The Great Reunion
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”
Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. Revelation 4:1-2
John sees an open door, hears a voice like a trumpet, saying, “Come up…” and he is immediately, in the Throne Room, of heaven, in the presence of our God. (Revelation 4:1-2, 1Thessalonians 4:16-18, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
After that, as would be expected, when all God’s children are united with Him, and reunited with one another, a great reunion begins, a praise and worship celebration, breaks out in heaven. It starts out small but swells, until it encompasses the universe. Chapters four and five describe this glorious event.
Up to this point, we saw and heard from the Church, repeatedly. The Church (Ekklesia) is mentioned nineteen times in chapters one through three. Nineteen. But then, suddenly, immediately, in the twinkling of an eye, the word, Church, vanishes from the scene and not seen again until the very end of the book, Revelation 22:16.
For the moment, John’s focus, is on the Throne Room. Guess how many times, throne, is mentioned in the great reunion of chapters four and five?
You are so smart, yes; nineteen. God must’ve had a blast hiding little nuggets of awesomeness, for us to find; like we hide eggs for kids at Easter. He’s smiling right now, watching you smile.
And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Revelation 4:3.
The first thing John describes, or tries to describe, is indescribable colors, with the purity and presence and clarity and character of precious stones; and a rainbow glistening, like an emerald, around the throne.
Eye has not seen nor ear heard the things God has prepared for those who love Him. 1 Corinthians 2:9
Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. Revelation 4:4
Notice the next thing John notes is more thrones. Twenty-four thrones. Maybe that’s why we call it the, Throne Room.
Lots of questions and lots of commentaries have been birthed from this verse.
Some say the twenty-four elders represent the twelve apostles and the twelve tribes of Israel. Makes sense. Except, John (one of the apostles) would be seeing himself on one of the thrones. He doesn’t say, “And this apostle which is writing to you, was on the throne, closest to, The Throne.”
Other folks say the twenty-four elders on twenty-four thrones represent angels. Which is understandable. They’re in heaven, after all. Perhaps ministering spirits of His Royal Court.
However, the Bible never talks about angels receiving or wearing, crowns. Furthermore, angels are ageless; whereas, elders, denotes elderly, or aged, referring to people who had lived within the confines of time.
Well then, who are the elders? Does twenty-four represent anything?
Let’s look closer, at some clues.
For starters, there are three clues, that should be fresh in our memory; since we just read about them in the seven letters. Thrones, white robes and crowns, are things Jesus promised to, overcomers. Revelation 2:10, 3:5, 3:21. Specifically, people in His Church (Ekklesia, body, family, Christians) who overcome. By the way, the crown is not a royal diadem crown, but stephanos; which is a wreath type crown given to overcomers, victors, in Olympic games.
Interestingly, we can gain insight about twenty-four in 1 Chronicles twenty-four. The priests, were divided into twenty-four divisions, (courses), to take their turn, coming into the house of the Lord.
This was the schedule of their service for coming into the house of the Lord… 1 Chronicles 24:19.
Okay Doug, so are you saying the twenty-four elders are the twenty-four priests?
No. Yes. Well, kind of. The twenty-four priests are…you. And me. And all God’s overcomers. For a glorious eternity, we will take our turn, our course, our schedule, coming into the house of the Lord.
In His presence we’ll worship our Lord and King. If we’re able to speak at all, it may just be one word, “Holy, Holy, Holy…” Forever and eternity, glowing with His glory, from our last meeting; energized with anticipation for our next.
We won’t only worship in His presence. He will communicate with us. Give us assignments, ways and means to carry out His ministry to the universe.
Wait. What? That’s wonderful and beautiful, and awesome and all, but Doug, the 1 Chronicles passage is talking about priests. We’re not priests.
God knew you’d say that.
And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. Revelation 5:10.
who has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and power forever and ever! Amen. Revelation 1:6
you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, to proclaim the virtues of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9
And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. Revelation 4:5.
Thunder and lightning often accompany the presence of God. Remember, Mount Sinai in Exodus 19:16-17.
Right now, literally, as I’m writing this, it is pouring rain, flashing lightning and pounding thunder. Whoa! Did you hear that? Just now, a clap of thunder shook the house. Made me jump. Wow. Timing. Hi God. We’re listening.
Where were we?
As you know, seven represents perfection. God is perfect.
And you’ll recall the Holy Spirit appeared as tongues of fire on the day of Pentecost, in Acts 2.
The seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, are the seven Spirits of God; which is, the Holy Spirit.
Revelation 4:6. Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal…
Most commentaries agree that the sea, is not actually made of glass. They also agree that it’s not an actual sea, like an ocean or lake.
Some say it represents the multitudes of people in heaven, a sea of people, at rest, calm, at peace.
Let’s look at three key words to see if we can see, what this sea, may be.
We’ve all heard the phrase, clear as crystal. No muddy, bloody, dirty water here. Just clean, pure, crystal clear. Like a soul, washed clean and pure, from the stain of sin, by the blood of the Lamb.
Growing up on a lake, I loved days when the wind would take a break. It didn’t happen often. The lake was glass. We would ski. It was awesome. But even more awesome was just sitting on the shore looking at the water, at rest, smooth as glass. One word describes the feeling, and the view: peace.
One day, the Prince of Peace, will calm the tossing and turning and turmoil, like He did the waves that day, in the boat, in the middle of the Sea of Galilee.
Can’t you just see it? The storm screams, the waves beat, the little boat is ready to flip. But then, He yawns, and speaks, “Peace be still.” Just like that, the wind goes silent. The rocking boat settles to sleep, in the middle of a sea of glass. The disciples are scared. Who is this Man, that even the wind and the waves obey Him?
But then, it dawns on them, He who created the sea, and walks on water, is in their midst, and is, their Friend. From the seashore the only sound, is that of laughter, from a boat full of grown men, laughing like children.
Now, believe it or not, as I write this, I just looked out the window at our little windmill, and the trees, all is still, at peace, there is a great calm.
Okay, so it’s easy to see, how crystal may reflect the sinless, spotless, purity of heaven. And how, glass may mirror the picture-perfect peace, that will only be found there. But that still doesn’t tell us what John saw, and calls, a sea.
The best way to interpret scripture is with scripture. Perhaps the second-best way, is context.
So, let’s see what scripture has to say, in context, with our text.
To gain context, we must ask, who, what, where, when type questions.
John has just been raptured into the Throne Room, The Temple, The House, of God. Representing the Church, being raptured, to ever be with the Lord (1Thessalonians 4:17).
The ink hasn’t even dried on our discussion about twenty-four elders, and how we are, a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5.
One of the main duties of the priest was to offer sacrifices.
But wait. This is heaven. There’s no need for sacrifice. Jesus was, and is, and forever will be, The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
Now that we have our context, down pat. Let’s let scripture interpret scripture and see what we see about this sea.
Not just any sea. But in context with where we’re at; The Throne, The Temple, The House, of God.
Is there any place in the Bible that mentions a sea, before, The Throne, The Temple, The House, of God?
Well, Jerusalem is landlocked. The nearest sea, is the Dead Sea, about fifteen miles southeast. The Mediterranean Sea is west about sixty miles and the Sea of Galilee is north seventy or so miles. No Sea for miles and miles.
But the Bible does talk about a sea, just outside the door of the Temple, near the altar, just steps from the Holy of Holies; the very presence of God.
That sea, was a large basin of water for priest’s ablution, (religious, ritual, washing, cleansing) 1 Kings 7:23-26; 1 Chronicles 18:8.
Due to the steady stream of sacrifices that sea was ever troubled, ever polluted, neither clear as crystal, nor, smooth as glass.
But the Heavenly Sea, is crystal clear, smooth as glass, forever reflecting there is no more need for sacrifice, no more stormy seas. For the Prince of Peace, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, has become, The Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world, once and for all.
Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
We'll pause here for now. Next, we'll see how John sees four living creatures with six wings, and they speak. Who are they? What do they say?
Father, we love You. Thank You for Your Presence. Even here in our midst, as we gather together, although not physically, but Spiritually, virtually. Thank You for telling us the Truth, even if it's hard to hear. Thank You for Your promise at the start of this wonderful letter:
Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near. (Revelation 1:3).
Help us to hear You. Stay near You. Be ever watchful for you.
Come quickly Lord Jesus.