Revelation 4 - Father on the throne
During this fast season we are exploring - through what we read in a chapter a day of the Bible - who God is and what He is like.
1. Pray and read - preferably together
2. Pray and share
John gives us a glimpse of the worship that is currently being given to God in the heavenly places. Outside time, and almost impossible for us to understand, these truths/realities are communicated in pictures and symbolic language.
It has been popular since the Middle Ages to think of heaven as a geographical location but the scriptures seem instead to focus on heaven as a spiritual dimension. We will find out exactly what heaven is after the resurrection and last judgment. So, until then, it is wise not to be too dogmatic about it!
What we do know with certainty is that Father God is on the throne and all the people and creatures depicted in this scene are worshipping with all their being.
Four is a number often associated in scripture with the world: the four winds, four points of the compass, four ‘corners of the earth’ and four rivers flowing from Eden to the entire earth. It is as though the whole of creation is praising God. We see examples of this in Psalms 8, 19 and 148.
The twenty four elders are usually interpreted as the twelve patriarchs of Israel and the twelve apostles of the Lamb in the New Testament. The patriarchs were the sons of Jacob/Israel and gave their names to the twelve tribes. The twelve apostles chosen by Jesus were the first apostles on whom the church was founded. There have been many other apostles since, in New Testament times and through to modern times, but these first twelve have a special significance as the first and the ones commissioned and trained while Jesus was on earth.
Twelve in scripture is therefore associated with the people of God. We see here a picture of all God’s Old Testament people (the ethnic children of Abraham through the line of Jacob/Israel up until the time of Jesus) and all the New Testament people (the spiritual children of Abraham who are included by faith, whatever their ethnic background) worshipping Him.
The four creatures - a picture of all creation - never cease to worship. Whenever they do, the people of God fall down in worship. They have crowns but they cast them down as though to say “Only you are worthy of honour!”
We do not know whether this is literally what individuals will do in heaven. We do not know what it is like to live outside time! But we know that those of us who learn to worship on earth in this life will worship for eternity in the new heaven and earth. He alone is worthy
3. Pray and act
When we see things from an eternal perspective, all we can do is worship Him in every part of our lives! We might not be able to focus on singing or saying words of praise and adoration while we focus on work, or listening well to someone, or some other activity. But we can have an attitude of consecration and worship at all times and in every place. Then, when we sing worship songs we worship in spirit and in truth because it comes from a worshipping heart.