Read verses 2-3
Q: How do we know that it is God the Father who is sitting on the throne?
A: Because God the Spirit is represented by the seven lamps before the throne (Rev. 4:5) and God the Son in the next chapter will come before this throne. (Rev. 5:6)
Q: How does John’s “throne room” experience compare with other similar encounters recorded in Scripture?
A: It contains many parallels and no contradictions to those experienced by Moses, two sons of Aaron and the seventy elders (Ex. 24:9-11), Ezekiel (Eze. 1:26-28; 10:1), the prophet Micaiah (1 Ki. 22:19; 2 Chr. 18:18) and the prophet Isaiah (Is. 6:1-3)
Q: Is there any significance to the precious gems mentioned?
A: Many commentators offer that the jasper as a clear stone represents God’s purity, the sardius as a red stone represents God’s wrath and judgment, and the emerald as a green stone is associated with God’s grace and mercy.
Point: These are the attributes which are in equal tension with each other, that God is a pure and holy God and cannot abide sin which must ultimately bear His wrath and judgment, but His grace and mercy has provided a way for sinful man to escape the consequences for their sin.
Q: What is significant in that “there was a rainbow around the throne”?
A: This was the sign of the covenant God made after the Flood to never destroy the world again with water. (Gen. 9:11-17) It is a constant reminder of God’s promise and covenant of mercy. Even though the wrath of God is about to go out from His throne to effect final judgment, in His wrath God will still remember mercy.
Lord, I have heard the report about You and I fear
O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years,
In the midst of the years make it known;
In wrath remember mercy.
— Habakkuk 3:2
Q: Where else in Revelation will we see the rainbow?
A: In Rev. 10:1 Christ will be noted as wearing it about His head to remind us that is through Christ that grace and mercy, and the fulfillment of all of God’s promises, have come to the world.
Q: How might Noah’s view of the rainbow be dramatically different from that of John’s?
A: Noah (and the rest of us to this present hour) could only see an arc in the sky, while John saw the complete rainbow roundabout the entire throne. Also, Noah witnessed the rainbow after the storm of God’s wrath, but John witnesses it before the storm of wrath to come.
Point: Because we “see in a mirror dimly” (1 Cor. 13:12), our earthly perspective is incomplete. When we get to heaven what we saw as a part of the pattern will be revealed completely and whole.
Application: The starting point is a reminder of the character of God Himself, that what is at work is the equal application of holiness, righteousness and grace.