throne room December 27 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Revelation 4-5

The Throne Room of Heaven

What would it be like to be welcomed into the White House and given a tour of where all the crucial decisions are made? We would be astonished by all the glory of the White house as we were ushered through its sacred halls to the Oval Office of the President of the United States. Afterwards, we would continue on to the Cabinet Room where his advisors meet, and then we would go down to the secure basement floor level and marvel at the technology in the Situation Room. In our reading today we follow the Apostle John into the very throne room of heaven. Who is invited? What is it like? What happens there? How can we see it personally?

The entrance into the throne room will be by invitation.

A door was opened in heaven and a loud voice like a trumpet said to John, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this. At once I [John] was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it,” (Revelation 4:1-2, NIV).

Just who was called up to heaven–only John? Many evangelicals believe this is the moment when the whole church is called up into heaven (1Thessalonians 4:16-17). Why do they believe this? John says it was “after this” that he was invited up to heaven. “After this” means after the messages to the churches in Revelation 2-3 (yesterday's lesson). If the churches in these two chapters are representative of the church ages throughout the centuries (the description of each church does seem to lend itself to such a theory) then perhaps “after this” also indicates the end of the church age. The apostle was from the church age so perhaps the invitation was to John and all the true believers at the end of the church age. This theory does, however, pose another query: If the church is raptured with John, why do we not see in Revelation 4 or 5 the multitude of saints from the church age standing or kneeling and giving praise in the throne room? Theologians are not sure. Perhaps the church age believers are not visible to John. Perhaps they are the very large, but totally silent audience, in unspeakable awe and in fear upon their knees or their faces, as the spotlight of the theatre shines on the throne room. Perhaps, for whatever reason, they are not present but duly represented by the twenty-four elders so that there are no distractions from the center of attention, the throne.

The twenty-four “elders” (a possible reference to church pastors) might represent all the church age believers (the number 24 has been used previously in the Bible as a representative number, for there were 24 orders of the priesthood in the Law of Moses (1Chronicles 9; 15:15-26; 23). These elders in Revelation 4 have received crowns, indicating a judgment with rewards, and they hold golden bowls of incense, which we are told are the prayers of the saints. Later, we will see great multitudes of believers surrounding the throne (Revelation 7:9; 19:1).

Why was John invited up into heaven? In Revelation 1:19 Jesus told John to “Write…what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.” Jesus wanted John to see firsthand what was going to take place later from the viewpoint of heaven. He told John, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this” (Revelation 4:1, NIV).

What did John see? John says,

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 carnelian. A rainbow, resembling 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. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also before 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, (Revelation 4:2-6, NIV).

These four living creatures appear to be the same cherubim described in Ezekiel 1, with the exception that they have six wings instead of four. Their purpose seems to be to adorn the throne of God with praises for his holiness. They lead the twenty-four elders to worship the LORD with songs of praise.

In Revelation 5, the attention shifts from the throne to the Lamb of God and then to the scroll and all that is revealed therein. An angel cries out, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?" (5:2b, NIV). Only the Lamb of God who has been slain is worthy. This is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, NIV). This is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is now in the presence of God before the throne making intercession for us.

And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song:

“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:8-10, NIV).

Do you wish to be included in this invitation to heaven? God has purchased your salvation with the blood of his own Son. Will you accept that most precious gift? You can start the New Year right knowing that you have an inheritance reserved in heaven for you. (more...)

Lessons to Live By

  • Jesus is worthy of all praise for he has purchased our salvation through his blood.
  • Accept God’s invitation by accepting his Son to save you (more...)
  • Rejoice that you will partake in a glorious inheritance in heaven.
  • Invite someone to accept God’s invitation to be saved.

Today’s Bible Memory Verses

1Peter 1:3-5 (NASB)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

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A Look Ahead: Jesus opens the seven seals of a scroll in the throne room and they contain judgment. Why is he doing this? These are New Year Preparations. Find out what this means in our Next Lesson.

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