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July 24, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“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.”—Revelation 4:4 (NKJV)
As we begin the undertaking of understanding the geography of heaven (that is, its actual layout or setup), we’ve established that God’s throne is at the center. It’s the focal point there. Everything else keys off of this throne.
We see this quite clearly here in Revelation 4:4, as John tells us there are 24 thrones surrounding God’s throne. John goes on to tell us that 24 “elders” sit on these thrones. So who are these elders?
Their identity has been debated for centuries, but two dominant theories have emerged. The first is that they’re the leaders of “God’s people” in both the Old and New Testament eras. That is, that they’re none other than the twelve sons of Jacob who established the twelve tribes of Israel, and the twelve apostles who went on to establish the Church.
The second theory is that they are a collective representation of the New Testament Church, because they are described as being clothed in white robes, which is emblematic of Christ’s righteousness throughout Scripture (Isaiah 61:10; Revelation 3:4, 19:8). This of course speaks of the cleansing work Christ accomplished for His Church by dying on the cross for our sins: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us [on the cross], that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV).
But their exact identity isn’t essential information, because God hasn’t given it to us. What matters; however, is that they’ve been redeemed by virtue of being clothed in robes of righteousness. They also wear golden crowns, which indicates victory—the victory over sin and death that can only be achieved through faith in the Lord (1 John 5:5).
At the very least, we can conclude that these 24 elders represent humanity that has been redeemed through faith in Christ Jesus. They represent those of us who’ve come to recognize that we can never make ourselves clean and that we can never overcome on our own. And we can’t miss the detail that they’re “seated” before God, revealing that they’re restful and secure before Him. Just as we are in Christ!
DIG: What surrounds the throne of God in heaven?
DISCOVER: What does this represent? What do we have in common with these representatives?
DISPLAY: Thank the Lord today for the robes of righteousness you get to be clothed in through His sacrifice.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.