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God Is on His Throne, Christ Reigns!

Revelation 4:1-8:5

James R. Davis

(To better understand this lesson's approach to these chapters review the lesson on Revelation 1:1-20)

It is always a good idea to know who is charge, where the buck stops and who has to power to do what is required. Knowing who is in control is all-important. This is especially true in difficult times. The first century Christians were about to experience the power of Satan that would be unleashed through the Roman Empire against them.  They would experience trial, tribulation and persecution. They also were about to witness the judgment of God on earth. In the midst of the conflict Jesus wants them to know who is in charge. They need to know that Christ is on the throne. He wants them to know that Caesar would have no power if it were not given him by God. Despite the fact that Caesar abused his God given power the Christians needed to understand that God was still in charge.

John sees God on his throne of glory. I have never been to Buckingham Palace, but I understand from those who have been there of late that it is filled with treasures that only royalty could afford. Yet all this pales into insignificance in comparison to the beauty and glory that surrounds God's throne. (4:1-11) John only describes the radiance of God but that is enough. The backdrop of sounds, thunder, lightning, rumblings, the living spirits around the throne, and the 24 thrones that surround God's throne all speak of God's glorious power. All the living creatures around the throne were saying day and night, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." All of the splendor and sounds only adds to the radiance of the scene.

Christ has Conquered

As John beholds God on his throne, he sees a scroll in God's right hand with seven seals on it. An angel was looking for someone worthy to open the seals on the scroll. No one on earth or in heaven could open the scroll or look inside. John wept, for that scroll contained the destiny of humanity. "Then one of the elders said to me, 'Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.' Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne (5:6), encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne." (Revelation 5:5-7)

John sees the Lamb, who is Christ, standing in the center of the throne. The living creatures, thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand angels encircled the throne, imagine 10,000,000 million angels singing, "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" (5:12) Every creature in heaven, on the earth, under the earth and on the sea began singing, "To him who sits on the throne to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power for ever and ever!" (5:13)

This scene reminds us of the chorus of a beautiful old song that says, "He could have called ten thousand angels, To destroy the world and set Him free. He could have called, ten thousand angels, But He died alone, for you and me."

John had recorded how John the Baptist had proclaimed Jesus as the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. Now John beholds Christ as a bloody Lamb standing before the throne of God as he takes the book that holds the secrets to the destiny of mankind from the hand of the Almighty. It is amazing in this scene how intensely heaven and earth are focused on the Lamb who is about to open the book. Christ opens the book because it is he who holds the destiny of mankind in his hand. He is now in firm control. How encouraging this is for all Christians, especially for those who are about to lose their lives through the persecution of the Roman Empire.

The Destiny of Humanity Revealed

As the Lamb opened the seals there is a conqueror with a crown on his head that rides out on a white horse. There is no doubt that this is Christ. But then there is a rider on a red horse with a huge sword in his hand that is ravaging the earth. He is a man of war. Then there is a black horse and its rider has a pair of scales in his hand saying, "A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!" (6:6) This rider represents famine. Then the pale horse and its rider rides out on stage and its name was Death, and Hades was following. Hades is the place of the dead. This portrays to us the judgement of God about to befall the earth through war, famine and plagues which would ravage the earth. The amazing thing is that these are the very things that eventually played a big part in bringing the Roman Empire to its knees.

We already know who has the keys to Death and Hades. Yet, we see the fifth seal opened and the souls of them that have been martyred for their faithful testimony to the word of God. The beauty of it all is that those slain were standing before God's throne with heaven's attention upon them. They cried out "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" God asks them to be patient until his work has been completed.

What a scene of beauty. God on his throne, Christ in the center of the throne, 10,000,000 angels singing choruses and the souls of the departed saints standing before the throne of God in the midst of the heavenly host robed in white. What an encouragement for Christians going through the battles of life. It may not seem worth the effort at times but just take a glance over into the heavenly realm with the help of John and behold the majesty of what awaits each of us. What an encouragement to those about to be persecuted.

The sixth seal is opened and John sees an earthquake, the sun turns black and the moon turned to blood, the stars fall from the sky, every mountain and island is removed from the earth. As a result of conflict between good and evil the universe is shaken to its very core. The turbulence is so great that the kings of the earth, the princes and the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They are begging that the rocks and mountains might fall on them to protect them from the judgment of God.

John says that they are seeking to hide from the wrath of the Lamb. (6:15-17) It is definitely at this point that John sums up the meaning of the first six seals. He explains the trials and tribulations that would befall the earth as a result of the wrath of God as judgment upon sin. No one will escape that judgment. In the upheaval many Christians will die, but we see those martyrs standing before God's throne. We wish that there were no losses in battles but the loss of life is a part of any war. In the war between Satan and God, between good and evil the heavens are shaken and the whole earth is affected. Christians die!

Protection for the Saints

The judgement of God against the world will bring many trials to the Christians living in the same world. John portrays the protection that God will provide for the saints.  To the four angels that were given power to bring judgment upon the earth, a voice called out telling them to withhold judgment until a protective seal is placed upon the foreheads of the servants of God. Seals were placed upon all the saved from the tribes of Israel and then John saw a multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were proclaiming "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." (7:10)

What a beautiful scene. Through all the trials and tribulation God will protect and save the saints. It is not a protection that protects them from the troubles but a protection that goes with them through the difficulties they experience and even through death. (Revelation 14:12-13) They have an anchor that will hold. (Hebrews 6:19) Then John sees a multitude that no man can number standing before the thrones of Almighty God and the Lamb, singing praises for their salvation.

What a picture of assurance in times of calamity. The possibility of standing before God saved, as God wipes away the tears from our eyes. (7:17) No doubt there are tears but God is going to wipe them away. No wonder Christ has already said to the seven churches of Asia, "To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear to hear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." (4:21-22) We sing a song "No Tears In Heaven" praise God!  What a day that will be for all of God's servants. It makes you want to burst out in praise right now with songs that say things like "Worthy of praise is Christ our redeemer; Worthy of glory, honor and power! Worthy of all our soul's adoration, Worthy art Thou! Worthy of riches, blessings and honor, Worthy of wisdom, glory and pow'r! Worthy of earth and heaven's thanksgiving, Worthy art Thou! Worthy art Thou."

The vision of John is attempting to make Heaven a reality for those who presently believe. Notice that the scenes are happening in heaven as the earth continues in its difficulties. Christ reigns today!!!! Christ's judgment in a very real sense is taking place now. This is not a judgment scene concerning the final judgment or is it a scene portraying Christ returning to earth to reign. Christ is reigning now!!! John is writing about what is going on in heaven while the seven churches of Asia continue their struggle to remain faithful. This is what heaven is like even for us today. If we could look beyond and imagine our departed loved ones that have served Christ standing before his throne.  This is the only glimpse of heaven that we will have before we die. It is this glimpse that makes heaven a reality for the present.

As we are caught up into this panoramic vision of heaven we begin to realize that our struggles and difficulties in this life are a part of the battles going on in heaven for our soul's eternal salvation. God will protect his children in the battle! Heaven prevails against death! Satan will not prevail against the saints of God! (Matthew 16:18-19) We have received the seal of the Holy Spirit, which involves our protection! (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30) God will not allow us to be tempted above that which we are able to endure! (1 Corinthians 10:13) Victory belongs to God and his Christ and to those who remain faithful through death! (Revelation 14:12-13)

All day long of Jesus I am singing,
He my song of joy will ever be;
All the while He keeps my heart-bells ringing,
For His love is everything to me

He's my King,
And O I dearly love Him;
He's my King, no other is above Him;
All day long enraptured praise I sing

He's my Savior, He's my King!!!!

As the seventh seal is opened we see seven angels standing before the throne. There was this one particular angel that had a golden censer standing before the altar. He was given much incense to offer with the prayers of the saints on a golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense along with the prayers went up before God. Earlier we see the souls of those who have been martyred for their faith standing before God crying out to God in prayer for the saints that were continuing to be persecuted upon the earth. (5:9-11) It is here that we see their prayers answered. After the incense and prayers ascend to the throne the angel fills the golden censer with fire from the altar and hurls it to the earth and there comes peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake. The judgment of God upon the earth has begun! The saint's prayers are beginning to be answered! Rome will pay! We have won!

Conclusion:

John's vision portrays in a very realistic way who holds the keys of Death and Hades. (1:18) It reveals who is in charge.

God is on his throne!
Christ has conquered!
Judgment has come to earth!
We reign as kings and priest!
The Saints are protected!
The Saints will be comforted!
Prayers are answered!
Hallelujah, salvation has been brought down!

Oh, what wondrous love I see,
Freely shown for you and me,
By the One who did atone!
Just to show His matchless grace,
Jesus suffered for the race,
In Gethsemane, alone.

Oh, what love, matchless love,
Oh, what love for me was shown,
His forever I will be,
For the love He gave to me,
When He suffered all alone.
 
 
 

 

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