After John had completed writing the letters which the Lord had dictated to him to the seven churches of Asia Minor, that is the seven church ages, he looked up from his manuscript and there saw an open entrance leading into heaven; what modern man might call space, or perhaps another dimension. This verse has been quite controversial, especially within the battle camps of the pre-and post-tribulationists. The pretribulationists believe that what John here experienced was something of a preview of a future rapture which they believe will occur for all true believers at the second advent of Christ to Earth. However, a simple honest look at the words of the verse shows that John was not then being taken permanently to Heaven but only temporarily so he could be shown “what must take place after” the seven churches had come to pass.
Immediately John says he was taken up to a place he found ever so difficult to describe by some mode of transportation he could define only as being in “the Spirit.” Whether or not he left behind his body is never indicated and had evidently never been disclosed to his fellow workers since Paul told the Corinthians he once knew a man who had been caught up to the third Heaven. “Whether it was in the body, “ Paul explained, “or out of the body I do not know – God knows” (2CO 12:2). But in what evidently seemed but just a moment of time John found himself gazing upon a beautiful Heaven, an undefiled planet-like place, that was located within the heaven of which he had previously already been aware and enthroned on the central planet was a majestic being who evidently ruled the whole of the Universe from where he was seated.
In an attempt to describe what he was seeing, John’s eyes fixed upon the ruling one who was seated upon the throne of this Heaven of heavens; that is the ruling planet over many other planets. What he saw was astounding to a Jewish man’s eyes. The majestic being he beheld looked to be Jewish; and along by his side stood another man who appeared to be from the Tribe of Benjamin who had become the Jew’s witness to the world. That this Benjaminite was Paul is purely academic when one realizes that he identified himself to be from the tribe of Benjamin (ROM 13:1; HEB 3:5) who the Lord told Ananias, after Paul’s conversion, was to be his “chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel” (ACT 9:15).
Surrounding this Heaven John saw a rainbow, reminding him of the covenant given to Noah after the planetary flood on Earth millennia earlier. It was this that reminded him of the promise which had been given to the Hebrews that mankind would never again be destroyed by floods and that the promised Kingdom of Israel was finally coming to pass.
Encircling the covenant of the Heaven were twenty-four lesser heavens, each one holding a judgment. Seated on the judgement seat of these lesser planets were twenty-four judges; witnesses of the Lord’s resurrection. These were they who had been made righteous in the sight of God by their faith in either the future coming of the Messiah or the acceptance of him and the salvation he offered after his arrival. These are surely representative of the twelve roots of the Israeli tribes who were the instruments of the Lord to bring the Christ to Earth, and Jesus’ apostles after his first arrival.
Suddenly out of the central planet came prophecies, evidences of the wickedness of people spoken through the speeches of the judges. And there appeared before Jehovah God, the majesty of the central planet, his seven spirits awaiting their orders.
Awaiting their judgement in front of the throne of God was a multitude of people which no one could count. There was no way for their sins and unbelief’s to be hidden; they were as transparent glass unable to hide undesirable things.
In the midst of these people who stood in the Heaven were four nations: Babylon, Samaria, a “flying” Rome, and one which looked like a man. They each had six “chariots” or, perhaps this means doctrines which carried them through the Heaven. And each of the chariots were full of sprits. And they called out in unison:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.” (REV 4:8)
Whenever these four nations would give glory to the Lord; so also would the twenty-four witnesses, the elders of the faith which built the Universal nation. And in unison they would say:
“You are worthy, our Lord and God to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (REV 4:11)
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