A Glimpse of the Lord God’s Throne Room

Saturday, November 19th, 2022

Revelation 4

Revelation 4, although relatively short, is packed with symbological meaning and an introduction to new contexts in the Bible. Furthermore, this passage marks a transition from the opening in the first chapter of Revelation through the third chapter, where John was tasked with writing to the seven churches. Due to the shortness and density of this chapter, I think it is best to discuss on a verse-by-verse basis.

The first verse explains that John is no longer looking at things in an earthly perspective, rather, he is now in the spirit and is envisioning what is in heaven. This happens after a trumpet sounds, and John is told: “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” The first thing that John is immediately fixated upon is what we can think of as the centerpiece of the vision: a throne, and what is on it. The throne itself is not described, but what is described is a brief description of the “One” who sits upon it. From this short detailing already, we can see the immense amount of humanism that is emanating from this image already, as there is a throne of supreme importance that is out of the reach of our realm of existence, and only “One” sits upon it. He who was sitting upon the throne was God, and His appearance could only be described with colors by John. His appearance was “like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance…” Jasper is usually thought of to be an orange or green color, but this passage is usually interpreted with the emphasis on stone, which is more sensible when we know that to be a bright white color. This color signifies the purity that God embodies. Adding on sardius to the appearance also dictates that there is a red aura emanating from His presence, which is a sign of glory, and dominion over all things. The verse goes on to say: “… and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance.” Before this portion, we have an image that shows that God is a pure and supreme being over all, which is true, but the context is especially enriched with the presence of the rainbow being around the throne. You see, a throne with One ruler may represent dominion, but the rainbow is a sign of covenants, promises, a connection with his creation, and most importantly for the purposes of the image so far: setting his own limitations for our sake. The rainbow being around the throne shows that God is dedicated to his creation, and is a kind and loving God who will make good on the promises that He makes. 

After the throne, John’s fixation shifts to what is around the throne: more thrones. Twenty-four of them to be exact. Seated on these twenty-four thrones were “elders” who were clothed in white garments and had gold crowns atop their heads. Now, the Bible does not make clear who these elders actually are, but we can use hints from before and after this chapter in Revelation to have a good guess. These twenty-four elders with white garments and gold crowns are a direct call-back to the two chapters beforehand, where we see that those who overcome and remain faithful will receive a gold crown and will be clothed in white garments. Automatically this makes me lean towards these elders on the thrones being human rather than any other sort of heavenly being. Furthermore, throughout the rest of the book they are seen worshiping and praising God, and even casting their crowns down. The motion of casting crowns signifies that these crowns were not from personal ownership, but rather they were inherited through God. These elders from my best guess then could represent the leaders of the Church. Other theories suggest that these twenty-four elders could represent a bridging between the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles. However, I believe that from the first verse emphasizing “what must take place after these things” that this is strictly a scene depicting the future, and at this point in history there are still apostles alive, and I also believe John would have in some sense recognized if he saw himself or eleven of his other friends upon the thrones. Furthermore, this theory would imply that Judas made it into the Kingdom, which is open for interpretation whether that could happen or not, and what the implications of that even are. Therefore, I believe a safe interpretation is that the elders represent leaders of the church. 

Now, there has been dense symbolization so far, but for what comes next I don’t believe I’m actually studied enough or if anyone in the world is studied enough for that matter to even fully explain this next scene. Out from the throne comes flashes of lightning and sounds of thunder, which is paralleled with the presence that God had on Mount Sinai in Exodus chapters 19-20. Revelation 4:5 continues to read: “And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God…” These lamps are not to be confused with the seven lampstands from the previous chapters which represented the churches. The lamps, on the other hand, could be representative of a physical presence of the Holy Spirit. Before then, in Acts we see that the Holy Spirit manifested as burning tongues on the Day of Pentecost. 

Below I will write the next few verses and briefly attempt to convey the value of it:

6 and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. 7 The first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle. 8 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.”

These four creatures are cherubim, which are angels which are, for our purposes in this short devotion, high on the hierarchy of angels. The eyes that cover them are representative of their deep insight and intelligence, which enforces the holy phrase they repeat over being that of given nature of gratitude rather than that of a mindless nature. The four creatures: the lion, the calf, a man, and the flying eagle can have a multitude of explanations, but for the purpose of this devotion I think it is important to detail what the importance of the characteristics of these creatures actually are. The lion is a creature that exudes might, and is also a wild beast on earth. Furthermore, the Lion is the symbol of Judah, and Jesus in the next chapter (Revelation 5:5) is called the “Lion of Judah.” The calf on the other hand is a strong but domesticated creature, which shows strength and prudence. The eagle is representative of the domains of the birds and the freedom that they have. Furthermore, eagles can be seen as a sort of “otherworldly” creature. No, it’s not because they are literally not from this world, but their domain and experience as a creature is extremely far from that which is human. Furthemore, Isaiah 40:31 relates the elevated heavenly connection that man will have as they will have “wings like eagles.” The last creature, man, represents intelligence and the highest order of creatures on the Earth. If you would like to dwell more on the importance of the appearance of these creatures, I would like to differ the readers to also look back over Genesis 1.

Here below is the last portion of the chapter:

9 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, 10 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, 11 ‘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.’”

No matter the hierarchy or attached symbolism or inherited power, all things owe at least one thing: praise to the loving God who made them. This portion right here should be especially shocking for the time, as there are those in today’s world who will live their lives with knowledge of God, but will believe that their priorities and status in life put themselves above worship. The truth of the matter is that the entire Bible, and the undeniable creationist quality of the universe shows that we must always truly humble ourselves and worship God.

-Colby Leggitt

Reflection Questions:

  1. WOW that was a dense devotion for such a short chapter. What specific part was the most interesting to you?
  2. A lot of this can truly be left to interpretation and further studying. Do you have a different interpretation of the four cherubim or the twenty-four elders? What other parts of the scripture influence you?
  3. The rainbow around God’s throne shows a critical connection to mankind. If there was anything else at all to be had to the scene, what would you imagine would be important symbology?

Repent, Persevere, LIVE!

Revelation 2

Thursday, November 17, 2022

In Revelation 2, John is tasked by the Son of Man to begin writing to the seven churches. This chapter specifically details what should be written to the churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, and Thyatira. All of these churches share a commonality of starting strong and then waning in righteousness over time. To Ephesus, the Son of Man comments on how they started strong, with perseverance and a low tolerance for evil. However, they have strayed from their faith, and so Jesus warns them to repent, or they will have their lampstand removed. In Revelation 1 it was discussed that the lampstands represented the churches, therefore the church would cease to exist. Furthermore, in repenting they are promised to be able to eat from the tree of life in the Kingdom.

The second church, Smyrna, has a fate that is full of tribulation. They have persevered through poverty and blasphemy against them, and Jesus remarks that the Devil would test them by having them thrown into prison. However, if they remain faithful, then they would receive the “crown of life.” He further remarks that “he who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.” This situation seems fairly awful, but when you put thought into it, this situation is represented by the world that we currently live in anyways. Sin and suffering are rampant, yet, we are promised the crown of life by persevering and overcoming. This message is purely to enforce steadiness in faith.

The third church, Pergamum, shares commonality with the situation described in the first church. They remained steadfast at first, but now there is heavy straying from their original path. Teachings of false gods, eating idol sacrifices, and general acts of immorality have become practices among some members of the church. Jesus warns that those who walk this path will have “war waged against them” personally. From the being who has a double-edged sword protruding from his mouth, that’s definitely not a message that I would take lightly. However, this can be avoided if they repent, and they in return will receive mana, a white stone, and a new name that only they will know.

The fourth church, Thyatira, has had a congregation that has been led astray by a woman named Jezebel. Now, this woman is not the same Jezebel from the Old Testament, but she is enabling people to practice extremely immoral practices as a false prophetess. The Lord commented that He gave her a chance to repent, but she steadfastly refused to do so. However, those who follow her have been given a chance now to repent, or else they will suffer pestilence alongside the false prophetess. And like the other churches, if they hold fast and overcome, then they will receive the morning star and will be given authority to rule over nations.

All of these messages have two similar messages that can be generalized and applied. The first message is that all of these churches are going through tribulation and external influence, and have been led astray. However, they all have time to repent. This is familiar, though, as every day we will struggle with the external pressures of sin and can very easily be led astray. However, Jesus has made it clear that everyone has a chance at forgiveness upon repentance, even someone as corrupt as the false prophetess influencing the people of the church in Thyatira. The second similar case in these messages is the reward for persevering. This is the same message that Jesus and his apostles have spread since the gospel and throughout the New Testament: the good news for those who hold fast and persevere. Sin is very easy to fall into, but staying on the righteous path is much more favorable considering the reward that awaits.

And so, let us take these messages to the four churches discussed so far and apply them to our lives, let this be like a message to us. Whatever sins we have committed; they are already known as the Lord knows our hearts and minds. This is referenced in Revelation 2:23. Therefore, our time left gives us a window of opportunity to repent of them, and live as righteously as we possibly can. In the end, true victory is on the side of the righteous.

-Colby Leggitt

Reflection Questions:

1. Smyrna specifically is tasked with remaining faithful until death. How can we ensure for ourselves that we are likewise holding steadfast throughout our lives?

2. The Son of Man has offered repentance to everybody mentioned who is living in sin in this chapter. How can we hold these messages in our minds when interacting with those who are deeply entrenched in sin?

3. Does it make sense that these churches have such devastating issues yet Jesus still holds the star of their angel in his right hand? Why?

Revealing the Son of Man of Revelation

Revelation 1

Wednesday, November 16th, 2022

Today we will be delving into the most unorthodox and arguably most interesting book of the Bible: Revelation. Here, John is on the island called Patmos, and is tasked to write to the seven churches in Asia. What he must write is the prophecy that is about to be unveiled to him over the course of the book by the Son of Man himself. 

Here, the Son of Man is described in verses Revelations 1:13-16 in a new form. That which describes his hair being white as snow, his eyes like a “flame of fire,” his feet like burnished bronze, and his face shining like the sun. Furthermore, he has a sharp double-edged sword protruding from his mouth, his voice is like the “sound of many waters,” and seven stars are being held in his right hand. Aside from setting the premise of the book, the key points come from this portion, as well as describing both God and the Son of Man as the “Alpha and Omega.” The point of the devotion today then will be to further understand our Lord as he is described in this chapter.

The hair being described as being white as wool and snow can simply represent the purity that is reserved for the lamb that was and is Jesus Christ. Further reading, we read that “his eyes were like a flame of fire.” In the original Greek text, this phrase reads as: “οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ αὐτοῦ ὡς φλὸξ πυρός, or “hoi opthalmoi autou hōs phlox pyros” (The eyes of Him [are] like a flame of fire). Breaking this down, the first four words are very common, essentially describing that the subject written about is His eyes. However, the fifth word is a bit interesting, as it is translated as “a flame,” and makes an appearance only twice in the Bible. Those two appearances are this verse (Revelation 1:14) and Revelation 19:12. Both times are used to describe the eyes of the Son of Man. The word is commonly used in Greek to describe swirling, flickering, or a whirling motion; often used when describing fire. However, we don’t necessarily need to have the notion that His eyes are literally ablaze with fire, rather, John may be commenting on the uniqueness of his eyes, as in they have an appearance of intensity and power.

In Revelation 1:15, the Son of Man is described as having feet like burnished bronze, and a voice like the “sound of many waters.”  The feet having the appearance of burnished bronze may be an analogy for His glory. And furthermore, the sound of his voice being like the “sound of many waters” gives two traits to his voice. First, the voice is loud and intense, as the word “many” invokes imagery of rushing and sudden waters flooding an area. Second, the voice being described as water also gives a sensation of smoothness that John may feel by hearing the voice. All of these traits match identically with the traits described by Daniel in Daniel 10 when he writes about the revealer. These parallels show that the revealer and the Son of Man are one in the same. This exact appearance being recorded may have been paralleled by Jesus in order to make no mistake as to who he was. If there is one thing we can take away from this appearance, it is that our Lord does not have any intention of being mysterious, and does not shy away from making himself known to us. 

The last portion to be analyzed is Revelation 1:16. Out of His mouth protrudes a sharp double-edged sword, his face shone like the sun, and in his right hand seven stars were held. The double edged sword makes another appearance in Revelation later on (Revelation 19:15), and has multiple meanings attached to it. First, it represents the unmatched power that is attributed to God and has been given to the Son to rule. Furthermore, Jesus is representative of his word, and it is fitting that he will conquer by his word. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “the pen is mightier than the sword,” don’t even bother with the ink, as words truly have power, especially those that are uttered from the mouth of our Lord. His face shining like the sun represents the glory that is attributed to him, and parallels with Moses’ face similarly shining after having a personal encounter with God. The seven stars held in his hand are later revealed in this chapter (Revelation 1:20) to represent the seven angels that are associated with the seven churches being written to. “Angels” can be translated too as “messengers,” and essentially shows the connection between Him and the churches. The seven stars  being held in his hand also have significant meaning as this essentially makes the point that the churches are upheld by Him and are in His protection. Likewise, we should have the idea that we as a conglomerate group are sanctioned and protected by Him. That is something I hope that all of you can dwell on, as that is an incredible concept. 

Relationships are often not one way roads, and understanding must go both ways in order for us to have a significant connection with the Lord. He already understands and empathizes with our hearts, but studying and learning more about Him allows for us to truly understand His objectives and what He stands for. I hope that you have all learned something new, and if not, some interesting points about the Son of Man that you can dwell on. 

-Colby Leggitt

Reflection Questions:

  1. Did any of these qualities of Jesus stand out to you? If so, why?
  2. The seven stars were made clear to represent the seven churches that John was writing to. Would that mean that the churches in his name are also held there to this day? What are the implications of that?
  3. What feelings do you have about this representation of Christ versus the representation of Christ in the Gospel? 

He Will

Zechariah 10

Monday, November 14, 2022

Think about a time in your life when you felt that you were further from God than you have ever been. Whether you were allowing yourself to be distanced from the Church or you were going about life with God not near as high as he should be on your priorities.

At the time that Zechariah is prophesying to the Jews, the people of Israel were still scattered, the Babylonian conquest had devastated the land, and there seemed to be more and more tribulations building up for them. The Israelites probably felt abandoned and very far from God. Yet, Zechariah was giving a message of hope. 

In Zechariah 10:1, he opens up with: “Ask for rain from the Lord at the time of the spring rain – The Lord who makes the storm winds; And He will give them showers of rain, vegetation in the field to each person.” He is reminding the people that God is unimaginably powerful, and can and will provide for them in their needs. The emphasis on the difference between asking for “rain” and receiving “showers of rain” shows the abundance that may be granted to those that follow closely with God, even through these tribulations. 

The chapter then goes on to describe the idols and corrupt leaders who will try to stray the Israelites away from the path of righteousness. Again, Zechariah prophesies that God will strengthen the house of Judah, will save the house of Joseph, and will bring them back. As the people are scattered, and go through tribulation before then, in His name they will be strengthened in the Lord.

Although our troubles may not be as great as the Jews were facing back in the times of Zechariah, surely we can identify some idols and false leaders in our lives. Idols were magnified as a topic in FUEL 2022, but one thing that we know is that idols can take many shapes and sizes. Furthermore, false leaders can magnify the effects of idols or faulty ideologies if we allow them to. Doing so can lead us to a path where we can end up very far from God, and such a path leads to devastation. However, no matter how far removed we may feel from God, He will have compassion and will always answer us. That seems to be the most powerful message that is being given in Zechariah 10: the continual usage of the modal verb “will” tells us that God is someone who is always present and will deliver on his promises. So then, we must continually pray and keep God in our hearts so that we may traverse our tribulations with righteous resolve.

-Colby Leggitt

Hello, my name is Colby Leggitt. I am currently a Junior at the University of Arkansas and am currently triple majoring in Physics (Computational), Mathematics, and Political Science with a minor in Education. I attend McGintyTown Church of God, and I adore the COG community!

Reflection Questions

  1. What are some idols in your life if you have any? How can you put God first?
  2. What do you think about the prophecy being fulfilled of Israel coming back together? Is the current state of the world truly a sign of end times?
  3. How have you seen God give showers when He was only asked for rain?
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