|Inside the Book of Revelation
Prelude to the Dry of the Lord
Revelation 4:1 through 5:14 The book of Revelation has not yet offered us any details about world conditions or the future. Up to this point in the Apocalypse, we still haven't seen what is to happen during the Lord's day or crisis at the coming of the Messiah. Chapters four and five of Revelation are a prelude to the book's real prophetic content.
In chapter four, John writes about a vision that placed him in the presence of God. "I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this" (Rev. 4:1).
Headquarters of the Universe The scene of John's vision is the throne room of heaven. We see this scene several times in Revelation. It signifies God's absolute authority over his creation (Psalm 47:8). That's evident from the vision's content.
John sees a brilliant throne with 24 spirit beings, or "elders," sitting around it. I Chronicles 24 describes the Aaronic priesthood's 24 divisions, each serving the temple during a set time. The apostle Paul wrote that the temple and its service were an earthly copy of the heavenly reality (Hebrews 8:5).
John, in vision, sees the actual throne area and records some important details. Four great spirit beings hover about this throne. John describes these beings as "living creatures." In front of the throne stands a massive foundation. Revelation calls it a "sea of glass, like crystal" (Rev. 4:6).
The throne area manifests incredible energy. Lightning, thunder and powerful voices issue forth. God the Father sits on the throne. He appears as radiant light, diffused and reflected in all its prismatic beauty through precious jewels. Scripture often pictures God as clothed with dazzling light (Psalm 104:2; I Timothy 6:16). What John sees in vision, then, is nothing short of the seat of government of the entire universe.
This scene is important to another theme of Revelation: Man's present system, with its many corrupt practices, is to be shut down and closed out. Today's world, inspired by the devil, will be replaced by the Messiah's just and merciful rule. This theme runs consistently like a thread through the book.
Chapter five directs the reader's attention to those who will be responsible for this change. John observes God the Father sitting on a throne, holding an important object. "I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals" (Rev. 5:1),
In Roman law, documents were sometimes sealed by seven witnesses. This emphasized that the contents of the documents were certain and true. In the Bible the number seven has the symbolic meaning of completeness (the seven days of creation, for example).
Jesus Opens the Scroll An unexpected problem appears in John's vision. No one seems able to open and read the scroll's contents. John weeps because no one is found worthy. Then an angel proclaims that someone is deserving after all. "Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals" (Rev. 5:5).
The Apocalypse identifies this someone as "a Lamb as though it had been slain" (Rev. 5:6). Revelation applies this title to Jesus. John, in his gospel, also describes Jesus as "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
Peter uses the lamb symbol as well. He said those whom God had called were cleansed from sin. This was accomplished "with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (I Peter 1:19).
THE SCROLL WITH SEVEN SEALS — A Large portion of Revelation's prophecies depicting events to occur in the "lost days" of human — directed civilization were disclosed to the apostle John as a scroll being opened and its seven seals being broken. Isaiah 53:7 also has the same imagery. Here, the then — future sacrifice for sin was pictured as a lamb being led to the slaughter. This same lamb, Revelation tells us, is returning to demand the blood of all who oppose his righteous rule (Rev. 19:11-16).
In John's vision, the Lamb takes "the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne" (Rev. 5:7). John then hears many voices praising and glorifying Jesus. Their message is: "You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood" (Rev. 5:9). Jesus is worthy because of what he did, giving his life for sinning humans.
John then sees the glorified Jesus unrolling the scroll and breaking each of its seven seals. Here we see yet another theme of Revelation
Mankind's present system, with its corrupt practices, is to be shut down and closed out by the Messiah. The risen Jesus has the central role in God's plan. He offers himself as a sacrifice for sin and brings justice and perfect government to the earth (Philippians 2:5-11).
The agent of that change will be the returning Lamb, the Messiah. He will usher in the climactic event described in the visions of Revelation — the kingdoms of the world coming under his rule. As we shall see, the information on the scroll sealed by seven seals makes up the prophetic part of the Apocalypse. The book will later dramatize the material through a series of visions. As John experiences the visions, he describes them, and these words become our book of Revelation.
In chapter one, John pointed out that Jesus Christ was the source of the Revelation and that he would reveal the scenario of the future to John (Rev. 1:1). The fourth and fifth chapters of Revelation once again highlighted the central position of the risen Jesus.
The preliminaries have now been covered. We know to whom the book of Revelation is written. The message is primarily directed to God's people who have "ears to hear." God and Jesus Christ are the source for the information in John's visions.
We must properly orient ourselves to the contents of the Apocalypse. The visions are meant to graphically place the reader on the scene, as a bystander watching the events leading to the day of the Lord and beyond.