Describing the indescribable - Comprehending the incomprehensible.
Revelation 4 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” 2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. 3 And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads.
5 Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God; 6 and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind.7 The first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle. 8 And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say,
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.”
9 And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11 “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”
As we look at today’s text, we see again John’s efforts to describe the indescribable. John tries to describe the things of heaven based on the things of earth. Heaven is beyond earth. It combines the full realities of the physical and spiritual realms. What is infinite is indescribable in finite terms. So, John uses the word “like” comparing the indescribable to the familiar. We can spend limitless time trying to fully comprehend and interpret what John saw. But we must recognize that even the best and most scholarly study will still leave some things to speculation or theory. Instead we can accept that our finite minds cannot fully comprehend the infinite God. Our human understanding cannot fully comprehend the omniscient God. It is not though that we should not continue to seek the fullness of His revelation. It is simply that some of it will only be revealed and understood in and by the Spirit. In John 4:24 Jesus says: “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” If we must worship in Spirit, how much more do we need the Spirit to know and comprehend God who is Spirit?
Something we can learn and apply from this is to not allow ourselves to limit God by what we know of have experienced. Scripture often uses God ordained human institutions to reveal the character of God and His will for people. Things like family relationships are supposed to reflect the love and character of God. They are to be like God. Very often we instead judge or limit God based on the experiences we have had in those natural relationships. We fear that if we had an abusive father or husband, then God must also be cruel and abusive. If we could not trust those we love, we project that mistrust toward God. Jesus taught us that we should pray: Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. The things of earth are to come into alignment and become like heaven. We should not limit or reduce God and heaven based on our natural, limited and sometimes negative understanding or experience. What we cannot comprehend with our natural minds, we must seek to know by the Spirit.
Today’s text does include something that is the same on earth as it is in heaven. It says: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.” … “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” To which we respond saying: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit forgive me when I limit You based on my finite mind, my limited understanding or my negative experiences. May it truly be on earth as it is in heaven. I declare on earth: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come. Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created. Amen.