Saturday, 24 October 2020
Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. Revelation 4:2
The revelation now completes its transition from the earthly inspection of the churches to a heavenly scene. John was called up through the open door, and he is now seeing the things “which must take place after this” (4:1), meaning the church age.
In order to see the unfolding of the redemptive narrative, John is taken to see a heavenly vision and the splendor and glory that is found there. Although different in content and location (heaven), it is not unlike visions of the prophets of old, such as Isaiah, Ezekiel, and so on. Much symbolism will be used, but in this symbolism, we are to find Jesus. As this is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, it is He who is being unveiled. Keeping that in mind, the vision will make complete sense.
To begin his description, John begins with, “Immediately I was in the Spirit.” The Greek more literally reads, “Immediately I became in the Spirit.” Although it doesn’t say that he was caught up into heaven, the implication is that it was so. If he saw an open door in heaven, and the voice says, “Come up here,” and now he is beholding heaven, the inference is obvious – he has been translated to heaven. This is not unlike what Paul says happened to him –
“It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” 2 Corinthians 12:1-4
To understand the term “in the Spirit,” refer to verse 1:10. There is no article before “Spirit,” and so it may or may not be the Holy Spirit that is being referred to, although that is the general assumption. However, Paul says that he did not know whether he was in the body or not. John may be aware of the fact that he is not in his physical body, and thus “in the spirit,” meaning his own spirit without his physical body. Being dogmatic is unwise. Whatever his state, the vision that he beholds is to be the point of focus.
What is important to understand, however, is that the church (as an independent body) – which has been the central focus of Jesus’ words for the past many verses – is not referred to again until Chapter 19. From an earthly perspective, it is Israel and judgment upon an unrepentant world that is referred to. Scenes from heaven or heavenly messengers will be interspersed throughout those coming chapters as well.
Once John notes that he is “in the Spirit,” he next says, “and behold, a throne set in heaven.” A throne symbolizes kingly authority and power. As this throne is in heaven, it is referring to the place of all rule and authority. Understanding this, it says, “and One sat on the throne.” The vision is of Jesus – the incarnation of Yehovah. This is explained in verse 3:9 –
“To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”
Again, and as He Himself said in Matthew 28:18, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” This is confirmed elsewhere as well. In Acts, Peter cites the 110th Psalm and ascribes it to Jesus –
“For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself:
‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’
36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:34-36
As God is Spirit and does not have parts, and thus He cannot be seen (1 John 4:12, and etc.), this is referring to the incarnate Lord, Jesus. To “sit at the right hand” of Yehovah means to sit in the position of power and authority. These, and other, examples from Scripture identify Jesus as the One being referred to. Each vision, or even differently described beings within a vision, will often reveal a different aspect of Jesus. This is the revelation, or unveiling, of Him. God is presenting Himself to us in a manner that we can understand. And that manner is through the Person of Jesus Christ.
Life application: John says he was immediately translated to heaven. How quickly is “immediately”? Paul explains the rapture’s speed in 1 Corinthians –
“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52
The human eye blinks in about 300 milliseconds and a person can blink almost 5 times in a single second. When the Lord calls His church home, it will be over before anyone knew it occurred. Concerning the rapture, the opened door will be unavailable to those left behind. Instead, all those who were not taken will enter the tribulation period. As soon as the church departs, it will be in the presence of God and beholding His throne.
As noted above, the One sitting on the throne is Jesus. God doesn’t have parts and cannot be seen; He is Spirit. It is Jesus who forever reveals God the Father to us, and this will always be the case. Every physical manifestation of God that is presented is seen through the Person of Jesus Christ. This is important to understand because there will be many views of the heavenly throne room and many participants interacting with this throne – and each is God manifesting Himself through the Person of Jesus. Although this isn’t something we can fully grasp, He is the One we are seeing in each instance. There is a day ahead when the church will be called home. The question we need to evaluate personally is, “Am I ready for that day?” Be wise and call on Jesus now. For those who do, heaven awaits.
Heavenly Father, we have friends and family who haven’t yet called on You. We pray that You will send hints and opportunities to them to open their eyes. We pray that Your love for them in the giving of Christ Jesus will be revealed to them before the trumpet sounds and the church is taken. Terrible times are ahead for those who fail to come to You through faith in Him, and we pray the right decision will be made by them before that time comes. Amen.