BIBLE LESSONS:

 

CHURCH IN HEAVEN IN REVELATION CHAPTER 4.

Signs the Church in Heaven before the Tribulation In Revelation.

In Revelation ch. 5 we see Jesus is handed a scroll by God the Father. We first see this scroll mentioned in Daniel ch. 12. Next in chapter 6 we see Jesus opening the seals of this scroll, which contains the judgments of God. But in chapter 4 we see something interesting that we should pay attention to. We see evidence of the Church in heaven, before the Throne of God, before the opening of the scroll handed to Jesus by God the Father. Thus before the Tribulation. 

Rev. 4:1 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.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.

From the similarities of Rev. 4 verse 1 with 1 Thes. 4:16-17, Rev. 4 verse 1 is considered to be the place where the Rapture takes place. We first see a door open in heaven. Then we see John is told to “come up here” to heaven and is told he would be shown what will take place after this, or after these things, meaning after what he had just been shown in chapters 2 and 3, after the judgment of the Church and after he is taken up to heaven. Thus after the Church age. Be sure to read the lesson, Comparison of 1 Thes. 4:16-17 and Rev. 4:1. There is no other scripture in Revelation that matches with what we are told of the Rapture in 1 Thes. 4:16-17.

What I want to focus on here in this lesson is verses 4 thru 6.

Rev. 4: 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. 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. 6 Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

24 Elders of the Church: 

It appears we have a reference to this in Daniel.

Thrones:

Dan. 7: 9

“As I looked,

“thrones were set in place,
   and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow;
   the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
   and its wheels were all ablaze.

Look at John’s description of Jesus in the first chapter of Revelation.

Rev.1: 12I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest.

14His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

Thrones set in place,

Rev. 4: 4Surrounding 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.

At the beginning of the Tribulation God the Father, Jesus and the 24 elders will sit in judgment over what is about to come upon the world. We see in Rev. 20 4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. We also see the 24 elders before the Throne in Rev. 4:4 & 10, 5:6 & 11, 7:11, 11:16, 14:3. These 24 thrones and elders are not mentioned anywhere in the Old Testament other than here with Daniel seeing thrones (plural) set in place at the end of the age. None of the other Old Testament views of God's Throne mention these thrones. The fact that they don't appear in Old Testament accounts, but do when the End of the Age is the context implies that they have been added since the cross. It could only be a reference to the Church, the first elders of the Church. The 24 elders are 24 elders of the Church. Just like Churches have elders in them here on earth, it could be there are elders for the Church in heaven. These elders represent the Church age believers.

We see with verse 4 that they were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. This is a description of what is promised to the Church age saints. We see that they are given authority to judge.

In Matthew 19 Jesus said, 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. So it appears that these elders are of the Church.

Look at what the Apostle Paul said of the Church age believers,

1 Cor. 6: 2 Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels?

We are not told here who the elders are, but these elders could very well be, of course the 12 Apostles which includes Matthias, he replaced Judas, plus the Apostle Paul as well as others that had a major role in establishing the early Church, like Barnabus, Apollos, Steven, Mark, Luke, Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Jude, Silas and James. All these are mentioned in the New Testament. The main point to notice is that these elders are before the Throne of God before the Tribulation, before Jesus has been given the scroll and begins breaking its seals. Thus again, just like with verses 1 & 2 it appears that the Rapture occurs before the Tribulation.

I’ve read some commentaries that 12 of these elders good very well be the 12 apostles and the other 12 are someone from the 12 tribes of Israel. But a major problem with 12 of these elders being anyone from the Old Testament times is that they cannot be here on these thrones before or during the Tribulation for the Old Testament saints are not raised from the dead, receive glorified, immortal bodies until after Jesus has returned to the earth, after the Tribulation. We see the Old Testaments saints are not raised until after the Tribulation in Daniel ch. 12. We see in Revelation ch. 20 the mention of the Tribulation saints being raised after the Tribulation. The Old Testament saints are raised, receive glorified bodies at this time. The Rapture is for the Church age saints, not the Old Testament saints. The Old Testament saints were not in Christ as described in the New Testament. So all 24 have to be of the Church age.

We’re referred to has being,

Kingdom and Priests

Rev. 1: 4 John,

To the seven churches in the province of Asia:

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

Rev. 5: 6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll
   and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
   and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
   and they will reign on the earth.”

1 Peter 2:

4As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s (special possession), that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Crowns:

Rev. 4: 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.

9 Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 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.”

1 Cor. 9:25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

2 Tim. 4:8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

James 1:12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

1 Peter 5:4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Rev. 3:11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.

Rev. 19: 11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.

We see these 24 elders are given white robes to where, so they have been clothed. A white robe represents priesthood. And we see they receive crowns. We do not receive our crowns until after the Rapture, at the judgment seat of Christ which takes place in heaven after we have received our glorified bodies. 2 Cor. 5:10  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

We see here this all is taking place in heaven before Jesus has been handed the scroll of the judgment and wrath of God, before the Tribulation. We also see in Rev. 19 Jesus now has many crowns. We see in Rev. 4 verse 10 the 24 elders laying their crowns before the throne. I imagine every born again believer will be laying our crowns before Jesus.

Seven Lamp Stands and Seven Lamps:

Rev. 1: 9 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11 which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”

Rev. 1: 12: And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest.

Rev. 1: 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

Rev. 1: 20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

Notice Jesus tells us the seven lampstands are the seven churches. The lampstands represents the Church. We see Jesus is among the lampstands. Jesus is among his Church. Here in chapter 1 we see John is still here on earth and he sees the 7 lampstands, then with chapter 4 we see the lamp stands before the throne.

Rev. 4: 5From 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.

Now, before you say here he said the seven lamps are the seven spirits of God, notice the reference here of the seven spirits of God to what we see in chapter 5. … Rev. 5: 6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. … Here we see a different description of the seven spirits of God. We know the Lamb is Jesus. The Holy Spirit is Jesus. The Holy Spirit comes from Jesus and God the Father. John 15: 26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. ... The number seven is used repeatedly in the Bible to indicate completeness or perfection. The seven horns represents Jesus’ total authority and kingship. The seven eyes represents his all-seeing. Here we see the seven horns and seven eyes are the seven spirits of God, the complete perfect Spirit of God. But in chapter 4 we see the Holy Spirit described as seven lamps.

The Seven Spirits of the seven lamps before His throne identifies the Holy Spirit of the Church age. Thus the Seven Spirits in the seven lamps would mean the perfect, complete Spirit, the fullness of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit of the New Covenant.

Church age Believers are filled with the Holy Spirit just like lamps.

The lampstands are holders of the lamps which contain the oil. The fire itself comes from the Oil. Oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit through out the Old and New Testaments. The oil lamps hold the oil that fuel, burn the fire. The lampstands hold the lamps that hold the oil. The Church, Christians are the holders of the Holy Spirit. Remember, they weren’t filled with the Holy Spirit during the Old Covenant like we are now under the New Covenant. The Holy Spirit of the New Covenant, of the Church age was given, poured out on the day of Pentecost. Acts chapter 2.

2 Cor. 1: 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Eph. 1: 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Eph. 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

In chapter 1 we see these same seven lamp stands on earth, with Jesus walking among them. In chapter 4 we see 7 lamps burning which represents the Holy Spirit in the Church age saints in front of the throne. The Holy Spirit is in each believer which makes up the Church. In chapter 1 John had not yet been called up to Heaven, to the throne of God. Now, after John is called to come up to heaven, these seven lamps held by the lamp stands (which, as we see in verse 20, portrays the Holy Spirit in the Churches), are in heaven. This is further evidence that God will remove the Church from earth before His outpouring of judgment.

This goes along with the ‘He’ in 2 Thes. 2 referring to the Holy Spirit in the Church holding back the anti-Christ, to the Holy Spirit of the New Covenant in the Church being taken out of the way first and then the anti-Christ will be revealed. Evidence that the Church will be removed before the beginning of the Tribulation.

2 Thes. 2: 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day(the Tribulation) will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness(the anti-Christ) is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

5 Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6 And now you know what is holding him (the anti-Christ) back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the (one who) now holds it back will continue to do so till (he) is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.

Church age believers are given, filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit in the Church age saints is what's holding back the revealing of the anti-Christ. This is what Paul was referring to where with verse 6 he said, And now you know 'what' is holding him, the anti-Christ back. The Church is holding back the revealing of the anti-Christ.


​We see another clue to the Church being in heaven before the Tribulation, before Jesus is handed the scroll. It would appear we have the Biblical principle that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ Mt. 18:16, 2 Cor. 13:1, 1 Tim. 5:19, Heb. 10:28. We have here 3 portraits of the Church in heaven before the Throne of God, before the opening of the scroll by Jesus. We see the Church in heaven before the Tribulation.

 

Sea of Glass:

Rev. 4: 6 Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

The crystal sea before the throne of God is thought by some to be the "sea of humanity,"

The word “sea” in Biblical symbolism often pictures the restless masses of mankind. The word is used this way in Revelation 13 and 17. Here the sea before the throne of God is motionless, at peace like a sea of glass. This pictures the believers at rest in the presence of God. There’s no more storm upon this sea: it’s calm, quiet, and peaceful before the throne of God. The sea of glass is a picture of the Church age believers before the throne. Again, we see this sea in heaven before the Tribulation.

Now notice Rev. 15,

Rev. 15: 1 I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven (last) plagues—last, because with them God’s wrath is (completed). 2And I saw what looked like a (sea of glass) glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and over the number of its name. They held harps given them by God 3and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb:

Here we see the sea is glowing with fire. Fire represents judgment. We see in Rev. 4 verse 15 Jesus’ eyes blazing like fire. We also see the 24 elders sitting in judgment on thrones before the throne of God. This is supported by Rev. 15 verse 2 and Rev. 20 verse 4.

Now notice standing by the sea of glass, not part of the sea of glass, are those that died in Jesus during the Tribulation. This is showing that those that come to believe in Jesus during the Tribulation are not part of this sea, not part of the Church, thus showing us that the Church was removed before the Tribulation. In Rev. 20 we see those that died during the Tribulation are raised to life AFTER Jesus has returned to the earth. Rev.20 verse 4 also shows us those standing beside the sea of glass are those that died during the Tribulation.

Rev. 20: 4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the (souls) of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Rev. 15: 2And I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and over the number of its name.

The King James and the New King James in Rev. 15 has those that died during the Tribulation standing on the sea of glass. Still not part of the sea. This could easily be the Church age believers lifting up those that didn’t compromise, didn’t fall for satans lies but were willing to die for Jesus.

So again, the evidence here as with all the other scriptures point to a Pre-Trib Rapture of the Church. The evidence from all the scriptures is overwhelming that the Rapture occurs before the Tribulation. As I’ve said before, to come to any other conclusion other than a Pre-Trib Rapture you have to ignore a lot of scriptures. Check out the Lesson, Post-Trib Rapture View doesn’t Work.

Remember the promise from Jesus. Rev. 3: 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you (from) the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.

Luke 21: 36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all (all the Tribulation) that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

The Rapture, the catching up is our blessed hope. Jesus will appear to us at the Rapture.

Titus 2: 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,

1 John 3:2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

 

​All the evidence from the scriptures point to a Pre-Trib Rapture. Check out the other lessons on the Bible Lessons page.

 

 

Maranatha, come Lord Jesus.