1 After this I looked, and there in heaven was an open door. The first voice that I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 Immediately I was in the Spirit, and a throne was set there in heaven. One was seated on the throne, 3 and the One seated looked like jasper and carnelian stone. A rainbow that looked like an emerald surrounded the throne. 4 Around that throne were 24 thrones, and on the thrones sat 24 elders dressed in white clothes, with gold crowns on their heads. 5 Flashes of lightning and rumblings of thunder came from the throne. Seven fiery torches were burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God. 6 Something like a sea of glass, similar to crystal, was also before the throne. Four living creatures covered with eyes in front and in back were in the middle and around the throne. 7 The first living creature was like a lion; the second living creature was like a calf; the third living creature had a face like a man; and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. 8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings; they were covered with eyes around and inside. Day and night they never stop, saying: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God, the Almighty, who was, who is, and who is coming. 9 Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to the One seated on the throne, the One who lives forever and ever, 10 the 24 elders fall down before the One seated on the throne, worship the One who lives forever and ever, cast their crowns before the throne, and say: 11 Our Lord and God, You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because You have created all things, and because of Your will they exist and were created.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
What a privilege for John…a chance to view the worship of Heaven before his earthly life was complete. This passage is loaded with symbolism. Today, we will unpack a few symbols that will hopefully give us even more reason and desire to worship our holy God.
First of all, notice the attention given to the throne.
The focus is not on a piece of furniture, but on the One who occupies it. This throne represents sovereign rule and authority—two characteristics that can only be used to describe Almighty God. As you read through this chapter, you’ll notice the theme of God’s throne throughout.
Secondly, notice the twenty-four elders mentioned in verse 4.
Regarding the elders, John MacArthur writes, “Their joint rule with Christ, their white garments, and their golden crowns all seem to indicate that these 24 represent the redeemed. The question is which redeemed? Not Israel, since the nation is not yet saved…tribulation saints aren’t yet saved. Only one group will be complete and glorified at that point – the church. Here elders represent the church, which sings the song of redemption. They are the overcomers who have their crowns and live in the place prepared for them, where they have gone with Jesus.”
Finally, notice the four living creatures; the cherubim (also described by Ezekiel during his vision in Ezekiel 1:5). They spend every moment describing God as holy and eternal.
The Throne – Kingdoms all over this world have thrones in their palaces—a place where only their ruler is allowed to sit. However, thrones are also personal. Even human has one. They’re placed in our hearts. Because they’re personal, we’re often tempted to allow others to sit there. We don’t think anyone will notice that someone besides God is seated on our throne. However, what is on the inside will eventually manifest. We can’t hide our allegiance forever. What we worship will reveal itself in the way we live.
The Church – As Christians, we are to pursue holiness and a deeper relationship with God as part of our everyday lives. Verse 4 paints a beautiful symbol of what that kind of devotion looks like. Where are the elders in this passage? They’re “around the throne.” They’re close to God, worshipping Him, bowing their lives before Him, with full knowledge that every crown they’ve been given is because of Him.
The Cherubim – Great role models for us as believers. As they worship continually, we follow their lead and fall down at the feet of the One True God. He is already seated high, but still we fall as low as possible and give glory to the One who created us. “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.”
As you reflect on this passage, think of practical ways you can engage more in worship while you are HERE on this earth. You don’t have to wait for Heaven! The closer we draw to God, the higher our expectations will be for “throne room worship” here on earth.
- In the context of corporate worship, maybe you need to set a higher standard for engaging in the worship services you attend. Start praying about them before you ever arrive, that God will remove any distractions that would keep you from experiencing all He has for you in those times of corporate worship.
- Also, pray that He will give you the desire to fully engage with your voice as we sing to the Lord, with your heart as we spend time in prayer, and with your mind as the truth of God’s transforming Word is preached.
- Maybe God desires for your family to worship together more in your home through prayer, devotion, singing, or even in the topics of your everyday discussions. There are so many opportunities to deepen your relationship with God through worship. Let’s start preparing for worship in Heaven TODAY.