When the time came for me to write lessons for the children of our church based on the book of Revelation, I admit, I was intimidated. There are so many different ways of interpreting this book, and I don’t feel it’s right to advance one interpretation as more valid than another, since there is simply no way for us to know all the answers until the prophecies actually come true. I felt inadequate to the task–until I started actually reading the book! There are so many cool visuals in Revelation that kids can appreciate and enjoy. Now I wonder why there are so few teaching aids available based on this terrific book. Kids love to see pictures of monsters and dragons and such wonders of God! Somebody out there who can draw needs to do a picture book for children based on Revelation! Anyway, here’s what I came up with for Revelation chapter 4.
While John the Apostle was in prison on the island of Patmos, God gave him a wonderful vision. John looked up and saw the door to heaven was open and a voice invited him to come in. What would you do if God invited you to come visit Him in heaven? Well, John didn’t even have a choice; one minute he was in his prison on the Isle of Patmos and the next minute he was in heaven standing before the throne of God. God said that John was to witness events that will take place in the future and write them down for all believers to read.
John was in the difficult position of having to describe the indescribable. How do you explain what God looks like? God is a Spirit, not a physical being with a body. So the best John could do was describe God as colors. He said that the person on the throne was like “jasper and carnelian”. These are two kinds of jewels. Jasper is kind of like a diamond and carnelian is kind of like a ruby. The clear, brilliant diamond color reminds us of God’s holiness. The red, shiny, ruby color reminds us of the blood of Jesus that purchased our salvation. Both jewels are transparent–you can see right through them. God doesn’t hide anything about Himself. He can’t lie or deceive. He’s all right there for us to see. Both jewels reflect light. God IS light–the light of truth, shining so brightly that we can see everything as it truly is.
John says that a rainbow of emerald circled the throne of God. This is not the half-circle rainbow we see here on earth. The circle is complete, symbolizing eternity. A circle has no beginning and no end, just like God. What color is an emerald? It’s green. The green of the emerald reminds us of creation and growth. God created everything, and in the end He will re-create everything. He will make everything new again.
From beneath God’s throne, lightning flashed and thunder rumbled and crashed. God’s great and awesome power is under His control, but it’s there nevertheless, ready to break out any moment! Before the throne was spread a sea of glass, clear as water but still and peaceful.
Surrounding the throne were 24 thrones with 24 elders seated in them. We don’t know who these “elders” are, but we do know that 24 is two twelves. Twelve is the number of the tribes of Israel and the number of Jesus’ disciples. Perhaps the twelve disciples were seated on half of these thrones and the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel were seated on the other half. All we know for certain is that these elders were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. They were pure and holy, dressed in the holiness of Christ Himself and crowned with His goodness. Also before the throne were seven burning lamps, which John says are the seven Spirits of God that perform His works. He doesn’t explain this statement at all, but we know that seven is the number of perfection. All of God’s works are perfect.
The strangest thing of all that John saw, in my opinion, were the four living creatures who stood before God’s throne, constantly worshiping Him. These were the cherubim, intelligent beings with four faces each and covered with eyes. They each had one face like a man’s, one face like an eagle’s, one face like a lion’s, and one face like an ox’s. Each being also had six wings. John says they have eyes all over their bodies, even under their wings. They must be able to see everything! It’s hard to imagine beings like that, isn’t it? They sound kind of scary, like monsters. But God created them to worship Him, and they do a good job! John says that “day and night they never stop saying, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, Who was, and is, and is to come.’” These creatures give glory, honor and thanks to God constantly without stopping, for ever and ever. I might be afraid of these beings when I see them for myself, but I think I will also love them for the wonderful songs they sing to God. I think they are singing to God in my place, and in your place, and in the place of every created being on earth. I think that’s what the four faces are about: the man’s face represents all the humans who ever lived; the eagle’s face represents all the birds ever created; the lion’s face stands for all the wild beasts ever made; and the ox’s face represents all the domesticated animals that ever lived. These cherubim, with all these faces, worship God in our place, since we aren’t there to do it for ourselves.
John then tries to describe a great worship service that takes place before the throne. As the four living creatures continue their forever-song, the 24 elders rise from their 24 thrones and fall on their faces before God, laying their golden crowns at His feet. And they all sing this wonderful song together:
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being.”
Just think what it will be like, when we can stand before God’s throne ourselves and join in with the songs of praise! Won’t it be beautiful?