2018-04-18 / Religion

God is in control in both worlds

Sunday School Lesson
Rev. James Temples

Revelation 4

As we read the book of Revelation, it is easy to become “bogged down” with the symbolism and other features of the writings. However, it is important for us to remember the declaration that begins this great Word from God — “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 1:1a. Yes, there is much symbolism that can become confusing, if the reader does not understand that these word pictures are often seen from the position of the “spirit world.” There is a physical world and a spirit world. Our God — Jehovah — is in complete control of both worlds. The enemy of the soul of mankind — Satan — is allowed to act in both worlds, but with only limited authority. See Job 1:6- 12; 2:1-6. There is no indication that this divine arrangement has been altered nor deleted.

The apostle John — the only one of the original twelve to die a natural death — “was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony (witness) of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 1:9b. This faithful servant of God wrote, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day…” Revelation 1:10a. This information lets us know that his writings were not “the ramblings of a crazy Greek”, as some modern writers like to declare.

After John described his vision of Christ, he recorded letters to “the seven churches.” Revelation 1:20d. These letters show the spiritual condition of the congregations. Some of these groups needed more discipline than others. Yet, all were given promises, if they would take the proper steps to correct the individual problems.

Following the writing of these letters, the scenes painted switch between heaven and earth. John began recording this portion of his vision, “After this (i. e., the writing of these letters) I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven…” Revelation 4:1a. Once this door was opened, he reported, “and the first voice which I heard was as it were a trumpet, talking with me; which said, Come up hither (here), and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” Revelation 4:1b, c.

The apostle described his own sensation — “And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.” Revelation 4:2. This occupied throne is described in the language of the former fisherman — “And he that sat was to look upon as jasper (denotes a translucent stone of various colors), and a sardine (denotes its brilliance and high polish) stone: and there was a rainbow round about (Note: as a ring) the throne, in sight like unto an emerald (light green).” Revelation 4:3.

The scene shifts to the area around the throne. “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.” Revelation 4:4. These 24 elders represent the two covenants that God has made with his people — the Old Covenant (Testament) and the New Covenant (Testament). Twelve of these elders represent the twelve tribes of Israel, and twelve represent the twelve apostles.

It is important for us to realize that these groups are there is equal numbers — one is not more important than the other. The Old Testament believers looked, by faith, toward the Ultimate Sacrifice — Jesus of Nazareth — and the New Covenant believers look back at the cross, as the place of redemption.

This was not a “static scene” — one with no observable activity. John wrote, “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.” Revelation 4:5. In scripture, the number, seven, is seen as the “number of completion.” The Work of the Holy Spirit is seen, as he continues his divine function, even in the throne room in heaven.

The attention of the apostle was turned to the circumstances of the divine environment. “And before the throne there was a sea of glass (as transparent) like unto crystal (as “ice”, again, transparent): and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts (creatures) full of eyes before and behind.” Revelation 4:6. Again, this description is from the perspective of the spirit world, not our physical circumstances.

As John gave his description of the creatures, there is a similarity that compares with the vision of the prophet, Ezekiel. See Ezekiel 1:10. “And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had the face of a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.” Revelation 4:7. The apostle continued his description, “And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him, and they were full of eyes within…” Revelation 4:8a. This word picture shows all mankind the constant vigilance of the spirit world, as it regards the present and the future.

The purpose of these creatures is quite clear — “and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is , and is to come.” Revelation 4:8: b, c. Continual adoration is expressed — “And when those beasts (creatures) give thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever.” Revelation 4:9.

This scene of continuous worship is described by John. “The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat upon the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 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.” Revelation 4:10, 11.

It is difficult for us to grasp the fact of continual worship, as described by the apostle. Our thinking is “locked in,” based on our concept of time — the interval between two events. Eternity is not limited by our thought processes. This praise is directed toward our Heavenly Father — the creator of the universe. We can begin our praise, today, and continue throughout eternity.

Rev. James C. Temples’ Sunday School Lesson has appeared in the Early County News each week since 1967. A native of Early County, Rev. Temples taught in public schools 32 years and 10 years at Southeastern College of Assemblies of God, in Lakeland, Fla. He also served as pastor and evangelist during those years. He can be contacted at P. O. Box 1484, Swainsboro, GA 30401; 478- 299- 2068. Email: temples_ james@yahoo.com

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