Saturday 28 July 2012

Bible Book:

"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power." (v. 11)

Revelation 4:1-11 Saturday 28 July 2012


Following the messages to the seven churches, John the Divine(author of Revelation) sees the curtain of heaven drawn back toreveal a vision of earthly elders and heavenly creatures praisingGod. Such disclosure of the heavenly realms was a common feature ofapocalyptic literature (looking towards a time of God's ultimatetriumph), as is the use within this chapter of picturesque andcolourful imagery.

The first five verses describe John seeing an image of "oneseated on the throne" (v. 2), and details the vision throughlanguage reflecting earlier apocalyptic texts (Ezekiel 1:26-28; Daniel7:9). In verse 3 the imagery of jewels is used to depict theprecious character of God on the throne, while the rainbow is areminder of God's care and compassion. As the next chapter makesclear, Jesus, the slain Lamb of God, dwells alongside the Father(Revelation 5:6-10).

Around the throne, the text describes 'twenty-four elders" (v.4). The interpretation of this figure is notoriously difficult, butprobably signifies the complete number of God's people. Their"white robes" reflect the purity granted to them through the Son,while the "golden crowns" reflect their royal status in thepresence of the king. The "seven spirits" (v. 5) probably refers tothe fullness of the Holy Spirit.

John also sees around the throne "four living creatures" (v. 6),with multiple eyes and wings and forms. The creatures are found inEzekiel 1, but the imagery also draws on Isaiah6:1-3. The creatures represent heavenly beings who lead thepraise of God. They proclaim God's holiness, as well as theworthiness of God as creator, and are joined by the 24 elders whocast their thrones before the throne. All are subordinate beforeGod, and find their place in worshipping the one who giveslife.

The depiction in this chapter, then, is of earth and heavenuniting in worship. This is the 'holy' God, the one who is worthyof praise. And yet this is the God - as the next chapter makesabundantly clear - revealed to us in Jesus. It is Jesus alone whodraws back the curtain separating earth and heaven and Jesus whoreveals the depths of God's love.

To Ponder

  • How does the holiness of God shape your spirituality?
  • How can you submit to the rule of God in your dailylife? 

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