Imagery to Ignite: Revelation 4

by Sean Perron
by Sean Perron

Are you dull to the things of God? Do you yawn at the Bible or have trouble being excited about the Christian life? Perhaps you or someone you are counseling is spiritually lethargic. A good place to turn may be Revelation chapter 4 or 5. Here is one section from these chapters.

After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: (Revelation 4:1-6, ESV)

Imagery to Ignite Worship

Chapters 4-5 of Revelation contain glorious descriptions of the throne room of God. These images convey a multitude of colors and they relay a symphony of sounds. Reading texts like this can move a counselee away from self absorption and give them an eternal perspective to live for what truly matters. I agree with Dr. Jim Hamilton in his commentary on Revelation when he says that believers should not limit their imagination when encountering this imagery. He writes,

“I would suggest that at this point, as we consider John’s description of what he saw, we let our imaginations run wild. We cannot be too extravagant in our attempt to depict this for our mind’s eye. The colors we imagine will not be too vibrant. The space we allot for the throne and what surrounds it will not be too large; the sights and sounds we conceive in our brains will not be too impressive, too surprising, or too overwhelming. We are talking about the glory of Almighty God, seated on his throne in Heaven. We will not overdo it in our attempt to image this scene.” (James M. Hamilton, Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches, 143)

A common theme that emerges from Revelation is the theme that only the triune God is worthy of worship.John is even rebuked at the end of the book when he falls to worship at the feet of an angel. The message in Revelation is that Jesus is to be worshipped and Jesus is clearly distinguished from angelic beings (Revelation 22:8-9) This theme is particularly evident in chapters 4-5. John describes four living creatures that simply exist to worship God day and night. These creatures never cease to cry out “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8)

John also records the twenty four elders falling at the feet of God worshiping him repeatedly. The phrase “worthy” is ascribed to God in 4:11, 5:9 and 12. In 5:11, John records that “myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands” praise God aloud and the scene in chapter 5 climaxes with every creature in, on and under the earth blessing God. Chapter 7 adds a new element to this divine scene when saints from every nation and language gather around the throne of God to join the eternal praise. In these passages alone, the message is clear, God demands and deserves unceasing praise.

When a person meditates upon the visions John writes about in these chapters, the spiritual experience can nearly become overwhelming. Jonathan Edwards records his experience of the overbearing delight of God when reading the Scriptures after his conversion. He writes, “I seemed often to see so much light exhibited by every sentence, and such as refreshing food communicated, that I could not get along in reading.” (Iain H. Murray, Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography, 41) These passages in Revelation can certainly have this effect and can fuel the worship of believers and counselees. The images described by John open up a window of fresh air for struggling believers to look through and breathe.

Set my mind where?

Colossians 3:1-2 commands believers to “seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” What exactly should a counselee dwell upon to obey this verse in Colossians? Where is Christ seated at the throne room of God? The imagery in Revelation 4-5 is an answer to these questions and gives direction to those seeking to obey Colossians 3:1-2. Counselees who are wrestling with a number of issues such as pride, anxiety or fear of man can be immensely helped by meditating on theses visions of worship in Revelation. Even in the midst of trials and tribulations, God is receiving the praise he deserves and he is seated on the throne. Believers can set their mind on the images found in Revelation 4-5 of the twenty four elders crying out in joyful praise to God.

These apocalyptic visions may be particularly helpful for those who have become dull to the precious things of God. This imagery can be used as kindling wood to set cold hearts ablaze for the glory of God. These passages teach that the God’s purposes continue throughout the ages and true delight is to join in with the continuous choir of heaven. This imagery is both practical and powerful. Use this imagery to ignite love and holiness in your life.

This post is in a series on Counseling with Apocalyptic Imagery. See Post 1: Counseling Beasts

One thought on “Imagery to Ignite: Revelation 4

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s