Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Resolved 2008: Session #5

Steve Lawson
Revelation 4:1-11

Jonathan Edwards knew that he must always keep one eye in heaven while he lived his life on earth. While he lived here, he wanted heaven and the joy of heaven in his soul long before he ever went there. He refused to be casual in his pursuit of heaven. And this pursuit electrified his soul. This is the reason God used him so mightily on this earth.

Heaven is the theater that puts God’s glory on display that we catch a glimpse of in these verses.

5 truths about God from these verses

1) The sovereignty of God (v.1,2)

Jesus tells John to come see what must take place. God has already scripted the future. All of human history is His story. Before the foundation of the world, God decreed all of history.

The first thing that captures John when he enters into heaven is not the architecture of the buildings, the tree of life, the river of life, the streets of gold, the gate, who was there and who wasn’t. But rather it was the throne of God. This throne represents the government of God, the absolute sovereignty of God over all of human history. This captures John and is great news for John in the midst of the chaos of the Roman empire in the first century.

Yet John recognizes that even in the darkest hours of human history, there is a throne in heaven where the absolutely sovereign One who is perfectly governing all the details of history. This throne is different from all other thrones in that it remains standing, towering over every earthly event and every human circumstance. There is One sitting on the throne. It is always occupied by the Almighty and He will never vacate this seat. Heaven is not governed by a democracy but by a theocracy. There are no checks and balances in God’s administration. There is only One who sits in absolute sovereignty. He does all that He pleases (Psalm 115:3).

The knowledge of God’s sovereignty brought Jonathan Edwards unspeakable joy and delight.

2) The splendor of God (v.3,4)

What John sees next is no inconsequential gain but one attended with regal majesty and royal splendor. John sees One on the throne like a jasper stone (like a diamond). John can’t even find words to describe what he sees. The glory of God shines so brightly that even the seraphim that fly in the presence of the throne must cover their eyes.

Heaven is like a lightshow that is emitting from the throne of God where God is like a diamond. Heaven is not a drab place that is muted and dull in tones. It is radiant, bright, and blazing.

We see other thrones around God’s throne representing authority that is delegated from God, authority that God stands in absolute authority over. These who are in the presence of God are clothed in white garments that have been washed in the blood of the Lamb in order that they may stand faultless and without blemish before the throne of God. They are wearing crowns but there is only one crown that stands above all and it is worn by the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ.

3) The severity of God (v.5)

There is a brewing storm in heaven. Around the throne of God it is darkening with flashing of lightning and peals of thunder. There is an angry thunderstorm that is brewing and brimming around the throne of God. This is the wrath of God against an unbelieving world as He beholds the happenings in the world of rebellion towards Him.

This wrath is beings stored up to be unleashed with no mercy one day upon all who will not believe. God is not indifferent to present rebellion.

There are seven lamps of fire that are the source of this storm. The seven spirits of God represent the fullness of the one Spirit of God. It is the righteous anger of the Holy Spirit of God that is shining forth and projected forth from the throne of God.

Let us not kid ourselves. God is a God of holiness and righteousness. Every sin in the history of the world will be personally and directly punished by God. Each sin is either pardoned in Christ through His punishment or punished in hell through ours.

The wrath of God should be a cause of immense joy for every believer. It should cause us to treasure our salvation. It should cause us great pleasure to know that God will vindicate His name. It should cause us to rejoice that God will have the final say.

4) The sinlessness of God (v.6-8)

God is absolutely holy. In heaven there is something like a sea of glass like crystal. Even in heaven there is that which separates God from everything else.

We will not be giving God high fives. We will be falling on our faces before Him. The living creatures are guardians of the glory of God. These creatures are supernatural. The creatures have six wings, reminding us of the seraphim in Isaiah 6 who fly in the presence of God. These creatures ceaselessly declare the holiness of God.

Holiness represents the sum of all that God is. It is that which separates Him from all else. Though we will be holy in the presence of God, our holiness will not be the same as God’s holiness.

5) The supremacy of God (v.9)

Every eye in heaven is fixed upon the One on the throne. Every knee is bowing before the One on the throne. Every tongue giving praise to the One who is on the throne. God on His throne is the focus of all activity in heaven.

Those who worship God around the throne are like the stimulus that activates and intensifies the worship of all others around them. Worship of God is like wildfire that spreads so that our worship of God makes others to worship God.

What we see in these verses is a triumphant procession that is magnified infinitely as all of the redeemed of the world march to the throne of God being led by Jesus Christ.

In heaven, there is no mistaken understanding about how great God is. As we catch a glimpse of heaven in these verses, may we experience the God-centered happiness of heaven now.

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