Revelation chapter 4

Holy, Holy, Holy!

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come. – Vs 8 NIV

What does heaven really look like? That’s a question we’ve all asked at one time or another. And in this chapter, John gets the opportunity to see it and describe it to us. Of course, he only gets to visit heaven in a vision, but there is no indication that what he saw was any less real. But in attempting to put what he saw into words that we could understand, John is stuck with similes, metaphors, and verbal analogies that paint a fantastic, but also somewhat confusing image for us. He describes God as “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” (Revelation 4:3 NASB). It’s hard to get a clear visual representation in my mind of just exactly what that would look like. For whatever reason, what John is seeing is so incredible that he is unable to use normal descriptive terms to tell us what he is looking at. The scene is indescribable. It is more than words can express. Even the sounds he hears can only be expressed in the form of a comparison. He says, “From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder” (Revelation 4:5 NIV). His description of the four living creatures (Revelation 4:4-8) who surround the throne sounds like something out of Greek mythology.

Yet in the middle of all this fantastic imagery, John hears clearly the words the creatures are saying. He says that these creatures surround the throne of God and that day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” There is no question as to what he was hearing. He didn’t have to describe their words as peals of thunder or like the roaring of a waterfall. No, he heard their words loud and clear. And he also heard the words of the 24 elders who respond to the cry of the creatures by bowing before the throne of God and crying out, “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created everything, and it is for your pleasure that they exist and were created” (Revelation 4:11 NLT). The scene John is witnessing is unbelievable and indescribable, yet the purpose behind it is quite clear: the worship and adoration of God. John may have had a hard time describing what he was seeing, but he was quite clear about what he was hearing. The point seems to be that while we may have a difficult time describing God, even if we got to see Him face to face, we should have no difficulty worshiping God. What the creatures and the 24 elders are doing in heaven, we should be doing right now – praising God as the only true God. We should be praising Him for His holiness, set-apartness, sinlessness, and perfect righteousness. We should be praising Him for His infinite power and eternal nature. We should be praising Him for His worthiness. We may not be able to describe Him, but we can praise Him.

What John heard was far more significant than what he saw. He heard the heavenly occupants who surround God’s throne acknowledging the one-of-a-kind nature of God. He alone is God. He is the creator of all things. He is the sustainer of all things. He alone is worthy of our honor and praise. What these creatures and elders do ceaselessly, we should do willingly as well. Their cries are a reminder of who God is and why we should worship Him. He is the indescribable, unbelievable, indisputable, unapproachable, unforgettable, undeniable, immutable, unquestionable Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!

Father, You are worthy of our praise. I may not be able to see You, describe You, or even understand You, but I can praise You. Like these creatures and the 24 elders, may I never cease to say, day and night, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come! Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org