In this chapter John saw the throne of God, with the Lord seated on it, surrounded by heavenly beings and twenty four elders worshipping Him. Verses 1-2 read,
“After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had 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 behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.”
There was a door standing open in Heaven. The door Jesus opened which none can shut (Revelation 3:7-8), the open summons to come into God’s presence through salvation. The open door is the unrestricted invitation to boldly approach the throne of God. Hebrews 4:14-16 reads,
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Even as Jesus revealed Himself to John in all His perfect glory, He still invited him to come, He still welcomed Him to remember His compassion. Since we fell away from God He has invited us into His presence. He called out to Adam and Eve in the garden to walk with Him (Genesis 3:8-9). He called Moses as Israel’s representative to ‘come up here’ after He had given him the covenant. Exodus 24:12-13 says,
“The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” 13 So Moses rose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God.”
Jesus called the disciples and us to follow Him (Matthew 4:19). When Jesus brings home the church, He will say ‘Come up here’ and we will come. (Revelation 11:12).
Verse 3 describes the One sitting on the throne, God in His complete perfection. The LORD God, The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.
“And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald.”
God glory is utterly beautiful and brilliantly awesome. God was beyond description and John could only use the most beautiful things he knew to describe His intense radiance. When Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel saw God, they could only describe His glory by saying, “under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness” (Exodus 24:10). John used three precious stones to describe God. Jasper was the most precious of stones, clear like crystal. (Revelation 21:11). What John called jasper, we call diamond. The diamond of God makes His light shine and reflect all around. The Diamond represents God the Father. The carnelian is defined by Webster’s as “A variety of chalcedony, of a clear, deep red, flesh red, or reddish white color. It is moderately hard, capable of a good polish, and often used for seals.” Other sources described the stone as layers of these three reds so that it was striped. The carnelian represents Jesus and His redemption. The emerald is the same stone Moses used to describe God in Exodus. It was often used for signets (royal authoritative seals) and its appearance of a rainbow infers the sealed promise of salvation. The emerald represents The Holy Spirit of God.
Verse 4-8 moves from the throne to who and what surrounds it.
“Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, 6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.”
And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. 8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!”
Although the identity of the twenty four elders is never blatantly explained in the Bible, it is clear to me who they are. (I must add that this is my personal revelation and interpretation and while some Biblical authorities agree, some do not.) They are seated on thrones next to God. We were seated with Him when we were saved (Ephesians 2:6). They are wearing golden crowns on their heads just as we are promised to be given (Revelation 2:11, 1 Peter 5:4). They are clothed in white garments, the garments of salvation (Revelation 3:5). Nowhere do angels sit on thrones with God, wear golden crowns or wear the garments described for us. I believe the twenty four elders are the faithful remnant of Israel and the Church, the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve tribes of the church together praising God day and night.
The seven spirits of God is the expression of The Holy Spirit in His complete and perfect manifestation as He was in Jesus and as He will be in us at our completion (Isaiah 11:1-2). Verses 9-11 describe the activity that will surround the Throne of God.
“And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.”
One day we will sing that praise to God and be with Him forever and ever. But eternal life does not begin when we die physically or when we go to Heaven. Eternal life began at the moment we answered The Father’s call, were saved by Jesus’ grace and sealed by The Holy Spirit. We can now begin living as the elders we are supposed to be. We can sing now. We can give Him glory and honor now. I encourage you to meditate on the greatness of God and on His worthiness to receive glory and honor and power. Meditate on the Creator and that you were created because He wanted you to be created, that all things created were by His will, and that the earth and everything in it belongs to Him (Psalm 24:1).