Revelation 4Amplified Bible
Scene in Heaven
4 After this I looked, and behold, [a]a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a [war] trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” 2 At once I was in [special communication with] the Spirit; and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with One seated on the throne. 3 And He who sat there appeared like [the crystalline sparkle of] [b]a jasper stone and [the fiery redness of] a sardius stone, and encircling the throne there was a rainbow that looked like [the color of an] emerald. 4 Twenty-four [other] thrones surrounded the throne; and seated on these thrones were [c]twenty-four elders dressed in white clothing, with crowns of gold on their heads.
The Throne and Worship of the Creator
5 From the throne came flashes of lightning and [rumbling] sounds and peals of thunder. Seven lamps of fire were burning in front of the throne, which are [d] the seven Spirits of God; 6 and in front of the throne there was something like a sea or large expanse of glass, like [the clearest] crystal. In the center and around the throne were four living [e]creatures who were full of eyes in front and behind [seeing everything and knowing everything that is around them]. 7 [f] The first living creature was like a lion, the second creature like a calf (ox), the third creature had the face of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle. 8 And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes all over and within [underneath their wings]; and day and night they never stop saying,
“Holy, holy, holy [is the] Lord God, the Almighty [the Omnipotent, the Ruler of all], who was and who is and who is to come [the unchanging, eternal God].”
9 Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanksgiving to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and they worship Him who lives forever and ever; and they throw down their crowns before the throne, saying,
“Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they exist, and were created and brought into being.”
Revelation 5:13-14Amplified Bible
13 And I heard every created thing that is in heaven or on earth or under the earth [in Hades, the realm of the dead] or on the sea, and everything that is in them, saying [together],
“To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb (Christ), be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”
14 And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped [Him who lives forever and ever].
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
The very first time I went whitewater rafting was one early spring day with a friend of mine. It was early in the winter to spring runoffs and the river water promised to be fast and furious and according to the pamphlet – ‘serious fun.’
We arrived, made our introductions and divided into two rafts. We got our wet gear, we put on life jackets and helmets, and we got our oars, some instructions on the bank before setting out, had a lengthy discussion about safety equipment and procedures, and some rigorous practice in basic techniques along the shore.
I was made very clear of my role – and tried very hard to be very focused on exactly what I was supposed to do as the rafts new “Right-Front” paddler.
Our river guide explained that the way we kept ourselves in the boat (which is a bit of a priority, I’ll admit), was by wedging our feet into the bottom of the boat.
Unfortunately, I was more focused on my paddling responsibility than on keeping myself in the boat, and so the very first rapid we hit I went tumbling back into the middle of the boat, almost began whitewater rafting from there!
Quite simply, my focus was wrong, and I paid the consequence. Luckily, we had been instructed in what to do should we fall out of our positions on the raft, and so as soon as the guide took over the raft, we all took the time to focus on safety.
I adjusted my focus and did what I needed to do to remain safe and get placed back into my spot. And I can assure you that once back in my place, my focus was adjusted, I spent much more time concentrating on staying in my place.
The point is, I had to adjust my focus. Sometimes we need to adjust the focus of our lives as well. Often our tendency as human beings are to take our eyes off of our God and look only at the situation life finds us in, and we get overwhelmed.
My main point this morning is that our focus must be on God – we must always be focused on God.
We are going to again examine chapter 4 of the book of Revelation, and from this find three areas that need to be our constant focus, in the midst of difficult times and during those rare times when life is running along smoothly:
first, we need to Focus on God’s position;
second, we need to Focus on God’s power;
and third, we need to focus on God’s perfection.
I want you to again turn in your Bibles focusing upon Revelation chapter 4.
As you are finding it, let me give you just a bit of background on the book of Revelation before diving into this chapter, because I know that there is a great diversity in how people feel about this particular book of the Bible
– some people are really scared by it, some are intrigued and some curious, still others find great encouragement and discover comfort, while lots and lots of us people will just decide to ignore it because they can’t focus, figure any of it out!
The purpose of the book of Revelation is very clear – it was written to encourage Christians. It’s main, number one purpose, is encouragement.
Now, some of us who have read the book and remember quite visually all the plagues and death and war and strife and terrible pain, which is described, as God pours out His Judgement and wrath on the world; Like me at first, you may be wondering exactly how all this could possibly be a book of encouragement.
Well, the answer I believe is found in the broad perspective of the entire book.
I can try to over-simplify it by saying this:
There is a huge eternal struggle between God and Satan, between good and evil, and its heavenly panoramic view is ugly and painful and difficult, and God wins.
Satan is chained.
Satan is crushed.
Satan is defeated.
Romans 16:20Amplified Bible
20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
The [wonderful] grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
There is where the encouragement lies – God wins!
Satan can do his worst, can throw everything in his arsenal at us as God’s children, but it is never ever going to be enough to ever overcome God.
God will be victorious, and Satan will be crushed and rendered powerless for eternity.
The encouragement is found in the immovable, unshakeable security that we who have confessed Christ as Savior know the end of the story! We know who wins – who is more powerful – who is more worthy of our love and our service.
A short distance off the coast of present-day Turkey lies a tiny island called Patmos, where just over 1,900 years ago, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to John the Beloved and instructed him to write down an account of the visions and the revelations he was about to be given (see Revelation 1:10–16, 19).
In Revelation 1–3, John introduced essential themes that run throughout the book. Revelation 1 describes a vision of the Lord Jesus Christ, unveiling aspects of the Savior’s power and our Alpha and Omega’s eternal mission, including the reassuring truth that the Lord labors among and with His faithful servants.
In Revelation 2–3, John’s letters focus on seven branches of the Church, convey observations and messages of blessings, criticism, counsel and correction from the Lord to help His followers refocus and to receive the blessings of exaltation.
The messages in these chapters showed the Saints in John’s Day that Savior Jesus Christ will help His followers overcome even as He overcame, and these messages will teach the same thing to us today pulling our focus off the world.
The first three chapters of Revelation are a series of visions for very specific churches which existed at the time of the writing of this book, with specific, focused observations, criticisms, instructions for each one of them to focus on.
Revelation chapter 4 begins a new section, where John’s visions of the cosmic struggle between God and Satan, and the eventual outcome, begins.
It is fascinating and instructive that the entire revelation begins in the throne room of heaven, with the focus
(1) on God’s position – in the center, on the throne,
(2) a focus on God’s power and
(3) a focus on God’s perfection.
This chapter sets the tone for the focus rest of the book.
I. Focus on God’s Position – In the EXACT CENTER, on the throne
We need to constantly have our focus tweaked so that we are centered on God.
The very first thing I want us to focus in on from Revelation chapter 4 is the Focus on God’s position.
John, the recipient and recorder of these visions, is ushered into the very throne room of heaven (verses 1 and 2 describe his invitation and response).
He writes (vs. 2-3)
“At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian (these were precious stones, jasper likely a clear stone, and carnelian a Firey red stone). A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. 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, we see, from this vision of the throne room of heaven, God is in the exact center of it all.
Everything else – the emerald rainbow, the thrones of the 24 elders, even the 4 living creatures mentioned a little later on, are described as around the throne of God – focused exclusively on God’s position in the exact center of heaven.
John sees God on His throne in the exact center of everything else.
God exalted above everything else.
God in absolute control of everything – period.
This is the first Focus – on God’s position.
I want to pause here to ask you this question:
when you look at the central focus of your life, is God at the exact center?
Have you granted him exclusive permission to come in and take exclusive control your life – only focus of your soul, occupy the throne in your heart?
What position does He hold in your life – supreme ruler, or is He more like an advisor that you, as supreme ruler, which we occasionally focus upon, turn to for “advice” when the “wisdom of our own wisdom” runs out of “clever?”
I know it is probably taboo to say this, but I so plead with you to take an honest look at your heart – your motivations and your actions – demand from yourself whether or not God is at the center of your life, or you are. Where is your focus?
It’s an important question to answer, because the rest of the book of Revelation details what happens to those who do not acknowledge Christ as their king –
those who do not focus on God and make Him the center of their lives – and it’s not a pretty sight! On the other hand, for those that do acknowledge Jesus as Lord and King the rewards are great and guaranteed – eternity in paradise!
If you’ve never made Jesus the center of your life – asked Him to be your king – then listen carefully, because your eternity is in jeopardy.
2000 years ago, Jesus left the scene we’ve just read in Revelation 4 to come to earth and live among us.
He lived among us and taught us many things about God’s character and His love for mankind.
And then He was crucified – hung on a cross like the worst kind of criminal.
But here is the important part: He rose from the dead. Jesus defeated the power of death! Death was not strong enough to hold Him!
So, what does that have to do with you and the center of your life?
When you make Jesus your king, death’s hold over you are broken as well.
When you make Jesus your king, death’s hold over you are broken as well.
The Bible says this: (Romans6:5) “If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.”
Today, will you choose to make Jesus the exact, exacting center of your life?
Maybe you have asked Jesus to be the exact center of your life in the past but have since taken back control.
When I asked you to take an honest look at yourself,
if we had to answer that we were back on the throne instead of God, or that we have again and again placed something else at the exact center of our life (like money, old rusty destinies, success or pride), then we have some work to do.
You and I definitely need to refocus on what matters the most to us, repent of that sin and strive to again accept God’s promise of forgiveness and restoration.
I’ve tried to state these things very strongly this morning on purpose.
The length and breadth and height and depths of the Bible takes the issue of “who is the center (or Lord, if you prefer) of your life very (eternally) seriously.
My purpose is not to discourage or frighten you, but rather to communicate the truth that God must be at the very center of our lives – we must make Him our Lord, and give all of our allegiance to Him, and focus on Him and on Him alone.
Now, how does a Focus on God’s position help you and I as we go about our daily lives?
Well, when we are focused on God’s position – at the center of our universe and at the center of our lives, our foundation will be secure.
The fundamental ideas of who we are and how we fit into our universe will be answered in a convincing and powerful way.
When Jesus is truly our Lord, we know for certain who we serve – we know that we are servants of the one and only God – and we know that He has accepted us and welcomed us into His very own family.
That perspective will give us strength to face whatever challenges we face in this world.
We know who we are and who we serve.
Focusing on God’s position allows us to retain a “big picture” perspective which will definitely, and directly, and decisively, help keep each and every single one of us becoming overwhelmed by the diversity of situations we find ourselves in.
II. Focus on God’s Power
The second Focus I find in Revelation 4 is a focus on the power of God.
There are at least two images of the power of God demonstrated in this chapter, and the first is the one we have just finished discussion – God on the throne.
The throne is the seat of power and authority, and the place from which God exercises His power and dominion.
Look at verse 5 – here we get the second image of the power of God.
“From the throne came flashes of lightening, rumblings, and peals of thunder”.
These flashes of lightening, and rumblings, and peals of thunder are pictures of God’s awesome power – they are images designed to focus, to communicate to the reader something of the maximum scope, magnitude, of the power of God.
We often hear reports on the news of the power of the forces of nature – whether it is from flooding or hurricanes, or tsunamis or earthquakes.
Those pictures always vividly remind me how frail all of our civilization is in comparison to the power of God.
We have wonderful technologies and highly trained and rehearsed response teams to deploy into emergency situations – but ultimately, there is really very little they can do when the very ground begins to shake, and roads and airport runways fold up like paper, when whole houses collapse from rushing water!
May God bless and watch over, vigilantly protect our Armies of First Responders!!!
This verse in Revelation 4 provides us with a wonderful image that reminds us of the power of God.
I found it a wonderful encouragement as I studied this passage that God is still on the throne of the universe, ruling it in power.
He has not left us alone down here to fumble around by ourselves in the dark.
He has not abandoned us nor forsaken us to suffer alone through this life without any offer of unfailing guidance or thoroughly accurate directions.
He has not planned for us to have a miserable existence in this life.
No, He is very active, and the power is still flowing from His throne, just like the picture in Revelation 4 shows us.
And the power is flowing for the benefit and assistance of those who call Jesus their Lord and king. He is still in 100% control; He is still working powerfully in our world. Please Remember that. Focus on that. And be encouraged by that.
It is important to note as we focus on God’s power that we control how much it flows in our lives.
God’s power to work in and through us is dependent upon our cooperation.
It works a lot like a tap.
By turning the tap on just a small bit, you get just a few drops of water.
By opening it up more, you allow more water to flow.
It is possible for us to limit the ability of God to work in our lives.
As we focus on the power of God, and open ourselves to Him, we allow God to work on us – molding us deeper into His image – and through us – to spread His desperately needed message of maximum hope and salvation to all mankind.
Once again, how does this focus help you and I in our daily lives?
Well, when we are focused on God’s power (by which He created everything out of nothing and through which he continues to uphold and sustain the laws of nature and by which He manages to meet all of our concerns and needs)
– when we are focused on God’s power, flowing from His throne, what problem that we face is going to seem overwhelming?
What situation would leave us feeling hopeless?
What mountain will seem insurmountable?
When we are focused on the power of God that flows from His throne, we can face every situation in our lives with boldness, courage, and confidence in how God will work things together for His glory.
What a living hope – what a secure anchor – what an undeniably worthy focus.
III. Focus on God’s perfection
The third and final focus that I find in Revelation chapter 4 is a focus on God’s perfection.
He is a Holy God, perfect in every way, completely and totally morally pure.
Verse 6: “Before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal”.
Although some scholars disagree on the symbolism here, the most likely and convincing interpretation is of this is an image of God’s holiness – his purity.
We find the same emphasis in the worship offered by the four living creatures, halfway through verse 8: “Day and night they never stop saying: ’Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.’”
The focus in the worship of those creatures surrounding the throne is on the holiness of God’s character.
So how does focusing on God’s perfection help us?
As I thought about the three focuses, I’ve talked about today,
focus on God’s position, focus on God’s power, and focus on God’s perfection,
and as I considered how these help us in our daily lives, I came to the conclusion that this one helps the most.
Let me try to explain my two reasons why:
First, as we focus on the holiness of God, we are immediately confronted with our own sin in comparison.
When Isaiah was ushered into this same throne room, he fell to the ground and his heart, and his soul and his voice immediately cried out:
“Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips, and (now) my eyes have seen the king, the Lord Almighty.” (Is. 6:5).
Focusing on God’s holiness makes us realize our sinfulness.
How does that help?
Often, not always, our problems are partially of our own making.
Isn’t that, right?
Do not we often get ourselves into a problem as a result of an act of sin.
That’s our human nature!
Focusing on God’s holiness reveals our sinfulness, which we can then identify as contributing to the problem in the first place.
And that hopefully, faithfully, lovingly, prayerfully changes our whole attitude regarding how we approach the sinful situation – we are willing to accept our responsibility, and we can then work to correct the wrong we did.
Most of the time, gracefully, the other people involved will respond positively in that kind of environment and admit their part, and resolution can be found.
The second reason why this focus is the most helpful is that our focus on the holiness of God keeps us from sinning in the midst of the problem.
If our own sin is often part of the cause of the problem, our sinful actions are often what make the problem larger.
This is a great help to us!
Focusing on the holiness of God in the midst of a difficult situation in our lives will greatly decrease our propensity to sin in the midst of the problem.
Instead of our completely having a fit and storming into the boss’s office to yell and scream (and maybe cuss a time or two or three?) demanding an apology for the mistreatment we have suffered (which is more likely to make the problem bigger), a focus on the complete holiness of God gives an opportunity to pause and then to consider our actions and the morality of what we would like to do.
We can then moderate our actions and maintain our integrity while working hard towards a resolution of the problem.
We were made to praise God. As the Reformed tradition confesses, our chief purpose is “to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever” (Westminster Shorter Catechism). To glorify God means to enter into the joy of our salvation. It means that all that God has done for us in Christ directs our living and thanksgiving.
The verses from Revelation 5 shows that the grace poured out on us by the Lamb, who was slain, is at the exact center of our praise.
An old favorite hymn says it well:
“Come, thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace; streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.”
Just as an instrument needs to be rightly tuned, so do our hearts.
It’s so tempting to want praise directed at our own accomplishments.
But the Bible is clear that we are unworthy of the blessings we receive.
We are all called to declare the praise of the God who spoke us into being and rescued us from the power of sin and death by the self-sacrifice of the worthy Lamb, Jesus Christ, who had no sin. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
All else that we do well in life—all we accomplish and all we contribute to God’s kingdom of peace—flows from God’s saving grace.
Revelation chapter 4 is a beautiful picture of our God.
We need to take from this chapter the overall importance of focusing on God –
Focus on God’s position – acknowledge God at the center of the universe and make Him the center of your life.
Second, Focus on God’s Power – what problem in our lives will seem insurmountable when our focus is on the power of God!?!
Finally, Focus on God’s perfection – on His holiness – and allow that focus to first purge us of sinful actions and attitudes and second, prayerfully, keep us from falling back into sinful ways.
Let’s take this focus into the future. Let’s agree together that we are going to focus exclusively on God and live in obedience to His every command.
Can we imagine where God is going to take us as a body with this kind of focus?
What an undeniably exciting prospect!
What an indescribable and inspired message of encouragement!
And what an insurmountable strength of joy and Shalom we will find together as we seek first and foremost, His kingdom alone and His righteousness first.
So, in our maximum expression of “full throated” gratitude we raise high our hands, our thanks to the Lamb on the throne.
His grace covers all our sins and shame, and his grace will lead us home.
Is your heart centralized and maximally focused, tuned for gratitude today?
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Living and faithful Spirit, the pre-existent, ever-living God in whom we live and move and have our being, the God who is made known in Christ Jesus,
bless us one and all as we wait on you this day. Please remove from our minds and hearts whatever impediments which hinder worship or dampen our joy. Increase within us that holy longing for closeness which can open our lives to fuller delight and to a deeper, “full throated” commitment.
May our hymns and prayers, our searching thoughts, and our hearing of the Scriptures, be an exercise in maximum accountability, maximum obedience.
By you, with you and for you, may our lives focus upon, publish your praise.
In the name of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus Christ. Alleluia! Amen!