In many ways, the book of Revelation is like poetry; it uses a lot of symbolic language and is subject to individual interpretation. Because of that, there isn’t one single uniform explanation for each thing mentioned. Below are some of those ideas. Read chapter 4 along with this sheet and think through them. Then think about how you might interpret the doors, the throne of God, the elders, and the 4 creatures.
In chapters 1-3, the scene is on earth, the letters to the churches, in chapter 4, the scene changes to the court of heaven.
4:1—“A door is standing open.” Including this verse, a door has now been mentioned 3 different times in Revelation, but each door represents something different. One is the door of opportunity, one is the door to the human heart, and one the door of revelation. Read each verse (3:8, 3:20, and 4:1) and see which you think is which.
We read about the throne of God—a common Old Testament theme. Mention can be found in 1 Kings 22:19, Psalm 47:8, and Isaiah 6:1—read each of these passages, then answer the question: “What does the ‘throne of God’ represent for you?”
When God is described on the throne, John doesn’t give God human characteristics. Instead, John uses images of precious jewels and light. He names 3 jewels—Jasper, Sardian, and Emerald. For us, that might be like diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. Which represent purity, wrath, and grace. If you were to describe God, not in human form, what would God look like?
24 elders—there are lots of ideas about who these 24 elders are. Here are three: 1) they represent the 24 groups of priests who ran the synagogue, their presence in heaven is to guide all to worship. 2) 12 patriarchs (the sons of Jacob) + 12 apostles (the disciples). 3) They symbolize the faithful people of God—12 to represent Jews (like the 12 tribes), and 12 to represent Gentiles (an equivalent number). Which explanation makes the most sense to you?
4 creatures: like the elders, there are lots of thoughts on what these creatures represent. Here are a few:
The best of what we can offer: nobility, strength, wisdom, swiftness.
The work of Christ: Royal power, priestly work, incarnation, gift of the Holy Spirit
4 biblical covenants: with Adam, with Noah, with Moses, and with Christ.
Which animal do you think is represented by each characteristic, work, or covenant suggested?
What do you think they represent?