Chapters 4-5: The Scene in Heaven
(Note: It would be helpful to read the chapters along with the post)
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So now that we have addressed the churches, we start getting into the meat of this vision. God invites John to heaven where he sees the throne of the Ruler of the Universe. While there, he sees lots of symbols. All of these symbols are used often in the Old Testament. That is how we know what they typically represent. So, what do they all mean? I’m just going to make quick notes about what I believe they represent.
Jasper: A clear rock crystal – God’s holiness and righteousness
Carnelian: A blood red stone – God’s judgments
Rainbow: A reminder that God keeps his promises
(A similar description of all of this is used in Ezekiel 1:28)
Next we see the 24 elders
What do they represent? – A priesthood
How do I know that? – Read 1 Chronicles 24-25
What are we seeing here? – 1 Peter 2:9 describes the Church as a royal priesthood. I think in this scene in heaven we are seeing the Church. Their white robes are what were promised to the church in chapter 3. Their crowns are what were promised to the church in chapter 2. Their thrones are what were promised to the church in Matthew 19. This is the Church
Thunder and Lightning – represents God’s wrath and judgment
The Sea – Represents separation.
What do they represent? – Most likely all of nature
How do I know that? – There are 4 of them. The number four represents the created world. 4 elements, 4 seasons, 4 directions, etc…
Why do they have so many eyes? – They miss nothing. They proclaim God’s holiness, his unlimited might and power. ALL of creation cries out in praise to God.
So here is the real question. What is the point of all of this? What are we setting the stage for? What is the message?
The message: You think Rome is powerful? Just look at how much more mighty God is!
“You are worthy our Lord and God” was a phrase used to worship the emperor. Here we see the Church using this phrase to worship the true God.
OPENING THE SEALS
The Number Seven – This is a very important number in this book. Throughout the Bible, the number 7 represents being perfect and complete. The seven seals on the scroll show that is was perfectly and completely sealed. No one was worthy to open it and John wept.
Why would John start crying? – Because it looked like there would be no help for the church since no one could open the seal. But wait!!!
The lamb is obviously Jesus. Why does the lamb have seven horns? Well you know what the number 7 means and horns depict power (Deuteronomy 33:17, 1 Samuel 2:10). So put two and two together. You got it! This shows that Jesus has complete and perfect power. Horns also represent kings (as we will see later in this book) so we also see that Jesus is the true and perfect king.
Here, the angels and every living creature worship Jesus. He has the power to open the scroll! He has the power to defeat Rome. That’s what we see in this scene, the power and worthiness of Jesus. And most of all, he is worthy to receive worship from every creature.
Next Week: Things are about to get hardcore! Part 4: The Seals