1 After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. 3 And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. ~ Revelation 4:1-3
Today, in our study of the book of Revelation we come to the second of John's great visions. The first vision was the revealing of the Lord Jesus Christ living in His church in the great vision of Revelation 1-2. Now we have the second of his visions, a vision of heaven, covered in Revelation 4-5. And John, as in the case of the first vision, was instructed to write it down.
With John's second vision, we now move to the third division of the book. The thesis of this book is found in Revelation 1:19 where John the Apostle heard the Lord say to him, "Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later." In this one verse is the threefold outline of the book. John was told to "write what you have seen." That covers the vision of the Lord Jesus in Revelation 1.
Then he was told to write "what is now" which is covered in Revelation 2-3, the letters to the seven churches which is a sweeping prophecy of the present age of the church. Then he was told "write what will take place later." It is to that division we come in Revelation 4, the beginning of what will take place after the church age.
In v.1 we read, "After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, 'Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this."'
Notice, here is the door to heaven and it isn’t closed, it is open. The door on earth was closed to Christ. The door in heaven is open to all who are willing to believe on the Lord Jesus. This door allows entrance into the very throne room of God. It is a door standing open by which John will take us into heaven.
The word "church" is mentioned 19 times in Revelation 1-3. Yet, in Revelation 4-21 the church is not mentioned once. The church is mentioned in Revelation 22 which happens after the Tribulation or the seventieth seven of Daniel 9. It seems that the church has vanished, and it has. John, who represents the church, is now in heaven and he is first allowed to see into heaven. What he sees is a door opened which enables him to look into heaven.
Then, in today's text, we read that John heard a voice "like a trumpet."
In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 we read, "13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever."
The trumpet mentioned in Revelation 4:1 is the same trumpet mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:16. Revelation 4:1 pictures for us the rapture of the church. The rapture takes place to deliver the church from the wrath of God which will be poured out on the earth during the Tribulation or more accurately called the Seventieth seven of Daniel 9:27.
The remainder of Revelation 4:1 reads, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." Heaven is the viewpoint of John throughout the rest of the book of the Revelation. Heaven is another dimension of existence right here and now. It is a realm of being just slightly beyond our senses today. When John saw a door opened into heaven he was permitted to see into a dimension that is present all the time and which governs the visible affairs of earth. That is the biblical position from beginning to end, from Genesis to Revelation, and especially in Genesis and Revelation. We must learn to think of it that way. What we are given in this book are certain reference points, certain events to which the book returns again and again.
In v.2 we read, "At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it."
The first thing John sees in heaven is the throne of God. The word "throne" is mentioned 13 times in Revelation 4, indicating it is the main theme in the chapter. There are only five chapters in the book of the Revelation where the word "throne" is not found. It is very important and impressive to remember that despite all that takes place on earth, all the events we read of in the newspapers and see on television, as exciting or saddening as these things are, they all somehow relate to that central throne from which God rules His universe. We must never forget that behind all human events is the government of God. The fact that there is a throne, means there are absolutes which cannot be altered or changed. They are guaranteed by the authority of the throne! Nothing man does, or can do, alters them in the least degree.
In v.3 we read, "And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne."
John not only sees the throne, but he sees the one sitting on it, and he describes Him. The one on the throne had the appearance of "jasper," which is a diamond, the most beautiful of all gems because it has the ability to capture the light and flash it in brilliant displays of color. The brilliant crystal reflects the dominant attribute of God the Father, His holiness and perfection.
The second stone is "ruby" which is a glowing, beautiful, blood-red stone. This, of course, immediately suggests the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. His major characteristic is His willingness to shed His blood on the behalf of wretched and hopeless mankind. He is the Lamb of God, slain from before the foundation of the world.
The third color was the emerald. John saw a great rainbow circling the throne, green as an emerald. Green is the color of nature, of creation. A rainbow was first seen at the end of the flood of Noah. After that terrible event that wiped out the world of that day by a flood, Noah for the first time saw in the sky a rainbow, not a green rainbow, but a rainbow of various colors, just as we see them today during a mist or a rain. The rainbow was the promise of grace expressed in nature. "Never again," God said in Genesis 9, "will I ever visit the earth with a universal flood." That is God's grace shown in the natural world.
This rainbow with various shades of green circling the throne speaks of the Holy Spirit administering the holiness and the redemption of God to all creation. A rainbow is made up of the seven colors of the spectrum. All rainbows are a circle. We usually see only part of it. Where the rainbow touches the ground we see an arc, but if we saw the whole thing it would be a circle. About the only time you can see a rainbow as a circle is when you are flying in an airplane. At the heart of the circle, invariably, is the shadow of the plane you are flying in! It is a promise of grace in the midst of a storm.
Interestingly, according to Exodus 28, the jasper and the ruby were the first and last stones on the breastplate of the high priest. They represent the first and the last of the tribes of Israel; namely, Reuben, the firstborn, represented by the ruby; and Benjamin, the last born, represented by the jasper. These stones represent God's covenant relationship to Israel and even though they will go through this seven year period of God's wrath, they will be saved.
Finally, Reuben, represented by the ruby, means in Hebrew “behold a son.” Benjamin, represented by the jasper, in Hebrew means “son of my right hand.” Those names speak of the greatest Jew ever, the Son of God whom John saw sitting at the right hand of the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ.