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Back To The Future

Sermon #14


Revelation 4:2-11


Intro:  The last time we saw John, he had been air-lifted out of this world, through a door that had been opened in the heavens.  He was told that he was about to receive a revelation of “things which must be hereafter”.  As we studied Revelation 4:1, we came to understand that John was a representative man.  He represents all true believers in Jesus Christ who will be taken out of this world at the end of the church age in the event called “The Rapture”.  I praise the Lord for that blessed hope!  He is coming, and we are going!  Hallelujah!

      As we move deeper into this chapter, we are given a glimpse inside the very throne room of God Himself.  We are allowed to view some of the activities that take place in Heaven before God’s judgment is visited upon the world.

      The scene that is described in these verses is almost beyond comprehension.  But, in these verses, John gives us a small glimpse of what we will be doing one of these days.  Let’s join John in God’s presence and try to grasp what is taking place in these verses.  I want to take us up to Heaven and look Inside The Throne Room Of God.

      You see, we need a heavenly perspective on this world.  Taken by themselves, the events, the trials and the problems of this world often make no sense at all.  From an earthly perspective, this world appears to be out of control today: war, disease, crime, wickedness, ungodliness, etc.  But, when you understand that God is on His throne; and when you understand that He is in control; and when you think that He is working out a perfect, eternal, good plan, then it all falls into place.  (Ill. A beautiful Persian rug looks like a mess of tangled strings and fiber when it is viewed from the backside; but when it is viewed from above, the pattern becomes very clear.)

      So, today, let’s move up to Heaven and get a glimpse of what is taking place around God’s throne.  I want to share the scenes John saw when he went up to Heaven, as I try to preach on the thought Inside The Throne Room Of God.




  I.  v. 2-3        THE PERSON ON THE THRONE

(Ill. The very first thing John sees is God Himself sitting on a throne in Heaven.  What a thrill that must have been!  To go to the White House and meet the President would be an honor.  To go to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen of England would be an honor.  But, to walk into the very throne room of God and see Him sitting on His throne would be glorious beyond description!  Yet, that is the honor John was given and it is an honor we will enjoy one day soon!  Let’s listen in as John describes his encounter with Sovereign God.)

A.  v. 2  He Is The Ruling One – The first thing John sees is a “throne set in Heaven”.  A “throne” speaks of “sovereignty and authority”.  We are viewing One Who occupies the place of absolute authority over all the affairs of Heaven and earth, Psa. 47:8; 103:19.

      The word “set” speaks of “stability, firmness, durability”.  God’s throne is an eternal throne!  No foe will ever be able to force Him down from the place where He rules and reigns, Psa. 45:6. 

      This world may not recognize God’s authority and rule today, but He reigns nonetheless!  Men do not give a second thought to the existence of God; but He notices all; controls all and He will ultimately judge all.  Men may not give Him the time of day now, but we will all face Him some day.  Man may not bow today, but they will one day, Phil. 2:9-11; Rom. 14:12.

B.  v. 3a  He Is The Resplendent One – John attempts to do the impossible: he attempts to describe God.  The One on this throne is God the Father.  How do we know? God the Son takes the seven sealed book out of His hand in Rev. 5:5-7.

      John describes God as being like a “jasper and a sardine stone”.  The word “like” lets us know that we have encountered symbolic language.  God is not a mineral or a stone, but His appearance reminded John of these two precious stones.

1.  The “jasper” is clear and bright.  It is possible that it is the same as a diamond.  A diamond is a very hard stone and it speaks of “firmness”.  This comparison reminds us that our God is “firm and unchanging”.  Since we are in the context of a throne room, where sovereign authority is about to be exercised, this tells us that God’s laws, like God Himself, are firm and unchanging.

      There are certain laws in nature that a firm and unchanging. Tale gravity for instance, what goes up will come down!  God has established the Law of Gravity, it is firm and unchanging. 

      If you place a pot of water on a stove eye and turn on the heat, you need not expect to find ice in the pot when you return. God has established the Law of Thermodynamics, it is unchanging.

      The same is true concerning God’s moral law.  He is unchanging and inflexible there too.  Men kick against the moral laws of God.  They call the Bible out of date and old fashioned.  They do their own thing thinking that God will let them slide.  The fact is, they are sinning against a God Who is firm and unchanging in His moral law.

2.  The “sardine” stone is a blood red stone.  It reminds us that while God is a God of sovereign rule and absolute authority, Who holds men to a high standard of holiness, is also the God of redemption!  He is a God Who saved all those who will turn to Him by faith.

      Thank God He is a saving Lord as well as a Sovereign Lord.  If He wasn’t, then we wouldn’t have a chance!  But, it was this holy, righteous, God of judgment and wrath Who was moved by mercy, love and grace to provide a way of salvation for all who will come to Him!


(Note: Before we leave these two stones behind, it is worthy to note that the “Sardius” and the “Jasper” were the first and last stones in the breastplate of the High Priest, Ex. 28:17-21.  The “sardius” represented the tribe of Reuben, and the “jasper” represented the tribe of Benjamin.  These two stones were representative of all twelve stones and were a reminder that God always kept His people and His covenants with His people close to His heart.  In other words, these stones were a constant reminder that God would keep His Word and do everything He had promised to do.

      Judgment will come, but it will be carried out by One Who has walked among us.  There is a human side to His judgment.  He will judge, but it will be tempered by His compassion and mercy.)


C.  v. 3b  He Is The Restraining One – God’s throne is encompassed by an emerald rainbow.  This rainbow is not like those we see here on earth.  We only see half the bow; in Heaven it will all be visible.  We also know that the rainbow signals the fact that the storm has ended.  We also know that the first rainbow was given to Noah as a visible sign that God would never again destroy the earth by a flood, Gen. 9:11-17. 

      This rainbow in Heaven is a reminder that when we arrive there, the storms will be over for the children of God.  It is a reminder that while we may not understand everything that happens here, we will when we get there.  It is also a reminder that God will judge the earth, but that He will do in line with His promises and His convents.

      You see, the rainbow speaks of God’s mercy.  Even as the wrath of God is about to fall on this doomed world, God is still moving in restraint and mercy. (Ill. Habakkuk 3:2)


(Ill. Every person in this room is headed for an encounter with God!  You might have parked your car and walked into Wal-Mart today, but you were actually headed toward God.  You might have parked your car in this parking lot and headed into this building, but you were actually headed straight toward God.  One day, we will all be face to face with Him.  We will meet Him is scenes of glory or in the halls of judgment, but we will meet Him just the same.  Be ready for that moment!)


(Note: Has it dawned on you yet that you are going to see Him one day?  Has it become clear that you will stand in His throne room and see His face?  One day, the long road of life will end and we will be home.  Our journey will be complete; our burdens lifted; our tears dried away; our questions answered; our broken hearts healed forever; and we will be home!  Praise God, there is a better day coming!)


  I.  The Person On The Throne



A.  Their Association – Who are these individuals?  Some people think they are angels, or cherubim.  The word “elders” is never used to refer to angels in the Bible.  Others think they represent some other group.

      Personally, I think they represent all the redeemed children of God.  Let’s examine the evidence.

·         They are sitting on “seats”.  This is the same word translated “throne” in verse 2.  Thus, they are seen to be reigning with God.  The saints will reign with Him some day, 2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 1:6; Rev. 2:26-27.

·         They seem to be a representative people.  In Rev. 21:12-14, the New Jerusalem is described as having twelve gates names after the 12 tribes of Israel.  It is built on twelve foundations which contain the names of the 12 Apostles.  Twelve plus twelve equals twenty-four! I believe that these twenty-four elders represent the redeemed people of God of both the Old Testament and New Testament.

      In the Old Testament, David appointed 24 Levites to represent the entire priesthood, 1 Chron. 23, 28.  When a meeting was necessary, it would have been impossible to gather every one of the thousands of Levites together; but when the twenty-four came together, they represented the whole body.  The same is true of these Elders.  They represent the entirety of the redeemed saints of God!

·         These elders represent us!

B.  Their Activity – They are “sitting”.  This signifies rest.  Their labors are over and they are sitting, at rest in the presence of God in Heaven.

            We are seated in Jesus in Heaven today, Eph. 2:6.  That is our positional situation.  Practically, I am still in this world; living, laboring and longing for Heaven.  One day, we will be where God has already positioned us!

      I just want to remind you that one day, this life with all its burdens, cares, worries and problems will be behind us forever.  We will go to a new home where those things can never hinder or bother us again, Rev. 21:4. We will enter into His rest in Heaven!

C.  Their Attire – They are “clothed in white raiment”.  White garments in the Bible speak of “the righteousness of the saints”, Rev. 19:8.

      When God saved us, He forgave our sins and cleansed every stain of sin away from us forever.  He declared us to be forgiven and justified in His eyes, 1 Cor. 6:11; Rom. 5:1, 9, that is our positional standing.  Practically, however, we are anything but righteous at times.  We strive for that, but we have a hard time achieving perfect holiness.  One day, this wicked flesh will drop away forever.  We will be remade in His image and we will be perfectly holy and righteous, just like He is!  Thank God, there is a day coming when we will leave sin and the appetite for sin behind forever!

D.  Their Adornments – They have “on their heads crowns of gold”.  There are two words for crown in the New Testament. 

      One is the word “diadem”.  This is word that is used to describe the many crowns Jesus will wear when He returns in power and glory to reign on the earth, Rev. 19:12.  This is the kingly crown; the crown of glory.

      The other is the word “stephanos”.  It refers to “a victor’s crown”.  It speaks of the crown given to victors in athletic contests.

      The “diadem” is worn by Jesus by divine right.  The “stephanos” is earned by the saints.  We are told of at least five crowns that can be won by the people of the saints of God.

1.  The Crown of Life – James 1:12; Rev. 2:10 – This crown is given to those who demonstrate their love for Jesus by successfully enduring trials and temptations.

2.  The Crown of Righteousness – 2 Tim. 4:8 – This crown is given to those who live in the light of His coming.  The saints, who long for, live for and love the coming of Jesus, can receive this crown.

3.  The Crown of Glory – 1 Pet. 5:4 – This crown is the reward of the faithful Pastor.

4.  The Crown of Rejoicing – 1 Thes. 2:19 – This crown is a reward for those who faithful share the Gospel message and point others to Jesus.

5.  The Imperishable Crown – 1 Cor. 9:25 – Awarded to those who battle the flesh and seek to live holy lives.


(Note:  You need not worry that your service for the Lord Jesus will go unnoticed.  He sees everything you do for His glory.  He knows about every sacrifice.  He sees every effort.  He takes note of every prayer, every witness, and every secret thing you do to bring glory and honor to His Name.  He will reward your faithful service one day.  You may not receive recognition here, but you surely will over there.  In fact, if you do what you do for the praise of men, you have already received your reward, Matt. 6:1-6.)


  I.  The Person On The Throne

 II.  The People Around The Throne



A.  v. 5-6a  The Scene In Heaven – As John watches, amazing things begin to take place around the throne of God.  Let’s observe the action.

1.  v. 5a  He Speaks Of Wonders – “Lightenings, thunderings and voices” – The things speak of approaching judgment.  Heaven booms with the warning signals that judgment is on the way.  

      These same things are seen in Ex. 19:16-19.  The heavenly noises then were a warning for the people of Israel to keep their distance from God’s holy mountain.  The sounds were a warning that men had better reverence God, or they will face Him in judgment.

2.  v. 5b  He Speaks Of A Witness – “seven lamps of fire” – This is the Spirit of God in His fullness, Isa. 11:2.  The Spirit is no longer a “Comforter”, John 14:16, 26; He is now an instrument of God’s judgment.  He is there to witness to the righteousness of the judgments that are about to fall on the earth.

3.  v.6a  He Speaks Of Waters – “a sea of glass like unto crystal” – This crystal sea speaks of God’s judgment as being form and fixed.  On this earth, there is nothing more constantly changing or in motion than the ocean.  The sea is never still and it is never the same. This sea is solid and unmoving!  Judgment is fixed and it cannot be altered!

      If you will remember, there was a “sea of brass” called “the laver” outside the tent of the Tabernacle.  Before the priests entered the tent they were required to wash in the laver.  It symbolized cleansing and forgiveness of sin.  How many times have I stopped at the laver of 1 John 1:9 and washed my sins and my stains away?  I thank God that there is a place of forgiveness and restoration today.

      In Heaven, that sea of brass has become a sea of glass.  There will be no more need for the saints to come to God for cleansing.  We will never fail Him again!  That will be a blessing.

      But, for the lost sinner, this sea reminds us that it has become too late for repentance.  Judgment is set and fixed.  Man has reached his limit and God is about to pour out His wrath on a lost and sinful world.  What a horror awaits the “earth dwellers”!

B.  v. 6b-11  The Shouts In Heaven – This throne room is a place of judgment, but it is also a place of praise.  There are two groups involved in the praise of God on this occasion.

            1.  v. 6b-9  The Shout Of The Beasts

a.  v. 6b-8a  Their Description – The word “beasts” comes from the Greek word “zoon”.  We get the words “zoo” and “zoology” from it.  The word has the idea of “living ones”.  John sees these four “living ones” and attempts to describe them for us.

·         He says that they are “full of eyes before and behind”.  This speaks of complete intelligence.

·         One was like a lion – This represents wild animal life.

·         One was like a calf – This represents domesticated animal life.

·         One was like a man – This represents intelligent life.

·         One was like and eagle – This represents bird life.

·         These four beasts represent the entirety of God’s creation gathered before Him.

·         They are “full of eyes” – perfect intelligence; They have “six wings” – speaks of swiftness; They “rest not” – speaks of ceaseless activity.

·         These representatives of all creation stand in the presence of God and lift their voices in praise to the Creator.

·         He is the Creator and everything that was made exists for Him and for His glory, Col. 1:16-17.

b.  v. 8b  Their Declaration – They declare His holiness.  They declare His eternal nature.  They declare His sovereignty and His control over all things.  All of nature is involved in praising the Lord.  (Ill.  The rain, the sun, the birds, the animals, everything but man exists to glorify God.  Everything but man glorifies Him by doing what He formed them to do!)


(Note: Before we leave these beasts behind, we should also note that they represent different sides of the Lord Jesus. 

·         The Lion pictures Jesus as He is portrayed in the Gospel of Matthew – The Lion of the tribe of Judah.  As a Lion, Jesus possesses majesty, power ad authority.

·         The Calf pictures Jesus as He is portrayed in the Gospel of Mark – The Suffering Servant.  As a servant, Jesus demonstrated service and strength.

·         The Man pictures Jesus as He is portrayed in the Gospel of Luke – The Son of Man.  As the Son of Man, Jesus possesses perfect intelligence and absolute moral righteousness.

·         The Eagle pictures Jesus as He is portrayed in the Gospel of John – The Son of God come down from Heaven.  As the Son of God, Jesus possesses majesty and transcendence.

·         These beasts are so much like Him because they are so often with Him!)


2.  v. 9-11  The Shout Of The Believers – It isn’t just the four living creatures that lift their voices in praise. When the four beasts begin to praise the Lord, the 24 four elders join right in.

a.  v. 9-10a  Their Praise Is Volitional – Nobody is seen forcing them to praise the Lord.  When they hear their Lord exalted, they cannot help but join right in.  They fall down before Him and worship their Redeemer!

b.  v. 10b  Their Praise Is Visible – They don’t just praise the Lord “in their hearts”, they fall down before Him and offer visible, open, unabashed praise to the Lord.

c.  v. 10c  Their Praise Is Valuable – They take the crowns they have been given and they cast them at the feet of the Lord God.  They acknowledge that where they are, when they have and all they have accomplished is a direct result of His power, His grace and His love.  They owe it all to Him and they offer Him everything they have. They are not concerned about their own glory, but they are lost in His glory!

d.  v. 11  Their Praise Is Vocal – On top of everything else, they open their mouths and loudly proclaim their love and adoration for the Lord. 

·         They declare His “worthiness”.

·         They declare His power. 

·         They declare His right to rule and reign. 

·         They declare their agreement with what He is about to do in the world. 

·         They declare the fact that He made the world and all that is in it.  It is His and He can do with it as He pleases! (Ill. There will be no songs about evolution in glory!)

·         Heaven will literally throb with the praises of God!


(Note: Anytime man enters the presence of God, man always falls down in worship – Isa. 6:5; Eze. 1:28; Dan. 7:15.  Man is terrified in the presence of God and always falls down in humble worship.)


(Note: Do you want to know what we will be doing in Heaven?  We will not be floating around on a cloud, strumming a harp.  Neither will we be fishing, hunting, sleeping or any of the foolish things we hear from time to time.  If you want to know what we will be doing, look no farther than this passage.

      When we leave here, we will be called up, cleaned up and caught up in His praise and worship.  When we arrive there, we will see what we were; where we were headed and what He has done for us in saving our souls.  We will comprehend is and we will not be able to restrain our praise.  Would to God it would become real down here!  Oh, that His people would praise Him for all that He has done for them; where His is taking them and how He is blessing them!

      There is nothing wrong with praising the Lord.  The only thing wrong with it is that is not nearly enough of it going on!  If we want to praise Him, then let’s do it here like we will do it there.  Our praise should be volitional, visible, valuable and vocal.)


Conc:  I am excited about going to Heaven.  How about you?  I look forward to seeing my Lord and my God.  I look forward to joining my voice with those of the other redeemed saints and praising the One Who sought me, bought and delivered my from my sins.

      I want to live my life here as an expression of praise to the Lord Who loves me.  I want to be found glorifying Him by the life live and by how I praise Him.  He is worthy of our love, our devotion, our adoration and our praise.  He deserves it as much today and He will when we get home to glory.  Let’s give Him everything He deserves; and let’s not wait to Heaven to do it!

      If you are not saved today, I want you to know that you will face the Lord in judgment.  You need to come to Jesus for salvation.  If you are saved and you want to thank Him for what He has given you, this altar is open.  Maybe you would just like to bow and praise Him; you can do that too.

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