The anticipated ecstasy of hymns, the crystal sea pictures the absolute, transparent holiness of God. Solomon was commissioned to reflect the pattern in the sea of his temple, provided for the cleansing of the priesthood. In this solid sea of glass, washing from sin and defilement is eternally out of the question. Nothing that defiles can enter into the dwelling place of God. Access to God's Heaven has as it's requirement holiness. It is a condition of entry and not a consequence. Absolute purity, the kind of righteousness that only Jesus Christ can provide, purchased by His blood and freely given to those willing to receive salvation by faith alone.
This crystal sea marks the boundary conditions of heaven. It is both heaven's floor and earth's ceiling. It is the extent of man's experience of the Divine when sought without Christ; a barrier of solid holiness. Revelation chapter 5 paints a picture of the character and nature of the God of heaven:
Lion like in His Sovereignty
Calf like in His salvation
Man like in His incarnation
Eagle like in the transcendence of His Spirit
Get a glimpse of Glory Get a glimpse of God
From a series of messages presented at Faskally House Family Week 2022 by Dr J Stewart Gillespie on the theme:
It has taken 4000 years for the Spirit of God to introduce us to heaven. Heaven is a place of many surprises, but perhaps the greatest of all surprises is that there are so few surprises! Heaven has a door; a door we know of well from John's gospel. Heaven opens with a voice familiar; that of Jesus Christ. Heaven is the throne room of God. Upon the throne of heaven we see one like a Jasper and Sardine stone; one who is the Son of God's right hand and the Son of His mother's sorrow. The throne is surrounded by a rainbow of covenant keeping glory; echoing the one who is life and light.
Here is heaven.
Here is the God of heaven.
This is the God we know.
This is Jesus Christ.
The first of 6 studies in the book of Revelation presented at Faskally House, families week in 2022, by Dr J Stewart Gillespie.
Our 3rd message in our series of studies in Revelation chapter 4 - What is heaven like?
So far for the student of the Bible our studies of heaven in the book of Revelation has yielded few surprises!
Heaven we can see:
Has a door (Rev 4:1) - with this we are familiar from John 10:9 - we know the door; "I am the door"
There is a voice (Rev 4:1) - a voice as a trumpet, the same voice John heard in Revelation chapter 1. In fact the first voice John heard in heaven was the last voice he heard upon earth - the voice of Jesus.
There is a throne (Rev 4:2) - a throne we know well of even from the Lord's prayer we are well aware that heaven is the domain of God's rule; "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
Upon that throne there reigns the Son (Rev 4:3) - symbolised by the Jasper and the Sardine stone. An explanation of this is given in the video above.
There is a rainbow - the symbol of a covenant keeping God from Genesis chapter 9
There is a crystal sea - the echo of which we find in the temple of Solomon. Here there is no need for cleansing. Purity and holiness is a condition for entering into heaven, nothing that defiles and can enter.
For those who miss the door of heaven and the provision of the cross work of Jesus Christ, heaven is a tragedy!
Here in Revelation chapter 4 we glimpse the character of God in the 4 living creatures.
In character God is:
Lion like - sovereign, powerful and in control - ordering the world and the lives of all that are in it, ordering each of the circumstances of our life.
Calf like - He is the one who has made the provision for sacrifice and reconciliation, He has made the sacrifice for the sinner. Six times in the New Testament we will read of the calf. Three times it is slaughtered in Luke chapter 15 for the prodigal son and twice it is used in reconciliation and sacrifice in Hebrews.
Face of a Man - He is the God who became man, incarnate, no one has seen God at any time, the only begotten who is in the bosom of the Father He has declared Him.
Eagle like - aerial, air born and soaring as the Spirit of God does (cf John chp 3). He is the one who convicts of sin, righteousness and judgment to come. He is the Spirit who reveals Christ and sanctifies the believer.
What is heaven like?
For those who never reach it heaven is tragic.
It is the place we do not reach but ought to have reached for the God of heaven was active in revealing Himself and seeking us all of our life; revealing Himself behind the scenes, sovereign as the lion, providing for teh salvation of teh sinner as the calf, incarnate as Jesus Christ and active as the Spirit of God.
Part 2 of our studies in Revelation chapter 4 - What is Heaven Like?
It is surprising that a book about God, from God doesn't say more than it does on the subject of the dwelling place of God! The bible is written of course precisely because man is isolated and alienated from heaven! We live on the wrong side of Eden to enjoy heaven with God. In reality however heaven is in essence a minority interest. The path to heaven is difficult and narrow and there few who embark on that road to eternal life. Heaven may well be a word found on the lips of many, especially at times of loss and bereavement but the heaven of popular imagination, as the universal destiny of all souls, the place of general reunions or the perpetuation of earthly pleasures bears no relationship to the heaven of Divine revelation.
In Revelation chapter 4 we gain a unique insight into what heaven is actually like. The heaven of Revelation chapter 4 is God centred. This heaven has a door, only one, the voice that calls His sheep on earth (John 10:3) is the same voice we hear in heaven, calling us through the same door (John 10:9). For John as for us all, the last voice we hear upon earth; the voice of the Lord Jesus (John 10:27); is the same voice, ever so familiar that we will hear in heaven. Heaven is the place of God's throne, it is the place where God rules and reigns. This ought to be no surprise to us. Perhaps even from our earliest repetition of the Lord's prayer we were aware that heaven was the place where "thy will be done"; heaven is the place of God's rule and the origin of God's Kingdom; "thy Kingdom come."
Seated upon that throne we glimpse the Son of my right hand (Benjamin), the Son of His mother's sorrow (Benoni); behold a Son (Reuben); symbolised by two stones from the breast plate of the High Priest of Israel. The jasper stone was the stone of Benjamin (the son of my right hand) and the sardine stone was the stone of Reuben: 'behold a son'. Here finally we behold the Son of His Father's right hand, who is also the son of His mother's sorrow 'Benoni.'
For heaven the floor is the crystal sea, and from the perspective of earth it becomes a crystal ceiling (Ezekiel chp1). The pattern of Solomon's temple echoed of this with the molten sea for the cleansing of the priests. In this place all cleansing is past. This sea is crystal clear, it does not function any longer to remove sin. This sea excludes sin, for in this place there is nought that defiles that can enter therein. There is no possibility of rolling out of earth and into heaven. Absolute holiness is a condition of entry and not a consequence. Only the "blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses from all sin."
Part 1 of our studies in Revelation chapter 4 - What is Heaven Like?
Of Thrones and Rainbows
It's been a long journey but finally we have got there: heaven! The mysterious object of human conjecture, spoken of little even in the Bible. Perhaps the greatest mystery of all concerning this, the dwelling place of God lies in the fact that it isn't that mysterious after all!
There is a door to heaven (Rev 4:1), we already knew about that from the words of the Lord Jesus; "I am the door, by me if any man enter in He shall be saved."
There is a voice, a voice familiar, a voice as a trumpet we have already heard in chapter 1. This is the voice of Jesus. The first voice John hears in heaven is the last voice he heard on earth! This is of necessity true for us all. Entrance is by the door and called by the voice of Jesus, the same voice who called us on this side of the eternal (John 10:3-4).
Whilst heaven is to us a place unfamiliar, our relationship with heaven is in some aspects not so different from our relationship with this world. Here upon earth we are ignorant of the familiar, understanding little of what lies behind the commonplace. Heaven is a place of the unfamiliar. It is a great paradox of Revelation that as we begin to understand the unfamiliar, that is heaven, light is shed on the familiar of earth. What we learn from heaven explains ever so much of what lies behind the reality of earth.
Heaven is the throne room of God; He reigns, He is in control, there is a plan and a purpose and meaning to life and creation, He brings to fulfilment those 300 ancient prophecies concerning Jesus. He moves empires and kingdoms, He orders and ordains the details of our life.
His throne is surrounded by the emblem of covenant promise; the rainbow. It is the ordered covenant keeping character of God that underpins the laws physical and spiritual behind the universe. We can no more break the laws of gravity and magnetism than we can the spiritual laws of reaping and sowing. He is reliable in the physical universe. He is reliable in the spiritual; His salvation is forever; "I give unto my sheep eternal life and they shall never perish."
The identity of the throne sitter seems obscured by two stones; the Jasper and the Sardine stone; yet turn them over and read the names written from the days of Exodus 28. These are the stones found upon the breast plate of the High Priest and containing inscribed within them the names of Jacobs sons; Benjamin, the son of my right hand, also named by his mother Rachael; Benoni and the Sardine stone of Reuben. The one upon the throne is the Son of His mother's sorrow, (Benoni) the Son of His Father's right hand; (Benjamin) can you 'behold a Son' (Reuben)?
Dr J Stewart Gillespie shares a study in Revelation chapter 4 - What is Heaven Like? In this chapter we gain a glimpse beyond earth into heaven. God has waited for thousands of years through the writing and inspiration of the Bible before He reveals to us what heaven is like! By the time we get to Revelation chapter 4 we find that the most surprising feature of heaven is that it is not that surprising after all. There is a door into heaven, a door we have heard of before in John chapter 10 There is a voice we hear in heaven, the same voice we heard upon earth in Revelation chapter 1. There is a throne in heaven, the same throne we have known of over many years, as we prayed, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." We glimpse the one seated upon the throne in the Jasper and the Sardine stone and perceive that here is the Son of God. We discern the absolute holiness of God in the crystal sea. Only Jesus is able to fit us for such a place. Only the precious blood of God's sin is able to cleanse us from all iniquity. This message is given in English and translated into Telugu.