Heaven Prior to the Ascension of Christ in 33 A.D.
From the start, John’s journey from time to eternity brings us to exhibit #1 of Heaven – The Enthroned Majesty of God the Father. Rightly so! For, it is only meet that the interdimensional pilgrimage of John begins here.
“And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a Throne was set in Heaven, and One sat on the Throne. And He that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the Throne, in sight like unto an emerald.” – Rev. 4:2-3
Upon seeing this great sight, and admiring it, John’s focus widens to the surroundings: 24 enthroned Elders clothed in white and crowned, a procession of power coming from the Throne (“lightnings and thunderings and voices”), seven Lamps of Fire, a sea of glass like unto crystal, and four Beasts crying “HOLY” – giving God glory, honor, and thanks (Rev. 4:4-8)! However, in the splendor of it all one thing is glaringly absent: The Son of God. Bearing witness to this, observe the contrast: the prostrated Elders’ outcry of worship in Revelation 4:11 is profoundly different than what is said in Revelation 5:9-10 & Revelation 5:12.
“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” – Rev. 4:11
“And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” – Rev. 5:9-10
“Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” – Rev. 5:12-13
In observing this contrast, it is evident that the One sitting on the Throne in Revelation 4:2-3 is God the Father. “He”, the Father, appeared to John like jasper and sardine stone according to Revelation 4:3, as is often the case when prophets have attempted to describe the sight (Isa. 6:1, 5; Ezek. 1:26, 28, 10:1; Ex. 24:10-11; Dan. 7:9-10, 13-14). The actual image of the Father’s Person is not revealed, nor can it be (1 Tim. 6:16). No feature of His Body is seen or described, nor could it be. “No man hath seen God at any time” (John 1:18, 6:46, 1 John 4:12). Explicitly, He’s called: “the invisible God” (Col. 1:15, 1 Tim. 1:17); and in being invisible, He’s inexplicable (2 Cor. 12:4)! Therefore, what is seen by prophets, and then described, is the likeness of the splendor of glory around Him, the spectacle of light about Him, and the likeness of the colors emanating from Him! In other words, the Father’s unseen being is “dwelling in light which no man can approach unto” (1 Tim. 6:16)! If ever a prophet of the Old Testament did see God’s form or bodily features, it is through an angel’s body or disposition; or perhaps through an image of the preincarnate Christ (Gen. 18:1, 32:30, Judges 6:22-23, 13:21-22, Acts 7:53, Gal. 3:19; Dan. 7:9-10, 13-14, Ps. 110:1, Ex. 33:20; 1 Cor. 10:1-4, 1 Pet. 1:11).
In Revelation 4, the focal point of worship is the glory of God in creation. In Revelation 5, the focal point of worship is the glory of God in the triumphant, blood-bought, redemption that the Lamb has accomplished on behalf of sinful men. Heaven was worshipping God for earthly creation and then the new creation in Revelation 4 & 5. The former is a profile of Heaven before the incarnation, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. The latter is a profile of Heaven after the incarnation, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. The sudden transition from the first heavenly ovation to the second and third heavenly ovations is a prophetic illustration revealing the impact of the Person and Work of Christ from Heaven’s perspective. Remember, Revelation 4-5 is one prophetic experience, not two! It is one ongoing vision! This being the case, my reader, here’s an important question: what forces the shift of extolling God’s worthiness from earthly creation to Christ’s redemption?