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Revelation 4:1-11

Looking into Heaven

  • Samuel Wilson
  • Weekend Messages
  • October 1, 2017

  • Sermon Notes

Looking into Heaven

Revelation 4:1-11 

Intro: Social Media Crash Course

In Revelation chapter 4, John is taken up to heaven and he writes what he sees. As he writes down what he sees, we are able to better understand the scene in heaven. Not only are we able to better understand, but the church of John’s day and throughout history has been able to better understand the scene in heaven.

As we continue through the book of Revelation, it is important to remember the title is descriptive of the revealing. It is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which was revealed to the apostle John and written down. Revelation 1:19 gives a timeline, or map to the book of Revelation. Jesus told John to“write the things which you have seen, the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.” The things John had seen were in chapter 1; in chapters 2 and 3 John writes the things which are and from chapter 4 on, John writes the things which will take place after these things.

Here, as he is invited into heaven, we are able to look, with John into heaven and the scene before him.

Read Revelation 4:1-11

Chapter 4 begins with the statement “after these things.” After what things you might ask. After the events of Revelation 1 to 3, which is inclusive of the church age, which we are now in today. After these things, John was taken up into heaven, to see angels and creation worshipping our Lord.

What captures John’s eye immediately as he looks into heaven, is a throne set, or literally “planted,” in heaven. As he looks and sees the established throne, it was an amazing truth that he would write down and explain to the church of his day, which was under terrible persecution and difficulty, and for us today as well in the midst of trials or difficulty.

I. God’s Throne is Set

  • In the Old Testament times, there were altars set up in high places for Canaanite idol worship. These were portable altars and they were able to be moved from one “high place” to another.
  • Different gods were worshipped in different places and for different reasons. We see throughout the Old Testament our Lord wanted these high places torn down.
  • So too today, what is worshipped, or set up as highest priority or “worshipped” is ever changing. It is important to be reminded that the throne God sits on in heaven is firmly established, it is not changing, it is not threatened. 

A. Make Him King of your heart

  • In order for the Lord to be King of your heart, He must be welcome to establish His place in your life and heart. This means that His place would be set in your life, firmly established.

Psalm 16:8, I have set the Lord continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

  • When we set Him continually as Lord in our lives, He gets the highest place.
  • There are many people, places, or things that might seek to take your attention, or worship, Lord must continually be set and placed as priority. 

Illus. – Life goals.

  • I want my life goal to keep things in the right context with Jesus at the center.
  • This is not about what a person has, but what a person worships.

Joshua 24:15, “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters...”

  • There are things that many people worship today and they are portable (materialism, politics, sensuality, intellectualism), they change just like the seasons change and as we see that God has a throne established in heaven, it is equally important that He be established on the throne in our hearts. 

Illus. - Basketball fanaticism.

B. Find your comfort in Him

  • As John looks up at the throne, he sees One sitting on the throne.
  • He then draws a comparison of the One on the throne to precious stones.
  • The jasper stone was a clear stone, not a modern jasper stone, it was like a diamond which speaks of light. And the sardius stone (carnelian today) was like ruby, red in appearance.
  • There are two interesting components to these particular stones the first has to do with their color.

Illus. - The crystal-clear Jasper stone, being like light, would be indicative that God is light. And the sardius stone being like a ruby, red in appearance would remind of the blood of Christ that was shed on the cross.

  • The second has to do with what they represented in the Old Testament.

Illus. - Exodus 28 the breastplate of the high priest. Sons of Jacob: the first of Reuben which means “behold, a son.” His stone was the sardius stone. The last of the twelve sons was Benjamin, whose name means “son of the right hand.” Benjamin’s stone was a jasper. Therefore, this one on the throne is “Behold, the Son of My right hand.” It’s Jesus. He is seated where we were told He was seated (Mark 16:19).

  • Around the throne, John sees a rainbow that was like an emerald in appearance.
  • What I find amazing is that what surrounds the throne of God is a rainbow, which is indicative of God’s grace and covenant.

App - In Genesis 9:12-16 God made a covenant with man, every living creature, and the generations to come. The sign of His covenant, a rainbow. I am reminded every time I see a rainbow and His throne is decorated with one.

Illus. - Desk decor.

  • What surrounds God’s throne is not condemnation, but a covenant.
  • What surrounds His throne reminds us of who He is, He is a covenant maker, and covenant keeper and covenant fulfiller.
  • Find comfort in Him, in His promises, He has not forgotten and as you hold on, know that He too is holding on.

II. Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

  • Surrounding the throne in heaven, John sees twenty-four thrones with twenty-four elders sitting on those thrones. These elders are clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads.
  • Who are these 24 elders? While we cannot be certain as they are not named in this chapter, an assertion can be made that these 24 elders are the patriarchs in the 12 tribes of Israel in the Old Testament and the 12 Apostles in the New Testament.
  • This representation depicts all the redeemed for all time, both Jews and Gentiles, worshipping our creator.
  • In addition to the elders, there are four living creatures in the center and around the throne.
  • These four living creatures are full of eyes in front and behind. The first creature was like a lion, the second like a calf or an ox, the third had a face like that of a man, and the fourth was like a flying eagle.
  • The four living creatures continually say, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.”
  • The four living creatures are angels that are nothing like anything we can really imagine, but they represent the nature of Jesus Christ and therefore what God wants to see in us.

Illus. - The heart of a lion (bold in authority of God’s word), the power of an ox (steady and faithful), the humanity and humility of man (Jesus humbled himself in taking on flesh), and the majesty of an eagle (soaring high, with great perspective).

  • The early church fathers taught that the gospels each showed Jesus in a different light.
  • Matthew – Jesus as King – the Lion. Mark – Jesus as Servant – the Ox. Luke – Jesus as the Son of Man – the face of a man. John – Jesus the Son of God – soaring higher than any other, the eagle.
  • These cherubim, or angels were also depicted in a vision in Ezekiel chapter 1.While their appearance is worth noting, what I find most interesting is that all creation in heaven is worshipping the Lord. 

A. Earthly things will grow dim

  • These cherubim are completely full of eyes and they find someone they cannot take their eyes off of.
  • So often we get caught up in the way we thought things would be. Sometimes the more we see, the more we know, the more disillusioned or disappointed we become, the more aware we are often the more we retreat.

Illus. - A wonderful welcome.

  • What the reality of heaven tells us is that the things that consume our lives, the difficulties, the striving, the trouble, it will change when we see our Lord, on the throne, in heaven.
  • Our perspective will change when we look upon His throne.
  • We will not be worried about what we look like, what another might think, no, we will join in with all creation.
  • The angels worship at the throne, day and night, and as they worship, the elders worship, laying down their crowns before the throne.

B. Lay down your crowns

  • The bible speaks of five heavenly crowns that will be awarded to believers in heaven. They are:

1)The imperishable crown: Given to believers who faithfully run the race. Who put aside selfish desires, running the race to receive a crown that is not perishable, but will last forever (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).

2)The soul winners crown: Those who share their faith, faithfully witnessing to the saving grace of God and be used by God to lead others to Jesus (1 Thessalonians 2:19)

3)The crown of righteousness: Given to those who love His appearing, or return (2 Timothy 4:8), those who live in expectation of Christ’s return, responding with righteous living within that expectation.

4)The crown of glory: Given for servanthood (1 Peter 5:4), one who teaches, one who experiences the glory, the weight and reality of God and serves Him.

5)The crown of life: Given to those who endure hardship, testing, trials and/or death, or temptation on His behalf (James 1:12).  

  • These crowns are significant and meaningful in our lives today, the way we live this life before our God, it matters.
  • Oh, how I long to hear the voice of our Lord say, well done good and faithful servant. Here as I walk on this earth and when I enter into heaven.
  • On this earth, we see many corruptible crowns, fame, popularity, wealth. These become the chief concern of our lives, but Jesus tells us to put priority elsewhere.

Matthew 6:19-20, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.”

What we see in heaven can begin in our lives today. Laying down our crowns, those things we strive for, those places where we find our identity outside of Him, those corruptible crowns, laying them at His feet, declaring, “worthy are You, our Lord and our God.” You can have it all Lord, you are worthy, show me what to lay at your feet, I will surrender the product of my life to You, day and night, without ceasing.

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