As the Holy Spirit shows John what God’s throne room is like in Revelation 4, he struggles for words. He is trying to describe what few have seen before. His imagery reminds us of how Daniel, Ezekiel and Isaiah recount having visions of God.
Perhaps there are meanings in the things John describes that we don’t understand. Perhaps there are meanings we perceive that are not actually there. One thing for sure is that in the throne room we encounter the sheer beauty of God.
We see God on the throne, and it must be God the Father since Christ the Lamb enters the throne room in Revelation 5 and the “Spirits of God” are presently before the throne (Revelation 4:5). God is the supreme ruler of the universe. Everything has been, is, and will be under His authority. Everything that exists is accountable to Him. His beauty is so extravagant that John says He looked like precious gemstones. His throne room is unlike anything we’ve seen before: “a rainbow that looked like an emerald surrounded the throne – Revelation 4:3.” In front of the throne there is a “sea of glass, similar to crystal – Revelation 4:6.” The imagery gets lost on us so easily – it seems so confusing. But standing there in front of the throne, God would be breathtaking. More than every natural or man-made wonder you’ve seen, more than every person you love, more than the heart-stopping sight of the beautiful throne room surrounding Him, the God Who sits on the throne of Heaven is more beautiful than them all.
His power is also clear – “flashes of lightning and rumblings of thunder came from the throne – Revelation 4:5.” The physical world cannot do otherwise but shout out God’s power, and when it does, it is only able to hint at just how mighty He is.
Around Him sit elders, clothed in white and crowned in gold. They are perfectly pure and made royal in the presence of God. Our respect for them would exceed that which we would have for any noble or powerful person on earth, and yet in the presence of God, they are so pale in comparison. They “fall down before the One seated on the throne, worship the One who lives forever and ever, [and] cast their crowns before the throne – Revelation 4:10.” He is infinitely more pure, infinitely more majestic, infinitely more royal than these elders.
Not only are there these set-apart elders before God, but there are creatures that our imagination can really only begin to picture that are always in His presence, always worshipping Him. John says that they were covered in eyes all around, and that they were both in the middle of and around the throne – Revelation 4:6. With so many eyes, they will always be gazing at the One on the throne. Always seeing God, these creatures find joy and purpose in worshipping Him. They never stop saying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God, the Almighty, who was, who is, and who is coming – Revelation 4:8.” That’s what they cry out to be a trait above all others: God is holy. They repeat it three times – they are thoroughly convinced that His holiness is superlative. There is no Other, no Higher holiness than God’s.
Some have compared the faces of these beasts to the way the Gospels reveal Jesus Christ. The face of a lion reminds us that Christ is King (Matthew 27:11). The face of a calf calls us to think of Christ as a servant Who served to the point of being sacrificed (Mark 10:45). When we see the face of a man on one of these creatures, we remember that Christ is fully human (Luke 18:31). The majesty of the eagle who flies above the everyday happenings of life calls to mind Christ’s deity (John 20:31).
In the throne room, these creatures glorify, honor and thank God and the elders follow suit. The elders declare that He is “worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because You have created all things, and because of Your will they exist and were created – Revelation 4:11.”
As we see that God is Above All, the Eternal King, the Uncreated Creator, the Most Holy, Almighty, and Imminent One, we would do well to respond as the creatures and the elders who forever live in His presence. We ought to worship and surrender to Him. When we are tempted to think of anything else as more deserving than He is, we look to His holiness and perfection in everything He is. Seeing God, let us worship Him.