Osborne, Grant R. Revelation. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002. Location: Ellis BS 2825.53.O73 2002
III. God in Majesty and Judgment (4:1-16:21) pp. 218-602.
- God’s Sovereignty in Judgment (4:1-11:19) pp. 219-450.
- Throne Room Vision - God and the Lamb in Heaven (4:1-5:14)” pp. 220-268.
Osborne finds a third introductory passage in Revelation beginning at 4:1. Here the central ideas of the book are introduced, setting up chapters 6-16 (Osborne 2002, 218). At the same time, he finds the material following naturally from the content of chapters 1-3. The cult of emperor worship had been significant in the letters to the churches. As we continue in Revelation, we see God as the true sovereign who is worthy to receive honor and to render judgment (Osborne 2002, 219). The conflict to come will be between the true God and the false trinity, found to oppose God.
Revelation chapters 4-5 present two scenes of God’s throne room (Osborne 2002, 220). Chapter 4 focuses on God’s sovereignty while chapter 5 focuses on worship to God the Son, depicted as the Lamb. Osborne observes that many commentators find here echoes of Jewish sacrifician practices being applied in the image of Christ as the Lamb of God at an early time. He does not see this as only a later development.
- God on His Throne (4:1-11) pp. 222-244.
In Revelation 4:1 we find not only a scene chnge (“I looked”) but also the images of a door and the open heaven, two images Osborne finds important (Osborne 2002, 223). John is given access to see a reality which is not yet visible to all. Osborne notes that John seems unconcerned with the concept of multiple heavens or levels of heaven but is content to use the singular, pointing to the unique concept of the dwelling place of God (Osborne 2002, 224). The voice like a trumpet calls John to ascend into the heavenly place. This is not unexpected, as apocalyptic literature typically includes a tour of heaven. The tour introduces things which “must take place,” as Osborne says, affirming divine necessity (Osborne 2002, 225).
The concept of the throne of God is central to Revelation. As Osborne observes, this is the only place in the New Testament where God’s throne is described. The imagery of God’s majesty is consistent with Old Testament descriptions such as Isaiah 6:1-4 and Ezekiel 1:26-28 (Osborne 2002, 226). The splendor of God is clearly present, as God, whom John does not name, is sitting on the throne, described as a figure of light and the color of precious gems. Osborne describes each of the gems mentioned, also tracing biblical images of those gems as needed.
Sorrounding God’s throne are twenty-four lesser thrones, occupied by elders. Osborne notes the chiastic arrangement of this passage: the elders are seen, then the “living creatures,” then we have the song of the “living creatures,” then of the elders (Osborne 2002, 228). The identity of the twenty-four elders is unclear. Osborne concludes that the elders are described more as heavenly beings than as humans, such as the patriarchs and apostles. Likewise, the living creatures do not seem to have the same attributes as other earthly beings in Revelation (Osborne 2002, 229).
Coming from the throne in 4:5-6a are various astral phenomena, which Osborne finds related to both worship and God’s judgment. God “is the basis of both worship and judgment” (Osborne 2002, 230). The fires and torches, typical signs of authority, are more appropriate in the presence of God than in the cult of emperor worship. The image of the seven lights, seven spirits, and other instances of the number seven are likely indicators of God’s completeness. The splendor of God is further emphasized by the expanse like a sea of glass, which Osborne ties to the “expanse” in Genesis 1 and the “bronze sea” in 1 Kings 7 (Osborne 2002, 231).
We find further in Revelation 4:6-8 that there are four living beings around the throne. Their position is not altogether clear, but as they are drawn from Ezekiel chapter one, Osborne expects they are located in front, behind, and to the right and left of the throne (Osborne 2002, 233). With their many eyes, the beings are always watching over God’s creation. The church fathers took their appearance as man, lion, ox, and eagle to represent the four gospels. However, they were not certain which would represent which gospel. Some have suggested they represent times or seasons, judging from the zodiac signs, but this is also inadequate (Osborne 2002, 234). Osborne rejects these and several other possible models, finding too little cause to believe Revelation was using one model purposely. He does assert that the beings are strongly tied to the visions of Ezekiel 1 and Isaiah 6. They show all the signs of eing the living beings identified as seraphim elsewhere (Osborne 2002, 235).
Osborne finds the purpose of the throne room scene in Revelation 4 in the description of the worship, made in 4:8-11.The worship of the eternal God goes on constantly and will never end (Osborne 2002, 236). The hymns of praise are the constant response of those who have received God’s love. Here the Father and Son are honored for holiness, power, and eternity. The threefold proclamation of God’s holiness affirms his complete holiness (Osborne 2002, 237). God’s power and eternality are also proclaimed by those around his throne. Osborne emphasizes two elements of the worship in particular - the fact that God is seated on the t hrone and that he will last forever. These are both in sharp contrast to the imperial cult, where the emperor is not at all permanently enthroned (Osborne 2002, 239). Likewise, the falling down in worship before the king was well known in antiquity. Here, the elders, who are like kings with crowns, lay themselves before the throne of God. After all, Osborne observes, God is the center of all, creator of all, and sustainer of all, recognized as such in the song of those around the throne (Osborne 2002, 241).