May 8, 2011 Sunday school lesson
After he was given the messages to the seven churches, John said he saw an opening in heaven and heard a voice that he described as sounding like a trumpet. The trumpet-like voice invited John into heaven, and he would be shown “things which must be hereafter.” Thankfully, God also shows us some of the things will be hereafter. According to John, he was suddenly “in the spirit” when he was brought up to heaven. We have no way of knowing the meaning of this as it seems to suggest John was not in his physical body. Regardless of the form he was given, the apostle continued to have his senses and emotions in heaven because right away he saw a throne and “one sat on the throne.” This scene is central to all that John saw because the throne was God’s, and it is the place from which He rules the world and where there is certainty of His absolute sovereignty. God’s appearance was like “a jasper and a sardine stone.” The jasper is a clear stone that sparkles with a variety of colors as it is turned in the light. A sardine stone is red, and some scholars suggest the color is symbolic of God’s justice. Just imagine being in John’s position, trying to finds words to describe God’s appearance. Only the Holy Spirit could craft through the apostle the words we find in Revelation. An emerald rainbow was around the throne. In the Old Testament, God made a covenant with Noah, and used a rainbow as a sign of His faithfulness. The New Testament is green, a sign of the everlasting life we have in Christ Jesus. Twenty-four elders sat on twenty-four seats situated around the throne. The elders seem to be representative of the church, because at this time the Rapture evidently has occurred as we find no mention of the church on the earth from this point on in the book. John saw four beasts close to the throne. They should probably be called living beings, instead, since they might have appeared more human than beast. It is interesting to consider these four beings could represent Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The four beings never rested in their praise of God, and they were joined by the elders, who “cast their crowns before throne.” The four living beings said, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” They praised the only and only true God. The elders said, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Following their example, we ought to bow in humility before God. Our praise, after all, is to the God who created and sustains all creation.
The Sunday school lesson is written by Ed Wilcox, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church, Lumberton, N.C. email@example.com