Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.III. THE THINGS WHICH ARE AFTER THESE, THE END OF THE AGE,
THE CONSUMMATION, AND FINAL MESSAGES (4-22)
1. The open door and the vision of the throne (Revelation 4:1-3) 2. The twenty-four elders and the throne (Revelation 4:4-5). 3. The four living creatures and the worship (Revelation 4:6-11) 4. Who is worthy to open the book? (Revelation 5:1-3) 5. The answer (Revelation 5:4-5) 6. The vision of the Lamb (Revelation 5:6-7) 7. Worship and praise (Revelation 5:8-14)
2. The twenty-four elders and the throne (Revelation 4:4-5).
3. The four living creatures and the worship (Revelation 4:6-11)
4. Who is worthy to open the book? (Revelation 5:1-3)
5. The answer (Revelation 5:4-5)
6. The vision of the Lamb (Revelation 5:6-7)
7. Worship and praise (Revelation 5:8-14)
The scene changes suddenly. We are no longer on earth but are transported into heaven. The true Church is gone and the apostate Church, while still on earth to pass into the judgments of the great tribulation, is no longer owned by the Lord and, therefore, not mentioned. That is why the word “church” disappears entirely from the book after the third chapter. The open door and the voice which calls “come up hither” and John’s presence in glory in the spirit, clearly indicate symbolically the fulfillment of 1Thessalonians 4:15-17. That for which the faithful remnant waited, the blessed hope of the Church, has suddenly come to pass. The departure of the true Church from the earth will be as sudden as its beginning (Acts 2:1-2).
John’s first vision in heaven is the established throne, the sign and symbol of the universal government of God. While thrones on earth begin to totter and to fall and man’s day closes in the predicted upheavals, there is a throne which cannot be affected or disturbed. Yea, He who sitteth there and looks down upon earth and sees man’s rebellion and madness laughs at them and holds them in derision (Psalm 2:4). The occupant of the throne was to look upon like a jasper (rather the diamond) and a sardine stone. Our Lord and the glory of His person are symbolically represented in these stones. His glory in the brilliant stone, His redemption work in the blood-red sardine. The rainbow in emerald-green tells us that in the judgment about to come upon the earth mercy will also be remembered. It is the covenant sign. Though judgments come, yet mercy is in store for Israel and the earth.
Who is represented by these twenty-four elders? They cannot be angels. Angels are never seated upon thrones (not seats, as in the Authorized Version), nor are they crowned, nor can they sing redemption’s song as the elders do. There is only one possible meaning. They represent the redeemed, the saints in glory. They are priests (clothed in white) and they are kings (crowned); they are the royal priesthood in the presence of the throne. And why twenty-four? It points us back to the work David did for the temple. He appointed twenty-four courses of the priests (1Chronicles 24:1-31). Twice twelve would suggest the saints of the Old and New Testaments.
The sea of glass is a reminder of the great laver in Solomon’s temple in which the priests had to wash. Now it is solidified because no more water is needed for the cleansing of the saints. The word “beast” should be changed to “living creatures” or “living ones.” They are not symbolical of the Church, or a special class of saints, but they are the same supernatural beings seen in the Old Testament and always in connection with the throne and the presence of Jehovah. They are the cherubim of Ezekiel’s great vision, chapters 1 and 10. Their constant cry, “Holy, Holy,” reminds us of the seraphim also (Isaiah 6:1-13). The worship here is the worship of Him who is the creator.