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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE DOOR TO HEAVEN IS OPENED

Rev 4:1-5 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the Spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

In previous chapters and verses, Jesus gave both loving praise and disapproving reprimand to the seven churches of Asia, for their conduct within the body of Christ. His praises for obedience and reprimands for disobedience and indifference, serves as an example to the churches of Christ of all ages. With these letters being completed, the tenor of the book of Revelation turns to symbolic visions of heaven, which are found in chapters four and five. The messages found in these two chapters will help prepare readers for the things which must be hereafter.

The first vision that came to John from God, through Jesus Christ, began at the start of the first chapter of this book. Starting with chapter four we find the account of John's second vision which began when he looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven. The portals to heaven have always been closed to the eyes of human beings on earth, however, in John's vision the skies that concealed heaven from earth seem to part, as if a door was opened, and the grandeur of heaven was revealed. What remains concealed by God will stay hidden until the moment He has reason to reveal all things to us. But what He has revealed in His Holy Word, the Bible, has been placed there for our learning, which obligates all of His children to study it diligently, that we may fully understand all the wonderful blessings He holds in store for those that love Him, His Son, Jesus Christ, and the plan of eternal salvation He established in His death. Any door, which God opens, we must thoroughly study, and gain full knowledge of the reason He has opened it to us.

With the door being opened, John heard a voice coming to him from heaven as it were of a trumpet talking with me. The voice was assuredly the same as that identified as the Lord, Jesus Christ, which he first heard and was recorded in Revelation 1:10. John received this invitation from Jesus: Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter. This verse assures that the things John will see in visions, from this point on, will refer to, and describe, events that will take place in the future, that would follow the writing of this book known to us today as The Revelation. With this, John said that immediately I was in the Spirit. Some biblical students say that John was physically carried up through the doors, that had been opened into heaven. However, most scholars prefer to think that his physical body remained on the isle of Patmos, but, when he became enraptured by the Holy Spirit, he was mentally carried away into a state of spiritual joy and ecstasy, and visually, was privileged to see into heaven, to the extent that God allowed.

What John saw was a regal throne denoting, not only a heavenly seat of honor, but one of authority and judgment. Seated on the throne was One whose countenance was like a jasper and a sardine stone - all very precious stones having shining, dazzling brilliance. The jasper stone is usually red, but can also be brown, yellow, or green, and, due to its purity, it is always said to be as clear as crystal (See Rev. 21:11). A sardine stone is similar to a ruby; a very brilliant stone that is generally red or a variety of chalcedony. Not only did God appear to John like unto precious, brilliant gems, but he saw a rainbow round about the throne; an emblem of peace and serenity, used by God, in the days of Noah, to confirm a covenant with mankind that He would never again destroy people that inhabited the earth, regardless of their sinful nature (See Gen. 9:9-16). It seems that the predominant color of the rainbow was like unto an emerald - a deep green variety of beryl.

And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. No doubt these twenty four thrones were not as elaborate, and appeared far less honorable, as compared to the throne of God around which they were gathered. Who were these four and twenty elders? First of all, they were clothed in white raiment, the symbol of purity and righteousness, and they were adorned with crowns of gold, which denotes the honor due the wisdom of God-fearing, righteous, and just elders.

As with many symbolic representations found in The Revelation of John, there is much debate and disagreement about the significance of, not only who these elders were, but also about their number twenty four. Two opinions seem to have the most agreement. First, many say that they were angelic beings having heavenly intelligence - messengers of God - princes of heaven. They surround God's throne with constant praise and adoration, but were also instrumental in carrying out God's plan of eternal salvation to the world. The second opinion, and having the greatest support and following, is that these four and twenty elders represent the heads of both the Old Testament and the New Testament families of God. Under the Jewish dispensation, the twelve tribes of Israel were their appointed leaders, and under the Christian era, the twelve apostles of Christ were given a similar leadership role, but with much more authority to teach, and establish, the church of Jesus Christ. The latter opinion seems to have a better interpretation of God's family as encompassing both the righteous, obedient children of God under both religious covenants.

And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices. John heard authoritative, commanding voices coming from the throne of God, as if they were the booming sounds that emanate from a violent thunder storm. What were to come from His voice, through His Son, Jesus Christ, would be the threatening warnings, and the righteous judgments, that would be given in a vision to the apostle John, who was to record, and send them to all churches of Christ throughout all ages. One can mentally visualize this imagery of God proclaiming the New Testament law, as being similar to that on Mount Sinai with the giving of the Law of Moses (See Gen. 19:16-18). The commanding voice of God, as described on these two occasions, leaves no doubt about His omnipotent, omniscient power over His entire creation, especially the men and women He created in His own image.

The seven lamps of fire burning before the throne signify complete and perfect light, which originally came, and continues to come, into the Christian world through the Holy Spirit of God, here represented as the seven Spirits of God. This seems to mean that God was, at that time, about to reveal the entire, complete conclusion of His prophetic Holy Word, with the concluding record of The Revelation of John. The Bible was given to the world through the Holy Spirit of God. It is to be accepted as it is without any compromise. It is given to all men and women of the world with these inspired words of warning: For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book (Rev. 22:18-19)