Due to our limited space, we will give a brief “overview” of the chapter using the NKJV.

Verse 1: “After these things 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’.” The “catching up” of the apostle John symbolizes the “catching up” of all believers at the Rapture (see 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1st Corinthians 15:51-53). This is supported by the fact that the church is no longer seen on earth in the remainder of this book.

Verses 2-3: “Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.” John was given a glorious vision of the eternal God sitting on His throne! Since John’s translation to heaven pictures our being taken to glory, we will be beholding Him as soon as we get to heaven. Many believe it is actually the Son of God on the throne, for God is usually revealed to us through His Son (see John 1:14, 18). This seems to be indicated by the “jasper and sardius stone,” for those were the first and last stones on the Jewish High Priest’s breastplate (see Exodus 28:17-20) and they represented Jacob’s sons Reuben (which means “Behold a Son”) and Benjamin (which means “Son of my right hand”).

Verses 4-5: “Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.” The 24 elders sitting on 24 thrones represent all the saints who are now reigning with Christ. In Revelation 1:5-6 we read, “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has MADE US KINGS AND PRIESTS to His God and Father.” We, along with saints who lived before the cross, have become “priests to His God,” and this is symbolized by the 24 elders. This view seems to be confirmed for us in 1st Chronicles 24:1-19 where 24 elders were appointed by David to represent the whole Levitical priesthood. The “lightnings, thunderings, and voices” that John heard signal the “storm of judgment” that was about to fall on the ungodly world below, yet everything was under the control of the Holy Spirit, pictured by “seven lamps of fire.”

Verses 6-8: Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!’” Who are these “living creatures?” If you compare what is said about them with Ezekiel chapters 1 and 10 and Isaiah 6:1-3, you would conclude they are a combination of cherubim and seraphim, angels who guard the throne of God and who are jealous to maintain God’s “government” and “holiness” throughout His creation. The description of them remind us of the way the Lord Jesus is presented in the 4 Gospels: the LION is the KING in Matthew; the CALF is the SERVANT in Mark; the MAN is the SON OF MAN in Luke; and the FLYING EAGLE is the SON OF GOD in John.

Verses 9-11: “Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: ‘You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.” The worship of God on His throne by the living creatures causes the 24 elders to instantly prostrate themselves before God. We saw earlier that these represent all the saints who are reigning with Christ, but as they fall before Him they “cast their crowns before the throne” and confess that He alone is worthy to receive glory, honor and power for being the Creator of all things. We know from other scriptures that believers will be rewarded for their service to Christ (see 1st Corinthians 3:13-15 and 2nd Corinthians 5:10) and the “crowns” picture our rewards (see 1st Corinthians 9:25; 1st Thessalonians 2:19; 2nd Timothy 4:7-8; 1st Peter 5:1-4 and Revelation 2:10). The “casting of our crowns before Him” will be our way of saying, “Lord, we don’t deserve any rewards, for You made us and gave us the ability to serve You, so You should get all the glory!” (239.3) (DO)