So often, the book of Revelation is viewed strictly as a blueprint for mapping out future events, or as a key to unlocking the significance of major news headlines. It is very easy to get lost in the symbolism, as we attempt to identify various characters with the current people or nations of today. To be fair, Revelation does contain crucial doctrinal issues regarding the future, and it does describe important events that will take place. These are issues that we must grapple with and seek to understand. However, it is just as important to remember that this prophetic book was written to seven churches that were facing persecution and trials. These churches needed to be reminded of the greatness of their God and to have a renewed understanding of the glory of God. This book was written to these churches, who were downcast and downtrodden with affliction, as a means to instill hope in the face of their present circumstances.
What is this hope? God wins.
In the midst of the undeniable difficulty they were facing, the Apostle John directs their attention to the throne room of God. It is in this throne room, that he unveils the majestic beauty and sovereign power of God. As we gaze upon this beauty, we are reminded of three truths that should comfort the aching soul of the Christian.
God is at the Exalted Center
Immediately, as John finished his last letter to the Laodicean church, he was given a vision in heaven. The first sight that he describes is One “seated on the throne” (Rev 4:2). After encouraging the Laodiceans to conquer because of opposition (Rev 3:21), we are then directed to the Lord on His throne. This is one poignant truth that we must cling to every single day of our lives. No matter the trial that we face, the Lord is still on His throne. He is still at the exalted center. He is still worthy.
This in no way diminishes the difficulty of the trial that we may encounter, but it ought to realign our perspective so that we are able to encounter the trial with a peace that is deeply rooted in the sovereignty of God. How else can these seven churches endure, if they were not certain that God was in control? Believer, as your week unfolds and you are overwhelmed with circumstances that flood your heart, remember Who is on His throne. Remember Who is highly exalted.
“As your week unfolds and you are overwhelmed with circumstances that flood your heart, remember Who is on His throne.”
God is Glorious and Majestic
Not only is God at the exalted center, but His glory is indescribable. The eternal and infinite God cannot be sufficiently described using our finite language. Notice how much of John’s description relies on earthly elements in his attempt to describe heavenly phenomena [italics added for emphasis]:
“[He] had the appearance of jasper and carnelian” (Rev 4:3a)
A rainbow that had “the appearance of an emerald” (Rev 4:3b)
“A sea of glass, like crystal” (Rev 4:6)
Each living creature “like” an animal or man (Rev 4:7).
Paul must have experienced a similar deficiency in describing the glory of God when he “was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak” (2 Cor 12:4).
What John and Paul’s descriptions tell us is that God’s splendor is beyond our ability to describe. He is sovereign and glorious, beyond anything that we are able to describe or imagine. These apostles who saw it with their very own eyes are left either speechless or unable to thoroughly describe it. Our God is majestic, glorious, and marvelous.
If we are unable to describe Him fully, we are certainly unable to stand against Him. Our only recourse is to submit and worship Him as the almighty and infinite God that He is. He demands nothing less.
God is Worthy of All Worship
All the majestic truths and realities of who God is points us to the fact that He is worthy of everything. The God Who created the heavens and the earth, is the same God who demands its obedience. As the psalmist reminds us, the entire earth and people in it belong to God (Psalm 24:1–2). John reminds us that this sovereign God is a thrice holy God. He is “Holy, holy, holy” (Rev 4:8). No other attribute of God is emphasized this strongly in the entirety of Scripture. The holiness of God deems Him completely worthy to receive all glory, honor, and power (Rev 4:11).
“God is “Holy, holy, holy.” No other attribute of God is emphasized this strongly in the entirety of Scripture.”
He is Worthy
Your church may not be listed among the seven churches but be assured that this message still applies to you. One humbling reality about this passage is that man is not at the center. God is. It is so easy to make our struggles the central focus of our thoughts. Yet, John reminds us that it is not about us. Even more, he reminds us that we are not to merely forget about our struggles, but we ought to direct our hearts to the One who is mightier than our struggles.
As you encounter difficulty in the Christian life, even today, where is your ultimate hope found? Are you hoping for a political revival more than a spiritual one? Is your heart settled in the majesty of God or is it troubled by recent current events?
We cannot behold this marvelous vision that John shares with us and continue to live in a way that proves otherwise. The glory and majesty of God demands your life. Anything short of full obedience and worship to God, even in the middle of trials, is an assault against our God. Offering our lives as a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1) implies that we have died to ourselves and we are living for God. Therefore, we must die to self every day, and fix our hearts in unadulterated worship to the only One worthy. As the storms come with the Christian life, know that the Lord is still on His throne.
He is exalted, He is glorious, He is worthy.