God is shaking the remaining leaves off the trees here in Michigan. Wind gusts of up to 60 miles per hour are in the forecast, so are power outages. Therefore, lest I fail to meet the NaBloPoMo challenge for today, I will hurry up and post.
I’ve been reading and re-reading Revelation 4 this morning in preparation for teaching it to a group of high school students Monday night, and I noticed some things.
After John saw Jesus move among the seven lampstands, and after John took the dictation of Jesus’s letters to the churches the lampstands represented, he saw a door standing open in heaven. And he heard the same trumpet-like voice that he heard back in chapter one – Jesus’ voice – say, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”
Instantly, John was in the Spirit, looking at the throne of God. He was looking at a powerful throne – with peals of thunder and flashes of lightening emanating from it. And he was looking at a room filled with praise.
In His loving wisdom, God showed John His power and His praiseworthiness before He showed him the scary things that “must take place.”
And it occurred to me that before we walk into the scary places of life, God reveals the power and goodness of His throne. We just have to come up and look.
I noticed that the One who sat on the throne looked sort of like jasper and ruby – precious stones that have a warmth to them. Rubies range in color from pink to blood red. Jasper comes in shades of brown, yellow and bordeux.
Look at this hunk of raw jasper:
And these two:
Look at the many colors in the appearance of God.
All the colors of humanity are represented. A tune starts playing in my head: “Red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
Here’s something else I noticed:
Surrounding God’s throne were 24 elders sitting on thrones of their own. They all wore white garments and gold crowns. But they aren’t named. There are plenty of theories about who they might be – some think that Revelation 21 suggests they are the heads of the twelve tribes of Judah – you know, Jacob’s boys (minus one plus two grand-boys) and the twelve apostles. Could be, could be. But, if the apostles occupied twelve of the thrones, wouldn’t John have recognized them? “Heyyyy, that’s ME!”
John saw names spelled out in Revelation 21:12, 14, but no names were spelled out for us here, which leads me to believe a) it doesn’t matter who they are because, as the laying down of the crowns indicates, the throne room is all about Him; or b) God doesn’t want us to know who they are…yet; or c) He wants us to ponder who they might be. Which brings me to the theory I propose this morning:
Perhaps the identities of the elders are not given because they change, rotate.
Have you ever been to the fort on Michigan’s Mackinac Island? The whole island is a cool place. And one of the coolest things about the fort is that every week from Memorial Day through Labor Day a different scout troop comes to the island, stays in the barracks behind the fort, and serves for the whole week. They serve as guides at Fort Mackinac and State Park buildings, they raise and lower all flags in the State Park and city, help with tours every Wednesday at the Governor’s Summer Residence and work on service projects.
Boy Scouts have been coming to Mackinac Island to act as the Governor’s Honor Guard every summer since 1929. Girl Scouts were added into the mix in 1974. I don’t know how the troops are selected, but the invitation to serve is quite an honor. I like that lots of troops are given a turn.
And, considering the multitudes in heaven who are wearing the unfading crown of life, it just seems hopeful that God would give us all a turn. We’re talking eternity, so there’s plenty of time.
Of course I don’t know if everyone gets a turn to sit on an elder throne and lay their crown at God’s feet, or if the same 24 people lay down their crowns, put them back on their heads and them lay them down again, repeatedly throughout eternity, but I do know this: Once you’ve been to the throne room, you want to take off any crown you were proud to wear.
“the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
‘You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.’”
Once you’ve been to the throne room you realize that there is a God, and you are not Him. You realize that you are not the One who created all things and give all things their being.
You are so the opposite of the proud one who was booted from heaven and hurled to the earth.
Okay, this is getting long, so I’ll share just one more thing I noticed: The four creatures who surround the center of the throne – the ones the likes of which we don’t have here on earth; the ones that represent God’s power (lion), strength (ox), intelligence (man) and span (eagle) – they all have eyes ALL OVER THEM.
And that made me think of 2 Chronicles 16:9a:
“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
He sees us. He sees us clearly, as though looking through a crystal clear sea. He has eyes ranging throughout the earth looking for those who are fully committed to Him. So He can help us, strengthen us.
The first thing He did to strengthen John for the terrible things He was about to witness was show him His throne; assure Him that He had the power and the goodness to get him (us) victoriously through it.
“Holy, holy, holy,” those all-seeing, clear-eyed creature kept saying, “is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”