John said, “After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven” (Rev. 4:1). The connotation here is obvious. There is an open door between where John is and heaven. It happens to be open, suggesting the immediate possibility of entrance. Praise the Lord for such doors. John in Revelation 1 had an experience with two realms of reality. One was the world of visible reality—that world was dark and danger filled. It offered no hope whatsoever, but suddenly John’s eyes were opened upon another world, the world of the invisible. In one statement he said, “I was on the Isle of Patmos … on the Lord’s day I was in the spirit.” In this realm of spirit-truth he saw what he has reported to us.
All of us are faced with these two realms of reality. All of our troubles with depression and hopelessness rise at the point of our conviction as to which realm is more real. We deal with the visible, the tangible every day. We know that it is real. Bills must be paid. Sickness and death are a part of life. The world is getting worse and worse. There are fears, doubts, rejection, anxieties, and terrifying developments on the horizon which seem to threaten the very survival of the human race.
But there is another world, another realm of reality which vies for our attention. The spiritual, the heavenly, and the eternal! But you and I tend to believe that this is foggy, misty, and unreal. Yet, this is true reality. The ultimate test of reality is survival, and nothing we see, touch, taste, smell, or feel is indestructible. That of the senses simply will not survive the transition and the ultimate dismissal of time. The invisible is the real. This must be believed if our philosophy of history has any hope at all.
The door which John saw open was the door between earth and heaven, the aperture between the visible reality and the invisible [and genuine] reality. As we relive this experience with John, I want to challenge you, dear reader, to see that open door which is before you!
A VOICE IN HEAVEN
The vision of the open door was soon accompanied by a trumpet-like voice which commanded, “Come up here and I will show you what must take place after this” (Rev. 4:1b).
There was first an identification. He recognized that this voice was the same voice that had first spoken to him, the voice of Jesus himself! Then there was an invitation. “Come up here,” the Savior demanded. Now the door was open in heaven and the very King issued the invitation to enter it. Then came the explanation, “I will show you what must take place after this.” Now we learn the key to history. Not only are there two realms of reality, the seen and the unseen, but the unseen realm controls the seen. We have had it the other way around. This is the reason it has been difficult to have faith, for faith’s foundational claim is that real, genuine reality is in the area of the invisible.
Jesus seems to be saying to John, “Listen, things are not as they appear to be. They never are! I am about to show you things as they really are. I am about to walk you into the throne-room of the universe and show you genuine reality! Things are not out of control. The devil has not won. Evil has not triumphed! Man is not a victim of cruel chance. We are not living on a large ball that is about to explode and send us all into oblivion. John, I want you to walk through this door and get a glimpse of reality!”
AN OCCUPIED THRONE
John then says thoughtfully in verse 2, “At once I was in the spirit, and there was before me in heaven a throne with someone sitting on it.” The first glimpse of his vision was a throne. What do you think of when you hear the word “throne”? You think of control, of rule, of authority. In the realm of the invisible reality, there is a throne. We have the situation reversed. The powers of this world do not hold the balance of authority in this universe. There is a control room in heaven and a throne. I like the way John described the scene. “I saw a throne and someone sitting on it.” Many people in the world would have expected the throne to be unoccupied and “up for grabs.” But the matter is settled in the description to follow. It is the Sovereign God who sits on that throne. The invisible controls and holds sway over the visible. Heaven is earth’s authority, and the whole universe as well.
AN ORDER TO PRAISE
Suddenly John finds himself in the middle of a mighty service of praise! He describes the appearance of God as precious stones and sees twenty-four elders seated on lesser thrones. They are dressed in white and crowns of gold were upon their heads. From the throne comes flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder. He further sees four living creatures in the center and around the throne, one like a lion, and the others like an ox, a man, and a flying eagle. They each have six wings and are covered with eyes all around. They are speaking a continuing message: “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, Who was, and is, and is to come.” As these strange living creatures so praise the God of heaven, the elders fall down and worship, and lay their crowns before the throne, saying as they do so: “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.”
Jack R. Taylor, The Hallelujah Factor (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1983), 22–24.