Elohim: the Author and Finisher of History (Revelation 4:2-6)

Elohim: the Author and Finisher of History (Revelation 4:2-6)

John is given a glimpse of the One who sits on Heaven’s Throne. In our overview of the chapter we saw that this view is an anthropomorphic presentation of God in His dazzling majesty so that we might begin to have a comprehension of His Person. We are about to see the Divine Judgment machine unleashed but before we do, it is helpful to see God in the stream of history… 

  1. Elohim: He that sits on the throne is the God who created

Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth.” In Hebrew it is Beresheet bara Elohim et hashamayim ve’et ha’aretz. Without trying to explain the complexities of Hebrew Grammar, I do want to point out that the Rabbis teach that this is actually out of order and, apart from Divine direction, it should read Elohim bara b’resheet. God did this on purpose; the emphasis is not on the who but is instead on the what and the when. Literally translated, this sentence should read, “At the beginning, God created…” When? At the start of all things. What happened? God created. We can logically infer that it is so obvious that no one else could create that God allowed the change in word order to emphasize the ordering of creation. Why would that matter, especially when studying the book of Revelation? Simply put, God is showing, and quite emphatically, that it is He who sets the times and seasons of all things. He caused it to be and He is the one who will cause it to end.

 

Rabbi Dr. David Stern, a Messianic Jew points out a couple items I want to bring to your mind. Quoting Dr. Stern on the name Elohim: “The root meaning of the word is unknown. The most probable theory is that it may be connected with the old Arabic verb alih (“to be perplexed, afraid”; “to seek refuge because of fear”). Eloah, Elohim, would therefore translate as “he who is the object of fear or reverence.” From this God makes clear that He is to be the object of our reverence or adoration. To a degree, there should be a fear and trembling, even among God’s special people, the Redeemed.

Dr. Stern also points out in his commenting on Genesis, that which we have already postulated, that God is placing emphasis on the what and when of creation, that God is showing us both the ordering and the giver of order.

Circling back to Revelation 4 and the description of the One who sits on the Throne…God is portrayed in His dazzling majesty. This is the fullest picture that we are given in Scripture to illuminate one of God’s titles, Melek ha’ Olam, King of All Things.

In Revelation 4 we are given a full orbed picture of Heaven’s Throne Room. Judgment is a about to begin (In chapter 5 the Judge is revealed) but God takes great care to put His Majesty, Splendor and Kingship on display. As it says later in the chapter, He is creator of all things and for His pleasure they were created. It is revealed, then that God who has created, now calls His courtiers into His presence to commence the Judgment.

Two other times, we see a foreshadowing of this moment. Isaiah and Ezekiel see the LORD. Daniel sees the Ancient of Days seated on His throne but does not give much detail. Meanwhile it is Isaiah and Ezekiel who give us a sneak preview. Let’s look…

Isaiah 6:1-4 (CSB)

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphim were standing above him; they each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another:

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Armies;
his glory fills the whole earth.

 

The foundations of the doorways shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke.

 

Ezekiel 1:4-28

I looked, and there was a whirlwind coming from the north, a huge cloud with fire flashing back and forth and brilliant light all around it. In the center of the fire, there was a gleam like amber. The likeness of four living creatures came from it, and this was their appearance: They looked something like a human, but each of them had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the hooves of a calf, sparkling like the gleam of polished bronze. They had human hands under their wings on their four sides. All four of them had faces and wings. Their wings were touching. The creatures did not turn as they moved; each one went straight ahead. 10 Their faces looked something like the face of a human, and each of the four had the face of a lion on the right, the face of an ox on the left, and the face of an eagle. 11 That is what their faces were like. Their wings were spread upward; each had two wings touching that of another and two wings covering its body. 12 Each creature went straight ahead. Wherever the Spirit[a] wanted to go, they went without turning as they moved.

13 The likeness of the living creatures was like the appearance of blazing coals of fire or like torches. Fire was moving back and forth between the living creatures; it was bright, with lightning coming out of it. 14 The creatures were darting back and forth like flashes of lightning.

15 When I looked at the living creatures, there was one wheel on the ground beside each of the four-faced creatures. 16 The appearance of the wheels and their craftsmanship was like the gleam of beryl, and all four had the same likeness. Their appearance and craftsmanship was like a wheel within a wheel. 17 When they moved, they went in any of the four directions, without turning as they moved. 18 Their four rims were tall and awe-inspiring, completely covered with eyes.19 When the living creatures moved, the wheels moved beside them, and when the creatures rose from the earth, the wheels also rose. 20 Wherever the Spirit wanted to go, the creatures went in the direction the Spirit was moving. The wheels rose alongside them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. 21 When the creatures moved, the wheels moved; when the creatures stopped, the wheels stopped; and when the creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose alongside them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

22 Over the heads of the living creatures the likeness of an expanse was spread out. It gleamed like awe-inspiring crystal, 23 and under the expanse their wings extended one toward another. They each also had two wings covering their bodies. 24 When they moved, I heard the sound of their wings like the roar of a huge torrent, like the voice of the Almighty, and a sound of tumult like the noise of an army. When they stopped, they lowered their wings.

25 A voice came from above the expanse over their heads; when they stopped, they lowered their wings. 26 Something like a throne with the appearance of lapis lazuli was above the expanse over their heads. On the throne, high above, was someone who looked like a human. 27 From what seemed to be his waist up, I saw a gleam like amber, with what looked like fire enclosing it all around. From what seemed to be his waist down, I also saw what looked like fire. There was a brilliant light all around him. 28 The appearance of the brilliant light all around was like that of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day. This was the appearance of the likeness of the Lord’s glory. When I saw it, I fell facedown and heard a voice speaking.

I could spend half a dozen sermons, easily, on the Ezekiel passage but for this lesson we will leave it as an illustration.

 

  1. God responds to sin with the promise of a Redeemer

 

Genesis 3:1

Now the serpent was more subtil…

I wonder how often we miss the serpent’s subtle whisper tempting us to say God is not enough (exactly what sin is)

The serpent often tempts not with a full throated shout, no that would be too obvious. That temptation you could see coming and resist. It’s his whisper that traps us. But its been the same question for 6000 years, “yea hath God said…?” So often we fall into the trap of thinking “good question” instead of getting out the shovel and taking off the serpent’s head.

 

Before God metes out grace, He gives a curse to the serpent and then we have the Proto euangelion…

 

“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15, KJV)

 

Protevangelium is a compound word of two Greek words, protos meaning “first” and evangelion meaning “good news” or “gospel”. Thus the protevanglium in Genesis 3:15 is commonly referred to as the first mention of the good news of salvation in the Bible.

Strictly speaking, the protevangelium refers to the last part of Genesis 3:15, “it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel.” According to H. C. Leupold, this passage uses a zeugma in the word “bruise”, which may be translated “it shall crush thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

Because of the grave nature of the context, the fall of man, this passage describes more than just a man stepping on a snake’s head. The reference to the seed of the woman as Christ is believed to relate to the Virgin birth of the Messiah, as well as the Hypostatic union of the Divine nature with the Human nature of Christ.

Old Testament scholar Derek Kidner describes the Protevangelium as “the first glimmer of the gospel.” Several of the early Church fathers, such as Justin Martyr (160 AD) and Irenaeus (180 AD), regarded this verse “as the Protoevangelium, the first messianic prophecy in the Old Testament.


Exposition of Genesis, H. C. Leupold D.D, Online Bible edition, Gen 3:15

Jump up to: a b Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, Eerdman’s 1996, page 294

^ Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary, (IVP, 1967), p. 70.

^ Gordon J. Wenham, WBC: Genesis 1-15, (Thomas Nelson, 1987), pp. 80–81.

 

 

We then see the first blood atonement, grace’s response to sin.

In Genesis 3:21 the pattern of substitutionary atonement is set. God kills an animal or two (the Scripture does not directly say) and gave the man and the woman the skin as covering. Many believe this animal was a sheep/lamb thereby offering a prophecy of the messianic sacrifice of Jesus as the Lamb of God.  While this view is entirely speculative, it is reasonable. I cannot say for sure what animal God may have slain. The point is, the Lord God transferred the sin to the innocent animal along with its immediate consequence, instant death. It was grace that provides this atonement.

 

III. God the Son Redeems a People

This is best explained in what we refer to as the Romans Road to Salvation:

 

It starts out with our Problem from Romans 3:23:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

It then moves to our Peril in Romans 6:23:

            For the wages of sin is death . . .

And to God’s Provision in Romans 5:8:

            But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The Romans Road culminates in our Response in Romans 10:9:

 

  1. Elohim, the Majesty on High closes History with the Judgment

 

The Rapture having now come to pass, all of Heaven turns its attention to the Throne.

 

This is, of course, not a literal throne; it is a symbol of God’s power, majesty, and regal authority (1 Kings 22:19; Psalm 11:4; 103:19; Isaiah 6:1; 66:1; Ezekiel 1:26)

 

The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible has an incredible comment on this portion of the Scripture.

“The vision of the throne reveals that the King is (a) beautiful, rich, and valuable like precious stones ( jasper, sardine or red carnelian, and emerald ); (b) gracious to sinners and faithful to His covenants (rainbow; Gen. 9:12-17); (c) dwelling with His victorious old covenant and new covenant people (twelve plus twelve elders; 21:12,14) in His holy temple (lamps, sea, lion, and calf or young ox; 1 Kings 7:23-25,29,36,49,51); (d) judging according to His fearsome power and righteous law (lightnings and thunderings like Mt. Sinai; Ex. 19-20); (e) shining out in the witness of the churches by the Holy Spirit (seven lamps . . . seven Spirits; and (f) attended by servants representing all the powers (lion, calf, man, eagle) and wisdom (full of eyes) of heaven and earth (5:13; Ezek. 1:10). What a glorious King!”

 

I disagree with them on the symbolism of the 24 Elders but the rest of it, I find spot on.

 

Human monarchs are often arrayed in fine clothes and bedecked with jewels presenting a wondrous sight. However, the Holy Spirit shows John that God outshines them all. His glory is still veiled, here, so John is not incinerated by blazing holiness and yet we see that even Solomon in all his glory is but a beggar compared to the One who is Majesty on High.

 

All of history has led up to this moment. Regardless of your view on the fall-supralapsarian, infralapsarian, or sublapsarian in the order of God’s Decrees, there has never been a moment when God did not intend to be a Redeemer and now, in this moment, the Redeemed are in Heaven, ministering before the Throne. There are still some Redeemed to be gathered in during the Tribulation, but here, all the Redeemed of the Church Age stand before the Throne and we, along with the Four Living Creatures, lead the worship in Heaven.

 

Why do the Elders cast their crowns and the feet of the One on the Throne? It is an emphatic declaration. “You, our Lord and our God ARE our reward and our treasure.”  Any crown we are given, though glorious, will not compare to being face to face with the King. Why bother with feeble accoutrements when Majesty Himself is now with us and we with Him, never to again be separated.

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