Friday, 23 October 2020
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.” Revelation 4:1
The fourth chapter of Revelation corresponds to the fourth letter of the Hebrew aleph-bet. The fourth letter, dalet, signifies a door. Here in verse 4:1, a door is mentioned. The marvelous structure of the corresponding letters/chapters is beautifully continued in this. Also, this verse marks the major dividing line given back in verse 1:19 –
“Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.”
John begins this verse with, “After these things.” The words “these things” correspond to the “things which are,” meaning the church age. Its specific contents ended with the previous verse.
The “things which will take place after this” details the tribulation period, the millennial reign of Christ, and the new order of things when there are a new heavens and a new earth. The contents of those things begin immediately after this verse. Therefore, verse 4:1 is a transition verse between “the things which are” and “the things which will take place after this.”
Understanding this, John says, “I looked.” The Greek indicates, “I saw.” He is not redirecting his attention. Rather, a new part of the vision is coming into focus, as if watching a TV and a new scene begins. His attention is refocused on a new scene following the previous one of Christ walking among the churches and evaluating them. That has now faded into the past, but the book is the Revelation of Jesus Christ. His eyes are going from the work of Christ in the church age to the next phase of His work. Christ is still the focus. Understanding this, John says, “and behold, a door standing open in heaven.”
The symbolism is still Christ. The “door standing open in heaven” is Jesus. For this, we go back to Revelation 3:8 which says, “See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it.” Also, as He said in John 10 –
“Then Jesus said to them again, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.’” John 10:7-9
It is the same door (gate – the words mean the same thing in both the Hebrew and the Greek) that is seen in Genesis 32 –
Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. 14 Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”
16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” Genesis 32:12-17
Everything about Jacob’s vision pictured Christ (refer to the Superior Word sermon on this Genesis passage to understand this), including the gate (door). Christ is the opened door that John beholds. Jesus spoke of this scene in John 1:51, confirming it is so. Understanding this typology, John next says, “And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me.”
The word “was” is misleading, and it should not be inserted here. It should simply read, “And the first voice which I heard, like a trumpet, speaking with me.” It takes the reader back to Revelation 1:10. The voice is that of Christ Jesus. He now speaks again in this newly revealed vision, saying, “Come up here.”
The words are speaking to John, who is now in a transitional phase from the church age vision to a new vision. The next clause will show this. For now, the comparable passage of Scripture to understand what John is seeing is from 1 Thessalonians 4 –
“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18
For those who deny a literal rapture, what John is seeing now is, obviously, dismissed as such. However, the context is clear. John is being presented as the viewer of the redemptive panorama. As such, what he sees is what has occurred, is occurring, and will occur. As this verse transitions between two major scenes, what is occurring in this verse is what the Bible reveals for those who are to later participate in those same events.
Despite being downplayed, belittled, or dismissed by those who do not accept the premise of a pre-tribulation rapture (or any rapture at all), this is exactly what is being conveyed by the Lord to John (and thus to us). The church age is ended. The Door stands open in heaven, and John is instructed to “Come up here,” meaning to heaven. Along with that, the Lord says, “and I will show you things which must take place after this.”
John will next behold what comes after the church age, and after the rapture. The view goes from John on the earth viewing earthly things to John in heaven viewing both heavenly and earthly things. Of those earthly things, they are those that unfold particularly during the seven years of tribulation on earth.
It is a seven-year period granted to Israel in Daniel’s vision of the seventy weeks (meaning seventy periods of seven-years) found in Daniel 9:24-27. There are seven years remaining to be fulfilled. The next major section of Revelation will deal with those seven years where Israel is the focus of the narrative.
Life application: By faith in Christ, we are granted access into heaven. Belief in the gospel is rewarded with eternal salvation. When a person calls on Jesus, he is sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, 14) and this is irrevocable.
Someday, the Lord will then call His church home and the world will face judgment for rejecting Him. Whether you believe in the rapture or not is irrelevant. It is what the Bible teaches. There is no other way to properly interpret these verses than in their literal sense.
If you are a saved believer in Jesus Christ and you have been taught that there is no such thing as the rapture, then the only difference between you and believers who do accept this doctrine is that you will be more surprised at Jesus’ coming.
Those who are waiting for this day are those who have the blessed assurance of God who doesn’t lie and doesn’t make things up to confuse His people. As Paul states so well in 2 Timothy 4:8 – “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
Yes, Lord, we love the thought of Your appearing and of the day when the great call for us to rise to You at the rapture comes. It is our blessed hope, our most joyful thought, our heartfelt prayer, and the desire of our heart. To be with You! Oh, to see Your face and rejoice in the glory of Your presence for eternity is the most precious gift of all! We wait anxiously for that day. Amen.