1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. 2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. 3 And he that sat was to look upon like jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. 4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. Rev. 4:2-4
These scriptures show the importance that God attaches to two groups of people. Twelve of the twenty four elders mentioned here represent the nation of Israel. These are the twelve fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel.
“I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.”
This means that the nation of Israel plays a major role in the Kingdom of God right to the end of time. There is much spoken in the Bible concerning the nation of Israel. Israel is and will remain central to the heart of God right to the end of time. For this reason, Israel deserves only awe and respect from the rest of the world. It does not do anyone any good to oppose Israel. For this reason also, Israel will always come out victorious against anyone who declares themselves their enemy.
The other twelve elders described above are the twelve apostles that we read of in the Bible. They had to remain twelve; that is why when Judas Iscariot died, the disciples of Jesus went into the trouble of casting lots to appoint another man to replace him (Acts 1:12-26). God’s proportions are incredibly strict. The apostles had to be twelve to represent the twelve tribes of Israel. And this shows, amongst other things, how much God respected our spiritual fathers, the men whom He not only chose, but who also walked according to His ways.
The nation of Israel, and the church. Notice also that these 24 elders
“had on their heads crowns of gold.”
These two groups of people represent everything that God has to do with. Anyone who is not in either of these groups is outside of the realm of God’s dealings.
For many in the church, showing respect and awe for the nation of Israel is easy enough. But it is with the church itself that many have problems. Many within the church do not realize the importance that God attaches to the church. They therefore have a worldly approach to the church. They have almost the same approach to the church that the world has.
But we need to realize that the church is the apple of God’s eye. We therefore need a very careful approach to the church. The church is God’s chosen people in the Spirit. Every member of the church is therefore extremely important to God. The church is represented in the face of God by twelve apostles.
The term “apostle” is first mentioned in the New Testament. So is “church”. These are entirely new names for a completely new dispensation. It is the Church, the Bride of Christ. That is why Jesus told Peter, “If you love me, feed my sheep”. At one stage He told him,
“Feed my lambs.” (Jn. 21:15)
In many cultures, people show affection for their loved ones by calling them by their initials or other affectionate abbreviations. And they use other tender names like “Babe”, etc.
It was so with Jesus. By calling His sheep “lambs” He was showing His extreme love and affection for His church.
The attitude that Jesus has for His church is the same attitude that we need to have towards one another in the church, the real life brothers and sisters that we rub shoulders with. In Colossians 3:12-14 it says:
“12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13 Forbearing one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”
It is all about loving Christ’s church.