And these are sitting on thrones. When Jesus was teaching His disciples, in the dark days of bitter opposition He wooed them with this: "Ye shall sit upon twelve thrones." [Note: Mat_19:28.] And a bit later as they sat round the supper table on the night of His betrayal, when things are getting to the darkest, again He woos them: "Ye may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom; and ye shall sit on thrones." [Note: Luk_22:30.] He that overcometh is assured of sitting with Christ on His throne. [Note: Rev_3:21.]
All the redeemed ones of earth are to have part with Christ in the coming Kingdom time. They reign with Him. [Note: Rev_5:10; Rev_20:4; Rev_20:6.] During this present time the countless hosts of angels have a part in min istering to man on the earth. [Note: Heb_1:14 with Dan_7:10 and Psa_103:20-21.] Even so during the Kingdom time to come the countless hosts of the redeemed will have the sweet privilege of service with Christ and on behalf of those on the earth. And it is quite possible that they already have a part in such a ministry.
A little farther in the description it is seen that these elders have "each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." Heaven is a place of wonderful music. Its very atmosphere must be tuned to the rarest rhythmic harmonies. And each one has part in the music being made.
And yet more, they are continuing the sweet ministry of intercession learned down on earth. This means that they are in touch with earth. They know the needs of loved ones and of all, and they have the privilege of fellowship in this with Him who ever liveth to make intercession.
And there is one other thing we know here at once without being told. If a friend tells me that he has a rose garden under the care of a skilled gardener, I know without being told that the roses are growing. I at once look through my friend's words and see bushes full of roses of all colours, some full blown, some half blown, some bursting buds, and some just budding. For there is a garden, and a gardener, and sun and rain and dew. I know there must be growth and beauty.
Even so we know that the loved ones who have parted from us, are growing. They are in the Father's presence, in intimate fellowship. That tells me of their growth. That little one who slipped away so young, years ago, has been growing in mental powers, in character as well as in what down here we call stature, and growing most of all in love. And so at the meeting time, in the air or up there, there will be instant recognition, as well as instant delight over the growth under such wondrous tutorage.
This is the glimpse into the upper world which John sees and is allowed to give us here. The redeemed ones of earth of all the ages are in the presence of the Father and of the Lord Jesus and of the angels, on terms of intimate fellowship, made pure and perfect in character, but always growing from more to more, and having a share in blessed ministry. And they listen to and have share in making music more exquisite than our earthly language can describe.
They understand the wondrous plans for the earth, for now they see all things through the Lord Jesus' eyes. They have some part without doubt in welcoming those who come to join them, even as they will have part in receiving those who are caught up at our Lord's return. And they look forward eagerly to the glad time of righting that will come then.
But let us look a bit more at what John sees. Out of the throne are seen proceeding lightnings and voices and thunders. Three other times in this book it speaks of lightning and voices and thunder. [Note: Rev_8:5; Rev_11:19; Rev_16:18; Rev_16:21.] These things of course are the familiar accompaniments of a storm. It is noticeable that each other time they are named in the book it is in connection with some direct action being taken by God in the affairs of the earth. And each time there is some added item intensifying the scene.
A physical storm is caused by two areas of unequal temperature coming together. The storm is the process of coming together and equalizing of the atmospheric conditions. The inference here would seem to be that the time of action has come to straighten out matters on the earth. The two moral atmospheres of heaven and earth seem to be coming into contact, and a storm is resulting before clear weather comes. It suggests that our Lord Jesus is taking the next direct step in His broader plan.