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Revelation 4:1-9 by Robert Dean
Series:Revelation (2004)
Duration:40 mins 16 secs

Worship in Heaven Rev. 4:1-9


There are seven key things that we must identify in this chapter and chapter five. 


1)  First, we must identify the throne and the one sitting in it, as mentioned in verse two. The throne is the center of the stage in Revelation four and five, and the one sitting on it is not described, but all of the things around the throne are described. We know that it is God the Father sitting on the throne. The throne is no longer pictured here as the throne of grace that we go to in this dispensation but is transformed into a throne of judgment in preparation for the great end-time judgment of the Tribulation period.

2)  We have to identify the 24 elders who are sitting on 24 thrones.

3)  We have to identify the seven lamps and the seven spirits of God that are before the throne.

4)  We have to identify the four living creatures.

5)  We have to identify the Lamb who comes forward in chapter five.

6)  We have to identify the scroll and to understand its significance.

7)  We have to understand the seven seals on the scroll.


The thrust of these two chapters is not so much on these details. We have to understand them. They are filled with symbols and doctrinal significance but once we understand the details we understand what we are watching in this dramatic scene. Then when we come to end of looking at that analysis we have to look at what is actually transpiring here. It is first and foremost a scene of heavenly worship as the four living creatures, the elders and all of the angels are before the throne of God and will sing praise to God. In verse 8 we know that "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY {is} THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME" is similar to that which the seraphs sing to one another in Isaiah chapter six. So the focal point of this whole narrative is on the holiness of God, the one sitting on the throne who comes to judge human history, that He is the one who has absolute righteousness, absolute justice. He is the only one who can judge and he gives that judgment to the Lamb. And the Lamb is qualified because He is the one who has redeemed us.


We see that on the throne there is one sitting, and then there is the description of the throne. Around the throne are twenty-four thrones and on the thrones, John says, "{I saw} twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads," verse 4. The 24 elders are church age believers representing the church. This is very important for understanding what goes on later in Revelation, and if we miss-identify the 24 elders we will be a little off-center at different places as we go through the events in the heavenlies. There are eight reasons why the 24 elders are the resurrected, glorified and rewarded church.


1)  They are called elders, PRESBUTEROI, which is a term never used of angels anywhere in the Scriptures.

2)  There is an absence of the mention of these 24 elders, or any group of 24 elders, in heaven prior to the events of Revelation chapter four. In other words, they are not there.

3)  The prophecies in Daniel are the frame of reference for Revelation. In Daniel 7:9 which is a vision of the successive Gentile kingdoms in human history, culminating in their destruction and the establishment of the kingdom of the Son of Man, Daniel says: NASB "I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took {His} seat; His vesture {was} like white snow And the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne {was} ablaze with flames, Its wheels {were} a burning fire." Only one throne has an occupant at this particular time in Daniel 7:9, and that is God the Father. It is not until we get to the 24 elders in Revelation that we have occupants of the other thrones in the heavenly courtroom.

4)  The number 24 is based on the representative priesthood in Israel. They are representative of a larger group. Just as all the citizens of the United States are represented by 435 members of the House of Representatives, so all of the church age believers in heaven will be represented by 24 on an ongoing cycle in the throne of God. This is based on the analogy in the Old Testament in both 1 Chronicles 24:3-4; 25:9-30.

5)  The white garments are those of rewarded church age believers. This is the same term used in Revelation 3:5, 18.

6)  The golden crowns are called STEPHANOS crowns, not DIADEMA. STEPHANOS is the crown of a victor, a reward for having overcome, for being a victory. This represents the fact that they have already been rewarded and have gone through the judgment seat of Christ, the distribution of rewards and crowns has already taken place. Angels are never said anywhere in Scripture to wear victor crowns, only human beings.

7)  The function of the 24 elders tells us they must be church age believers. They function throughout the book of Revelation as kings and priests to God. They are brining prayers before God, they are worshipping God, they function as priests.

8)  These 24 elders are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb—Revelation 5:9. Angels are not redeemed; there is no redemption for angels. Redemption comes by the blood of the Lamb. It was Jesus Christ who was the Lamb of God who as true humanity was able to die as our substitute. A substitute had to be kind for kind.


This isn't the end of the 24 elders, they play a key role in the rest of the book of Revelation when we go back and forth between the heavenly scene and earthly scene. There are eleven verses that describe the function of these 24 elders. They are mentioned in 4:4, 10; 5:5; 6:8, 11; 7:11, 13; 11:16; 14:3; 19:4. What is important is that in each of these situations they are seen before the throne of God, worshipping along with the four living creatures. Revelation 7:11 NASB "And all the angels were standing around the throne and {around} the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God…"


1)  The elders are located in the heavenly throne room of God, sitting around the throne of God, in chapters 4 & 5.

2)  These 24 thrones are in close proximity to the Lamb's throne, so there is an indication of association there with the Lamb, 4:4; 11:16.

3)  They are also in close association with the four living creatures, but they are distinct from them, 4:6, 9, 10; 5:6, 8, 11.

4)  They fall down before the one sitting on the throne to worship Him. Again and again and again there is this picture of them falling on their face to worship the one upon the throne.

5)  They provide information to John during his visions. They give him information to help him interpret what he is seeing in 5:5; 7:13.

6)  Both in chapter 5 and 14:3 they sing a new song. This song emphasizes the redemptive work of Christ on the cross.


Revelation 4:5 NASB "Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And {there were} seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God." Two different ideas are present in this verse. The first part emphasizes the visual-audio effects that come out from the throne. We find a mention of these effects f9our different times in Revelation. This is the first, there are three others. In Revelation 8:5 we read NASB "Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake." Revelation 11:19 NASB "And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm." Note the increasing number of things that are happening. Each time we see this there is a new added dimension to the description. As we progress through the Tribulation the judgment of God becomes more and more intense and has more and more violent manifestations on planet earth. Revelation 16:18 NASB "And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake {was it, and} so mighty." It doesn't mention hail in that verse but in verse 21 it mentions a fiery hail. This is the final judgment that takes place at the beginning of the Armageddon campaign when this great earthquake destroys the city of Babylon. It is split three ways and then this fiery hail comes down from God. So there is this progression that takes place as we move from one of these judgments to another. In chapter four the focus is upon the throne of God and the beginning of the judgments, and the scroll is going to be opened and the seven seals begin to be opened and the initial judgments start to take place. In 8:5 the mention of the lightnings and noise and thunder—noise always comes between lightning and the thunder—occurs with the opening of the seventh seal. The seventh seal is opened and the inhabitants of heaven witness what will be involved. It is so horrendous, so terrible, that John said that there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then an angel comes forth with a censer that represents prayer and the burning of incense, he takes that as the prayer of the saints, and it is thrown upon the earth to begin the seven trumpet judgments. In 11:19 we come to the seventh trumpet judgment which initiates the seven bowl judgments, the final judgments which establish the kingdom of Christ upon the earth. Then in 16:18 is the final manifestation with the judgment at the campaign of Armageddon when the kingdoms of man will all be overthrown and the Lord Jesus Christ will come and establish His kingdom upon the earth. 


One of the most important lessons that we can derive from a study of chapters four and five is that with regard to the 24 elders of the church, where are you going to be in Revelation  chapter four? Are you going to be with those 24 elders? Or are you going to be, if the Rapture occurs, among those who are the inhabitants of the earth? The only way to make a distinction is your view of Jesus Christ. Those who put their faith alone in Jesus Christ are those who will be resurrected at the Rapture. At that point we will be judged at the judgment seat of Christ concerning our status based upon what we have done with what God has provided us in this age. Those who die without Christ face eternal condemnation. Those who are alive when the Rapture occurs face the horrible judgments of the Tribulation. Many of them will not survive. If they survive without trusting Christ then they will be thrown into the lake of fire. This is an important decision.


Another important decision has to do with worship. For those who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ part of our destiny as priests and kings is to worship God. Part of what we do here on earth is to learn how to worship God in preparation for that. That involves all of our priestly functions as believer priests—knowing the Word of God, our spiritual growth, our spiritual maturity, are all a part of our spiritual life as priests. Our prayer life with the Lord is private worship. Learning His Word is part of our individual worship as priests. This is our responsibility to prepare us for that coming time.