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?

Dethroning Idols

1 Thessalonians 1

Sunday, August 28, 2022

At FUEL this year, the theme was Battleground.  Throughout the week, we discussed the idols that we each have in our lives, whether they are of entertainment, power, pleasure, or something else.  At the end of the week, we discussed how to dethrone these idols and place God as the ruler of our hearts.


While reading 1 Thessalonians 1, we see that the people from Thessaloniki also had a problem with idols in their lives.  The Thessalonians had worshiped the Greek gods, at a previous point in their lives.  While their idols may not have been the same as the ones we face today, they still caused the separation from God that we experience when we give other things our hearts, instead of giving them to God.


Thankfully, however, the Thessalonians had turned away from their idols to worship God.  They realized that they were giving others the place that God deserves in their hearts.  They came to serve the living and true God, instead of the idols that they had previously worshiped.  We, too, must turn away from the idols we have in our lives and place God on the throne in our hearts.


The best part of this story, in my opinion, is what happened after the Thessalonians turned to serve the true God: their faith sounded forth in every place.  Everyone from Macedonia and Achaia had heard about the believers from Thessaloniki.  They had started to live their lives so similar to the way that Jesus had lived his life that they had become examples to all believers.  The Thessalonians’ faith had gone forth so much that Paul says that he has no need to say anything to those who had heard of their faith.


When you have cast away your idols and placed God on the throne of your heart, you will want to serve God in whatever way you can.  This does not mean that your faith may end up being heard about from the ends of the earth, like the Thessalonians, but it does mean that you will stand out from those in this world.  When God is the king of your heart, you will live a life that is different from those around you.  People all around the world may not hear of your faith, but those around you will notice it and will ask you questions.  The question is: Are you willing to cast away all of your idols and place God on the throne of your heart?

-Kaitlyn Hamilton

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. You might not have a problem worshiping Greek gods, but do you have any modern idols that you have given control of your heart (your love, your affection, your time, your finances, the place that only God deserves)?
  2. What will it look like to give the throne of your heart completely to God? Are you committed to this change? What steps will you take today?
  3. Who do you know that you admire for the way they follow Jesus? How can you be a good example to others in the way that you give God first place and follow Jesus?

Love others and tell them about Jesus

1 Corinthians 12-14

Happy December everyone!!

Most everyone following this blog has probably read through these passages today… each chapter could have its own devotional!  Within these we have the passage on Spiritual Gifts, we have the Love chapter, and we have one of the more argued and misinterpreted verses regarding women in the church – all in one day! 

The not so crazy thing about all these chapters is how at the heart of each of them, there is one message that prevails: Love others and tell them about Jesus.  Whether it is an outsider, a fellow believer, a spouse, or anyone you meet… we are told to show them love and tell them about Jesus.

When discussing the spiritual gifts Paul talks about the importance of each member of the body being placed exactly where God wants them (12:18) and remaining united within the Church (12:25).  I have usually heard these verses used to showcase why everyone is equally important within the Church and that you should never compare yourself or your gifts to someone else’s.  However, Paul gives a pecking order in verse 28: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, next miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, managing, various kinds of languages…   At first this can seem a little harsh, especially if you’re a helper or someone who speaks another language!  And it is harsh, if you stop reading there.

In chapter 14 Paul continues “Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, and above all that you may prophesy.”  Paul is telling everyone that the main goal is to spread the message of Jesus, and love others.  He doesn’t say it’s bad to do any of the other tasks or fill other roles within the church, in fact in the previous chapter he describes at length why it is so important for everyone to be unique and do the work God intends for them.  What he is also saying here is that it is everyone’s mission to tell others about Jesus and the fact that he is coming back.  Just as every part of the body functions independently with the purpose of living daily, every part of the body of Christ must function independently with the message of the Kingdom coming.

This message continues even in chapter 14 verse 34, when Paul writes that the women of the church should be silent and submissive.  In these verses it is important to remember the historical context in which Paul is writing.  At this time, women did not hold places of leadership, and women did not *generally* have a role in proclaiming the message.  Additionally, the church in Corinth had women who struggled to act as godly women, partially because their husbands and other leaders in the church also struggled to live righteous lives.  I do not think that Paul is hating on the women, but rather explaining that when the church is struggling and in need of repair, the gossiping, adulterous, and unrighteous should not have a say in the direction of the church.  He is describing the importance of church leaders to be focused on the mission.

The call to prophesy is not one to be taken lightly, and Paul wants to make sure that the church understands that.  It is also one that the church is called to eagerly strive for, for the sake of the Kingdom.  Chapter 14 verse 24 reads “But if all are prophesying and some unbeliever or uninformed person comes in, he is convicted by all.  The secrets of his heart will be revealed, and as a result he will fall facedown and worship God, proclaiming, ‘God is really among you.’”

Let that be our goal as the Church, that anyone who walks in will have no other inclination but to fall down in worship of our great God because of our focus on His mission! 

-Sarah Blanchard Johnson

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Corinthians 12-14.

Come back tomorrow as we together finish 1 Corinthians with chapters 15 & 16.

The Scourge Of Red Tape

Ezra 4-6 and Psalm 137

Part of today’s reading is Psalm 137. I’m starting with it because this is not a note to end on. Sit with it a few minutes, but don’t take it with you for the whole day. Maybe there is no helping that. 

Psalm 137 is a tour through the raw emotions felt by those in exile. It’s the lament of the desperately misplaced. It’s a prayer to remember their home, Jerusalem, and their former standing with God. It’s a chilling and shocking request for God to repay Babylon for what they did to Jerusalem, concluding with the horrifying mental image of babies being smashed against rocks. The emotions are palpable and powerful.

Let that be a “looking back” exercise from where we are in Ezra. Look how far things have come, from complete and utter despair in a foreign land, to being home again and in the process of rebuilding and restoring. Speaking of Ezra…

When you try to do something worthwhile, there is likely to be a few obstacles. Even the most simple of projects can take twice as long as you’d thought. And that’s without anyone trying to sabotage your efforts.

At this point in the book of Ezra, the people of Jerusalem are working hard on rebuilding the city and temple, probably running into all the usual pitfalls of trying to build things. But they have a much bigger problem: Some locals are trying to stop them from building, even actively sabotaging their building plans.

These locals write the king about the people in Jerusalem, employing disinformation and half-truths, and claiming that they are all troublemakers who will rebel once the city and walls are built. The king Artaxerxes can agree that, historically speaking, they are indeed troublemakers, and he orders the construction halted.

Amidst the long hiatus, the Jews in Jerusalem receive some much needed encouragement from the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, and are sparked to begin rebuilding again. Tomorrow we’ll be looking at the part Haggai played in this.

Soon after starting the project back up, they are pestered by the locals again, who are questioning if they have permission to build. They provide their entire story, and inform the locals that Cyrus commanded them to rebuild. Word gets back to the king and they do some fact checking in the archives. They find the papers regarding the edict of Cyrus, and the king makes it clear that the original edict stands. The rebuilding will continue, and the efforts will be subsidized by the empire, including animals to sacrifice.

But did you catch what the king’s motivations are? It is “so that they may offer pleasing sacrifices to the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king as his children.” So it isn’t so much for the people as much as it’s to ensure the well-being of the king. What, did you think the king wasn’t getting something out this deal?

Overcoming these obstacles, the rebuilding of the temple is eventually finished, followed by a dedication for the temple, a massive sacrifice to atone for the sins of Israel, the appointing of priests, and observing feasts (think back to the first temple in 1 Kings 8). In other words, they are doing all the things they were not able to do while in exile. Now they have a stronger connection to and reestablishment of their worship and traditions they enjoyed before they were exiled.

It is a joyous day. Indeed they’ve come far toward restoration, but we’re left with an anti-climax and the feeling that there is much work left to be done. You can’t just build a temple, go through some motions, snap your fingers, and declare that the people are restored. There is work yet to be done on the hearts of the people.

-Jay Laurent

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Psalm 137 & Ezra 4-6

Tomorrow we will read the two chapter book of Haggai as we continue on the

Who is Worthy?

Revelation 5

Revelation 5 2 4 NIV

I remember when I was younger trying to open the jam jar and it was almost impossible. All I wanted was my PBJ and needed to open the seal of the jar so I could be successful. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get it open, so naturally I asked my brother if he could somehow open it. Then with ease and hardly a second he had it open. My brother was the key to my Peanut Butter and Jam sandwich.

In revelation 5 John is in the middle of a vision and he has in front of him a throne and next to this throne was a book with 7 seals. He is having a difficult time figuring out who could open this book with these seals but could not find any worthy person. But then it describes the one who was worthy to open the seals in verse 5:5 “The lion that is from Judah, the root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its 7 seals.”That Lion depicted in this verse is Jesus he is the one who has overcome death and has made it possible for us to do that same thing.

Having someone stronger than us in our lives so we can succeed is vital to being a Christian. We have Jesus to rely on and he makes it possible for us to worship God with pure hearts and minds. He was worthy so we can also be worthy.

I would like you all to write down on a post-it note the one thing that holds you back from your greatest potential and hang it on your mirror that you use daily. Remember this when you read it, Jesus overcame sin and death, and He gives us the power to do the same.

Jesse Allen

God First (I Chronicles 8-10)

Thursday, November 17

god_first-1097943

We are coming to the end of the genealogy in 1 Chronicles.  It goes through chapter 9.  After 3 days full of genealogy, I was excited to have something to read and write about that wasn’t genealogy.  However, I was struck by the last chapter of this genealogy, and felt compelled to write one more devotion on it.

Chapter 9:1b-2 says, “The people of Judah were taken captive to Babylon because of their unfaithfulness.  Now the first to resettle on their own property in their own towns were some Israelites, priests, Levites and temple servants.”  The chapter continues by telling us that there were 1760 priests who returned, along with 212 gatekeepers guarding the Tent of meeting.  Four principle gatekeepers were responsible for the rooms and treasuries in the house of God.  Others who returned were responsible for the articles used in temple services.  Others were in charge of the temple furnishings.

The thing that struck me about this was that the first to return, the ones listed here, were dealing with the temple and the worship of God.  It wasn’t the masons to build a wall, or the warriors who would build the army to defend the city.  The Israelites were returning their hearts to God, and had their priorities straight:  worship God first and then deal with everything else.

How does this compare to us?  Do we prepare to worship God first?  I know it is very easy for me to get things backwards, get caught up in the busyness of life, and fit God in when there is time.  However, when I take time for God first, the busyness doesn’t seem so rushed and frantic, even when the circumstances stay the same.  Let’s focus on putting God first and worship him today.

-Andrew Hamilton

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