Revelation 4:9-11 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 "Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created."
We learn two things as we read this message from Jesus. We are to give glory, honor and thanksgiving to God Who rules over all forever and ever. How do we give God glory? We give God glory by giving Him the credit He deserves for every good thing He does through us and that He does in the world. How do we give God honor? We proclaim to Him and everyone that He is of the highest value. How do we give thanksgiving to God? We acknowledge all He has done for us and others with much gratitude.
The second thing we learn from this divine revelation of the throne room is that we give the Lord all authority, reward and profit He has given to us (“cast our crowns before the throne”) and acknowledge all glory, honor and power belongs to Him because He created all things.
Are you giving all glory, honor, power and thanks to God? Begin today and never stop. Practice the environment of heaven in this sinful world and let people bask in a little bit of heaven on earth.
Revelation 4:1-8 After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. 3 And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, 6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. 8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!"
Chapters four and five reveal what the Lord wants us to know about heaven. When Paul was caught up into the third heaven in about 40 AD, he saw things that man is not permitted to tell (2 Corinthians 12:1-4). The books about people going to heaven and telling us what it is like are not to be read as authoritative. In Revelation we have John writing what the Lord wants us to know about His throne room in Revelation chapters four through five. Books like Heaven is for Real are inaccurate and to be avoided.
John was in the Spirit when he saw the throne room of God and what was to take place in the future, that is the time beyond when this Revelation was given, about 90-95 AD. Much of the language concerning the throne room is outside the ability of most of us to picture in our day and age. John seeks to describe God on His throne, twenty-four elders on thrones around God’s throne. The elders were in white garments, which signify purity and the righteous works they have done. The golden crowns refer to being appointed as godly rulers serving God. Who they are is not given us in the scriptures. We have the seven burning torches, the seven spirits of God before the throne symbolizing the Holy Spirit, the third person in the Trinity (Revelation 1:4-5). The four living creatures were around the throne. One was like a lion, another like an ox, another with the face of a man, and the fourth was like an eagle. Each living creatures had six wings full of eyes, and continually worshiped the Lord God Almighty who has always existed. We are not given the meaning of these creature’s attributes. In front of the throne was a sea of glass. Again, we are not told the meaning of this sea of glass.
What we are given is a picture of God’s throne room. We don’t need to understand all the details in order to know the meaning. God rules over heaven and earth. There are personal beings created in the first six days of creation other than human beings, however unlike human beings, they are not created in the image of God as man is. God is deserving of worship and is Holy. There is no sin in the throne room of God. What we are seeing through the written revelation is beyond what we have experienced now, but is what we will experience when we are with Christ when we die or when He returns. There is life beyond what we now experience.
Revelation 3:14-22 "And to the angel (pastor) of the church in Laodicea write: 'The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the Ruler of God's creation. 15 "'I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'"
Jesus presents Himself to the pastor and church in Laodicea as the Ruler of all creation who faithfully tells the truth. Jesus knows the works of the pastor and saints of this local church are as useless as lukewarm water to quench a thirst, invigorate the body or promote healing. The pastor and saints view themselves as rich, prospering and in need of nothing. Laodicea was a prominent textile center, banking center and medical center known for healing salves. The local church was prospering right along with the city, but not in the eyes of Jesus, the faithful witness of the truth. In light of eternity, Jesus assesses the condition of the pastor and saints as wretched (see Romans 7:24), pitiable (see 1 Corinthians 15:19; Greek word means “deserving of sympathy for one’s pathetic condition”), poor, blind and naked. What a difference from the assessment of the pastor and church of their own condition! All people can be so deceived of their true condition if they do not regularly meet with Jesus and get a true diagnosis of their condition. What would Jesus say to your pastor and local church? Would it differ from what you think? Ask Jesus to give you a true assessment of yourself, your pastor and your fellow saints.
Jesus counseled the pastor and saints to buy gold from God. He was telling them to begin to do the works God had assigned them in the manner God assigned them (gold, silver, and precious stones type of works) and not continue in the works of the flesh (wood, hay and stubble kind of works; see 1 Corinthians 3:10-15). Gold, representing God’s assigned works, survives the fire of Judgment. Jesus counseled the people to begin doing works of righteousness with their worldly wealth and not be naked (see Luke 16:9-13; Revelation 3:4-5; 19:8). Jesus counseled the saints to buy eye salve, which represents truth, so they would not be blind to God’s will. He stood at their door knocking to be let in to give His rebuke and correction meant to move them to be zealous and repent. His discipline was an act of love.
Are you meeting with Jesus daily in the Word and Prayer to determine your true condition and receive His counsel on what to be doing and how? We can be deceived into uselessness when living in prosperity according to the world. We avoid being wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked by keeping the counsel of Jesus.
Revelation 3:7-13 "And to the angel (pastor) of the church in Philadelphia write: 'The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. 8 "'I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie- behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet and they will learn that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. 12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'
Jesus presents Himself to this local pastor and church, that has little power in Philadelphia, as the holy, true and in charge God. What Jesus opens no one can close and what Jesus closes no one can open. The pastor and believers are being persecuted by Jews ruled by Satan (see John 8:44), yet they will not be snuffed out. Jesus has opened the door for this local church to get the gospel message out in word and deed and the synagogue of Satan cannot close their ministry down. The pastor and church obeyed the word of God to patiently endure and didn’t deny Jesus’ name. In return Jesus will keep them from the time of trial that will be coming upon the entire world population and make the persecuting people bow at their feet in defeat. The command to the pastor and church is to hold fast to getting the gospel out, so that no one can seize their crown (reward) by making them stop telling people the good news of Jesus Christ. The ones who conquers (overcomes by believing Jesus is the Son of God, 1 John 5:5) will be a pillar in New Jerusalem forever and have God’s name written on them (sign of ownership). Those who have the ability to hear God (1 Corinthians 2:12) listen to what Jesus is saying to all the local churches.
Do you have the ability to hear what Jesus is saying? You do if you have repented of your sins and believed the gospel (Mark 1:15; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 10:9; Ephesians 1:13-14). Listen to the message of Jesus to the Philadelphians that is for all of us who believe and obey what He says by faith. Nobody can stop us from doing the will of God! Go back over the message to the Philadelphia believers and make sure you practicing it in your daily life.
Revelation 3:1-6 "And to the angel (pastor) of the church in Sardis write: 'The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. "'I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. 4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'
Jesus is addressing the pastor of the local church in Sardis. Jesus speaks with the authority of His knowledge of the pastor and church as He has the seven spirits of God. Jesus speaks with the authority of a secure relationship with each of the seven local church pastors since He has each of them in His hand – remember that Revelation 1:20 tells us the stars are the angels (pastors). Jesus tells the pastor that He knows the works of the pastor and church are not complete in His sight. He tells the pastor and church that they have a reputation for being alive, but are really dead and need to wake up and get the work completed that God has given them to do. The pastor is to remember what he has received and heard. He is to obey and repent of the sin of not completing his assigned work. The local church is like the pastor and also needs to wake up and get God’s work done. The pastor is to set the example for the church (1 Timothy 4:12). In Sardis, the pastor was setting a poor example and the church was following his poor example. Jesus tells the pastor the consequence of not waking up and getting his work done is His opposition to the pastor and church.
Some in this local church have not soiled their garments with the sin of not completing their assigned work. The obedient believers will walk with Jesus in white, for they are worthy. The ones who conquer will be clothed in white garments, the garment of righteousness, and will never have their names blotted out of the book of life. Those who are not obeying need to consider if their names are written in the book of life. Real faith has a desire to obey and complete God’s work (Matthew 7:21; Romans 1:5; James 2:18-26; Ephesians 2:8-10). Intellectual faith is merely like the faith of a demon, a faith that acknowledges Jesus exists, but no desire to obey Him (James 2:19).
Is your reputation for being alive acknowledged by Jesus and backed with a desire to complete the work God has assigned you? What would Jesus say about your progress on the works He has prepared for you to do? Ask God to reveal what your reputation is in His sight. If you need to wake up, repent and obey, then do it right now. If you are awake and working on your God-given assignments keep expecting the Lord to fulfill your work with His power.
Revelation 2:24-29 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. 25 Only hold fast what you have until I come. 26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'
The first part of the letter was addressed to the pastor (Verses 18-23). Jesus commends what the pastor is doing right and brings rebuke and correction to him for his toleration of a self-proclaimed prophetess and her message that is leading members of the local church away from the truth. The second part of the letter is written to the pastor and those in the local church who have not departed from the truth and followed the teaching of Jezebel and learned “the deep things of Satan”.
The believers in Thyatira who stood firm in the truth have no further burdens laid on them. They are doing their assigned work given them by the Lord and bearing fruit that remains. Jesus informs these saints that those who conquer and keep the works He has assigned them to do, will be given authority over the nations and will rule with Jesus. The time period spoken of for their rule with Christ is during the thousand year reign of Christ on earth (see Psalm 2; Revelation 20:1-4). These believers will be given the morning star, which refers to ruling with King Jesus, the Son of David (Revelation 22:16).
Are you standing firm in the truth of God’s Word? People who claim a title and claim to speak for Jesus need to speak in accordance with the Word of God. Are you conquering? We conquer when we live by faith in the Son of God (1 John 5:5 “overcomes” same Greek work as “conquers”; Galatians 2:20). Are you doing the works He assigned you? We keep doing the Lord’s works assigned to us by staying in the Word and prayer and asking the Lord to reveal the works He has prepared for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). If we can answer the above questions, “Yes”, then we can be assured we will rule with Christ as Jesus assured the believers of Thyatira.
Revelation 2:18-23 "And to the angel (pastor) of the church in Thyatira write: 'The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 "'I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, 23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve.
The pastor of this local church is known for his love, service, patient endurance, and increasing works, yet he tolerates a self-proclaimed prophetess who is leading people in the Thyatira local church into sexual immorality and idolatry. Jesus tells the pastor that He has given her time to repent, but she refuses. Jesus wants this pastor to discipline this woman and remove her from the church if she refuses discipline (see 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 for proper handling of this situation). The pastor for some reason continues to tolerate Jezebel’s presence in the church and people are being led astray. Jesus will discipline Jezebel with sickness and those who follow her with tribulation if the pastor fails to act according to the truth (see how Jesus disciplined the Corinthian believers in 1 Corinthians 11:27-32). All the churches will learn that Jesus does not tolerate sin and will strike unrepentant people claiming to be Christians dead, just as He did Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11. Jesus searches the minds and hearts of His people and will not tolerate sin for their own good and for His name’s sake.
Tolerating sin is not love. Disciplining sin is love. Are you tolerating sin in your family, in your local church? The loving thing to do is to gently rebuke a person’s sin and show him the way of correction. When we rebuke and correct a sinning person, the person usually is defensive, but later is thankful we dealt with his sin. If we don’t discipline those believers in our sphere of influence, Jesus will. The church is weak when it tolerates sin and harsh when it doesn’t deal with sin gently with the purpose of restoring the sinning person. True love follows Galatians 6:1 “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”
Jesus gives each person what his works deserve. What will you get, discipline or reward?
Revelation 2:12-17 "And to the angel (pastor) of the church in Pergamum write: 'The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword. 13 "'I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. 15 So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.'
The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit. Jesus is giving His pastor of the local Pergamum church His word that discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrew 4:12). A key phrase Jesus speaks to each church is “I know....” It is comforting that Jesus knows what is going on in the life of the pastor and people of every local church. Some think that God is cruel since He knows what is going on and doesn’t stop it with His great power, but they aren’t thinking that He loved people so much that He died for us. He is coming one day to judge the world and stop all evil, but right now He has given all believers everything they need to live abundantly in a sinful world so they can be His agents to reach and save as many sinners as possible.
Jesus knows the tough circumstances of the Pergamum believers. He knows Antipas died as His faithful witness. He knows the pastor kept preaching the word of God and held fast to the name of Jesus even when it might cost him his life. The pastor set an example for all to follow. He was willing to lose his life for Jesus’s sake. Are you willing to lose your life for Jesus’s sake?
Jesus also knew that the pastor was not doing his duty of protecting the saints from some false teaching. The pastor wasn’t guilty of believing the teaching of Balaam or of the Nicolaitans, but he wasn’t correcting those who did in the local church of Pergamum. Jesus called the pastor to repent and begin to rebuke and correct those who followed the teaching of Balaam and of the Nicolaitans. If the pastor was not going to correct the sinning sheep of Jesus’s fold, then Jesus was going to come and discipline the sinning sheep. He did this in the Corinthian church and some were weak, sick and dead because of the Lord’s discipline (1 Corinthians 11:29-32). Are you rebuking and correcting those in your sphere of influence who live sinfully in sexual immorality or other sinful behavior and think it is alright? If you aren’t, Jesus is also calling you to repent and begin to rebuke and correct false teaching in your sphere of influence.
This message to each local pastor and church is a message for all local churches. We conquer sin and Satan by believing and obeying the truth (1 John 5:2-5). Remember, saving faith desires to obey the Lord.
Revelation 2:8-11 "And to the pastor of the church in Smyrna write: 'The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. 9 "'I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.'
Jesus is commending this pastor and church. Tribulation, poverty, and slander characterize the circumstances of this pastor and church. However, the believers are actually rich in the eyes of God. Material wealth is not an indication of God’s favor in a person’s life. Rich to God is gauged by how much of the riches of the believers’ glorious inheritance in Christ (Ephesians 1:18) is being used in their lives. Every believer has been given every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies (Ephesians 1:3) for abundant living in a sinful world. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are part of what makes people living in poverty rich (Galatians 5:22-23). The other portion of their riches is completing the work assignments God has given every believer and bearing much fruit (John 15:16). Are you rich in God’s sight?
Jesus told the Jewish leaders opposing Him that their father was the Devil (John 8:44). Jesus called the Jews persecuting the believers in Smyrna a synagogue of Satan. Our opposition as Christians is not merely people, but people moved by Satan and his demon followers (Ephesians 6:12). Just because a person says they believe in the Lord does not mean they really do. True believers do God’s will (Matthew 7:21). Are you a true believer who does God’s will?
All who seek to live godly lives will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12). Notice in our text today who is behind the apparent human persecution, “The devil is about to throw some of you into prison.” Notice also that believers are being tested when enduring prison for the sake of Christ. Believers are to be faithful unto death knowing they will receive the crown of life. Are you seeking to live a godly life even though you will be persecuted? Are you willing to be faithful unto death?
If you compare your life to the pastor and people of Smyrna and compare favorably, then you are pleasing and glorifying God. If you are not like the people in Smyrna then you need to repent of the differences, receive Jesus’ forgiveness and begin to live according to God’s will.
Revelation 2:1 "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: 'The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 "'I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. 6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
John begins to write down what he has seen that is current to his time, approximately 90 AD. He writes Jesus’ assessment of the seven Asian churches. We can learn from each of these churches what to do and what not to do. We can learn that Jesus does know all about us and loves us enough to praise us, to expose our sin and to show us how to overcome our sin. Jesus knows the local church is taught by the local pastor. He praises the local pastor and exposes his sin. Most of the “you”s in the passage are singular. Jesus is addressing the pastor of the local church and he is to take the message to the church. Why? The pastor is the teacher and example of each local church. What he teaches, models and allows will affect the entire local church. Get the leader right and the local church will get right. Jesus knows that changing the leader will change the local church. It is folly for a local church member to stay in a church hoping to change the church, if the leadership is not willing to change.
Jesus praises the pastor’s works, toil, patient endurance, and the testing of those claiming to apostles and finding them false. He praises the pastor for hating the works of the Nicolaitans, who are promoting sexual immorality in the church. The pastor has stood firm in the truth.
Jesus brings a correction to the pastor. He has abandoned his first love. Jesus observed that he was not doing the loving works he did at first. Love is displayed by the works that a person does (1 John 3:18). Jesus offered the correction, “Remember from where you have fallen, repent, and do the works you did at first.” We can all learn from this. Are we doing the works we did at first? Have we held fast to truth, but neglected the works of love we used to do? Get with Jesus and ask Him to help you remember what you did when you first loved Him. He will tell you if you have left your first love. If you have abandoned you first love, then you need to repent, remember and restart the works of love you did at first.