Thursday 16 June 2022

Bible Book:

At once I was in the spirit, and there in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne! And the one seated there looks like jasper and carnelian, and around the throne is a rainbow that looks like an emerald. (vs 2-3)

Revelation 4:1-11 Thursday 16 June 2022


During World War 2 there was an occupying German solider for every two Channel Islanders, which meant that local people had to be very careful their conversations were not overheard. Many, therefore, chose to speak one of the distinct island languages such as Jèrriais (the traditional language of the Jersey people) as it was incomprehensible to the occupying forces. It became a safe language within which to communicate news, as there was little fear of  it being understood by the ruling power.

In a similar way, John, the writer of Revelation, uses complex imagery and language to communicate hope to the Christian Church in an age when the Roman authorities were suspicious of this new and flourishing religious movement. It would be very difficult for a Roman reading the 22 chapters of Revelation to make sense of its message. Perhaps you sometimes feel the same today! Like messages communicated in Jèrriais, the Book of Revelation communicated hope to a group of people during a time of suffering, by using language that only some could fully understand.

Within this passage, John describes a throne which "looks like jasper and carnelian, and around the throne is a rainbow that looks like an emerald" (v. 3). Reference to gemstones and precious materials is also found in the creation account in Genesis 2:12, and in Revelation, where the writers express close intimacy and knowledge between God and humankind. In both Genesis 2 and Revelation 4 gemstones are a literary device to convey the holiness of God, while also offering hope in God's sovereignty. Other Old Testament passages that refer to gemstones and the presence of God are Exodus 28 and Isaiah 54.

To a Roman occupying soldier none of this would have obvious from reading the book of Revelation. But to those who knew their scriptures, the complex imagery of jasper, carnelian and emerald reminded them of Genesis, Exodus and Isaiah, each of which whispers of God’s enduring splendour and sovereignty. As in the long years of Channel Island occupation, hope was kept alive by believing that the best is yet to come.


To Ponder: 

  • The Book of Revelation can be a challenging read. What do you think is its central message?
  •  Whether through words or actions, how will you communicate hope to someone today?
  •  Might you try conveying the beauty and colour of this passage in a painting?
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