Tuesday, 27 October 2020
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
John is still describing the scene of the throne that stood before him. In the previous verse, there were the twenty-four elders sitting on twenty-four thrones around the main throne. The attention is now directed again to that main throne saying, “And from the throne proceeded lightnings.” The translation is incorrect. The verb is in the present tense to highlight the constant nature of what is occurring – “And from the throne proceed lightnings.”
Lightning is given as a display of the power of God. In Job 1:16, what is called “the fire of God” is believed to be describing lightning. It is a consuming fire that can be carefully directed to take life, or to move those close by to fear.
Next, John notes “thunderings.” These are probably a result of the lightnings, as one would expect during any large storm. The lightning is the visible display, while the accompanying thunder accentuates the terrifying effects of the display.
Thirdly, John says, “and voices.” The content of the voices is not given, but it is probably referring to what is stated in Acts 13:27 –
“For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him.”
In other words, the voices are representative of the prophetic utterances of the Lord going forth, speaking His word from His divine throne. These are accompanied by the lightnings and thunderings in order to display the terror of the word which goes forth. The scene is calling to mind the display seen by Israel at Mount Sinai –
“Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.” Exodus 19:16-18
The difference between that account and this one in Revelation is striking. At Sinai, the Lord spoke out of the midst of the cloud and fire. There was no visible form of the Lord to behold. However, John sees the form of the Lord (verse 2 says, “and One sat on the throne”). The unseen Lord, Yehovah, of the Old Testament is shown to be Christ Jesus, the Incarnate Word of God. What was concealed in the Old is revealed in the New. However, it is the same Lord in all of His glorious splendor.
John next says, “Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne.” The word is lampas, and it is where our modern term “lamps” is derived from. It signifies a lamp, torch, or light. Seven of them indicates spiritual perfection. It is the perfection of light radiating out of the throne. Of these John says, “which are the seven Spirits of God.”
This takes the reader back to verse 3:1 where it says, “These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars.” As noted, the seven Spirits are brought forward from Old Testament symbolism –
“There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.” Isaiah 11:1, 2
The seven Spirits of God are these seven Spirits, each accomplishing its own purpose and yet united as one, resting on God’s Christ. As He sits upon the throne of God, the seven Spirits of God issue forth from His throne.
Life application: As noted above, the heavenly scene in this verse is calling forth the memory of the Lord’s manifestation of Himself on Mount Sinai. Later in Acts, we read this –
“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:1-4
Revelation 4:5 takes the reader to the very place where these past events originated – the throne of God Almighty which is occupied by the Lord Jesus. At Sinai, the people heard the law spoken out which would then be engraved on stone. They were given a law they couldn’t fulfill to demonstrate to them the grace they needed.
Those in Jerusalem received the sealing of the Holy Spirit on hearts of flesh. They received the grace necessary for salvation from the Lord who fulfilled the law on their behalf. What proceeds from the throne here in Revelation will be judgment upon the world which has rejected those precepts and the grace offered through Christ. They have decided to do things their own way and they will be judged in the choice they have made.
Just, righteous, and holy is the Lord who will judge the unrepentant world during the tribulation period. This time of trouble is drawing near for the people who have rejected Him.
Lord, if fallen man only knew the tribulation that is set to come upon the world; if he only knew the absolute holiness of You who created him; if he could only reason out the more important issues of life… Lord, help us to be faithful witnesses to Your grace before the days of judgment issue forth from Your throne. Amen.