0318 L8-The Lord God the Almighty

The Lord God the Almighty

April 22 • Bible Study Guide 8

Bible Background • REVELATION 4
Printed Text • REVELATION 4:1–6, 8–11 | Devotional Reading • REVELATION 19:1–8

Aim for Change

By the end of the lesson, we will: RESEARCH the significance of the symbolism of the heavenly worship in Revelation; LONG for the time when God will be worshiped in eternity; and WORSHIP and give praise to our awesome, fearsome God.

In Focus

Jamie began to cry as she walked onto the stage. At the graduation ceremony, she was overwhelmed by all the love and praise she heard from the crowd. As they announced her name, she walked over to receive her degree in Literature. Her mind began to reflect on all of the tests, papers, late nights, and early mornings she had endured in order to be here. Regardless of all of those obstacles, Jamie successfully graduated. She had mastered many subjects from sciences to literature, and was on her way to being a teacher as she had always dreamed. She had done so well in her classes that she was graduating with the highest honors available. Not only that, she had helped the education department secure grant money for continuing research in effectively teaching across cultures. She had achieved far beyond what others expected from her in her small town, and even exceeded her own expectations. More importantly she had gained a sense of self-confidence while in college. She knew who she was and who God created her to be.
As she walked across the stage, she heard cheers from the crowds, but one voice stood out in particular. The voice said, “That’s my baby! That’s my baby!” As Jamie smiled, she continued to hear the voice say, “You did it, baby. You deserve it.”
Jamie receives praise for who she is and for her accomplishments, yet God is infinitely more worthy of praise than any human because of who He is and for what He has done. What are some things you have to praise God for this week?

Keep in Mind

“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11, KJV).

Words You Should Know
A. Shew (Revelation 4:1) deixo (Gk.)—To point to something and thus draw attention to it.
B. Throne (v. 2) thronos (Gk.)—Symbolical expression of God’s sovereign majesty.

Teacher Preparation
Unifying Principle—Give Honor to Whom It is Due. People wonder to whom they should give ultimate allegiance. Who deserves to be worshiped and praised? Revelation teaches that God alone is worthy of all praise, wonder, and awe.
A. Pray that your students worship time will be enriched.
B. Pray that the church as a whole will place worship of the Lord above all else.
C. Memorize the Keep in Mind verse.

O—Open the Lesson
A. Ask one of the students to open with prayer.
B. Invite everyone to read aloud the Aim for Change and the Keep in Mind verse.
C. Ask a student to read the In Focus story aloud.

P—Present the Scriptures

A. Ask the students to read the Focal Verses.
B. Use The People, Places, and Times; Background; and In Depth sections to clarify the biblical text.
E—Explore the Meaning

A. Split the class in half to answer the Discuss the Meaning section.
B. Have a volunteer read the Lesson in Our Society section.

N—Next Steps for Application
A. Encourage the class to apply the Make It Happen section to their lives.
B. Close in prayer.

Worship Guide

For the Superintendent or Teacher
Theme: The Lord God the Almighty
Song: “Glory to Glory to Glory” by Fred Hammond
Devotional Reading: Revelation 19:1–8

Daily Bible Readings

MONDAY
God Promises Mercy to All People
(Genesis 9:8–17)

TUESDAY
Job’s Pain Determined in Heavenly Court
(Job 1:6–12)

WEDNESDAY
Moses Summoned by God
(Exodus 19:20–25)

THURSDAY
Jesus, Our Example on the Throne
(Hebrews 12:1–6)

FRIDAY
Vision of Four Living Creatures
(Ezekiel 1:5–14)

SATURDAY
Elders Worship and Praise God Together
(Revelation 19:1–8)

SUNDAY
Heavenly Worship
(Revelation 4:1–6, 8–11)

KJV

Revelation 4:1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, LORD God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
9 And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,
10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

NLT

Revelation 4:1 Then as I looked, I saw a door standing open in heaven, and the same voice I had heard before spoke to me like a trumpet blast. The voice said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after this.”
2 And instantly I was in the Spirit, and I saw a throne in heaven and someone sitting on it.
3 The one sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones—like jasper and carnelian. And the glow of an emerald circled his throne like a rainbow.
4 Twenty-four thrones surrounded him, and twenty-four elders sat on them. They were all clothed in white and had gold crowns on their heads.
5 From the throne came flashes of lightning and the rumble of thunder. And in front of the throne were seven torches with burning flames. This is the sevenfold Spirit of God.
6 In front of the throne was a shiny sea of glass, sparkling like crystal. In the center and around the throne were four living beings, each covered with eyes, front and back.
8 Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty—the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.”
9 Whenever the living beings give glory and honor and thanks to the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever),
10 the twenty-four elders fall down and worship the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever). And they lay their crowns before the throne and say,
11 “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.”

The People, Places, and Times

Patmos. John writes the book of Revelation while in prison on the island of Patmos, a rocky volcanic island in the Aegean sea. Just as other Christians were being persecuted for their faith (Revelation 2:2–3, 9–10, 13), John is being persecuted for his faith by being exiled to this island (Revelation 1:9).
John. Since the book was written in the mid AD 90s, John is now advanced in age. Faithful for many years, he has suffered greatly, and now he is all alone to live out the rest of his life in exile. To his surprise, Jesus shows up; He does not give a word of encouragement, but rather work to do. Even though John is an old man, he still has purpose that God will use.
How can persecution for our faith produce beneficial outcomes?

Background

This text includes symbolism referencing the Old Testament Scriptures, including Daniel 7, Isaiah 6, and Ezekiel 1. All of these prophets were not only privileged to witness this vision of God on His throne, but also were obligated to tell others what they had witnessed. Similarly, John is now privileged to see this great vision of God on His throne, and also obligated to share his vision.
John’s vision of the throne room can also be seen as God’s heavenly Temple. It is similar to the pattern of the earthly Temple in at least four ways. The Holy of Holies (from Solomon’s Temple) and God’s throne room both represent His actual presence. The earthly Temple had seven candlesticks; John’s vision contains seven lamps of fire. Cherubim are depicted around the mercy seat of the Temple; here, four living creatures are around the throne. Fourth, the priests were charged to lead the community into worship (sacrifices, atonement, etc.), while the elders lead worship to God. While there will be no physical temple in heaven (Revelation 21:22), the function the Temple served will still exist.
Why is it essential to develop a discipline of continually worshiping and praising God?

At-A-Glance

1. Invitation to the Throne Room 
(Revelation 4:1–3)
2. The Throne Room (vv. 4–6)
3. Worship in the Throne Room (vv. 8–11)

In Depth

1. Invitation to the Throne Room (Revelation 4:1–3)
While John and other believers are being persecuted for their faith, Jesus appears to him—not to reward John for his faithful discipleship, but instead because Jesus has work for him to do. In this chapter, God uses John to witness the throne room in heaven. What John sees is highly symbolic, and many parts of the Scripture refer to Old Testament passages.
John sees God seated on His throne. The throne is symbolic of two ideas: God’s sovereignty and His majesty. His sovereignty informs us that God is in control. What a comfort to believers being persecuted for their faith! While a king sits on the throne on earth, God is seated on His throne in heaven. Additionally, God’s throne also shows us His majesty. John uses three rare and honorable stones in antiquity to describe the beauty he sees.
What circumstances can cause us to doubt God’s sovereignty in the world?

2. The Throne Room (vv. 4–6)
Surrounded by the throne of God are twenty-
four lesser thrones, where the elders are seated. While many commentators disagree about who the elders are, more important is their presence and function. Their presence represents those who have been faithful and have overcome (Revelation 3:21). Their function is to worship God by prostrating themselves and offering their crowns (i.e., their glory) to Him. While God is seated on His throne, John sees lightning and hears thunder. Similarly, when Moses went up the mountain to meet God in Exodus 19:16, he heard thunder, lightning, and the voice of a trumpet. These sounds and sights represent the manifest presence of God.
John witnesses a heavenly worship service. The elders portray humanity, while the living creatures portray creation. While God is seated on His throne in majesty and power, all humanity and all creation will worship Him.
Why can we predict total victory over our present circumstances based on the presence of the elders in the throne room?

3. Worship in the Throne Room (vv. 8–11)
The proper response of being in God’s presence is worship. Our English word “worship” comes from two Old English words: “worth-ship.” In other words, worship has to do with something being worth or worthy of the praise. Here the passage tells two reasons why God is worthy of praise—because of who God is (4:8) and for His accomplishment of creation (4:11).
In the throne room, the living creatures and the elders offer hymns to God. The four living creatures give God glory simply for being Him when they say, “Holy, holy, holy.” Holy is the best way to describe God. Here, His holiness describes how He is totally separated from anything in creation. In other words, nothing in all creation comes close to God. In contrast, the elders praise God for what He has done. They recognize and confess that God is the Creator of all things, thus giving Him His due praise.
Why is God ranked above all and worthy of praise and honor?

Search the Scriptures
1. List four similarities between the earthly Temple (Solomon’s Temple) and the throne of God.
2. What are two reasons that God is worthy of praise (vv. 8, 11)?

Discuss the Meaning
1. The four living creatures and the twenty-
four elders continuously give God praise. What prevents us from worshiping Him?
2. God on the throne represents His power and control. When faced with injustice or persecution, how can believers remind themselves that God is in control?

Lesson in Our Society
In the 20th century, W.E.B. Du Bois suggested that African Americans have double consciousness—self-perception and also perception by others. In other words, African Americans must be aware of themselves—their achievements, their history, their reality—but also the perception of the dominant culture around them. At times, it can be quite a struggle to see oneself through the lens of White America while knowing that lens is somewhat distorted and not truly representative.
This might be particularly useful for African American Christians living in the 21st century. Even though time has changed, the principle has not. We live in a world filled with sin that manifests itself in violence, immorality, injustice, discrimination, racism, and sexism. We live in a world that hates good and loves evil.
However, as Christians, we also live with the reality that God is in control. Though injustice and inequity are real, so is God, and He is just and fair. So even though we live in this world, we live for another world: the kingdom of God. This is why we pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done.” It reminds us that this earth is temporary. We are sojourners, strangers, and pilgrims on a journey to the new heaven and the new earth, where God’s ethics of love and justice rules.
How can our trust in God be developed during times of persecution?

Make It Happen

• Write yourself a letter that testifies of the character of God based on the reasons for worshiping Him.
• Examine the beauty and complexity of God’s creation (i.e., grass, flowers, birds, sun, trees). What does creation tell you about the Creator?
• Start every day with an affirmation about the character of God, e.g., “He is good” (Psalm 136:1). Remind yourself this truth before trouble comes.

Follow the Spirit
What God wants me to do:
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______________________________________
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Remember Your Thoughts
Special insights I have learned:
______________________________________
______________________________________
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More Light on the Text

Revelation 4:1–6, 8–11
1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. 2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
The opening phrase “after this” signals a transition and conclusion of the seven prophetic messages to the seven churches that the resurrected Jesus spoke to John. The word idou (Gk. ee-DOO), translated “behold,” draws attention to what follows: a door in heaven and a voice that sounded like a trumpet. Most commentators suggest that when a heavenly trumpet is sounded, it is time to listen, because God is about to speak (Revelation 1:10; Exodus 19:16). And speak He does! God commanded John to come up and be shown great things that had yet to come.
When the revelation began, John says he was in the Spirit (1:10). Here, there appears to be a connection between John being “in the Spirit” and being in heaven. Unbridled communion with God is always a working of the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). No earthly invocation is adequate to tantalize God to invite us into His presence. No church program is so appealing to Him that He is compelled to show Himself. The church enters into His presence; He does not enter into ours. The invitation comes from Him alone. We enter His presence boldly, not because of what we do, rather because of what He has done (Hebrews 4:14–16).
John saw a throne set in heaven, and the One who sat on it. This throne, the place of absolute authority and power, is the focus of this section, and Jesus declared that heaven is God’s throne (Matthew 5:34).
If heaven is God’s throne and John saw a throne set in heaven, then heaven is filled with the presence of God. The word “set” (Gk. keimai, KAY-my) implies more than what occupies time and space. In this passage, the term refers to something that has continuity and purpose.
When God’s throne and the One sitting on the throne are the subject, all thoughts must be directed to who He is, what He has done, and why we have been granted the privilege to be in His presence. When God is the focus of praise and adoration, nothing else, however majestic, really matters. All sights and sounds become nothing more than distractions unless they also are focused on Him. John was in God’s presence, and He cannot be denied.

3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
God the Father sits on the throne. The question—or rather dilemma—for John then is describing the incomprehensible and indescribable. John does not even try. He does not describe God in anthropomorphic terms, but instead portrays the Lord’s splendor and glory by using the imagery of precious stones: jasper, sardine, and emerald. The stones here are a part of the fuller list of gems describing the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:11, 18–21). The rainbow is a sign of covenant between God and humanity, made with Noah after the Flood (Genesis 9:8–17). This scene prepares the reader for the visions that follow. God’s judgment will be tempered with mercy.
Many scholars discuss which contemporary gemstones might be similar to the stones John describes, and what they could represent. Some suggest the jasper was a diamond, the sardine stone was red, and the emerald as today was green. The jasper and sardine were the first and last stones on the breastplate of the high priest (Exodus 28:17, 20), so these stones could represent God’s holiness and wrath. On the other hand, the rainbow is evidence of God’s completed work of grace and salvation. In His presence, there are no imperfections and no tasks left undone.

4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
Scholarly discussion of the meaning of the thrones and the elders seated on them varies widely. Some scholars argue that the elders’ thrones symbolize the thrones the redeemed will share in God’s authority. Some believe the twenty-four elders represent angels who have significant responsibilities, while others believe the elders represent the redeemed of the Lord, because they are sitting, clothed in white, and their heads are crowned with gold. The twenty-
four elders have been thought to refer to the twelve tribes in the Old Testament and the twelve apostles of the New Testament. It is most probable, however, that these elders are the redeemed or represent the redeemed, for they clearly pay homage to the Master by offering praise on behalf of the saints (Revelation 5:8–10). What is most important is not who the elders are, but rather what they are doing: sitting down in the presence of the Lord God.
John records is that the elders are sitting rather than voicing praise. Maybe they are so emotionally consumed and so in awe of God that their silence is the only form of praise they can give. Sometimes in His presence, the best thing to do is just to be mesmerized because He just is. John does not end his description of the elders with what they were doing, but what they were wearing—white garments.
John says the elders “were clothed,” which in Greek is in the perfect passive tense. The perfect tense conveys action completed in the past with ongoing effects. The passive suggests the elders had nothing to do with clothing themselves. They were as little children clothed by the caring hand of a loving parent. The elders’ presence in heaven was all God’s doing.
The elders also wore crowns (Gk. stephanos, STEH-fon-oce) on their heads. These crowns were not diadema, the crown of kings. Some suggest the crowns represent the authority of the saints, but the Scripture’s overwhelming testimony is that the crowns are given to the victorious (2 Timothy 4:8; Revelation 3:11). They testify of what God has done, not what the redeemed have done. As on Earth, a crown’s value comes from the position of the one who bestows the crown. John envisions these elders as having only one responsibility—to point to God’s immeasurable, incomprehensible grace.

5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. 6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
John has clearly stated that the focus of the heavenly beings is the complete, unadulterated adoration of God. In fact, everything in heaven focuses on God. All of creation has but one purpose: to glorify Him.
Most would agree that the thunder and lightning convey the awesome presence of God. The seven Spirits refer to the perfection and fullness of God as evidenced in the work of the Holy Spirit (see Isaiah 11:2). The sea of glass might be a representation of the Old Testament laver (called a sea), where the high priest had to wash prior to ministering before the Lord (2 Chronicles 4:6).
The four beasts possibly represent the cherubim or seraphim. Each had six wings like the seraphim—two wings to cover their eyes, two to cover their feet, and two to fly and do the bidding of God (Isaiah 6:2). The wings of the living creatures suggest swiftness to carry out God’s will. The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders cry day and night, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” The only other instance where “holy, holy, holy” is used is in Isaiah’s vision of the throne of God (Isaiah 6:3).
The conclusion the angels declare in that passage is that the whole Earth is full of His glory, and so it is in heaven. The praise of the living creatures is directed to the attributes of God—which are central to John’s vision of God both here and through the entire book—His holiness, power, and eternity.

9 And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth forever and ever, 10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
As the elders testify to the living beasts’ worship, they can do nothing but fall down before Him, give back the crowns they had been given, and declare His praises. It does not matter where the praise comes from or who gives it. When God is praised, the honorable response is that everyone else in the room also worship because He is “worthy” (Gk. axios, AX-ee-os). God supremely deserves to receive the glory, honor, and power given to Him.
Through John, the Spirit of the Lord says to the church that the reasons the redeemed are to offer continual, unbridled praise to God are: (1) all things were created by Him, and (2) all things were created for His pleasure. God has one design for us: to glorify Him. God is complete in every way. He is self-sufficient, because the whole world and everything in it is His (Psalm 50:12). Yet, God created us anyway; we are the unnecessary necessity, made in God’s image to glorify Him.
Too often, God’s people hold back their praise. Life is chaotic, and problems can be persistent. However, God is on the throne. All things are created by His will and for His pleasure. Praise and thank Him for what He has done, praise and adore Him for who He is, and praise and honor Him because He didn’t have to do it. Hallelujah to the Lamb!

Say It Correctly

Sardine. sar-DEEN.
Carnelian. car-NEE-lee-en.

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