Here, John begins to describe what he saw in heaven. It is a strange description; it is hard to describe things that are completely unlike anything on earth (1 Corinthians 15:40). Perhaps we can understand it best by reference to the other chapters in the Bible that contain a similar description. They are Isaiah chapter 6, and Ezekiel chapters 1 and 10.
Unlike John, Isaiah and Ezekiel do not say that they are describing heaven. They are describing the glory of God (the splendid beauty of his perfect character) in relation to his temple (the house of God in Jerusalem). On the other hand, John describes Godís glory at his throne (royal seat) in heaven.
There are small differences between each of these descriptions. We do not know the reasons for these differences and we do not dare to guess. What Isaiah, Ezekiel and John saw was very, very holy. To be in such a holy place affected their lives deeply. No experience in life could ever be greater than to see Godís glory (see Exodus 33:18 to 34:7).
The description that they all gave is like a description of a great king. The fact that God sits, shows his authority. It shows that his enemies cannot disturb him (Psalm 2:4-6). In the ancient world, kings, rulers and judges all sat to carry out their work.
God sits on a throne (a royal seat). A throne can be a word-picture for royal authority, but Isaiah, Ezekiel and John all saw an actual throne. The purpose of a throne is to give honour to the person who sits on it. Honour is due to God because he created all things (verse 11). Therefore, all things belong to him, and all honour is due to him.
Next part: Johnís description of God (Revelation 4:3)
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© 2016, Keith Simons.