August 16, 2015 | David Crosby
Passage: Revelation 4:1-11
Scripture Text: Revelation 4:1-11
1 After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. 3 And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne.4 Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads.5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. 6 Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. 8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
Intro: Iguasu Falls in Paraguay. The Pilot said, Come up here, and I went into the cockpit.
Chapters 4 and 5 say “believe in God” and “believe also in me” (John 14:1). First, before the introduction of the Lion of the tribe of Judah, we are called to observe the scene in the throne room in heaven. Chapter 4 does not mention Jesus. It does mention Creation, the will of God, and existence within his purpose.
Hear the Invitation:
“Come up here”
You see the pipes of the pipe organ behind and above me. You notice that some of those pipes are pointing right at you. They do not stand up. They are mounted horizontally. Those are called trumpets. The trumpet itself is directional. It aims its blast forward.
- It is an invitation to see the world and your life from a different point of view, a more accurate perspective.
- It comes from the Son of Man, Jesus the Christ, who spoke to John as recorded in the first chapter. Jesus has the voice “like a trumpet” (Rev. 4:1).
- The Lord of the Church is inviting his Beloved Apostle to come up to a new vantage point.
- John is stuck on a rock in the sea. His “down here” is pretty bleak and confining.
- All of us have problems with “down here.”
- The seven churches had problems with current situations, current membership, and cultural challenges.
- We are at odds with the culture in which we are imbedded. This is typically true for the church of Jesus Christ in all generations and all places.
- Any talk about a “Christian culture” is relative and uses the word “Christian” in a more generic way as in “Christian values” rather than talking about actual followers of Christ.
- A great contrast between “Up here” with “down here”
“Living below, in this old sinful world, hardly a comfort can afford. Striving alone to face temptations sore. Where could I go but to the Lord.”
Observe the Future from the Throne Room:
“Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this” (Rev. 4:1).
Some of you are sitting at the feet of false prophets. They have mistakenly predicted future events and even the end of the world many times. You have read their books and seen their movies. Strangely, even though their predictions have been proven false, you continue to sit at their feet as if they were true prophets. You are mesmerized by talk about the end of the world.
I fellow preacher uttered what I judged to be a foolish and ridiculous speculation about the end of the world. I asked him if he was serious. He said he was. Then I asked him if he was adjusting his financial and professional life to this prediction. He had to think about that. Later he came to me and said that he was not doing any adjustment to his life. The prediction of the end of the world was just an enjoyable past time for him even though it upsets the people he shepherds.
- The future of the world and Your personal future
- Sit down at the foot of this throne in heaven when you read your newspaper. Sit down here when before you open your website. Always enter the throne room before you enter any other room. See this throne before you see any other space, any other furnishings in this world.
Undine wrote about the many coincidences in her life. Surveying her life from the throne room, she is convinced that God has been orchestrating things all along.
- This Throne represents the center of the universe.
- It reminds us of the words of Isaiah 6:1: “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple.”
- Isaiah was very concerned for his nation in the death of Good King Uzziah. He, too, was in the Spirit in the temple when he saw the Lord sitting on the throne.
- The throne is not empty, Isaiah. It is not empty now.
- You must see the future of the world and your own personal future from this vantage point—the throne of the universe with one sitting on it.
“There before me was a door standing open in heaven” (Rev. 4:1).
- Heaven is far away. A Sea of Glass surrounds the throne. The sea surrounded John on the Isle of Patmos. No one can approach the Creator God of his own free will. No one is equipped or capable to do so. He is separated from us by light years of holiness. That is what the thrice-repeated “Holy” intends to convey. He is alone in his holiness.
- The Creator God is Lord of this universe. He is unapproachable in his glory and splendor.
- He is undisturbed by happenings here on this third rock from the sun. He is not caught up in or dismayed by whatever goes on in the Roman Empire or the United Kingdom or these United States of America.
- These things may be very close to us. We feel them as almost our ultimate reality. But they are not truly ultimate reality to us because God is ultimate reality.
- Heaven is near. John sees an open door. You, too, can enter the Throne Room if you are “in the Spirit.” This term is used a number of times in the Book of Revelation. It is a fairly common term in the Bible. It is a way to live on this earth. The “Spirit” here is the Spirit of God who is mentioned in his seven-fold glory. If you are “in the Spirit” that means that you have come to know God through Jesus Christ, and he has given you His Spirit.
- Heaven is real. We will go there some day and find a place prepared for us, just as Jesus promised.
- We go there in the Spirit when we pray. We come before the throne of God in prayer.
- The Kingdom of God is past, present, and future. It is already and not yet.
- We participate in the Kingdom of God when we trust in Jesus as Savior. We come into the Kingdom. We see the Kingdom in the here and now when we trust in Christ.
- We will see the Kingdom of God in all its glory in the future when Christ receives us into his presence face to face.
R.G. Lee was pastor of this church before he went to become pastor of Bellevue in Memphis. He was an old man when he died with his wife by his side. He called her “Mother.” I have been told that on his deathbed, R.G. Lee said, “Mother, I see heaven, and I never did it justice in my preaching.”
- Human language fails to provide the vocabulary for heaven’s glory. We can only talk about precious stones and rainbows, things that are glorious realities here that point to something far beyond anything we have experienced or can imagine. That is heaven.
Worship Before the Throne:
The twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy…” (Rev. 4:10-11)
- Worship is the position of vulnerability. Falling down you cannot run away. You cannot fight. You are in a prone position. You are surrendering all to God.
- Worship is laying your crowns at his feet. You know that in yourself you can do nothing. God is the giver of all good gifts including all that faculties and resources you use to do whatever good you are able to do. God is the source of all goodness in this world. Giving our crowns to him expresses this truth.
- Worship is calling him “Worthy.” No one else on earth deserves the praises that we sing to him today. No one. He alone is worthy of our praise. He is worthy to receive all glory, honor and power.
- Worship acknowledges God as Creator of all things. He is the source of all blessings and the source of our being.
- Worship acknowledges the purpose of God in Creation and us as part of that purpose—to bring him the glory and honor that he alone deserves.
Conclusion: They ascribe to the Lord all power. What is that about?