“Around the throne were 24 thrones;…”(cf. Rev. 4:1-11)
Why 24? It’s obvious number 12 is a number of organization. Here it seems to be double. Some say it’s the 12 tribes and 12 apostles. That may be reading too much into it. Some say it’s the Aaronic priesthood developed by David in 1 Chronicles 24:7-19. There’s been much fight over who these elders. Some say they’re saints, and some say they’re angels of a higher order. There is a real ambiguity, and we certainly cannot be dogmatic in this area. Thrones point to royal estate and white is the color of triumph. The crowns of gold also emphasize the high estate of these exalted beings. this ‘crown’ is the greek word ‘stephanos’ where we get the word Stephen from. It was ordinarily a victor’s crown, but in some sense like this, it seems to be an allusion to the royal crown but it’s used throughout the book of Revelation quite often this concept of crowns. Then it continues in verse 5, “and out of the throne came flashes of lightning, voices and of thunder”, now this is the idea of a symbol of God’s presence as He came down Mount Sinai (cf. Exo. 19:16-19). God was there and spoke to them. Here Jesus Christ speaks to them in the accompanying Fiat; a natural phenomenon that God spoke in. Because back in Rev. 1:10 it was Christ that spoke like a trumpet, and here that same voice is used again. Now “and there were seven spirits of God” – this has been described as the Holy Spirit earlier back in chapter 1 verse 4, and chapter 3 verse 1, but this allusion to in chapter 4 and chapter 5 verse 6 won’t fit the Holy Spirit. Some say, it’s like Zachariah chapter four, in the sense of God knowing what’s happening. Some say it links the Spirit of Jesus and the Holy Spirit together. I already think we’re being too dogmatic when we say this phrase always refers to the Holy Spirit. Now the next verse, “…also in front of throne there was something like a sea of glass as clear as crystal” – Many think that John is speaking of an ocean in heaven above the firmament. Others think it refers to the laver in Solomon’s temple (cf. 1 Kings 7:23). He does not say there was a sea but “as it were a sea”. John is not giving at exact description but speaking in symbols. It could be a symbol of conveying God’s ineffable and absolte holiness that none of us can approach as we are.
Now John speaks of four living creatures. They seem to be a composite of creatures. They are much like the cherubim of Ezekiel 1, and 10, but they seemed to be combined with a seraphim of Isaiah 6. They seem to be a composite picture because down in verse 8, when the “holy, holy, holy” is what the seraphim do, and they are covered with eyes all around. They are all-seeing, their eyes being toward God and towards creation. They had different faces, and notice if you would where it mentions “holy, hoy, holy”, that’s the song of the seraphim. It’s a Hebrew superlative, it speaks of the ultimate holiness of God. And notice as it says, “The Lord God almighty” – the term Lord reflects the Old Testament term Elohim, and the term Almighty reflects the Old Testament El Shaddai which is the patriarchal name of God. “who was, and is, and is to come” is the name of Yahweh which means the “I Am that I Am” of Exodus 3:14. It’s mentioned in verses 9 and 10. I think it’s a definition of the covenant name for God – the Everliving only Living One. Whenever the living creatures give glory to Him who sits on the throne, the elders join in. they prostrate before Him and worship Him, and throw down their crowns expressing the truth that He alone reigns. All other sovereignty must yield to His. The 2nd hymn sung is in verse 11, and it’s about God as Creator, while the first hymn in the latter part of verse 8 speaks of the holiness of God. these hymns are found throughout the book of Revelation. The continual theme of this book seems to emphasize the fact that God has not abandoned the world. He created all things and made them for His own purpose. We must not think that evil is in control. Evil is real, but the divine purpose still stands.