Revelation 4, There Is A God In Heaven

Revelation 4:1-11, After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven.  And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”
Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.  And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne in appearance like an emerald.  Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads.  And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices.  Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal.  And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back.  The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle.  The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within.  And they do not rest day or night, saying:

“Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!”

Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

“You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.” (NKJV)

John has given us a view of seven churches of his time.  Perhaps, perhaps not, they also foreshadow the history of the church in general.  Regardless, in the ebb and flow of church or national history, the rise and fall of cities, nations, kingdoms, or empires, he now points us to one throne that is eternal.  We look back on far more history than Daniel did, and see the rise and fall of many nations, kingdoms and empires yet future to his time, yet he, too, saw the rise and fall of nations under Nebuchadnezzar, and he points out the one central fact of existence.  In the words of Daniel 2:28, “There is a God in heaven.”  And, further, Daniel 5:26, “His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed.”

As we get into the chapter, note what the “voice” said to John, “I will show you things which must take place after this,” v. 1.  “Things,” not “principles,” not “processes.”  Not even just “generalities.”  Things.  Events.  True, there is a lot of discussion about this, but it’s my view that Revelation is the disclosure of history before it happens.  Actual, verifiable history.  Events future to our time which people will be able to point to in the book and say, “See.  This is what is happening.”  We’ll get into this later, Lord willing.

The first thing John saw was a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne, v. 2.

This is where every worldview, every way of thinking about life, without exception, begins.  What do you think of this One who sits on the throne?  Even those who flatly reject Him, or don’t know of Him at all, or worship other gods, live their lives in view of an answer to this question, though they may never actually come into contact with the question.

There are several such incidents in Scripture, beginning with Genesis where Adam and Eve enjoy fellowship with God in the cool of the day, though this soon came to an end when they concluded they could decide for themselves what was “good” and what was “evil”.  In Exodus 24:9,10, after the giving of the Law and Israel’s agreeing to keep it, though they had no idea what they were getting into, we read that Moses, Aaron and his two sons, Nadab and Abihu, along with seventy elders of the people, climbed Mt. Sinai and they saw the God of Israel.  This, too, never happened again because Israel very quickly broke her promise.

There are other such incidents, but perhaps my favorite is found in Ezekiel 1:25-30, where Ezekiel describes his vision of the likeness of a throne and goes on to describe a little of what he saw, ending with this:  like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud in a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it.  This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.

“Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud in a rainy day.”

Have you ever seen a rainbow?

Really seen one?

I used to drive for a living and one of my vehicles was a well-used 1982 Dodge van.  One day, it rained.  As the storm passed and the sun began to break through the clouds, there was a rainbow.  Not like the ones you see on the horizon, this one looked like it came out the hood of that old beater.  It was right there, two feet in front of me.  I can’t even begin to describe it.  It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

That’s how Ezekiel saw the glory of God.

That’s how John saw the glory of God, with a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.  This is different from the 7-color rainbows we see.  It had just one color, a glorious color “like an emerald.”

As I look out the window, I see the drabness of winter, with just a leaf or two here and there clinging to a branch, defying the pull of gravity.  Soon, though, we’ll begin to see green, just a tinge at first, but it tells us that spring is coming, that life will triumph.

Perhaps John is telling us that here he is seeing life at its most triumphant, in the presence and glory of God.

But he sees something else, as well.  Leaving aside much of the description of what John saw, and the description of the “living creatures,” John tells us of “twenty-four elders” who sit on thrones around the central throne.

Who are these “elders”?  There’s a lot of discussion about this.  My own view is that they represent the redeemed of Israel and the church.  I believe this is borne out by the description of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21, which has twelve gates, named after the tribes of Israel, and twelve foundations, named after the twelve apostles.  This tells me that, no matter how they may be united in the future, Israel and the church will never lose their distinct and separate identities.

What are these elders doing?  Vs, 10, 11 tell us:

…the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,  

“You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.”

This is probably as good a place to end this year as chapter 5 is to start the new year.  It takes us back to the beginning and tells us that we’re not here just as the result of some mindless, random, meaningless cosmic explosion.  Strange, isn’t it, that “science” is willing to believe that that’s how it all started, in spite of the fact that no one has ever been able to create anything by blowing nothing up and making something out of it.  They do tell us that there was this tiny amount of matter, and that’s what blew up, but they never really deal with where that came from.  They never really deal with “origins.”   It seems to me that it takes a great deal more “faith,” though of a different kind, to believe as they do than it does to believe –

In the beginning God created…. 

So, as we ring out the old year in a few days and bring in the new, let this be the confidence in which we rest, the hope that we cling to.  Regardless of what the new year brings, let this be our firm foundation:

There is a God in heaven.

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1%

With this 1%, I’m not writing about the supposed 1% who have all the wealth, as those who are trying to incite class envy and warfare allege, but in the “difference” in the DNA of humans and chimpanzees.  Just in passing, thinking about “wealth” and way off the mark, earlier today I read an article which pointed out, in the current agitation to increase the minimum wage, that the minimum wage was first imposed in 1938.  Guess how much it was….

 

 

25 cents.

 

 

An hour.

 

 

But I digress.  As I wrote, “way off the mark.”

I’ve been watching an interesting series on Netflix which attempts to explain the inexplicable mysteries of the universe.  The narrator, Dr. Neil deGrass Tyson, does an excellent job of explaining science in a way that people like me who don’t have that kind of background can understand it.

According to Dr. Tyson, chimpanzees have 99% of the same DNA that humans have. I’ve heard other figures, but they are all in the high 90s.  Young chimps are able to figure out simple things, like stacking boxes to get to, say, a banana.  Perhaps they can be taught very simple sign language.  But they stop “developing,” if you will, and never advance beyond a very elementary point.  Dr. Tyson didn’t dwell on this, but wondered if there were aliens out there who were 1% smarter than we are and if they thought no more of us than we do of chimpanzees.  Just in passing, again, bananas are said to share 50% of the same DNA as humans.

What I wonder is, if chimps and humans are so close in their “programming,” which is basically what DNA is, why is there such a gulf between them?  If they’re only 1% dumber than we are, why isn’t that really evident?  There’s more to it than just the fact that chimps never learn anything more than very, very basic things – at least from our perspective.  They do very well as chimps.

The truth is, there is a vast difference between us and them, which begs the question, “Why?”

The answer is found in Scripture.  Now, Dr. deGrass is an evolutionist and casually dismisses the fact that early scientists like Newton believed in God, so he wouldn’t agree with this post.  He would also probably dismiss Genesis as any kind of a reliable account of origins.  It was interesting, though, that he does use the term “genesis” is referring to those origins.

Among other things, the early chapters of Genesis describe the creation of animate life, including mankind.  Genesis 1:21 and 25 record the creation of aquatic life, flying creatures and animals.  When Genesis gets to the creation of man, however, it says something quite different.  In the creation of all other life, there is nothing said about what God planned to do with it.  In the case of man, however, He said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;…,” Genesis 1:26.

Now this doesn’t mean, as some teach, that we’re “little gods.”  There’s no “divine spark” just waiting to fanned into a blaze by the right kind of education or environment or economic status.

What it means is that we’re not just advanced animals.  There is something about humans that isn’t true of animals.  This something is creativity, ingenuity, even spirituality.  So far as we can tell, no animal conceives of a “higher power.”  No animal has ever started a civilization or invented some new wonder of industry or technology.  Of course, they don’t destroy each other in the same wholesale way as humans do, either, but that’s another post.

There’s more to mankind that just the material.  We’re more than animated bodies.  We think and hope and dream and plan.  That “1%” involves so much more than just genetic differences.  It involves that which, no matter how corrupted and ruined by the Fall of Adam and Eve it has become and how far we try to get away from Him, that which God meant when He said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”

One day, through the Lord Jesus Christ, that purpose will come to complete and final fruition.

“Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”