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Daniel and Revelation
Revelation 4 - John Sees Heaven
Revelation 4:1-3 After these things I looked and saw a door opened in heaven, and the first voice that I heard, like a trumpet speaking with me, was one saying, "Come up here, and I will show you the things which must happen after this." (2) Immediately I was in the Spirit. Behold, there was a throne set in heaven, and one sitting on the throne (3) that looked like a jasper stone and a sardius. There was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald to look at.
In Revelation 4:1, John is told to “Come up here, and I will show you the things which must happen after this.” This verse, of course, is not the rapture. It’s part of John’s vision and is the start of the events of the end times. Also, it’s probably an allusion to Exodus 19:20. Moses is told to come up to the top of the mountain as God came down to the top of the mountain to meet him. As we will see, Exodus 19 is an allusion to the rapture. But the people are not yet ready for the rapture. Only Moses is called up the mountain. Only John is told to “Come up here.” The people could not go up the mountain. The people are not yet ready for the rapture.
Exodus 19:16-20 It happened on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunders and lightnings , and a thick cloud on the mountain, and the sound of an exceedingly loud trumpet; and all the people who were in the camp trembled. (17) Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God; and they stood at the lower part of the mountain. (18) Mount Sinai, all it, smoked, because Yahweh descended on it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. (19) When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by a voice. (20) Yahweh came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. Yahweh called Moses to the top of the mountain , and Moses went up.
Exodus 19 has many allusions to the rapture. In verse 17, Moses leads the people out of the camp to meet with God. They don’t go up the mountain, because they are not ready. Anyone who even touched the base of the mountain was to be killed. On the top of the mountain there was a thick cloud, and the sound of a trumpet blast. Again, this is an allusion to the rapture. But more precisely, it’s an allusion to the time just prior to the rapture. In Revelation, the church is not yet ready. The church begins to get ready during the trumpet-plagues. During this time the church is being built. But the church will not be ready until we have first gone through the desert of the great tribulation, during the reign of the antichrist.
For a reference to the desert, see the section titled, “Revelation 12 - The Woman About To Give Birth,” in chapter 26 of this book.
In verses 15 and 16 of Exodus 19, Moses tells the people to abstain from sexual relations, and to prepare themselves for the third day. This is the church getting holy. It’s about the Bride getting ready for the wedding banquet. Just as the resurrection of Christ was on the third day, the resurrection of the Church is on the third millennial day.
Verse 16 says that on the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning. In Revelation 4:5, John sees "lightning" and he hears “sounds and thunders.” This theme is carried over to the seventh trumpet, which is when the building of the church will have been completed. When the seventh trumpet is sounded, voices in heaven say, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ. He will reign forever and ever!" In other words, this is what is accomplished during the time of the trumpet-plagues. Then, John sees the Ark of the Covenant in the temple of God in heaven. Also, John sees lightning and hears thunder, just like in Revelation 4:5. This connects the time before the seals are opened, to the time after the seventh trumpet.
The opening of the seals starts a process that concludes with the seventh trumpet. The church is built, and the kingdom of the world becomes the kingdom of the Lord. But this doesn’t literally happen at the seventh trumpet. The church must first go through the desert of sanctification. Yet it’s considered to be accomplished at the seventh trumpet.
Take a look forward at the seventh trumpet.
Revelation 11:15-16, 19 The seventh angel sounded, and great voices in heaven followed, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ. He will reign forever and ever!" (16) The twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God's throne, fell on their faces and worshiped God ...(19) God's temple that is in heaven was opened, and the ark of the Lord's covenant was seen in his temple. Lightnings, sounds, thunders, an earthquake, and great hail followed.
At the seventh trumpet John sees the Ark of the Covenant, in the temple of God in heaven. Perhaps there is a literal temple in heaven. But if so, it’s only symbolic of the true temple, which is the Church. In the Old Covenant, God’s law was written on stone. We get the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, which is right after these events in chapter 19. Under the New Covenant, God’s law is written on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-33, Hebrews 8:8). But this doesn’t happen overnight. It’s the process of sanctification. It’s all about the Church taking sin seriously. It begins with the opening of the seals. And it’s accomplished by the seven trumpet-plagues. So, at the seventh trumpet, John sees the Ark of the Covenant in the temple of God. This is symbolic of the completion of God’s law being written in the hearts of Church, which is the temple of God.
We now continue in Revelation chapter 4.
Revelation 4:4-5 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones. On the thrones were twenty-four elders sitting, dressed in white garments, with crowns of gold on their heads. (5) Out of the throne proceed lightnings, sounds, and thunders. There were seven lamps of fire burning before his throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
Revelation 4 brings John, in his vision, up to heaven. Around the throne are twenty-four thrones with twenty-four elders. The elders do not seem to be an allusion to an Old Testament passage. Nor do they seem to be a symbol or some kind of type. They seem to be literal. We do know that at least two people, Enoch and Elijah, were taken up into heaven before they died. It's possible that there have been others throughout the centuries since Adam. I think perhaps the twenty-four elders are people who lived here on the earth and then were brought to heaven. But these would be the exceptions to the rule. Everyone else is asleep, as Daniel was told that he would sleep until the day of the resurrection (Daniel 12:13).
Revelation 4:5 mentions seven lamps, which are the "seven Spirits of God." This is also in Revelation 1:4, 3:1 and 5:6. We do not have to go to the Old Testament to find the meaning of the seven Spirits of God. It's found in Revelation itself.
Take a look forward in Revelation chapter 5 at the seven Spirits of God.
Revelation 5:6 I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.
The seven eyes comes from Zechariah 3:9, where the Rock (Christ) has seven eyes. This passage is given in the context of Joshua in filthy clothes. But the sins of Joshua are removed. The seven eyes show that God sees the sins of the world. Here we see that Christ “removed the sin of the land [world] in a single day” (Zechariah 3:9) by dying on the cross. In Revelation 5:6, the seven eyes are "the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth." So again, the seven eyes tell us that God sees everything that happens throughout the world including the sins of the world. The seven Spirits of God mean the same thing. God is everywhere, and sees everything. It's not literally saying that God has seven Spirits. It's saying that God is everywhere. The number seven is chosen for obvious reasons. But the number also symbolically connects back to the seven eyes. God is symbolically described as having seven Spirits that cover the world, each of which has an eye to see the world.
After the resurrection, we will have a face-to-face relationship with God (1 Corinthians 13:12). This face-to-face relation with God was lost in the Garden of Eden. “He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24 ESV). The tree of life is found in Revelation 22:2, 14, and 19. But right now cherubim guard the way back. The cherubim are seen on each side of the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:18-20, 1 Samuel 4:4, Psalm 99:1, Isaiah 37:16), guarding the way back into the holy of holies.
We now continue in Revelation chapter 4.
Revelation 4:6-8 Before the throne was something like a sea of glass, similar to crystal. In the midst of the throne, and around the throne were four living creaturesfull of eyes before and behind. (7) The first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like a man, and the fourth was like a flying eagle. (8) The four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within. They have no rest day and night, saying, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come!"
In Revelation 4:6-8, we have the description of the four living creatures. By comparing this description with Ezekiel 10, we see that the four living creatures are cherubim. In other words, they are like the cherubim that guard the way back to the Garden of Eden, which is Paradise. It's also called the New Jerusalem. They are in the center and around the throne of God (Revelation 4:6).
Verse 6 also mentions a sea of glass, similar to crystal. This sea of glass can also be found later in Revelation 15:2. Take a look forward in Revelation chapter 15 at the sea of glass.
Revelation 15:1-2 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished. (2) And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire--and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands.
In chapter 4 of Revelation there is no one beside the sea of glass. In Revelation 15:2, many people who had conquered the beast are standing beside the sea of glass. This sea of glass is in Paradise. The cherubim guard the way back to the Garden (Paradise) of Eden. In other words, those going through the great tribulation have been able to conquer the beast by overcoming sin and are now in Paradise. This is just before the seven bowls are poured out, which is the seven last plagues. In other words, the Church goes through the great tribulation and overcomes sin. They defeat the beast by being willing to give up their lives. Then they can stand before the throne in Paradise.
As a review, the four living creatures are cherubim. The twenty-four elders are probably people like Elijah and Enoch who were taken to heaven without dying. They had a special relationship with God whereby they overcome all their sinful habits. They walked with God and were taken up to heaven (Paradise) to live.
Both the angels and the twenty-four elders worship Jesus Christ in heaven. They cast their crowns before the thrown. The crowns are symbols of their authority to rule. They will reign with Christ over the nations, along with the rest of the Church when they overcome their sins and are made ready to reign.
We now continue in Revelation chapter 4; the last three verses of the chapter.
Revelation 4:9-11 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, (10) the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, (11) "Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created."
As we will see, the seals have prevented the angels and us from knowing the time of the resurrection. It's called the mystery of God. And the cherubim guard the way back to the tree of life, and the face-to-face relationship with God. So, it’s fitting that when Christ begins to open the seals of the scroll, that it would be four cherubim who guide John to witness the opening of the first four seals. The opening of the scroll is about revealing God’s mystery, which is the timing of resurrection and eternal life. So, it’s about the time when we are let back into the Garden (Paradise) of Eden, guarded by the four living creatures (cherubim).