Sunday, 1 November 2020
the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: Revelation 4:10
The verse here should be taken together with the previous verse, but – like the previous verse – all of the verbs are actually in the future tense. They will be underlined to reflect this –
“Whenever the living creatures shall give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders shall fall down before Him who sits on the throne and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and shall cast their crowns before the throne, saying:” Revelation 4:9, 10
At the intervals where the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to the Lord, John tells us that “the twenty-four elders [shall] fall down before Him who sits on the throne.” As Ellicott says, “The future tense (shall give glory, &c.) implies the eternal repetition of the act.” And again, as Bengel states, “Each future expresses a simultaneous act of giving of glory on the part of the beasts and on the part of the elders: and, at the same time, it has a frequentative force: As often as the beasts give glory, immediately the elders fall.”
It is to be noted that the homage paid by the twenty-four elders is directed to the same One as is the glory and honor and thanks given by the beasts. Both verses refer to “Him who sits on the throne.” The four beasts (symbolically representing the four gospels) direct their worship toward Jesus Christ. He is the one on display throughout them. The twenty-four elders (the heavenly government and worship) respond in accord with the attention focused on by the gospels.
In other words, what the gospels proclaim and call out for in glory, honor, and thanks is then confirmed by the heavenly government in worship as well. Jesus Christ is the God/Man who possesses all authority in heaven and on earth, and all worship is to be directed to Him. Understanding this, John next says, “and worship Him who lives forever and ever.”
Again, the same phrase is repeated from the previous verse. The gospels testify to the eternality of Christ, and the heavenly government and worship are directed to this One who is eternal. Everything centers on the fact that Christ is this eternal being. As He said in Revelation 1:18, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen.”
It is He who came from the eternal realm, it is He who prevailed over death, and it is He who lives forevermore. This is testified to in the gospels, and this is what is acknowledged by the heavenly government. Because of this, the response of the elders is that they “cast their crowns before the throne.” What they will say is found in the coming verse. For now, the note of them casting their crowns signifies that this is understood and acknowledged as such.
The casting of these royal crowns signifies that the honor of the heavenly authority belongs to the One on the throne. There is the sense of humiliation before the King. No creature, even the heavenly government, possesses any glory apart from Him, and to Him it alone belongs.
Life application: The elders in this verse have been given golden crowns, signifying their right and authority to rule, but they defer the honor to the One who seated them. In like manner, Jesus is the One who bought each person back from a state of spiritual deadness and restored to him the blessing of eternal life. Therefore, whatever crowns we shall possess are gracious bestowals from a gracious King. In the end, any honor we possess – from now and throughout all eternity – is because it was granted to us by the Lord.
In all ways, what we have comes from Him. He gave us life as the Creator, He gave us freedom from the law as our Redeemer, He gave us the power to grow in holiness as the One who sanctifies us, and He has given us the future promise of glorification.
Jesus was there at the beginning, He is here now, and – being eternal – He will always be before us. Some commentaries state that the One on the throne to whom the elders cast their crowns is God the Father, but as noted before (and as will be noted again in the coming chapters) Jesus is the One who reveals the unseen God. Therefore, every manifestation of God that we see is Jesus (the Son) continuously revealing what the Father has ordained.
Lord God, we stand amazed at who You are and in what You have done. The marvel and intricacy of the universe displays Your glory, and yet You were willing to unite with humanity in Christ, lowering Your station to redeem us from our sins. How can such love exist? What is it about man that brought this to pass? Our hearts are full of wonder at Your workings, O God. Amen.