Despite My Amazing Ignorance

Despite My Amazing Ignorance

Revelation really confuses me sometimes.  That is why I am only spending time writing about the things that make sense to me.  Some of the things that don’t make sense to me in Revelation 4 are:

1. A rainbow that has only one color (“like an emerald”).

2. The twenty-four thrones and twenty-four elders.  Who are these people?  Does this have anything to do with the 144,000 mentioned later in Revelation?

3. The seven Spirits of God.  God has seven Spirits?

4. Sea of glass.  Huh?

5. A beast with many eyes.  Very strange.

6. Four living creatures with six wings and many eyes.  Even more strange.

Wish I could be of more help than to just make a list of things that puzzle me, however, it is better to admit I don’t know than to pretend I do, right?

This is what I do recognize, despite my amazing ignorance.  The elders, whoever they are, are not moved by the “lightnings, and thunders, and voices” that come out of the throne, but when the creatures, “give glory, and honour, and thanks, to Him who is sitting upon the throne,” those elders come out of their seats.  There is no terror in the worship taking place here, but spiritual intelligence about Who God is and what God does.  Who God is: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and who is, and who is coming” and “who is living to the ages of the ages.”  What God does: “…sitting upon the throne” and “create the all things, and because of Thy will are they, and they were created.”  Their worship is demonstrated in that they give “glory, and honour, and thanks… fall down… bow…and they cast their crowns…”  When the throne of God (the Reign of God) is in the temple (us), this is what happens in the heart of the believer – there is no longer terror of God.  This is not to say that we lack a healthy fear of God, as in reverence.  We understand His Sovereignty; we understand it is by His will that everything exists in the first place, and that everything continues to exist.  The holiness and supremacy of God, past, present, and future, is the theme of this chapter.


  • Mary Vanderplas May 20, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    I like your blog. One of the problems when it comes to understanding Revelation is that it’s a letter that wasn’t written to us. While its original readers no doubt understood it, we need a lot of help. The fact that it wasn’t written to us means, too, that before we can understand its meaning today, we need first to understand it in its own terms – i.e., for what it said to the churches in the late first century to whom it was addressed.

    The other problem, as you point out, is that the language and imagery are often more than a little strange. It’s important to understand that the symbolism employed in Revelation (and in apocalyptic writing in general) isn’t the same as a “code,” where each symbol represents some objective reality and where all that’s needed to understand the meaning is to decode the symbols. The symbolism of Revelation is of a different sort entirely. It expresses what cannot be expressed using ordinary language, revealing the limits of human language when it comes to representing the transcendent world. Trying to picture “a rainbow that looks like an emerald” or “four living creatures, each of them with six wings,…full of eyes all around and inside” simply isn’t possible. Thus, the imagery works not by representing graphically transcendent reality but by evoking meanings and associations that help us to “see” something about the transcendent world.

    I like your comments on the heavenly worship pictured in Revelation 4. I agree that the theme of the vision is the holiness, the otherness, of God as Creator. The picture is of God as the only One whom Christians can worship – the One who created all things and apart from whom nothing that exists is, and who prevails above every power in the universe. In the face of pressure to bow the knee to Caesar, John’s first readers would have been strengthened to withstand the pressure and encouraged in knowing that nothing could finally defeat God, thwarting God’s good purposes for them. I like what you say about there being no terror of God in this scene, only praise and adoration in response to who God is and what God does. And I agree that what takes place in the heavenly throne room is a model of what happens in the heart and life of the believer: exuberant and unending praise and worship of God.

  • […] to read more about Revelation: Revelation 1-2, Revelation 3, Audio/Visual Revelation, Like a Stone, Despite My Amazing Ignorance, He’s Called “God with Us” for a Reason, and Revelation 8 (Guest Blogger: Mary […]

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