Text: Rev 4
OT Text: Isaiah 6:1-7 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said:“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
Featured Verse: Rev 4:9-10 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
Main Idea: In heaven, God is worshipped.
This chapter is a huge turning point in the book of Revelation. John's attention is turned from earth, where the seven struggling churches are in various states of faithfulness as they face external oppression, false teachers, and spiritual lethargy. By contrast, in the heavenly realm, God is worshipped perfectly with unending splendor.
After two references to "doors" in the last sections, John again sees a "door standing open in heaven." (4:1) This phrase introduces a heavenly scene in which he is given a vision of heavenly worship. In the Bible, the heavenly realm is contrasted with the earthly realm. In the heavenly realm God receives perfect worship, but in the earthly realm humans resist his authority. Jesus taught his followers to pray for God's name to be recognized as holy "on earth as in heaven." This vision forms a bookend with the final two chapters of Revelation, where the New Jerusalem descends down from heaven and God dwells on earth with his redeemed people. In the end of Revelation, the Lord's prayer is fully answered.
In the meantime, John gives his struggling churches a picture of heavenly worship. Right now, City Reformed - like all of God's people throughout the world - is invited to enter into this chorus of heavenly worship when we meet together or worship on our own.
Conclusion and Application
Remembering this in context brings a striking message. The seven churches of Asia Minor face significant challenges. In addition to their own struggles with spiritual vitality and the allure of compromise through false teachers, the pressure from the outside world is ratcheting up. John has been exiled to Patmos "on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus" and is a partner with these churches in "tribulation." (1:9) We also heard in the address to Philadelphia that "an hour of trial is coming on the whole earth." (3:10) Even the best of them have "little power" (3:8) and an outward appearance of "poverty" (2:9), so they is little that they can do to change the situation. We know from history that the first empire-wide persecution of the church broke out at the end of the first century. The warnings in this book would fit well if they were given to the church on the eve of that particular time of tribulation.
So... what does John offer to the churches in this position? - "Repentance and faith."
If we are honest, this is not the answer that we initially want. We may want strategies to effect change, tips for greater power, secrets to unlock untapped potential. Instead, John brings a prophetic word from Jesus in which the seven churches are corrected and encouraged. In other words, he calls them to greater and deeper repentance. Rather that speaking to them as victims of insurmountable opposition, John's Revelation calls them to examine themselves and respond with repentance and renewal. But he does not end there. John also invites them to join him on a tour of the throne room of heaven where God is worshipped in infinite splendor. And... as the revelation unfolds, John shows that our present calamities are being used by God to usher in the everlasting kingdom of God here on earth. As we face difficulties and opposition, this is what we really need. Repentance and faith. May this vision be the shaping perspectives on our lives.