Revelation 4.

THE THRONE OF THE ETERNAL.

THE ENTIRE SITUATION CHANGED.

Rev. 4: ‎1. — “After these things I saw, and behold a door opened in Heaven, and the first voice which I heard as of a trumpet speaking with me, saying, Come up here, and I will show thee the things which must take place after these things.” We have here an entire change in the situation. The Seer is caught up from earth to Heaven. Revelation 2 and 3 trace the fortunes of the Church on earth. Revelation 4 and 5 describe scenes and events in Heaven of incomparable majesty. The history of the Church has been written, the overcomers have been translated to meet the Lord in the air, and the guilty mass of mere Christian profession has been “spued out.”‎ Thus the removal of the Church makes room for the subjects of prophecy to occupy their allotted place.‎

1. — “After these things” marks a new commencement.‎ The various Church states on earth are over. Prophetic scenes and visions are now to occupy the attention of the Seer. The words “after these things” intimate not only‎ the sequence of the visions, but the events also which follow in natural order.‎ ‎

1. — “A door opened in Heaven” signifies that Heaven must be entered if prophecy is to be understood. It is there where the sources of everlasting good are found,‎ where the coming scene of millennial and eternal blessedness is arranged and duly planned, and where, too, the preparatory judgments have their source. “A door opened in Heaven” enabled the Seer to pass in. “Heaven opened”‎ is for the saints to pass out (Rev. 19:11).‎ ‎

1. — “The first voice” does not refer to the first of a successive series, but is a plain reference to the voice of the Lord already heard (Rev. 1:10). There the voice was heard on earth; here it speaks from Heaven. The trumpet voice summons John from earth to Heaven. Scenes in Heaven are to be disclosed, and it is only there they can be seen. Prophecy has its source in Heaven, and hence the Seer must make Heaven his standpoint if the prophetic visions about to pass before his rapt gaze are to be divinely understood. It is in Heaven that the prophetic plan is mapped out, and it is there, far above the mists and clouds of earth, and the wrangles, jealousies, and pride of man,‎ where alone we can discern the mind of God as to the future. The moral lesson for each servant of God is a needful one.‎ ‎

MORAL COMPETENCY OF THE SEER; THE THRONE AND THE SITTER THEREON ‎

Rev. 4:2, 3. — “Immediately I became in (the) Spirit; and behold a throne stood in the Heaven, and upon the throne One sitting, and He (that was) sitting like in appearance to a stone (of) jasper and a sardius, and a rainbow round the throne like in appearance to an emerald.” The divine summons “Come up here”‎ brooks no delay. “Immediately I became in (the) Spirit.”‎ The vision of Christ as Son of Man in transcendent glory in the midst of the seven golden lamps was a sight too much‎ for mortal gaze. The Seer for the time being was under the absolute control of the Spirit; he lived and moved in another mode of existence. “He became in (the) Spirit”‎ ‎(Rev. 1:10). But this cannot in the nature of things be‎ prolonged. The state had lapsed. Now fresh visions, and of the future, are to be witnessed and written, so in full accord with their solemn character the Seer is again the vessel of the Spirit’s power. “I became in (the) Spirit.”‎ The absence of the article before “Spirit” marks the state‎ as a characteristic one. Visions of things in Heaven were witnessed by certain prophets on earth, but to the distinguished prophet of the New Testament alone were visions beheld in Heaven itself. To John only were these words addressed, “Come up here.” The moral competency‎ of the Seer to behold and grasp the coming prophetic situation was not in himself, but in a power outside the domain of nature. The Spirit once again laid hold of the human vessel, and entirely occupied it. John for the time lived in a new mode and sphere of existence in which human weakness and frailty had no place. The Spirit filled and controlled him.‎

2. — “Behold a throne stood in the Heaven.” This‎ was the first sight beheld by the Seer in this new vision.‎ The throne is the central subject in this heavenly scene.‎ It is the sign and symbol of God’s universal government.‎ It “stood in the Heaven.” The stability of that government‎ is conveyed in the word “stood” or set; “the Heaven” fixes definitely and precisely the seat of royal‎ authority. What a contrast to the tottering thrones of earth! Here, at the outset, is an intimation that Jehovah reigneth. The throne is our security and strength. It is,‎ too, the great central fact in the universe. It is the pledge that the fiat of the Eternal shall compel obedience from every created being. It is the sign of order, of rule, of authority. The throne set in Heaven is in contrast to the mutability of all earthly governments.‎

The Sitter upon the throne is unnamed, but is described in general yet significant symbols. Two precious stones are named, the jasper and sardius, and by these the glory and majesty of God are reflected. His essential glory cannot,‎ of course, be communicated even to the most exalted of creatures. God dwells in light unapproachable: “Whom no man hath seen, nor can see” (1 Tim. 6:16). But what‎ can be witnessed by creatures is displayed. The jasper and sardius are mentioned in the list of precious stones adorning the breastplate of the high priest of old (Ex. ‎28:17-20) the sardius being first named and the jasper last; they are also named amongst those to describe the glory of the typical king of Tyre (Ezek. 28:13), the sardius again coming first and the jasper sixth. We again meet with those precious stones in the description of the holy Jerusalem in governmental authority and glory towards the millennial world (Rev. 21:19, 20), the jasper first and the sardius sixth. Is there no significance in the fact that in these three lists of precious stones — the reflectors of God in grace, in creation, and in glory — the numerical order is changed? Is this a mere coincidence or the evidence of design in inspiration? Of the latter assuredly.‎ The brilliancy of the jasper and the deep red hue of the sardius reflect the glory and surpassing splendour of God in so far as these could be displayed. The glory of God,‎ too, as symbolised by the jasper is the light (Rev. 21:11),‎ the security (v. 18), and the foundation (v. 19) of the Church or bride in future governmental display.‎

The Seer next proceeds, “And a rainbow round the throne like in appearance to an emerald.”‎

The throne in vastness and majesty is one befitting the Lord of hosts. Encircled with a rainbow it is a witness that in the exercise of absolute sovereignty, of all-ruling power, God will graciously remember in covenant mercy His creatures. It is a sign to all in Heaven that God delights in goodness.‎

The complete, unbroken circle round the throne proclaims the truth, “His mercy endureth for ever.” The‎ bow set in the cloud of old, with its prismatic colours and varied beauties, is the token of God’s covenant with the earth (Gen. 9:9-17). It is rarely seen as a complete circle,‎ but generally as an arch, or half-circle, and is God’s object lesson for the race, a public sign hung out in the heavens that all may see and learn that God is good, a lesson from God and of God to men. In the last notice of the rainbow‎ it is seen over the head of the Lord when in power He asserts His claim to the earth. He will sweep the defiled scene with the besom of destruction, but even then the old appointed token of divine goodness reappears ‎(Rev. 10:1). Instead of the combination of‎ colours to which we are accustomed in the rainbow the heavenly one over the throne is “like in appearance to an emerald.” The beautiful green, the characteristic‎ colour of the vegetable world, and the only one which never tires the eye, is the chosen colour of the rainbow beheld by the Seer. The glorified saints will have constantly before their never-tiring gaze the rainbow in its entirety; the remembrance of God’s grace to the earth even when He is about to deal with the race in judgment.‎

THE ROYAL AUTHORITY OF THE REDEEMED.

Rev. 4: ‎4. — “And round the throne twenty-four thrones,‎ and on the thrones twenty-four elders sitting,‎ clothed with white garments; and on their heads golden crowns.” The thrones and crowns point to a royal company of redeemed and glorified saints in Heaven,‎ clearly not before, but after, the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:‎23). Spirits sitting, clothed and crowned, is an incongruous thought, and one entirely foreign to Scripture.‎ Grouped round the vast throne in Heaven are twenty-four thrones of which the authority and stability are derived from, and sustained by, the measureless throne of the Eternal. “Seats,” as in the Authorised Version, is a‎ feeble and inadequate thought. The word “throne” is‎ connected with a royal personage; “seat” with a private‎ person.‎

These twenty-four elders, or chiefs, represent the general body of the redeemed then in Heaven. They play an important part in the scenes recorded and visions beheld from chapter 4 to chapter 19, where in verse four the last notice of them is recorded.* The elders are a distinct company from the beasts or living creatures, and from the angels. In Revelation 5 the action of the elders, as distinguished from that of angels, makes it impossible to regard them as one and the same; verse 11 distinguishes by title the three companies. The elders sing (v. 9), the angels say (v. 12).‎ The angels are never numbered (Heb. 12:22), the elders are. Six times the representative number “twenty-four”‎ occurs. Angels are not said to be crowned, the elders are.‎ The choral praise of Heaven, in harp and song, seems the peculiar function of the elders. Heavenly intelligence,‎ especially in themes and subjects connected with redemption,‎ is ascribed to the elders and not to angels. By the elders we understand, therefore, the innumerable company of the redeemed saints, raised and changed, and caught up to meet Christ in the air (1 Thess. 4:17). Their‎ crowns and thrones betoken their royal dignity; the harp and song their joy in worship, while their robes and vials point to priestly character and action. But why “twenty-four?” The significance of the numeral must be sought for in the first book of Chronicles 24, 25. David divided the priesthood into twenty-four orders or courses, each course serving in turn (Luke 1, 5, 8, 9). The respective elders or chiefs of these courses would represent the whole of the Levitical priesthood. There would thus be twenty-four chief priests and one high priest.** Their varied service corresponded to that of the elders in Heaven, for the temple (no less than the tabernacle) in structure,‎ vessels, and services was framed according to things in the heavens. God’s people are termed “an holy priesthood”‎ ‎(1 Peter 2:5) and “a royal priesthood” (v. 9), and‎ in both characters they are here seen in action.‎

{*“Elders” as a term occurs twelve times. The varied actions and services in which they take part show clearly enough that they are the representatives of the redeemed and risen saints. They are enthroned; fall down and worship; one of them comforts the weeping Seer and interprets the mind of Heaven; they have harps and vials of incense; they sing (never said of angels); are the nearest company to the throne and to the Lamb; intelligently explain as to the redeemed on earth; celebrate the millennial and eternal triumph of God; and add their “amen” and “hallelujah” to the judgment of the whore — the corruptress of the earth. The passages where the word is found are as follows; Rev. 4:4, 10; Rev. 5:5, 6, 8, 11, 14; Rev. 7:11, 13; Rev. 11:16; Rev. 14:3; Rev. 19:4.

** Josephus, the Jewish historian, informs us that his family was “of the first course of the four and twenty” — no mean order. Some understand the twenty-four to represent the governmental number “twelve,” thus signifying the sum of Old Testament saints as one body, and the sum of New Testament saints as another body of believers — thus the two twelves. We deem it unwarrantable to break up the symbol in this manner. We are satisfied however that the reference in the “twenty-four” is to 1 Chronicles 24, 25.}

The white garments indicate the purity and priestly character of the elders. “On their heads golden crowns ”‎ bespeak their royal dignity. Every redeemed and risen saint will be crowned; this is in no wise a distinctive crown peculiar to some, but intimates royal dignity and authority common to all the heavenly saints.‎

THE THRONE THE CENTRE OF ACTION AND INTEREST.‎ ‎

Rev. 4:5, 6. — “And out of the throne go forth lightnings,‎ and voices, and thunders; and seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which art the seven Spirits of God; and before the throne as a glass sea like crystal. And in the midst of the throne and around‎ the throne four living creatures full of eyes before and behind.” Having had the relation of the saints to the throne as surrounding it, and their royal authority derived from and dependent upon it, we have next the action of the throne itself. “Out” of it, not “from” it, issue‎ the precursors of coming judgment, “lightnings, and voices, and thunders.” It has been said that “the book hardly ever alludes to anything not Biblical,” and we may‎ add that the author of the Apocalypse assumes that the reader is tolerably acquainted with the previous parts of the sacred volume, and, further, that every symbol with which the book abounds may be interpreted and understood from its use in some part or other of the sacred Scriptures. On no account seek the interpretation of any part of the Apocalypse outside the covers of your Bible. The meaning of every symbol must be sought for in the Word itself. The threefold intimation of immediate judgment is eminently fitted to strike terror into the hearts of the guilty on earth. The throne is about to assert itself in power. God is preparing to break out in judgment and deal with the high-handed iniquity in the coming crisis lying between the Translation of the heavenly saints and their subsequent Return from Heaven. These signs of judicial dealing are Jehovah’s premonitory intimations of His power in judgment (Ps. 29:3-5). The same signs, with some additions, are mentioned in connection with the promulgation of the law (Ex. 19). The effect on the people is also stated, “All the people that were in the camp trembled” (v. 16). How much more widespread and‎ alarming will these tokens of wrath be felt in a scene of almost unmixed evil governed by Satan!

‎ ‎5. — “Seven lamps of fire burning before the throne”‎ denote the fulness of the Spirit in governmental action.‎ The Spirit here is not viewed as saving men through the preaching of the Gospel, nor in any of His varied services in the Church, but is here witnessed in moral keeping with the throne itself. Everything inconsistent with the absolute purity of the throne must be judged; hence the Spirit is here viewed in connection with the righteous character of the throne. “Those seven (spiritual perfection)‎ lamps of fire will search out and expose all contrary to the holy nature of God” (compare with Rev. 1:4; and Isa. 11:2).‎ ‎

Rev. 4:6. — “And before the throne as a glass sea like crystal.” The typology of the Old Testament enters largely into the structure of the Apocalypse. Here there seems an evident allusion to the laver in the tabernacle ‎(Ex. 30:18-21), and perhaps more directly to the molten‎ sea in the temple (1 Kings 7:23-37), both for priestly‎ purification. But the sea of glass points to a fixed state of holiness, of purity inward and outward, while “before the throne” would indicate that the purity is in keeping‎ with the holy character of the throne itself. “Like crystal.”* The clearness and beauty of that scene of holiness spread out before the throne are signified by the crystal. The two symbols, glass and crystal, are nearly allied, but are not quite the same. The former is a manufactured article, the latter is a native production.‎ Thus the “glass” of the sea points to a settled state of‎ purity, while the “crystal” intimates that the state is‎ one according to God in His holy nature. The divine idea is connected with the employment of this latter symbol ‎(Ezek. 1:22; Rev. 21:11; Rev. 22:1). The sea of glass is‎ again referred to in Revelation 15, but “mingled with fire,”‎ expressive of the fiery ordeal, out of which the martyrs emerge. They stand on the sea of glass; here it is unoccupied.‎

{*“A sea of glass expressive of smoothness and brightness; and this heavenly sea is of crystal, declaring that the calm of Heaven is not, like earthly seas, ruffled by winds but is crystallised into an eternity of peace.” — Wordsworth.}

The Seer next describes another class of beings, beasts rather, living ones, distinct, too, from the elders and angels,‎ and more closely connected with the throne than either.‎ ‎

6. — “In the midst of the throne” shows that they are an integral part of it, “and around the throne” that they‎ are externally connected with it. That is, the living creatures (not beasts) may be viewed either as vitally connected with the judicial authority of God, or as apart from, yet in relation to it. Intuitive intelligence, fulness of spiritual discernment, seems to be the force of the words‎ ‎“full of eyes before and behind.”‎

THE LIVING CREATURES AND THEIR WORSHIP.

Rev. 4: ‎7, 8. — “The first living creature like a lion, and the second living creature like a calf, and the third living creature having the face as of a man, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, each one of them having respectively six wings; round and within they are full of eyes; and they cease not, day and night, saying, Holy, holy,‎ holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was, Who is, and Who is to come.” Why “four” living ones? Because “four”‎ represents the attributes of God in judicial dealing with man and creation. It is the signature of the world and of the race, and is employed when universality is in question.‎ The representatives, or heads of the animal creation, are named as the lion for majesty, the ox (calf) for patient endurance, the man for intelligence, and the eagle for rapidity of action. Now these symbols express certain features in the exercise of divine government, and are fittingly introduced here in view of the immediate exercise‎ of these divine attributes. The whole scene under Heaven is to be visited in judgment; hence the employment of the numeral “four.”* Thus in the four living creatures grouped together we have a complete and perfect view of God’s judicial government. The symbols are taken from the most prominent animals, not from those in the sea.‎ The first attribute of God’s throne symbolised by a lion is majesty, strength, omnipotence (Gen. 49:9; Dan. 7:4;‎ Amos 3:8). The second symbol is an ox or calf in patient‎ labour, assiduously working for the good of others (1 Cor.‎ ‎9:9, 10; Prov. 14:4). The third creature had the face as‎ of a man, denoting intelligence or reason (Job 9:24;‎ Ezra 9:6). The fourth symbol of a flying eagle intimates keen sight and rapid action (Deut. 28:49; Job 9:26;‎ Hab. 1:8; Job 39:27-30). Now these characteristics‎ combined express the character of God’s throne in relation to the earth. They are attributes of a judicial nature exercised through human or angelic instruments according to the sovereign pleasure of God. The living creatures represent the judicial authority of the throne. From the first mentioned of the cherubim (Gen. 3:24) till the last ‎(Heb. 9:5) the same leading thought characterises all the‎ passages, namely, the attributes of God’s government.**

{*“The numerals ‘three’ and ‘four’ significantly express the divine and the ‎human.‎ There are three persons in the Godhead. Three times the seraphim announce the ‎holiness of God, crying, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts’ (Isa. 6:3). Three times the living creatures say ‘Holy’ (Rev. 4:8). Jehovah’s relationship to time and ‎eternity is expressed in a three fold way, ‘which was, and is, and is to come’ (v. 8). There‎ are three specified temptations of our Lord (Luke 4). Three times our Lord on ‎earth was publicly owned by God (Matt. 3:17; Matt. 17:5: John 12:28). On the third day the Lord was raised. The darkness which gathered round the cross and over the land‎ lasted three hours.‎ Faith, hope, and love are the three cardinal Christian virtues.‎ Christ announces Himself in three characters, as the Way, the Truth, and the ‎Life.‎ The divine blessing is three times expressed (Num. 6:23, 24).‎ ‎‘Three’ is the signature of God. ‘Four’ is the signature of the world.‎ ‎ Four divisions of the race, ‘nations,‎ and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues’ (Rev. 7:9). Four elements. Four winds.‎ Four seasons. Four presentations of Christ in the Gospels. Four living creatures.‎ Four universal empires (Dan. 7). Four great offerings, as the burnt offering (Lev. ‎‎1).‎ the meal or flour offering (Lev. 2), the peace or communion offering (Lev. 3), and ‎the sin offering (Lev. 4). God’s four sore judgments (Ezek. 14:21). Four women in ‎the Lord’s human genealogy (Matt. 1). The brazen altar had four sides and four ‎horns.‎ The golden altar had four sides and four horns. ‎‘Four’ is the signature of man and generally of the material creation.‎ ‎ ‎

“The old Rabbinical writers assert that the four standards for the tribes of Israel,‎ round which they were ordered to pitch their tents on each side of the tabernacle, ‎as in Numbers 2:2, were as follows: for the tribe of Judah — a lion; for the tribe of Ephraim — an ox; for the tribe of Reuben — a man; for the tribe of Dan — an eagle.” — ‎ ‎“Notes on the Revelation.” by F. Brodie.‎

Hengstenberg quotes an old Jewish saying: “There are four which take the first place in this world: Man among the creatures, the eagle among birds, the ox ‎among cattle, and the lion among wild beasts.”‎

**It has been sought to identify the cherubim and the living creatures with the Church, but this far-fetched idea cannot for a moment be entertained, for ‎two reasons:‎ first, the cherubim were fashioned out of the same piece of gold which formed ‎the mercy-seat — the gold signifies Christ as divine, as the wood of the shittah tree ‎sets forth His holy and incorruptible humanity; now we are not, and could not be, ‎united to Him as God. The cherubim were not united to the mercy-seat, although they formed a part of it. Second, the judicial character of the cherubim would forbid ‎the application to the Church, which is here to display the grace of God, not His ‎judicial ways.‎}

The differences between the living creatures of Ezekiel chapter 1, the cherubim in chapters 9 and 10 of the same prophet, and the living creatures of the Apocalypse are numerous and interesting. In the description furnished by the prophet of the captivity each of the four living ones had four faces and four wings (Ezek. 1:6). The apocalyptic Seer depicts only the third living creature with a man’s face, and each of the four with six wings (Rev. 4:7, 8).‎ There they had wheels; here they have none. There the throne was above them; here they are in the midst of it and also around it. There they were full of eyes, the ‎“whole body, and their backs, and their hands, and their wings, and the wheels were full of eyes round about”‎ ‎(Ezek. 10:12); here they are “full of eyes before and behind”‎ and also “within.” Many of these differences may‎ be accounted for by the fact that the judgment of Judah and Jerusalem is specially treated of in Ezekiel, and as that judgment was to come from the north (Babylon), the wheels would run on earth as presenting the course of earthly judgment, whereas the living ones here are not yet seen in action; they are the ministers of the throne. In judicial activity they act from Heaven; hence wings and not wheels.‎ Besides, a much more extended sphere of judgment is presented by the Seer than Judah and its guilty capital,‎ Jerusalem, for the whole earth is about to tremble under the action of the throne.‎

The care of the cherubim is for the public, governmental glory of God (Ezek. 10). The care of the seraphim is for the holiness of God; these latter are named but once in Scripture ‎(Isa. 6). The living creatures of the Apocalypse are‎ a combination of both cherubim and seraphim.‎

Each of the four living creatures had “six wings.”‎ The seraphim of Isaiah (Isa. 6:2) had “six wings” each,‎ two to cover face and feet respectively, and two for rapidity of action. The living creatures beheld by the prophet of the captivity had each “four wings” (Ezek. 1:5, 6). The‎ numeral “four” is largely employed in that chapter because the earthly government of God is in question.‎ The “six wings” in each of the living creatures in the‎ Apocalypse denote an activity beyond the powers of nature — supernatural activity.

Rev. 4: ‎8. — “Full of eyes within” signify inward spiritual perception of the governmental purposes and acts of God.‎ In the previous part of the description the eyes are also said to be “before and behind” (v. 6). The future and the‎ past come equally within the range of the perceptive‎ faculties of the living creatures.‎

Having given a description of the living creatures the Seer next describes their worship. In this blessed and happy exercise there is no relaxation: “They cease not day and night.” There is no imperfection in their service;‎ neither lassitude nor weakness characterise their worship.‎ Unceasingly they worship, saying, “Holy, holy, holy,‎ Lord God Almighty, Who was, Who is, and Who is to come.” We may here remark that in two respects the‎ living creatures resemble the seraphim; in the number of wings and in the threefold ascription of worship (compare with Isa. 6). The works of God praise Him, but deeper still His attributes declare His holy, holy, holy nature,‎ i.e., what He is in Himself. The titles of the Deity here grouped and the respective truths connected with each are ceaselessly celebrated. The very powers which execute the righteous behests of the throne (Rev. 6) here glorify Him in His divine Being. The living creatures symbolically represent the several attributes named, and ‎“give glory and honour and thanksgiving to Him that sits upon the throne.”‎

The divine titles are LORD, or Jehovah, the self-existing One; God in relation to creation; the Almighty in grace,‎ power, and in “sustaining resources.” In addition to these the divine Being is also celebrated as the God of the ages,‎ Who was, is, and is to come. For this latter, i.e., what God is in His own proper Being and nature, see Revelation 1:4. Here ‎“Who was” precedes the term of independent and eternal existence “Who is” — this latter is first stated in the earlier reference. Thus the four living creatures worship God.‎

THE WORSHIP OF THE LIVING CREATURES,‎ AND THE FULLER WORSHIP OF THE ELDERS.‎

Rev. 4:9-11. — “And when the living creatures shall give glory and honour and thanks to Him that sits upon the throne, Who lives to the ages of ages, the twenty-‎four elders shall fall before Him that sits upon the throne, and shall worship Him that lives to the ages of ages; and shall cast their crowns before the throne,‎ saying, Thou art worthy, O our Lord and (our) God,‎ to receive glory, and honour, and power; for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy will they were,‎ and they have been created.” Each of the living creatures is a characteristic symbol in itself of one or more of the divine attributes, and now the four unite, before they are witnessed in governmental action, in yielding to Him the glory, honour, and thanks due to His Name.‎ They have announced, as we have seen, His essential purity in the threefold repetition of the word “Holy,”‎ now their doxology (v. 9), as that of the elders (v. 11), is threefold. Another feature as distinguishing the more profound worship of the elders from that of the living creatures is that the former directly address God in the second person; whereas the living creatures speak of God in the third person. It is important to observe that whoever may be the instruments, angels or men, in exercising the judicial authority of the throne, of which the living creatures are here the symbolical representatives, all must turn to Him in increased power and fulness. The doxology of the living creatures furnishes proof of this.‎

The worship of the elders is of a different character to that of the living ones. Theirs is the worship of redeemed persons,‎ who, as having the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16),‎ enter intelligently into the thoughts of God, and who know Him personally in His holiness and love. It is the worship of persons whose hearts have been won by His exceeding great love, and whose consciences have been cleansed by faith in the divine testimony to the precious blood of Christ.‎

‎“The saints here fall down before the throne, bow themselves before His place in glory, and worship Him in His endless being, and lay down their given glory before His supreme and proper glory, ascribing all glory to Him as alone worthy of it; but here, according to the nature of the celebration of it, the Creator for Whom all things are. In all changes these remain true. It will be remarked here that the living creatures only celebrate and declare; the elders worship with understanding. All through the Revelation the elders give their reason for worshipping. There is spiritual intelligence in them.”*‎

{*“Synopsis of the Books of the Bible,” vol. 5, p. 595, Morrish ed.}

It will be observed that in the declaration of the living creatures we have glory, honour, and thanks; in that of the elders it is glory, honour, and power. Further, the elders fall down before HIM Whom they love and reverence, and cast their crowns before the THRONE in the recognition of that from which their royal dignity is derived and sustained.*

{*“The impressive nature of the scene presented in Rev. 4 cannot but strike the mind of every intelligent reader. The holy Seer was duly prepared by such an august vision for the disclosures which follow; and the mind of the reader can hardly fail to be prepared also to look for them with deep interest. It cannot escape even the most unobserving how greatly this whole scene resembles the inaugural theophanies in Isaiah 6 and Ezekiel 1.” — “A Commentary on the Apocalypse,” by Moses Stewart,‎ p. 514.‎}

The creatorial glory of God is here the ground of worship by the elders. “For Thy will they were,” that is, all‎ things exist according to His will or sovereign pleasure,‎ ‎“and they have been created.” He caused them to exist,‎ He is the origin and source of all creation. The worship here is grounded on the knowledge of God, what He is in His own Being and as Creator and Sustainer of the universe. The first and fundamental claim of God on His creatures is this necessary recognition of His power and glory, creating and upholding all — men and angels, things animate and inanimate, of all in the celestial and terrestrial realms.‎ The first subject revealed in the Scriptures is that of creation, and the first, moreover, in which faith is demanded (Heb. 11:3). The worship in the next chapter is founded on redemption by blood, and hence the Lamb necessarily becomes the central figure. The throne itself is the prominent subject in our chapter; the Lamb in connection with the throne that of Revelation 5.‎

The chapter we have been considering is one replete with interest. The main subject presented in vision being the throne of the Eternal, the guarantee that He governs the universe according to the truth of His nature. The throne,‎ too, “set” or established in “the Heaven” on the fixed‎ basis of eternal righteousness is the pledge of permanence and security. While “upon the throne ONE sitting,” only‎ one, intimates that there shall be no change of kings, no transference of the sovereign power, no succession; “sitting,‎‎” not “sat,” no vacation and no interregnum. There‎ is no song in the chapter, no vision of a slain Lamb, and no mention of the blood of sacrifice; these are characteristic features of the next chapter, and hence, because of their absence here, the chapter is not so frequently read as chapter 5. But the throne, with its symbolic glories, its accessories and surroundings, invests this chapter with profound interest, which deepens the more carefully it is‎ read and studied..