“And they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth’.” (Rev. 5:9-10NIV)
Chapters 4 and 5 of John’s Revelation give us an amazing look into the heavenly realms, and in particular, the Throne Room of God. The difficulty is that we have but our simply human minds to try to grasp these heavenly images. The apostle John uses earthly images to try to paint the picture for us, and we must try to look through his eyes to make sense of it all. One thing to keep in mind is that just like using an earthly situation to describe a theological theme; all such word pictures fall short at some point. That’s why phrases like “had the appearance of”, or “resembling” or “looked like” are used extensively in these chapters.
The primary thing to keep in mind in all this imagery is the way God is glorified, or made much of, in all these references. All the creatures mentioned in chapters 4 and 5 are focused upon the one seated upon the throne, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and all glory in heaven is given to Him.
Let’s take 5:6-8 as an example. “Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” This almost sounds like something out of a science fiction movie until you begin to understand what the descriptions represent. The Lamb looking as if it had been slain is an easy one. That’s Jesus. No question there. Now let’s look at the next part of His description, “He had seven horns”. Remember that in Scripture, seven is a reference to perfection, and a horn is a symbol of power. Perfect power or sovereign power belongs to God the Father. Now finally, “He had…seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” Again, the number seven is a reference to perfection, and thus the seven spirits are a reference to the perfect spirit, or the Holy Spirit, which we know was sent out into all the earth filling the believers in Christ wherever they went since the day of Pentecost. This image standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the 4 living creatures and the twenty-four elders is the image of the Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the completeness or perfection of God.
Does this make a little more sense now? I hope so. As you continue to read through revelation, think of the images, and what they are portraying in terms of word pictures of what is going on.
By His Grace Alone,
Pastor Bruce Jacobsen