KEY TEXT: Revelation 4:1-6 After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.
KEY THOT: As we move on from the letters to the seven churches, John's vision enters into another stage of revelation: "After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven" (v.1). An open door suggests an entrance into another dimension of reality. And the rest of the description of the vison of heaven (chapters 4 and 5) is in the present tense, suggesting an eternal reality that is unchanging and unchangeable. So, what John saw was an eternally present reality in heaven. It was as though John has "in the Spirit" passed from time into eternity, where there is only present tense--no past and no future. And from this timeless perspective, he would be able to observe everything that is going to happen in the "future", for the future is just like the present from eternity's perspective.
John was asked to "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." The command to "come up here" suggests an "out of the body" experience similar to what Paul experienced: "And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter" (2 Corinthians 12:3-4). John was "in the Spirit", meaning that this vision was no longer in the realm of the soul/mind which can only understand what is natural. Instead, he was seeing into the realm of the spirit which alone can enter into the supernatural dimension where God is. Many pastors/clergy are so trained to use only their minds to understand spiritual matters (via the human reason) that they are unable to discern spiritual realities which are received only via the human spirit from the Holy Spirit. If we want to receive God's revelation, we must learn to operate in the realm of our spirit (intuition), not just our soul (intellect).
But what John saw was literally out-of-this-world! It can only be compared to earthly things with the word "like" (80x in Revelation). In chapter 1 the word "like" occurs 7x and in chapter 4 alone, it occurs 5x. Paradise is so unlike what we experience on earth that it is only possible to describe in terms of "like" something we know on earth. In other words, our rational brain is unable to process spiritual realities except in comparison to something comprehensible. So those who avoid or reject the message of the book of Revelation because it is so unlike what they have experienced on earth and also because it cannot be explained rationally are operating in the wrong realm. If we choose to stay on the familiar "soul" channel (relying primarily on our intellect) instead of the "spirit" channel (relying on our intuition), we would not be able to receive any revelation from the Spirit, especially in Revelation, from chapter 4 onward.
May the Lord grant us revelation through our spirits as we seek to understand the book of Revelation in the coming days. Blessed Christmas to all and a Happy New Year!
Abba-Father, bring us up to the realm of the spirit. Humble our intellect, so that we may receive from You the spiritual truths revealed by Your Spirit to our spirit. In Jesus' name. Amen.