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Notes for

The Revelation

Chapter Four

1. Ephesians 4:8 There is a large group of humans already in heaven

Wherefore He [the Spirit] says, When He [Jesus] ascended up on high, He led captivity captive [a multitude of captives, margin], and gave gifts to men.

Matthew 27:52-53 They were resurrected on the Sunday after the crucifixion

And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared to many [till the 40th day].

Isaiah 26:19 They are in heaven with Jesus

Your dead men shall live, together with My dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, you that dwell in dust: for your dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.

John is now called by Jesus to enter heaven in his vision to see and write about a picture of the church as it will be AFTER the second coming. What he saw was a miniature of the real thing, because although there was a multitude (several hundred?) of saints in heaven then who had been there since Jesus' triumph, the reality of the great resurrection is yet to come.

From this point on in his vision the LORD showed him some events which were happening in heaven then, and some which were to happen on earth and in heaven. Naturally, because he wrote his book 2,000 years ago, some of these events are now in the past to us, some are present occurrences, while others are still in the future.

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2. John 1:18 The Father is the invisible God

No man has seen God [the Father] at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared [or shown] Him.

1 John 4:12 We know Him through the love Christ gives us

No man has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwells in us, and His love is perfected in us.

The only God ever seen by sinful man has been the LORD God whom we now know as Jesus. Genesis 2:4. It was He who created the worlds and He who physically appeared all throughout the Old Testament times. At the giving of the Ten Commandments He came and ate a meal with seventy elders. Exodus 24:9-11. Whenever a prophet mentions God the Father in a vision, they are referring to the bright lights (called the Shekinah glory in Hebrew writings) which identify His presence. This is what John saw also.

Jesus has a throne or position of His own, and this, like His Father's, is portable, and expandable, carried around by angels from world to world.

Revelation 3:21 Remember these words?

To him that overcomes 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.

All these items are pictures in human terms to try and explain the otherwise unexplainable. In our present state we cannot conceive what heaven is really like but God assures us that these representations will help us to fit in when we get there.

Isaiah 64:.4

For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither has the eye seen, O God, beside You, what He has prepared for him that waits for Him.

1 Corinthians 13:11-12

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

Above each throne is the bow of many colours, a picture of which He promised the survivors of the Flood.

Genesis 9:12-13 The rainbow of God’s love

And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between Me and the earth.

Ezekiel 1:25-28 The prophet saw Jesus on His throne

And there was a Voice from the firmament [air space] that was over their [some angels] heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings. And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone [blue, indicative of mercy]: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it [sitting on it].

And I saw as the colour of amber [like a nice suntan], as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of His loins even upward, and from the appearance of His loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about.

As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about [or overhead]. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of One that spoke.

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3. Matthew 19:27-28 In God’s kingdom, kings guide

Then answered Peter and said to Him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed You; what shall we have therefore?

And Jesus said to them, Verily [truly] I say to you, That you which have followed Me, in the regeneration [the new world] when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging [guiding] the twelve tribes of Israel.

There are twelve elders or patriarchs from the Old Testament times, and twelve apostles from the New, making twenty-four in total, and these people represent them. They wear the overcomers' crowns as do all the saints, but are not necessarily the same individuals who had those positions on earth. The apostle John was not one of them! Positions of authority in heaven are filled on a fluid basis by those most capable of carrying out the duty required at the time. When another can do a better job (or one is away on a mission), a second person steps in and takes over.

1 Peter 2:9 In reality all are kings (and priests)

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light...

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4. Isaiah 57:15-16

For thus says the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before Me, and the souls which I have made.

Isaiah 6:1-3 Heaven is a scene of great activity

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train [the people surrounding Him] filled the temple. Above it [the throne] stood the seraphims [a special rank of angels]: each one had six wings; with two he covered his face [in humility], and with two he covered his feet [using them as clothing as birds do], and with two he did fly. And one cried to another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.

Oh, that all could behold our precious Saviour as He is, a Saviour. Let His hand draw aside the veil which conceals His glory from our eyes. It shows Him in His high and holy place. What do we see? Our Saviour, not in a position of silence and inactivity. He is surrounded with heavenly intelligences, cherubim, and seraphim, ten thousand times ten thousand of angels.

All these heavenly beings have one object above all others, in which they are intensely interested – His church in a world of corruption. All these armies are in the service of the Prince of heaven, exalting the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. They are working for Christ under His commission, to save to the uttermost those who look to Him and believe in Him.

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5. Zechariah 4:1-6 The candlestick represents the Holy Spirit

And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, And said to me, What see you?

And I said, I have looked, and behold 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...

Then he answered and spoke unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might [of men], nor by power [of this world], but by My Spirit, says the LORD of hosts....

Exodus 25:31-32 It was a one-piece picture in the earthly sanctuary

And you shall make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knobs, and his flowers, shall be of the same. And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side...

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6. Revelation 5:8-9 They identify themselves as the redeemed

And when He had taken the book, the four beasts [the living creatures] and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials [incense bowls] full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation...

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[Return to Notes for The Revelation chapter 16]

7. Ezekiel 1:4-5 Some of these creatures have looked like men in the past, for angels and humans are all the sons of God, made in His likeness

And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding [on] itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness [or body] of a man...

Numbers 2:1-9 The flags are like having a street address

And the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, Every man of the children of Israel shall pitch [his tent] by his own standard [or flag], with the ensign [picture] of their father's house [on it]: far off [around] about the tabernacle of the congregation shall they pitch.

And on the east side toward the rising of the sun [the front of the tabernacle] shall they of the standard of the camp of Judah pitch throughout their armies... And those that do pitch next to him shall be the tribe of Issachar... Then the tribe of Zebulun...

All that were numbered in the camp of Judah [which includes the other two tribes] were a hundred and eighty-six thousand four hundred, throughout their armies. These shall first set forth [when they move camp].

These totals are of men only, between the ages of 30 (like our 21) and 50, capable of working and/or fighting. See Numbers 4:1-3.

Genesis 49:9-10 Judah’s picture was a lion

Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, you are gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre [the king’s sign of authority] shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh [one of the names of Jesus] come; and to Him shall the gathering of the people be.

Numbers 2:10-16 Reuben’s picture was that of a man

On the south side [the left, looking from the front] shall be the standard of the camp of Reuben according to their armies... And those which pitch by him shall be the tribe of Simeon... Then the tribe of Gad... All that were numbered in the camp of Reuben were a hundred and fifty-one thousand four hundred and fifty, throughout their armies. And they shall set forth in the second rank.

Numbers 2:17

Then the tabernacle of the congregation shall set forward with the camp of the Levites, in the midst of the camp: as they encamp, so shall they set forward, every man in his place by their standards.

Numbers 2:18-24 Ephraim’s standard was a young ox

On the west side [at the back of the sanctuary] shall be the standard of the camp of Ephraim according to their armies... And by him shall be the tribe of Manasseh... Then the tribe of Benjamin... All that were numbered of the camp of Ephraim were a hundred and eight thousand one hundred, throughout their armies. And they shall go forward in the third rank.

Numbers 2:25-31 Dan’s flag had an eagle embroidered on it

The standard of the camp of Dan shall be on the north side [to the right] by their armies... And those that encamp by him shall be the tribe of Asher... Then the tribe of Naphtali... All they that were numbered in the camp of Dan were a hundred and fifty-seven thousand six hundred. They shall go hindmost [or last] with their standards.

Numbers 2:32-34 After the exodus there were actually 13 tribes

These are those which were numbered of the children of Israel by the house of their fathers: all those that were numbered of the camps throughout their hosts were six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty. But the Levites [the workers and priests of the sanctuary] were not numbered among the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses. And the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses: so they pitched by their standards, and so they set forward, every one after their families, according to the house of their fathers.

The tribe of Levi was one of the original twelve. Now that they were separated the children of Joseph, Ephraim and Mannesah, took Joseph's and Levi's places to make up the twelve again, and Levi became the thirteenth.

The Lord directed the Israelites in all their travels through the wilderness. When it was for the good of the people, and the glory of God, that they should pitch their tents in a certain place, and there abide, God signified His will to them by the pillar of cloud resting low directly over the tabernacle. And there it remained until God would have them journey again. (Deuteronomy 31:15; Nehemiah 9:19). Then the cloud of glory was lifted up high above the tabernacle, and then they journeyed again. In all their journeyings they observed perfect order. Every tribe bore a standard, with the sign (or picture) of their father's house upon it, and every tribe was commanded to pitch by their own standard. And when they travelled, the different tribes marched in order, every tribe under their own standard. When they rested from their journeyings, the tabernacle was erected, and then the different tribes pitched their tents in order, in just such a position as God commanded, around the tabernacle, at a distance from it.

This same order is carried on in heaven also around God's throne. There are four "beasts", or "camps", made up of twelve tribes. These twelve tribes designate the twelve different character types that make up the individuals in God's kingdom (plus a special one we will look at later). We will feel quite at home amongst those who are like us in character and experience, and yet at the same time, we will be able to live with those who are totally different in their own way for all are solidly based on the character or righteousness of Jesus Christ. Within that Life there is a capacity for infinite variation. Every person in heaven now knows where their place of duty is, and here on earth today we may learn our place ready for the time when we too are in that group that John saw.

Ezekiel 10:9-11 Angels and Christians [the wheels] work together

And when I looked, behold the four wheels by the cherubims, one wheel by one cherub, and another wheel by another cherub: and the appearance of the wheels was as the colour of a beryl stone. And as for their appearances, the four had one likeness, as if a wheel had been in the midst of a wheel. When they went, they went upon their four sides; they turned not as they went, but to the place where the head looked they followed it; they turned not as they went.

Ezekiel 10:16-17 Wheels and cherubs work together

And when the cherubims went, the wheels went by them: and when the cherubims lifted up their wings to mount up from the earth, the same wheels also turned not from beside them. When they stood, these stood; and when they were lifted up, these lifted up themselves also: for the spirit of the living creature was in them.

Ezekiel 10:12 "full of eyes" = watching intently

And their whole body, and their backs, and their hands, and their wings, and the wheels, were full of eyes round about, even the wheels that the four had.

Ezekiel 10:13-15 In the vision, cherubs, or angels, have nearly the same faces as humanity

As for the wheels, it was cried to them in my hearing, O wheel. And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub [in place of the calf], and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle. And the cherubims were lifted up. This is the living creature that I saw by the river of Chebar [about 500 years before the birth of Christ in Bethlehem].

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8. Isaiah 6:2 "six wings" = seraphs or seraphim

Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he did fly.

Ezekiel 1:6 Cherubs or cherubim have four wings

And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.

If you can imagine being in the middle of a football or baseball stadium looking around at a total capacity audience, what would you see? Eyes, lots of them, and faces. That's what John saw. There are three "tribes" represented in each animal. There are always some individuals from these groups on "duty" singing God's praises, but this was a special occasion and all were present.

"which was, and is, and is to come" is an expression meaning He who lives forever.

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9. Isaiah 45:15-20 "Your pleasure" means He wants us!

Verily you are a God that hides Yourself [a modest Person], O God of Israel, the Saviour.

They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols. But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: you shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end. For thus says the LORD that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He has established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited.

I am the LORD; and there is none else. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not to the seed of Jacob, Seek you Me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right. Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray to a god that cannot save.

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