Unveiling the Symbolism in Revelation
The visions in this book run parallel to one another. They do not follow in chronological order. So we don't look to specific events to happen a specific time in history. Each vision contains certain principles, and these principles are being worked out in the lives of God's people throughout the ages. Each vision moves toward the grand finale when truth reigns. Truth always judges the false, deceptive, misleading counterfeit. The various visions are like the insets of a map, giving us a clearer account of certain aspects.
In the first vision Christ, the Son of Man, is revealed in the midst of the churches, and He will always be in the midst of His church, for He only has one church. The seven churches are seven aspects of one church, and these aspects are always present somewhere among the churches, and they will always be present until God establishes something new.
The second vision also begins with Christ, but we see Him in a different way. Here He is the exalted Lamb of God, sitting on the throne and unfolding the purposes of God for humanity. This vision is pivotal to the rest of the book. That is why it is important to have the right interpretation of it. If we are wrong here, we are wrong everywhere. A great number of modern expositors say that it contains a description of the 7-year tribulation, which many think is coming. But the knowledge of a future event would not bless people who were living in 95 AD, nor in the ages leading up to the event. John certainly would not have wept greatly over something coming thousands of years later.
In order to be blessed by these visions, we need to understand the vivid imagery portrayed throughout this book. The key or code to understanding them is found somewhere in the 66 books of the Bible. So we need to look to the scriptures to unlock the code.
In this vision John saw the spiritual fulfillment of what God had shown Moses on the mountain when he received a scale model of the tabernacle. Moses saw the tabernacle as a prophecy of Christ in picture form. In Christ it has become reality. In these visions there are many parallels to the tabernacle and to the events in Exodus.
The majestic drama John relates in this vision is a powerful representation of the sovereignty of our God! Our attention is immediately directed to the throne, to Him who is on the throne, and to those who are before and around the throne. The throne of God is the central focus! Everything has a relationship to the throne - on, before, or around! Everything in our lives is related to the throne!
"After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, `Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.' Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne." (vv.1-2)
"After these things." In the preceding chapters, the overcomer has been identified. As we overcome the obstacles that present themselves in our life, we are moving on in the Spirit. It is marvelous to receive the revelation that our sovereign God is in control of all the interplays of good and evil as they touch our lives. We cannot progress spiritually if we try to evade God's disciplines for our growth and development. If we try to escape, we are not building on truth. If we say we have truth, but are living according to the lie, we are in deception and present a false picture to the world.
Hypocrisy will never lead to an open door in heaven. A hypocrite knows truth, but uses it for his own selfish ends, and in the process he hurts others. However, when we receive truth and the discipline of God, they will enable us to recognize the lie and to overcome our selfish desires.
"A door standing open in heaven." Jesus Christ is the door. His death, resurrection and the pouring out of His Spirit, opened the door for us to receive divine revelation. The overcomer receives free access to ascend to higher realms of divine revelation. According to the symbolism represented by the tabernacle, entry into the throne room is only possible by passing from the outer court and through the first holy place.
The invitation to "come up here" came from a voice that was like the sound of a trumpet. John had heard that voice before. Just as Moses was summoned into the awesome presence of God by a trumpet sound to receive God's message, so John was summoned into the invisible universe of God's presence by a voice like a trumpet call. In order to understand how we are to function in the material universe, we first have to enter the invisible, spiritual universe. The cause for what is happening around us is in the spiritual realm. We see the effect, but not the cause. John was called out of the physical to see the world of causes - "to see what must take place after these things".
Immediately John was in the Spirit. This is important because the realm of the Spirit is beyond the reach of the natural. These things are about us, because we live and move and have our being in Christ, but the natural man can never see them. We won't hear the Spirit if we are engulfed in all the worldly things this world is enticing us with. The Holy Spirit has to take us out of the natural realm so we can see with the eyes of the Spirit. Our faculties have to come under the control of the Spirit. He reveals things to us; we don't conjure them up. Each of us has to hear this voice from deep within!
"And behold, a throne was standing in heaven." The first thing John saw when he stepped into this vast spiritual expanse was a throne. The throne symbolizes kingly authority and rule. Here it symbolizes God's absolute dominion and omnipotent power!
This gives us a tremendous feeling of peace! In the center, in the very core of everything that is happening, it says, "Behold, a throne." In the previous chapters we learned that the church was being bitterly persecuted. From its viewpoint, it did not seem as though Christ was in control. Becoming a Christian was almost like signing up for some kind of martyrdom. Altar calls saying, "If you want to enjoy health, peace and healing, come to Jesus" were foreign to them. It was more like, "If you want to lose your job and your life, come to Jesus." It was a very different approach. Under persecution it is very easy to lose a right perspective, and it doesn't feel as if God is in control.
Yet the very first thing John is shown is that God is in control! At the very center of the universe and in the very center of each of our lives, God has everything under control. Though Diocletian, the Roman emperor, could arrogantly proclaim, "I am lord and god, and everyone must worship me," he was wrong! Far above the throne of Diocletian, far above all the wars, and far above all the evil that we experience, there is a throne. Jesus saw that throne, for He said to Pilate, "You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above." (Jn. 19:11) God is always in control!
In Revelation 4 and 5 the throne is mentioned 17 times. That shows us that God wants us to understand that He is in control. He is a sovereign God, and He rules! The Israelites were delivered out of Egypt on the very day God had promised! When the time was fulfilled, He sent Jesus Christ! God has a plan, and He knows how to bring it to pass! He has the power and ability to do everything He has purposed to do!
This throne is in heaven. Where is heaven? We point to the sky and say heaven is somewhere beyond the blue. Simultaneously, the Chinese in China do the same - but we are pointing in opposite directions. Jesus taught us to pray, "Our Father who is in heaven," and the scriptures teach us that we are the tabernacle of the living God. Since God is in heaven and He is within us, it follows that heaven is in us. Heaven is where God rules. So if God rules us by His Spirit within us, the throne of God is also within us!
All spiritual realities are related to the throne of God. The One sitting on the throne is a corporate being - Christ, a many-membered body! God is a God of corporateness. In chapter 3:21 Jesus said, "He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." So on the throne is Christ together with the overcomers. Jesus put great stress on this oneness in His prayer in John 17!
"And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance." (v.3) A glory indescribable surrounds the One sitting on the throne!
The brilliance emanating from the One on the throne is compared to the brilliance of the jasper stone, which can be tinged with red, yellow or brown. A jasper stone is a crystal - a clear, shining, radiant crystal, revealing that God is light without any darkness. This compares with the awesome presence of God as seen in the shekinah glory above the mercy seat in the tabernacle. It speaks of the absolute holiness of God. And the sardius is a fiery, angry red, brilliant as a flame! God's holiness and purity demand wrath against all ungodliness.
Surrounding this brilliance is a rainbow spelling out His covenant! It gives us hope in the midst of His holy anger against unrighteousness! The rainbow is first mentioned after Noah stepped out of the ark. For the very first time human eyes saw a rainbow as the sun shone on the mist in the atmosphere. God said that the rainbow was the sign of His covenant that He would never again send a flood of that proportion onto the earth. This is an everlasting covenant of peace. History reveals that this thought is embedded in the hearts of many nations, for all are descended from Noah and his family.
The rainbow was like an emerald in appearance. The emerald is also one of the foundation stones of the new Jerusalem. An emerald has a green hue, and it symbolizes life. With the coming of spring we see new life in the budding trees and the dry grass turning green. So the rainbow reminds us of His covenant that brings life and peace!
"And around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads." (v.4) What do the 24 elders represent? Because the natural mind cannot see the imagery, it says that they represent the twelve apostles plus the twelve tribes of Israel.
1 Chronicles 24 gives us the key to true understanding. Under David the Levitical priesthood was divided into 24 courses under the leadership of 24 elders. They were chosen by families according to Aaron's 24 grandsons. Each course was named for one of them, and the male descendants of each grandson constituted one of the 24 courses throughout their generations. The priesthood was divided into 24 orders for an express purpose: "This was their order for coming on duty to serve in the house of the Lord, according to the procedure ordered for them by their forefather Aaron, as the Lord God of Israel had commanded him." (v.19 - Amplified)
Since the whole priesthood could not serve in the temple at the same time, they were divided into courses, and were assigned to work in shifts, from one Sabbath to the next Sabbath. All the members belonging to the course had to appear in the temple, and the work was divided among them. The point is that it took all 24 courses to make up the entire priesthood of God! The 24 elders sitting on 24 thrones round about the throne of God represent the complete priesthood of God. They reveal the glory of the priesthood! God wanted His perfect rule over Israel to come through the priesthood, but Israel rebelled and demanded a king. Here we see the 24 elders, the entire priesthood, on thrones around the throne. In 1 Peter 2:9 we read that we are a royal priesthood.
"Twenty-four elders." Numbers in this book have nothing to do with arithmetic. They describe ideas, not numerical facts. They are not to be used to try to figure out when this or that will happen. Twelve is the number of divine government, and two is the number of witness. So 24 is a witness to the government of God. The royal priesthood is a witness to what the government of God has accomplished. It is a witness to the power of God to change us! His rule has changed us from selfish, greedy, power-hungry individuals, to loving, compassionate and forgiving creatures! We are being changed into the image of Christ!
What a beautiful picture this is of Christ ruling in and through His priesthood! His throne is within us, and we are seated with Him in heavenly places. He is in the midst of us, in our spirit, ruling us from within!
The elders were seated. That's quite a statement when you think about it. In the presence of a holy God they were not groveling in the dust - as if there would be any dust there. No, they are seated. To be seated in God's presence means you are not running around doing your good works to obtain righteousness. The elders were not striving to obtain righteousness; they were resting in the reality that they had obtained it in Christ; not by their works, but by the grace of God. The entire priesthood is resting from its own works. This is the church that has existed throughout the ages - the church that has entered into the rest of God! (Heb. 4)
In their submission to the throne they have become rulers over their own lusts, and are therefore qualified to rule others. This rulership is always together with Christ! Eph. 2:6 says that God "has seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Notice that this has already happened. This is for now! We are seated with Christ because we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, and are resting from our own works for obtaining righteousness!
The elders were clothed in white garments. White, throughout the book of Revelation, consistently speaks of righteousness. Wherever there is a description of Christ's clothing, it is always white. Here, the entire royal priesthood is clothed in the righteousness of Christ through the covenant mercy of God! We have actually been brought into the kingdom of God and are under His government. Where He rules, it is heaven. We now experience life in a heavenly dimension.
Gold always symbolizes God's divine nature. Crowns are worn on the head, and people's thinking takes place in the head. Crowns are also the symbol of victory, so this pictures the overcomers - those who have overcome their natural thinking and whose actions now flow from the mind of Christ! They are not being led by their natural mind, but by the mind of Christ!
"Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder..." (v.5) What does all this mean? When John looked at the throne, it was as if that whole throne was filled with flashing, radiant, blazing crystal!
The lightning again reminds us of Mt. Sinai. As a prelude to the giving of the law, the whole mountain rocked and quaked, and there was lightning and thunder. It was a fearful experience! As John gazed upon this majestic display of fireworks and power, he was filled with awe at the holiness of God, the Law-giver! However, his feelings differed from the feelings of the people in Exodus 19, when the people rejected a personal relationship with God. There they saw Him as the One who demanded the absolute keeping of the law; any infraction of it would be punished. Here He is seen as the life-giver - the giver of the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus! He is the One who gives us spiritual life and also sustains it.
This awesome sight comes from the throne. We have already seen that His throne is within us. His words to us come swiftly, like lightning, giving us understanding and showing us the way in the darkness of our human understanding. Sometimes His words come with the ominous sound of thunder to deliver us from our bondage to the flesh. Once they have accomplished their work, we will speak with words that reveal the life of God that is resident within us. For those who reject this life, it will be a fearful experience; for those who desire it, it will be a refreshing, life-giving shower!
"And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God; and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind." (vv. 5b-6)
In this imagery we are reminded of the seven-branched lampstand in the holy place of the tabernacle, and it was kept burning continuously. It was a small model, yet it symbolized a great reality. These seven lamps are identified for us; they are the seven Spirits of God, symbolizing the Holy Spirit in His completeness! They appear as fire before the throne of God. This pictures the fact that no flesh can sit on the throne. The fire only burns and consumes that which is consumable and corruptible. Everything that is eternal and incorruptible will not be touched by the fire.
A sea of glass was also before the throne! In the scriptures, a sea represents a multitude of people. "But the wicked are like the tossing sea, for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up refuse and mud. `There is no peace,' says my God, `for the wicked.'" (Is. 57:20-21) A tossing sea is a description of those who do not have the peace of God. Their minds dwell on filth and rubbish, and their words toss these thoughts around.
Here, before the throne, it is peaceful. There is no raging tossing sea; there is no mud-slinging! A sea of glass - a people who have peace! "Like crystal." Crystal is clear; you can see through it. These people have nothing to hide; their words and their actions are in agreement. The peace of God is on their countenance. They have found that the grace of God is sufficient for every circumstance of life!
Then the four living creatures are brought into view. "And in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind." It is unfortunate that the KJV has translated the Greek word ZOON, as beasts, instead of living creatures. The Greek word THERION is used when a wild beast is meant, and we associate wild beasts with ferocious ravenous animals. The word ZOON "primarily denotes a living being (zoe, life)." (Vine's) This word is found about 20 times in Revelation, and it always refers to the creatures that stand before the throne. They give glory and thanks to God, and act in perfect harmony with His will.
These living creatures, or living beings (Wuest's translation) express life, and occupy the central position in the throne and around it. In the natural this is hard to fathom, for how can four creatures be in the throne and around it? So let's look at the spiritual message it is giving us.
In chapter 5:6 we find that a Lamb is standing with the four living creatures and the elders in the midst of the throne. These living creatures are very clearly representing the life of Him who is on the throne. This life, symbolized by the four living creatures, is not confined to God alone, but is also present in the Lamb and in the elders. This expresses our unity with Christ and the Father, and the fulfillment of Christ's prayer for unity in John 17.
Four, as "in the four corners of the earth," symbolizes completeness. So these beings are four representations of the very nature of the life of God. They represent His life in us in entirety. In Jesus Christ they were made visible to humanity. Since they are in the midst of the throne, we know that they symbolize the nature of the life that has dominion over every form of evil!
These creatures are not four different entities; they are four manifestations of one identity. "The first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle." (v. 7)
Again we go back to the Old Testament to receive greater understanding. When Israel camped around the tabernacle in the wilderness, they had four standards or flags under which they camped. (Numbers 2) According to Jewish tradition, the standard for Judah on the east was the lion; for Ephraim on the west it was the ox; for Reuben on the south it was the man; for Dan on the north it was the eagle. Thus natural Israel prefigured the true Israel that would reveal Christ and who He is in them.
The four gospels also show us these different aspects of Jesus Christ. In Matthew we see Him as the lion of the tribe of Judah; in Mark we see Him as the servant, the calf; in Luke we see Him as the perfect man, and in John as the eagle, soaring high above the problems of life! These are four depictions of the Lamb of God.
The first creature was like a lion. In chapter 5:5, Christ is identified as the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah. The lion symbolizes kingdom authority. Jesus revealed His kingdom authority by His life, His teaching and His miracles.
The second creature was like a calf or an ox. This identifies Christ as the patient servant, serving mankind. He "emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant..." (Phil. 2:7) He served humanity by feeding the multitudes, healing the sick, washing the disciples' feet, enduring rejection and the curse of dying on the cross for our redemption.
The third creature had a man's face. Christ came in the likeness of sinful flesh, in the form of man. As a man He felt the same weaknesses we do. He knew what it was like to feel hungry, thirsty, tired, disappointed, rejected, lonely and racked with pain. He learned these things experientially! He did these things for us, that we might see His grace, mercy and love!
The fourth creature was like a flying eagle! Christ is also pictured as a flying eagle. To a flying eagle the winds of adversity are no obstacle to its ascent, for it uses the air currents of these winds to its advantage. It lives in the heavenlies! This illustrates that the negatives of the earthy realm had no hold on Christ, and they have no hold on those who live in Him. They only answer to their heavenly calling! What a beautiful revelation of Jesus Christ! It is also a revelation of who Christ is in the life of the overcomers, as well as the life that the overcomers are to reveal to the world!
These four depictions of Jesus Christ reveal the nature of the sons of God. Those who share the throne in union with Christ need to have the same nature Christ has. His nature has been, and is being worked into them. For that nature to come into the visible realm, it has to pass through the birth canal - through pressures, molding and pain. When a baby passes through the birth canal, it receives its nourishment from the mother through the umbilical cord. Similarly, we receive our food and power for overcoming from the Holy Spirit as we experience the various trials and difficulties of life. All the interplays of good and evil bring us into maturity as we draw on Christ's life to sustain us. Without the winds of adversity we would be like a hothouse plant; we would not be deeply rooted, and therefore would wilt and die under pressure.
"And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, `Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.'" (v.8)
The six wings - six being the number of man - identify these creatures with man. Wings tell us that this man is moving in the heavenlies. He has left his natural understanding of spiritual realities and is functioning in the mind of Christ! "Being full of eyes," reminds us of the Holy Spirit. His eyes penetrate our pretense of spirituality so that we may come into reality. These creatures symbolize the life of Christ in the overcomers. - This life is symbolized by the royal priesthood (the overcomers) who are sitting on thrones around and in the midst of the throne! In order to share the throne with Christ, we must have the same nature that is in God and in the Lamb, as exemplified by the four living creatures.
These living creatures compare to the seraphim in Isaiah 6. Isaiah saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and the seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings, saying, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory." Since the seraphim have wings, we think of them as a higher order of angels. But our thinking needs to be submitted to the Holy Spirit's teaching.
Isaiah saw a vision similar to John's vision, both the seraphim and the living creatures having six wings. What Isaiah called seraphim, John called living creatures. Both refer to a new humanity whose thinking has been freed from earth's gravity! Earthly pleasures and riches have no attraction for this spiritual humanity. Their whole being is full of reverence and praise for the One who has wrought this great salvation in them! He is no longer One who is separated from them; He now indwells them; they have become one with Him!
The living creatures continually praise the Lord! "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come." They recognize His holiness and are in awe of it! Our Lord is separate from everything that is not holy. The Spirit of the Almighty God is not subject to union hours, for He works in His people day and night! We know that in God there is no night. The fact that these creatures are saying this day and night tells us that this is happening in the time realm - not after we die, but while we are still in the domain of day and night.
"Who was and who is and who is to come," also refers to God in the realm of time. In the eternal realm He always IS, for there is no time. He is the unchanging One, without beginning and without end! The dimension that is without time is hard for us to comprehend, for we are so clock-oriented. Past, present and future are expressions we use in our time frame.
He is the Almighty One who was. He was manifested in the flesh, for the Word was God. He once walked the streets of Nazareth. He was dead and He was resurrected.
He is the Almighty One who is. He is alive; His life is now manifested in His people, and is now being demonstrated in His many-membered body. Many Christians take great pleasure in remembering Jesus as He was in the days of His flesh, instead of seeing Him as He is now. Many still think that walking in the same land where Jesus once walked, and being baptized in the same river where Jesus was baptized, will give them a spiritual experience. Many non-Christians have walked those same streets and still reject Christ. The physical can never give us a spiritual experience!
We need to recognize that Christ is spirit, and we need to worship Him in spirit and in truth. "Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer." (2 Cor. 5:16) Christ is no longer in the flesh. "The Lord is the Spirit," and we now know Him spiritually! Our vision needs to be enlarged to see who Christ is in us!
He is also the Almighty One who is to come. He is the coming One. The word come (Greek: ERCHOMAI) stresses the arrival. This is not a physical coming in the sky. Those who function in natural thinking look for Christ outside of themselves, so they look to the skies to see Him appear in the natural heavens. They say that He lives within them, but they don't really believe it. If they believed it, they wouldn't look to an external coming again of Christ Jesus. If He dwells within us, we don't wait for Him to come externally. When the family is home, parents don't wait for their children to come home, for they are home.
We are not to cling to a fleshly idea of Jesus. This is illustrated by the appearance of Jesus to Mary at the tomb after His resurrection. Mary had lost Jesus once when He was crucified, and she did not want to lose Him again, so she clung to Him. The word to Mary is, "Stop clinging to Me for I have not yet ascended to My Father and your Father, to My God and to your God." In essence He was saying that Mary should not cling to a fleshly idea of Him. After He had ascended to the Father He would be poured out as Spirit. Then and only then, was she to cling to Him! She was to cling to who He is spiritually. We also are to cling to Jesus as He is now! He is no longer flesh - He is Spirit! Those who worship Him must worship Him "in spirit and in truth"! (John 4:22-24)
He indwells us; His Spirit is united with our spirit! As His government in us increases, our self-life will decrease. His increase in us refers to our spiritual growth. Since Christ never leaves us nor forsakes us, His presence is ever with us. God is ever faithful to accomplish His purpose in us. His presence with us, however, does not mean that we have come into maturity; neither does it come and go. He is with us continuously.
Christ comes to us in revelation. We notice this particularly when we go through turbulent times and experience difficulties, or when we ask God to interpret scripture to us. It is then that we receive illumination and a precious revelation of His loving care and guidance! His comings to us bring development and maturity to our spiritual growth, and make His nature visible in us. So often we only express the Christ nature in certain areas of our lives. Here we have the assurance that we are growing into His exact image! He lives within us, but if our carnal thinking rules us, it will block and hide this fact. When we live in the heavenlies, we live out of Christ's mind and are governed by His Spirit. This unveils the Christ in us. The world sees Him, and people either hate us or are drawn to Him!
To unveil the Spirit or nature of Christ we need to know Him. This is very different from only having intellectual knowledge of Him. If we do not know Him, our image of Him will be wrong, and we will display that wrong image. If we think He will torment throughout eternity the humanity He has created, even though they were ignorant of His love, we will also have a hardened attitude toward unbelievers. If we think He is legalistic, we will also be legalistic. If we think He tortures unbelievers, why shouldn't we? However, when we see Him in truth and grace and in the love that is beyond comprehension, we too will respond by having love and grace toward those who hurt us! We will marvel at His ability to make us a new creation and to mold us into His exact image!
So often our image of God is formed by the teachings of those who want to gain control over people by instilling fear in them. They say that God is punishing us for our sins, whenever something bad happens to us. They don't realize that God has put certain laws into effect, and when these laws are disobeyed, we automatically reap the results. The law of sowing and reaping states: if you plant wheat, you will reap wheat; if you jump out the window you will fall to the ground; if you touch fire, your finger will get burned. This is reaping what you sow; these are the results of our actions; they are not punishments or rewards. Jesus Christ deals with us when we sin - not to punish us, but to save us out of it. He did not come to condemn the world, but to save the world!
"And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever ("into the aeons of the aeons" - Concordant Literal)," and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying," (vv.9-10)
The living creatures represent the life of Christ that is in the twenty-four elders. They exhibit the life of the elders. So when the living creatures exalt the Almighty (the One who was and is and is to come), the elders (we, the entire royal priesthood) are exalting Him. We cannot exalt the LORD GOD without worshiping Him. Without worship, He is not exalted, for He is the One who always IS!
To worship means to make obeisance. It is translated from the Greek PROSKUNEO; from PROS, meaning towards, and KUNEO, meaning to kiss. It is interesting to note that this word is not defined in the scriptures. However, as we take into consideration the various ways in which it is used, we see that it is not confined to praise. Rather, it is an acknowledgement of who God is in His very essence and in His ways and in His claims. In this acknowledgement we assert His worthiness and our submission to His will. True worship can only take place when we submit our will to His will. Without submission, an act of worship is faithless and deceitful worship.
Why do you think the elders would cast their crowns of gold before the throne? We have already seen that the crowns of gold symbolize the mind of Christ. The thinking of the elders has become one with Christ's thinking. It is the final act in proclaiming that their will is completely in submission to God's will and government! It is like putting your signature to an agreement or covenant. Even as Jesus only did what the Father showed Him to do, so the 24 elders, who symbolize the complete royal priesthood, only do what the Father shows them to do! Here is a government where the co-rulers are in complete submission to the head - not because of an egotistical, forceful control that damns if you don't obey - but because the very life of their Creator permeates and indwells them. This is the life that is exemplified by the four living creatures!
"Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created." (v.11) As we are awed in our spirit by Christ's worthiness, we joyfully join in this beautiful chorus!
Overcomers have received a revelation of the greatness of our Lord God. He has created all for His purpose! Christ "is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together...For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him." (Col. 1:15-17,19) He is worthy to receive all glory and honor and praise!
God created for a purpose! Everything is to come under His rule because only His rule is good! He is good, His rule is good, and His purpose for humanity is good! He achieves His purpose, not by force, but by giving us His life! Glory to God!