“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. And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 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” (Revelation 4:5-11).
In our previous studies on the Throne Room of God we have seen some amazing things, but now the apostle John seeks to describe the awe-inspiring and wonderful vision of other things around the throne. Though there is some symbolism used, we cannot fail to acknowledge the important truths it reveals.
John writes of “lightenings and thunders and voices”. These indicate the fact that God’s judgement is coming upon the earth. These noises are intended to be warnings to indicate that the holy God is close at hand. They were first seen and heard when the people of Israel met with Him at Mount Sinai. “And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice” (Exodus 19:16-19). Those who do not honour the Lord will have to face His wrath.
The “seven lamps of fire” are said to be the “seven Spirits of God.” During the church age the Holy Spirit is the “Comforter” (John 14:16, 26) who guides, instructs and corrects the followers of Christ. John 16:7-11 reveals a specific ministry the Holy Spirit is involved in; “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged”. One day the full extent of this will be manifested. There is much debate about what exactly the “seven Spirits” refer to, but whatever their true nature, we can be sure that they are connected with the seven churches mentioned in Revelation. “And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead” (Revelation 3:1). These Spirits will be the instruments of God’s judgement. “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth” (Revelation 5:6).
The “sea of glass like unto crystal” represents the fact that the coming judgement is settled in Heaven, that is, there is no way that man or devil can hinder it taking place. The earth’s seas are constantly in motion, ever changing, but this Heavenly sea is solid and unmoveable. Nothing about the coming judgement can be altered. How long will it be before man reaches the point when nothing remains but the full horror of God’s wrath?
Both the “beasts” and the “elders” are said to worship God continuously. The “beasts” are the same beings as the “living creatures” in Ezekiel 1 and 3. While there is much to learn from what and who these “beasts” are, we will simply limit ourselves here to accepting that they are a part of the angelic beings that God created to serve and praise Him. The fact that they resemble both man and beast indicates that they may in part be representative of all creation. They appear, if we include Ezekiel’s account, to be constantly in God’s presence and forever worshipping Him. They declare His holiness and eternal nature.
The “elders” add their voices to the song of praise by singing about God’s sovereignty and absolute dominion over all created things. The “beasts” were created to worship God, but the redeemed praise Him out of their own free will. There is nothing bashful or hesitant about the worshippers before the throne, instead their reverence toward God is visible and vocal. These representatives of the blood-washed saints honour the Lord by laying aside the crowns they have been given just for the privilege of worshipping Him. In doing so they acknowledge that everything they have is because of Jesus. They have no concern about their own glory but are content to be enthralled in His. They proclaim their love and adoration for the Lord. We do not have to wait for this marvellous event before we do the same. “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). Notice that there is no song about evolution in Heaven. Can we not practice singing about God as Creator, His worthiness, power and right to reign supreme over all the earth? If we rob God of glory on earth, our hearts will not throb with praise in Heaven.
If we ever wanted to know what we are going to do in Heaven, then we have seen it right here in our text. Some think of Heaven as a boring place where not much goes on, but such a notion can only be in the minds of spiritually dead people. Heaven is a place of vibrant praise and worship. One day we will be adding our voices to those of other redeemed saints who desire to rejoice in the Lord. There can be no greater delight than to be in the presence of the one who saved our souls through His blood. “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4). Until we stand before the Throne of God, let us live our lives as an expression of praise to the Lord who loves us. He alone is worthy of our love, devotion, adoration and worship. He deserves to be honoured as much now as He will be when we stand before Him in glory.