Study of Rev 4
Prelude to the Judgments.
Warning signs for the Tribulation unbelievers.
The Redeemer – Creator is Praised
The next phase of warning signs, God, in His grace, provides for mankind, is the warning to unbelievers during the Tribulation period found in the book of Revelation.
We note these warnings as the Seven Seals with Seven Trumpets, Seven Bowls followed by the Seven Dooms on Babylon.
To begin this study of warning signs for the unbeliever during the Tribulation, let us first view the chronology of historical events leading up to these judgments.
At the conclusion of the Church Age (Grace), the Church will be Raptured out and meet Christ in the clouds of the air. 1 Thes 4:16; John 14:2-4; 2 Thes 2:1-11
Then comes the 7-year Tribulation with its warning judgments, and then Christ fulfills the 2nd phase of His 2nd coming.
The Differences between the Rapture and Second Advent:
|1. Private, Acts 1:11.||Public, Rev 11:7; 19:11-16.|
|2. In the air, 1 Thes 4:17.||On earth, Zech 14:4.|
|3. Judgment of believer’s works, 2 Cor 5:10.||Baptism of fire, Mat 25:31-46.|
|4. Church goes to heaven, John 14:3.||Church returns with Christ, 1 Thes 3:13.|
|5. Holy Spirit is removed, 2 Thes 2:6.||Removal of Satan, Rev 20:1‑3.|
|6. Change in believer’s body, Phil 3:21.||Earth is changed, Zech 14:10; Rom 8:19-22.|
|7. Christ appears as the groom.||He appears as the messiah.|
|8. End of the Church Age.||End of the Jewish Age.|
|9. Israel under the fifth cycle of discipline.||Termination of the fifth cycle of discipline.|
|10. Believers taken from the earth, 1 Thes 4:16‑18.||Unbelievers taken from the earth, Mat 24:37‑43; 25:31-46.|
|11. A time of comfort, 1 Thes 4:18.||A time of terror, Rev 6:15‑17.|
Rev 4:1-11 begins the prophesized events of the Tribulation.
It’s no coincidence that the prophecy begins here, right at the conclusion of the messages to the seven churches. Since, the prophecy is given now, it provides us with a good indication that the Rapture occurs prior to the Tribulation.
Four reasons why the Rapture is prior to the Tribulation.
- The location of this event is right for the Rapture. John, a symbol of the Church age believer, is taken out of the world in this vision, just before the Tribulation. Similar to the promise of Rev 3:10. This was prophesized by Christ in Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27.
- The absence of any mention of the Church in the rest of Revelation indicates that it (the church) is not on the earth during the Tribulation. (There are 16 references in Rev 1-3, which speak about the church, and none in Chapters 6-18, which speak about the Tribulation.)
- The extensive use of Old Testament language and symbols in Chapters 4-16 is an indication of Israel, not the Church. (Mentioned are the Ark of Covenant, the altar, censers, cherubim, seals, trumpets, plagues, etc.)
- There is a lot of similarity between the events of Rev 4:1-2 and other scriptural teaching on the Rapture, such as 1 Thes 4:13-18.
Rev 4:1-2, “After these things I looked, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.’ 2Immediately I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne.”
As a result of the Rapture, only unbelievers will remain and begin the Tribulation. During the Tribulation, many will become saved and many will still reject the salvation message. Because of their continued rejection and in order to save as many as possible, God brings various judgments onto the earth and man, in order to wake them up from their dead state. Mat 24:4-31 – Tribulation w/ 2nd coming.
Rev 4:3, “And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance.”
iaspidi – ἰάσπιδι – (ee’-as-pis)
Jasper = Diamond = Speaking to the Glory of God.
sardiō – σαρδίῳ – (sar’-dee-os)
Sardius = A deep red stone, speaks of bloodshed and redemption.
These were the last and first stones respectfully in the breastplate worn by the High Priest. Ex 28:17-20
Each stone represented a son of Israel, the first Reuben = “Behold a son” and the last Benjamin = “Son of my right hand.”
These stones show us that Christ is sitting on His throne as the High Priest.
We are shown this picture now, because for the first time, He is able to exercise His High Priest status because all of His Priest’s, you and I, as Royal Priests, 1 Peter 2:9, are with him in entirety for the first time.
Rainbow like an emerald = This is a perfect circular rainbow and symbolizes the never-ending promises of God. 1 Tim 6:16; James 1:17 (unapproachable light)
Emeralds are Green and complement Red = vigor and prosperity = telling us of the eternal nature, strength, and providence of Christ.
Jasper = Diamond, 12th – Benjamin – Son of right hand
Sardius = Ruby, 1st – Rueben = Behold a Son
Emerald = Emerald, 3rd – Levi – Joined, attached
Clear = Glory
Red = Redemption
Green = Eternal Power
Ex 28:17; 39:10 (Breast Plate)
Ezek 28:13 (Satan’s covering before his fall)
Rev 21:19-20 (New Jerusalem)
“One on the throne” represents the One triune united God, where the power of Christ’s completed work is depicted.
Reve 4:4, “And around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothes in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads.”
“Twenty-four thrones and elders”:
24 Elders represent 12 men, who represent the 12 tribes of Israel, and the other 12 are the twelve apostles. Rev 21:10-20 – Ultimately representing all the redeemed from both Israel and the Church.
In 2 Sam 21:12-20 and 1 Chron 20:1-8 is the first mention of 24 in the Bible. It refers to a Giant, a man of great stature who was in opposition to Israel. Jonathan, David’s brother, defeated him.
The second mention is that of Ahijah who ruled Israel for 24 years before 911 BC. He was an evil ruler but his name means “Friend or Brother of Jehovah.” 1 Kings 15:33
And in John 15:15, we see that we are no longer called slaves but called Friends of God.
Then we see 24 mentioned 5 times in Revelation regarding the Thrones and Elders sitting on them.
Next, we have the word 24th which has interesting meaning in scripture.
First mentioned in 1 Chron 24:1-19 were David organized 24,000 Priests to oversee the work of the “House of the Lord” (1 Chron 23:4) into 24 divisions of Priests to tend to the work two weeks at a time. (These things are a copy of those in heaven, Heb 8:5; 1 Chron 28:12, 19; Ex 25:40)
These are created after the pattern of things in heaven. Ex 25:40; Heb 8:5; 1 Chron 28:12, 19
Then in 1 Chron 25:7-31 there were 288 (24 x 12) singers/ musicians who were divided into 24 groups for their service.
Then we have the 24th day, which is used in Neh 9:1 for a Day of confession of sins by the Sons of Israel who were re-gathered in the restored Jerusalem, 445 BC. This occurred after the feast of Booths/ Tabernacle. (In the 7th Month, Tishri, the 1st day is the Day of Atonement, the 15th is the Feast of Booths, and on the 24th they had a Day of Atonement, because they most likely missed it on the 1st day.)
Then in Dan 10:4, he (Daniel) received the answer to his prayer via an Angel on the 24th day. The Answer was a vision of end times prophecy.
Then in Haggai 1:15, the rebuilding of the Temple in 520 BC, begin on the 24th Day of the 6th months (Elul, Aug -Sept.). This is after the return from the Babylonian exile, but before Nehemiah’s rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.
Afterwards, in Hag 2:10 we see a call to cleansing on the 24th day of the 9th month (Chislev, Nov – Dec.).
And a vision was given to Haggai of the Lord’s second coming and Millennial Rule on the same day.
Then Zechariah received a vision from God on the 24th day of the 1st month (Shebat) in 538 BC, regarding Seven Seal Judgments. He sees the Red horsemen, the last of the 4 horsemen judgment of Rev 6:8.
Remember that the 24 Thrones and Elders are clothed in white and have crowns. Both signify blessings and rewards given to the overcomer (winner) believer during the church age, Rev 2:10, 3:4, 5, and 11. (Having clothed – Prefect Middle, Participle of PERIBEBLEMENOUS). See Rev 21:12-14
Also 24 = 2 x 12 = Two bodies made into one = Jew and Gentile – One body. John 15:15
So, it appears that we should not define this as who, but more likely as what. What does the 24 Thrones and Elders represent?
Given the 24’s throughout scripture, it appears that they speak to those who were once lost and now have been redeemed by Christ who are winner believers. They will lead the congregation in the worship of Christ.
Rev 4:5, “And from the throne proceed flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder, And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God;”
“flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder”
This is a prelude to the judgment about to fall upon the earth in Chapters 6-19. These are direct judgments from the throne of God and not the result of evil done among man.
“Seven lights” in Rev. 4:5 represent the Holy Spirit’s ministry by the “Seven Spirits before Gods throne”, Rev. 1:4; 5:6.
He is the Spirit of:
- Peace = Prosperity blessings and rest, as a result of Christ’s work. 1 Chron 12:18; Rom 8:6; 14:17; Eph 4:1-6
- Sonship = The Holy Spirit led and sustained the Son, and now us, the children / heirs because of Christ’s work. Rom 8:11-17; Gal 4:6; Isa 11:1-2
- Joy = Inner Happiness, sharing the happiness of God, +H, because Christ overcame our sorrows, “Poor in Spirit” / “Mourning” (Mat 5). Rom 14:17; 1 Thes 1:6
- Love = Personal Love for God the Father and Impersonal Unconditional Love for Man, based on Christ completing us. 2 Cor 6:1-10; Rom 5:5; 15:30
- Trust = Utilizing the Faith Rest Drill, trusting in the completed cannon of scriptures, the Word. 1 Cor 12:4-11 (vs 9); Gal 5:5; 2 Thes 2:13
- Prayer = The Holy Spirit assists our Prayer life, so the work of our service and prayers become sweet aroma to God, because we have a perfect mediator. Eph 6:18; Rom 8:26-27; Rev 5:8; Rev 8:1
- Fellowship/Unity – The Holy Spirit seals our Union with Christ. Eph 1:13; 4:3
In addition, we have the seven fold characteristics of the Spirit, as described in Isa 11:2.
Isa 11:2, “The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear (reverence) of the Lord.”
1) The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him,
2) The spirit of wisdom
4) The spirit of counsel
6) The spirit of knowledge
7) Reverence of the LORD.
When we are filled with the Spirit, we should expect to manifest these characteristics – wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge, and reverence for the Lord.
Rev 4:6, “and before the throne there was, as it were, a sea of glass like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind.”
“Sea of Glass,” The sea of glass is the original object from which the Brazen Laver found in the tabernacle was designed after. Ex 25:9; Heb 8:5
Heb 8:5, “Who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, “SEE,” He says, “THAT YOU MAKE all things ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN WHICH WAS SHOWN YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN.”
2 Chron 4:6, “He also made ten basins in which to wash, and he set five on the right side and five on the left to rinse things for the burnt offering; but the sea was for the priests to wash in.” Also with 1 Kings 7:23.
The water found in that sea was used for cleansing the priest after the sacrifice was completed and prior to further service.
This was a picture of the cleansing that is available for the believer-priest after salvation, which is accomplished today by telling our sins to God. 1 John 1:9; Mat 13:5-10
We are cleansed by the washing of the Word of God; therefore, water represents the word of God.
Eph 5:25-27, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.”
1 Cor 1:8, “Who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So, the “Sea” speaks to the cleansing that was and is available to all especially the redeemed.
Yet in heaven, the Sea is not like water, but like glass or a clear crystal.
In Rev 15:2, we see the Tribulational saints who were martyred during the Tribulation, by the Antichrist, stand on the sea of glass, representing that they have receive full cleansing and have ultimate stability.
Rev. 15:2, “And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God.”
This is a representation of the solid foundation of the Word of God, but also, it shows that the material does not have to be fluid in heaven, because sin is not an issue for cleansing there.
When we get to heaven, the Sin Nature is removed and we are perpetually clean.
1 Cor 15:53-57, “For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. 55“O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” 56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This occurs to every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ when they die or are Raptured. That is what is called Ultimate Sanctification. The sin nature is removed, and you have been cleansed and made holy for all of eternity because of the Word.
“Four Living Creatures” Four is made up of 3 plus 1; three being the number for the Trinity is followed by four. After the revelation of the trinity in the Bible, the next thing we see is God’s creative act. This signifies the number four as the number of Creation. Four is the number of things that have a beginning and are made of material things, matter itself. It is the number of material completeness, the world number, and especially the city number.
In Gen 1:14-19, we see the creation of light on the fourth day.
The 5th and 6th day saw only the furnishing and peopling of the earth with living things.
In Gen 3:22-24, the first angels mentioned are the four winged Cherubim. And they are linked with creation, guarding the Tree of Life, preserving the hope of immortality for creation. They are also seen on the Veil in the Tabernacle and on the Mercy Seat, binding up the hope of creation with Him who is called “the Hope of Israel.” Ex 25; 26; 36
In Rev 4:6, They are the Zao or Zoon, ” the living creatures.”
These are six winged, seraphim angels, similar to the angels described in Isaiah’s vision in Isa 6:1-3 of God’s throne.
“Full of Eyes” speaks of the Omnipotence of God, which apparently was used and displayed by these Angels.
These Creatures are also depicted in Ezk 1:1-3:27 with the Hebrew word CHAYYAH, and are the foundations to the throne of God that moves where the Holy Spirit moves and support the Sea of Glass.
Eze 1:26, “Now above the expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a throne, like lapis lazuli in appearance; and on that which resembled a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man.”
“Lapis Lazulli” – Sapphire
סַפִּיר – sappir – (sap-peer’) / σάπφειρος, ου, ἡ – sapphiros – (sap’-fi-ros)
A heavenly blue.
Ex 24:10, “And they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself.”
Ezk 1-3 is just before the prophecy of Israel’s disbursement and regathering, ushering in the Tribulation. Ezk 4.
Each of the Living Creatures represents a portion of God’s creation that may indicate they have authority to govern.
E.W. Bullinger says “They divide the Zodiac signs into four parts, 12 in all thus uniting the 12 signs which set forth the blessed hope of a groaning creation which waits for the promised seed of the women to come and crush the serpent’s head and bring in universal blessing.”
Rev 4:7, “And the first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and fourth creature was like a flying eagle.”
Lion – Leader of the kingdom of wild animals
Calf – Leader of domestic animals
Man – Leader of angelic hosts responsible for the human race
Eagle – Leader of the kingdom of the fowls of the air.
Each angel also represents the work of Christ in that:
- Christ is the Lion of Judah, emphasizing His Kingship, as depicted in
- He is the Servant sacrificial calf, as depicted in Mark and Heb 9:12, 19.
- He is the Son of Man, as depicted in
- He is associated with the heavens as the Son of God, as depicted in
These four Living Creatures are Leader Angels who give orders to other angels to carry out judgments. Rev 6:1-8; 15:7
Like the Cherubim Angels in the Garden of Eden, they guard the hope of God, Gen 3:24, and also carry out the commands of God.
The Cherubim also guarded the Mercy Seat in the Tabernacle and were depicted woven into the Veil of the Tabernacle.
Both pictures in the Tabernacle depicted the Angels being bound to the hope of deliverance based on Christ’s work.
Here the Four Living Creatures are bound with the throne and represent the hope of deliverance for all creation, which will take place shortly.
Romans 8:18-22 tells us that all of creation is anxiously awaiting the freedom of bondage, which will be realized at the 2nd Advent, Isa 11:6-10.
Rom 8:18-22, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.”
Rev 4:8-11 is a moving tribute, by celestial beings and resurrected man, to God and Jesus Christ for Christ’s redeeming work for the deliverance of all of creation.
Rev 4:8-11, “And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, ‘HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, who was and who is and who is to come. 9And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, 10the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11‘Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, To receive glory and honor and power; For Thou didst create all things, And because of Thy will they existed, and were created.’”
See Rom 1:19-20; Gen 1:1 and Heb 1:3
The Living Creatures were the witnesses, but we are the recipients of His saving work!
How much more should we rejoice in our hearts as we worship Him!