Friday, July 28, 2023

Our New Reality Awaits

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "Our New Reality Awaits"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In the Gospel that bears his name, John identified himself as “the Apostle whom Jesus loved” at least four times (John 19:26; 20:2; 21:7; 21:20). And as of last week’s first three verses in Chapter 4, this same beloved apostle stood in the throne room of God. His eyes beheld His Throne of Glory shining brightly as jewels, surrounded by a rainbow, like emeralds, and then John notices the real beauty that is emanating from the One who sat on the Throne: Jesus who loves him, now in His natural state.

Jesus Himself is more beautiful than the Throne, shining as clear Jasper and ruby stones in the brightness of Himself. Later in Revelation, we will read that the sun, moon, and stars will be gone, and Jesus provides all the light we will need and more! The physical state will be gone at that time, and all is lit in His heavenly presence.

This is the level of love that Jesus wants John to write about while there still exists a dark physical realm, a love so deep that it takes one’s breath away, and provides us with hope. John then notices other things around the Throne Room and begins more descriptions of phenomenal things. I cannot imagine what must have been going through John’s mind at this point. (Jesus left all this temporarily; the Word of God put on human flesh for 33 years, so He could save us!)

Twenty-four Elders were seated around the Throne. The King James Version says the elders are on seats, but notations to the original language indicate that those seats were thrones too. Lightnings, thundering, and voices also emanated from Christ’s Throne. Lighted Golden Lampstands, which are the Seven Spirits of God… If it were me, my eyes would be popping out of my head by this time!

But all of these things are symbolic of things we have read of in the Old Testament, as Jesus fulfills even these things for us in His Word. We will read of the Four Beasts full of eyes too! All these things are real in Heaven, so this is one of the most exciting prophetic chapters in the Bible! This is the reality that Jesus exists in; and it awaits us as Believers and followers of Christ.
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” - 1 John 3:2

Sunday Morning Audio Message:
Revelation 4:4-8 (part 2) - "Our New Reality Awaits"


Our scripture reading this morning is from 1 Corinthians, chapter 13:8-13.  In verse 12, Paul explains that in our physical state, reality is that we see through a glass darkly. In other words, we see shadows, images that are not clear. The physical properties of earth do not exist in heaven. God dwells in a reality that is not ours on this earth.  This earthly experience of God’s divine love gives us a taste of His perfect grace and glory. We participate to a limited degree in the full perfection we will one day know and enjoy when we stand in God’s presence in eternity. We will see clearly when we see Him face to face.

In 2 Corinthians 12:2, Paul speaks of a third heaven, where Paul was caught up. This is the home of God, or where He dwells. While scripture is clear that there is no place that can contain God (1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 6:18, Isaiah 66:1 and many others), heaven, as it were, is His home.

We get a glimpse and some understanding of the third heaven from scripture. Ezekiel chapter 1 describes God's throne in heaven. Ezekiel describes what he saw when God gave him a look at heaven.

In Revelation 4, the apostle John had been given the wonderful privilege of visiting heaven.  In verse 1, John had been to be shown the things which must be here after.  Remember back in chapter 1 verse 19, John was instructed by Jesus to write the things that he had seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter. This is the record of what John saw and heard when he was taken to heaven. 

Last week, in part one of chapter 4, we covered the first three verses.  The apostle saw the throne room in heaven, the presence of God and the Lamb.  Chapters four and five set the scene for the judgment which begins to unfold in chapter 6.

Again, John wrote, "behold, a throne was set in heaven," describing the dwelling place of God. The throne is a symbol of sovereign rule, and supreme authority, and it is set, permanently.  His eyes are then fixed on the glorious One seated upon the throne, not described by human features, but represented by a likeness - His surpassing brightness, symbolizing the perfect excellence of His Divine nature, and of His justice. The rainbow is a symbol of mercy and grace. John describes Him as like a jasper, crystal clear, refracting all the colors of spectrum and brilliance.  And Sardius, a fiery bright ruby stone, the Lamb that was slain, without blemish.  There was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.  From the time of Noah, the rainbow became a sign of God's faithfulness to His Word. 

This week John begins with a description of the twenty-four thrones around the throne, and seated in them were twenty-four elders, representing, probably, the whole church of God.  The elders' joint rule with Christ, their white garments, and their gold crowns all seem to indicate that these 24 people represent the redeemed (vv. 9-11; 5:5-14; 7:11-17; 11-16-18; 14:3; 19:4).  We don't know who these 24 elders are, there are many differing opinions, but these elders are best understood as being representatives of the church. 

Their sitting denotes a place of honor and rest. They are seated around the throne, in the presence of God, seeing Him face to face. They are clothed in white raiment, which is the imputed righteousness of the saints and their holiness through Christ: and they had on their heads, crowns of gold, signifying the glory they have with Him.

The lightnings and thunderings, and voices (vs. 5) are not the fury of nature, but the firestorm of righteous fury about to come from an awesome, powerful God upon a sinful world (8:5; 11:19; 16:18).

There are seven lamps of fire burning before the throne which represent the seven Spirits of God described in Isaiah 11:2. The prophecy is that the Messiah would be empowered not by seven individual spirits but by the One Spirit, described seven ways:
  1. The Spirit of the LORD
  2. The Spirit of wisdom
  3. The Spirit of understanding
  4. The Spirit of counsel
  5. The Spirit of power
  6. The Spirit of knowledge
  7. The Spirit of the fear of the Lord
John describes seeing a sea of glass before the throne, it was like crystal.  the sea here, is metaphorical.  How do we know, verse 21:1 tells us that there is no sea in heaven.  What John saw was crystal glass, like a sea, around the base of the throne refracting through every imaginable prism that could possibly contain the light of God's glory.  Jesus, the Light of the world.

Next, he describes four living creatures around the throne, full of eyes, front and back.  Although no omniscient, an attribute reserved for God alone, these four living creatures, or beings, angels, have a comprehensive knowledge and perception.  Nothing escapes their scrutiny.

The four living creatures (literally “beings”) are a special, exalted order of angelic being or cherubim. This is clear by their close proximity to the throne of God. Ezekiel 1:12–20 suggests that they are in constant motion around the throne.  One resembles a lion, another a calf, and another with the face of a man, and lastly one like an eagle. 

Revelation 5:6–14 describes the duties or purposes of the four living creatures. They fall down and worship the Lamb, Jesus Christ, offering the same reverence to Him that they did to the Father (Revelation 4:6–9), proof positive of the deity of Jesus Christ. Along with the twenty-four elders, they have “harps and golden vials full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 5:8).

The purpose of the four living creatures also has to do with declaring the holiness of God and leading in worship and adoration of God, and they are involved in some way with God’s justice, for when He opens the first four seals and sends out the four horsemen to destroy, their powerful voices, like thunder, command “come” (Revelation 6:1–8). The horsemen respond to the summons of the four powerful creatures, indicating the power the creatures possess. That power is seen again in Revelation 15:7 when one of the four unleashes the last seven plagues of God’s wrath on mankind.

The four living creatures are very similar, if not the same, beings as those in Ezekiel chapters 1 and 10 and Isaiah 6:1–3. They are four in number, full of eyes, have faces like the beings in Ezekiel 1:10, have six wings (Isaiah 6:2), and offer worship as the beings in Isaiah 6:3, saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord.” They may not be the exact same beings, but they definitely are comparable and probably of the same order.

What do these faces on these cherubim mean? Ezekiel tells us they all had all the faces, but the way they were turned when John saw them, he saw the one with one face, the other with another and another and another. What does it mean? What do they represent? Well, some have suggested that the lion speaks of untamed creatures; the calf or the bull, of domestic creatures; the man, of the greatest of all creatures; the eagle representing all the flying creatures; and that the angels are seen in their relation to the created world, that they have some duty and responsibility on behalf of God to tend to the created world.

It is also possible that the lion symbolizes strength and power, the calf symbolizes humble service, the man symbolizes reason, and the eagle symbolizes speed. It may well be, then, that what you have here are cherubim that are represented as being able to see and be aware of vast amounts of information and action. And that these angels are powerful, dutiful, serving, rational, swift beings in discharging their duty. I like to think that they are symbolic in that regard. Again, the lion symbolizing strength and power; the calf, service rendered; the man, reason; and the eagle, speed. They are swift, they are rational, they are service-oriented, and they are powerful.

We could say, they represent all of God's created order, not only could they represent certain characteristics and attributes of the angels themselves, but it is also reasonable to say that they may even have represented God’s people because in the past, God collected His people under the banner of these four. Perhaps these angels, then, have some special role in the life of Israel.

Pastor Bob will even share how these creatures bear the same attributes of our Lord.

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