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A Bible Study:

The Revelation to John

May 30, 2006

A Study of the Revelation to John

A Study of the Revelation to John

By Bernie Parsons - May 30, 2006

A Study of Revelation Chapter 4:1-11



Revelation 4:1: After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.



With these words in chapter 4 (remember that this was not originally written in chapters and verses, but was divided that way to make it easier to study, and to reference the scriptures), there is a definite change in tone. To this point, John was being told words of warning and encouragement that he was to write to the churches of Asia Minor.


John now sees an open door in heaven. He hears a trumpet-like voice, inviting him to “Come up here” to see things that were to take place. Let’s always keep in mind the opening words of this writing, in which John was told that these things would “shortly come to pass”.



Revelation 4:2: And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.

3: And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.



John was “in the spirit”. Does this mean that his spirit departed his body? Or does it mean that these things took place inwardly, that he was seeing them in his mind, as in a trance? Either way, he sees scenes that are set in God’s heaven, evidenced by the expression, “a throne was set in heaven”.


The Apostle Paul spoke of a similar instance in:


2 Corinthians 12:1: “It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.

2: I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

3: And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)

4: How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

5: Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.

6: For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.

7: And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.”

Some say that Paul was the man in question, because of verse 7, and was just being modest by saying that he knew “such a man”. However, he said in verse 5 that he would not glory in himself in this regard, but would glory in another man. It may be that Paul was not the one who was caught up to see the revelations, but that they pertained to him. Anyway, we see from his writing that such an instance is hard to determine as to whether it was in the body, or out of the body. “Out of the body” would seem to signify “in the spirit”, and perhaps that was what John was talking about.

In Revelation 4:2, John describes what he sees. Someone is on this throne, and to John, His appearance is like jasper and sardine (sardius) stone. These were the last and first stones in Aaron’s breastplate. The Lord is Alpha and Omega—the first and the last. The jasper stone can be a clear, or white, stone, while the sardine, or sardius, stone is blood red. We must first pass through the blood of Christ—represented by the sardine stone—to become white, or clear of blemishes, represented by the jasper stone.

Exodus 28:15: “And thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment with cunning work; after the work of the ephod thou shalt make it; of gold, of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine twined linen, shalt thou make it.

16: Foursquare it shall be being doubled; a span shall be the length thereof, and a span shall be the breadth thereof.

17: And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: this shall be the first row.

18: And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond.

19: And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst.

20: And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be set in gold in their inclosings.”


Around the throne John saw something shaped like a rainbow, which was emerald (green) in color. Ezekiel, while describing the appearance of the “glory of the Lord” by the river Chebar, also noted a rainbow-like appearance.


Ezekiel 1:25: “And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings.

26: And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.

27: And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about.

28: As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about.  This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.  And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.”



Revelation 4:4: And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.


John describes twenty-four seats around the throne, and twenty-four elders in these seats. This could well be symbolic of the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles. God planned His course for the earth before it was ever formed, and it included all that went on during the Law of Moses, as well as the subsequent preaching of the gospel of Christ by the Apostles. It was one continuous plan, as revealed in the promise to Abraham. We find further proof of this in:


Revelation 21:10: “And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

11: Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;

12: And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:

13: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.

14: And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”


The way into this city of God, this heavenly—spiritual—Jerusalem, was through the offspring of the twelve sons of Jacob, or Israel. Jesus—the Christ—was born through the lineage of Abraham. The Apostles (Jews) were chosen to preach the gospel of the eternal kingdom of God on the earth.


The fact that the seats surrounded the throne shows these to be in the inner circle, as if royal advisors. They wear golden crowns, such as are worn by royalty, and robes of white, denoting purity. These elders were both royal and loyal. I am reminded of the promises made to the apostles and the faithful

Gentiles that they would rule with Christ.



Revelation 4:5: And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.


Thunders, lightnings, and voices have always been associated with the Almighty God.


Exodus 19:16: “And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.

17: And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount.

18: And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.

19: And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice.”


Also, recall Ezekiel 1:24: “And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings.”


We read about the seven spirits of God in Revelation 1:4, Zechariah 4:10, and

Revelation 5:6. They apparently go about the earth as seven eyes for God.



Revelation 4:6: And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.


Ezekiel gives a similar description (chapter 1) of the glory of the Lord. He saw a firmament over the heads of the creature, but underneath the throne. This seems to correspond to the sea of glass like crystal, mentioned above. The English word firmament comes from the Latin word firmamentum, from Latin firmare, meaning support, and was also used to describe the arch, or vault, of heaven.

Ezekiel 1:22: “And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above.

23: And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies.

24: And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings.

25: And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings.

26: And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.”


John sees four beasts full of eyes in front and in back. Ezekiel saw four creatures with eyes around about. Both are describing the “glory of the Lord”.


Ezekiel 1:15: “Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces.

16: The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.

17: When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went.

18: As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four.”



Revelation 4:7: And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.

8: And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.


Ezekiel describes four similar living creatures.


Ezekiel 1:5: “Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures.  And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.

6: And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.

7: And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass.

8: And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings.

9: Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward.

10: As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.

11: Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.”


These four listen when God speaks, and they obey the voice of God. They constantly serve, and praise Him, as indicated by both Ezekiel and John.



Revelation 4:9: And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,

10: The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

11: Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.


The constant worship of God by the four beasts, and the twenty-four elders, reminds us that it has always been God’s desire and will that we worship him constantly, and in all things. The elders, with their royal crowns, have power only insomuch that God allows it.


Colossians 1:12: “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

13: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

14: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

15: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

16: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

17: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

18: And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

19: For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

20: And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”


As the writer of Ecclesiastes tells us, it is the whole duty of man to fear God, and to keep His commandments. John tells us that those commandments are not grievous.


1 John 5:1: “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.

2: By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

3: For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

4: For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

5: Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?”


All of us must diligently seek God, and His righteousness, for this is what He wants.

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