“After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven.” (Revelation 4:1) 

What is happening in heaven right now? It might seem like an odd question, maybe even an irrelevant question.  

Heaven seems so far away, so disconnected from our on-the-ground, flesh-and-blood lives in the real world. It’s almost like asking: What is happening on the moon right now? Does it really matter?  

Interestingly, when we turn to the book of Revelation, the final book of the Bible, after hearing the seven letters to the churches (chs. 2–3), and before being shown what will soon take place in the future, John is given a glimpse into what is happening in heaven right now (Rev. 4:1-11). Why? Because this heavenly vision will ground John and give him (and us) the proper perspective in light of what has happened and what is to come.  

What does John see through the open door? He sees a throne (4:2). The living God, arrayed in glory and splendour (4:3), is the one sitting on the throne. Around the throne are 24 further thrones, occupied by 24 elders clothed in white, wearing golden crowns (4:4). These elders are probably a reference to the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 New Testament apostles, together representing the unity and totality of God’s people. Four living creatures also surround the throne (4:6b-7), most likely representative of all created beings. Together, God’s people and God’s creatures, praise him ceaselessly and wholeheartedly (4:8-11).  

Given the glorious nature of such a vision, it’s perhaps not surprising that John also saw ‘…flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder’ coming from the throne (4:5). Perhaps more surprising is that in front of the throne ‘…there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal’ (4:6). Rather than roaring seas, which is symbolic of chaos and trouble in Scripture, the sea is smooth as glass. In heaven, all is calm, all is bright. 

This heavenly tranquillity stands in stark contrast to the turmoil of life in this world. On earth, and in our lives, things often seem chaotic and out-of-control. Tragedy strikes seemingly randomly, disease comes unexpectedly and indiscriminately, while suffering and trouble is almost ubiquitous. It’s easy for us to begin to imagine that this life and this world is all there is. That the hard reality of our lives in this world is all that there is to ultimate reality.  

This is why we need to look with John through the open door into heaven. We need to see what is happening ‘behind the scenes’. The eternal, creator God (4:9-10) is reigning and ruling in perfect peace. He is not wringing his hands, he is not on his feet pacing the floor, he is sitting down on the throne in total control. He is sovereignly and graciously working all things to his appointed ends; a new heaven and a new earth where there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Rev. 21:1-4) because there will be no more sin or evil or rebellion (Rev. 21:17), and where we will join with all creation in praising our great God forever. 

This is a vision that can ground us for the year ahead. It’s a vision that can sustain us through the vagaries, hardships, and difficulties of this life, all the way into eternity. When life shakes, we can know that God does not. We can be certain that the life of heaven is ours and it will be ours fully and forever on that great and glorious day when Jesus returns (Rev. 22:6-21).  

“Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” (Rev. 22:20). 

With you on the journey,