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Rev. Ronald C. Purkey, an ordained Baptist minister, claims no originality for this Bible study outline.

However, every Bible study posted on this website has been taught by Rev. Purkey.

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April 22, 2018


SCRIPTURE: Revelation 4:1-6, 8-11


KEY VERSE: 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 4:11)




·        The theme of Revelation 4 is “The Church in heaven with Christ.”


The first three chapters of Revelation describe the Church Age from the time of the apostles until the Rapture (i.e. the “catching away” of the Church and taking the Church to heaven). Beginning with this chapter, the subject is “things which must be hereafter.”


·        There is a definite break between chapters 3 and 4.


From this point on, the Church is NEVER mentioned as being on earth. What then has happened to it? We believe that it was taken to heaven in the Rapture by the Lord at the end of Revelation chapter 3.


·        In Revelation chapter 4 the first scene is in heaven, where John is given a vision of the glory of God.


The Lord frequently gave a vision of His glory to His prophets before permitting them to foretell the future (Isa. 6; Ezek. 1). In Revelation 1, John saw Christ’s glory before he was permitted to record the future history of the Church. Now he is given a vision of God before he learns the judgments which will be poured out on unbelieving Israel and the Gentiles.


I. THE END OF WAITING. (Revelation 4:1-5)


A. The Summons from the Throne. (Revelation 4:1)


(Revelation 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. This is a vivid picture of the RAPTURE (i.e., the “Catching up”) of the Church.


Remember that Revelation 1:19 is the divinely given outline of this book; so we are now about to see “the things which must be hereafter.” Everything from Revelation 4:1 on is prophecy. The fact that John is “caught up” at this point is another evidence that the Church will not go through the Tribulation.


2. Notice how John’s experience RESEMBLES the rapture:


(1) heaven is opened to receive God’s child; (2) there is a voice like a trumpet, (1 Thess.4:16; 1 Cor. 15:52); (3) it is a sudden event; (4) it comes at the end of the “Church age” (Revelation 2-3); (5) it introduces John to the throne room of heaven; (6) it signals the beginning of God’s judgment on the world.


B. The Glory of the Throne. (Revelation 4:2-3)


1. The person on the throne is GOD THE FATHER. (Revelation 4:2)


(Revelation 4:2) And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.


The Spirit is represented by the lamps before the throne (Revelation 4:5) and the Son comes to the throne in Revelation 5:6. John uses precious gems to symbolize the glory of the Father. Jasper is a clear stone, speaking of God’s purity; sardine is red, speaking of God’s wrath and judgment; and the emerald is green, a color associated with grace and mercy. All of these stones were found on the beautiful breastplate of the High Priest (Exodus 28:17-21).


2. Around the throne was an emerald-colored RAINBOW. (Revelation 4:3)


(Revelation 4:3) And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.


a. This takes us back to Genesis chapter 9.


In Genesis 9:11-17 God made His covenant with mankind and nature not to destroy the world again with water. The rainbow speaks of God’s promise and His covenant of mercy. Even though the throne of God is about to send forth awful judgment on mankind, in His wrath God will still remember mercy. In Revelation 10:1 we see Christ wearing the rainbow over His head, for it is through Christ that grace and mercy have come to the world.


b. This gives us the whole picture.


Noah saw only an arc in the sky, while John saw the complete rainbow all around the throne. What we see of God’s mercy is incomplete today, for we “see through a glass darkly”; but when we get to heaven, we will see the whole pattern.


C. The Elders around the Throne. (Revelation 4:4)


(Revelation 4:4) And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.


INSIGHT: The Greek word for “elders” is “presbuteros.” By the way, the word presbyterian comes from that, and I am reminded of the story about the little girl who came home from her Presbyterian Sunday school, and her mother asked her what they had talked about. “We talked about heaven,” the little girl replied. “Well, what did they say about it?” her mother asked. “The teacher said that there were only twenty-four Presbyterians there!” -- J. Vernon McGee (a Presbyterian), “Thru the Bible by J. Vernon McGee”


INSIGHT: ANYBODY can be saved by trusting Jesus Christ as their Savior (John 3:16). There will be many Presbyterians in heaven including Billy Sunday, Carl MacIntire, J. Vernon McGee, and others.


1. These Elders CANNOT be angels, for several reasons:


(1) We never see angels on thrones; (2) We never see angels with crowns; (3) In Revelation 7:11, the Elders are distinguished from the angels; (4) In Revelation 5:8-10, the Elders sing a hymn of praise claiming to have been redeemed (something an angel could not say); (5) The angels are never numbered (Hebrews 12:22); (6) The name “Elder” signifies maturity (while angels are timeless beings).


2. These Elders were KINGS AND PRIESTS.


(1) Twenty-four priests served in the OT temple (1 Chron. 24:3-5, 18, and Luke 1:5-9). (2) These twenty-four Elders signify the saints raptured and reigning with Christ in glory. (3) When Daniel saw the thrones “set up” (Daniel 7:9; not “cast down”), they were empty; but John sees the thrones filled, for now God’s people (i.e., the Church) have been called home. (4) True Christians are KINGS AND PRIESTS with Him (Revelation 1:6).


D. The Judgments Out of the Throne. (Revelation 4:5)


(Revelation 4:5a) And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices..:


Verse 5 describes NOT a throne of grace, but a throne of JUDGMENT. Thunder and lightning are warnings that the storm is coming! God thundered at Sinai when He gave the Law, and He will thunder again to judge those who have broken His Law. God warned Egypt in this way in Exodus 9:23-28, and God will also warn this wicked world.


“And voices” (Revelation 4:5) indicates that it is not a haphazard judgment, but it is directed by the One on the throne.


E. The Lamps. (Revelation 4:5b)


(Revelation 4:5b)… and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.


“The seven Spirits of God” is a clear reference to the Holy Spirit. These are symbols of the Holy Spirit (Revelation 1:4), who is the Spirit of burning (Isaiah 4:4). Christ has the fullness of the Spirit, for seven is the number of fullness (Revelation 3:1).


INSIGHT: During this age of grace (the “Church age”), the Holy Spirit is pictured as a dove of peace (John 1:29-34); but after the Church is taken away (the “Rapture”), the Holy Spirit will minister a judgment of fire!


B. The Sea of Glass. (Revelation 4:6a)


(Revelation 4:6a) And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal…


We have here a heavenly temple, similar to the OT temple (see Revelation 11:19 and Hebrews 9:23). The seven lamps correspond to the seven-branched lampstand; the sea of glass to the laver; and the throne to the Ark of the Covenant where God reigned in glory. Revelation 6:9-11 indicates that there is an altar of sacrifice in heaven, and Revelation 8:3-5 that there is an incense alter.


The twenty-four Elders would correspond to the priests in the temple, and the living creatures to the cherubim embroidered on the veil. The heavenly sea pictures God’s holiness. The lamps of fire picture God’s judgment on sin because He is holy.


II. HOLY IS THE LORD. (Revelation 4:6b-11)


INSIGHT: The theme of Revelation 4 is “The Church in heaven with Christ.” Notice what is around the throne of God in heaven.


A. “Beasts” means “living creatures.” (Revelation 4:6b-7)


(Revelation 4:6b-7) 6b 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.


Here is a statement from Dr. Warren Wiersbe: “Four is the number of the earth, so we have here God’s covenant with creation. Read Genesis 9:8-13 and you will see that God has made His covenant with mankind, fowls, cattle, and the wild beasts; and each of these is represented by a face on the living creatures.”


“God gave man dominion over creation, but this rule was lost through sin. However, in Christ, that dominion will be regained when the kingdom is established. The presence of the four creatures (symbolizing creation) before God’s throne teaches us that He is in control of creation, and that He will keep His promise to one day deliver creation from the bondage of sin (Romans 8:19-24).” – Warren Wiersbe, “Be” Books, Revelation


B. These creatures are not named. (Revelation 4:8)


(Revelation 4:8) 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.


These four living creatures are a combination of the seraphim of Isaiah 6 and the creatures of Ezekiel 1 and 10. These creatures are not named. In Revelation 4:7, each creature had four faces, corresponding to the four of Ezekiel’s vision. These creatures before the throne praise God and give glory and honor to Him. Psalm 148 shows how all creation praises God; it’s a tragedy that a sinful world refuses to praise the Lord.


III. GOD IS WORTHY. (Revelation 4:9-11)


A. The Elders join in this praise. (Revelation 4:9-10)


(Revelation 4:9-10) And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, 10 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,


The Elders join in this praise and cast their crowns before the throne. These crowns symbolize their REWARDS FOR SERVICE while on earth. When we get to heaven, we will realize in a new way that all praise belongs to God and to God alone.


B. The heavenly beings sing a doxology. (Revelation 4:11)


(Revelation 4:11) 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.


Verse 11 is the first of several doxologies in Revelation. Here the heavenly beings praise God because He is the Creator of all things.


In Revelation 5:9-10, the beasts and Elders join to praise God for His REDEMPTION through Christ’s blood; for even creation is redeemed through the cross.


In Revelation 11:16-19, heaven praises God because He is the judge who will justly PUNISH THE WORLD for its sins.


What Will We Do In Heaven?
By David H. Roper


I'm sometimes asked what we'll do in heaven. Will we sit on clouds and strum celestial harps? Will we flit about on gossamer wings? In his vision, John the apostle saw three future heavenly activities.


·        The first one is SERVING (Revelation 22:3). Perhaps we'll explore an unknown corner of the universe, or, as C. S. Lewis suggests, govern a distant star. Whatever that service may entail, there will be no sense of inadequacy, no weakness, no weariness. In heaven we'll have minds and bodies equal to the task to which we're assigned.


·        The second activity is SEEING: We "shall see His face" (Revelation 22:4). "Now we see in a mirror, dimly" (1 Corinthians 13:12), but in heaven we shall see our Savior FACE TO FACE, and we "shall be like Him" (1 John 3:2).


This is what Revelation 22:4 means when it says, "His name shall be on their foreheads." The name of God represents His perfect character, so to bear His name means to be like Him. In heaven we will never again struggle with sin but will reflect the beauty of His holiness forever.


·        Finally, there is REIGNING (Revelation 22:5). We shall serve our King by ruling and reigning with Him "forever and ever".


What will we do in heaven? (1) We'll serve God, (2) see our Savior, and (3) reign with Him forever. We'll be busy!


In heaven we'll see our Savior
And like Him we will be;
We'll praise Him and we'll serve Him
For all eternity!
-- Fitzhugh


 – Adapted from David H. Roper, Our Daily Bread, December 30, 2003


CONCLUSION: What have we learned from Revelation chapter 4?


·        We learned that the stage is now all set.


In Revelation 4 (1) the Church has been Raptured (i.e., taken to heaven); (2) the Lord is on the throne; (3) all of heaven praises Him and (4) awaits the outpouring of God’s wrath.



·        We learned that the Lord God Almighty is ready.


It is interesting to note that the name of God used here is “LORD GOD ALMIGHTY” (Revelation 4:8). History tells us that this was the official title used by Emperor Domitian, who was responsible for the persecutions that sent John to Patmos.


Men and women may honor themselves, but the day will come when everybody -- great and small -- will acknowledge that Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords!


(Philippians 2:9-11) Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: The more we love Jesus the more we'll long for heaven.”


* * *


REFERENCES: References used in these Bible studies are the King James Bible (KJV), The Moody Bible Commentary, Dr. J. Vernon McGee © Thru the Bible Radio Network ( www.ttb.org ), the Scofield Study Bible, the Believer’s Bible Commentary, Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge Bible Outlines, Dr. Lee Roberson’s Sermons, Dr. Charles Stanley: ( http://www.intouch.org/ ), Don Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Women’s Study Bible, The Bible Reader’s Companion Ed. 3, The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version, KJV Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the New Testament ed. 4, Dr. David Jeremiah: ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/ ), Dr. Cliff Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the Old Testament, Dr. Alan Carr’s The Sermon Notebook ( www.sermonnotebook.org ), With the Word Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s “Be” Series: Old & New Testaments, RBC Ministries ( http://rbc.org/ ), selected illustrations, and other references.



E-mail: Ronald Purkey


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