These two chapters in the Book of Revelation are like a corner on the same block in a city. We go from a description of heaven to eventualities; i.e. from what is to what will be. The significance of what is in the throne room of “the one who sits on that throne” (Revelation 4:2b & 3) is a given conclusion if we also read 5:13b… “To him who sits on the throne AND to the Lamb”. This is a plural statement and we know the Lamb of God is Jesus (John 1:29). This means the only other remaining being of throne-worthiness is God the Father. We do not have to speculate much as to what and who John initially describes in verse 3. The real significance is that John is in the presence of the greatest.
What each of the described beings or objects in and around the throne room is subject to someone’s interpretation. The caution? Be careful about assigning a perception to a given or a doctrinal plank. What might be perceived as correct is sometimes taken to extremes or speculation. We see these extremes that may be mentioned but once or twice in scripture becoming dogmatic practices is supposedly Christ-centered churches. The above is my disclaimer for chapter 4 and 5 with full knowledge of Col 2:8. “Be sure you are not led away by the teaching of those who have nothing worth saying and only plan to deceive you. That teaching is not from Christ. It is only human tradition and comes from the powers that influence this world.” (ERV)Tribulation graph
Chapter 4 begins with John receiving an open invitation to witness what is in the throne room of heaven. Whether this is what we as the redeemed will witness when we get to heaven is speculative. I say this because John does not indicate there is a presence of others who have been redeemed or of seeing any of the Old Testament saints. Significant to John and our studies, it includes an offer to also “see what will be” via the scroll and Seven Seals. We detail this when we get to chapter 6 of Revelation.
To many it is difficult to keep the Seals, Trumpets and Vials (bowls) straight. Dale Carnegie teaches that the best way to commit something to memory is by association. I keep the order straight by connecting these three events to the alphabet; Seals (S), Trumpets (T), then Vials (V); S comes before T and T comes before V. I will repeat this in a later article, but it is the 7th Trumpet that opens the delivery of the Vial (bowls) contents.
The opening verses in chapter 4 set the stage for John’s anticipation or excitement of something he knows is exclusive. A poor but perhaps helpful analogy would be like anyone anticipating a long dreamed of trip or vacation (keep this thought in mind as 5:4 refers back to this anticipation). We sent many of our dreams on this trip, just as did John when he was told to “come up here” in 4:1.
The next few verses in chapter 4 are symbolic and great discussion points. However, any dogmatic conclusion would be speculative. 24 elders and who they are or represent; the white clothing and individual crowns; lightning and thunder; the *7 lamps – even though we are told these represent the 7 spirits of God (but what are they?); the rainbow; the crystal sea; **the four living creatures and their being covered with eyes; the representation or reason for the six wings on each creature. The true underlying message in this passage is their continual praising; “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,” who was, and is, and is to come (NIV). This triggers a response by the 24 elders (V9-11). It also defines the eternal existence of the God-head; was, and is, and is to come. It also parallels what will happen to creation upon the 2nd advent of Jesus Christ (“Every eye will see” (NIV; Revelation 1:7).
*The “seven spirits of God” are mentioned in Revelation 1:4; 3:1; 4:5; and 5:6. The seven spirits of God are not specifically identified. It is therefore impossible to be dogmatic. Revelation 1:4 mentions that the seven spirits are before God’s throne. Revelation 3:1 indicates that Jesus Christ “holds” the seven spirits of God. Revelation 4:5 links the seven spirits of God with seven burning lamps that are before God’s throne. Revelation 5:6 identifies the seven spirits with the “seven eyes” of the Lamb and states that they are “sent out into all the earth.”
** The four living creatures: Here we find something that “looks like” a Lion, an ox sometimes described as a calf, a face like a man, a flying eagle. Without speculating too much, go back to the Tribes of Israel and their wandering encampments around the Tabernacle Tent (Numbers 2:2). They had exited Egypt but had not yet entered the Promised lands. As Chuck Missler (khouse.org ) puts it, “…the lion, the man, the ox, and the eagle–are the same as the four faces of the living creatures” found in Revelation 4:6b-7. Each time we encounter a view of the throne of God, we notice these strange living creatures, somehow associated with the protection of His throne, His holiness, etc.
It would seem that the camp of Israel–with the tabernacle in the middle–is a model of the throne of God: His presence in the center, represented by the tabernacle, encircled by the four faces, all surrounded by His (authority).”
Chapter 5 is our turn at and in the corner-of-events as John records them; i.e. the Scroll and seven Seals. The scroll must be extensive as john makes sure to note that it is “with writing on both sides” (5:1; NIV); “inside and outside” as the King James Bible puts it. Each one of the seven seals on the scroll represents an event which unfolds beginning in chapter 6. We get to this discussion in our next article.
The question asked in 5:2b, “who is worthy to break the seals and open he scroll” is straight forward. What follows is sometimes missed in commentaries. It says in 5:3 that John saw that “no one” could open the scroll or even peak inside it yet. The KJV identifies this “no one” as no man, but the ERV, ESV and other translation put it, no one can open it. The verse then explains what is so often missed. “…(no one) in heaven, on earth, or under the earth…” Limiting this statement to man or mankind does not reflect well the Greek word oudeis. Thayer defines and translates oudeis as “NOTHING” can open it. This means angels fallen or still in heaven, Satan himself, man-made devices like computers or super chips, or molten lava under the earth. This is the power in this verse. The only option left standing is identified in v6 & 7; the Lamb (of God).
Why does the Bible identify Jesus as the Lamb of God? It is the sacrificial lamb God gave up (John 3:16) to pay the price of our sin. It isn’t a name as much as it is an action that happened at Calvary. God gave up his son as the sacrifice. Only one “thing” (the antithesis to NO-THING) can take on this role of opening the scroll; one seal at a time. He is the only one who paid the price of redemption; Jesus Christ.
Look closely at verse 8; once Jesus (the he/Lamb of v6) took the scroll, the elders AND the four creatures fell (shachah) to the ground in worship of him. In short, everything and anything (see v13) recognized him who took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the heavenly throne. For those who desire a deeper education on this one word, Yochanan Zaqantov notes: “the word translated as Worship in the Tanakh is transliterated as shachah (shah-ghah) which is Shin-Chet-Hey.”
V4; chapter 5: One may wonder why John “.” Go back to my analogy of a highly anticipated vacation (paragraph 5). What a great disappointment it had to be to John to “get there” after being called only to find out that what he anticipated was not going to be revealed. His heart ached for it, but now….?
We too often discuss being politically correct today. Politically correct does not always mean “something is correct.” Well, read v9 and 10. Can we think of anyone left out? Yes! Only those who are purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ will reign. Those who reject this offer of eternal salvation will have eternity but at a different ranch.
Then, much to the relief of John (5:5) his anticipation is reassured by one of the 24 elders. What happens in v11 is nothing short of astounding. John “looked and heard” thousands and thousands of angels as they encircled the throne and gave out praise. It is almost like they now realized the time of the ‘end of time’ as we now know it is at the brink of past tense. They are total encouragement for the “Lamb” to take the scroll and release its contents.
Then it gets even better in v13; everything (ktisma)… “and I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” This means all H: KOL/G: PAS (3605 and 3956 in Strong’s dictionary); of creation; anything that was created. By this time Satan certainly knows it is all over but the reading of the credentials; i.e. God’s, not his. In human terms, it is a moment in Satan’s life that will be similar to that nanosecond one recognizes an eminent-imminent danger; the shock of being one step short of stepping into or onto “it” and leaning forward. This is why and when (my speculation; you decide) Satan now makes his bold moves. He realizes it is over so he attempts to destroy what remains of God’s creation; first by dominance, then by elimination.
V14: “The four living creatures said ‘Amen’.” Speculation on my part… they put their blessing on the seal of Satan, his minion(s), and his influence over earth and its occupants. So be it!