Useful Bible Studies > Revelation Commentary > chapter 4

Johnís description of God

Revelation 4:3

Isaiah, Ezekiel and John all saw Godís throne (royal seat). Isaiah says that he saw God upon the throne (Isaiah 6:1). However, he does not try to describe God. Therefore, Johnís description is closest to Ezekielís description in Ezekiel 1:26-28.

Neither Ezekiel nor John say that they are describing God himself. They simply describe Ďthe one who sits on the throneí. Their task was to be witnesses of what they saw. So they do not try to explain these things. However, their descriptions clearly show that they saw God there (Ezekiel 10:20; Revelation 4:9-11).

We may ask what it is like to see God. Ezekielís experience differed from Johnís experience. Ezekiel wrote at a time when God would soon have to act in judgement against his own people. He saw someone like a man, but with an extraordinary appearance of light. The upper part of his body was like metal that glows in a fire, the lower part was like fire. Isaiah too emphasises fire in his description.

Johnís description is similar, but John emphasises beauty and light. He mentions two beautiful stones: jaspar and carnelian (also called sardius). These stones have bright colours, often red, like the colours that you see in a fire.

In their description of fire, Ezekiel and Isaiah express the power of God, and his anger against sin (evil deeds). In his description of precious stones, John expresses the perfect beauty and goodness of God. Both descriptions are correct (Exodus 34:6-7).

Both Ezekiel and John mention the rainbow (Ezekiel 1:28). Genesis 9:12-16 explains the meaning of the rainbow. It is to remind God of his promises. Round Godís throne, God has placed a rainbow to remind him about his promises. God always carries out his promises.

John adds that the rainbow was like an emerald (a green precious stone). Perhaps he means that it shone brightly, like a beautiful precious stone.

Next part: The 24 elders (Revelation 4:4)


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© 2016, Keith Simons.