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This is the fifth in a series on Revelation 24. To go to part one of this series please click this.
Revelation 4:4 ‘Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones and seated on them were twenty-four elders’.
Yesterday we explored the identity of the enigmatic twenty-four elders of Revelation chapter four.
We looked at why they could not be angels since both angels and elders are described as two separate groups in Revelation 5:8-12.
However, they could represent the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and therefore they represent the redeemed of all time.
Matthew Henry wrote elegantly: ‘Their sitting denotes their honour, rest, and satisfaction; their sitting about the throne signifies their relation to God, their nearness to him, the sight and enjoyment they have of him. They are clothed in white raiment, the righteousness of the saints, both imputed or inherent, they had on their heads crowns of gold signifying the honour and authority given them of God, and the glory they have with him’. 3
Revelation 4:4 ‘They were dressed in white and had gold crowns on their heads’.
Some have noted that John must have seen himself seated as one of the elders in this vision which is perhaps strange but not impossible.
One other suggestion though, that really appeals to the mischievous part of me, is that the Old Testament priesthood was divided into twenty-four orders. Therefore the twenty-four elders could represent the whole of the Jewish priesthood and hence the nation of Israel.
Western Christians tend to think that the throne-room of God is very much like a Christian Sunday morning service except that God is seated on His throne somewhere in the middle.
The idea that the throne of God is surrounded by the Old Testament priesthood, complete with Messianic Jewish music and liturgy is somewhat appealing to me!
One thing we can be sure of is that God is not seated in the heavenly courts alone but in the midst of a vibrant worshipful community.
And the elegant, enigmatic twenty-four elders are there at the very centre, surrounding the very throne of God.
Tomorrow we explore the flashes of lightening, rumblings and peals of thunder and the seven lamps blazing. To get there please click here.
To go back to the first post in this series on Revelation chapter four please click here.
Matthew Henry quote: ‘Commentary on Revelation’ location 734