By Ken Blue Be sure and listen to the great songs to lift your spirit
The Vision in Heaven
“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. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. 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. 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. 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. 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. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. 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.” (Revelation 4:1-8).
After John had seen Christ in His High Priestly ministry in the midst of the Jewish assemblies (chapter 1), and recorded God’s messages to them (chapters 2-3), he now gives the vision of events in heaven just prior to the wrath that is to poured out in the Lord’s Day. This day is the Seventieth Week spoken of in the book of Daniel. It is comprised of a week of years. Thus the tribulation leading up to the Kingdom lasts for seven years.
John is the only person who is caught up to heaven. He records what he saw in heaven. This is not the Rapture of the church or of anyone else except John. With all due respect to Dr. Scofield, Clarence Larkin, John Walvoord, and a host of others, this verse does not teach the Rapture of the church. It has nothing to do with the church of any dispensation.
Dake is trapped in the same tradition. In his Bible notes on p.532, under the heading, “20 Earmarks Of Israel After The Rapture,” Dake gives the “earmarks” in an attempt to prove that the church is raptured at chapter 4. He says, “In Matthew, the Hebrew Gospel, there are 92 references to the O.T.; in Hebrews there are 102; but in Revelation there 285. This proves the Jewish character of the book after Revelation. 4:1.” We wonder how Mr. Dake overlooked the dozens of Old Testament types, symbols, and names found in the first three chapters of Revelation! Of course there are hundreds of references to the Old Testament from chapter 4 on, but they don’t begin there! They begin in Revelation chapter 1! There is no Rapture of any church in chapter 4.
Another argument used to promote the Rapture theory at chapter 4 is that the word “church” never appears throughout the entire tribulation period. Therefore, the conclusion is that the church has disappeared at chapter 4, but that is foolish. These churches are the Jewish remnant that exists throughout the rest of the Revelation. It is to them the book is written, and they are the ones who must endure temptations in the Day of the Lord.
To argue that these assemblies are not present because the word “church” does not appear proves absolutely nothing. The name “God” or “Lord” never appears in the entire Book of Esther. Shall we conclude that God was not present nor at work amid the Jews in those days? Of course not. The seven churches of chapters 2 and 3 are present throughout the entire Day of the Lord. The book is to them, for them, and about them.
There is no Rapture of anyone in chapter 4. The Rapture of the believer in Christ will be a bodily Rapture. John’s body was still on Patmos when he received his vision and was “caught up.” If the church is raptured in chapter 4, to whom is the rest of the Revelation written, and for what purpose? Where do we find the salutation to its recipients, and can you prove who they are?
The body of Christ, the church, will have been raptured to the third heaven long before John was caught away in the Spirit into the Day of the Lord. The time period between the rapture and the actual Day of the Lord could be 40 to 70 years. All chapter 4:1 states is that John was caught away into the Lord’s Day.
Why do most commentators insist on rapture at chapter 4? The first reason is their selection of the wrong key to unlock the book. What is that key? It is chapter 1:19. How do they do it? Perhaps a look at verse 19 will clarify the problem. Revelation 1:19 says, “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter…” Those who see the rapture of the church think the first part of the verse, “the things which thou hast seen…” is a reference to the vision of the High Priestly Christ amid the churches. Then, they conclude “the things which are…” speak of the time John wrote and thus, would be the church of the last 2000 years. Finally, they assume “the things which shall be hereafter…” are the things after the Rapture of the church; thus the Tribulation. However, as we have demonstrated, verse 19 is not the key to the book. Verse 10 is the key that unlocks the Revelation.
Those who advocate the Rapture of the church in chapter 4 must violate their greatest argument. What is that argument? It is the argument that you must take everything literally unless it is impossible to do so. They violate their own rule by making John a type of the church. There is absolutely no justification for making John a type of anything.
In the earlier vision, John saw the glorified Christ in the midst of the seven churches on earth. He was told to write to them with warnings to overcome in the coming judgments. In chapter 4 through chapter 20, John describes these judgments to the churches through the visions given to him. The Book of Revelation is about the wrath, the return of Jesus Christ and His reign with His overcomers.
When John says, “After this…” (v.1) he is stating what he saw after the vision and the written letters of chapters 1-3. He is not attempting to establish any chronological order of church history, the Rapture, or the Day of the Lord.
In the previous three chapters, the Son of Man is seen on earth in the midst of the Jewish remnant. The scene now shifts to heaven where the Lamb of God is in the midst of the throne. Both events are happening simultaneously. While the Son of Man walks among the Jewish assemblies on earth, He is seen representing them in heaven before the throne.
John hears a voice talking to him which sounds like a trumpet. From his vantage point in heaven, he is about to see the completed Day of the Lord. It is important to notice that the visions alternate between earth and heaven throughout the book. The first vision was on earth, (chapters 1-3), now John sees a throne in heaven which he describes in symbols and types.
We are not told who the strong angel was. Angelic activity and assistance is characteristic of God’s dealings with Israel in the Old Testament, in the Gospels, and in the Jewish epistles, which are Hebrews through Revelation. In Revelation, angels are mentioned 26 times. Some are identified as men, others as Christ, Lucifer, Michael, and an innumerable host. Angles are never described as women or as having wings. They are always in the masculine.
It is also important to notice how little is said about angels in Paul’s church epistles. There are only 10 references to angels in all of Paul’s writings, Romans through Philemon. Not one of the references has anything to do with angels ministering to men in this dispensation or assisting the body of Christ. Christians need to be aware of the so-called appearances, help, and visitation of angels in this day of grace. Much of it is demonic activity pawned off as angels of light.
Verse 3 says, “…he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone.” Notice that the One seated on the throne “was to look upon like…” These stones were among the most beautiful known to man and were also used in the breastplate worn by Israel’s high priests. The jasper represented Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn son. The sardine represented Benjamin, Jacob’s last son. Reuben’s name means, “behold a son” and Benjamin’s name means, “son of my right hand.” No doubt the entire nation is represented in these stones.
These stones reflected the beauty and glory of God who promised Israel, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). Israel is as precious jewels to God. “And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him” (Malachi 3:17). The time period in both references is the Tribulation.
Pastor Ken Blue was born in Boswell, Ark. In 1955 he accepted Christ as his Savior. He and his wife Joyce were married in 1955. They have 5 children. He graduated from Midwestern Baptist Bible College in 1969 and started the Open Door Baptist Church in Lynnwood, Wa. where he pastored for 39 years. Because of health issues (ALS) he was forced to resign as pastor. It is his desire to continue to be used of God to help pastors and believers through this ministry.