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And now we come to, really, the most important part of our worship, and that is when we hear from heaven from the Word of the living God, and we find ourselves in Revelation chapter 4. So I would invite you to open your Bible to the fourth chapter of Revelation. We’re working our way through, and I want to keep moving, but this particular section of chapters 4 and 5 demand some very careful attention in order for us to absorb the magnificence of this theme, which is heavenly worship. And since we have been redeemed to worship, John 4 says that “the Father seeks true worshipers who worship Him in spirit and truth.” Salvation is to make us into true worshipers, everlasting worshipers. That is what we are to do here on earth, is what we will do forever in heaven, as we will see in these two chapters. And I think these two chapters are really the foundation for our understanding of worship.

There’s so much discussion about worship in the church these days, and you hear a lot about worship wars and people debating as to what style or what kind of music or whatever should be used in worship. I don’t think you start by looking at the world and picking and choosing from them, I think you have to start in heaven because that’s where perfect worship takes place. So what we’re going to see in chapters 4 and 5 is heavenly worship. This is worship in heaven, perfect worship, precisely as God designed it and desires it; and that is how it is offered to Him. It wouldn’t be possible, really, to have a seriousness about worship if we didn’t start here in heaven, where worship is absolutely serious in its perfections. So let’s look at the opening of chapter 4. I want to read all eleven verses. Although we won’t get through all of them this morning, we will next time.

Revelation chapter 4, verse 1, “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.’ Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads. Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God; and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. The first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.’ And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.’”

This is a trip to heaven. This is the second vision. The first one was a vision of Christ in chapter 1 that God gave to John—the first unveiling, the first apocalypse. This is the second one, and it is a vision, in particular, of the throne of God. Eleven times, the throne of God is mentioned in eleven verses. A couple of times “thrones” are mentioned with regard to the twenty-four elders. But eleven of those thirteen times it refers to the throne of God.

Now just to say for the sake of clarity, it is not a chair; it is not a piece of furniture, the throne of God. God doesn’t sit because God is a spirit. And God is immense, and God fills all things. So we’re not talking about furniture; we’re talking about the place where God rules, from which He rules His universe. You could say that the throne and the temple and heaven are all the same thing. The glory of God shining in the midst of the temple of God in the midst of the heaven of God permeates everything.

So we’re talking here, not about a physical piece of furniture but about spiritual reality. This is symbolic of God’s sovereignty over everything and everyone. Psalm 103:19 says, “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all.” As I read in Psalm 47, verse 8, “God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne.”

Now we’re going to see a lot about the throne in the book of Revelation. It’s mentioned 37 times, because as you come to the consummation of redemptive history as laid out in the visions of the book of Revelation, obviously God is the main actor, and so we’re going to be going to this throne many times in the book of Revelation.

But the throne of God is not exclusive to the book of Revelation; it is described in other portions of the New Testament, and even other portions of the Old Testament. So if we gather all of that together, this would be the description of the throne of God laid out throughout Scripture. It is an exalted throne. It is a heavenly throne. It is an eternal throne. It is a throne of justice. It is a throne of uprightness. It is a throne surrounded by all the angels. It is a holy throne. It is a throne of righteousness, a throne of steadfast love, a throne of faithfulness, a throne of mercy, a throne of grace, a throne of fiery judgment. It is a throne for the Lamb. It is a Great White Throne of final judgment. It is a throne of glory, a throne of honor, a throne of protection, a shepherd’s throne, a throne of worship, a throne of prayer. Just a massive, massive set of characteristics that define God reigning in His glory.

Look over to chapter 7 for a moment, and I’ll give you a couple of glimpses of this throne outside our text, verse 9 of chapter 7. “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’ And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, ‘Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.’” That’s the picture of the throne. It’s a throne of immense glory.

“One of the elders,” in verse 13, “answered, saying to me, ‘[Those] who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?’ I said to him, ‘My lord, you know.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.’”

I read that to let you know that it’s a throne for redeemed people. It’s the throne of God and the throne of angels, but it’s also the throne of the redeemed who come out of the Great Tribulation.

Then in chapter 21 of the book of Revelation, there is another magnificent picture of this throne. Chapter 21, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men.’” And again, I point out that this is a throne where there will be people, redeemed people, and they will dwell with God: “‘And He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’

“And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.’ Then He said to me, ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the springs of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.’” “He who overcomes,” as we’ve already learned from chapters 2 and 3, refers to believers.

So this very throne will be the throne where the redeemed from the Tribulation are gathered with the angels to worship God, as well as the redeemed of all the ages. It is a throne of everlasting worship.

Now let’s go back and begin in chapter 4 to look at some of the details. Personal visit to the divine throne room of heaven. There we see the throne of God, as it’s identified in chapter 4. It’s also called the throne of the Lamb in chapter 5 because, of course, they are enthroned together, the triune God. As this chapter begins, we are drawn into this vision, the second of John’s visions, and it’s introduced with these words: “After these things I looked,” or, “After these things I saw.” That’s used very often Revelation—you find it in chapters 7, 15, 18, 19—and it’s code for, “You’re about to see a new vision.” It introduces us to a new vision, a new section of the book. The scene shifts.

And we already know that in chapter 1 the vision was of the person of Christ. In chapters 2 and 3, the letters to the churches. And now the scene shifts. This is an entirely new scene. And as John looks, he sees and writes, “Behold, a door standing open in heaven,” “a door standing open.” He is taken in his mind to a point of spiritual clarity that is supernatural. You can’t get there unless you’re given a supernatural vision by God, where you literally are able to perceive in your mind these great realities without being there. That’s what a vision was.

And John in this vision sees with clarity a door standing open in heaven. And I have to think that John was thrilled to see that, because he was a lot like Isaiah. You remember Isaiah went to the Temple, and he was discouraged because of the sins of his people. And God opened up a vision of the throne to Isaiah, and Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up in His temple. And that was comfort to his heart because things were going so badly in Israel.

Well, things had been going badly in the first century as well, the New Testament era. The churches were struggling, as we learned from those seven letters. Five of them were in dire danger of being judged by their own Lord. And in the midst of this, John knows that Jerusalem has been destroyed. He can’t see anything that looks like the coming of the kingdom the Lord promised. Things aren’t going well in the churches. And he’s taken to heaven, and the door is wide open for him to enter the throne room. This is very, very important.

This, of course, is the throne to which God holds title eternally, Sovereign of the universe. But it is also the throne to which Christ ascended after His resurrection. It says He is seated on the right hand of the throne of God. It is the place where Christ is now preparing a place for us, as John 14 says, that we might come and be with Him.

So John is thrilled and overwhelmed, surely, which is why he uses the word “behold,” an exclamation: “I actually saw into heaven. And the first voice which I heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me”—and by the way, we heard that voice before; in chapter 1, verse 10, in John’s first vision, that same voice, with the sound of a trumpet, like the sound of a trumpet, speaking to John, was none other than the voice of the Lord Himself. So here the Lord speaks to him and says, “Come up here”—an invitation by way of this apocalyptic vision to enter into heaven. “Come up here.”

Not too many people have this privilege. John has it here. Isaiah had it. An Old Testament prophet by the name of Micaiah wrote in 1 Kings 22:19, “Hear the word of the Lord. I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left.” Paul doesn’t talk about a throne, but we know he went to heaven. This is a rare, rare experience; and John has to be amazingly thrilled and encouraged.

The voice is familiar to him, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” It’s a commanding voice. It’s a loud voice. It’s like a trumpet speaking. The command is specific: “Come up here. Don’t hesitate.” He’s taken into the very throne room of God.

And what is God going to show him? He’s going to show him “what must take place after these things.” What do you mean, “these things”? The things that have already taken place, the ministry of Christ in His church. First three chapters deal with Christ ministering in His church, writing letters to His church. So what we have here are prophecies of a period of time—listen carefully—after the church is gone, after the church is gone, “after these things.”

This is a clear indication that what’s going to happen from chapter 4 on is not going to involve the church. And to affirm that understanding, you have to know that from chapter 4, verse 1 on, the church is never mentioned again in the book of Revelation, no mention at all. That’s a lot of redemptive history to cover without mentioning the church. The simple conclusion is the church isn’t there, because these prophecies and visions are to show you what must take place after the church. This is the final period of judgment leading to Christ’s return and establishment of His kingdom, followed by the new heaven and the new earth.

The church is not there. Doesn’t surprise me, because in chapter 3 and verse 10, in the letter to the church at Philadelphia, speaking of the church, the Lord says, “I will also keep you from the hour of testing,” the hour of trial, temptation. “I will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” What hour is about to come on the whole world? The time of the Great Tribulation. But to the church, our Lord says, “I will keep you from that hour.”

So that’s consistent. The promise is the church is not going to be a part of that, and so we never see the church in those subsequent chapters. And what we do see is the throne, the throne. And there are a number of features that I want to point out to you today and next week that will give us every possible angle at this multifaceted, beautiful throne. They’re basically sort of wrapped around some prepositions.

First of all, at the throne. First of all, at the throne. Verse 2, “Immediately I was in the Spirit.” This is John trying to explain what it is to have a vision and be transported in your mind to revelatory clarity and literally to perceive heaven in its reality. But being “in the Spirit” and given the capacity to grasp this visual reality, John says, “Behold, a throne was standing in heaven.” John sees a throne. As I said earlier, it’s not furniture, but there was something there that symbolized a throne, something that indicated to him that he was seeing someone enthroned, and it was a magnificent view, the likes of which you could never have comprehended. The throne “was standing in heaven.” It was fixed. And again, this reminds me of Isaiah 6, where Isaiah’s thrilled to see that God was still there, because things were looking bleak even in the church in the first century.

John may have remembered Psalm 103, verse 19, “The Lord has [prepared] His throne in the heavens, and His [kingdom] rules over all.” Perhaps he remembered that, or Isaiah 66:1, “Heaven is My throne.” But he is brought to that throne.

There are probably three words that we could talk synonymously about in defining the throne. If you look over at chapter 7 of Revelation and verse 15, “For this reason”—speaking of those who “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” verse 14—“for this reason, they”—those redeemed “out of the great tribulation”—“are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple,” in His temple, “and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them.” So it is a throne, but it is not a throne in a palace, as such; it is a throne in the temple; it is a throne in the dwelling place of God Himself.

In chapter 16, verse 17, “The seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, ‘It is done.’” So when you’re talking about the throne, it is in the temple, it is in heaven; those are virtually synonymous.

And the throne is standing—that is, it is permanent, it is fixed. So John, first of all, finds himself at the throne. And even after all of the turmoil of life on earth and the martyrdom of all the apostles and the failure of so many in the church, the throne of God is still set.

We go from at the throne to on the throne, verse 2: “and One sitting on the throne.” This simply is to say that there is the evidence of God’s established sovereignty over the universe.  No change. History is not whimsical. No one has overthrown Him or replaced Him. There are no vacancies there. This is the Sovereign of the universe, and He is sitting. The throne is standing, and He is sitting, and that speaks of permanence. It’s a posture of reigning.

There’s no need to give a name because it’s obvious who this is. It is the Lord, as Micaiah said in 1 Kings 22:19; it is the Lord. Or as Isaiah said in Isaiah 6, or even as Ezekiel wrote—listen to Ezekiel 1:26. “Now above the expanse”—he sees a vision of divine glory—“above the expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a throne, like lapis lazuli”—that’s a precious stone—“in appearance; and on that which resembled a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man. [And] then I noticed [that] the appearance of His loins and upward something like glowing metal that looked like fire all around within it, and from the appearance of His loins and downward I saw something like fire; and there was a radiance around Him.” It was as if the one on the throne was literally on fire. “As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance.” So Ezekiel sees around the throne of this fiery representation of God, a rainbow, which obviously speaks of God’s faithfulness. And then he says, “Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.”

So that establishes who is on the throne, and it is affirmed by Isaiah chapter 6, when he saw the Lord on the throne. Both Isaiah and Ezekiel had similar experiences in response to that. Isaiah pronounced a curse on himself in humiliation, and Ezekiel fell on his face before the vision.

So here is the vision of the One on the throne. Don’t ever doubt that, folks. Don’t ever doubt that. God is on the throne. Nothing has changed. The throne is standing, and He is sitting.

Now as we look a little closer in verse 3, it says that He is “like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance.” This is the eternal God, enthroned, described in flashing, flaming, light in color, blazing glory; and these jewels, obviously, enhance that.

Why are two stones mentioned here? Why a jasper stone and a sardius stone? Well, a jasper stone basically was a diamond. This would be a perfect diamond. Whatever it is, it’s perfection, crystal clear, and yet able to transmit all the colors and brilliance of the spectrum. That’s the diamond. Sardius, again, is a red stone for which the town of Sardis was named. It is brilliant ruby, blood red, fiery bright.

So again, this contributes to the blazing reality of what John saw, which was what Ezekiel saw. He saw the throne and the One on it as if He was on fire. The appearance of Almighty God is an appearance of clear, brilliant, fiery, blazing, crystal light that explodes, as it were, through a rainbow of colors.

This, by the way, is consistent with Daniel’s experience, back in Daniel chapter 7. Daniel says, “I kept looking,” verse 9, “until [the] thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow and [His hair] like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, its wheels were a burning fire.” And in Ezekiel chapter 1, there’s much about the blazing, burning, wheeling fire that seems to be circling from that throne.

And then Daniel goes on to say in verse 10, “A river of fire was flowing and coming out from before Him; thousands upon thousands were attending Him, and myriads upon myriads were standing before Him.” Surrounded by angels, it’s as if God is on fire on this throne. It is a throne of splendor, it is a throne of glory, but mark it well: It is a throne of judgment, a throne of judgment.

In Ezekiel, what Ezekiel sees is the judgment of God beginning to crank up. And that’s exactly what we see in Revelation chapter 4. The judgment of God is beginning. That judgment will run from chapter 6 through 19. This is where it starts to take its initial form.

Now at the same time, I want to point out something beautiful here. Jasper, jasper was the first stone on the breast of the high priest, on the breastplate—jasper. The last one on his breastplate was a sardius. The jasper represented Reuben, the oldest; and the sardius represented Benjamin, the youngest. So in those stones we see God proclaiming His covenant faithfulness to Israel. God is declaring His concern with Israel. He is that everlasting, eternal, glorious King, who has on His heart Israel. That hasn’t changed.

God is seen in His covenant relationship to Israel. That is critical to His plan. That is why Satan, throughout human history, has done everything he could possibly do—and is doing it before your very eyes today—to obliterate Israel. If Israel disappears, then Satan has conquered God. God is not through with Israel.

But there’s even more than that in those two stones. Reuben means “behold, a son.” And Benjamin means “son of my right hand.” And so they speak of one who is a son, who is the Son at His right hand, even the greatest Jew of all Jews, the Messiah.

So you see God, in the midst of cranking up the final judgment, being very aware of His covenant relationship with Israel and with the fulfillment of that relationship by His Son. The future of Israel is set, is set. It’s a bad idea to try to obliterate them. You lose. So we see God, in a picture that is bent on judgment, remembering mercy, remembering Israel and the work of His Son at His right hand, who will fulfill that. One day they will look on the One whom they’ve pierced. They will mourn for Him as an only son, a fountain of cleansing and forgiveness, and salvation will be open to them.

So we go from at the throne to on the throne to, verse 3, “around the throne.” Middle of the verse, “There was a rainbow around the throne,” and the rainbow happened to be “like an emerald in appearance.” Some think that that emerald is a reference to mercy and grace, and I suppose you could make a case for that. We don’t know. But what is important is that it’s a rainbow—because what does a rainbow symbolize? Faithfulness, right? Why, in Genesis, did God put a rainbow in the sky? To make a promise that He would never ever destroy the world by water again.

As furious as God’s wrath will be, as fearsome as the scene will become, unabated through the following chapters, the rainbow is around the throne. And we saw it in Ezekiel 1:28. The rainbow is around the throne because God is faithful to His promise and His covenant. Wrath is never at the expense of mercy, never at the expense of grace. Judgment never overrules promise, never cancels God-given inheritance. So in this most dramatic picture of God, we see judgment beginning to rumble. But God has not forgotten His covenant with His people, the final bride for His Son who’s at His right hand, and the fact that His judgment will always, and even finally, be tempered by His faithfulness.

But there’s more around the throne in verse 4: “Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads.” People have wondered, Who are these twenty-four elders? Well, it’s really not difficult to figure it out. They’re mentioned, by the way, twenty-four times in Revelation. And it’s clear who they are, as I’ll show you.

First of all, look at the word “elder”; presbuteros in Scripture refers to leaders. In the New Testament, it refers to people who lead the church, elders. They are sitting. Some people say that these are angels. But angels are not elders. And angels are not sitting. When you see angels, they’re hovering. These are persons who have entered into rest, who have taken a seat on a throne. That’s triumphal rule. They’re not trying to accomplish anything. That’s triumphant.

If you go over to chapter 5, verse 8, “When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang”—the twenty-four elders sang—“a new song, ‘Worthy are You to take the book and break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.’” This is a moment of triumph. And “then,” verse 11, all the heavenly hosts join in. The twenty-four elders are not angelic beings who are serving, they are persons who are sitting in triumph and who are declaring the victory. They’re playing harps, pouring out prayers symbolized by golden bowls of incense, and they’re celebrating the salvation that angels never knew, as described in verse 9 of chapter 5, Christ being slain, by His blood having purchased their salvation.

If you look back at chapter 4, the twenty-four elders are on thrones, which again affirms that they are established in a triumphal position. They are “sitting.” And then they are “clothed in white garments.” Who is that? Well, if you go back into chapter 2 and verse 10, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer,” he says to the church. “Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested. You will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you a crown of life.” So we know one thing: that these beings, whoever they are, are given crowns.

If you come to chapter 3 and verse 18, He says to the church, “I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments to that you may clothe [yourselves].” White garments. And back in chapter 3, verse 5, “He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments.”

So these are triumphant saints clothed in white garments, holy and pure, having received crowns. Crowns are never promised to angels or worn by angels. And this is the crown won by struggle, by struggle, as I read in chapter 2, verse 10. And these are the overcomers. These are the overcomers.

Chapter 3, verse 21, “He who overcomes, I will grant . . . to sit down with Me on My throne.” They’re enthroned because they have overcome. What is it that overcomes? John writes in 1 John 5, “Your faith.” These are believers. They have to be believers. Importantly, notice, they’re in heaven, which again affirms that they have been taken out of this world and brought into the Father’s house before the judgments begin.

Why twenty-four? What is the meaning of that? Well, there are twenty-four patriarchs listed in the promised seed given in Genesis from Adam to Pharez. There were twenty-four divisions of singers in the Temple. There were twenty-four elders appointed by David to represent the Levitical priesthood. Twenty-four seems to be a number that sums up a representative group.

Could they represent Israel? Could the twenty-four elders be Israel? No. Why? Because Israel hasn’t been converted yet. Israel has not been redeemed. That happens later in the book of Revelation. The 144,000 haven’t been chosen. They haven’t gone out to preach. The two witnesses haven’t done their testimony, as in chapter 11. The salvation of Israel has not occurred. They aren’t redeemed, they aren’t glorified, they aren’t crowned, and they aren’t reigning.

The only ones who will be saved at that time are the redeemed from the church who were gathered into heavenly glory. That’s the twenty-four elders. And John sees them there, and it makes sense because they don’t appear any longer in the book of Revelation, the church. That’s what happens to believers, right? When we’re taken to heaven, we go to the marriage supper of the Lamb, and we receive crowns. The apostle Paul talked about the crown of life, crown of glory.

And we sing a song of redemption. They represent the church. They have found their place in the Father’s house. They are the overcomers. They have received their crowns, living in that place that He has prepared for them. They watch the mighty accession of those who are coming out of the Great Tribulation, being converted during that tribulation and seeing them enter into heaven, as chapter 7 points out. They’re in heaven when the seventh angel sounds and the kingdoms of this world are about to become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. They are in heaven when the 144,000 are gathered in Zion. They watch from heaven as God begins to turn in judgment to the destruction of the world system, Babylon. And when Christ returns, they come back with Him. He comes with His saints in white garments. What a scene John sees.

That’s as far as we can go for this morning. But this isn’t even the beginning of what is going to take place on that throne. “From the throne,” verse 5, “come flashes of lightening and sounds and peals of thunder.” From before the throne comes fire. In the center and around the throne, you could say throughout the throne and around the throne, sea of glass, living creatures. And then you get to the good part: toward the throne. And toward the throne is all worship, all worship.

The good news is this: We’re not going to be a part of the judgment from chapter 4 on, because we’re going to be up in heaven at the marriage supper of the Lamb and the reward of the bēma seat. And we’ll be casting our crowns at the feet of our Lord. And then when the Tribulation is over and He returns in chapter 19, we come back with Him to reign with Him in His kingdom, and then forever in the new heaven and the new earth.

You have nothing to fear, my friends; the plan is all set.

Father, we thank You for, again, the magnificence of Scripture, its overwhelming truths which produce in us assurance and joy and gratitude and hope, and come to us with a blessedness that nothing else can match. Yes, we can live our lives thankful for what is past, thankful for what You’ve done for us in the past, thankful for those things which we have seen. But how much more wonderful when we can do that and also live in complete gratitude for what is yet to come because we know what it is. We know what You have prepared for those that love You. You will keep us to that eternal glory and everlasting inheritance.

And may our worship reflect this. May it never be superficial. May it never be centered on us. And as we learn more, may we understand what it is to worship in the sense that we are coming to a throne, an awesome throne, a righteous throne, a holy throne, a judgment throne, but a throne of mercy and a throne of grace; and we are welcome there. And we are in the safest place when we are in Your presence, and You are overshadowing us and protecting us, and pouring out to us all the blessings that come to those who overcome by faith. Draw sinners to Yourself even this day, and we’ll give you the praise, in Christ’s name. Amen.

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