The Apostle John, who wrote the Book of Revelation, was taken by vision into the very throne room of God Almighty. In Revelation Chapter 4 he relates His experience but in doing so coveys an important lesson for Christians today.
Revelation Chapter 4 is full of rich symbolism and books could be written, and have been, attempting to interpret that symbolism but that is not the central theme of this article. We will here address some of the symbolism but only as it applies to the point of this article and the principle we can take away with us from it.
John begins the chapter as follows: “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow [halo] around the throne, like an emerald in appearance (v. 1-3).
The important things to realize so far is that John was taken out of the physical realm and taken into the spirit realm, which is a very real place. John said earlier in his gospel that: “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24).
So John was taken into the spirit, God’s realm. He heard the “sound of a trumpet’. Trumpet is symbolic of the word of God i.e. “blow a trumpet in Zion” (Joel 2:1) or speak the word as a warning or heralding of the coming of the Lord (Hosea 5:8. Joel 2:1 says: “Blow a trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming".
And amidst all this noise he saw one sitting on the throne, God Himself, in all his glory. Also John saw the door to heaven standing open. Scripture says that when Christ died the veil was rent that formerly separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the tabernacle in the Jewish temple of God (Matthew 27:50-51) giving anyone access to God beyond the veil.
John goes on “Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads (v.4). These elders were glorious creatures themselves. They had white robes which means that they had had their robes washed in the blood of the lamb (Revelations 7:14). They had golden crowns on their heads, symbolic of royalty and of the crown worn by the Son of God (Revelation 14:4).
John continues to describe the entire scene. “Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God; and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal” (v. 5-6) and he goes on to further describe the scene in Heaven. He also describes 4 creatures who had faces of a lion, a calf, a man and a flying eagle”(v.7-8). And the creatures had six wings and eyes all around symbolic of the creatures being able to see everything, behind and in front (i.e. nothing escapes the eyes of God, He sees everything). The six wings give the creatures great mobility to respond to do the will of God when commanded.
Verse 8 says: “And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.”
What happens next is the bottom line of this article. “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.” (v. 9-11).
The twenty four elders were glorious in and of themselves, be they angelic beings or perfected Sons of God. They had their own crowns distinct and separate from God who sat in their midst of them. However it is what they did with their crowns that is important. Instead of retaining their own crowns, or their own glory, they threw down their crowns at the feet of the Lord, thereby relinquishing their own glory and giving it all to Him who sat on the throne.
Our Lord did the same thing and likewise should we. It says of our Lord "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped [utilized, asserted], but emptied Himself [laid aside His privileges], taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).
Even though Christ was God on the earth, He did not assert all the power and glory that was His but he humbled Himself and laid aside all that glory in order to die on a cross for us. Paul says that we too should have that attitude in ourselves. We take nothing for ourselves but give Him all the glory and honor. The twenty four elders, although they had their own crowns, chose instead to throw them at the Lord’s feet and give him the glory, not retain it for themselves.
And because Christ did the same thing as the twenty four elders “God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 9-11).
In this day God is in the process of bringing many Sons to glory, Sons like unto Christ the head of the Body (Hebrews 2:10) which says: “ For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings”.
We true believers are those many Sons God intends to bring to glory. But as we come forth in Christ, in our own glory, in the likeness of Christ, we must retain the same attitude as was in Christ. We take no glory ourselves but give it all to the head, to the Lord, the original author of our salvation in the first place.