WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
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WORSHIP IN HEAVEN
(The vision of the throne room)
The second coming of CHRIST JESUS, and those years immediately following, are more vividly detailed in the book of Revelation than in the book of Daniel. The prophet Daniel writes of that period from the days of King Cyrus of Persia to the time of the first advent of CHRIST. Daniel writes only briefly of the great Tribulation period and CHRIST JESUS’ Millennial Kingdom rule here on earth.
The book of Revelation was written by the Apostle John, after he received a revealing vision from CHRIST, while he was still exiled and imprisoned on the Greek island of Patmos, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian circa A.D. 95-96. After a few challenges from the early Church leaders and thinkers, the book of Revelation was widely accepted as being divinely inspired. And by the end of the third century, the book of Revelation was being widely quoted as Scripture.
The purpose of the book of Revelation is to reveal those events which will take place before, during, and after the second coming of CHRIST JESUS. Revelation chapter 4 has come to be known as “The Vision of Heaven’s Throne Room” by most scholars. However, there are three basic interpretations of this particular chapter, and that is also true about most of this fascinating eschatological account by the Apostle John.
The way a person views the book of Revelation, at least in regards the “second coming”, actually determines what group of bible enthusiasts you or I might fall into. Most people are “premilennialists” in their thinking, because they believe that these events in the book of Revelation will occur shortly “before” the second coming of CHRIST. They believe that John’s call in verse 1 to “come up here” is a representation of “The Rapture” of GOD’s people into the air before the great Tribulation period begins.
“Amillennialists” believe the events in the book of Revelation are things that are occurring right now and are “a call to worship” or get things right with GOD before it is too late. They see the 24 elders in this chapter as representing the Old Testament “Twelve tribes of Israel” and “The twelve apostles” of the New Testament.
The third group of scholars, the “postmillennialists”, believes that most of the events in the book of Revelation will occur, after the second coming of Christ. It is by far the least popular of all scholarly interpreters of the bible. However, no matter what group you may fall in, all agree that chapter 4 focuses on “praising and worshiping the Almighty GOD in Heaven.
While many interpretations have been provided by various bible scholars, the only views that provide a cogent understanding are those which consider the book of Revelation, beginning here in chapter 4, as referring to eschatological (future) events. Any other train of thought gets lost in a mishmash of conflicting opinions.
In the spectacular vision that is seen by the Apostle John, while he was “in the SPIRIT”, he tells us that, after being called up by a voice from Heaven’s Door, he is shown a vision of GOD HIMSELF, in all HIS brilliance, sitting on HIS throne, and being surrounded by 24 elders who are seated on 24 thrones of their own. All of the elders where clothed in white garments and wore gold crowns on their heads. And from the throne of GOD came flashes of lightning, and the rumble of thunder.
In front of GOD’s throne were seven lampstands with flames burning in them. These lampstands represent the seven SPIRITS of GOD, and symbolize the perfection of the HOLY SPIRIT. Also in front of the throne was a shiny sea of glass sparkling like crystal.
In the center, and around the throne, were four living beings, the body of each was covered with eyes front and back. These four living beings are reminiscent of the ones seen by the prophet Ezekiel (see Ezekiel 1:5-10), and most likely represent or symbolize various aspects of divine majesty.
The first of these four living beings had the shape of a “lion” and could perhaps symbolize “nobility”. The ox figure probably represents “strength”, or even “faithfulness”. The third creature, the “human face”, could symbolize “wisdom”, while the fourth creature, the “eagle” probably symbolizes, or represents “control”.
There is, however, another popular view among scholars concerning the four living beings here in this chapter of Revelations. Some believe they represent JESUS CHRIST in the four gospels. In Matthew’s Gospel, perhaps “the lion” symbolizes JESUS as “the lion of the tribe of Judah”; in Mark’s Gospel, “the Ox” symbolizes JESUS as “the servant of GOD”; in Luke’s Gospel, JESUS is portrayed as “the 100% human being” who, through the way HE lived HIS life here on earth, and overcame it, qualified HIMSELF to be a “perfect sacrifice” for the sins of all mankind; and finally, in the Gospel of John, JESUS is symbolized by “the eagle” as the only divine begotten SON of GOD, or, “Monogenus Theos” in the Greek, which means “The only begotten GOD”, the only man that was born of woman, and then became GOD.
In the final analysis, we can certainly all agree that the worship of all who were present was bestowed by them upon the only wise, sovereign GOD, the CREATOR of the whole universe. It is only through GOD’s Will and purpose that all things exist, and only HE can make “something” “from nothing”.
The great truth is that, in every sense, everything in the world belongs to, and was made by, GOD. And everyone here in this divine glimpse of the future by the Apostle John, submitted themselves totally unto the LORD Almighty. Isn’t that the way it all began? And now we see here in Revelation 4, that, this is the way, it will all end. And even now, there can be no Christianity, unless there be total submission to GOD, in life, in worship, and, in prayer.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander