Day 347: The Throne Room

Hosea 12-14; Revelation 4

The last chapters of Hosea are heart-breaking as Hosea describes the inevitable destruction that will come because of the nation’s refusal to repent. But the book ends with the hopeful promise that God would restore and build His Kingdom…

They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow;
they shall flourish like the grain;
they shall blossom like the vine;
their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon (Hosea 14:7).

His judgment is revealed in the context of His faithfulness to redeem his people. This is actually a summary statement for God’s work through all of history and according to the book of Revelation, this is how He will work in the future as well.

This is why John is transported “in the Spirit” to God’s throne room. John is shown God’s glory and Protection of the Saints before he is shown God’s judgment on the earth. This is so important that I will write it again…God’s judgment is revealed in the context of His faithfulness to redeem his people!!!

So what does John see in the throne room of God???

The images that John describes harken back to the opening chapter of Ezekiel – when Ezekiel was also shown a vision of the Glory of God.

And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald (Revelation 4:3).

And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. […]Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around (Ezekiel 1:26-28).

I get the sense that both John and Ezekiel tried to find words to adequately describe the scene and found themselves limited by the use of only words. For words cannot possibly sum up the Glory of God!

Then John sees 24 elders sitting on thrones, dressed in white and wearing crowns. Their presence fulfills the promises given to the seven churches of the ones who overcome…”clothed in white, ruling with him, sharing his throne” (2:10; 2:27; 3:5, 3:113:21). The number 24 could represent both 12 tribes of Israel + 12 apostles – most likely representing all of those who are redeemed in Christ. This represents us, if we are redeemed in Christ!

From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal (Revelation 4:5-6).

This passage reveals God as judge. “The sea of glass, of the perfection of crystal, separates God in his holiness from everything else. It is this sea which will disappear later (21:1). In other words, there will come a time when sin and sinful people have been judged and God’s people will no longer experience this sea which separates them from their God” (P. Gardner, Revelation, pg 72).

John then observes four creatures that were around the throne (4:6). John’s description recalls images from both Ezekiel and Isaiah’s visions of God’s throne room (Ezekiel 1:10, 18 & Isaiah 6:2-3). These creatures represent all of God’s creation: wild & domestic animals, birds and humans all “looking this way and that way in order to serve him and worship him” (P. Gardner, Revelation, pg 73).

This amazing scene which our human minds can not fully comprehend culminates in worship. For God is holy, almighty and eternal. In addition to John’s vision, Ezekiel, Isaiah and Daniel were also given visions of God’s throne room, and all four men, when faced with the Glory of God, joined the members of the throne room in WORSHIP.

This should be our response as well…As we consider that we are His redeemed; He has clothed us with the righteousness of His Son and will remove the sea of separation to dwell with us forever…we should cast our crowns before Him and cry with all creation…

Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created (Revelation 4:11).

Disclaimer: I humbly and cautiously offer an interpretation of the book of Revelation based on my Reformed understanding of Scripture, an Amillennialist eschatology, and a heavy reliance on the book,Revelation, The Compassion and Protection of Christ by Dr. Paul Gardner.

Day 231: Worthy of our worship

Isaiah 4-6; Romans 12

In today’s reading, Isaiah 4 opens with a prophecy of hope – and then Isaiah 5 turns dark as it describes how the people of Judah had rejected his grace (5:4) and consequently, would experience God’s wrath (5:13-14).

It is this context of future hope (chapt. 4) and imminent judgment (chapt. 5) that we see God’s grace and calling to Isaiah in Chapter 6.

Isaiah’s vision is truly awesome. He is face to face with the glory and holiness of the Lord, and he is terrified. Never has Isaiah been more aware of his own shortcomings – he was absolutely destitute in his sin.

But see God’s severe grace. Forgiveness does not come cheap. Sin always bears a price…

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for” (Isaiah 6:6-7).

Then God gives Isaiah his calling and purpose. Isaiah was called into a life of suffering – as he would proclaim God’s impending judgment on a hardened people.

But look deeper into the text and notice that Isaiah is describing the very throne room of God! God’s robe fills the temple and the foundation of the temple shook at the power of His voice. Isaiah, in his sinful state, could only crumple under the Holiness, but the seraphim, the pure seraphim, were engaged in worship.

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3)

This song is echoed in Revelation 4 – where we are also transported through vision to the throne room of God – and there we find the four creatures (representing all of creation) gathered with the 24 elders (who probably represent the unity of Israel and the church – combining the 12 tribes of Israel + the 12 apostles) – and what are they ALL doing??!! Worshiping the Lord!

And the four living creatures, …day and night they never cease to say,
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!”

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:8-11)

What is our response to the God we serve?? First, we say with Isaiah, “Woe is me!” And then, we must worship.

Romans 12:1 instructs us in this worship. We don’t contain our worship to Sunday mornings. No! We worship with our very lives!

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Jesus demands our all. How will you worship Him today?