Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and on these thrones sat twenty-four elders dressed in white, with golden crowns on their heads.
I. THE EXTRAORDINARY CHARACTER of man's higher sphere of being. All things here seem to be of a unique nature and order. An air of the wonderful spreads over all.
1. The general appearances are extraordinary. Observe the social appearances are extraordinary. Royalties abound. "A throne was set in heaven," with one Occupant supreme, as brilliant in aspect as a precious stone. "He that sat was to look upon like a jasper [stone] and a sardine stone [sardius]: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald [to look upon]." Then there were other royalties and dignities seated round the central throne. "And round about the throne were four and twenty seats [thrones]: and upon the seats [thrones] I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed [arrayed] in white raiment [garments]; and they had on their heads crowns of gold." Now, the social appearances of this world are nothing like this. Everywhere there is degradation, not dignity; heads encircled with poverty, sorrow, and care, not "crowns of gold." Indeed, the great bulk of our social world do not even see the throne of the Supreme One in the heavens. They see the motion of the mere material machinery, or a scheme of what they call laws and forces, but not the One central and universal Ruler of all. Man's higher sphere of being, socially, is widely different to this. In the higher one free moral agents are the ruling power, not blind forces. And then over all there is One, and but One over all, on the central throne. Again, the physical phenomena are extraordinary. "And out of the throne proceeded [proceed] lightnings and thunderings [thunders] and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God." True, we have lightnings and thunders here occasionally, but articulate voices in the heavens we hear not, nor do we see torches of fire blazing before the throne. The firmament that spreads over the higher sphere of being will no doubt, in many respects, be very different to the heavens that encircle us. So, also, with the waters. "Before the throne there was [as it were] a sea of glass [a glassy sea] like unto crystal." We have a sea here rolling in majesty round three parts of the globe, but it is not like glass or crystal, ever calm, sparkling, and clear; it is never at rest, often lashed into fury, and black with rage. How calm and clear will be our higher sphere, "a sea of glass," mirroring the peacefulness and the glory of the Infinite! The living creatures also are extraordinary. "Round about the throne were four beasts [living creatures] full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast [creature] was like a lion, and the second beast [creature] like a calf, and the third beast [creature] had a face as [as of] a man, and the fourth beast [creature] was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts [living creatures] had each of them [having each one of them] six wings about him; and they were full [are full] of eyes within [and round about]." Although we have in this earth such beasts and birds and faces of man as here represented, a striking difference is indicated. They had "six wings" and were "full of eyes." Whilst some have the courage of the lion, the patience of the ox, the towering tendency of the eagle, and the sympathy of the man, they are all endowed with transcendent organs of vision and powers of speed - they teem with eyes and wings. It is here suggested, then - I do not say that it is intended to be taught, for I am not gifted with the power to interpret such passages - that man's life in the higher sphere of being differs widely from the present. "Eye hath not seen," etc.
2. The supreme service is extraordinary. What is the supreme service in that higher sphere? Worship. "And they rest not [have no rest] day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God [the] Almighty, which was, and [which] is, and [which] is to come. And when those beasts [the living creatures] give [shall give] glory and honour and thanks to him that sat [sitteth] on the throne, [to him] who liveth forever and ever, the four and twenty elders fall [shall fall] down before him that sat [sitteth] on the throne, and worship [shall worship] him that liveth forever and ever, and cast [shall cast] their crowns before the throne," etc. The worship there is the one ruling, intense, unremitting service. It is anything but that here; business, pleasure, aggrandizement, - these are the great and constant services of life. Real worship is indeed rare.
II. THE REAL ENTRANCE into man's higher sphere of being. "Immediately [straightway] I was in the Spirit." It is suggested that this higher life, this supermundane world, is entered by the Spirit. "Flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom of heaven." There are two ways by which man can enter the invisible.
1. By the efforts of the imagination. The whole scene before us is evidently the product of the imagination. Extraordinary visions men often have in the stilly watches of the night, in the season of dreams. But imagination can act more accurately, if not more vividly, in the hour of consciousness and intellectual activity. Thus Milton beheld his heavens and his hells, his angels and his devils. We can all, by the force of imagination, penetrate the visible, the material, the tangible, withdraw the sublunary curtain and step into the world of spiritual wonders.
2. By the influx of a new spirit. It is not uncommon for men to come into possession of a new ruling spirit, and with a new spirit comes a new world. When the philosophic spirit enters a man (and it does so in the case of a few in every age and land), the man is ushered into a new world a world of high thoughts, invisible forms, and remedial forces. When the commercial spirit enters the rustic lout, he soon finds himself in a new world - a world of speculations and struggles, of losses and gains. When the parental spirit enters the soul, it is borne into a world before unseen - a world of solicitude, absorbing interests, pains and pleasures, sorrows and joys. When the genuinely religious spirit enters the soul, it enters this higher sphere of human life - the world of brightness and beauty, the world of an "innumerable company of angels, the spirits of just men made Perfect," etc: "And immediately [straightway] I was in the Spirit." "Heaven lies about us in our infancy, and we have only to be in this spirit to realize it. The great Teacher taught that no man can see the kingdom of God, unless he comes into the possession of this spirit. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
CONCLUSION. Search not for an outward heaven, but rather search for that new spirit, that spirit of Christliness, that will let you into the heaven that lies about you and within you. Were the twelve hundred million men that tenant this earth today to come into possession of this spirit, they would arise on the morrow and exclaim, "Behold, a new heaven and a new earth!" Evermore the state of a man's soul determines his universe. The ruling life within him measures out, builds up, and moulds the external. - D.T.
Upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting.I. THE STATE AND ENJOYMENTS OF THE SPIRITS BEFORE THE THRONE.
1. Mark, first, that the saints in heaven are represented as "elders," which we take to refer not merely to the office of the eldership as it is exercised among us, but rather to the fulness of growth of believers before the throne. The elders in the Church are those who by reason of years have had their senses exercised; they are not the saplings of the forest, but the well-rooted trees; they are not the blades of corn up-springing, but the full corn in the ear awaiting the reaper's sickle. As to the number — twenty-four. I think, as there were twenty-four courses of Levites, who were porters at the gate of the temple, and twenty-four courses of priests who offered sacrifice, so the number twenty-four is made use of to show that the service of God in His temple is complete, that every part of the Divine service will be taken up, and around that altar which smokes before God eternally there shall be a full complement of those who shall bow before Him, and do Him homage.
2. These elders are said to be around the throne. We suppose, as near as we can catch the thought of John, sitting in a semi-circle, as the Jewish Sanhedrin did around the Prince of Israel. "There is an equality among the saints." There shall not be some near the centre, and others far away on the verge of the wide circumference; but they shall all be near to Christ, all equally His favourites and His friends.
3. The elders are "clothed in white raiment." In this they are an example to us. Perfection we must not hope to see here; but oh, we must aim after it.
4. These elders exercised a priesthood. Indeed, their being clothed in white garments, while it is an emblem of their purity, also represents them as being priests unto God. "Thou hast made us unto our God kings and priests." They exercise the office of priesthood, as you perceive, by the double offering of prayer and praise. Let us look up to them as the priests of God, and then ask ourselves, are we celebrating His worship too?
5. They had on their heads crowns of gold. Now let us imitate them in this. "Oh!" say you, "but I cannot wear a crown as they do." Nevertheless, you are a king; for they who are Christ's are kings. Reign over thy sins. Reign over thy passions. Be as a king in the midst of all that would lead thee astray. In the world at large act a king's part. Let your Liberality of spirit be right royal. Let your actions never be mean, sneaking, cowardly, dastardly
II. THE OCCUPATION AND SPIRIT OF THESE GLORIFIED ONES, AS THEY SHOULD BE IMITATED BY US BELOW. Notice their occupation.
1. First of all it is one of humility. "They fall down before Him" (ver. 10). The more holy, the more humble.
2. But as they fall before the throne in humility, you will note that they express their gratitude. It is said they cast their crowns before the throne. They know where they got them from, and they know to whom to ascribe the praise.
3. These elders spent their time in joyous song. "Thou art worthy to take the book."
4. These saints not only offered praise, but prayer.
5. I must not forget, however, here, that these elders before the throne were ready not only for prayer and praise, but for all kinds of service. You remember there was one of them, when John wept, who said, "Weep not." Then there was another of the elders who said to John, for his instruction, "Who are these?" etc. Now those before the throne are willing to comfort the weeper or to instruct the ignorant. Let us do the same I and may it be ours to wipe the tear from many an eye, to chase the darkness of ignorance from many a young heart.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
TopicsCrowns, Dressed, Elders, Garments, Gold, Heads, Round, Seated, Sitting, Throne, Thrones, Twenty-four
Outline1. John sees the throne of God in heaven.
4. The twenty-four elders.
6. The four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
10. The elders lay down their crowns, and worship him who sat on the throne.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesRevelation 4:4
LibraryThou Art Worthy
Eversley, 1869. Chester Cathedral, 1870. Trinity Sunday. Revelation iv. 11. "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created." I am going to speak to you on a deep matter, the deepest and most important of all matters, and yet I hope to speak simply. I shall say nothing which you cannot understand, if you will attend. I shall say nothing, indeed, which you could not find out for yourselves, …
Charles Kingsley—All Saints' Day and Other Sermons
The Sea of Glass
The Open Door.
More than Heaven
Twelfth Day. The Thrice Holy One.
Imagination in Prayer
His Holy Covenant
The Trisagion Wrongly Explained by Arians. Its True Significance.
Relation v. Observations on Certain Points of Spirituality.
Some General Uses.
How Subjects and Prelates are to be Admonished.
The Life of Mr. Hugh Binning.
Of Deeper Matters, and God's Hidden Judgments which are not to be Inquired Into
The Mercy of God
A Book for Boys and Girls Or, Temporal Things Spritualized.
The Christian's God
Of the Incapacity of an Unregenerate Person for Relishing the Enjoyments of the Heavenly World.
Paul a Pattern of Prayer
Covenanting Enforced by the Grant of Covenant Signs and Seals.
The Death of the Righteous
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