People often look at Revelation as a book shrouded in mystery, or a book locked away by God. That could not be further from the truth. Revelation is a letter from Jesus to the saints. Revelation is an open book to the saints. Revelation is locked by people who choose to ignore the obvious messages Jesus included in His letter.
This section on Revelation looks at Revelation as a letter from Christ. This concept is not unique, but a view of Revelation many authors shared over 150 years ago. The Book of Revelation follows a unique sequence. The events this world has endured and will face in the future are recorded in the proper sequence in Revelation. The problem people face is the fact they miss the obvious timeline Revelation contains. John was shown the proper timeline. John was shown a future he could not possibly understand. After each vision an angel stood next to John to explain the visions and symbols. The angel would back up to John’s time and then explain how events lead to the visions he witnessed. When we understand those timelines, we begin to understand the future John was shown. Studies in this section explain those timelines and why they were shown to John in the sequence recorded.
I felt I had to take a break from Revelation to add in a sort of educational chapter. After reading and writing about Revelation chapter 4, I asked a number of people if it was still possible to approach God’s throne. For the most part, people didn’t want to answer, or didn’t know the answer. But a few did.
Approaching God’s throne is a personal matter. Each person has their own unique way of approaching God’s throne. Some people skip God’s throne while still meeting personally with Jesus while others grasp onto the theme in Hebrews chapter 4 telling us to, “boldly stand before God’s throne.” Let’s face it, personally talking with God and Jesus have been a rather obscure subject to say the least. Either people will agree or disagree. Few people will look at the subject of approaching God’s throne and a learning opportunity. There are a few, but that is a minority of people. An even smaller minority are those who want to share their moments at God’s throne. Those people are few and far between.
When it comes to direct communication with God, doubters go as far back as Moses. No one heard God’s voice for about 400 years. Then one day this well known figure, who could have, and should have done something about slavery in Egypt when he was next to Pharaoh’s throne shows up dressed like a common shepherd. What happened Moses? You were a prince then disappeared. Now your back here telling us God is going to free us from slavery. Why didn’t you do something about it when you were a prince?
It seems God placed Moses in a tight spot. Moses could have taken action when he was next to Pharaoh’s throne. In a sense, Moses did take action by killing a single Egyptian. That didn’t solve anything. Moses had no idea about the big picture. Maybe God had a plan to use Moses when he was in Pharaoh’s court. We have no way of knowing if Moses altered God’s plan to a certain degree. That will be interesting to find out when we get to Heaven. In the long run, God had a plan that worked. In hindsight, Moses placed himself in a tight spot.
No Israelite in Egypt heard God’s voice for over 400 years. Of course they prayed. If you were a slave, you would be praying to. But God didn’t answer. So when Moses showed up and said he talked with God, people doubted. We are still plagued with that mentality. Try sharing something new with someone who thinks they have a direct line with God. Some people have the attitude, “if God didn’t go through them with a message, that message must have come from the other side.” I’ve run into that mentality many times. I ask them how they communicate with God, and they normally shot back with a few verses about false prophets, which has nothing to do with the subject at hand. But those verses about false prophets is their man made defense mechanism they use for every circumstance they don’t agree with.
It took a few choice miracles or plagues, depending on their point of view to convince people, Moses was meeting with God and delivering messages from God. And then there was Pharaoh. The guy who knew each and every one of those Egyptian gods were fake. He thought he was in control and that God Moses talked about was as fake as the gods Pharaoh and his family made up. Pharaoh was a tough nut to crack. In his world everything outside his control was fake. People still have that mentality today.
Eventually God got Israel out of Egypt and into an environment they could mellow out and think. One day God decided to show Himself to Israel so they could believe He was real and could talk to them. Of course every Israelite that left Egypt with Moses saw all those plagues. They saw Egyptian crops being ruined as their crops flourished. They saw Egyptian cattle dying when not one of their cows or sheep showed any signs of being sick. They saw water turn to blood, hail from from the sky, frogs, locusts, and other bugs controlled by God. They should have had a firm belief in God. Something went wrong. After spending their entire lives learning how to fear every god from A to Z, that fear clung onto Israel like the chains that kept them as slaves. Since they were used to someone telling them what the gods demanded, they asked Moses to play that part as a go between themselves and God.
God offered the priesthood to every Israelite that came out of Egypt. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. (Exodus 19:6 KJV). They turned down that offer.
We see the same pattern repeated when Jesus began His ministry. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way, (Luke 4:28-30 KJV).
No one seemed to hear God’s voice for a few hundred years between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament. Once again God was silent for a time, and people just thought that pattern would continue. Or they invented new ways to make people think, God spoke to a select few in some mysterious way. So don’t ask for details, just follow their lead.
After the apostles, the same thing happened. No one seemed to hear God’s voice. It seemed the contact with the Holy Spirit Jesus promised was meant for a few choice people, and when they died, this world was left to figure things out on their own. The world grew dark and it seemed it needed a new religious leader. So a group of people got together and selected the most likely candidates God would eventually speak to. One after another was set in solitude to see if they heard God’s voice. After a number of attempts, one man came out of the room and told the committee, he heard God’s voice. That was good enough for that pious committee. They made that man their new leader and created a new religion based on the belief that God talks to one man here in earth, and the rest of the world has to follow dictates from that single man for God to bless this earth. That concept has stuck with this world ever since, and people who don’t fall in line are looked upon as outcasts or part of a cult. The devil won. He convinced the majority of this world that concept of one man between themselves and God was the only choice this world had. For some reason people read the Bible, and instead of taking God’s Word, and following God’s instructions, they decided to take the word of slaves. They decided that the choice that group of slaves made was the only choice. Scholars sipped right over God’s offer to be a nation of priests and clung onto the decision that Israel made. They convinced themselves and much of this world that Israel’s decision was somehow inspired. Reading that story the way it was written shows how Israel rebelled against God. But Satan took out the few words he needed to form a new religion, and had his agents spread it all over the world. Satan thought he had his prison door shut and locked. But God has always been at His best when it came to reaching people in prison.
Today it is rare to find people who approach God’s throne. It is rare to find people who know anything about approaching God’s throne. Or are open minded enough to learn anything about approaching God’s throne. Why is that? We just covered a few of the concepts the devil found to be effective. There are more. Take out a few choice lines in the Old Testament, add in a long speech about how God chose a few choice prophets to talk to, and you have a theology that forges the same chains that one man concept created. In the long run, the devil doesn’t want anyone to approach God’s throne, talk to Jesus, work with the Holy Spirit, or read scripture. Those are a few things the devil fears the most.
As soon as you enter God’s presence, you are in a place the devil can’t touch you. His influence is gone, and you are opening yourself to total, untainted truth. The thing is, you have to learn to put away so many thing this world has taught you. But when you approach God’s throne, you take the first step to separating truth from fiction.
I’ve talked to a number of people over the past week to get their view points on approaching God’s throne. It’s good to know God still has a number of people who will talk to Him. It may seem rather strange to think of God as feeling lonely or rejected. After all, God has billions or requests to deal with from billions of people everyday. God hears their prayers. People ask for favors, blessings, and ask God to deal with countless situations every second of every day. God knows how to deal with each of those situations. If you ever approached God’s throne, you know how God will tell you how to deal with your situation. God will give you step by step instructions you can’t argue with. If you follow those instructions, the problem is solved. The problem is, the devil is watching, and launches a hundred more attacks.
At times God will take you back a few steps to remind you how you got yourself into that mess. God is also a Teacher and Father who never wants you to repeat your mistakes. Correction from God may be a little difficult for some people to accept. That is one reason some people avoid God’s throne. You just have to learn to get over your pride.
I have may own way of approaching God’s throne. It may not be right for you, but at least you have something to think about. I look at Jesus as a way to God’s throne. To me it makes sense to cleanse myself, to make myself pure enough to approach God’s throne. After all, Aaron the high priest had to wash himself and dress in the proper way to enter the Tabernacle and to offer a sacrifice. I ask Jesus to be forgiven for my sins and to be cleansed. Then I find myself in God’s presence. Not so much to make requests, but to listen and learn. I may ask one question, then another. I may go through three or four questions before I hear a response. When I do hear a response, I know it is God’s voice. I could never second guess or argue with any of the answers God offers. They make total sense. God backs them up with stories from scripture. God’s answers are often verified by real life events that confirm His answers and messages.
There are of course as many ways to approach God’s throne as there are people. We all have our own unique personalities. One person may see God’s throne as this, another as that. When we approach God’s throne, we have respect for other people and their stories about being at God’s throne. There is no doubt about that.
The thing about books like Revelation is, people tend to get caught up with trying to figure out the future. That’s something the devil has planted in our brains. The devil wants people to believe, if they can figure out the future, that somehow draws them closer to God. That could not be further from the truth. Common sense tells us, God knows everything about the future. So why would anyone think, God wants us to figure out the future, then tell God what the future holds? That is reverse thinking. It is actually insane. All God wants is people to go to Him for answers. But this world has been trained to go to every other source but God. People have been convinced, God doesn’t talk to this world. But David tells us different story.
The one thing I ask of the LORD– the thing I seek most– is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me. At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the LORD with music. Hear me as I pray, O LORD. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.” (Psalms 27:4-8 NLTse).
If David could enter God’s Sanctuary, why not us? If God protected David, why not us? God does not play favorites. God can’t love one person more than another. So why does the world teach us, God favors some people over others? That doesn’t make sense when we take the Bible as a whole. It’s time to make a decision. Is your view of God based on what the world wants you to think, what the devil wants you to believe, or direct contact and communication with God? What is our source of information?
It may come as a surprise to some people when they read the literally progression Jesus used to write the Book of Revelation. Jesus used the same literally progression all successful writers use. Jesus first described a scene, then the events that occurred in that scene.
Of course we are supposed to compare the Tabernacle built on this planet to the actual Heavenly Sanctuary containing God’s throne. The Tabernacle consisted of symbols. People have been studying those symbols for generations. So why not study John’s eyewitness account of Heaven?
Revelation 4:3-6 KJV And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. (4) And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. (5) And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: 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 a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
What exactly did John see? Were all those gem stones John used to describe God’s throne real, symbols, or both? Writers do one thing with symbols. Writers use symbols to captivate the imagination. Writers also define those symbols. Why look for the definition of a symbol when the author doesn’t provide one? I guess that is human nature.
Some people may say, “John used the best words he could to describe God’s throne.” John didn’t write Revelation, Jesus did. All John did was dictate Jesus’ words. So we have to ask why Jesus used a series of gems to describe His Father’s throne.
In this world gems are a thing of value. But Heaven does not operate on the currency method this world uses. In Heaven, currency is a foreign, unknown subject. So throw out all those man made concepts centered on currency. As a matter of fact, that is what Revelation chapter 4 is trying to convey with this description of God’s throne. We cannot reply on any earthly item, material, concept, idea, or doctrine to describe God’s throne. We have to rely on the Author who just happens to have a seat next to God’s throne. If we turn to any source outside of Jesus, all we are ever going to receive is a false interpretation.
Jesus told John to use gemstones to describe God’s thrown for a reason. Look at the rainbow. What story does that point us to?
Genesis 9:12-16 KJV21 And God said, “This is the token of the covenant which I make between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: (13) I do set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between Me and the earth. (14) And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud. (15) And I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh, and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. (16) And the rainbow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.”
That rainbow was a symbol of a reminder. Jesus wants us to see God’s throne has a rainbow around it. A constant reminder of God’s covenant with us. One in a long list of covenants. When we look at the Ark, it is referred to as the Ark of testimony, and the Ark of the covenant. Now that we’ve read the description of God’s throne, we are shown how God has a constant reminder surrounding His throne. But why does God need a reminder? For us that rainbow is a symbol showing us how we need to constantly review all the covenants God made with this world and all its people.
I know a lot of doctrines insist there are old and new covenants and only a select few matter anymore. But who is making those choices? Is there clear evidence in the Bible telling us to ignore some of God’s covenants, and pay attention to others? Or is that claim another man made concept? I think we hit upon another subject to study. So far in our studies we’ve seen how important it is to gather all the facts and read the entire story. We’ve learned how Satan loves to hide the majority of facts found in those stories. Time to cast off those chains and approach God’s throne for answers.
Jesus also described His Father by using gemstones. A jasper and sardine stone. What do those stones mean? A quick glance at a Concordance will tell us, jasper is a gem stone. The base word means to polish. Sardine is also a gemstone with a base word which simply means stone. Put the two base meanings together and we have a new view of God polishing a stone. That takes us to a number of stories. “Take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the tribes of Israel. (Exodus 28:9 NLTse). Another is found in a previous chapter in Revelation. “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.” (Revelation 2:17 NLTse).
There are of course other stories you can choose from. In the examples I supplied, I showed how the base words for those two stones led us back in Revelation as well as to another story about the Tabernacle. When people say, “the Lord works in mysterious ways,” I wish they would supply examples like this. Every time we turn around, God’s Word is proving it is inspired.
Jesus also described twenty elders wearing crowns. Jesus is not the only one at God’s throne. God has somehow dictated responsibility in Heaven. Doesn’t God do the same thing here on earth? God could show Himself to this world at any moment, answer every question in heartbeat, prove He exists, and send a whole list of false doctrines, ideas, and concepts to the grave. Many people ask why He doesn’t operate that way. Jesus showed us why. It’s God’s policy to dictate responsibilities. He does it in Heaven and earth. Who are we to argue. Jesus described those people as elders. People who learned a lot through experience. When we are on the right tract to God’s throne, we can see those lessons and learning curve in our life. In a sense, those elders are symbols we can understand. But we are only going to understand when we are on the right path and in the proper frame of mind.
What about that lightning and thunder? Is Jesus using that as a symbol to point to Himself or another story?
Father, bring glory to your name.” Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.” When the crowd heard the voice, some thought it was thunder, while others declared an angel had spoken to him. Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. (John 12:28-31 NLTse).
We will never know what those stories will tell us if we never read them. In John’s Gospel, Jesus talked about the judgment, and thunder. Some people only hear the rumble. Some people hear the message. The evidence given in the Bible is self explanatory.
Then we get to that sea of glass. Why did Jesus use that symbol? I saw before me what seemed to be a glass sea mixed with fire. And on it stood all the people who had been victorious over the beast and his statue and the number representing his name. They were all holding harps that God had given them. And they were singing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb: “Great and marvelous are your works, O Lord God, the Almighty. Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations. Who will not fear you, Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed.” (Revelation 15:2-4 NLTse).
Looking ahead in Revelation, we see how that sea of glass represents the victory God’s saints will secure over Satan and this world. There is no guess work involved when we let the Bible explain itself. Of course we have to examine the context. Since both visions originate in Heaven, we are assured there is a connection.
Of course God’s throne has its seven lamps, which are the seven Spirits of God. Since we know the lamp in the Tabernacle is linked to God’s Word and how it guides us, we now have a link to the Spirit and how He guides us through our studies of scripture.
It’s amazing how a look at a few key words can clear up so many questions. It’s even more amazing how the story identified those symbols. Each may have used a different method, but each had a per-designed method embedded in this story. The methods are rather simple to use and didn’t rely on any input from this world. What we need to remember is, Jesus arranged every word in the Bible. When we see descriptions of Heaven, we are seeing how Jesus views Heaven.