Rev. 4: 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.
4:3 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.
Gustave Doré’s etching of God’s throne: gravura como literatura pictured above (1861-68).
A Throne without a Person Described
It is interesting that John describes the appearance of God as being like light. Psalm 104:2 says that he covers himself “with light as with a garment.” And I Tim. 6:16 says that “he dwells in unapproachable light.” We should bear this in mind in our approaching God, whether in speaking, writing or in art. Hebrews 12 urges our approach to God as reverent—Hebrews 12:28-20.
Like John, Dore does not attempt to picture God. He only gives an emanating light at the center of the throne. (see I Timothy 6:13-16.) Dore also conceived of the throne as circular. See Hendriksen’s drawing of the throne below (in 2 dimensions).
Note the meaning of the numbers in the drawing: The innermost circle 1 represents the sparkling white diamond (4:3); circle 2 the sardius (4:3); circle 3 the emerald rainbow (4:3); circle 4 the four living ones or cherubim (4:6); circle 5 the twenty-four thrones with their elders (4:4); circle 6 the many angels (5:11); and circle 7 all other creatures in the entire universe (5:13). The seven lamps and the sea of glass are also before the throne (4:5, 6). The Lamb (L) stands between the throne and the living ones on the one side, and the twenty-four elders on the other (5:6). But the Lamb later advances to the throne (5:7), and is now seated on it with the Father (22:1). The throne rules over all. Take this lesson to heart! (see Hendriksen, p. 84, below).
Throne (Greek = thronos) occurs in Chapters 4 & 5 more than the rest of the New Testament. Thronos occurs 17 times in Chapters 4 and 5. It is indeed the major lesson of the entire book. “The purpose of this vision is to show us, in beautiful symbolism, that all things are governed by the Lord on the throne. “All things” must include our trials and tribulations.” See Hendriksen, p. 84, below).
God’s Ruling over all His Creation
Romans 8:28 was my mother’s favorite Bible verse. She quoted it often to us as children. 28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God to them that are the called according to his purpose.
Dr. R. C. Sproul says this about my mother’s favorite verse—
“Romans 8:28 is one of the most comforting texts in all of Scripture. It assures the believer that all ‘tragedies’ are ultimately blessings. It does not declare that all things that happen are good in themselves but that in all the things that happen to us God is working in and through them for our good. This is also firmly grounded in His eternal purpose for His people.”
“We are promised that ‘All things work together for good to those who love God,’ not because those things are working for my [material] benefit but because God is using those things to my ultimate advantage. He will use the suffering and the pain and he will triumph over the wickedness that comes into my life.” –R. C. Sproul (see Sproul below).
Rev. 4:3 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.
In the O.T. the Lord’s presence in the Tabernacle was in the form of the shekinah (a second temple Hebrew word that does not occur in the OT or NT). It is thought to have been a light cluster of some sort. This is what John saw in his vision. He rightly shrinks back from making a description of God.
Handel’s Sense of Reverence for God as He Wrote the Messiah
“As a result of his fiscal failures and physical ailments, in 1741, Handel was financially broke and emotionally broken. Amid his depression, a ray of light, though, began to shine. A man name Charles Jennens was writing and compiling the lyrics for an oratorio about the birth, passion, and return of Christ. Upon reading this, Handel was instantly inspired and feverishly began to compose the ‘Messiah’ using Jennens’ lyrics. The entire score was completed in a remarkable 24 days.
[At one point,] “Handel’s assistant walked in to Handel’s room after shouting to him for some time with no response. The assistant supposedly found the conductor sobbing uncontrollably. When asked what was wrong, Handel held up the score to the Hallelujah movement and said, ‘I think I saw the face of God.’ While it may or may not have been the first time, this certainly would not be the last time someone was moved by this extraordinary piece.” (see Handel below).
The Throne Room scene in Revelation is meant to evoke reverence in us much as Handel’s Messiah has done since being written in 1741. Worship is meant to create reverence in us, not provide for our entertainment.
More next time.
Handel, George Frederick. “The Story Behind the Carol: ‘Handel’s Messiah'”; accessed 28 September 2019 from http://www.forestbaptistchurch.org/the-story-behind-the-carol-handels-messiah/
Hendriksen, William. (1939). More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
© 2019 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved