#18 The Throne of God II
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” 2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. 3 And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads. 5 Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God; 6 and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. 7 The first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle. 8 And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.” 9 And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”
This morning our attention is once again drawn to the Heavenly Throne and to Him who sits on that Throne, the One who governs all of creation, who rules the world and all that is in it according to His will. At the bottom of the diagram of the Throne Room of God there is the statement, “THE THRONE RULES OVER ALL. TAKE THIS LESSON TO HEART!
The will of God will be accomplished. The scriptures speak of God accomplishing all of His good pleasure. Not some but all! Though man tries his best to limit God they accomplish nothing. Indeed their railings against God are a demonstration of the veracity of His word! (Psa 2:1-6) 1 Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!” 4 He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. 5 Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, 6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”
The decrees of God are not open to discussion. There are no amendments to God’s Commandments. He doesn’t have a “heavenly legislature” debating on His ‘proposed’ will. There is no “heavenly congress” convening to debate whether or not God’s will is good! God doesn’t come up with ideas that He has to run by the angels before He can implement them. He does not have to consult man “to see what we think.”
In (Isaiah 40:12-17) we can hear the answer to those who think that they have a say in what God does. Listen and worship! Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and marked off the heavens by the span, and calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, and weighed the mountains in a balance and the hills in a pair of scales? 13 Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or as His counselor has informed Him? 14 With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge and informed Him of the way of understanding? 15 Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust. 16 Even Lebanon is not enough to burn, nor its beasts enough for a burnt offering. 17 All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.
God cares nothing for public opinion polls. And once he has made up His mind (and He did so in eternity past) there is no changing it. His rule is not evolving. He isn’t making other plans or fixing broken ones. Consider this passage from (Nu 23:19) and worship Him who sits on the Throne! “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
We read from (Isa 55:11) “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
And then of course we have the passage which should shut all mouths. (Da 4:35) “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’
So we see the truth of the matter: that God and God alone rules in the affairs of men, that HE is the One who decides what will or won’t happen, that indeed He has decreed all that will occur in His Creation since before the foundation of the world!
Now we see outwardly at least, chaos. There is trouble all around. But consider this passage from (Luke 21:25-26) “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
Now I put this question to you: who in this world would be dismayed, who would be in perplexity, who would faint from fear? It is those who fear them that can kill the body and after that have nothing more they can do! It is those who are without hope, being without God, in this world!
It is such as these who will cry out to the mountains and to the rocks saying “fall upon us and hide us from Him who sits on the Throne!!!! Because the very next verse says, 27 “Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN A CLOUD with power and great glory. For the believer this is our blessed hope. We are looking for, longing for, praying for the day when Jesus will return and end all of this misery of sin and death. We long to be absent from the body and therefore, present with the Lord.
Even though we cannot grasp what lies ahead for us, one thing we know: WE WILL BE WITH JESUS! And that is all that matters. When He who is our life appears, we shall fall down and worship Him while the world tries to hide from the face of Him who sits on the Throne.
We will sing His praises who has saved us and called us with a holy calling. The prayer of our heart, “EVEN SO COME LORD JESUS” will have been answered. This is our great longing, to be with Jesus! Is it any wonder the Psalmist said in (Ps 42:1-2) As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God? This is the heart cry of the true son and daughter of God. The picture here is of burning hunger, agonizing thirst, the desperate need to be with the One we love. The question is asked, when shall I come and appear before God? In other words “When to I get to go home?” When do we get to be with Jesus?
Again the Psalmist expresses the heart of a true child of God when he says in (Ps 73:25-26) “Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. He is our all in all. He is our heavenly rest, our sure foundation, the Rock upon which we stand. The psalmist continues saying, 26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.” Therefore at His return we will shout for joy, we will sing unto the Lord a new song and we will rejoice in God our Savior who was and who is and who has come to bring us home! There we will worship at the Throne of Grace. There we will sing praises to Him who sits on the Throne, who has shown us mercy and grace upon grace. There we will bask in the light of Holiness and truth! There we will be in perfect peace for our minds will be perfectly stayed upon God!
The world has no such hope. They are in chaos, turmoil, fear. And well they should be, for judgment is coming. Consider what we read in verse 5. This is an incredible scene! “Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God; “The thunderings express God’s threats against the ungodly: there are voices in the thunders, declaring to them that judgment is coming!
And remember that this is the theme of this book; it contains the final judgment upon mankind for their sins.” Several times it says that they would not repent. Though they suffered greatly from plagues that could only have come from the Throne of God, they remained hardened, hateful and unrepentant. Instead of turning to their only hope, they blasphemed His Name.
And so John describes this awesome sight: the demonstration of the omnipotent power of God! For the unbeliever this thunderous vision is as discomfiting as it was to the Philistines, to the Egyptians, to all those who have opposed God down through the ages and suffered the consequences.
But for the believer there is only a sense of awe and worship and renewed devotion FOR THIS IS OUR GOD!
We tremble before the LORD OF ALL THE EARTH but not for terror or fear of judgment. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Therefore we rejoice before the LORD of ALL THE EARTH and praise His Name for He is awesome in judgment, terrible in power, overflowing in Holiness and abundant in grace!
We worship Him who deigned to stoop down and have mercy on mere worms. He has lavished grace upon us who were once criminals, enemies, blasphemers. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (1Jo 3:1) and therefore we worship Him who sits on the Throne of the Universe, while the world trembles in terror!
The wicked are characterized in scripture like the troubled sea which casts up foam and mire. They are tossed to and fro by the waves and have no sure foundation. They are in short, in chaos!
They are described by (Jude 1:13) as “wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever. Here is both a picture of the world and their judgment. They have no stability, no sure foundation, nothing to lay hold of at all. Chaos rules the day and if it weren’t for the restraining hand of God Almighty this world would have torn itself to pieces long ago for there is no peace for the wicked.
Standing in stark contrast to this chaos is the Throne of God. In verse 6 we read that before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; that is, it resembled, in its general appearance, glass; and this idea is strengthened by the addition of another image of the same character —that it was like an expanse of crystal, perfectly clear.
The KJV says that it has the appearance of an emerald while the NAS describes it as Lapis lazuli: a bluish stone that some people considered to be their emerald. There are several visions that were given of this sea of crystal. Last week we saw the vision of Ezekiel in which He saw the Throne of God, the four living creatures and the sea of glass. We compared this to what John saw in Revelation.
In (Ex 24:9) we read of the visitation of God into the camp of the Israelites. “Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, 10 and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself.” Several ideas have been put forth as to what this sea of glass represents. Some say that it signifies that the empire of God is vast—as if it were spread out like the sea. Others say that it may be representative of the calmness, the perfect peace of the Divine Kingdom—that it is like an undisturbed and unruffled ocean of glass.
Consider what happened after Jesus calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee. He was unruffled by the storm Himself and rebuked His disciples for their lack of faith. We read in (Mr 4:39 NAS) “And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.”
Now consider this translation from The Message. (Mr 4:39) “Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet! Settle down!” The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass. In the presence of the Lord there is perfect peace. We read in (1Ch 16:27) “Splendor and majesty are before Him, Strength and joy are in His place.” And from (Ps 16:11) Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
John Gill has this to say: “I think by it is meant the Gospel, compared to a “sea” for the deep things of God and mysteries of grace which are in it; to a sea of “glass”, because in it is beheld, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, His person, office, and righteousness, as well as many other wondrous things. Also we have the illustration of “crystal”, which speaks of the clearness, lucidity, and evidence of the truths contained in it; and to a, fixed, still; and quiet sea, because it is the Gospel of peace, love, grace, and mercy, and brings peace, joy, and tranquility to troubled minds. The law works wrath: but in the kingdom of God there is no tossing, foaming, raging waves of wrath, or fury. Instead all is smooth, stable, solid, tranquil, and quiet. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. (Isa 26:3)
Continuing in verse 6 we see again the four living creatures which we looked at in depth last time. John tells us, “and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. 7 The first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle. 8 And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and notice what they do.
This is their whole ministry as night they do not cease to say, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.”
They proclaim the Holiness and the Lordship of God Almighty. They declare that it is He who is King of Kings. It is He who sits on the Throne governing all of His creation and before Whom there is perfect peace! It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, (it is He) Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. (Isa 40:22)
Now notice what verse 9 says…And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders mentioned first in verse 4 will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne,
Now the question: “Who are these people?” Some say that it is a conglomeration of the twelve Patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel and so a representation from the Old Testament, and the twelve apostles who represent the New Testament. In other words they are thought to be a representation of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ from both the Old and New Testament. Others think that this is a symbolic reference of the twenty-four courses of the priests and Levites, established by God for his service in the sanctuary and temple of old. Now this is not without merit because the earthly temple was but a picture of the Heavenly. But it seems that no one knows exactly who they are. And more than likely we are not meant to know. In fact our focus should not be on these elders but on the object of their worship, THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY!
Though these elders sit on thrones and wear crowns they know their place. They are before Him who alone is worthy to wear a crown. They are subjects of grace and they know it! Therefore they fall before the Throne and worship every chance they get saying, 11 “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”
Do you see how our eyes are always drawn to the Throne! The Throne of God is the center of Heaven. The rainbow encircles the Throne! The 24 elders worship before the Throne, indeed their thrones encircle His! The Thunder of God resounds from the Throne! The seven Lamps which represent the Sevenfold Spirit of God is before the Throne! The Four Living Creatures face the Throne and worship the LORD! All attention is focused on the Throne!
Which leads me to a question: what are you focused on? Are you focused on yourself? Are you focused on the happenings around this world of sin? If so then you are looking at the wind and the waves which are indeed boisterous and such things can bring fear, perplexity, misery!
But those who are sealed with the Holy Spirit, who are led by the Spirit, they are at peace for they know this truth, that Jesus Christ is ever with His children leading them to their desired haven. He spoke these words of comfort for us to rest in: “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (Joh 16:33)
If you have been born again you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. He resides within you and will never leave nor forsake you. He will lead you into all truth for He will bring to you remembrance all that Jesus said. As we walk in the Spirit, by the Spirit, as we are led by the Spirit our minds are drawn to the Throne, to Him who sits on the Throne and as our minds are drawn to Him and stayed on Him, we have perfect peace. HE WHO SITS ON THE THRONE RULES OVER ALL. TAKE THIS LESSON TO HEART!