The Scene In Heaven, (4-22)


1B.   The Church In Heaven With Christ (4 & 5)


“Chapters 4 and 5 are the introduction and background of the tremendous sweep of prophetic events predicted in the rest of the book. If chapter 4 and succeeding chapters relate to the future, they provide an important clue concerning the interpretation of the vision and the prophetic events that unfold in those chapters. One of the principle reasons for confusion in the study of the book of the Revelation has been the failure to grasp this point. If Revelation has no chronological structure and is merely a symbolic presentation of moral truth, its prophetic significance is reduced to a minimum. . . The events anticipated in the angel’s promise to ‘shew thee things which must be hereafter’ (4:1), should be regarded as a prediction of events which shall occur at the end of the age.”[1]


(4.1)           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 shew thee things which must be hereafter.


1.   Turn in your Bible back to Revelation 1.19 and read with me:


Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter


a.   I want to lay a good foundation at this point, since it is at this juncture most Bible students make mistakes interpreting prophetical portions of John’s Revelation and deviate from Scriptural truth.


b.   Revelation 1.19 is John’s outline of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. In addition, if you remember what we have covered thus far, chapter 1 deals with “the things thou hast seen,” and chapters 2 and 3 deal with the “things which are.”


c.   Therefore, by the process of elimination, chapters 4 and following have to do with “the things which shall be hereafter.”


d.   If I were you, I would circle the word “hereafter” in verse 19, and write “see 4.1” next to it.


2.   Now turn to Revelation 4.1 and let us read that verse again:


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 shew thee things which must be hereafter.


a.   In this verse, circle the phrase “After this” and the word “hereafter.” The word “hereafter” in Revelation 1.19 and the phrase “after this” and the word “hereafter” in Revelation 4.1, each translates the Greek phrase “meta tauta.”


b.   It is important to note that the construction of the statements into which this phrase is nestled is such that we are forced to understand that what is referred to in these instances is not a logical sequence of concepts but a chronological sequence of events.


c.   What is taking place from this point onward occurs, chronologically, after the events of chapters 1-3 have passed into history. There is no overlapping of the events in these chapters with anything that is mentioned in the first three chapters of this revelation. From this point forward there will be no further mention of churches on earth.


3.   After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven


a.   Let me mention to you, once more, what “After this” means.


“The expression “after this” (Gr., meta tauta), with which verse one begins, identifies the revelation as subsequent to that of chapters 2 and 3.”[2]


b.   I looked, and, behold


eidon kai idou” is the Greek phrase translated “I looked, and, behold.” It literally means, “I saw and beheld,” and serves “to introduce a new vision of special importance.”[3]


c.   a door was opened in heaven


i.    “John, having been the channel of revelation to the seven churches existing in the first century, now is being introduced to a new field of prophecy. As he beheld, he saw a door opened into the very presence of God in heaven. The reference to heaven is not to the atmospheric heavens nor to the starry heavens but to that which is beyond the natural eye which the best of telescopes cannot reveal. This is the third heaven, the immediate presence of God.”[4]


ii.    Notice something about John observing the opening of a door in heaven. This is the fourth mention of a door in this book of Revelation. The first door was the door of opportunity presented to the angel of the church of Philadelphia in 3.8. The next time doors are mentioned is the door mentioned twice in Revelation 3.20.


iii.   The first door is a door of opportunity, much like the door of opportunity that God has given to this church. The second door would apply to our Lord’s invitation to unsaved church members to respond to Christ’s invitation, which would result in them getting saved from their sins.


5.   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 shew thee things which must be hereafter.


a.   Though John does not identify whose voice he hears first, we have a good idea from its description, “as it were of a trumpet,” and the content of what was said, “Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” I am persuaded that this is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ Who is speaking. Amen? I believe this because the voice we know to be the Savior’s voice is described in similar terms in Revelation 1.10:


I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet


b.   When John comes up hither he is transported, in the Spirit, to heaven. “This is not a veiled reference to the rapture of the church, but a command for John to be temporarily transported to heaven ‘in the Spirit’ to receive revelation about future events.”[5]


c.   Nevertheless, there are similarities between what happened to John and what Christians will experience when the Lord comes to meet us in the air at the time of the actual Rapture. Listen to First Thessalonians 4.15-18:


15   For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

16   For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

17   Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

18   Wherefore comfort one another with these words.


d.   Does this passage sound strikingly similar to John’s experience? It is, except that John is not physically transported as believers will be in the Rapture. John’s seems to have been a purely out of body experience. More on this in a moment.


e.   And the reason behind all of this? John is to be shown the things “which must be hereafter.”


i.    Notice that word “must.” The Greek word dei. It is a powerful little word that very forcefully conveys the idea of necessity or compulsion. Fritz Rienecker writes that the word in this context means, “it is binding” or “it is necessary.”[6]


ii.    My friends, the things that are recorded in Revelation chapters 4-22 have to happen! They have to happen because God has determined them to happen. So, no matter how badly things get in the middle chapters of the Revelation, remember that there is a great ending that will come about because God has written it into the script.


f.    The verse closes as it began, with the Greek phrase meta tauta, translated here by the word “hereafter.”


(4.2)           And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.


1.   And immediately I was in the Spirit


a.   This phrase lets us know that John’s experience was not identical to the experience Christians will have at the time of the Rapture. The Rapture, for every living church age saint, is the resurrection. You see, the actual resurrection, different than John’s experience in Revelation 4, will also include our mortal bodies being changed into immortality and being transported to heaven.


b.   Notice the speed at which John’s transportation took place. It will actually be faster than the transporter abroad the star ship Enterprise . Boy, would Scottie be envious.


c.   Paul says that the time required for us to be transported from this planet to a location in the third heaven, which is in God’s presence outside this material universe, will be “the twinkling of an eye.” This means that we will travel at a velocity far in excess of the speed of light to traverse such distances in the twinkling of an eye.


d.   You want to know the greatest detail about all of this? No effort is required on our part. But notice again that John’s experience, somewhat unlike ours will be, was “in the Spirit.” That is to say, his physical body probably never left the isle of Patmos .


5.   and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne


a.   What first caught John’s eye when he was transported out of body in the Spirit to heaven was a throne. The tense of the verb tells us that the throne was already sitting in place when he arrived on the scene. A T. Robertson writes, “As the vision opens John sees the throne already in place as the first thing in heaven. This bold imagery comes chiefly from 1Ki 22:19 ; Isa 6:1; Eze 1:26 -28; Da 7:9. One should not forget that this language is glorious imagery, not actual objects in heaven. God is spirit.”[7]


b.   And one sat upon the throne.”


i.    Who is the Person sitting upon the throne? We cannot be sure, at this time. And what about the throne? What can we say about the throne? “Not so much a piece of furniture, but a symbol of sovereign rule and authority ( 7:15 ; 11:19 ; 16:17 , 18; cf. Is 6:1). It is the focus of chap. 4, occurring 13 times, 11 times referring to God’s throne.”[8]


ii.    “It is remarkable that John gives no description of him who sat on the throne, nor does he indicate who he was by name. Neither does Isaiah or Ezekiel attempt to describe the appearance of the Deity, nor are there any intimations of that appearance given from which a picture or an image could be formed. So much do their representations accord with what is demanded by correct taste; and so sedulously have they guarded against any encouragement of idolatry.”[9]


c.   Could this throne be the throne grace? Could it be that throne that Christ sits on? Could it be that throne that we approach in prayer when we pray to God through the mediation of His Son Jesus Christ, Who sits at His Father’s right hand? Could it be the throne mentioned in Hebrews 4.16? Let us read that verse:


Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”


d.   Though we cannot be dogmatic, I am of the opinion that this throne is not the throne of grace that Christ now sits on in this present age of grace. I believe that this throne that caught John’s attention when he arrived “in the Spirit” in heaven is a different throne. If it is the same throne then I think it is that this time for a different use, for I believe that it is a throne of judgment, because the book of Revelation is a book of judgment, as you shall see.

[1] John Walvoord, The Revelation Of Jesus Christ, (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1966), page 102.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 822.

[4] Walvoord, page 102.

[5] See footnote for Revelation 4.1 from John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 1998.

[6] Rienecker, page 822.

[7] A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures In The New Testament, Vol VI, (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1930), page 326.

[8] See footnote for Revelation 4.1 from John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 1998.

[9] Albert Barnes, Albert Barnes’ NT Commentary, ( Bronson , MI : Online Publishing, Inc., 2002), bible@mail.com

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