After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
“‘Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,’
who was, and is, and is to come.”
Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.”
From the immediate concerns of the church on earth, John’s attention moves to heaven. From this point heavenly realities are in the forefront throughout the rest of the book. John begins to write about a vision of God Himself. The description found here is quite remarkable. Everything is seen as surrounding the throne. Although there are several different interpretations of this vision, the fundamental truth is that at the center of everything is God. Gathered around the throne are those who appreciate the character of the One enthroned. These worshippers clearly are submitting themselves to the rule and reign of this majestic presence.
In the middle of this heavenly vision, John records what he is seeing and hearing. In verse eight, John writes, “Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.’” What we see here is that these living beings are praising God continually. There is obviously an emphasis on God’s holiness in this repetitive praise. A clear message from this text is that God’s holiness will triumph over all evil in the end.
This is truly one of the greatest worship scenes ever described. From this passage, we can assume that in heaven, worship will be ongoing. Words of praise and adoration are the eternal activity of those in heaven. In his book, The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren writes, “Worship is our eternal vocation, our time here on earth is a dress rehearsal for all eternity.” In his book, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Dr. Walvoord calls attention to the fact that “the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne. They worship Him for His attributes, because He is who He is.”
The twenty-four elders here are described as believers in the Lord. They could either represent the church or the twelve tribes of Judah and the twelve apostles. One variation of these views is that the use of twenty-four elders may come from 1 Chronicles 24:1-5 in which priests were organized into twenty-four groups. If so, this “kingdom of priests” represents the church that dwells in heaven with the Lord during the tribulation period. No matter how you view this, it doesn’t change the fact that God is on His throne and receiving all honor and glory for who He is and what He has done.
Questions to Ponder
How are you preparing yourself now for your eternal vocation? How does your love for God show? How does this heavenly scene impact your view of God? How do you think John felt as he experienced the worship of the One true God?
- Worship the Lord by slowing saying: Lord, You are Amen, Faithful and True Witness, the ruler of God’s creation.
- “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come. Rev. 4:8
- You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being. Rev. 4:11
- Pray we will continue to know Him Who is holy. Ask/Invite the Lord to be in every area of your day today.
God Almighty, You who dwell in heavenly places, I worship and adore You, I bow down to You and Your Lordship. Forgive me Lord for times when I have grieved Your Holy Spirit. Help me and Your church to daily yield to You and Your holiness. Help us to worship You in every aspect of our lives, draw us today by Your Spirit into Your perfect and holy will.
In the Name of Jesus Christ I ask, amen.