STEPPING INTO THE FUTURE Revelation 4:1
Having completed the letters to the Churches, John is called up to the throne room in heaven where he is given a vision of God the Father on His throne. Yet, while we studied those churches, we came to understand that we were, in reality, very much in the present. Now, when we get to this chapter, we are about to step off into the future. This chapter, and the one that follows takes us into the very throne room of God, where we can see ourselves and what we will be doing when we get to Heaven. After that, our focus will be primarily on the earth until we get to chapter 21.
You need to understand that Revelation 4:1 is a very special verse. In fact, if you do not understand this verse, then you cannot understand the rest of the book. If you mess up here, you will be out of step all the way through the rest of this great book.
Have you ever buttoned your shirt, only to get down to the last button and find you didn’t have a buttonhole to put it in? So, you back up and see what happened and you usually find that your problems begin right at the start. If the right button is not placed in the right button hole, you are in trouble. Things will never turn out right! The same is true with this book.
Since this verse is so vital, let’s take some time and move through it in detail. Now, I don’t know if you know this or not, but this verse is all about our future. It tells us about the day when all the children of God will leave this world together.
I. THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS VERSE
A. It Is A Transitional Verse – Notice that this verse begins with the phrase “after this” and it ends with the word “hereafter”. In the Greek text, these words are exactly the same. Both of these English expressions translate the Greek words “meta tauta”. This phrase is taken by many to prove the pre-tribulation Rapture of the church.
This is not the first time that we have encountered this phrase in this book. Look back to Rev. 1:19. “Meta tauta” shows up here too! John is commanded to write three different things: “the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.” There is our phrase. It is the Greek phrase “meta tauta” that ties these verses together.
What we have in Rev. 1:19 is the basic outline of the book of Revelation.
Ø “the things which thou hast seen” points to the events of chapter 1.
Ø “The things which are” points to the events of chapters 2-3, or the letters to the seven churches. Notice the last words of chapter 3, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches”, Rev. 3:22. These events cover the history of the visible church from the days of the Apostles until the end of the church age.
Ø “The things which shall be hereafter” point to the events that will occur after the age of the church has ended. Chapters 4 and 5 find the redeemed saints of God in Heaven, in His presence, worshiping Him there. Chapters 6-19 deal with the Tribulation period and with the wrath of God as He judges this sinful world and purifies His people Israel.
So, Rev. 4:1 is an important verse that must be understood correctly if we are going to stay on track as we move through this book. It is also important because it signals a time of transition for the people of the Lord. After this point, the church is never mentioned as being on the earth again.
This verse tells us about that day when we are going to be moving up to gloryland! I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to that day!
B. It Is A Typical Verse – This verse tells us that one man, John, was called up into Heaven. Just one man is affected, just John. But, in this verse, John becomes a representative man. He pictures what will happen to all those believers who are living on the earth when Jesus comes back for His people in the Rapture.
When the Rapture occurs, several events will be set into motion.
Ø The Bride of Christ will be taken out of this world, 1 Thes. 4:16-18. (The Rapture is called “the blessed hope”, Titus 2:13. Thank God for that hope!)
Ø The Spirit of God will be taken out of this world, 2 Thes. 2:7.
Ø This sinful, rebellious world will be plunged into Great Tribulation, Rev. 24:21.
So, this verse stands as a type, or as a picture, of what will happen when Jesus returns for His children. Are you ready for that day? (Matt. 24:44)
I. THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS VERSE
II. THE ILLUSTRATIONS OF THIS VERSE
The book of Revelation, is a book filled with signs, symbols and illustrations. Back in Rev. 1:1, we are told that “He sent and signified it”.; (to give a sign) . In other words, the Lord tells John that He is going to reveal some of the content of this book in signs and symbols.
When you read the book of Revelation, you know how true this is. Jesus is pictured as a “Lamb”. The redeemed saints are pictured as “twenty-four elders”. The New Jerusalem is pictured as a “bride”. The Antichrist is called “the beast”. There are many other examples that could be given.
The use of symbols in no way changes what God says; everything He says will come to pass as a literal event. He merely uses the language of symbolism to describe actual events. He uses symbols so that people of all generations will be able to understand what He means. There are two symbols or illustrations given to encourage us in this verse.
A. Involved The Eyes – John says that he saw a “door opened in Heaven”. This phrase literally means that there was a door “standing open” in Heaven. This is the third door we have encountered in the Revelation thus far.
Ø The Door Of Service – Rev. 3:8 – The church in Philadelphia is told, “Behold, I have set before thee an open door and no man can shut it.” This is the door of Gospel opportunity and service. Hen a church is biblical and walking after the will of the Lord, He will set before it an open door of ministry. He is doing that with our church in these days!
Ø The Door Of Salvation – Rev. 3:20 – Those in Laodicea are invited to open the doors of their hearts to let Jesus enter. The lost heart is closed to Jesus, but if it is opened, He will enter and He will save the lost soul. In our text, the door in Heaven is shown to be “standing open”. The tense of the verb means that this door has been opened and it continues to stand open for all who desire to enter. Now, we know Who the door is. In John 10:9, Jesus identified Himself as “the Door”. He is the only way to Heaven! People do not go to Heaven through the door of the church, regardless of the name over the door. People do not enter Heaven through their good works. They do not go in by their own power. The only door into salvation and Heaven is Jesus Christ. He is the One Who died; the One Who rose again; the One Who paid the price for our salvation. He is the only way to God, John 14:6!
Today, that door stands wide open. It will allow “whosoever will” to enter and find peace, rest, salvation and Heaven. But, when the Lord calls His people home to Heaven, the door of salvation will close. People will still be saved after the Rapture, but only those who have never heard the Gospel will have that opportunity, 2 Thes. 2:11.
Ø The Door Of Summons – Rev. 4:1 – This open door in Heaven becomes a door of summons. Those who are saved will one day be called up to go through the open door into Heaven.
Ø The Door Of Splendor – Rev. 19:11 – One day Heaven will be opened again. This time it will not be to allow people to enter; it will open to allow Jesus to return to this earth with His church. He is returning is splendor, power and glory to stamp out evil and establish His kingdom.
B. Involved The Ears – Not only did John see a door; John heard a trumpet! This is the language of symbolism. He said, “the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me”. What John heard was not an actual trumpet, but a noise like that of a trumpet: piercing, loud and demanding attention.
Trumpets were very important in the life of ancient Israel. Numbers 10:1-10 gives God’s instructions for the use of trumpets in Israel. They were to make two trumpets of silver. There were different types of trumpet blasts for various events. The trumpets were to be blown when it was time to break camp and move. The trumpets blew to announce sacrifices on feast days. Trumpets blew to summon the priests to the Tabernacle. Trumpets were used to sound an alarm in a time of war or danger. It was very important that the people listened to the various trumpet blasts, and that the trumpeters made the right sounds, 1 Cor. 14:8.
(Note: Trumpets also figure heavily in the New Testament, particularly in connection with end time events. Look at 1 Thes. 4:16. This verse shows us that there will be a trumpet that will sound signaling the Rapture. 1 Cor. 15:52 also speaks of a trumpet’s sound in connection with the Rapture.
It appears that God will use a trumpet sound to signal His people when it is time to depart. I don’t think this world will hear it, but we were implanted with a special listening device the moment we were saved.
When that trumpet sounds, it will be time to break camp and move off to glory! When that trumpet sounds, it will signal a declaration of war on sin and this evil world system. One of these days, a trumpet blast will sound and the saints will leave this world behind forever!
Notice, John says that this trumpet was “a voice”. I wonder if this is not the voice of the Lord calling for His people. In 1 Thes. 4:16, we are told that “the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout…” When Jesus comes, that trumpet will call the living up, but it is His shout that will call the dead. Look at the New Testament, every time Jesus shouted in the Bible, there was a resurrection!
Ø He shouted at the tomb of Lazarus and he got up – John 11:43.
Ø He shouted on Calvary and many of the dead saints arose – John 19:30; Matt. 27:50-53.
Ø He will shout at the Rapture and all the redeemed will hear His voice and come out of their graves – I Thes. 4:13-18.
I do not know what Jesus will say when He comes. He may say “Come up hither!” He may say, “Come forth!” He may say “Come home!” Whatever He says on that day, His voice will cause gravity to lose its hold on these bodies, we will be changed into His likeness, and we will fly away to our heavenly home.
I. THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS VERSE
II. THE ILLUSTRATIONS OF THIS VERSE
III. THE IMPLICATIONS OF THIS VERSE
There is a river of glory running through this precious verse. Let’s not miss the implications of this verse for our lives.
A. It Speaks Of A Deliverance – John is told that he is going to see “things which must be hereafter.” He is referring to future things. It won’t be long until we move in Revelation chapter 6 and beyond. When we get there, we are going to encounter details of events too horrible and amazing to comprehend. When we come to chapter 6, we are going to witness a vivid description of the events of the Tribulation Period.
It is significant that John is caught up into Heaven before the Tribulation Period begins. John is a representative man, he pictures the church and its removal from this world before the horrors of the Tribulation Period begin to unfold.
That is exactly what the Rapture of the church is. It is a rescue mission! Look at 1 Thes. 4:17. Paul uses the words “caught up” to describe what we call the Rapture. In fact, the word Rapture does not appear in the Bible. The word “rapture” is a Latin translation of the Greek word “harpazo”, which is the word translated “caught up, snatched away” in 1 Thes. 4:17.
The word “harpazo” literally means “to seize; to carry off by force”. If you saw your child about to be hit by a car and you ran out and snatched that child out of the path of the oncoming vehicle, saving its life, then you have the meaning of this word. It has the idea of rescue from danger.
There is a terrible time of danger coming on this earth. God is going to pull His people out and He is going to pull His Spirit out too. He is going to break off diplomatic relations with this world. Then, He is going to declare war on sin and sinners. He is going to take His church out before that time comes.
Some people believe that the church will be here for the Tribulation. They say the church is so filthy and so impure that God will leave it here to be cleaned up during the awful time. Let me just ask those people one question: What could the Tribulation possibly do for the church that the blood of Jesus cannot do?
Yes, there is sin and sinners in the church, but when we are caught up; we will face Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ. We will give an account of our deeds and lives, but sin was paid for at Calvary! Praise His name!
Let me share a few reasons why I believe the church will be rescued before the Tribulation Period begins.
Ø Our salvation has delivered us from His wrath, 1 Thes. 1:10; 5:9.
Ø We are looking for the blessed hope, not the horrors of the Tribulation, the Antichrist and the wrath of God, Titus 2:13.
Ø The biblical types suggest that we will be taken out before the Rapture – Enoch was removed before the flood, Gen. 5:24; Lot was removed before Sodom was destroyed, Gen. 19:22. There is a clear pattern. God removes His people before He manifests His wrath.
Ø One other proof is found in Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13. 22. In these verses, Jesus uses these words, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
§ Now look in Matt. 13:9, 43, here Jesus says, “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” No mention of the “Spirit” or of the “churches”. Of course, this was before the church was formed and before the Spirit was given.
§ Now, look at Rev. 13:9. This verse says, “If any man have an ear, let him hear.” Do you see the difference? Jesus does not mention either the Spirit or the churches, why? Because they have both were removed at the Rapture. Praise God, we will not be here for the Tribulation!
What we see here is exactly what happens in our world when war breaks out between nations. When hostilities begin to rise, one of the first things a nation does is call its ambassadors home. The church is God’s ambassadors to this world, 2 Cor. 5:20. Before He declares war on earth, He will call His people home to be with Him! Thank God, we are leaving before the worse comes
B. It Speaks Of A Destination – Not only is there going to be and escape, praise God, there is also going to be and entrance! 1 Thes. 4:17 says, “so shall we ever be with the Lord.” Folks, when we pass from this world through that open door in the heavens, we are going home. We are heading to that place Jesus promised to prepare for us, John 14:1-3.
When we arrive there, we will join the saints of all the ages in the presence of the Lord in His city! Imagine the Old Testament saints and the New Testaments saints all together in that city. Imagine the martyrs of all the ages; the preachers; the faithful church folks, all together in glory! Imagine that city, free from the curse of this world; free from death; free from pain; and free from sin, Rev. 21:4, 8, 27. Imagine seeing Jesus and God the Father, and the Holy Ghost, Rev. 22:4. Imagine that day when we go home! Well, one day, we won’t have to imagine for we will be there!