"After this, I looked, and there before me was heaven's open door. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, 'Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.' At once, I was in the Spirit, and there before me was heaven's throne with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne." (Revelation 4.1-3) ✞
John of Patmos describes a vision of a door into the heavenly court where God sat on his throne surrounded by worshipping angel multitudes and paradise's righteous. The ancients believed heaven was a vast vaulted roof on square flat earth entered through vaulted doors. Jesus, at his ascension, arose into the clouds and disappeared from view. Acts 1.9b-10a catches that moment, "he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going." ✞
The open heavenly door reminds us of John 10.7, where Jesus says, "Very truly I tell you, I am the sheep gate." Again in Luke 11.9-10, Jesus asserts, "So I say to you: 'Ask, and God will give it to you; seek and you will find. Knock, and God will open the door to you.'" Jesus tells us to keep on knocking, and God will open the door. ✞
John of Patmos hears what sounds like a trumpet blast at Christ's voice and is invited into heaven by an angel saying, "Come up here." This call reminds us of the prophet Ezekiel's summons into ministry and his vision of God's heavenly throne. Ezekiel 1.25-26 reveals, "Then there came a voice from above the vault over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. Above the vault was a lapis lazuli throne, and high above it was a man's figure." ✞
The throne was of "lapis lazuli," which was a "rich deep blue" or "celestial sky blue" semi-precious stone. Lapis Lazuli was obtained from the oldest mines in Egypt, from around 4000 BC, and still in use today. The golden sarcophagus of King Tutankhamen was richly inlaid with Lapis, as were other burial ornaments of Egyptian kings and queens. The throne was "the symbol of royalty and honor, gods and power, spirit and vision." Its color was like the sky, and it was a universal symbol of wisdom and truth. ✞
Four times in Revelation, John of Patmos says he is "in the Spirit." The Holy Spirit fills John and shows him situations and events he could not see with human eyes. Being in the Spirit points up the truth that all true prophecy comes through the Holy Spirit. Heaven's open door invites John to come up and to come in. John describes seeing God's magnificent throne room through the open door. God orders John of Patmos to "Come up here." ✞
Overcome by the awe-inspiring sight of Almighty God sitting on Revelation's heavenly throne, John of Patmos avoids naming or describing God. Still, he says there is "someone sitting" on the heavenly throne. The focal point of heaven is not empty as many in our generation would wish but occupied. The deity on the throne has a human being's appearance hence the "human" personal pronoun "someone." We need to remember that God is not a large, powerful computer or frightening space alien but somewhat like ourselves. God cares for us because God is one with us. But as the Almighty Creator who formed the universe out of nothing, God is not the same as us. Almighty God is orchestrating from his heavenly throne all the events that John of Patmos records. Some people assert that the world is spinning out of control, but creation's God is directing everything from his throne. ✞
Shining, precious gems appear as a rainbow of jasper, ruby, and emerald around God. These three gems represent wrath, mercy, and blood, all of which are essential elements in Almighty God's relationship with us through the Lord Jesus Christ. Jasper is sometimes called "carnelian," a blood-red stone found in Sardis and a symbol of avenging wrath. Green emerald symbolizes soothing mercy and expresses God's majesty. These gems are significant because jasper, carnelian, and emerald decorated the High Priest's breastplate and are precious stones on New Jerusalem's foundations. John of Patmos sees God's throne with someone sitting on it, surrounded by an emerald rainbow's shimmering colors. He describes the glistening jewels' richness adding to the magnificent sight before his eyes to further emphasize the scene's otherworldliness. After telling of heaven's wonder, John of Patmos reassures us that future events will not frighten us. ✞
The sight of fantastic glimmering rainbows around God's throne spontaneously brings forth a praise song within us. The lovely Christian hymn by Carl Gustav Boberg (1859-1940) from a traditional Swedish melody beautifully conveys the wonder inspired by "heaven's emerald rainbow." The words and music draw me back in praise to George Beverly Shea and the Billy Graham Rallies.
"O, Lord my God. When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the works thy hands have made.
I see the sun. I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power through all the universe portrayed.
Then sings my soul, my savior God to thee.
How great thou art, how great thou art.
In all the World, there is no God like Thee.
How great thou art, how great thou art!✞