“I am a friend of God,” says one contemporary worship song.
“We are children of God,” proclaims the apostle John in one of his epistles. (I John 3:1)
And yet while both are true, one thing that we should never forget is that he is also our king. And he is worthy of our honor and our praise.
Here in Revelation 4, we step into the very throne room of God, and we see God in all his glory as king.
As is often the case when people try to describe God, John finds it impossible to describe Him in detail. All he can do is give us glimpses of His glory, comparing Him to precious stones such as jasper and carnelian, and emerald. (3) Not to say that God is a gem, of course, but that His glory radiates with great beauty.
John then tells us that from his throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder which recall the awesomeness of God’s power which the Israelites witnessed on Mount Sinai. (Exodus 19:16)
And before the throne were 7 blazing lamps or torches. (5) Back in those days, torches were set before rulers to show their authority. But John tells us these lamps also symbolize the “seven spirits of God,” which we saw in chapter 1 probably refers to the Holy Spirit.
Leading up to the throne was a sea of glass, like crystal. It’s not clear whether this is an actual sea that John sees or it’s a pavement of glass that sparkled like crystal (NLT). Either way, imagine approaching God on that.
Before you even get to God, you have to go past some beings which are glorious in their own rights.
First are the 24 elders on their thrones. People dispute who they are, but my guess is that they are a high order of angels, who also perhaps represent the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles joining as one people before God. They are dressed in white, showing their holiness, and have crowns on their head, perhaps showing the authority they have.
Second are four living creatures which seem to merge the characteristics of the angels called cherubim (Ezekiel 1:5-14; Ezekiel 10), and seraphim (Isaiah 6:2-3). These creatures are also angels of high order who would later help execute God’s judgment on the earth. John says one was like a lion, another like an ox, the third like a man, and the fourth like a flying eagle. And perhaps they represent all of creation serving and praising God, the wild (lion), the domesticated (ox), humanity, and the birds (eagle).
It’s also possible they represent God’s majesty (lion), strength (ox), intelligence (man), and loving care (eagle — see Exodus 19:4).
But the thing that stands out to me, is that as awesome as these beings are, they all bow in worship to God.
The four creatures cry out day and night,
Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come. (8)
And as they do so, these mighty elders, rulers in their own right, throw their crowns before the God who gave them their authority singing,
You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being. (11)
What can we get from all this?
First and foremost, that though God is our father and our friend, he is also the king upon the throne. He is the almighty God. And he is worthy of our worship.
Sin comes when we refuse to recognize this one all-important fact.
Second, he is the king, and he is in control. Although this world sometimes seems out of control, and things will go from bad to worse as we will see later in Revelation, God is on his throne, and nothing happens apart from his will. And ultimately, he will triumph, to his praise and glory.
Amen. Come soon Lord Jesus.