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 Revelation Chapter 4 (Part 34) (Verses 2-4)

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PostSubject: Revelation Chapter 4 (Part 34) (Verses 2-4)   Mon Mar 16, 2015 9:37 pm

Revelation Chapter 4 (Part 34) (Verses 2 - 4)

[When I get up to chapter 6 or so I plan on sending out a one-time email to everyone to remind them of this site and to ask them to check out how much it has grown since they were last here. Hopefully they will tell their friends, and you will tell your friends of this wonderful site and more people will join and even become active participants.]

Anyhow…We are now in Heaven. When we last studied the beginning of Revelation chapter 4, we saw that the Church has been Raptured up to Heaven. We now get a peek inside Heaven as it currently exists starting from verse 2, which reads, “At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.” Verse 3 states, “And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne.” This is a picturesque view of the throne of God. First note that I stated that “we get a peek inside Heaven as it currently exists.” What we will see in these few chapters that gives us a glimpse inside Heaven, is not the “eternal” Heaven. In fact, this Heaven will not always exist as is. Jesus said, “Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Heaven has always existed in eternity past just as it is described in these early chapters. But one day, this Heaven is going to come down to the New Earth, and the New Earth will be the New Heaven. To be technical, there are 3 “heavens” according to the bible. The first heaven, as described by the bible is the “sky”. “Heaven” in the bible often means sky or atmosphere. The second “heaven” refers to beyond our atmosphere: that is, the stars, galaxies, and universe. The third Heaven is where God sits on His throne, which we are reading about in Revelation chapter 4. This is where Christians currently go the moment they die. But one day, this Heaven will come down and reside on the New Earth. When Jesus said “Heaven and Earth will pass away…” He very well could be simply saying, “Sky (this atmosphere) and Earth will pass away…” This is what I actually believe He is saying. Even if so, all things will be made new in the day when God reveals the New Earth and His throne will then be specifically placed in the Kingdom city, the New Jerusalem on the New Earth.

Let’s now dissect verse 3. The one on the throne, God of course, is described as the resplendence of stones. I recommend that the reader take a moment to view each stone mentioned on Google Images. God cannot be described by words. John chooses stones to try to describe the radiance of God that he saw on the throne. Interestingly, these stones will show up in the New Jerusalem city on the future New Earth. The first stone mentioned is jasper. Jasper describes the glory of the Holy city New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:10-11, which reads as follows:

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.

If you looked up a jasper on Google Images, you see that jaspers shine with a radiant red color. It is difficult for our finite minds to imagine this city shining with the glory of God with such a color. Such a color “clear as crystal” is also difficult to imagine. Jaspers are not clear as crystal, but the glory of God in this city is as clear as crystal. Revelation 21:18 says that the wall of the city is made of jasper, and verse 19 reads as follows:

The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, [v. 20] the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian…

Exodus 39: 14 tells us that the breastpiece that the high priest is to wear is adorned with 12 stones, each representing each of the tribes of Israel. It lists the 12 different stones in that passage, though granted the precise identification of some of the stones in both Exodus and Revelation are uncertain. God knows the precise stones the original scribes were referencing. He is going to take the same stones referenced in Exodus, and use them as the foundation of the future walls of the Kingdom of Heaven. In fact, just about everything that God had Israel build for the Temple in the Old Testament are pre-types of what God has in store for His Kingdom of Heaven that He will reveal on the future New Earth. So all of those boring passages of descriptions of the temple, priestly garments, throne, etc. in the Old Testament should be revisited with renewed interest and understood in light of their representation of what is yet to come. Hebrews tells us this. Hebrews 9:23 says, “It was necessary, then for the copies of heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices…” The author of Hebrews calls the Old Testament things “copies” of the things in Heaven. What can we say about the connection between a breastpiece and walls? The breastpiece covered the heart. Walls served as protection from Israel’s enemies. The walls of the future Kingdom will partly serve to keep out those who are not allowed into the kingdom city. God wants us to tear down our sinful walls so that He can enter our hearts. When He is allowed to enter, He will protect you from life’s precarious attacks against you.

The last part of verse 3 reads, “A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne.” An emerald is green, so we have a green rainbow here. With grass, leaves, shrubs, and forests, most plants in God’s nature are green. Not saying that that is implied, but what we do know is that the rainbow symbolizes God’s covenant with man to never again flood his green Earth again (Genesis 9:12-17). God remembers all of his covenants.

Verse 4 reads: “Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads.” So who are these 24 old dudes? Well, “elder,” does not strictly refer to “age” in the New Testament. It refers to spiritual maturity and the spiritual leaders; such could be almost any age. It seems very apparent, and other sources would suggest that the 24 elders represent the Church (you and I) and people saved during the Old Testament times. 24 is the number of tribes of Israel plus the number of disciples of Jesus, which represents all believers. We see this number 24 in Matthew 19:28, which reads, “Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Of this time, Isaiah 24:23 reads, “The moon will be abashed, the sun ashamed; for the LORD Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before its elders, gloriously.”

There are several identifying aspects of the 24 elders. While the bible says that angels speak praise to God, the elders are always singing their praise. You see some examples in Revelation 5:9-12. In verse 12, the NIV translates that the angels “sang,” but the Greek word there is the word for “said.” Another clue that these are believers is the clothes that they wear. The 24 Elders are dressed in white and they are given crowns. There are 2 types of crowns that will be given to believers: diadem and stephanós. The diadem is a king’s crown and the stephanós is a victor’s crown, or a wreath that was awarded in ancient athletic games. In our verse here, the word for crown is “stephanós.” This is the same crown Peter speaks of in 1 Peter 5:4, which reads, “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” So how about that? This verse is literal, not metaphoric. And speaking of this passage; look at 1 Peter 5:1. It reads, “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed.” Much of what most Christians gloss over as “metaphoric” in the bible is really literal in light of eschatology. And this is the same crown that Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, which reads:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

Paul says that to get this crown requires work. Faith in Christ alone gets you to Heaven, but works get you eternal rewards. Not every believer will have crowns. Some will have more than one; some none—it is based on what you do while alive right now. Paul speaks of our future rewards (or lack of) based on our works in 1 Corinthians 3:14-15, which reads, “If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” Paul says that some will get to heaven but will just be there with no rewards. And lastly, the New Testament gives names to many of the crowns that God will give us. These include the crown of life, crown of righteousness, crown of glory, and our passage in Revelation depicts crowns of gold.
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Revelation Chapter 4 (Part 34) (Verses 2-4)
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