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Revelation 4-5

Sunday (Revelation 4:1-3)

The Amazing Scene in Heaven

4:1 After these things I looked, and there was a door standing open in heaven!

And the first voice I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet

said: “Come up here so that I can show you what must happen after these things.””

4:2 Immediately I was in the Spirit,

and a throne was standing in heaven with someone seated on it!

4:3 And the one seated on it was like jasper and carnelian in appearance,

and a rainbow looking like it was made of emerald encircled the throne.

Prayer

Lord, You are the only one worthy of a throne, all others are pretenders. May I stand in awe of You, may You always be my first love, and may I worship You alone.

Summary & Commentary

While it was clear that the first voice John heard in Rev. 1-3 was that of Jesus it is now less clear if the voice continues to be that of Jesus or if is of an angel – it is not necessary to know because The Lord God was in complete control.

Since thrones are reserved for kings it would be reasonable to postulate that the One on the throne was either God the Father or God the Son, both are described elsewhere in the Bible as sitting on a throne.

It is apparent that John is struggling to describe what he is observing “in the Spirit” using his limited worldly experience – observe that he uses the qualifier “...like” twice.

Interpreting the description of the “stones” and of the “rainbow” is somewhat speculative but each may represent an attribute of God.

Interaction

Consider

The joy that Consider the awe-inspiring and spiritually overwheming experience of John. Thank God for allowing him to share his experience with us so that we might have a small taste of the glory of Heaven that awaits.

Discuss

What are the times and places where you have sensed the most-powerful presence of the Lord God?

Reflect

The Lord God chooses to share His kingdom leadership with His creation. The character of the Lord God always amazes!

Share

What is a practical example of a time when in worship, in song, in prayer, in the sharing of testimonies, or otherwise where the Lord God made His presence especially clear to you – maybe even in a sort of dream or vision. How were you assured that it was really of-God?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you someone with whom you should share this text.

Action:

Today I will share this text with a fellow believer, to either prayerfully reflect upon it together, perhaps reading also Ezekiel Chapter 1, or perhaps spending some time in prayer and song as a way of joining the description of endless worship in the text.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (Revelation 4:4-7)

4:4 In a circle around the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on those thrones were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white clothing and had golden crowns on their heads.

4:5 From the throne came out flashes of lightning and roaring and crashes of thunder. Seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God, were burning in front of the throne

4:6a and in front of the throne was something like a sea of glass, like crystal.

4:6b In the middle of the throne and around the throne were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back.

4:7 The first living creature was like a lion,

the second creature like an ox,

the third creature had a face like a man’s,

and the fourth creature looked like an eagle flying.

Prayer

Lord, You exist in a realm that humankind is incapable of fully-comprehending, and You have taught us that Your “... ways are not our ways”. May I be in awe of You, may I never try to force my concept of You into a man-sized box, and may my worship be guided by an ever-deepening sense of humility.

Summary & Commentary

We may only speculate who these “elders” were. The NT teaches that Jesus will appoint believers to rule with Him. The term elder is only used in reference to humans, not angels.

According to the Greek Translator's Notes the term “crowns” may refer to a symbol of royal rank or may be a synonym for the eternal blessedness for ones faithfulness.

The “seven spirits” are associated with the “seven lampstands” which were defined by John in Rev. 1:20 as the “seven churches” (sub-groups within the body of believers).

Given John's ecstatic state, and his unfamiliarity with much of what he was observing, “... flashes of lightning and roaring and crashes of thunder” while “in the spirit” is difficult to interpret; the NET translator's suggest that “sounds” or “voices” may also be acceptable renderings of the Greek in this context. He later prefaces another description with “something like”, indicating a continuing lack of descriptive precision.

“Lion” is a synonym of great strength.

“Ox” is synonym of new or young as in a sprout or a calf.

Man-face is synonym for some element, perhaps the partial likeness fo God in, humankind.

The flying-eagle is a synonym for purposeful action or purpose.

The NET translators propose that “In the middle of the throne ...” may also be translated “in the throne area”. A similar description of the “four” is found in Ezekiel 1:5 and following.

Interaction

Consider

The Lord God is not like us, His dwelling place is nothing like anything we have ever see, and the inseparable physical-spiritual nature of the beings around Him are manifestations we cannot comprehend.

Discuss

What other verses in the Bible come to mind when you read the descriptions of God and/or the various “creatures” and “elders” and their surroundings?

Reflect

The Lord God chose to reveal this surreal imagery to us for a reason – He wants us to understand the vast difference between Heaven and earth.

Share

When have you experienced a sense of awe about the Lord God as you read a description of Him in His Word?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you something about the Lord God that you have misundestood or misrepresented, perhaps as the result of careless teaching, and all because someone tried to reduce Him to a simplicity that humankind can comprehend.

Action:

Today I will ask the Holy Spirit to show me where I need to just stand in awe of the Lord God, where I need to understand, and to bring alongside me a person or persons (Biblically-qualified as elders) to be a resource when I need clarification and confirmation.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (Revelation 4:8)

4:8 Each one of the four living creatures had six wings and was full of eyes all around and inside.

They never rest day or night,

saying: “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God,

the All-Powerful,

Who was

and who is,

and who is still to come!”

Prayer

Lord, You Were, You Are, and You will always Be, and yet You choose to love me. May I be ever-amazed, ever-humbled, ever-worshipful of my awesome Lord God!

Summary & Commentary

This heavenly image of worship, submission to the only One worthy of worship no matter what is ones earthly or heavenly title, the identity of God as Creator, and His identity as sustainer of all things is consistent with the rest of the Bible.

The Lion, synonym of great strength, the Ox, synonym of new or young as in a sprout or a calf, the man-face, synonym for some element - perhaps the partial likeness of God in humankind, and the flying-eagle, a synonym for purposeful action or purpose are proclaiming the immeasurable holiness of the Lord God. One may well take this to be synonymous for all of creation.

The phrase “Who was ...” was a reminder that the Lord God exists beyond linear time, which He created for humankind, and therefore He existed prior to it.

The phrase “... who is” was to remind that He is present with us.

The phrase “... who is still to come!” was to remind us that in linear time the Lord will return for His and to just everyone who ever lived, and then will come the end to linear time (and everything bound to it), as the children of God join Him in timeless eternity.

Interaction

Consider

Do we have right-sized view of the enormity of the majesty of the Lord God?

Discuss

How would you explain the difference between God's creation, contained inside linear time – which He created for that purpose, and God – who exists apart from His creation?

Reflect

When a human demands worship, which no human ever should, it is unlike the worship of heavenly beings – created for that solitary purpose – but is, rather, to feed the ego of a pitiful fallen creature.

Share

When have you observed the fruits of a person who demanded worship – something reserved for the Lord God alone?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a renewed sense of wonder that our magnificent Lord God loves you.

Action:

Today I will share my wonder and gratitude for the Lord's love with a fellow believer, and/or someone considering Christ.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (Revelation 4:9-11)

4:9 And whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to the one who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever,

4:10 the twenty-four elders throw themselves to the ground before the one who sits on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever, and they offer their crowns before his throne, saying:

4:11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, since you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created!”

Prayer

Lord, You are worthy! May I remember that every time I review my calendar and my checkbook to assess my priorities.

Summary & Commentary

There is some discussion as to who are, or what is represented, by the twenty-four elders.

One suggestion is they are the four Heavenly creatures, each with six wings, but such appears to be precluded by the implied controlling-conditional in the text; “whenever the living creatures ...” [then] “… the twenty-four elders”.

Another suggestion is that the twenty-four elders represent a “heavenly Sanhedrin”, but the traditional full Sanhedrin was seventy-one and the so-called “small Sanhedrin” was twenty-three.

A third suggestion is that they represent the spiritual “courses” of twenty-four that were offered by the priests.

In either case the important point is that the Lord God is praised by every being in Heaven, whether angelic or somehow associated with humankind.

Interaction

Consider

Honor is due to the One who sits on the throne, Who exists eternally, and Who created.

Discuss

Do we give glory, honor, and thanks to the Lord God daily?

Reflect

How might this daily pattern of worship be replicated in the lives of Christians without it becoming a meaningless ritual?

Share

When have you observed Christian leaders humbling themselves before the Lord God?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a way that you may be more intentional about the worship of the Lord God daily.

Action:

Today I will ask a fellow believer to hold me accountable, and to pray in-agreement for protection, as I begin a consistent daily time of worship for the Lord God.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (Revelation 5:1-5)

The Opening of the Scroll

5:1 Then I saw in the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne a scroll written on the front and back and sealed with seven seals.

5:2 And I saw a powerful angel proclaiming in a loud voice: “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to break its seals?”

5:3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or look into it.

5:4 So I began weeping bitterly because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.

5:5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has conquered; thus he can open the scroll and its seven seals.

Prayer

Lord, the scroll was a necessary element in Your great plan of cleansing and redemption, and You- alone were worthy to stand in the gap and to move it along. May I stand in awe of You, recognize that You are the only way to Heaven, and share that with others.

Summary & Commentary

It is apparent that the One on the throne is not Jesus, which is a clarification of the lack of specificity in the earlier chapter.

The “powerful angel” would presumably be one of the rare beings referred to also as “archangels”.

The “scroll” contained the necessary instructions to move through the final stages of the fulfillment of the redemption of the children of God.

The One Who could open and read it had to meet, perfectly, the requirements of the Law on behalf of those to whom the scrolls content applied.

Interaction

Consider

In Heaven things proceed in perfect order.

Discuss

Where else in the Bible have you read about “archangels”?

Reflect

In his spirit John had been given an awareness of the importance of the scroll.

Share

When have you had to await someone with the authority to act so that a critical next step in an important process might be taken?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you where you fit, in a series of His steps, so that you may be His instrument.

Action:

Today I will humbly pray and listen, read the Word and consult a mature and prayerful fellow Biblical-Christian, to discern then follow where the Holy Spirit has directed.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (Revelation 5:6-10)

5:6 Then I saw standing in the middle of the throne and of the four living creatures,

and in the middle of the elders,

a Lamb that appeared to have been killed.

He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.”

“5:7 Then he came and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne,

5:8 and when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders threw themselves to the ground before the Lamb.

Each of them had a harp and golden bowls full of incense (which are the prayers of the saints).”

“5:9 They were singing a new song:

“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals because you were killed,

and at the cost of your own blood you have purchased for God persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation.”

“5:10 You have appointed them as a kingdom and priests to serve our God,

and they will reign on the earth.”

Prayer

Lord, You made Yourself into the lamb Who was slain, and You created the opportunity for humankind to be redeemed from the error of Eden. May I join in Your praise!

Summary & Commentary

The word-picture varies but the theme is consistent. The “seven” are the “churches” to whom Jesus was speaking through the “seven spirits” in the earlier chapters of Revelation.

Note that “... the prayers of the saints”, all believers, are collected by God.

The “reign” of those “purchased” would not begin until a while later in the process, see Rev. 20:4, and that reign will last for 1,000 years.

Interaction

Consider

The intent of the enemy was to lead the religious leaders and foolish people into killing Jesus so as to prevent Him from creating redemption, and by extension, to prevent the gathering of the Church.

Discuss

How might it impact the prayers of Biblical-Christians in your fellowship if they visualized their prayers as incense in the throne-room of the Lord God?

Reflect

The “twenty-four elders” had “harps” (musical instruments) and were singing praise and worship in the throne-room of the Lord God.

Share

When have you heard that your prayers were as-incense in the throne-room of the Lord God?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a prayer that He especially loves to hear from you.

Action:

Today I will set aside some time to read the Word, reflect on my relationship with the Lord, and to lift heartfelt prayers as I feel led.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (Revelation 5:11-14)

5:11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels in a circle around the throne, as well as the living creatures and the elders.

Their number was ten thousand times ten thousand – thousands times thousands –

5:12 all of whom were singing in a loud voice:

“Worthy is the lamb who was killed to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and praise!”

5:13 Then I heard every creature – in heaven, on earth, under the earth, in the sea, and all that is in them – singing: “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be praise, honor, glory, and ruling power forever and ever!”

5:14 And the four living creatures were saying “Amen,”

and the elders threw themselves to the ground and worshiped.

Prayer

Lord, You need no praise or worship, but Your creation needs a one true and perfect Lord God to know pure love and meaning. May I draw nearer to You every day and in every way.

Summary & Commentary

As is described as “too numerous to count” elsewhere is the point of the “... ten thousand times ten thousand – thousands times thousands” text.

“Worthy is the lamb ...” is a repeated theme of Revelation.

“Every creature ...” sang praise and worship of and to Him.

The “... four living creatures”, who we discussed previously, agreed with “Amen”.

The elders, previously numbered as twenty-four and described, humbled themselves by bowing.

Interaction

Consider

Do we have the awe and reverence for God by all beings. Note that Jesus allows Himself to be worshiped, therefore He must be God; yet another affirmation of the Trinity.

Discuss

What might it mean to a watching fellowship for the spiritual leaders to be more visibly humble in their public praise and worship?

Reflect

The Lord God is consistent; a Messiah was always necessary, once He pronounced the righteous-curse and the grace-filled provision of redemption in the Garden. Only He could be our intercessor.

Share

When have you experienced a moment of awe which caused you to stop and worship Him?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to touch my heart in a special way so that I am drawn-near and gently-humbled before Him.

Action:

Today am choosing to pause and to pray several times, knowing that God not only hears my prayers, but that He gathers them up together with those of all “saints” (believers) like incense.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study – “Revelation” Section – Revelation 4 – 5 – prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in June of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

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