The things discussed in this article may be experienced even before you finish reading it! Many sense in their hearts that we're living in the last days. John had a vision of the church age in which we are living and of the rapture and heaven to come. And, there are three things we can learn from this vision — the person upon the throne, the people before the throne, and the praise unto the throne.
The Person upon the Throne
The glory of Jesus is described in images of precious jewels and a rainbow. The first stone — jasper — was like a crystal diamond (see Revelation 21:11) and I believe that John was describing Jesus' translucent purity and all-consuming beauty. The second stone was sardine which is ruby red to represent the blood sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the Old Testament, the high priest represented Jesus and the breastplate of jewels He wore represented His chosen ones. God has His people upon His heart. Isn't it interesting to note the first and last of the stones in the breastplate were the jasper and the sardine — the first and the last (see Revelation 1:8)?
Next we read that John saw a rainbow. The rainbow is a symbol of God's covenant promise with His people. This rainbow John saw was a circle that symbolizes eternity and perfection and was also green, which is the color of life. This circular rainbow of emerald further symbolized the covenant promise of eternal life! Finally, the rainbow means that the storm is over. Thank God!
We see in this passage that Jesus is sovereign over all things. Flashes of lightening, rumbling of thunder, mysterious murmuring voices, and more all build to a crescendo. Something is about to happen!
The People before the Throne
The redeemed of God who are caught up in the rapture will be sitting upon thrones (see also Revelation 5:9). Does John want us to think that only twenty-four people will be raptured? No. Here again, we are to look at this in a symbolic way.
Twelve is God's governmental number. Four is the earth number. Three is the divine number. Three times four is twelve. Twelve represents heaven and earth working together to symbolize God's government. That's the reason you find twelve patriarchs in the Old Testament and twelve apostles in the New Testament. They represent the saints of all of the ages. Twelve plus twelve makes twenty-four.
God's redeemed who have been washed clean and clothed in white raiment will be sitting upon thrones with crowns on their heads. Why crowns upon their heads? 2 Timothy 4:7-8 tells us that the redeemed will be wearing "crowns of righteousness" and Revelation 1:6 tells us that Christ has "made us kings." Are you ready for that? God has redeemed His children to crown them kings and priests!
The Praise unto the Throne
Seven, the number of perfection, is descriptive of the lamps and the Spirit. The Old Testament gave us a picture of the temple of God and in that temple was the Ark of the Covenant (which symbolized Jesus) and in front of the Ark was a lampstand (which symbolized the Holy Spirit). The work of the Holy Spirit is to cast light upon Jesus.
Revelation 4:6 continues to give us a glimpse of the glory of God with the image of a sea of glass — a vision in a grander scale of the basin of water the priest used to wash before entering the temple (see Exodus 40:29-31). Now, this basin symbolized the Word of God by which we are cleansed (see Ephesians 5:26), but no longer do we have to wash in it. Now, we stand upon it. It is fixed and firm (see Psalm 119:89).
In addition to this sea of glass, we see "four beasts full of eyes before and behind." For further study, read Genesis 9 about the four categories of persons and things with which God made a covenant and see how these correspond to these four beasts. For now, why were these beasts created? For the glory of God. This world was created by and for Jesus; it is sustained through Jesus; it is coming to Jesus (see Colossians 1:15-17).
One day — and it may be soon — we're going to fall in praises before Him as we cast down our crowns to give Him glory, honor, and praise forever. What a time that will be!