Updated: Apr 29
After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice
I had first 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 there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. …Revelation 4: 1-8
Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, … He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song ... Revelation 5: 1-9
This is a cosmic vision! Where are we? What are we seeing and hearing with John's words as he struggles to write what he is seeing and witnessing? Where is he? First of all, we should note the phrase of time: after this. Remember, Revelation telescopes in time and place. In the last lesson, we have just come from John’s present time and viewed someone like a man, Christ, on an earthly plain as he is speaking directly to John. John, in return, has fallen to Christ’s feet in fear. Then Christ so very intimately places his hands on his dear beloved friend, John, and tells him not to be afraid. Their discussion concerns Christ’s beloved bride to be, his church here on earth.
After this, John sees a door open to heaven and is called by Christ to “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” Twice the phrase, after this; this is a definite shift from what is occurring to what is to occur. From John’s present to the future. Now John sees God, the Lord, himself. We get no view as to his face, in fact, it seems as though John doesn’t get to see his face at all. We get no details about anything except that he has the appearance of gemstones, rich in color. The rainbow encircling the throne must be the Lord God’s glory. Do you remember the rainbow that the Lord gave to Noah? Do you remember Moses’ spiritual crisis when he demanded to see God’s face but could only see his glory?
Where is the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is here, with John, as John’s companion throughout the entire Revelation that John witnesses. The Trinity is together showing John what has been, is now, and will and must be.
This passage is so full of detail that it is difficult to address it all. Around the throne of God himself are 24 other thrones for 24 elders. Who are these worthy beings dressed in white robes of purity and wearing gold refined crowns denoting their royalty and divinity? Most scholars believe they are the twelve Old Testament sons of Jacob who grew into the tribes of the nation of Israel and the New Testament’s twelve disciples of Christ. In front of God’s throne are four living creatures, all seeing, in the forms of four living beings of animal and man.The seven lamps of the Spirit are blazing and thunder and lightening are seen and heard. There is a sea possibly of water before the throne that is so very still that it looks like glass. The elders and the creatures are praising God because he, God, is worthy to receive all great things. Something tremendous seems to be on the verge of happening.
There is a scroll, an important writing in God’s right hand that is so critical that it is seven times sealed. But, alas, there is no one found to be worthy enough to break the seals to read what is written inside. John weeps in despair. Let’s take a moment here to ponder about John’s anguish. Have you ever come so far in a struggle only to be defeated at the very last moment so as to lose the very thing you have fought for? Have you ever fought for something that is so important to you that you would give your life for it?
Remember what Satan tempted Jesus with? Provision, power and protection. Remember what Isaiah prophesied? Do you remember what Jesus read from Isaiah in his home synagogue:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
This all important thing, here in the heavens in God’s very throne room that John so desires, is that thing we all struggle with and for. It is for our loved ones to be safe and healthy. It is for us to be secure and content. It is for unbridled joy and delight in our very beings. It is for righteousness and fairness. It is for victory over sin and oppression. It is for a life that is meaningful and full. It is for us to be able to be in relationships with others and for others to understand and love us completely. This all important thing that we struggle for and need is for good to defeat evil once and for all time. For we desire is for there to be a plan that is perfect and good:
Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” Revelation 5: 6-10
This one like a son of man, this Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, this Lamb, looking as if it had been slain with its seven horns and its seven eyes, thank God, praise God, is worthy. He and only he in all of creation and all of the heavenly realms can begin the prophesied Great Tribulation. It is time for God, for the Trinity, to reclaim the earth from the perverted fallen angel, Satan. Remember, the Trinity's foe, Satan, is, was, but will not be the ruler of this world in the end. Satan will soon be cast out of the heavens for good and defeated and destroyed for eternity. The time is coming, the prayers of God’s people will be answered.
What have you ever struggled for? Did you win? Have you ever fought for something that is so important to you that you would give your life for it? Did you pray for it? Did you lose? What did you gain? What did you lose?
Have you had a time and place in your life when you felt completely defeated and in despair? Are you still “there?” What is the meaning of life for you?
What does God look like to you? How do you imagine him?
Have you ever accused anyone of something horrendous? What were the circumstances?
Has anyone ever accused you of something horrific? Was it true? What were the circumstances?
Have you ever found yourself in a situation that had no good solution? Have you ever been “damned if you do and damned if you don’t."
The 29:11 Story
You’ve seen a rainbow. What a beautiful, gorgeous thing that is. The spectrum of colors from the bottom of the bow up are the Roy G. Biv of our childhood classroom: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. But have you ever witnessed a double rainbow? That is truly a gift. Did you know that the colors of the spectrum in the second echoing rainbow are reversed? Violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. The two rainbow beads on The 29:11 Story bracelet tell a crucial part of God’s Perfect Story. The first is on the downward fall of the Old Testament; it follows the wooden bead of Noah’s ark, the aqua blue bead of the flood, and the green bead of the redeemed Earth.
Every 29:11 Story, God’s perfect story, is a double rainbow: at the beginning, in the Old Testament, God in purple divinity creates the blue heavens and the green earth, the white dove of the Holy Spirit- reflecting the light of all that is pure-the creation of mankind in all our skin tones, and the red apple of sin and Satan. The Cross arrests our fall and the New Testament echos God’s rainbow in reverse order: the Old Red Dragon, Satan and sin, are defeated. All the colors of humanity are invited into the presence of the white Holy Spirit as we wait for our new green earth and our new blue heavens and our homecoming to the Father in purple. God’s complete promise to Noah revealed.
Now, the flood will become a river of healing and sustaining living waters. The corresponding rainbow bead that provides our rescue and redemption is on the other side of God’s Perfect Story. It is at the end of the New Testament in the Book of Revelation. It is the bead that announces the Second Coming and it represents God, the Father, sitting on a throne.
And in between these two events, these two rainbow beads, are all the colors of God’s supernatural/natural creation: blue heavens, green earths, shades of brown and pink for us, red for sin, orange for fire,...God’s perfect rainbow, The Perfect Story.
Everyone has a story. This is part of my story: I lost a beautiful son to cancer. It was a grueling, brutal 5 year battle as seen through human eyes. But, thank God, because of God, William caught many glimpses of his 17 year story through God’s eyes. Less then a week before he died, he woke up one morning and said in awe, “Mom, you have no idea of all the colors!”
Our view of life and its colors is so limited. We can only see what is natural to us here in our earthly home. But God’s eyes see the supernatural, which for God is the natural-the whole creation in all its glorious colors. Paul knew this:
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13: 9-12.
Several years ago, one of my nieces got into a horrible place . She had a marriage that had fallen apart, two little children, and was addicted to meth. We all believed that she was irredeemably lost but we also knew that her children needed to be saved. Her mom and sister arranged an intervention and I was asked to come. I bought one of the last tickets for the plane ride up to Montana the night before I left.
That morning on the plane, I was emotionally exhausted. I had been in prayer with the Holy Spirit ever since my sister-in-law, Julia’s mother, had called me. I had no idea how we were going to be able to convince Julia to let her children go. Her father and other sister had refused to even come to the intervention; they were done with her and her lies. A beautiful young woman sat down across from me and started chatting, “Good morning, where are you going?’ I told her that I was visiting family. “So am I.” She wheedled out of me that my trip was not for pleasure, it was for a loved niece and her children.
She got very serious, “I would have given anything for someone to have fought for me when I was a child…” Her story was so poignant. She had bounced from foster home to foster home because both of her parents were addicts. One day, when she was in high school, her foster mother had dropped her suitcase off at the office, “We’re done with her.” Her young high school teacher asked her, “Melody, do you want to come home with me?” She did. That young woman, hardly older than Melody herself, got her newly adopted daughter through college and then through law school. Melody had become a guardian ad litem for children who are in need of legal help when their parents have failed in their abilities to adequately care for them. Melody walked me through what we would need to do to give these two babies of Julia’s a chance of escape.
Then I asked her, “Do you believe in God?’ Her answer, “He is my Lord and Savior.” She went on to explain to me that that she was going to meet with her husband and his younger brother. She had grown up with no faith but several years before, this young man had been diagnosed with cancer. They had performed a healing ceremony on him and his cancer had completely disappeared.
Then I asked her to ask me if I believed in God. “My son had cancer and we had a healing ceremony for him and he didn’t survive. There was no physical miracle for him.” Then Melody said, “Last night I bought the last ticket for this flight. My precious brother-in-law is dying. His cancer is everywhere now.” For the rest of that plane ride, I got to instruct her how to walk with her brother-in-law to his earthly death and how to talk with him about where he was going.
On the plane ride back from Julia’s intervention, I was devastated. We all were. Her ex-husband had the children in his possession. She had refused rehab. He had told her that he would be filing for total full custody of the children. Unfortunately, Julia’s ex-husband was also not capable of caring for two small children. All I wanted was to sit quietly. Another beautiful young woman sat down next to me. “Hello everyone!” Turning to me, “Where are you going? What did you do here in Montana?” Once again, this second young woman would not respect my reticence to talk. “I came for an intervention for my niece. She has two little children. But the intervention was a failure.”
Her response, “I would have given anything for someone to fight for me when I was a child. Both of my parents were addicts. Now I am the only one in my family that isn’t. Now my sisters and brother are all lost.” And from across the aisle of the plane, from a beautiful young man as he turned to address us, “I’m a meth addict. I’ve been clean for seven years now. My family had given up on me, too. Does your niece believe in God? If she does, she can get clean, too. But she’ll need God.”
Then this young man turned away from us; he had said what he needed to say. I asked this young woman next to me, “Do you believe in God.” Now her entire demeanor changed from warm to cold, “Why, do you?” And I said, “Yes, I had a son that died of cancer and I have to believe because he believed.” Then her story continued, “I am so angry with God. I have two beautiful children and a wonderful husband but two years ago, I lost a baby girl.” For the rest of that plane ride, I got to talk to her about how to reconcile the death of a child. At some point in our conversation, she said, “I bought the last plane ticket for this flight this morning…”
Was all of that just coincidence? My need for guidance and affirmation from these three strangers, and my ability in turn to guide and affirm them in their places of need.
Before I boarded the next plane for the last leg of my trip home, I learned that my dear niece had tried to commit suicide that day. She was stopped and agreed to go to rehab. My niece, Julia, met her second husband there. Julia found God and her new future there as well. Two years after our intervention and her attempted suicide, we met on the plains of Montana to witness the marriage of Julia and Donald. The entire weekend was outside. The night before, we had shared a chilly dinner with all of the couple’s best friends. Most of them were from rehab. They were the funniest, wisest group of hard lives I’d ever been around. The day of the wedding was blustery and rainy. But when the couple shared their first kiss as a couple, the clouds parted and a glorious rainbow appeared as God blessed that broken family. What a lovely story this family shares.
What surprised you today?
What new connections in the Bible did you make today?
What questions do you want to explore further about today's study?
Read Job 1 again. Describe in your own words Satan’s access to the throne room. What is his purpose there?
Read Psalm 2. What does the phrase “fear and trembling” mean to you? Is it positive or negative? Now read Philippians 2: 1-18
Read all of Isaiah 11. What do you find about the Spirit of God? About the fear of the Lord? What is the stump and what is the branch? What about Christ’s mouth? What is he wearing?
What do you find about God’s creatures here? What do you read about the sea? What about the nations? What about Israel?
What about Edom and Moab? Where did these two nations come from? How about the Ammonites? Who are they? The Lord loves all of his creation. These are those descendants that came from Lot and Esau.
Read Ezekiel 1. What parallels do you find from our lesson?
Reread Genesis 9: 1-17. “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you,…”
Read Daniel 7. This is so packed with prophecy. What do you find about the river flowing out from the Ancient of Days? What is the river made of?
Can you find Daniel and Ezekiel on the 29:11 Story? What bead is between the two of them?