…as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. – 1 Cor. 15:48b NIV
…and God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. – Eph. 2:6-7 NIV
Having covered the Scriptures both detailing and alluding to Christ Jesus bringing His Bride to His Father’s house (see Parts 4, 7, and 8), we will henceforth study how the Scriptures portray the Church AFTER the rapture. May our Heavenly Father graciously grant us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation as we make time to study His word on His exalted position for us with Him in heaven during the trial which shall come upon the whole world, for the time is near. (Rev. 3:10; 1:3 NKJV). In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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You may recall from Part 6: The Thrones and the Court that God showed His exiled OT prophet Daniel the coronation of Messiah with the interesting detail that multiple thrones would be set in place when One like a Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven is given dominion and glory and a kingdom by the Ancient of Days (Dan. 7:9, 13-14 NKJV). Veiled to Daniel, our judicial role and dominion as “the Christ” was very subtly prophesied by his very words: I watched till thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated…. [God the Father and His throne are described] The court was seated, and the books were opened. [The One like a Son of Man, the fourth beast, it’s “little horn” (the antichrist), and his reign are described] …But the court shall be seated, and they shall take away his [the little horn’s] dominion, to consume and destroy it forever. (7:8-10; 26 NKJV, emphasis added).
Praise God, He expounded tremendously upon this end-time vision to His NT prophet John, exiled just as Daniel had been, as recorded in wondrous detail in The Revelation of Jesus Christ!
The predominant way Jesus revealed His raptured Church to us via John was as the crowned twenty-four elders on thrones. This is detailed in Chs. 4 and 5, and recurs periodically throughout the remainder of The Revelation of Jesus Christ. Let’s study this!
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Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. (Rev. 4:3-4 NKJV, emphasis added)
These are the thrones Daniel saw being put in place (Dan. 7:9) that Christ later promised to the Laodicean overcomers (Rev. 3:21). You may recall He promised white robes to the overcomers of the church of Sardis (3:4), and promised crowns to the faithful church of Smyrna (2:10) as well as to the steadfast church of Philadelphia (3:11). These crowns were also promised to overcomers via three different apostles in Jas. 1:12; 1 Pet. 5:1-4; 2 Tim. 4:8. Notice that Peter even promised the crowns to the elders among you who shepherd the flock as examples.
Why twenty-four elders? Twenty-four is a double portion of twelve, which is God’s number for government, and a double portion is given to the firstborn (e.g. Deut.21:17; Is. 61:7) – the Church, of course, is the church of the firstborn (Heb. 12:23). (Also, the Jewish remnant will know that King David established 24 courses for the priesthood – see 1 Chron. 24:1-18).) Lastly, elders is used over 130 times in the OT to denote those in positions of spiritual responsibility; it is used in the same manner in the NT regarding the church, although far fewer times (from Acts 11:30 onwards).
…Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:
“You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.” (Rev. 4:8-11 NKJV, emphasis added)
Praise God He has THIS privilege of worship for His Son’s Bride! Hallelujah!
…And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.
Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.” (Rev. 5:6-10 NKJV, emphasis added)
Just focusing on the identity of the elders, notice first the parallelism: the Lamb stood in the midst of the elders in heaven (5:6) just as One like the Son of Man had been in the midst of the seven lampstands (which He explained are the seven churches) on earth during the Church Age (1:17, 20).
Then, notice that the elders are positively the redeemed and not angels: the Greek word in 5:9,10 is “hemas,” meaning us (not “them” as some translations have). Additional proof that the elders are not angels is 7:11 which says All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures… (emphasis added).
Furthermore, the elders are not of Israel, for the elders are made kings and priests; since Israel fell short of God’s intention for them, only Melchizedek, Christ, and those under the new covenant of grace with Christ become kings and priests – the royal priesthood of 1 Pet. 2:9. (Other Scriptures indicating the elders cannot be of Israel include Rev. 7:1-8 and Rev. ch. 12.)
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To summarize our study of The Revelation of Jesus Christ to date, the exalted position of the Church is symbolized differently therein in different ages. God symbolizes the Church as lampstands (1:12,13,20) while we are on earth during the Church Age, light in the Lord… children of light exposing the works of darkness (Eph. 5:8, 11). When the trumpet of God is sounded calling the overcomers through the open door into heaven, Christ’s Bride – the Church remnant – is transformed, and is symbolized predominantly as twenty-four elders. The elders are enthroned with God in heaven, worshiping the Father, casting their crowns at His feet! They are enthroned and worshiping the Lamb who is worthy to receive the scroll and open the seals, unleashing the most prophesied and anticipated series of events in the history of mankind: the Day of the Lord.
Yes, all saints who qualify as overcomers in God’s eyes will inherit the exalted position of kings and priests to God [that]… shall reign on the earth (Rev. 4:4, 10; 5:8, 10). They shall become adjuncts to God’s throne, the very criterion for the removal of the antichrist. Hallelujah!
[To be continued…]