When you think of heaven, what comes to mind? Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could be transported there today, to see what awaits us? How encouraging would that be to you – if you could actually see a place you’ve only believed in by faith?
Today’s read of Revelation 4-5 allows us a glimpse into heaven. John was transported there “in the Spirit” and given the privilege and responsibility to write down what he saw, so that we could see it too. The only challenge was, he was describing heavenly things for an earthly audience. He witnessed things he couldn’t really put into words, so he did the next best thing. He told us what they were “like.” Did you know, “like” is used 45 times in Revelation, often in the phrase, “something like” as John tried to put into words what God was showing him?
In chapter four, John’s attention is turned from “the things which are” to “the things which must take place after these things” (4:1). From now until the end of the book, we will read about things yet to come – things that will occur after the conclusion of the church age. The word “church” isn’t mentioned in Revelation after chapter 3, except in the concluding words of Revelation 22:16, where Jesus reminds John that everything he’s been shown is a message for the churches. The absence of the word “church” is often used to support a pre-Tribulation rapture, although we do see saints on the earth during this time (evidence that people will be saved).
These two chapters set the stage for what’s coming next. First, in chapter 4, God is recognized and exalted as King. We see Him on His throne, surrounded by 24 elders and the 4 living creations (unique angelic beings) who are continually praising God.
Revelation 4:9-11 – And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed and were created.”
Next, in chapter 5, Jesus is recognized and exalted as King. John sees a scroll in God’s hand, sealed up with seven seals. No one is found worthy to open this scroll until all attention turns to Jesus, the Lion of Judah, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. The scroll represents God’s eternal plan for the earth; some have called it the “title deed to the earth.” Only Jesus is worthy to receive the scroll and open it, setting in motion the final events that will end in Jesus taking His rightful place as ruler of this physical world.
Revelation 5:9-10 – And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign upon the earth.”
After this declaration John witnesses every created thing which is in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them worshipping Jesus (5:13-14). Obviously, this hasn’t happened yet, and as we will see, it can’t happen until the rest of the events in the book unfold. John got a vision of two Kings – God the Father as King of heaven, and Jesus the Son as King of earth. In authority and position, of course, they are King today, but until God’s plan reaches its conclusion, Jesus will not be recognized as King of the earth by every creature. That day is still to come. God showed John the end of the story as a preview. We’ll need to keep that end in mind as we read about the judgments necessary to bring it about. Jesus accomplished the work of redemption that He was sent by the Father to do, and God will exalt His Son as a result. Jesus purchased His earthly kingdom with His own blood because He loves His Father. What a glorious time it will be when both the Father and the Son are exalted and worshipped as they ought to be!
Are you getting a picture of heaven? Heaven is a place of continual worship, where all attention is directed toward the Father and the Son. We will bow in front of them, lift up our praises, and cast our crowns before them.
Do you love worshipping God today?
Are you thankful that Jesus bought and paid for you with His own blood?
Have you recognized God as King over your life, with all authority and power to do with you as He wills?
Then you will be right at home in heaven.