International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday May 8, 2011
Purpose: To recognize how steeped Christian worship is in the stories of Israel and the early church
Scripture Text: Revelation 4:1-2, 6b-11(NRSV)
Revelation 4:1-2, 6b-11
(1)After this I looked, and there in heaven a door stood open! 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.”(2)At once I was in the spirit, and there in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne!.......
(6b) Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: (7)the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with a face like a human face, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. (8)And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night without ceasing they sing, “Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come.”( 9)And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, (10)the twenty-four elders fall before the one who is seated on the throne, singing, (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 existed and were created.”
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
It seems each year as we begin our Sunday School Class, the question of what we will be studying always arises. A lot of students want to know more about the Book of Revelation, now for the first time in many years we will spend the next four weeks looking at this most requested book.
There are a few misconceptions about the Book of Revelation, first it is singular, not Revelations. Second the word “antichrist” and “rapture” do not appear anywhere in this book. The Greek word for revelation is apocalypse. The book is the revelation of Jesus Christ, (1:1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place; he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, ) recorded by John.
I believe the entire word of God as recorded in the Old and New Testaments to be a written record of what God wanted to say to the human race. I also view Jesus as the Incarnate Word of God, the ultimate revelation of God's nature, including especially His love. Thus I view the Bible as the written word of God about the Incarnate Word of God. And the book of Revelation is a revealing of Jesus Christ beyond the Incarnate Word, and beyond the resurrection, and it brings together both the Old Testament revelations and the New Testament's revelation of Jesus Christ, and shows Him restored not only to His original position, but, to an even more exalted position, because of His obedience, as we looked at last week in Philippians 2:6-11.
In our text this week in verse 1, John is shown a door, not THE door but a door that is ajar, open for all to come and go or have access through. John is then taken in the spirit and shown what takes place after this, this referring to the open door, not some future event. The throne room is revealed to John, by Jesus. Some of the mystery of this book comes from not knowing and understanding what was written by previous prophets. What John sees is almost an exact replica of what Ezekiel saw in Ezekiel 1:26-28 (26And above the dome over their heads there was something like a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was something that seemed like a human form. 27Upward from what appeared like the loins I saw something like gleaming amber, something that looked like fire enclosed all around; and downward from what looked like the loins I saw something that looked like fire, and there was a splendor all around. 28Like the bow in a cloud on a rainy day, such was the appearance of the splendor all round. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of someone).
You can also compare with Exodus 28:17-21 (17You shall set in it four rows of stones. A row of carnelian, chrysolite, and emerald shall be the first row; 18and the second row a turquoise, a sapphire and a moonstone; 19and the third row a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; 20and the fourth row a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper; they shall be set in gold filigree. 21There shall be twelve stones with names corresponding to the names of the sons of Israel; they shall be like signets, each engraved with its name, for the twelve tribes.) You can also read Isaiah 6, to see another vision that corresponds closely to John's vision.
When the Old Testament's writings are compared, a lot of the mystery and fear are removed. In verse 6 of our text we see the four living creatures, that can see everything because of their eyes are everywhere, are first mentioned in Ezekiel 10. Verse seven names them as, a lion, an ox, a human, and an eagle, the noblest, the strongest, the wisest, and the swiftest of God's creation. They are responsible for overseeing all of God's creation, or are a symbol of it.
The twenty-four elders referred to in verse 10 could be as simple as an elder from each tribe of Israel as well as the twelve apostles. In casting their crowns before the throne, it could simply mean they get it, whatever glory or honor they may have achieved, it pales when compared to Jesus Christ, God has honored Him above everything else on earth, or under the earth. They join together to sing praises to the one on the throne; the one who was and is and is to come. Or as God revealed himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14(14God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.”) No secret codes, not even that much mystery, just a glimpse, a peek if you will through a door left ajar for us.