Revelation 1 : Picture of Jesus both terrifying and profoundly comforting.
Revelation 2 /3 : Specific addresses to 7 churches.

The Scene Changes

Revelation 4/5 are pivotal chapters. Everything hinges on the reality revealed here.

Revelation 4:1 We need to stop and look, this verse if loaded with implications.
Door Open - God pulls veil back, only thing in the way is our limited vision.
The spiritual realm is right on top of the physical, it is to impact our lives today.
It is not out there, far away, to be treated as an irrelevance.
Hears Voice - Same voice as in Revelation 1, the voice of Jesus.
Sound of trumpet = authority, declaration of reality
Jesus invites us to "come up here" - we need to accept his invitation.
Jesus declares this to be the only perspective of reality - we need this revelation.
After This - Critically important
Is Revelation 4 onwards only a vision of the future?
In Revelation 1:19 Jesus seems to divide what he is about to show John into 3 sections - past, present, future.
Vision in Revelation 4 is a vision of the future AND a vision of the present and the past.
The realities of Revelation 4/5 are both to come and also timeless / eternal.
The book of Revelation is like a wheel - cyclical, flashing back and forth over itself time and time again.
But the point of the book remains the same - it is to strengthen us, it is meant to affect / change our lives

The Throne

Revelation 4:2 There is a seat of power over this present darkness.
Idea of a throne makes us uncomfortable.
History does not paint a pleasant picture of thrones - to us they are synonymous with abuse / tyranny.
But the existence of an ultimate throne is not inheritently bad - depends entirely on the one on it!

The One on the Throne

This is the centre of John's vision.
Remember John is trying to describe, what to him, would be indescribable.

Revelation 4:3 John paints a picture using what is familiar - precious stones.
Jasper & Ruby - see Revelation 21:11
Clearest most perfect diamond ever seen - clarity, colour, cut, caret
Imagine the diamond you cannot afford and multiply that.
The diamond that reflects all the colours of the rainbow but remains clear as crystal.
See all colours at once, but at same time see none.
Put that together with fire red of ruby.
The one on the throne is beautiful beyond description - do you see God as beautiful?
We need to fill our minds with God's beauty. We need to meditate on his indescribable beauty.

Revelation 4:3b The rainbow communicates more than appearance.
John is being flooded with the characteristics of the one on the throne.
The rainbow signifies God's all consuming faithfulness to his word and to his promises.
The rainbow would have meant a lot to the 1st century church (still does to us today).
His word can never be voided.
The fulfillment of promises (Revelation 3) are eternally secure no matter how impossible they seem to us.
Don't we want this? We want anchors which are stable enough to stand on through all of life's storms.
He is eternally faithful to his word.
An eternal foundation frees us from having to prove ourselves, free from having to fight for some type of security, free from the fear of the unknown / unseen. The faithfullness of God is seen in the freedom of those who put their faith in him.

Revelation 4:4 The one on the throne shares his rules and reign with others, with his creation.
Nothing needs to be shared here - but the one on the throne is humble, he crowns those who are beneficiaries of his humilty (called grace).
We want someone on the throne who is not like us. Not power hungry or driven, but humble, gracious.

Revelation 4:5a Lightening, thunder. John sees the terrifying splendour of God's perfect justice.
We want justice. Justice drives us. Justice illudes us.
We want to take up cause of those who have been wronged.

Revelation 4:5b The lamps of fire / spirits are reminders that God is not like us.
Fire which lights up the darkest and most remote corners.
The justice of God is pure, right and never miscalculates.
There is one place of objective pure justice.
That place is the one who sits on the throne of heaven.

Revelation 3:1 'I know your works', Revelation 5:6 'seven eyes, seven Spirits', Zechariah 4:2 'seven lamps'. Nothing escapes his attention, he sees things from a perspective we miss.

This 'sevenfold Spirit' is associated with Jesus (Revelation 1:4).
The characteristics of the Spirit of the Lord on Jesus are listed in Isaiah 11:2-3.
We who are baptized into Christ, have put on Christ (Galatians 3:27).
Jesus baptises us with the same Spirit (Matthew 3:11b).

Revelation 4:6 The sea is a symbol of chaos / confusion / evil / dysfunction - everything that is wrong with the world.
The sea of glass tells us that the one on the throne can bring perfect order from chaos.
Imagine what that meant to the 1st century believers John was writing to.
Also applies to the situations we find ourselves in.

The things which cause us to panic do not cause God to panic - Look, behold there is a throne.
There is a throne, the one who sits on it is beautiful, faithful, humble, gracious, just and sovereign over all that is.
The throne is either good news or bad news - depends on who is on the throne.
With someone like that on the throne we have a secure foundation we can rest on.

The Response of those Around the Throne

Who are these beings?

24 elders Revelation 4:4
Not intercessory beings - inconsistent with rest of scripture (Jesus Christ, one mediator 1 Timothy 2:5)
Some suggest high order of angels.
Could be the redeemed (the church = 12 tribes of Israel +12 apostles).

4 living creatures Revelation 4:6b
Similar imagery in Ezekial and Isaiah.
Number 4 often used in apocalyptic literature to speak of creation - whole of Adamic creation.

What do they do?

More important than who the elders / creatures are is what they do, what is their response to the one on the throne.

The entire church and all of creation is caught up in worship.
Those who see God spend themselves in worship of him.
There is nothing sacrificial about it, not hard work, not begrudgingly.
It is a natural response to being a beneficiary of the King of Kings.
Extravagent worship is their joy. It is a natural way to live.
Worship is not something we do for God, it is an overflow of what he has done for us.
Worship of the one on the throne changes us more than anything else.
Worship is extremely powerful.

The power of worship : "Holy, holy, holy" changes us.
Gift to us not to him who we worship.

Worship of the one on the throne is the fulfillment of all our desires.
We need to join the worship around the throne - ask him for the gift of worship.
Give us a gift of worship we can carry with us.

Psalm 18:1 I love you O Lord our strength.

Further Reading

Isaiah 6:1-6
Revelation 11:15-19
Revelation 5:9-14