The Vision of Heaven
After the seven letters to the seven churches, John was shown the vision of heaven. Before the Book of Revelation, God only revealed Himself through the interaction with prophets on the earthly level, like He talked to Moses on Mount Sinai or sent prophets to anoint or warn the kings of Israel. This vision in heaven in the Book of Revelation is the first time what really happens in heaven was revealed.
First, John saw a door standing open in heaven. Then he heard a voice speaking to him, Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this. At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. (Revelation 4:1-2)
Here are two significant indications here. First, what John was about to see were the things that must happen afterward, both in heaven and on earth. The heavenly events are the leading causes of the earthly events, and the earthly events are the fulfillment of these heavenly events. They were the major historical events on the earth, mostly in the Christian world, after the first century.
Second, after John heard that voice, he was immediately in the Spirit. This indicated that he entered the Spiritual Realm. This is a special phenomenon that his spirit was separated from his physical body, similar to the phenomenon
of Near Death Experience" (NDE). His physical body remained on the island of Patmos, but his spirit was lifted to heaven in front of the Lord sitting in the throne in heaven. Then he would be shown the amazing things in heaven and the interaction between heaven and earth which prophesied the historical events in the future.
At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. (Revelation 4:2-4)
In this vision, John not only saw the Lord God Almighty (Revelation 4:8) sitting on the throne in heaven, but he also saw twenty-four elders sitting on the thrones around him. And these twenty-four elders also have crowns of gold on their heads. These twenty-four elders must have very prestigious status to sit by the Lord God Almighty with the crowns of gold on their heads. They are the kings and lords of their own realms or territories, and the Lord God Almighty is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (Revelation 19:16)
In monotheism, only the Lord God Almighty is considered God. The other twenty-four elders are considered His associates. If the Lord is the Chairman and CEO in heaven, the twenty-four elders would be the board of directors. So when God created human beings, He talked to these elders by His side, Let us make man in our image and in our likeness. (Genesis 1:26) Here, the words us and our were referred to the Lord himself and these elders, and possibly some angels. In the Bibles Book of Genesis, when the Lord visited Abraham with His two angels, they all appeared as three ordinary men. (Genesis 18)
For those nations who received the revelation from the Lord directly, they only saw the Lord God Almighty. So they believed in monotheism. But for those who lived in the realms or territories of these twenty-four Elders, they might have seen both the Lord God Almighty and their lords among the twenty-four elders. In this case, people could consider these twenty-four elders as gods as well due to their high prestige and authority over their own realms or territories. Thus, they believed in polytheism.
In ancient times, people usually had the intention to bow down and worship those who were more powerful than themselves as their lords. In the Bible, Abraham bowed down to the Lord and his two angels (Genesis 18:2), and Lot also bowed down to the two angels who visited Sodom (Genesis 19:1). If any of these twenty four elders came before them, most people would worship them as their God too because of their powerful and prestigious status.
Hence, the vision of these twenty-four elders sitting around the Lord God Almighty could be interpreted as either monotheism or polytheism. It just depends on how people recognize these elders in heaven as they are all sitting on the thrones with crowns on their heads. If people only consider the Lord God Almighty as God, their belief is monotheistic; if people also consider these twenty-four elders as the lords, their belief is polytheistic. But the heavenly fact is the same, there are twenty-four elders sitting on the thrones around the Lord God Almighty, like the directors of the board sitting around the Chairman of the board.
Therefore, whether people consider this vision as monotheistic or polytheistic is not that critical as long as people all recognize and worship the same Lord God Almighty as the God of the Most High, just like these twenty-four elders did in Revelation 4:10-11 and 5:14, and do not worship the idols people created for themselves. But for general public, it is safer and better to believe in the Lord God Almighty alone in the Monotheistic sense so people wont be deceived by other spirits disguised as God.
In this vision, there are also four living creatures covered with eyes, in the front and back. They look like a lion, an ox, a flying eagle and the one with a face like a man. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. (Revelation 4:8) These four creatures represent All Seeing Eyes of Heaven observing all the living creatures on the earth. They will all, along with the twenty-four elders, worship and sing the song of praise to the Lord God Almighty,
Holy, holy, holy
You are worthy, our Lord and God,
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