HEAVEN’S INCREASE

Rev. 4:9-11 – Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:

“You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”

Have you ever wrapped your head around eternity. I remember my first glimpse of it came when I was a little child. My mom was reading a story to me about Abraham and how he counted the stars. The book had a picture of Abraham outside looking up at the infinite number of stars. In that moment I remembering asking my mom about eternity, specifically eternity past. “Where did God come from?” I asked. I don’t remember my mom’s answer but what can you say? He has always been and will always be.

Have you ever wondered about eternal heaven and what that will be like? Jonathan Edwards says that it will be a place of ever increasing and ever intensifying joy. The longer we are there the greater the happiness will be because we will be living in a state of the constant unveiling of the magnificence of God. Her is how John Piper describes it.

“Heaven will be a never-ending, ever-increasing discovery of more and more of God’s glory with greater and ever-greater joy in him. If God’s glory and our joy in him are one, and yet we are not infinite as he is, then our union with him in the all-satisfying experience of his glory can never be complete, but must be increasing with intimacy and intensity forever and ever. The perfection of heaven is not static. Nor do we see at once all there is to see—for that would be a limit on God’s glorious self-revelation, and therefore, his love. Yet we do not become God. Therefore, there will always be more, and the end of increased pleasure in God will never come.”

There will always be more. Unthinkable!!! It will be impossible to be bored and want to move on to what’s next. His glory that we glimpse in His creation will be unveiled right in front of us. We taste just the edge of it now, eternity will be greater than we can imagine.

FOUR BEASTS

Rev.4:6-8 – And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 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. 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!”

What a shock all of this must have been for John. One minute he is all alone, in prayer on the beach. The next minute he is caught up into heaven in the midst of a scene that is too big for words. There is a voice like a trumpet, One seated on the throne surrounded by an emerald rainbow, elders, angels, and unimaginable beasts. The sounds and images only manageable because John was “in the Spirit”. Heaven is a place too big and too wonderful for words, nothing in this realm can ever compare.

Today, I want to focus on these strange beasts that John saw. Isaiah had called them seraphim, the burning ones. You think?! These beasts had been in the fiery presence since the day of their creation. Their whole existence has been spent caught up in unimaginable glory. These beasts are seen by John with four faces. I think these faces have prophetic significance and have something to say to us today. Maybe these characteristics portrayed by these beasts say something about us as we spend time in His glory.

First, there is the lion. The lion speaks to us about royalty and boldness. You and I are royalty, reigning with Christ in this life. As we draw near to the Lord beginning 2019 we too are filled with boldness. Nothing the enemy throws at us can cause us to back down. The next creature is like an ox. This speaks to us about servanthood and sacrifice. Our lives are now consumed before the Lord as we draw close. What do you have for me Lord in 2019? I offer myself as a living sacrifice in view of all you have done for me. Now we come to the beast with the face of a man. Man alone is created in the image of God. We are now born again, adopted as His sons and daughters. Man alone holds this place as the crown of His creation, our redemption from our fallen state will bring glory to the Lord forever. The last beast has the face of an eagle. This beast speaks to us about prophetic vision and insight. As we press in to the Lord at the beginning of this new year we are being filled with understanding about the things to come. The Lord has promised to fill us with visions and dreams, 2019 is unfolding before us by the Spirit of the Lord.

DELUGE OF LOVE

Rev.4:1 – 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.”

Do you ever think about life after death? What about heaven, what is heaven really like? I think we have quite a few surprises in store for all of us. I think the first surprise will be who is there and who is not there. Jesus told a parable about heaven in the form of a wedding feast thrown by the son’s father. The terrifying lesson of the story, apparently some who thought they were invited to the party were quickly ushered out into outer darkness. The reason they were thrown out gives us a glimpse as to who will be there. The ones thrown out were not wearing the wedding garment. The garment is a picture of the righteousness of God given to us by faith in Christ. Those who do not believe in the saving power of the blood of Jesus simply will not be in heaven.

Another surprise will be the very atmosphere of heaven. This is where we get to the indescribable part; heaven will be an amazing unveiling of the beauty and glory of our three in one God. Here is how Jonathan Edwards describes this incredible place.

“There Christ dwells in both his natures, his human and divine, sitting with the Father in the same throne. There is the Holy Spirit, the spirit of divine love, in whom the very essence of God, as it were, all flows out or is breathed forth in love, and by whose immediate influence all holy love is shed abroad in the hearts of all the church. There in heaven this fountain of love, this eternal three in one, is set open without any obstacle to hinder access to it. There this glorious God is manifested and shines forth in full glory, in beams of love; there the fountain overflows in streams and rivers of love and delight, enough for all to drink at, and to swim in, yea, so as to overflow the world as it were with a deluge of love.”

In other words the great surprise is that IT WILL BE BETTER THAN WE THOUGHT. We will see Jesus, the Father, and the amazing Spirit of God. So I would urge you to make your preparations to be there. The other alternative is unthinkable.

OPEN DOOR IN HEAVEN

Rev.4:1,2 – After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.

There are seasons of outpouring in this life where the Lord gives us greater access to heavenly things. Many times during the outpourings in the 1990’s I would be caught up in the Spirit and have impressions of things in heaven and things about to happen on earth. This is what John was experiencing in a greater measure than any of us can even fathom. John was called to come up through an open door to experience spiritual ecstasies and understanding of things to come. Here is how John Gill describes it.

“upon the opening of the door in heaven, and hearing the former voice, and the things it said, the Spirit of God at once possessed and filled him, in an extraordinary manner; and his soul or spirit was immediately taken from the consideration of all sensible objects, and was fixed and intent upon the things presented to it in the vision, so that it was as if it was out of the body.”

John became so aware of the spiritual realities that the things of this earth just began to fade away. His first vision was of the incredible scene at the throne. This is where all revelation flows from, it comes from a revelation of Jesus Christ. Albert Barnes points this out, John was called up into these visions to receive information about things to come; it started with a revelation of Christ on the throne.

“And the first voice which I heard. That is, the first sound which he heard was a command to come up and see the glories of that world. He afterwards heard other sounds—the sounds of praise; but the first notes that fell on his ear were a direction to come up there and to receive a revelation respecting future things….And, behold, a throne was set in heaven. That is, a throne was placed there. The first thing that arrested his attention was a throne.”

There is a door opening for God’s people in these days. Draw near to Him, let Him carry you away in the Spirit to His throne. That is where you will understand things to come.

LION, CALF, MAN, AND EAGLE

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Rev. 4:6,7 ¶ And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight.

This verse is part of an amazing glimpse into the scene in heaven where the Lord is being worshipped by the angels and those redeemed from sin from every tribe on the earth. John gives us a glimpse into the function of the mysterious seraphim that are closely connected to the throne of God. In Isaiah’s vision, as well as the one in Revelations, these “burning ones” are caught up in worship. They apparently lead the worship in heaven. Once there was five of these creatures before one of them fell. You know the one; Lucifer, the chief worship leader in heaven. These amazing angelic beings are totally caught up with the holiness of God. You can almost hear them if you stop and listen, “Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of His glory. Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty; the One who was and is and is to come”.

The early church fathers used to connect these four creatures to the four gospels. I like Augustine’s version. He said that Matthew corresponded to the lion, Mark to the man, Luke to the calf, and John to the eagle. These comparisons are quite interesting.

Matthew was the gospel written for the Jewish people. Think about it, the lion of the tribe of Judah. The first verse in Matthew refers to Jesus as the Messiah, the son of David. Of course Jesus is that messianic king portrayed by the lion and He rules all things with His mighty word. Mark is said to correspond with the creature with the face of a man. Mark’s gospel was written for the gentiles, the people of the nations. In Mark’s gospel we see Jesus as a man, the Son of Man. We also see Him moved with compassion as He ministers to the hurting members of humankind.

Next is Luke. His gospel starts in the temple and ends in the temple. The calf, the sacrifice of blood for the cleansing of sin, is the picture of Luke’s gospel. Luke gives us a portrayal of Jesus praying in Gethsemane, sweating great drops of blood. He is surely our heavenly high priest. Finally there is John pictured by the eagle. The eagle is known for soaring to the heights and for his incredible vision. This unveils the revelation of Jesus we find in John’s gospel. John takes us to the heights as we see Jesus as the Son of God from eternity clothed with human flesh. In John we find the pinnacle of the Father’s revelation, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”.

LION, CALF, MAN, AND EAGLE

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Rev. 4:6,7 ¶ And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight.

This is verse is part of an amazing glimpse into the scene in heaven where the Lord is being worshipped by the angels and those redeemed from sin from every tribe on the earth. John gives us a glimpse into the function of the mysterious seraphim that are closely connected to the throne of God. In Isaiah’s vision, as well as the one in Revelations, these “burning ones” are caught up in worship. They apparently lead the worship in heaven. Once there was five of these creatures before one of them fell. You know the one. Lucifer, the chief worship leader in heaven. These amazing angelic beings are totally caught up with the holiness of God. You can almost hear them if you stop and listen, “Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of His glory. Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty; the One who was and is and is to come”.

The early church fathers used to connect these four creatures to the four gospels. I like Augustine’s version. He said that Matthew corresponded to the lion, Mark to the man, Luke to the calf, and John to the eagle. These comparisons are quite interesting.

Matthew was the gospel written for the Jewish people. Think about it, the lion of the tribe of Judah. The first verse in Matthew refers to Jesus as the Messiah, the son of David. Of course Jesus is that messianic king portrayed by the lion and He rules all things with His mighty word. Mark is said to correspond with the creature with the face of a man. Mark’s gospel was written for the gentiles, the people of the nations. In Mark’s gospel we see Jesus as a man, the Son of Man. We also see Him moved with compassion as He ministers to the hurting members of humankind.

Next is Luke. His gospel starts in the temple and ends in the temple. The calf, the sacrifice of blood for the cleansing of sin, is the picture of Luke’s gospel. Luke gives us a portrayal of Jesus praying in Gethsemane, sweating great drops of blood. He is surely our heavenly high priest. Finally there is John pictured by the eagle. The eagle is known for soaring to the heights and for his incredible vision. This unveils the revelation of Jesus we find in John’s gospel. John takes us to the heights as we see Jesus as the Son of God from eternity clothed with human flesh. In John we find the pinnacle of the Father’s revelation, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”.

THE NIGHT THE ANGELS SANG

Rev. 4:9-10 ¶ And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and forever…

There is a night of renown amongst people who love revival called the night the angels sang. It took place in January of 1995 in a revival at Carpenter’s Home Church in Lakeland, Florida in a revival meeting conducted by Rodney Howard Browne. I was actually there lying on the floor near the right side of the platform when the angels began to sing. From what I can remember (I was heavily inebriated in the Spirit) after a lengthy time of corporate singing in heavenly languages the heavy weight of glory fell in a way I have seldom, if ever experienced. That’s when the angels sang. I even felt one place his hand on my back, it was one of the most powerful things I have ever encountered. The strangest thing about that event was that not everyone there even felt anything. There were several world renowned preachers within feet of me on the front row making comments like “I don’t feel anything. Do you feel anything?” That was quite shocking. There were angels present and glory present and some were unaffected.
The Apostle John commented about the effect angels singing have on the redeemed even in heaven. He was there around the throne with the angelic choir and the elders themselves falling on the ground. Angels often attend our services on earth, sometimes they even sing. Freddie Hayler has a song called the Song of Angels. Every time I listen to it I feel that heavenly presence. Here are some of the words to his song.

SONG OF ANGELS

There
In the night sky
Beyond the starlight
In a vision
I see Glory
The archangels
and Michael’s,
hands raising
Angelic tongues of fire
Flow from his being
God let me hear
Celestial beauty
God help me
Liberate my spirit free
to sing the Angel’s song
all around Your Glorious Throne

Verse 2
Lord help me to see
Your Holy face
Illuminated
A blazing beauty
God help me
Liberate my spirit free
To sing the Angel’s song.
All around Your Glorious Throne
I hear the Angel’s song.

For those not familiar with the effects of His presence, I do not drink alcohol. I was speaking of heavenly intoxication that happens in a His presence. Join together in worship with the angels around the throne today. We can rarely hear them but they are always singing. Maybe today you too will feel and sing the song of angels.

HEAVEN CAN’T WAIT

HEAVEN CAN’T WAIT

Rev. 4:2-3 ¶ Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.

The Apostle John was doing his best to describe the indescribable. He was seeing the very radiance of the Glory of the Son of God, there is nothing in this creation that even comes close to His beauty. You see, the beauty of The Lord is more than just a physical beauty, it is the very goodness of His nature on display. His inward perfection is shining out in a brilliant display that John said was like an emerald rainbow. The Apostle Paul was also caught up into what he called the third heaven. He spent the rest of His life trying to find words to describe what he could only say was unspeakable. Have you ever wondered what really makes heaven heaven? It has to be more than the golden streets. It is not just the eternal aspect of this incredible place. I don’t think its even the prospect of seeing our loved ones. No, what makes heaven heaven is none of these things. These are only the shadows, the substance of the joy of heaven is Jesus Himself. Without Him there would obviously not be any heaven. Charles Spurgeon also tried to describe the radiance of the Sun of Righteousness. Check out his thoughts.

“In heaven there shall be no interruptions from care or sin; no weeping shall dim our eyes; no earthly business shall distract our happy thoughts; we shall have nothing to hinder us from gazing for ever on the Sun of Righteousness with unwearied eyes. Oh, if it be so sweet to see him now and then, how sweet to gaze on that blessed face for ever, and never have a cloud rolling between, and never have to turn one’s eyes away to look on a world of weariness and woe! Blest day, when wilt thou dawn? Rise, O unsetting sun! The joys of sense may leave us as soon as they will, for this shall make glorious amends. If to die is but to enter into uninterrupted communion with Jesus, then death is indeed gain, and the black drop is swallowed up in a sea of victory.”

Now the only question left to ask is this, who will be in this place called heaven? Those who have never been born again can’t even imagine what the attraction is. Their thoughts are only on earthly things. Will there be marriage in heaven, will there be pets? Can I eat whatever I want? Actually none of these things will even come to mind in that day. Our attention and senses will be so overwhelmed with the radiance of Christ that the other circumstances won’t even come to mind. For those who have never been born again, heaven really has no attraction. For those who know Christ, they can hardly think of anything else.

A PLACE CALLED HEAVEN

A PLACE CALLED HEAVEN

Rev. 4:2-3 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. 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.

Everyone says they want to go to heaven when they die but I am not so sure heaven is a place that the average person would really be interested in. Sure, no one wants to go to hell, but at the end of the day, what makes heaven, heaven. Surely it’s not the golden streets or the living forever part. There has to be more than just wealth and length of days. Actually, there is. Heaven is heaven because of love. This is not jut any old human love. This is the supernatural kind. This is the love of God in our souls. God’s love for us
will consume us and spill out of us toward Him and toward everyone else in that place called heaven. One of my favorite sermons is Jonathan Edwards “Heaven is a World of Love”. Here is a short excerpt from that message.

“Those places in which he (God) was said to dwell of old were all but types of this (heaven). Heaven is a part of the creation which God has built for this end, to be the place of his glorious presence. And it is his abode forever. Here he will dwell and gloriously manifest himself to eternity. And this renders heaven a world of love; for God is the fountain of love, as the sun is the fountain of light. And therefore the glorious presence of God in heaven fills heaven with love, as the sun placed in the midst of the hemisphere in a clear day fills the world with light. The Apostle tells us that God is love, 1 John 4:8. And therefore seeing he is an infinite Being, it follows that he is an infinite fountain of love. Seeing he is an all-sufficient Being, it follows that he is a full and overflowing and an inexhaustible fountain of love. Seeing he is an unchangeable and eternal Being, he is an unchangeable and eternal source of love. There even in heaven dwells that God from whom every stream of holy love, yea, every drop that is or ever was proceeds.”

Heaven is a place that escapes all of our descriptions. I don’t think we have human words that can describe this place called heaven. God Himself will be so overwhelming that our experience of Him and His goodness will infiltrate and saturate everything else. Everyone there will be different because of the powerful impact the immediate presence of God will have upon all of our lives. We will love everyone in this heaven because we will see Christ in everyone there. There will be no aggravating people, no contentious people, no envious people, this really will be a different kind of place. Everyone there will be drinking from this fountain of love, the effects of this fountain changes everything.

PRAISE THAT PLEASES

PRAISE THAT PLEASES

Rev. 4:11 “You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.”

In today’s verse we see a glimpse of the worship taking place in heaven. This kind of worship is tasted when God pours out His Spirit on the earth. We taste the edge of this today as we enjoy the outpourings of His presence, especially as we gather together with His church in our corporate worship services. In the time of David’s reign he pitched a tent on Mount Zion that contained the ark of the covenant. David appointed musicians and singers to worship the Lord continually in this tent. What else could they do? God was there in His manifest presence. What else can we do? The Lord is in our midst, we have to worship Him continually. Graham Truscott spoke of this continual worship in his book, “The Power of His Presence”. Here is an excerpt from his book.

“How did the people bring the Presence of God to the Tabernacle of David? What did they do?
They lifted up their voices.
They sang with all their might.
Some sang high piercing notes.
Other sang deep and low.
There was dancing before the Lord.
They blew loud-sounding trumpets.
They clashed cymbals of brass.
They strummed guitars.
They shouted the high praises of God.
They rejoiced greatly before the Lord.”

Sounds like church to me!! One of the points that Truscott brought out in his book is this, the tabernacle of Moses was characterized by almost silent worship. It was formal and restrained. It was governed by the law. After the cross and the resurrection, we entered into a new season. How can we be restrained in our worship in light of what Christ has done for us? He has cleared away all the judgement against us. He has forgiven our sins. He has borne the curse of poverty at the cross. He has healed us of our diseases by His stripes. He has defeated death once and for all. He is seated at the right hand of the Father as my representative, always there making intercession for me. How can I remain silent, how can we not all break out in singing and dancing continually before our Lord?
As James prophesied in in discourse in Acts 15, the Lord is rebuilding His house which is fallen down, He is restoring His church to its former power and Glory. He is rebuilding the Tabernacle of David in these last days as a sign and wonder to this dark and perverse generation. Many of our churches today are just structures, beautiful buildings providing all types of good services for our communities without the manifest power of His presence. The Lord has promised before He returns to restore His church to its former glory. What will that look like? I’m not sure about everything but this one thing I know. A major part of this move of the Spirit will be characterized by worship, unrestrained worship and dancing before the Lord. Let everything and everyone who has breath give praise to the Lord.