In order to rightly interpret today’s Scripture reading, we must review Revelation 4 to get the context and setting.
A Visit to Heaven and the Throne of God (Revelation 4:1-4)
Upon sending the final letter to the seven churches named in Revelation 2 and 3, John looked up and beheld “a door [that] was opened in heaven” (4:1a). Seeing the door, he heard a voice like the blast of a trumpet, that said, “Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter” (4:1b).
John was immediately taken up to heaven by the power of the Holy Spirit, and there he beheld the throne of heaven (4:2). He that sat upon the throne was the Sovereign of creation, and His majesty and glory were displayed in brilliant colors and precious stones (4:3). John described 24 elders sitting near the throne wearing “white raiment” and adorned with crowns, perhaps indicating some role or authority. (4:4).
A Display of the Majesty of God (4:5-6)
John observed “lightnings and thunderings and voices” proceeding from the throne. There were seven lamps or torches of fire burning nearby, revealed to be “seven Sprits of God” (4:5). Understanding the number “seven” indicates fulness or completeness in the Scriptures, the “seven Spirits” can be interpreted as the fullness of the Holy Spirit (Revelation 1:4). The ground beneath the throne was as “a sea of glass like unto crystal” (4:5).
Four Beasts About the Throne (4:7b-9)
As John gazed upon the throne, he noticed around it were “four beasts full of eyes before and behind” (4:6). (You may recall an Old Testament scene similar to John’s description in Zechariah 1:4-25). Who were the four beasts? I believe they were angels, known as cherubim, and were identified as such in Ezekiel 10:15. With “eyes before and behind” (4:6), their responsibility was to be ever watchful about the throne of God.
John described the “four beasts,” giving each a physical depiction. One was “like a lion…[another] like a calf (or oxen)…[another having] a face as a man…and [the fourth] “like a flying eagle” (4:7). (I will address the interpretation of the four beasts on another day). The four beasts were said to praise God night and day, saying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come” (4:8). Then, the 24 elders fell down before God and worshipped Him, saying, “11Thou 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” (4:11).
Worthy is the Lamb! (Revelation 5)
Chapter 5 continued with John gazing upon the Lord sitting upon His throne. He held in his right hand “a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals” (5:1). The word translated book, was in fact a “scroll,” upon which there was writing on the front and back, and “sealed with seven seals” (5:1).
John listened as a “strong angel” proclaimed “with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?” (5:2). A search was made in heaven, earth, and hell, but there was no one worthy and “able to open the book, neither to look thereon” (5:3). No one who could unseal the scroll, that the Word of God recorded therein could be fulfilled. We read, John “wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon” (5:4). (By the way, this is the only mention of tears in heaven in the Bible.)
The Worthiness of Christ (5:5-8)
As John wept, “one of the elders saith unto [him], Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof” (5:5). What an incredible moment! The words of the elder was followed by a vision, for there “stood a Lamb as it had been slain” (5:6). Though bearing the scars of a Lamb sacrificed, Jesus Christ was alive, and standing at the throne of God, “the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David” (5:5). He alone was worthy to “loose the seven seals” (5:5).
John watched as Christ “took the book out of the right hand of him [God the Father] that sat upon the throne” (5:7). When Christ had taken the scroll, the four beasts and 24 elders fell down before Him, “the Lamb,” and worshipped Him (5:8a).
The Coronation Song for Christ the King (5:9-13)
A “new song” was then sung in heaven, and the four beasts and 24 elders worshipped and praised Christ, saying, “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (5:9-10).
The voices of “ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands” of angels joined the beasts and the elders, and said, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing” (5:13).
Closing thoughts – Suddenly, “every creature” that ever lived, the inhabitants of heaven, earth, and hell, lifted up their voices and said, “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (5:13).
Today’s study concludes when “the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever” (5:14). The scene in heaven will continue in our next devotion, and Christ will open the first seal of the seven seals on the scroll, and troubles and trials like the world has never seen will be unleashed on the earth (Revelation 6).
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