The Throne Room of God (Revelation 4 and 5)
John’s vision in chapters 4 and 5 is at the heart of Revelation. It is in essence a visualization of the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Through Jesus’ faithful witness and sacrificial death, God’s kingdom will come.
We may highlight from chapter 4 that God is praised precisely as Creator of all things (esp. Rev. 4:11; cf. Rev. 14:7, where the essence of the “good news” is to worship “the one who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water”). The visible world is not an afterthought, or a mere prelude to heaven, but an expression of God’s glory and the basis upon which his creatures may praise him. This again is foundational for a proper understanding of work. If the world is simply an illusion separating us from the real life of heaven, work in the world will necessarily be seen as more or less a complete waste of time. If, by contrast, the world is the good creation of God, the prospects for meaningful work become more hopeful. While we must remember the world is always contingent upon God, and that the present world order is subject to considerable shaking up, it is equally important to remember that the world as God’s creation stands meaningfully in his presence and is designed for his praise. In chapter 5, it is worth noting in this regard that the redemption secured by Christ, which permits God’s kingdom to move forward, is precipitated by Christ’s work in the visible creation. As Jacques Ellul notes, Jesus’ reception of the kingdom is based on his work on earth: “The terrestrial event provokes the celestial event. . . . What happens in the divine world is defined, determined, provoked by the venture of Jesus upon the earth.”
Jacques Ellul, Apocalypse, trans. G. W. Schreiner (New York: Seabury, 1977), 47–48.