which is the table of shewbread in the Holy Place of the sanctuary. See the overview notes for this chapter on the topic of location for a better understanding.
Revelation 4:3, And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
4V3: Jasper and a sardine (or carnelian or ruby in some translations) = Both stones are commonly red in color which represent fire. God is described as a consuming fire in both the Old and New Testaments.
Deuteronomy 4:24, “For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.”
Deuteronomy 9:3, “Understand therefore this day, that the LORD thy God is he which goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the LORD hath said unto thee.”
Hebrews 12:29, “For our God is a consuming fire.”
Exodus 24:17, “And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.”
Psalm 18:8, “There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured…”
Isaiah 30:30, “with the flame of a devouring fire…”
Nahum 1:5, “The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.”
Zephaniah 1:18, “Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD'S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.”
Psalm 97:3, “A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about.” God is represented by red stones because His glory is like a consuming fire.2
4V3: Rainbow = The represents the justice and mercy of God. This is showing that probation has not yet closed on the human race. God is still showing mercy on those that have not yet made a decision. The rainbow is a sign of God’s mercy that He would never again destroy the world with a flood, Genesis 9:11-13.3
4V3: Like unto an emerald = Hope to the world that God is merciful and just and that probation has not yet closed on the human race. Green is made up of blue and yellow. Blue = Ten Commandments, Numbers 15:38-39. When probation closes all will be judged by the standard of the Ten Commandments4. Yellow = Also known as amber in the OT, which represents the glory of God (God is a consuming fire, see explanation about the rainbow above), Ezekiel 1:4; Ezekiel 1:27; Ezekiel 8:2 (these are parallel verses describing the four creatures around the throne of God in Revelation 4:7-8, the throne room and God’s fiery appearance). Mercy is given to us by God and through the Ten Commandments, justice will be given to those that did not choose to follow God’s law because the wicked cannot stand in the presence of God (His consuming fire).
Revelation 4:4, And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
4V4: Seats = Thrones (thronos). The majority of the translations, other than the King James Version, translates this as thrones. So, there are thrones surrounding the throne of God. The exact number is not known, since the number 24 is symbolic, see the study at the end of the chapter called The 24 Elders for a full explanation.
4V4: 24 Elders = ‘Adams’ of unfallen worlds; these are the first created beings (like Adam) of each of the unfallen worlds that God has created in the universe. See Revelation 5V9-11 for further information on the 24 Elders.
There are different interpretations of this passage. Some believe it is a literal number of 24 and that they represent those resurrected when Jesus died on the cross.
Matthew 27:50-53 says, “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”
Ephesians 4:8 says, “Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.”
Psalm 68:18 says, “Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.”
As seen in these verses, especially in Ephesians 4:8 and Psalm 68:18, when Jesus ascended to heaven he took those that were resurrected with Him. But, the 24 elders were already there in chapter 4 before Jesus arrives with the angelic host in chapter 5. So how could the 24 elders be those that were resurrected at the death of Jesus on the cross when they were already described as being in heaven before Jesus ascended?
Chapter 5 describes the ascension of Jesus with the angelic host (after His resurrection).5 Another interpretation is that these 24 elders are angels, but they are always listed as a separate group from the regular angelic host. For a complete study on the 24 Elders see the study called, The 24 Elders.
4V4: Throne = Government of God; the throne was in controversy but now its set (verse 2); rainbow = Justice and mercy (water and sunshine coming together).6 See verse 3.
Revelation 4:5, And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
4V5: Lightnings and thunderings and voices = A variation of this phrase is used four times in the book of Revelation; here, but also in Revelation 8:5, Revelation 11:19, and Revelation 16:18.
In Revelation 4:5 and 8:5, it is describing the throne in the Holy Place of the sanctuary and the Holy Spirit is specifically mentioned in both verses.
In Revelation 11:19 and 16:18, it is describing the throne in the Most Holy Place of the sanctuary and mentions hail (God’s judgment) in both verses.
In Revelation 4:5, it is describing the throne without the presence of Jesus because He is still on earth (this is prior to His ascension).
In Revelation 8:5, it is describing the throne room after Jesus has ascended to heaven and the Holy Spirit is being sent back to earth for Pentecost during the apostolic age.
In both Revelation 11:19 and 16:18, it is describing the throne of God in the Most Holy Place of the sanctuary after the completion of the investigative judgment and right before the second coming of Jesus Christ.
4V5: Lightnings = Angels. Matthew 28:2-3 says, “And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow…”
Ezekiel 1:14 says, “And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.”
Here it does not represent all the angelic host of heaven, since they are not described here, but they are described in Revelation chapter 5 when they return with Jesus. In this verse it refers specifically to the four beasts in verses 6-9.
4V5: Thunderings = Voice of God. John 12:28-29 says, “Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him.”
Exodus 20:18 says, “And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.”
This is after God spake from the mountain in Exodus 20:1.
Revelation 19:6 says, “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”
Revelation 14:2 says, “And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps…”
Job 40:9 says, “Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him?”
Psalm 104:7 says, “At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away.”
4V5: Voices = Voice of God. Ezekiel 43:2 says, “And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory.”
Daniel 10:6 says, “His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.”
The voice of a multitude is represented by waters or the sound of many voices speaking at once, Revelation 17:15. This can also represent a soothing voice as rushing waters is sometimes considered soothing, Jesus is attractive to those that seek Him.7
4V5: Seven lamps of fire = The seven candlesticks in the Most Holy of the sanctuary and represents the seven Spirits of God. Exodus 25:31-39 provides a description of the making of the candlesticks.
Exodus 31:8 says, “And the table and his furniture, and the pure candlestick with all his furniture, and the altar of incense…”; and Exodus 37:17-24 repeats the description given in Exodus 25 concerning the building of the candlesticks.
4V5: Seven Spirits of God = The complete fullness (or totality) of the Holy Spirit, Isaiah 11:2 says, “And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD…” The seven aspects of the Holy Spirit are described as of the Lord, wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and fear of the Lord.
Revelation 4:6, And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
4V6: A sea of glass like unto crystal = This is referring to the use of pure gold around the throne of God in heaven which appears like transparent glass similar to what is described in Revelation 21:21. Verse 21 says that pure gold was like transparent glass. All of the gold on earth has impurities which gives it the gold (yellowish) color, but in heaven the gold will not have any impurities so it will appear like glass.8
4V6: Four beasts (also translated as living creatures) = These are seraphim (a type of high ranking angel), they are described in Isaiah 6:1-3 with the same characteristics of having six wings and singing holy, holy, holy (Revelation 4:8).
Isaiah 6:1-3 says, “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.”
Cherubims are described in the Bible as having four wings in Ezekiel 10:21, and they have four different faces as described in Ezekiel 10:14, so there are different types of angels in heaven with different responsibilities while serving God.9
Ezekiel 10:21 says, “Every one had four faces apiece, and every one four wings; and the likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings.” and Ezekiel 10:14 says, “And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.”
Revelation 4:7, And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.
4V7: Four faces = The four faces of the seraphim are lion, calf, man and eagle. But, the four faces of the cherubim are the face of a cherub, man, lion and eagle, Ezekiel 10:14.
Revelation 4:8, And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
4V8: Six wings = Two to cover their face, two to cover their feet, and two to fly with. Isaiah 6:2 says, “Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.”
4V8: Holy, holy, holy = The beasts say holy three times, once for each of the Godhead, which is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The Godhead is comprised of three that are one. 1 John 5:7 says, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”
Romans 1:20 says, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse…”;
Matthew 28:19 says, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost…”
Luke 3:21-22 where all three of the Godhead were involved in the baptism of Jesus says, “Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.”
Everything that God has established Satan tries to counterfeit and this is true even with the Godhead. Satan has the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet. Revelation 20:10 says, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”
2 Corinthians 11:2-4, 13-15 says, “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” and “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
Revelation 4:9, And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,
4V9-11: The song sung by the four beasts and the song sung by the 24 elders.
Revelation 4:10, The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
4V10: Worship = Why do we worship God? The answer is in Revelation 4:11.
Revelation 4:11, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
4V11: Thou hast created all things = This answers the question in Revelation 4:10 about why we worship God. We worship God because He is the Creator of all things (also in Revelation 14:7). This is the main reason, but there are many aspects to why we worship, such as out of love (love from God and love to God).
4V11: Thou hast created all things = The Father as the great architect of creation. Jesus was the great builder of creation.
John 1:1-3, 14 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
Jesus implemented the Father’s will in creation. All three of the Godhead were involved in creation, the Holy Spirit was also there. Genesis 1:1-5 says, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.”
So all three were involved but Jesus implemented the plan. Also Job 26:13; 33:4 says, “By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent.” and “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.”10 The Holy Spirit was definitely involved in creation as part of the Godhead.
Chapter 4 Resources and Notes
1. Pastor James Rafferty and Pastor Ivor Myers, Salvation in Symbols and Signs (Program on 3ABN’s Dare To Dream Network), video series can be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i42C2tZ5yuI&list=PLZE9r6f37K0AJPuImVU9DX-Y1Ntikqv0R.
3. Ellen G. White, Education (ISBN: 0816318808, Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2002), page 115.
4. Pastor James Rafferty and Pastor Ivor Myers, Salvation in Symbols and Signs (Program on 3ABN’s Dare To Dream Network), video series can be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i42C2tZ5yuI&list=PLZE9r6f37K0AJPuImVU9DX-Y1Ntikqv0R.
5. Pastor Stephen Bohr, Unsealed Secrets Ministry video series called, 24 Elders, Can be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL08FblwEmHeKagMtLWSeL8DTIcpKCLsZ9.
6. Ellen G. White, Education (ISBN: 0816318808, Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2002), page 115.
7. Pastor James Rafferty and Pastor Ivor Myers, Salvation in Symbols and Signs (Program on 3ABN’s Dare To Dream Network), video series can be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i42C2tZ5yuI&list=PLZE9r6f37K0AJPuImVU9DX-Y1Ntikqv0R.
9. Pastor Stephen Bohr, Unsealed Secrets Ministry video series called, 24 Elders, Can be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL08FblwEmHeKagMtLWSeL8DTIcpKCLsZ9.
Ellen White references can be found here: https://beta.egwwritings.org.