1 After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this. ”
The traditional interpretation of this passage is that this scene takes place after the Church is raptured; the 24 elders represent the Church. They think that the visions in Revelation are continuous events. If the great tribulation starts in chapter 6, then this part should be the time of the rapture. Furthermore, verse 1 says that there is “a voice like a trumpet”. The Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul have told us that when the last trumpet sounds, that will the time of the rapture.
但這裡說｢好像｣吹號的聲音，並不是真的吹號。其實在第一章已經出現過(1:10) ，｢當主日，我被聖靈感動，聽見在我後面有大聲音如吹號說…… 。｣好像吹號，其實是描寫聲音響亮，也表示聲音很有權柄。
However, here it says a voice “like” a trumpet; it is not really a trumpet. In fact, in chapter 1, verse 10, it says, “On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet.” Like a trumpet, is actually describing a voice that is very loud and clear, a voice with authority.
After all, what are chapters 4 and 5 talking about? We have to remember that the main theme of Revelation is not about the disasters during the last days or how the world will end, but about the completion of the Kingdom of Heaven. In fact , the emphasis of the New Testament is on the God’s Kingdom and His Church; this has been clearly displayed since the time of Moses.
THE SANCTUARY IN HEAVEN
The word “sanctuary” does not appear in this passage, but all the scenes described in here are related to the inside of the sanctuary. The scene of the Sanctuary in heaven occurs over and over again in Revelation. In chapter 1, we see the lampstand in the middle of Sanctuary, in another place we see the entire altar of incense, or the bronze altar, or the Ark of the Covenant. In the subsequent visions, the scene of the Sanctuary appears almost in every chapter.
In the Old Testament and in the New Testament, many servants of God have also described the visions of the heavenly Sanctuary, but they can only describe it as a blind man would describe an elephant, each person is able to see only a small portion of the whole Sanctuary. The prophet Isaiah saw God’s throne; he saw seraphim which are the living creatures that minister to God around His throne. The prophet Ezekiel also saw the throne of God; he also saw the four living creatures that surrounded God’s throne. When Daniel saw God’s throne, he did not see the four living creatures. Zechariah only saw the part of the lampstand. Therefore, each person described only part of the Sanctuary.
So, first we need to find out what is the “Sanctuary”. The word “Sanctuary”, in the New Testament, most of the time is translated into “Temple”. Actually , there are three words that mean “Temple”:
The first word is “ hieron ”, which is the word that should be translated into “Temple”. It encompasses the whole area of the Temple; it included the Sanctuary where people worshiped God, the women’s court, the court of the gentiles, Solomon’s porch, etc.
The second word is “naos”; this word should be translated into “Sanctuary”, it includes the Sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, the court of the priests, the court of the Israelites, which is the main part of the Sanctuary.
第叁個是oikos ，這字的原意是｢家｣，在舊約的時候，會用｢神的家｣代表聖殿，聖殿還沒有建造之前，他們在會幕中敬拜神，會幕就稱為｢神的家｣。詩篇23 篇大衛說：｢我且要住在神的家中直到永遠。｣
The third word is “oikos”; the original meaning of this word is “house”. In the New Testament, “The House of the Lord ” was used to represent the Temple, before the Temple was build, the people worshiped God in the Tabernacle, and the Tabernacle was called “The House of the Lord”. In Psalm 23, David says: “I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.”
During the time of King David, there was only the Tabernacle or the Sanctuary, there was no Temple. But in the New Testament, when they speak about “The House of the Lord”, it actually means the whole Temple.
Moses received the blueprint of the Sanctuary through revelation from God; it was according to the pattern shown to him on the mountain. Before Moses, Job, Noah, Abraham and others had to build an “altar” to worship God. That was the simplest setup to worship God. The most original altar was made out of stones, there were no images of any kind, and they were not worshiping a rock. They would just gather some stones together to symbolize God’s throne. Like the Temple of Heaven from ancient China, it was very grand, but inside it was empty, the only thing that was in the middle of the temple was a sign that said: “Sovereign Heavenly God”. The whole place was designed for the Emperor to go in and pray to the “Sovereign Heavenly God”. The way he prayed was to write down his prayer and place it on the throne of “The Sovereign God”.
Moses built the Tabernacle according to the pattern in heaven. The entire Tabernacle was a replica of the Sanctuary in heaven. And the blueprint of the Sanctuary in Heaven is also the New Jerusalem. It is the design of the entire Kingdom of Heaven as seen in the New Heaven and the New Earth.
THE THRONE OF GOD
2 At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.
The most important part of the Sanctuary in heaven is the throne of God. In eternity, we, the citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven will have the throne of God at the center of our lives. That is the best lifestyle. If Christians today would let God’s throne reign in their lives, they will have a most perfect wonderful happy life.
On earth we have a spiritual home which is the Church. We come to Church to worship God. God’s throne must be in the Church. He instructs His people every Sunday. We should listen to His command and His will with a humble heart.
There is also a throne inside our hearts and we can let God sit on that throne so He can issue orders to us day and night. We can also pray to Him at all times to let Him know how we feel. That kind of life is the sweetest and most beautiful.
THE MERCY SEAT
3 And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne.
When Moses followed the pattern that God gave him in the mountain to build the Tabernacle, he set apart a place called Holy of Holies. Inside, on top of the Ark of the Covenant, was God’s throne. He called it “The Mercy Seat” ; it is a place where God bestows His grace upon us, not a place where He judges us. Here it says that the one who sat on the throne had the appearance of jasper and ruby. He is a majestic, magnificent, glorious Lord. There is also a “rainbow” encircling the throne. The “rainbow” indicates that the one who sits on the throne is a merciful Lord. Just as when God put a rainbow in the sky to promise Noah that He would never send another flood on the earth to destroy all life again.
God sends his angels to execute His judgments. When we come before the throne of God, we will not be brought to trial, because it is a Mercy Seat. We can rest assure that whenever we come before His Mercy Seat, we will receive mercy , grace and help in times of trouble.
4 寶座的周圍，又有二十四個座位[ 寶座] ，其上坐著二十四位長老，身穿白衣，頭上戴著金冠冕。
4 Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads.
There were twenty-four other thrones surrounding God’s throne. Seated on them were twenty-four elders. This indicates that those twenty-four elders also had great authority. The number twenty-four very easily reminds us of the twenty-four priests who served different shifts in the Holy of Holies. In the spiritual realm, there are also twenty-four elder priests who served in the Holy of Holies in heaven. They are all seated on thrones but that doesn’t mean that they are kings. “Thrones ” can also be translated into “a seat with authority”. Like the seat where the preacher sat in the Jewish Temple; that also was “a seat with authority”.
The elders were dressed in white, the clothing of angels; and had crowns of gold on their heads, not royal crowns but crowns of victory. They were the priests who served in the real Sanctuary in heaven, a reflection of those who serve in the earthly Sanctuary.
10 那二十四位長老就俯伏在坐寶座的面前，敬拜那活到永永遠遠的。又把他們的冠冕放在寶座前，說：11 我們的主，我們的神，祢是配得榮耀尊貴權柄的，因為祢創造了萬物，並且萬物因祢的旨意被創造而有的。
10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: 11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
From the words of worship that these twenty-four elders are saying, we know that they are heavenly beings, there were also created by God, but they were not from the earth; because in their words they only mention “creation”, not “ salvation”.
AWE-INSPIRING VOICE AND IMAGE
5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.
Although the above verse said that the one who sat on the throne had the appearance of jasper and ruby, actually God was still not visible. However, His presence could be felt because of the imposing voice that came from the throne; the flashes of lightning , rumblings and peals of thunder.
In chapter 1, we have already seen the seven lamps which represent the churches throughout the world. According to the explanation of the prophet Zechariah, the seven lamps are also the seven eyes of God, which go back and forth throughout the earth. Here it specifically says that these are the seven spirits of God. Of course, people would say that the seven spirits represent the completeness of the Holy Spirit. But when we ask, does the lampstand represent the Holy Spirit? Our answer, of course, would be negative. Without looking at the explanation of the prophet Zechariah, we would not have been able to understand why the seven lamps are God’s seven spirits.
In chapter 1, we already explained that the lampstand represents the Church of God, which is not stationary but goes back and forth throughout the whole earth. It goes all over the world with God’s seven spirits, testifying for the Lord. It is the witnessing lampstand, the witnessing seven spirits. The Church depends on the work of the Holy Spirit to spread the Gospel all over the world. The most important mission of the Church is to go all over the world spreading the Gospel to every corner of the earth. Just like the mission of mankind was to multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number.
THE SEA OF GLASS
6 寶座前好像一個玻璃海，如同水晶。寶座中，和寶座周圍有四個活物，前後遍體都滿了眼睛。7 第一個活物像獅子，第二個像牛犢，第叁個臉面像人，第四個像飛鷹。8 四活物各有六個翅膀，遍體內外都滿了眼睛，他們晝夜不住的說：聖哉、聖哉、聖哉，主神是昔在、今在、以後永在的全能者。
6 Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. 8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “’Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.”
In front of the throne was a sea of glass. When we study chapter 15, we will be able to get a better understanding of the meaning of the sea of glass. In the earthly Tabernacle, there was a wash basin made out of bronze, it was located in front of the Sanctuary. When bronze is polished it becomes like a mirror. The people who ministered in the Sanctuary had to look at themselves in the wash basin like a mirror. After they washed themselves, they would then enter the Sanctuary to perform their duties. The water in the wash basin represents the Word of God. The Lord cleanses the Church using water through His Word. When Solomon built the Temple, he made the wash basin many times bigger; therefore, it was no longer called basin, but sea of bronze. Hence, the sea of bronze is the wash basin. When John saw the wash basin in the heavenly Sanctuary, it was not only very large, but it was also clear as a crystal, so he called it sea of glass.
From the vision of the heavenly Sanctuary, we can see that the divisions in the earthly Tabernacle have disappeared; the Sanctuary and the Holy of Holies are not separate any more. The bronze altar and the wash basin are not located outside of the Sanctuary. This enormous heavenly Sanctuary includes every part of the earthy Tabernacle. People can very seldom get a glimpse of God’s throne, but in the future we will be able to see Him face to face.
Around the throne were four Cherubim, which were the four living creatures. They had the body of a lion, feet like those of a calf, the face of a human being and wings of an eagle. Those are the features of the perfect servant. These spiritual beings are the ones that are closest to God, they are the most important ones and they hold the highest rank, their job is to carry out God’s orders. We will study the four living creatures in detail in the next chapter.