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On the Revelation of Yahshua Christ, Part 7: Visions of the Throne of God
Having presented the messages of Yahshua Christ to the seven churches in Roman Asia which are found in Revelation chapters 2 and 3, we noticed that five of those churches, which were those in Ephesus, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis and Laodicea, had all been guilty of one sin or another from which they were commanded to repent. But the only sins which had been specifically mentioned to any of them were the sins of fornication and idolatry, or the eating of things sacrificed unto idols. These sins were specified in the messages to the churches of Pergamos and Thyatira, and in order to describe them Christ had evoked the Old Testament accounts of Balaam and Jezebel.
In the events of which we are informed by Scripture that the counsel of Balaam had precipitated, which are described in Numbers chapter 25, the children of Israel had “began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab”, as it is explicitly stated. We have already discussed at length and with historical references the sexual activities leading to race-mixing and other forms of fornication which were practiced by worshippers of Baal. In the account of this incident, the idol Baalpeor is mentioned, and it is evident that the Moabites had practiced those same perversions. That is how the sons of Israel had committed whoredom with the daughters of Moab, and not merely with the idols of Moab. In the events surrounding the life of Jezebel, she had actively promoted the worship of Baal in Israel, and the prophets of Baal and the prophets of the groves “which eat at Jezebel's table” were all confronted by the prophet Elijah whereupon they were all destroyed. Both Ahab and his wife Jezebel had died around 850 BC, and a hundred years later there is an account of the sins of Israel in the words of the prophet Hosea.
Actually, four prophets, Isaiah, Hosea, Micah and Amos were all approximately contemporary with one another, and they all prophesied the coming punishment and captivity of Israel for their sins, but the earliest of these four was apparently Hosea. So in the opening chapter of his book the prophet is commanded to take a whore to wife and have children, who were then used to represent the condition of the children of Israel. Then in chapter 4 of his book we read, in part: “12 My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God. 13 They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery. 14 I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery: for themselves are separated with whores, and they sacrifice with harlots: therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall.”
A little further on, in Hosea chapter 5, we read: “3 I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me: for now, O Ephraim, thou committest whoredom, and Israel is defiled. 4 They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God: for the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the LORD. 5 And the pride of Israel doth testify to his face: therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity; Judah also shall fall with them. 6 They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the LORD; but they shall not find him; he hath withdrawn himself from them. 7 They have dealt treacherously against the LORD: for they have begotten strange children: now shall a month devour them with their portions.” So by this we once again see that the error of pagan Baal worship into which both Balaam and Jezebel had enticed the children of Israel, and which begins with the eating of things sacrificed to idols, results in whoredom: in race-mixing fornication and the begetting of strange children. Therefore in relation to fornication in these messages to the seven churches, Yahshua Christ had threatened that “22 Behold, I cast her into a bed, and those committing adultery with her into great tribulation if they do not repent from her works, 23 and I shall slay her children with death, and all of the assemblies shall know that I am He who examines minds and hearts, and I shall give to each according to your works.”
To repent of the works of Jezebel is to repent from idolatry and race-mixing fornication, as the worship of Baal was practiced by all of the Canaanite tribes in the vicinity of ancient Israel. The way to repent of such fornication as produces strange children is described in Ezra chapter 10: “2 And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing. 3 Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.” Now here in Revelation chapter 2, Yahshua Christ has promised to kill those born of such fornication, and one day all Israel shall have no choice but to repent.
With this it may once again be manifest that race-mixing fornication is indeed the unforgivable sin, which is sometimes called the unpardonable sin. No other sins were specified explicitly to the seven churches of the Revelation but idolatry, which throughout the Old Testament had led to race-mixing, and that is referred to as fornication. Above all other sins, a man or woman who commits these sins destroys the Body of Christ Himself, since they are forever polluting a portion of their own Israelite race which can never be recovered. These messages to the seven churches, where in spite of all other sins Yahshua Christ has promised to kill only the children of fornicators, and not even the fornicators themselves, should demonstrate the truth of these assertions beyond all doubt.
In contrast to this, as we have also noted, the two assemblies which were not criticized for anything for which they were commanded to repent were those of Smyrna and Philadelphia, and both of these assemblies were also warned concerning those who claim to be Judaeans, but who are actually of the congregation of the Adversary, or the synagogue of Satan as the phrase is more popularly translated. Concerning these messages, we proposed that since the Greek word for Smyrna means ointment, those Christians who abide by the anointing of Yahweh would not be condemned for any sin at the judgment, although they would nevertheless suffer at the hands of those same devils, the synagogue of Satan of which Christ had warned them. From those devils are today’s Jews, and they are still persecuting Christians after two thousand years. So they would persecute the assembly at Smyrna, but since Philadelphia means brotherly love, that church would fare even better. By abiding in the same anointing, which is a necessary first step to brotherly love, as the law defines brotherly love in Leviticus chapter 19, and then by loving their brethren, they would not be condemned for any sin, and they would not suffer harm at the hands of the devil, the synagogue of Satan. All of this accords with the Gospel of Christ, especially as it is recorded by John, where He frequently admonished His disciples to keep His commandments and to love one another, while also warning them of His adversaries, that if they had persecuted Him, they would also persecute them.
So with that we summarize our conclusion concerning these circumstances with an assertion that by observing the anointing of Yahweh, which is only for the ancient children of Israel, men shall not be condemned in judgement. But to add brotherly love to the observance of the anointing, men may also hope to be shielded from the persecutions of the devil.
Now the messages to the seven churches are indeed prophetic, in a general sort of way, which we believe describe the general conditions and subsequent sufferings of Christians and Christian churches throughout the entire age up to the return of Christ. Today and all throughout time we have had churches bearing the false doctrines and impious attitudes and committing the sins which are reflected in those seven messages, as well as having had Christians who are worthy of the encouragement and the commendations which are also found in them. However now we are about to begin to present and discuss the portion of the Revelation which is historically prophetic, and describes specific events which were about to come upon the Adamic world of the time, the Roman world and the things which would befall the children of Israel throughout all history from the time it was published unto the return of the Christ and the final establishment of the Kingdom of Yahweh. But this prophetic portion of the Revelation does not actually begin until chapter 6. Before it begins, there is a long prelude which describes Yahweh God as the author of history, and Yahshua Christ as its prophet in Revelation chapters 4 and 5. This circumstance was also described in the epistle of Paul to the Hebrews, where he had attested in its opening verses that “1 On many occasions and in many ways in past times Yahweh had spoken to the fathers by the prophets. 2 At the end of these days He speaks to us by a Son, whom He has appointed heir of all, through whom He also made the ages.” So although Paul could only have been familiar with the Gospel, he certainly seems to have foreseen the Revelation, which was written by John over 30 years after Paul’s death.
But in order to do this, in order to reveal what was coming, the nature of some past events had also been revealed by Christ, things which were not even fully revealed in the Old Testament scriptures. Many commentators have insisted that all of the historical events prophesied in the Revelation must be far off in the distant future, but that is not true. Others have claimed that they were all fulfilled in the distant past, for example, with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and that is not true. By all accounts, the Revelation was not even recorded until at least 96 AD, so what would have been its purpose? In the Revelation, Yahshua Christ reveals both things which were to happen in the future, from the time when John had received His Revelation not long before 96 AD, and things which had happened in the past, so that we may understand the nature of and the reasons for some of the things which He had prophesied for the future.
There is precedent for this in the prophets, as the Word of Yahweh had said in Isaiah chapter 41, in a challenge to false gods: “21 Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. 22 Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. 23 Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.” There is further precedence in Genesis, since in its opening chapters Moses had prophetically revealed things which happened in his own distant past, evidently so that he could lay a firm foundation for the paradigm he was building for his own time, under the purview of God. Of course, the idols of ancient Israel could not tell past or future, or anything at all, so it became manifest that they were not gods. But here in the Revelation, Yahshua Christ has revealed some events from the distant past, so that His children may know the latter end of them, and He also revealed many things which would happen in the future, events which would be pivotal in the history of His children, and through an understanding of that history we can see how they were fulfilled. The things which He explained about the past also account for the development of those events which were future, and by that we understand the nature of His enemies and the causes of their sufferings. Through an understanding of all of this, His children may indeed come to know that He is God.
With this we shall commence with Revelation chapter 4.
IV 1 After these things I looked, and behold! A door being opened in heaven, and [א inserts “behold!”] the first voice which I had heard as a trumpet speaking with me saying “Come up here, and I shall show to you the things [A has “many things”] which are necessary to happen.”
Here John is not describing anything which other men may have witnessed. He did not literally ascend into heaven, and the door which opened is not a literal door. Rather, as it also occurs throughout the prophetic writings of the Old Testament, John had received a vision. Throughout the Old Testament, Yahweh communicated with both the patriarchs and the prophets in visions. In Ezekiel chapter 11 there is a vision experienced by the prophet which was similar to that of John’s vision here, where we read “24 Afterwards the spirit took me up, and brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea, to them of the captivity. So the vision that I had seen went up from me. 25 Then I spake unto them of the captivity all the things that the LORD had shewed me.”
In verse 2 of this chapter John describes this experience as being “in the Spirit”, and not in his physical body and its worldly surroundings. So in the experience which he describes, his consciousness, as he had perceived it, was actually able to leave his body. Paul of Tarsus described this same phenomenon in 2 Corinthians chapter 12, where he discussed an event which he had witnessed, or perhaps it was only a vision which he had seen, and he professed that he could not tell whether it happened while he was in his body or out of it. We may imagine that John’s visions must have seemed just as real to him as that of Paul. Earlier in that same epistle, in chapter 5, Paul explained that to be in the body, we are away from Christ, and to be separated from our body is to be with Christ. Therefore the consciousness may exist independently of the body, and Christians should not fear death: it is the gateway to their destiny and to their true reality.
But one must be careful with visions, because it is also clear that a man may deceive himself. So in Jeremiah chapter 14 we read: “14 Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.” This warning is repeated in Jeremiah chapter 23. In Ezekiel chapter 13 we see a similar warning: “4 O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts. 5 Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the LORD. 6 They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD saith: and the LORD hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word. 7 Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, The LORD saith it; albeit I have not spoken? 8 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, saith the Lord GOD.”
So if one has a vision, and desires to share it, one should take great care that it is not a false vision. If one has visions and shares them and perhaps only a percentage of them may come true, as we hear today in various interpretations of the visions of Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, or Siener van Rensburg, the visions which fail distinguish such a man as a false prophet. Anyone may make a thousand predictions, and a couple may seem to have come true but the balance are lying divinations and vanity. Now as we hope to elucidate here in this commentary, this is also a significant reason why we should believe the Word of Yahweh, as the visions of His prophets and Yahshua Christ here in the Revelation have not failed.
Where John had recorded here that the voice which he heard had said to him “I shall show to you the things which are necessary to happen”, we know that the things which he is about to describe are going to come to pass in the future, and did not already happen in the past.
Now here before the end of verse 1, the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece notes the variant punctuation wherein the last phrase of verse 1 is placed with the text of verse 2, and our translation reflects that, where we place the words “After these things” with the text of verse 2, as they begin a new sentence that opens with the same words, μετὰ ταῦτα, which John had used to begin the opening sentence in the first verse. We followed the alternate punctuation, but left the verse number where it has been placed traditionally:
After these things 2 immediately I was in the Spirit, and behold! A throne fixed in heaven, and He sitting upon the throne.
As John’s consciousness brings him into the scene in the vision and through the open door in heaven, he sees Yahshua Christ sitting upon the throne of Yahweh, and while his description of Christ is brief, it is also quite different than that which was seen in chapter 1, and then John focuses on describing the throne itself and those who are around it. The man in the vision in chapter 1 must have represented Christ, as He spoke of Himself declaring that “I am the First and the Last, 18 and He who lives, and was dead, and behold! I live for the eternal ages and I have the Keys of death and of Hades!” Then in the subsequent messages to the seven assemblies which He had given to John, He spoke from a perspective which could only be that of Christ. Now here in chapter 4, it may be disputed that this man on the throne is representative of Christ, which we shall observe as this vision continues in chapter 5. But it certainly is Christ, as He is worshipped as He “who was and who is and who is coming” in the words of the four living creatures in verse 8 of this chapter, and those words can only describe Christ.
3 And He sitting [the MT wants the phrase "and He sitting"; the text follows א, A and 0169 ] alike in appearance to a jasper stone, and a sardius, and a rainbow around the throne alike in appearance to emerald,
In chapter 1 of the Revelation, John had described Christ as having the appearance of bright white light and burnished brass. But jasper and sardius both have a variety of colors, so it is difficult to depict the precise appearance of Christ in the eyes of John here. However we may imagine that since jasper may be white and sardius is generally a reddish color, perhaps the description can evoke the appearance of Solomon on his own throne where we read from words attributed to his wife in chapter 5 of the Song of Songs: “10 My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.” Both of these stones are also found among the stones in the breastplate of the high priest in Leviticus chapter 28, and in the foundation stones of the City of God, in Revelation chapter 21.
Rather oddly, in verse 3 rather than reading ἶρις, which is a rainbow, the Codices Sinaiticus (א) and Alexandrinus (A) have ἱερεῖς, which is the nominative masculine plural form of ἱερεύς or priest. But even in those manuscripts, the singular adjectives seem to betray the scribal error. The rainbow resembling the appearance of emerald was of course green in color. In the stones of the breastplate as well as those of the foundation of the city of God, emerald appears in the fourth place. However we should not infer anything from that, as the order of the other stones in each list is significantly different. The word for emerald here is σμαράγδινος, which is merely an adjective that means of smaragdus, or σμάραγδος. The word σμάραγδος is defined as emerald, and as a proper noun it was also the Greek name for the emerald mines of Egypt. If the manuscripts which have priests rather than rainbow are correct, those priests would be quite green.
Now John describes the setting of the throne itself:
4 and around the throne twenty-four thrones, and upon the thrones twenty-four elders sitting, cloaked in white garments [א wants “garments”] and upon their heads gold crowns.
In a vision, the presence of twenty-four elders may only have a symbolic meaning, and should not be taken literally. But first, in Matthew chapter 19 Christ had spoken to His disciples of salvation and the resurrection, where we read in part: “28 And Yahshua said to them: ‘Truly I say to you that you are those who shall be following Me in the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit upon the throne of His honor, and you also shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel!’” However where He said “twelve thrones”in the Gospel, that statement does not limit the number of thrones to twelve, and here we see that there are twenty-four. Since there are twelve tribes which the apostles would be judging, and since twenty-four thrones are mentioned here, we can only imagine that the other twelve seats are for the patriarchs of each of those twelve tribes. But since there are other even more prominent patriarchs of the race, such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, once again it may be evident that the numbers should not be taken literally, but rather should be seen as being symbolic.
However this symbolism is indeed significant. The twelve thrones for the apostles and the reserved number of twelve thrones which are evidently reserved for the patriarchs of the tribes of the ancient Israelites is yet another assurance that the promises of both Old and New Covenants are one and the same. The Old and New Testaments are two halves of one book, reserved for one and the same people of Israel. Of course, none of them were ever Jews. Proof of that is found in the words of Paul of Tarsus in Acts chapter 26, where he had attested before Herod Agrippa II: “6 And now for the hope of the promise having been made by God to our fathers I stand being judged, 7 for which our twelve tribes serving in earnest night and day hope to attain, concerning which hope I am charged by the Judaeans, King”, whereby we see that the twelve tribes and the Jews are two separate entities, and they are not one and the same.
5 And going out from the throne stars and voices and thunders, and seven lamps of fire burning before the [the MT has “His”, but not the copies from Andreas of Caesareia which the King James Version has followed] throne, which are the seven Spirits of Yahweh,
Once again we may see that this describes Yahshua Christ as He who is sitting on the throne of Yahweh, since here we have another reference to the seven lamps which we have already seen in Revelation chapter 1. There it is Christ who is depicted as being in the midst of the seven lampstands and then in words attributed to Christ Himself we read: “20 the mystery of the seven stars which you see in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands. The seven stars are messengers of the seven assemblies and the seven lampstands are seven assemblies.” Here we see that the seven lamps are the seven spirits of God. Therefore if the seven lampstands are also the seven assemblies and if the seven lamps are also the seven spirits, then the seven spirits must represent the condition of the people of Yahweh in the world, and in that way we once again see that the messages to those seven assemblies describe the conditions of His people Israel throughout the entire time that they are in the world, throughout the entire Christian dispensation. Since all of His people are before Him at all times, perhaps this also represents His judgment as events unfold in the world.
6 and before the throne as a sea of glass like crystal. And in the midst of the throne and around the throne four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind.
The living creatures may have been like cherubs, the chimerical sphinx-like creatures which had consisted of the head of a man, the fore part of a lion, the hind part of a bull and the wings of an eagle. But actually, as we continue reading we shall find that each of them consists of only one of the components of a cherub. Elsewhere, in Ezekiel chapter 1 there is a vision of the throne of Yahweh and we read, in part: “4 And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. 5 Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. 6 And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. 7 And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. 8 And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. 9 Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. 10 As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle. 11 Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.”
While in Ezekiel’s vision of the living creatures they did not resemble cherubs precisely, they certainly did consist of the same components as cherubs. The four components of the cherub also seem to represent the collective of the tribes of the children of Israel. While there is no proof that the tribe of Dan may be associated with an eagle, since there is no reference for it in Scripture, from the prophecies concerning the tribes found in Genesis and Deuteronomy the tribe of Judah can be associated with the lion, and the tribe of Ephraim with the bull or ox. So we read in Genesis chapter 49 that “Judah is a lion's whelp” and in Deuteronomy chapter 49, speaking of Joseph: “17 His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.”
It may be argued that the symbol of a man represents Reuben, as we read in Genesis in Jacob’s blessing of his eldest son: “3 Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power...” then in Deuteronomy chapter 33: “6 Let Reuben live, and not die; and let not his men be few.” While the evidence concerning Reuben is thin, there is also thin historical evidence associating Dan with an eagle, since double-eagle symbols have been found in royal burials at Mycenae which date to as early as the 16th century BC. It may be established from ancient Greek literature that the Mycenaean Greeks were Danaans who came from Egypt, and were therefore largely of the Hebrew tribe of Dan. Admittedly, other ancient cultures in eastern Anatolia and Mesopotamia had used the double-eagle symbol before the Danaans had used it. But it continued to be used by the related Macedonians, and also even later by the Byzantine Empire.
So even though this evidence concerning Dan and Reuben is thin, we will continue to assert our premise based on the more substantial scriptural evidence in relation to Judah and Ephraim, that the standards of the principal tribes of Israel are represented in the parts of the cherub. If the symbols of the lion, bull, man and eagle found in the cherub were the symbols on the standard banners of the four principle tribes organized around the ark of the covenant in Numbers chapter 2, then the cherub therefore represents a composite image symbolizing the collective of the children of Israel.
So now where John describes the four living creatures, it is evident that each living creature represents only one portion of the cherub:
7 And the first living creature like a lion, and the second living creature like a young bull, and the third living creature having a face as a man, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle.
The components of a cherub are known to us not from Scripture, but from artifacts discovered in archaeology which can be attributed to ancient Israelites, as well as the use of the same term cherub to describe a similar symbol in the records and monuments of ancient Assyria. However the cherubs of the Assyrians were not uniformly carved, as they sometimes had paws and sometimes had hooves, and sometimes the body was more like a lion but oftentimes it was more like a bull, although it always seems to have had the head of a man and wings. In Genesis chapter 3, Yahweh had placed cherubs at the east end of the garden along with a flaming sword, in order to keep the path to the Tree of Life. They next appeared atop the ark of the covenant on either side of the mercy seat of Yahweh, above where the tablets of the law were kept. This certainly seems to indicate that the keeping of the law was the path to Christ, who is the true Tree of Life who shall judge His people with mercy. The parts of the cherub representing the tribes of Israel, His people are to keep His law if they are to have access to the Tree of Life, and that is precisely what we read in the words of Christ which are recorded in Revelation chapter 22.
8 And the four living creatures, each one of them having [א and the MT each have a different form of a word meaning “had”; the text follows A] six wings above, full of eyes all around and within, and they do not have rest, day and night saying
“Holy, holy, holy, Prince Yahweh Almighty, who was and who is and who is coming!”
As we have noted, comparing these words with those of Christ in Revelation chapter 1 where He attested that He is “He who is and who was and who is coming, the Almighty”, we see that the man on the throne here is also Yahshua Christ, who is the image of the person of Yahweh God, as Paul had explained in Hebrews chapter 1.
The Codex Sinaiticus (א) repeats the word “holy” eight times here, while most of the manuscripts of the Majority Text repeat it nine times. Because of the eight occurrences of “holy” here in the Sinaiticus, which is said to represent a Byzantine musical development called an Octoechos [eight tones], some critics claim that the Sinaiticus manuscript dates to no earlier than the 7th century, or that it is even a complete forgery. But that contention does not explain the nine repetitions in the Majority Text, of which most of the manuscripts were also maintained by Byzantine Greek clerics. An exception is the manuscripts of the Majority Text from Andreas of Caesareia, which do not have the addition. The Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece indicates that a later hand was involved in the eight occurrences of the word “holy” in the Sinaiticus, and upon examining the photographs of the manuscript at the Codex Sinaiticus website, I would agree that such is at least partly possible as at least one occurrence is written into the margin for no apparent reason.
The words uttered by the four living creatures here also evoke another similar vision found in the words of the prophets, where we read in Isaiah chapter 6: “1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” Once again it may be evident that Old and New Testaments cannot be separated.
While it is often claimed that the seraphim are serpents or even angels, the truth is that the seraph (Strong’s #’s 8313, 8314) is only a symbol or object made of metal, having been burnished in fire. The word seraphim is merely a transliteration of the Hebrew plural form of שרף, or seraph, and in the King James Version seraphim, in the plural form, appears in Scripture only in this chapter of Isaiah. In Numbers chapter 21, the word seraph was translated into “fiery serpent” to describe what was also called the “serpent of brass” which Moses had made in the desert. That was a metallic object which he made in the form of a serpent, but that does not mean that all such seraphs are serpents. In Ezekiel’s vision of the living creatures which came out from the throne of Yahweh we read in part that “they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass.” Although Ezekiel’s creatures had only four wings, and in this passage from Isaiah and here in the Revelation they have six, the similarities in the visions are striking and outweigh the differences.
With the four living creatures ceaselessly worshipping Yahweh, which certainly seems to be a type for the children of Israel in the coming Kingdom of Heaven, John now continues to describe what he saw:
9 And whenever the living creatures [א inserts “shall”, the MT “would”; the text follows A] give honor and dignity and gratitude to Him sitting upon the throne, to He who lives for the eternal ages, 10 [א inserts “then”] the twenty-four elders fall before Him sitting upon the throne and they worship He who lives for the eternal ages [א inserts “truly!”, or “Amen!”, where a new sentence would follow] and they cast their crowns before the throne, saying
11 “You are worthy [א inserts “O Prince”], our Prince and God, to receive honor and dignity and power, because You have created all things and by Your will were they then created [A wants “were they then created”]!”
Both sets of the Majority Texts, the traditional Koine Greek and those from Andreas of Caesareia, have variations where we have the phrase “our Prince and God”, and the King James Version followed neither of them, where it has only “O Lord”. The traditional manuscripts have “Prince, our God, the Holy One” and those which followed Andreas of Caesareia have “O Prince and our God”.
In the praise of Yahweh which is recorded here in verse 8 we had used the construction “Prince Yahweh”, although everywhere else in our translation where the phrase κύριος ὁ θεὸς appears in Greek we have translated it as “Yahweh God”. Throughout our translations, whenever we believed that the word κύριος was used in the manner of the Septuagint as a translation for Yahweh, we have rendered it as Yahweh in English. But wherever it was used as a title for Christ, where it is typically Lord, we have rendered it as Prince, as we had endeavored to avoid the more traditional but not so specific language of the denominational translations. We chose to use the phrase “Prince Yahweh” here to further illustrate the fact that Yahshua Christ, who is often referred to merely as the Prince in our translations, is the one whom John sees sitting on the throne here, that the living creatures and the elders are worshipping Yahweh God, but also using language to describe Him which can only rightly refer to Yahshua Christ, it is revealed that Christ is God, that, as He Himself had said in the Gospel, “I and My Father are One.”
So while John does not make an explicit identification in this chapter, in Revelation chapter 1 it was Yahshua Christ whom he had seen amidst the seven golden lamstands, and who exclaimed “Fear not! I am the First and the Last, 18 and He who lives, and was dead, and behold! I live for the eternal ages and I have the Keys of death and of Hades!” Therefore here it must be the same Christ who sits on the throne who is described as “Prince Yahweh Almighty, who was and who is and who is coming” in verse 8, and as “He who lives for the eternal ages” in verse 10.
While in Revelation chapter 5 there is a vision of God on the throne and then the appearance of the Lamb who takes the book with the seven seals, that vision does not negate the fact that both Yahweh God and the Lamb are one and the same God. John is seeing a representation of Christ on the throne as Yahweh God in a vision, but Christ is also the Lamb of Revelation chapter 5, a portrayal of Yahweh God in His earthly role as the living Christ. In a vision, both figures can represent the same God. Much earlier in Scripture, the prophet Isaiah in chapter 6 had proclaimed that he “saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne” in a vision of his own, but that does not mean that he saw Yahweh with his eyes just as an actual seraphim did not put an actual burning coal in his mouth, as he was merely seeing a vision.
The prophet Ezekiel was more explicit in decribing his own vision and wrote, at the end of Ezekiel chapter 1, in reference to the living creatures which he had described: “26 And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. 27 And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. 28 As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.” Ezekiel used language that described a vision, but that does not mean that he saw God with his eyes.
Of course, Yahweh God had no earthly body at the time of either Isaiah or Ezekiel, but that does not mean that He could not represent Himself to those men in human form in a vision. Man was made in the likeness of God, and once again, as Paul explained in Hebrews chapter 1, Yahshua Christ is the express image of the person of Yahweh God, so He bears that likeness, and He is also the author of that likeness. So once again from verse 11 we read: “You are worthy, our Prince and God, to receive honor and dignity and power, because You have created all things and by Your will were they then created!”
In this same regard, Paul wrote speaking of Yahshua Christ in Colossians chapter 1 and exhorted his readers “10 to walk worthily of the Prince in all complaisance, in every good deed bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of Yahweh, 11 with all power being strengthened according to the might of His honor for all endurance and long-suffering with joy, 12 being thankful to the Father, who qualifies us for that share of the inheritance of the saints in the light, 13 who has rescued us from the authority of darkness, and instead gave us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption: the dismissal of errors. 15 Who is the likeness of the invisible God, first born of all the creation. 16 Because by Him all things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, those visible and those invisible, whether thrones or dominions or realms or authorities, all things are created by Him and for Him; 17 and He is before all, and all things by Him endure; 18 and He is the head of the body: the assembly. He who is the beginning, first born from among the dead, that in all things He would be holding the first place.”
In Revelation chapters 5 through 7 there are references to both God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb who is described as being in the midst of the throne. In Revelation chapter 22 there are references to “the throne of God and of the Lamb” and John says “4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.” But when He speaks, it is Christ the Lamb who speaks and we read: “6 And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done. 7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.”
The throne of God is the throne of Yahshua Christ, King of Kings who is to rule all of the nations. He is the Creator, He is the invisible God, He is God the Father, and He is the Lamb in the form of Yahshua Christ, who is the image of the person of God. Here in the language of the Revelation and in agreement with the teachings of Paul of Tarsus as well as the professions of Christ in the Gospel, it is revealed that Christ is indeed one and the same with Yahweh the Creator.
There are many other indications as we proceed through the Revelation that Yahshua Christ is the physical manifestation, or as Paul had said in Hebrews chapter 1, the substance of the person of the invisible God. The visions of the prophets as they are interpreted by men do not invalidate His word.