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Revelation: The Throne of God

June 5, 2011

Now it gets really interesting.

In chapter 1 of Revelation we saw a narrative of John’s encounter with Jesus while in exile on Patmos, circa AD 95. In chapters 2-3 we saw an assessment of the then-current condition of seven congregations. In those chapters, John simply relates what happened, when it happened, what he saw and what he heard. But in chapter 4 things change. Beginning in chapter 4, we are drawn into John’s vision of events that would transpire in the future — that is, after AD 95. And therefore beginning in chapter 4, we begin to see the story being related in vivid symbolic language. As illustrated in chapter 1, these symbols represent real things and were meant to be understood by those early Christians in those seven congregations.

Chapter 4 describes the scene in which the coming events would begin — a great throne room. Someone was sitting on the central throne — universally understood to be God Himself, as those seven churches surely would have understood. This throne is surrounded by twenty-four other thrones where twenty-four elders are seated, wearing gold crowns. Perhaps these represent the twelve patriarchs and the twelve apostles, though we cannot be sure. These elders worshipped the one sitting on the central throne.

The description of the throne room has many parallels to the Jewish temple, which should have been evident to the seven churches. Pulling in a few details from later in the book (Rev 6:9, 8:3, 11:19) we find a lampstand with seven lamps, an altar of incense, an altar for sacrifice, the ark of the covenant, and a stream — all linked to components of the tabernacle, and of the temple. As Hebrews says, when speaking of the Levitical priests,

Heb 8:5 They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”

So this was clearly an image of the throne room in heaven.

A short while later we learn of a multitude of angels (thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand) around the throne. And,

Rev 5:13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”

The prophetic revelation gave the churches a glimpse of the power and majesty of their awesome God. As the Christians in those seven congregations heard these words, they must have felt reassured that God was still on his throne, exalted and in complete control, far above Caesar in power and majesty. Caesar was NOT Lord.

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