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Sunday: In the Heavenly Throne Room — 34 Comments

  1. There is no doubt that the scene that John witnesses, is spectacular. A throne made of jasper and carnelian (OE sardine), a lake of crystal, voices like trumpets, and flashes of lightning. The big ideas of these two chapters are not the splendor but, the witnesses and the centrality of Jesus to the events about to be described. This is the denouement, the connection of loose ends, the ultimate explanation.

    The reader is left in no doubt about the meaning of the symbolism and the purpose of this passage. And I cannot help but notice the inclusivity of this passage:

    And they sang a new song, saying,
    “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” Rev 5:9,10

    We are being asked to be witnesses to the penultimate - the explanation before the conclusion. (or is it a new beginning?)

  2. “It is very little that we can know of the future state, but we may be quite sure that we know as much as is good for us. We ought to be as content with that which is not revealed as with that which is. If God wills us not to know, we ought to be satisfied not to know. Depend on it, he has told us all about heaven that is necessary to bring us there; and if he had revealed more, it would have served rather for the gratification of our curiosity than for the increase of our grace.” (Spurgeon)
    Why John could not describe him who sat on the throne? 
    The answer could be found in the conversation between God and Moses.
    Exodus 33:20 20 And He added,  “You cannot see  My face,  for  no  one  can see Me  and live.” 
    Therefore, John might have chosen to describe the surrounding of the throne.
    In the throne room rainbow around the the throne shows God's remembrance of our covenant relationship ever present before him. 

    Isaiah 54:9, 10
    9 “For this is like the waters of Noah to Me;
    For as I have sworn
    That the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth,
    So have I sworn
    That I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.
    10 For the mountains shall depart
    And the hills be removed,
    But My kindness shall not depart from you,
    Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,”
    Says the Lord, who has mercy on you.

    • Newbegin, why is the rainbow around God’s throne described by John as an emerald? Revelation 4:3. I have always pictured emerald as green, and a rainbow as multicolored.

  3. Heaven is a place of worship, and God’s people shall worship Him throughout all eternity. Perhaps it would be good for us to get in practice now! A study of will certainly help us better understand how to worship God and give Him the glory that He deserves...as in Revealation 4:1....

  4. Rev 4:2 John was in the spirit, where was his body in heaven or on earth?

    Did John see God in heaven ? If yes,how was He?

    Worship repeatedly takes place in heaven, is this symbolic?

    Rev 5:8 the 24 elders are presenting the players of the saints. Is there anything wrong to pray direct to these elders?

    The number of the angels is ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, is this symbolic? Are numbers in revelation symbolic?

    • I would like to attempt to explain Johns statement that he was in the Spirit on the Lords day;the greek word for Spirit is Pneuma a word which refers to the third person of the Godhead this in the same word used for the Holy \"Spirit\" in Acts 5:3 when Peter told Ananias that he was lying to the Holy \"Spirit/Ghost\" So when John was in vision he was moved/carried not physically but in a spiritual sense by the Holy Spirit,the Holy Spirit empowered him to become visually aware of Spiritual realities which in an ordinary setting cannot be achieved heaven was opened to him Rev 4,5 (Kindly Read Ezekiel 1:1,2Peter 1:20,21)

      • Was heaven opened to John literally? Did he actually see inside the literal heaven?

        Or was John shown a symbolic representation of the realities of heaven in a way that he could (only just) understand (because there was no way that he could have comprehend the actual realities of heaven if he were to have seen them as per Isa 55:9 suggestion)?

        I grew up believing the former suggestion. I now believe the latter.

      • Please help me understand this better. “John was carried in a spiritual .......”. Was John given a “dream” or was he carried into heaven - what part of him if not bodily - when we say spiritually - exactly what part of him went to heaven?

        • John begins his description by saying:

          I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Rev 1:10

          He continues the description of his experience with:

          After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. Rev 4:1

          It makes sense to think that this was all part of the one event. In the language of the Bible, we would probably call it a "vision". If it had happened today we would be tempted to call it a "virtual reality experience". I see no need to speculate on the state of John's body. The vision was filled with symbolism which has its own meaning and was not meant to be taken as a representation of heavenly geography.

          • "The vision was filled with symbolism which has its own meaning and was not meant to be taken as a representation of heavenly geography."

            Wow Maurice. I just wanted to emphasise the point you are making incase anyone missed it. What you said is a really important point - and yet I rarely hear it being said. Thanks for saying it.

        • We don’t have eye witness of John while in the Spirit on the Lords day and asked to come up hither, recorded in the Bible. Christianity believes John was in vision. “who testified and gave supporting evidence to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to everything that he saw [in his visions].”
          ‭‭Revelation 1:2‬ ‭AMP.
          We do have eye witness of Ellen G. White being in vision, her body was still on earth, which we can use as example of John’s experience of seeing. She ‘traveled’ to heaven and to other worlds while in vision, she even talked to Enoch and He replied with an answer in her vision. She said to the Angel who was giving her the tour, everything is so wounderful and perfect, I don’t want to go back to earth. The Angel said, you must, to prove you remain with Jesus. I am not saying you are saved by works, just the same a daughter obeys her Father, because she loves Him. She even had some symbolism in her description. “there were diamonds all over the grass”.

    • Cyrus: It is my understanding that we are to pray only to God, not to elders or
      saints or other gods. The others can't answer our prayers, that is God's province.

      • Cyrus I believe that Leilani is correct. Really why would one want to pray to anyone else. Jesus loves us and is waiting at the door to our hearts to come in and commune with us.

        Heb 8:1-2  Now the sum of the things which we have spoken is this: We have such a High Priest, who has sat down on the right of the throne of the Majesty in Heaven,  2  a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.
        Heb 7:24-25  but He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood.  25  Therefore He is able also to save to the uttermost those who come unto God by Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them.
        Heb 1:1-3  God, who at many times and in many ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,  2  has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds,  3  who being the shining splendor of His glory, and the express image of His essence, and upholding all things by the word of His power, through Himself cleansing of our sins, He sat down on the right of the Majesty on high,

  5. It is awesome to know that God is our creator and he created everything and He can recreate us and make all thing new again.

  6. Without dimensions or description of any type of physical structure(some may point to the door opening as indicating such, but in a book of symbols, couldn't this represent the imposed separation from God that sin has required, which John was permitted to pass?), we can only identify that there is a throne from which God's rules as the Sovereign of all that exists. None of the subjects described seem to worship from force or against their will, but choose willfully to be obedient, which is the very definition of worship(see Ps 29:2). While these angels may come and go as God commands them, they are represented as always being in His very presence, as are we ourselves though on this earth(see Ps 139). What seems important here is the willingness of God's creatures to worship Him continually, which is the only manner of true worship, and the fact of His worthiness of His creature's worship. A partial service is nothing less than rebellion. Could the three-fold “Holy!” indicate recognition of the 3 persons of the Godhead?

    Through Christ, we cannot deny the truth that “God so loved the world”. Doesn't our very presence, with every breath and heart-beat, though sinners, prove this as well, along with the freedom to choose?


    I can imagine "a throne" somewhere in the universe and maybe it is THE UNIVERSE that is God's Throne. But "a room?," is a little difficult to imagine when there is supposed to be thousands of angels round about it too.

    • With so much of Revelation being symbolic, it is interesting that we then interpret thrones and throne rooms as literal. I would propose that these too are symbolic and not literal.

      Think about just one aspect - what size throne would an omnipresent God actually need to literally sit on? There are many other aspects of the way we have literalised representations of the things of the heavenly that don't make sense too.

      I personally believe that we have fallen into the trap of interpreting God in man's image and God's ways in accordance with man's ways - contrary to what Isa 55:9 states. Our default subconscious tendency as humans is to do this - unless we are consciously aware of this tendency and consciously and intentionally 'over-ride' it.

      • Phil, one of my college religion professors always said, “God speaks to man in the language of man because if He spoke to us in the language of heaven, we would not understand Him”.

        • I would absolutely agree with what your college religion professor is saying. That is why there is so much symbolism and metaphor in scripture.

          I use the same thing when trying to teach people new concepts that are beyond their current awareness: I look for what they are familiar with and try to use that as a branch across to helping them understand what is new to them.

          One time I was trying to help a building and construction industry bloke understand that he needed to be more patient with his wife to give her time to come to terms with things being different. The analogy I used was that if you don't give concrete sufficient time to cure properly, you compromise its final mPA rating. That helped him understand the point and he laughed and said, "if only my wife knew we were saying she is like concrete".

          We can easily get ourselves into trouble when we over-literalise what was meant to be metaphor. And given that God's reality and ways are so much higher than ours (Isa 55:9), I suspect we forget to keep this in mind as much as we need to.

      • Yes, the thrones John saw clearly symbolize authority and judgment. ("judgment", a variation of "justice", with the intention to restore what is "just" or right according to "truth".) God will restore the dominion to it's sinless state, where sin will never again mar it's beauty and peace. It is through His judgment/justice that this is accomplished to the satisfaction of all. Only through a universal judgment could this be accomplished. This is why all believers are made "priests and kings", for the purpose of being part of the final verdict according to "every work, and every secret thing, whether it be good or...evil". God will conceal nothing from His subjects.

        • Robert, where you and I differ is in our understanding of the means/process by which God undertakes ‘judgment’ and ‘justice’.

    • Jesus who gave the vision to John is using the sanctuary as background to help us understand. God's presence - throne- was above the Ark thus the concept of a room. Heb 8:1-2 links the throne to the sanctuary. However we see the size of the Most Holy 'room' increase from the tabernacle in the wilderness to Solomon's temple to the cube of New Jerusalem and even to the earth made new as God's throne room. Symbols help us understand universal truths but are not meant to limit them.

  8. Without dimensions or description of any type of physical structure(some may point to the door opening as indicating such, but in a book of symbols, couldn't this represent the imposed separation from God that sin has required, which John was permitted to pass?) Beautiful and insightful . Mr. whiteman I am going to my study to contemplate just thought

  9. Oh yes, God our creator and the lamb that was slain are worthy of praises and reverence, honor and glory. He is God. God alone, he is the champion of love, no one else! Oh, what a hope! to our desperate situation here on hearth! We will make it through with his help and one day be part of that crowd that pays tribute to the awesome God. Yes we can make it through!

  10. "The central issue in the great controversy between God and Satan is about who has the right to rule."

    I would suggest that this statement risks misrepresentation of (a) the true nature of the central issue in the great controversy and (b) God's nature and character. God's government is not based on "right to rule" in the way that term is commonly understood.

    Satan never alleged that God had no right to rule. Rather, Satan (as a liar and deceiver) essentially alleged that there was a 'higher' reality available and that God was creating a 'glass-ceiling' that artificially inhibited humanity from accessing that higher reality (Gen 3:5).

    On the other hand, Jesus/God has claimed and demonstrated that the ways of His Kingdom are already exclusively about facilitation of the highest possible way of abundant life - in contrast with the ways of Satan's Kingdom that are actually exclusively about fostering stealing, killing and destroying (John 10:10).

    Consequently, I would propose that the central issues in the great controversy are which of the 2 proposed realities is actually the viable, abundant reality and which of the 2 heads (God or Satan) of those realities is honest, truthful and trustworthy. And the way that each being throughout all of creation will 'judge' for themselves is to see for themselves the cause and effect evidence of each Kingdom that has, is and will play out. This evidence will speak for itself.

  11. A second level of evidence that the scene of Revelation 5 points to the ascension of Jesus as its position in history can be found in the structure of the book of Revelation itself. The book of Revelation is structured as a chiasm. In other words, the first chapters are parallel to the last chapters and in stair-step or pyramid fashion these parallels move toward the center of the book. Dr. Kenneth Strand, who first developed that idea for Revelation, noted that the first half of the book (which parallels the second half) focuses on the realities of the whole Christian age, while the material in the second half (which parallels the first half) focuses on the events associated with the end of history.
    Since the seven seals are in the first half of the book of Revelation, they focus on the whole Christian age. It is natural, therefore, that the beginning point of the seals turn out to be the ascension and enthronement of Christ at the beginning of the Christian age. It also fits that the end point of the seals is located at the Second Coming (Rev 6:15-17).
    Further evidence that Revelation 5 concerns the beginning of the Christian era is found by comparing the worship scenes of Revelation 4-5 with Revelation 19. Revelation 19 is the chiastic counterpart of the throne room scene. Therefore, both passages are very similar. Both passages contain the twenty-four elders, the four living creatures, the throne, praise and worship. In Revelation 19, God is praised for destroying Babylon (an end-time passage). In Revelation 4-5, God is praised for creation (4:11) and for redemption (5:9, 10, 12, 13)--events that are in the past, from John’s perspective. But the seals progress to Revelation 7, where God's people are portrayed as coming out of the great tribulation and praising God for their deliverance. This is the same point in history as Revelation 19, but it comes well after the events of Revelation 5.
    The second half of Revelation focuses almost entirely on the final events of earth's history. By contrast, visions in the first half of the book start at the beginning of the first century and go all the way to the end. So, the chiasm of Revelation would support that the event of Revelation 5 is at the beginning and not the end of the Christian era.
    Another evidence that Revelation 5 concerns the beginning of the Christian era is the parallel between the white horse of Revelation 6 and the white horse of Revelation 19. Both riders wear crowns. But the Greek word for “crown” is different in the two passages. The rider on the white horse of Revelation 6:2 wears a victory crown (Greek: stephanos– something like an Olympic gold medal). The rider on the white horse in Revelation 19, on the other hand, wears many royal crowns of rulership (Greek: diadêmata– Rev 19:12). The victory crown is appropriate to the beginning of the Christian era. Jesus overcame at the cross. But his full and complete reign over the earth only comes at the Second coming (Rev 11:15-17). Then he will wear many crowns of rulership. The location of this parallel also supports the chiasm that stretches from beginning to end in the Book of Revelation. Comment by Jon Paulien

  12. Am particularly concern to know what does the Rainbow, the Crystal Clear Sea,the Four Living Creatures,the Twenty-four Elders symbolize.Who are the Twenty-four Elders and the Four Living Creature? Please some one should help me.

    • It would be nice to know all the detail, wouldn't it? But maybe some of it is left to challenge us.

      Here are some ideas to think about.

      The rainbow has always be considered a sign of God's promise, The Four living creatures/beasts, by its context appears to be those that are saved. The Twenty-four Elders are special witnesses and we know very little else about them. The Crystal Sea is possibly a representation of purity and cleanliness.

      What are your ideas Ephraim?

      • I don't have any personal idea. I just want to know the truth about this particular Prophecy as there are diverse interpretations to it and i don't understand which one is correct. Roy Allan Anderson in his Book "Unveiling Daniel and Revelation" said that the 24 Elders are Priests-Chosen representatives from every Race and Nation of the world. Others interpret that the 24 Elders are representatives from the Unfallen worlds while others said that they are from the Twelve Tribes Israel now you said they are Special Witnesses.

        And about the 4 Living Creature Roy again in his same Book Unveiling Daniel and Revelation interpreted that the symbolism of a Lion ,a Calf, a Man and a flying Eagle denote Strength,Perseverance,Intelligence and Swiftness while you said they (the 4 Living Creatures)are the Saved. Am getting confused with these referent interpretations thus am unable to get the actual meaning of the Prophecy and the Massage to take there in. This is my Problem Maurice.

        • Good to see that you are comparing various ideas and trying to make sense of them. I have to problem with RA Anderson's interpretation and I think it is quite compatible with the notion of witnesses that I use. I am a little hesitant to think of the Elders as coming from other worlds because the Bible has very little to say about other worlds. The Bible is essentially about the conflict between good and evil on Earth. However, it is quite conceivable that inhabitants of other places are interested in the conflict and want to see the outcome.

          The symbols used for the 4 living creatures could represent those qualities, however, such standards were in use among the 12 tribes, and it may have been just a bit of symbolism to connect the Old Testament with the new.

          The really important symbolism is related to the role of Jesus and that is where we should focus. Hope that helps.

        • Ephraim, if we needed this specific information, God would have made it plain, and there wouldn't be so many different ideas, which all are merely speculating on. Focus on what is clearly revealed, and not on trying to understand all the specific details not given in the vision. Speculations are a sure path to error.

    • Who are the 24 elders?Matthew 27:52 says,"And the graves were opened:and many bodies of the saints which slept arose."This happened just after Jesus's resurrection so I would like to belive some of these form part of the 24 elders.

      • Rutendo, this is possible, points to consider Isaiah 24:23, elders on Mt Zion, white robes and victory crowns, number 24, see 12 apostles plus 12 tribes on foundations and gates of New Jerusalem, so I think they are symbolic of all redeemed humanity. I think we should consentrate on the meaning rather than their identity. I believe the message is God wants us to be witnesses of His plan of salvation being successful.

    • Ephraim,
      I am glad you asked the question. I had no reason to question it before because I was brought up with the understanding that they represented those who came up out of the grave with Jesus. However now after reading the comments I went to see if Ellen White had anything to say on it. Before I share what I found out, I concurred with Bro. Whiteman that speculation is a sure path to error...

      Manuscript Releases, volume 12, pp. 296, 297: “This roll was written within and without. John
      says: "I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to
      look thereon" [verse 4]. The vision as presented to John made its impression upon his mind. The
      destiny of every nation was contained in that book. John was distressed at the utter inability of
      any human being or angelic intelligence to read the words, or even to look thereon. His soul was
      wrought up to such a point of agony and suspense that one of the strong angels had
      compassion on him, and laying his hand on him assuringly, said, "Weep not: behold, the Lion of
      the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven
      seals thereof" [verse 5].”

      Signs of the Times, December 22, 1887: “John beholds an innumerable company, precious,
      refined, purified, around the throne of the Majesty of Heaven. The angel inquires of John,
      "What are these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they?" and John answers,
      "Sir, thou knowest." Then the angel declares: "These are they which came out of great
      tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

      In Revelation 5 the scripture said it's one of the elders that responded but based on the above quotations it said "Angel" In the book of Job when the Council met and satan appeared..., it could be that these Elders represent the unfallen world.
      Please note that I am in no way stating this as doctrine or the case. It's food for thought and reason to study/read more into. Also bear in mind the secret things belong to God...
      I am also aware that you all are more knowledgeable in the word than myself, which is why I come here every week for your insightful discussions. Please dont hesitate to correct me when I am wrong.


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