Title : A Door standing open in Heaven
THE PARALLELISM OF REVELATION
According to W. Hendriksen  there are 7 parallel sections in the book of Revelation. Each of them spans the entire dispensation from the first to the second coming of Christ. Each period is viewed now from one aspect and now from another .
- Christ in the middle of the Lampstands / Churches ( 1:1-3:22)
- The Vision of Heaven and the 7 Seals ( 4:1-7:17)
- The 7 Trumpets ( 8:1- 11:19)
- The Persecuting Dragon ( 12: 1-14:20)
- The 7 Bowls ( 15:1-16:21)
- The fall of Babylon ( 17:1-19:21)
- The great Consummation ( 20:1- 22:21)
We have now completed the first section in the Revelation to John, which includes John’s vision of Christ and of a description of the 7 churches which are reflective of the spiritual states of the church on earth. The ascended Lord Jesus dwells among the churches by His Spirit. He is the Great Pastor of the church, and as such He encourages the church, rebukes the church, and most significantly – as such He keeps the church. He is the great “constant “ in the church. Because He is there, the church as such never fails - even though individual churches themselves may fail due to disobedience, lack of Christ centeredness , lack of love , tolerating false teachers. etc.
From the state of the church on earth John’s look is now directed towards heaven. It is no accident that John’s vision of heaven immediately follows the vision of the state of the seven churches. The best way to encourage suffering and persecuted churches is to give them a glimpse of eternity - the throne of God.
V. 1 "After this I looked and behold , a door standing open in heaven ! "
"After this…" i.e. after the revelation of the present spiritual state of the 7 churches in Asia minor John, who is exiled on the island of Patmos now sees a door standing open in heaven, inviting him to enter, to see and to hear things that are otherwise hidden from men. This experience is not unknown in Scripture:
1. Isaiah 6:1 “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up…”
2. Ezekiel 1:1 "the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God".
3. Daniel 2:19 ; 7:1,9,13; 8:1ff – the visions of Daniel
4. Acts 7:55ff - Stephen,“full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God…”
5. Acts 10:10ff - The apostle Peter, “fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened… and there came a voice to him..”
6. 2 Cor 12:1-4 - Paul speaks of having been caught up to the 3rd heaven where he had heard things that he was forbidden to talk about.
John has a similar experience. The voice that speaks to him is that same first voice which he had first heard in 1:10. The voice is trumpet-like i.e. the voice of authority. It is the voice of God, and John is commanded: "Come up here and I will show you what must take place after this…". Note the divine “must”, reminding us of the certainty with which God's great plan will be executed. Nothing about the future is uncertain to God! There is a God who exercises sovereign control over His creation and over its history (Dan. 2:28f,45). Chapter 4 itself is a revelation of heaven - of the glory of God and of the worship of God in heaven .The focus is then directed to the Lamb ( Christ) in Ch. 5 with the scroll with its seven seals. We shall see that the seals are revelations of God’s judgement on the earth…
V. 2 On hearing the trumpet-like voice John says, "At once I was in the spirit" (see also 1:10). A mortal man could, of course. not enter heaven any other way. The glory of God would kill us in our present state (see 1:17). John could only enter that realm “in the Spirit“. In the same way he could only receive this message for the 7 churches directly from the Lord Jesus “in the Spirit”. Spiritual truths must be spiritually discerned (see 1 Corinthians 2: 10-13)
WHAT HE SEES IN HEAVEN:
1. GOD ON THE THRONE - the One being worshipped (vv 2b-3)
God occupies the centre of heaven. That is the simple truth about heaven. Heaven is a place of awesome majesty and the glorious manifestation of God. John sees God - but he does not attempt to describe Him. No human features can be attributed to God . He can merely give an impression. John only has human words to write and to describe with. Therefore , his description of God cannot be literal - it call only be illustrative.
· "He had the appearance of jasper and carnelian“ (v.3) The appearance of God to John was like precious stones. Precious stones are precious because they collect and intensify light.
· “and around the throne there was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald.” A rainbow, resembling an emerald (precious green stone) surrounds the throne. A rainbow (sign of the covenant) is the sign of God's grace and mercy. God is presented in the highest human thought forms and descriptions – but it comes desperately short. The main point is that God dwells in unspeakable majesty and glory!
· V.5a “From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder - awe inspiring manifestations …reminders of the fact that God is to be feared. Thunder is the voice of God in many O.T passages.
· V.5b “ And before the throne were burning seven torches of fire which are the seven spirits of God. As in 1:4 the seven spirits of God are a reference to the Holy Spirit, seven being the number of divine perfection. Note that the Trinity is "on the throne". The Lamb (Christ) appears in Ch. 5.
· V. 6 “… and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. In Solomon's temple there was a ‘sea’ (1Ki 7:23) for the purpose of ceremonial washing, but it is more likely that this picture should refer to Exodus 24 when Moses, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, went up Mt. Sinai where they saw God the God of Israel (Ex 24:9-11). They described the glorious vision: “There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness”. Notice the similarity! The heavenly sea, unlike the earthly sea is tranquil, like glass. The sea is depicted in Revelation as the place of chaos and rebellion, from which the beast emerges to wage war upon the saints (Revelation 11:7; 13:1. ) But in heaven, the sea is calm, like glass and clear as crystal. There is no storm here.
2. THE WORSHIPPERS BEFORE THE THRONE:
V.4 The 24 elders : “Around the throne were 24 thrones and seated on the thrones were 24 elders, clothed in white garments with golden crowns on their heads“ . The identity of the elders is subject to debate, but most commentators agree that the 24 elders represent the complete people of God from both, the 12 tribes of Israel (O.T.) and the 12 apostles (N.T.). As the elders represent the church on earth, so the church is represented by her elders in heaven. Whatever we do not understand about the identity of the elders here - this we know: they are entirely dedicated to the worship of God. See 4:10,11
Vv. 6b-11 The 4 living creatures:  (see also Ezekiel 1:5ff) These 4 living beings symbolise the noblest (lion) , strongest (ox) , wisest (human) and swiftest(eagle) living beings created by God. Their many eyes speak of their powers of universal watchfulness and insight. They have 6 wings - like the cherubim of Isaiah 6:2 - and therefore some commentators have identified them as such. We see that these living creatures are closest to the throne of God, leading in the never ending and continuous worship.
Throughout the book of Revelation, numbers are always used symbolically. The number four is used as the number of the world, since the earth is said to have four corners (north,south, east and west), four winds, and it is divided into four regions; earth, sea, rivers and springs, and the heavens. Therefore it appears as if they represent the entire created order. This is why they are depicted as looking like the earth’s great creatures, man, the lion, the ox and the eagle.
They are covered with eyes which see everything, and therefore it appears as if these creatures serve as the guardians of heaven. (v.6b) . They not only worship God and the Lamb in heaven, but they also execute God’s judgments upon the earth.
In Ch.6, we learn that these same living creatures bring judgment upon the earth when the first four seals of judgment are opened.
But right now here in Ch.4 , John describes their function in worship, “day and night they never stop saying: `Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.’” (v.8) . They remind us that God is holy, that he is triune ( note , the three-fold repetition “holy, holy, holy”) that he is eternal (without beginning and end) and that He is sovereign. Given these glorious attributes this God alone is worthy of praise.
Furthermore, when these living creatures praise God, they represent the whole of creation praising the Creator. And when they worship –as they have done from all eternity– the twenty-four elders join them. The picture we are to draw from this is that all creation (represented by the four living creatures) as well as all of God’s redeemed people (represented by the twenty-four elders) worship the One who is alone worthy of our worship. John describes this scene for us in verses 9-11. This not only reminds us of God’s unspeakable greatness, but the heavenly scene should become the pattern for all Christian worship on earth.
FROM WHICH WE DRAW THE FOLLOWING PRELIMINARY CONCLUSION:
· Heaven is a world of worship
· Worship is defined here as the giving of glory, honour and thanks to Him who sits in the centre - on the throne.
· Worship is God- focussed. It is never presented as a man-centred tool for self- enjoyment. True Worship focusses on God , centres and gathers around God , reveals God , sings about God and affirms the One on the throne in heaven. To put that from God's perspective. In worship God gathers His people to Himself as centre. Eugene Petersen says: "Worship is a meeting at the centre so that our lives are centred in God and not lived eccentrically.” Note: Israel was plagued for centuries by Baal worship - portable centres for worship set up under every hill and green tree - but these were not the true centre (as the temple was supposed to be) . Much modern worship ( as in every age) is eccentric because it is not God centred!
Since heaven is a world of worship let us make every effort to understand the God-centred nature of worship, and strive to make this also our highest duty while we are on earth. Suppose for a moment that you were allowed to enter heaven without a desire for worshipping God. What possible enjoyment could you feel there? The pleasures of the 24 elders and the 4 living creatures could not possibly be your pleasures. How could you possibly worship in heaven , if you haven't worshipped on earth?
Westminster Catechism : "The chief end of man is to worship God and to enjoy Him forever".
May God grant us to understand this picture of true worship . May He grant us a greater desire to assemble as often as we to join with all God’s creatures in heaven and on earth to give Him the glory and honour due to His Name ! Amen.
 William Hendriksen : More than Conquerors
 This is perfectly appropriate. No one has ever seen God. God cannot be described cf. Ex 20:4
 Rev 1:4 ; 3:1 ; 4:5; 5:6 ; Some would refer to the seven modes of operation of the Holy Spirit e.g. in Isa 11:2 : the Spirit of the Lord 2. The Spirit of wisdom 3. The Spirit of understanding 4. The Spirit of counsel 5. The Spirit of might 6. The Spirit of knowledge 7. The Spirit of the fear of the Lord.
 "Beasts" (KJV) is an unfortunate rendering