Brief Background

For those who are just joining us, we are working our way through the book of Revelation. John the son of Zebedee was an exile on the isle of Patmos. Yeshua was revealed to him there, and John was commanded to write to seven communities in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey).

We have now finished the specific letters to the 7 congregations. In (Rev. 1:19) Yeshua states that this Revelation will cover “what is, and what will happen after these things.”[1] In many ways, what we have studied so far has been grounded in the natural with consequences in the spiritual realm. We have seen specific issues and sins addressed, and conditions set for overcoming. The congregations have been addressed individually, and we have been able to apply the lessons as necessary to our own lives.

The Throne Room

Now we are about to go on a journey with John and see events from the perspective of Adonai and the Kingdom of Heaven. Whereas before we saw the actions of the Congregations (earthly events) and their resultant spiritual ramifications, now we will be looking at heavenly events, and their resultant earthly out-workings.

[Read Rev. 3:14-22]

Basic Interpretation

I have noticed, that many people will use one way of interpreting the narratives of Scripture, and a completely different way when coming to prophesy. While I do believe that there are nuanced differences, I think that generally we should still lean back on the Golden Rule of Interpretation by David L. Cooper.

“When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths indicated clearly otherwise.”

“The Golden Rule of Interpretation is one of the most important principles governing us in our interpretation of the Scriptures. If we follow this rule, we shall never go very far wrong; but if we fail to follow it, we shall never go right.”

Simply put, the authors of Scripture meant what they said, and said what they meant. As we walk through Revelation, we will do our best to understand what the author, John, is trying to say, and how his original audience would have understood him. We will do our best to not import our modern views back into the text, but rather look at the prophetic vision of John, in the context of a long line of Prophets. With this approach, we will hopefully gain more clarity of John’s Revelation, as well as understanding the currently relevance of the Prophets.

Establishment of a Prophet and Foundation of the Prophesy

(Vs. 1) Throughout history, it has been very common for a prophet’s ministry to be started by a vision of Adonai and His Throne. We see this with Michiah (1 Kings 22:19), Ezekiel (1:4-28), Daniel (7:9-14), and Isaiah (6:1-5). All of these encounters with Adonai reach further back to the Revelation of Adonai to Moses [Exo. 24:9-12].

Here we have the Priests and the Elders seeing the God of Israel seated on Hid throne. Moses also describes the “foundation a pavement of Sapphire, as clear as the very heavens.” Many Rabbis would like to say that no one has ever seen Adonai, but if that is the case, then who did the 70 elders see? Rather, the text clearly states that they “beheld God, and ate and drank” which shows that it was not just a spiritual dream, but an eyes-open revelation of Adonai to these elders and priests. Also notice, that just as with Ezekiel (1:1), Adonai calls to Moses to “Come up to Me” where Adonai would give to Moses the written word. So also, John is called up to receive the revelation of the living word.

Description of the Throne

(Vs. 2-3) John is now immediately transported to the heavenly throne room of Adonai. John describes Adonai as “like Jasper and carnelian in appearance,” and then describes the throne as having an emerald rainbow surrounding it and a sea of glass, clear as crystal below it. We are accustomed to glass being clear, and so the description of it being “like crystal” seems a little redundant. However, In John’s day the Romans had only just developed blown glass. Most glass was opaque, but if the glass was see-through, it was the colour of most sand, yellow. John’s description matched with what Moses and the Elders saw, with the “pavement of Sapphire, as clear as the very heavens.” Ezekiel describes it as an “expanse, shining like the colour of ice, stretching forth over” the heads of the four living creatures. [Eze. 1:22-28]  

Description of the Elders

(Vs.4) John now describes 24 Elders who are seated around Adonai. There is no explanation as to “who” these individuals are. Are they human or angelic? Are they ruling stars or are they simply an analogy of completeness and fullness?[2] Biblically the number 12 seems to be the number of divine government. There are 12 tribes, 12 apostles, 12 gates to the new Jerusalem, with 12 guarding angels at each gate. So, the number possibly demonstrates 2 X 12, a double portion of diving governance. The white garments show royalty or priesthood, and during John’s time, golden crowns were most often associated with the worship of a deity.  

Last week we discussed Michiah, a prophet of Adonai during King Ahab’s time. Michiah describes these beings in (1 Kings 22:19) as part of the “hosts of Heaven”, who are “standing by [Adonai] on His right hand and on His left.” Obviously “who” they are, was not important enough for John to record, but what they did, and do, is far more important. Throughout Revelation, they are constantly mentioned in conjunction with the 4 living beings, and are constantly praising and worshiping Adonai.

The Four Living Creatures

I believe that the 4 creatures that John sees here, are the same 4 creatures that Ezekiel saw in [1:4-15], and the Seraphim that Isaiah describes in [6:2-3]. When I read all three accounts, it is like reading 3 different eye-witness testimonies of the same event. Each of the witnesses, has noticed different aspects. While John’s description is not as detailed as Ezekiel’s, both he and Isaiah record what they cried in worship, “Holy! Holy! Holy!” [Rev. 4:8b]. Ezekiel only saw 4 of the 6 wings, and John only saw 1 side of the 4 faces. Isaiah called them Seraphim, Ezekiel called them Cherubim, are they the same being or are they different? I guess we will one day see.

(Vs. 7) The description of the 4 faces, Lion, Ox, Man and flying Eagle represent qualities that belong to Adonai such as “royal power, strength, spirituality and swiftness of action, [and] each of the creatures mentioned is the chief of its species.”[3] “That the creatures are “covered with eyes” suggests that nothing on earth is hidden from them, with the implication, “How much less from God Himself?””[4]

Ongoing Worship

Depending on how you count them there are between 7-16 worship songs that John records. These declarations of Adonai’s character, and person, form a significant foundation for the entire prophesy/vision. The 4 living creatures and the 24 elders, do not rest day or night from declaring how holy is Adonai, and how worthy He is of all glory, honour and praise.

(Vs. 11) Remember how we have discussed the persecution that the congregations were experiencing? At the time of the writing of Revelation, the primary cause of this persecution, was the command to worship Caesar Domitian as “lord”. And while it was true that Caesar could take the lives of those who refused, he could never create life, or bring life back from the dead!

Application for us today

Chapters 4 and 5 form the foundation for everything that we will see in Revelation. The throne room of Adonai is spectacular! Awesome! Powerful! Majestic! By remembering the reality of Adonai’s position, we are able to put our lives and our situations into proper perspective. This teaches us humility, the fundamental purpose of worship and finally gives us a reason to hope.


The first area of humility, that is most relevant to the context of Revelation, is for leaders and rulers of nations to be aware that Adonai is King over all the earth. Just as the Psalmist states in [Psalm 2:1-6]. Just as the 24 Elders do not claim their crowns as theirs, but rather throw them before Adonai, so also, we must recognize Adonai’s worth. Recognizing who God is, and who we are, and the consequent vast difference between God and ourselves is the true definition of Humility. “Nothing banishes pride of mortal flesh or human competition and agendas better than a taste of God’s infinite greatness.” [5]


“Holy, holy, holy” is recounted by both John and Isaiah (6:3). Isaiah was, arguably one of the most righteous men in his generation. Yet when he encountered the Holy God of the Universe, he declared, “Oy to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I am dwelling among a people of unclean lips. For my eyes have seen the King, Adonai-Tzva’ot.” “Worship is not the invention of nice things to say about God; it is the recognition of who God already is, as well as what he has already done or promised to do, and how worthy he is of our praise.”[6] But speaking about Adonai is not enough, we must speak to Adonai in prayer, praise and song.


Finally, the picture of Adonai enthroned above the whole earth, reminds us that our pain and suffering is only for a moment. Heaven is the throne of God and earth is the footstool of His Feet, therefore do not worry, about your life.

When we have been 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun, we’ll have not less days, to sing Him praise, than when we first begun.


[1] All scripture quotations are taken from the Tree of Live Version (TLV) unless otherwise noted.

[2] Johnston, Alan F., The Expositors Bible Commentary: Revelation, R.E., p. 641.

[3] Johnston, Alan F., The Expositors Bible Commentary: Revelation, R.E., p. 642.

[4] Keener, Craig S., The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation, p. 175.

[5] Keener, p. 180.

[6] Keener, p. 181.