John’s View Into Heaven (Revelation 4:1-3, Study)

Have you ever pictured heaven in your mind, wondering what it might look like? We get a glimpse of heaven from John in Revelation 4:

The Throne in Heaven
1 After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. 3 And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. (Revelation 4:1-3)

This just begins the symbolism in Revelation 4. The picture shows what a marvelous and mysterious place heaven seems to be. To fully understand what John is describing we need to understand two things:

1. Heaven is far outside of our realm of human experience. Just as we can’t understand the mind of God, neither can we really describe something that is so far outside our senses, language and experience. So John uses the term “like” often in his descriptions. He’s trying to give us a picture using words and images we can understand.

Pastor Michael uses this example of trying to explain something that is outside of our experience. Let’s say you are describing the color blue to a middle-aged person who has been blind from birth. You can describe it in many ways… the softness of a clear blue sky, the emotions often associated with blue or even the scientific wave-length of blue light. Yet, this person still will not be able to “see” the color blue as a sighted person would. It is completely outside of their realm of experience. In the same way, the picture accompanying this blog immediately shows what we might think of a really far out visions of heaven, the scene John is describing as well as he can.

2. Once again John’s symbolism can be more fully understood within the context of the whole Bible. Some of the words and symbols used are references to other scripture. We’ll dig into these as we progress the rest of the way through Revelation.

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. (v 1a)

This is the third reference to a door in Revelation. The other two are found in Chapter 3:

I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. (Revelation 3:8)

This is the “door of opportunity.” God has made a way for all of us if we choose to take it. No one, not even satan, can close this door.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. Revelation 3:20)

This door opens to the heart. Jesus wants us to invite Him into our hearts to share an intimate personal relationship with Him. Again, this is a choice for each of us.

This third reference can be described as the “door of revelation.” (Note the small “r.” The entire Bible is a book of the revelation of God and His plan for us.) Via John’s vision, we will get a glimpse of what is to come. Figuratively speaking, this doorway will open to all of us with Jesus’ Second Coming.

“speaking to me like a trumpet” (v. 1) This is a “like” statement that is easy to understand. God is not speaking in a “still, small voice.” It is resounding, attention grabbing, like the trumpet of a herald announcing the arrival of arrival of royalty. We’ve seen “like” statements before. an excellent example can be found in Mark 1:10:

Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.

Here we also see heaven opening to us humans.

Jesus gives us a promise that we will see into heaven in John 1:51:

“Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.” (spoken to Nathanael)

This in turn refers back to Jacob’s Ladder in Genesis 28:12:

He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

See how this amazing Book ties it all together! The Bible is one Book, one Story. Recognizing that sure helps us to demystify Revelation.

This study of Revelation 4:1-3 will continue with “The Throne of Heaven.”

My thanks to Pastor Michael and the faithful members of the Men on the Grow Bible study group.

This blog is part of an ongoing series based on my notes from a weekly Bible Study. For all of the blogs in this study, see: A Study of the Book of Revelation: Index of Blogs

Shalom, Art
Alive in the Word


About aliveintheword

Missouri, USA Married to Marty, 45 years 2 sons (with 2 daughers-in-law) and 2 granddaughters Life dedicated to serving Jesus Christ and delivering the Good News
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5 Responses to John’s View Into Heaven (Revelation 4:1-3, Study)

  1. Donna says:

    I was wondering about the image (emerald throne of God). Our youth group would like to use it on a t-shirt. Any idea who owns this image?

  2. granbee says:

    My maternal grandfather was considered somewhat of an authority on the Book of Revelations in his day back in the 50s and 60s in Mississippi. He had wall hangings painted by talented local artist/farmers that illustrated several of the passages you quote in this post. After reading this post and learning of your weekly studies in Revelations, I can see why you “liked” my guest author post at Christian Blessings entitled “Blown into Silence”. I hope and pray you will find time to post on this blog again. If you have a newer blog, please visit my own personal blog at, read some of my allegorical narrative poetry as my critterlyfolk travel on their quest, as commissioned by a single look from the eyes of the Babe in the stable, for the One Bright Light that will shine into all men’s hearts to connect them in peace and goodwill. Then you can leave any newer URL in a comment on one of my recent posts there. Bless you always.

  3. Lovely Post! I enjoyed reading this. Thank you for visiting my blog. I will definitely be come back to read more here. Stay Blessed 😀

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