Revelation Chapter 4
Rev 4:1 After these things I saw, and behold, a door opened in heaven, and the first voice that I heard, a voice as of a trumpet speaking with me, one saying, Come up hither, and I will show thee the things which must come to pass hereafter.
The key to understanding Revelation is found in chapter 1. I will rewrite what I wrote as notes to verse 19 of the 1st chapter.
Rev 1:19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;
Here is the key to understanding the book of Revelation. We separate it into three sections. That which was seen in the 1st chapter, that which is present (the present church age) or time of the Gentiles is chapter 2 and 3, and that which is to come, what John sees in his vision of heaven.
Verse one says, "After these things I saw". The Things John saw were the visions of Christ and the candlesticks in chapter one. The second section is the churches that were present in Johnís day until now. We are still in the church age where the churches are upon the earth. In chapter four we see the beginning of the things that occur after the church age ends. The true church is probably gone at this point because John sees an open door into heaven and he is invited to come up upon hearing the voice that is similar to the sound of a trumpet.
The reason I believe that the true church is taken up at this point is for various reasons one being the verse in Revelation 3:10 when the Lord was addressing the Philadelphian church:
Rev 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
Jesus also gave a hint to the rapture here:
Luke 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
Paul hints of it here:
1Thessalonians 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
1Th 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
1Th 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Now it could be that this takes place at the visible second coming when Jesus returns to set up His kingdom but if that was so, we would be on the earth when the wrath of God was poured out. I know we are not promised any escape from persecution or tribulation done by man, but the faithful in Christ Jesus is to escape the wrath of God that is poured out on the earth.
Paul seems also to hint that the church has to be removed before the anti-christ is revealed. As long as a true believing church is present on the earth, evil would be held back.
2Thessalonians 2:7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
The World English bible states it this way:
2Th 2:7 For the mystery of lawlessness already works. Only there is one who restrains now, until he is taken out of the way.
There are three hinderers of evil
1. The Holy Spirit
2. The true church
We will probably have some kind of government during the tribulation, The Holy Spirit does not leave or else no one could be born again or saved during that time and we know people do come to Christ at least the Jews do, for that is the purpose of the tribulation. The only other thing that hinders is the true church or body of believers in Jesus that are found watching and faithful when He comes. It looks as if the true church is removed. It is possible also that all the church will be in apostasy at that time and there is no one is found worthy to escape "all these things" but that seems less likely. The Laodicean church is the last church mentioned and there is a hint to the church being in apostasy but God always has a remnant somewhere that stays faithful to Him. On other hand during the tribulation He sends an angel to preach the gospel so perhaps whoever is left is in a state of apostasy.
I notice the use of the pronoun, he. We do not call governments by the word, he. We do call the Holy Spirit a He but also the church is the body of Christ so that could be used as a He. I know many believe the church is the bride of Christ but that is another discussion. It is also called the body of Christ. We are His body and partakers of His holiness. I heard someone preach the other day that it is the body of Christ on earth and becomes the bride of Christ in the New Jerusalem. I will not discuss that part further because I haven't given it much thought.
I will not in any way stoop to accusing someone that believes in the rapture to be those who want to escape persecution and have the so-called easy way out. I was raised believing in the rapture among good holiness people who would have been willing to die for their faith. Believing in the rapture was not motivated by trying to have it easy. On other hand I will not accuse those who believe that the church goes through the tribulation to be false brethren. Jesus said we do not know the day or the hour so this is not the time of false accusations but discussion should always be encouraged. This is interesting to study about. The fear of disagreements should not discourage us from studying bible prophecy. Some hold to the rapture being in the middle of the tribulation and also just before God's wrath is poured out.
Never should we get angry with those that have differences in opinions of when the rapture occurs and never should we accuse any person of apostasy because they believe different than the mainstream believers. Since we do not know the day or the hour, false accusations are never necessary. Instead we should see this as a fascinating study as we consider the different views. It is really exciting, not a reason for controversy. There is no reason to get mean and harsh over this topic.
One might say, doesn't the pre-trib rapture give people false hope and when it doesn't happen, their faith will fail? My thoughts on that would be that if they are going to cast away their faith just because they go through the time of the tribulation and the rise of the anti-christ, those type of people most probably wouldn't make the rapture anyway. Jesus said to pray that one is worthy to escape all the things He is describing at the time He made that statement. So not all will be worthy to escape the time of trouble spoken of in Matthew 24. What is takes to make the rapture is open to more discussion but we are to be believers in Jesus Christ, be looking for Him and be those that love His appearing. Also our sins washed in the blood of Christ. Sin can't enter Heaven. That is why we must be careful not to be warring and fighting over things and allow bitterness to be among us or we just might be found not worthy to escape all these things.
Revelation chapter 5 is also another proof that those we see before the throne here are those that have been redeemed.
Rev 5:8 And
when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty
elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps,
and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
The last hint I will mention of a previous rapture before the Second Coming is this one.
1Thessalonians 3:12 And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:
1Th 3:13 To the end he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
The saints of God are with Him when He returns. Saints are not those the Catholic Church made to be saints but all who believe in Jesus to the point of giving their lives to Him. The saints are those that keep the commandments of God as found in Rev 14:12.
According to Jude, Enoch prophesied of this way back before the law of Moses was even given. It would appear then that the true church will return with Christ when He returns to set up His kingdom upon the earth.
Jude 1:14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,
Rev 4:2 Straightway I was in the Spirit: and behold, there was a throne set in heaven, and one sitting upon the throne;
I will assume now that at this point John sees what is going to happen at the beginning of the tribulation period or time of Jacob's trouble a few years before Jesus comes to set up His literal earthly kingdom.
Rev 4:3 and he that sat was to look upon like a jasper stone and a sardius: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, like an emerald to look upon.
John saw God upon His throne. God is the one who is in control and about to send forth judgment upon the earth for their rejection of the Holy Son of God who died and suffered to save mankind from a lost condition. The judgment also is upon them because they not only rejected His Son but persecuted and put to death those that tried to tell them about the salvation Jesus paid the price to give unto us. The day of mercy and grace is about to close. The day of judgment and wrath is about to begin.
The Jasper stone is a pure clear transparent white color, the sardine stone is red and the emerald is green. It must have been a beautiful scene. Remember the rainbow is a symbol of Godís covenant with the human race that He gave in the days of Noah promising not to destroy the world with a flood again.
Rev 4:4 And round about the throne were four and twenty thrones: and upon the thrones I saw four and twenty elders sitting, arrayed in white garments; and on their heads crowns of gold.
The 24 elders are I believe 12 Old Testament saints and the 12 apostles or New Testament saints. We can guess that Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Israel (Jacob) or the leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel. Another thought that the elders represent the church who trusted in Christ since the word elders are connected with the church and not Israel. This would indicate a previous rapture of these believers before this event occurs. In order for the church elders or even the Old Testament saints to be seen as the 24 elders they would have had to be raptured and seated at the thrones at this point. White garments represent the righteousness of Christ. We are to receive crowns and rewards when we go to be with Christ at the rapture so we see these having been crowned and seated on thrones representing the saints that are raptured at that time. Angel are not given crowns neither do they sit on thrones.
Rev 4:5 And out of the throne proceed lightnings and voices and thunders. And there was seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God;
The seven spirits of God is mentioned in chapter one also indicating the number of completion. It is really all one spirit. A good explanation is to remember the Jewish menorah that is one candelabra but with seven burning lamps.
Rev 4:6 and before the throne, as it were a sea of glass like a crystal; and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, four living creatures full of eyes before and behind.
Rev 4:7 And the first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face as of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle.
We see here symbols of Godís creation in this creature. Lion a wild beast, the calf is a gentle beast, the eagle is the fowls of the air and then we have the human figure. Upon reading the creation story, God created the wild beast, the beasts of the field, the fouls of the air and then man.
The book of Ezekiel describes these creatures also only it uses ox instead of the word, calf.
Rev 4:8 and the four living creatures, having each one of them six wings, are full of eyes round about and within: and 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.
God is almighty, who always existed, who exists now and will exist for eternity. Notice the word holy is expressed in threes. Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Another hint of the triune God. These creatures seem to have as their main purpose to proclaim the awesome holiness of God.
Rev 4:9 And when the living creatures shall give glory and honor and thanks to him that sitteth on the throne, to him that liveth for ever and ever,
Rev 4:10 the four and twenty elders shall fall down before him that sitteth on the throne, and shall worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and shall cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
Rev 4:11 Worthy art thou, our Lord and our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power: for thou didst create all things, and because of thy will they were, and were created.
It was the will of God to create all things. We are His creation and it was His will to create us. It is His will that all of His creation be saved and not perish. If we perish it is by our own choice.
2Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
This is the reason why the Lord delays His coming but surely that day draws closer and the time is at hand.
2Timothy 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
A good sign of readiness is to love His appearing.
2Timothy 4:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
Hebrews 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
Here we see yet another hint of a rapture. Christ is coming for those that are looking for him.
In this vision of heaven we see a lot of worship, praise and exaltation of Godís holiness. Jesus Christ is also worshipped and praised as one who is worthy of our praise. If we are not comfortable worshipping God now, we are not going to be comfortable in heaven. God is a holy God and is to be worshipped in spirit and in truth. We must not take it lightly and be irreverent in our worship.
I remember times when services would become very quiet just before a message in tongues was given. No one would move or make any noise until the will of God was completed. We do not always understand how holy and awesome God really is. We need to recognize this and invite His presence into our midst. If we wonder sometimes why God seems not to move in our services, if He did come, what would He find? Would we be paying attention? Would we be reverent?
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