The Book of REVELATION
James J. Barker
THINGS WHICH MUST BE HEREAFTER
- Last week we
finished Revelation 3, and tonight we will move on to chapter 4. Chapters 4 and 5 take place in heaven so
we may want to stay there for awhile.
- I have
mentioned that the key verse to the book of Revelation is Revelation
- the things which thou hast seen (Chap.
- and the things which are (Chap. 2,
- and the things which shall be hereafter (Chap.
- Therefore we
will be in the third section (the future section) for quite some time. Maybe till the rapture, and we hear the
shout, "Come up hither" (4:1).
1:19b and 4:1 are similar:
- "the things which shall be hereafter"
- "I will shew thee things which must be hereafter"
- Revelation 1:19
says, "the things which shall be hereafter," and Revelation 4:1 says, "things
which must be hereafter."
Scriptures do not say, "things which might be hereafter," but "things
which shall be hereafter," and "things which must be
- Charles Dickens
published his famous novel (or "novella"), A Christmas Carol on December 17, 1843, just in time for
- The story is about a stingy old miser named Ebenezer
Scrooge, and his wonderful and remarkable transformation after the supernatural
visits of his deceased partner Jacob Marley, and then the ghosts of Christmas
Past, Present, and Yet to Come.
realizes he cannot alter the past or the present. But when he is confronted with
a horrible future, he says to the spirit of Christmas Yet To Come, "Before I
draw nearer to that stone to which you point, answer me one question. Are these
the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May
- It is a good question, and it is a fascinating story,
but it is fiction. Ebenezer Scrooge
was able to change his future, but nothing in the book of Revelation (or in the
book of Daniel or any other prophecy in the Bible) can be altered or
- Speaking of the book of Daniel, the Roman Josephus the
historian wrote (in his Antiquities of the Jews) that when Alexander the
Great entered Jerusalem in 332 BC, he spared it because he was impressed when
the priest met him outside Jerusalem and showed him to be the one prophesied in
Dan. 8:5, 21 (the “notable horn”).
- Alexander may have been impressed with the fulfilled
prophecies, but it did not stop him from drinking himself to death at the age of
- The voice from heaven said to John, "Come up hither, and
I will shew thee things which must be hereafter"
- Revelation 1:19 says, "Write the things which thou hast
seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be
- "Beginning in chapter 4, things to come are unfolded
which have to do with the consummation of the age" (John Walvoord, The
Revelation of Jesus Christ).
- Immediately after the rapture, the tribulation period
will begin. Revelation
chapters 4 through 19 describe the events which will unfold after the
- Not events which may follow, but events which
must follow the rapture.
- Nearly one hundred years ago, C.A. Blanchard wrote these
words, "What will follow the church age? Evidently in some form or other the
time of the tribulation. Why must the time of tribulation follow the church age?
Because when the church has been withdrawn, while Satan, godless governments and
Christless religions remain in the world there must be tribulation, and
such a time of tribulation as the world has never known in the mixed state which
has been from the beginning until now" (Light on the Last Days, cited by
John Walvoord, Revelation).
- The word "throne" is found 39 times in the book of
Revelation (cf. 1:4; 3:21; etc.), and it is found 17 times in chapters 4 and 5
where the emphasis is on God seated on His throne in heaven (4:2 twice, 3, 4, 5
twice, 6 thrice, 9, 10 twice; 5:1, 6, 7, 11, 13).
GOD IS ON THE THRONE
- God the Father
is on the throne (4:1-3). This is a throne "was set in heaven" (4:2), a reminder
of the sovereignty of God who is far removed from the petty struggles of earthly
- This is the
true picture of the universe as being subject to the dominion of our sovereign
and omnipotent God.
- John said he
"was in the spirit" (4:2; cf. 1:10). Though actually on the Isle of Patmos, John
experienced being in the presence of God and seeing these wonderful
- First and
foremost, John saw the throne of God, and he describes the presence of God as
“like a jasper and a sardine stone.” The sight of a rainbow around the throne
like an emerald further enriches this beautiful, colorful picture (cf.
- The emerald is
the green variety of the beryl, and is the most famous and valuable green
- This is the
first reference to a rainbow in the New Testament (cf. 10:1). The first
reference in Scripture to a rainbow is way back in Genesis 9, when after the
flood God said, "I do set my bow in the cloud, and
it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring
a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will
remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of
all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all
flesh. And the bow shall be in the
cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant
between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, This is the
token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is
upon the earth" (Gen. 9:13-17).
- It is a shame
that the perverted homosexuals have taken the rainbow, a beautiful token of
God's glory and grace and majesty, as one of their
- Whereas, the
throne represents the judgment of God and the sovereignty of God, the rainbow
represents the grace of God and the glory of God. And the jasper and sardine and emerald
stones (4:3) also have significance.
- The sardine (or
the sardius) stone and the jasper stone were the first and last stones in the
breastplate of the high priest (Exodus 28:17-21). The emerald was also part of the
- In Ezekiel 28:13, the sardius stone, the jasper stone, and the emerald are mentioned along with
other precious stones, such as the topaz, the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, the
sapphire, the carbuncle, and gold, as being in the garden of Eden.
- Revelation 21:11 describes the new Jerusalem as, "Having
the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a
jasper stone, clear as crystal."
- A precious stone which is "clear as crystal" suggests
that the jasper stone may be similar to a diamond, but Ezekiel 28:13 makes a
distinction between the two.
- The sardine stone, or the sardius, is ruby-colored, a
beautiful red, signifying our Lord's blood. All throughout the book of Revelation,
the Lord Jesus Christ is referred to as the Lamb who has redeemed us by His
blood (cf. 5:6-14).
- It is clear from Revelation 5 that God the Father is
seated upon the throne (cf. 5:6, 7).
THE FOUR AND TWENTY ELDERS ARE SEATED AROUND THE
- There has been
speculation over the identity of the twenty four elders. Some say they are angels, but that is
not possible. In Revelation 5:9, 10
these four and twenty elders worship God and sing, "Thou art worthy to take the
book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed
us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and
nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign
on the earth."
- Some say they
are representative of both Old Testament believers and New Testament believers
-- twelve each.
- That is
unlikely because the Old Testament saints will not be resurrected until the end
of the tribulation period (cf. Daniel 12:1-3; John
- The elders are
wearing crowns, indicating this scene follows the judgment seat of Christ but
before the opening of the seals (cf. Rev. 6:1).
- In the Old
Testament, twenty four represents the entire priesthood. King David divided the priesthood into
twenty four orders or courses.
- Here twenty
four represents the entire New Testament church (cf. 1:6; 5:10;
- First Peter 2:5 says we are a "holy priesthood," and I Peter 2:9 says we
are "a royal priesthood."
- The four and
twenty elders are seated (on thrones -- see margin) round about the throne of
God (4:4). This is in accordance
with the promises of our Lord in Matthew 19:28 and Revelation
- Jesus said unto
them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration
when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon
twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matt.
- "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in
my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his
throne" (Rev. 3:21).
- These elders are "clothed in white raiment" (4:4). Revelation 3:4 and 5 says, "Thou hast a
few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall
walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be
clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of
life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels" (cf.
Rev. 19:7-9, 14).
- The elders are wearing "crowns of gold" (4:4). Some of the crowns given at the judgment
seat of Christ include an incorruptible crown, mentioned in I Corinthians 9:25;
a crown of rejoicing, mentioned in I Thessalonians 2:19; a crown of righteousness, mentioned in II Timothy 4:8; the
crown of life, mentioned in James 1:12 and
Revelation 2:10; and a crown of glory that fadeth
not away, mentioned in I Peter 5:4.
- In Philippians 4:1, the apostle Paul says to the church
at Philippi, "Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy
and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly
- This indicates seeing them at the judgment seat will be
part of Paul's reward. This is
similar to I Thessalonians 2:19, where Paul says, "For what is our hope, or joy,
or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the
presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?"
- Revelation 3:11 says, "Behold, I come quickly: hold that
fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." This
reminds us that some believers will ,lose their reward (not their
- First John 2:28 says, "And now, little children, abide
in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed
before him at his coming."
- Some Christians will be ashamed at the judgment seat of
Christ. Second John 8 says, "Look
to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we
receive a full reward."
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS BEFORE THE THRONE
- The triune God
is pictured in Revelation 4 and 5. God the Father is seen seated upon His throne in heaven (4:2,
- God the Son,
referred to as "the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David" (5:5), and "a
Lamb as it had been slain" (5:6) is seen in chapter 5 coming and taking the book
with the seven seals out of the right hand of God the Father, who is seated upon
the throne (5:1-7).
- God the Holy
Spirit is referred to in Revelation 4:5 and 5:6 as "the seven Spirits of God"
(cf. 1:4; 3:1).
- This is a
fantastical scene in heaven. "And
out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there
were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven
Spirits of God" (4:5).
- Fire is an
emblem of the Holy Spirit. He is
called "the spirit of burning" in Isaiah 4:4.
- The Holy Spirit
guided the Israelites by night in a pillar of fire to give them light (Exodus
13:21). Psalm 78:14 says, "In the
daytime also he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a light of
- Acts 2:3 and 4 says that
on the day of Pentecost, "There appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of
fire, and it sat upon each of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with
other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."
- Seven is a
number that figures very prominently in the book of Revelation (4:5).
The number seven symbolizes perfection and completion.
- There are seven letters to seven churches; seven
Spirits of God; seven lamps of
fire; seven golden candlesticks;
seven stars; seven angels; seven horns and seven eyes; seven seals; seven
trumpets; seven vials; seven thunders;
seven thousand men slain in the earthquake in Revelation 11:13; seven crowns upon the dragon's head; seven heads on the beast that rises up out
of the sea; seven last plagues; seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth;
and seven kings.
- Furthermore, the tribulation period will last for
- Therefore, "the seven
Spirits of God" signifies the fullness of the Holy
THE FOUR LIVING CREATURES ARE ROUND ABOUT THE THRONE
- Our Authorized
King James Bible says, "And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto
crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four
beasts full of eyes before and behind" (4:6).
- Their eyes
symbolize the omniscience and omnipresence of God. Second Chronicles 16:9 says, "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth."
- Proverbs 15:3
says, "The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the
- In Zechariah 4,
the prophet Zechariah was shown "a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the
top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps,
which are upon the top thereof" (4:2).
- In Zechariah
4:10, an angel explained the vision to Zechariah. He said, "They are the eyes of the LORD,
which run to and fro through the whole earth."
- First Peter
3:12 says, "For the eyes
of the Lord are over the righteous,
and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the
face of the Lord is against them that do
- I prefer to
refer to these four beasts as "living creatures." The margin in the Scofield
Study Bible says, "living creatures, See Ezekiel
- Under Ezekiel
1:5, the Scofield Study Bible says, "The 'living creatures' are identical
with the Cherubim. The subject is somewhat obscure, but from the position of the
Cherubim at the gate of Eden, upon the cover of the ark of the covenant, and in
Rev. 4., it is clearly gathered that they have to do with vindication of the
holiness of God as against the presumptuous pride of sinful man who, despite his
sin, would 'put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life' (Genesis
3:22-24). Upon the ark of the covenant, of one substance with the mercy-seat,
they saw the sprinkled blood which, in type, spake of the perfect maintenance of
the divine righteousness by the sacrifice of Christ (Exodus 25:17-20)...The
living creatures (or Cherubim) appear to be actual beings of the angelic
order...The Cherubim or living creatures are not identical with the Seraphim
(Isaiah 6:2-7). They appear to have to do with the holiness of God as outraged
by sin; the Seraphim with uncleanness in the people of God. The passage in
Ezekiel is highly figurative, but the effect was the revelation to the prophet
of the Shekinah glory of the Lord. Such revelations are connected invariably
with new blessing and service."
- Because the
antichrist is often referred to as "the beast" in the book of Revelation, most
translations refer to the four "beasts" in Revelation 4 as four "living
- For example, the New King James Version says, "Around
the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back"
- John Nelson Darby's translation says, "Around the
throne, four living creatures, full of eyes, before and
- Noah Webster's translation says, "And around the throne,
were four living beings full of eyes before and
- Strong's Concordance says the word
"is fitly rendered living creature in contradistinction to the
beast of Revelation 11:7, 13:1, etc."
- In fact, a different Greek word is used for "beast" in
Revelation 11:7 and 13:1, etc.
- Also, there are two beasts in Revelation 13 -- the
antichrist and the false prophet (cf. 13:11-18; 19:20;
- "And the first beast was like a lion" (4:7). In Revelation 5:5, the Lord Jesus Christ
is referred to as "the Lion of the tribe of Juda." The lion is the king of the jungle, and
the Lord Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords (I Tim. 6:15; Rev.
- "And the second beast like a calf" (4:7). The calf represents the most important
of all domestic animals, and represents service. Our Lord said in Matthew 20:28,
"Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for
- "And the third beast had a face as a man" (4:7). Man is
the greatest of all God's creatures.
Job said, "What is man, that thou shouldest
magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?" (Job
- Our Lord often referred to Himself as "the Son of
man." He said to the high priest,
"Nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on
the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven" (Matt.
- The high priest responded to this statement by tearing
his clothes and saying, "He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of
witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy" (Matt.
- "And the fourth beast was like a flying eagle"
(4:7). The eagle is the greatest
among the birds, and symbolizes sovereignty and
- Proverbs 30:18 and 19 says, "There be three things which
are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the
- This portion of Scripture is very
- The "eyes" (4:6, 8) represent the omniscience and
omnipresence of God.
- The "six wings" (4:8) indicate the four living creatures
are angels, not merely symbols of God's majesty.
- The four living creatures "rest not day and night"
(4:8), indicating ceaseless service and praise.
- Their ministry is to ascribe holiness to the triune God
-- "Holy, holy, holy, LORD God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come"
- God is eternal -- "And when those beasts give glory and
honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and
- The four and twenty elders will "cast their crowns
before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour
and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and
were created" (4:10, 11).
- God is worshiped as our Creator (4:11). Evolution is a wicked attack on God and
on the Bible, which says, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the
earth" (Genesis 1:1).
- Dr. Mark
Hitchcock is one of the best Bible prophecy teachers today. He pastors a Bible church in Oklahoma,
and has written over twenty books on end time biblical
Hitchcock has said that the number one
question in Bible prophecy is, "Where is America in the end
- He says he has
been asked that question so many times that he decided to write a book about
- The book is
entitled, The Late Great United States:
What Bible Prophecy Reveals about America's Last
- The thesis of
the book is that America is not mentioned in the Bible, either directly or
indirectly and that this silence is significant.
- Moral dry
rot is undermining America
- Iran is very
close to getting a nuclear bomb.
national debt now stands at a staggering $14 trillion dollars!
- Major financial
institutions and corporations, such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG, and General
Motors have been nationalized. Many have noted that America is on the fast lane
- Greece and the other European nations are in even worse
- This severe economic recession is being used by various
world leaders as an opportunity to move the world to a global economy and one
- The pope recently came out in favor of
- Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that the
days of U.S. primacy are gone and that "global problems require global
- More and more Americans are looking to the government
for support. That is what is behind
this OWS nonsense.
- Thomas Jefferson warned many years ago: "A government
big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything
- According to the Bible that's exactly where this all is
ultimately headed under the