The Biblical Ministry of the Elders – Revelation 4 – By Ty Tamasaka

The Biblical Ministry of the Elders

The Biblical Ministry of the Elders - Revelation 4.png

From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits[j] of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

“‘Holy, holy, holy

is the Lord God Almighty,’[k]

who was, and is, and is to come.”

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.”

 The Scroll and the Lamb

Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign[m] on the earth.”

11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”

13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”

14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.” Revelation 4:5-14 NIV

While Revelation is rich with symbolism and imagery, in this devotion, we will observe the ministry of the elders.  The twenty four elders here, likely refers to the twelve patriarchs (representing the Old Testament believers) and the twelve apostles (representing the New Testament believers) symbolizing God’s people in their entirety.

Though it’s difficult to be sure about who the twenty four elders are, we do see what the elders do and don’t do in Heaven.  First what they don’t do.  Elders weren’t elders simply because they were old.  Their ministry was not to run board meetings and programs.  They didn’t lobby to seek a higher and more influential position.  They didn’t make power plays to gain power in the church.  Here is what the elders did in the Book of Revelation.  It’s also a great ministry for people to have today.

1 – They remained in the presence of God and worshipped. 

10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.” 
Revelation 4:9-11 NIV

The elders were worshippers.  They fell before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever.  True elders are worshippers who give all glory to God.  The text says, “They lay their crowns before the throne.”

Crowns were given for one of two reasons.  1 – To recognize royalty.  2 – To recognize victory – as in athletic competition.  This suggest that elders were people who had run the race and were faithful to receive crowns.  But their crowns were not important to them.  They lay their crowns before the throne.  In other words, they recognize that their accomplishments are all because of the King.

2 – They seek out people who are hurting.

I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me…” Revelation 5:4-5 NIV

During his vision, John was weeping because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll.  It was one of the elders who found John and talked to him.

To be an elder in the church, seek out those who are hurting.  To be one in the position of honor in the church, be a worshipper and be one who seek to encourage those who are hurting.

3 – They point people to the Lord. 

“Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Revelation 5:5 NIV

The elder didn’t just find John who was hurting.  The text shows that the elder pointed John to Jesus.  When John was weeping, the elder pointed John’s attention to Jesus.  When John thought all was lost, the elder pointed him to the triumph in Jesus Christ.

This is a great assurance.  Elders remain in the presence of God and worship.  Elders look for hurting people and point them to Jesus.

Lord Jesus You have called me and those around me to be elders.  You have called us to worship You, look for hurting people, and point them to You.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

Ty Tamasaka is an author who hold a Master of Arts Degree from Pacific Rim Christian University in Christian Ministry  He is a Bible teacher who loves to encourage people to enjoy Jesus’ grace and extend His Kingdom. Ty just released his new book Starting Fresh: Following Jesus on the Adventure of a Lifetime in addition to More than a Conqueror: 5 Pathways to Personal Revival.    

 

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