There’s not much disagreement, at least among those who are premillennial, that the rapture of the Church occurs in Revelation chapter 4 and verse 1.
Some christians fear the book of Revelation, but to the child of God who will study and seek to understand it, it is a Mysteriously, Marvelous, Majestic book of things to come.
The key to understanding the book of Revelation is what Jesus said to John in chapter 1 verse 19. We often call it the key that unlocks the book. Jesus said “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;”
- The things which thou hast seen is chapter 1 – that’s God’s Glory – John’s Vision
- The things which are is chapter 2-3 – that’s God’s Grace – the Church age – that’s where we are right now
- The things which shall be hereafter is chapter 4-22 – that’s God’s Government – The Rapture of the Church, the Tribulation Period and the Coming Kingdom of the Lord.
The Rapture of the Church, the catching away of the Bride of Christ, is found in the words “come up hither” in verse 1 of chapter 4.
But the question arises… where is the Church in Revelation chapter 4. If, as we believe, the rapture occurs in Revelation 4:1 then where is the Church? Did John see them? Were they there?
I submit to you that yes… they were there… very visible… easily identifiable… and very active.
I believe that the church is represented by… the four and twenty elders. There are three clues that we can examine that will identify these four and twenty elders as representing the Church.
The number 24 represented the whole of the priesthood… the 24 courses. All members of the priesthood, the ministers, the messengers and the musicians all represented in the 24 courses, the priest, the levites all compiled the 24 courses of the priesthood.
The number 24 is a collective, comprehensive number. In the Old testament it represented the Priesthood, in the New Testament it represents us as the priesthood of Christ; I Peter 2:5 “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”
Peter reaffirms and reinforces this a few verses down in I Peter 2:9 “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:”
The three clues that I mentioned earlier that point to the four and twenty elders representing the Bride of Christ are:
1. Their Chorus
Revelation 5:9 “And they (the four and twenty elders) sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;”
2. Their Clothes
The Elders are “clothed in white raiment” in chapter 4 verse 4, and chapter 19 verse 7 and 8 we read “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.”
3. Their Crowns
When Jesus comes back in Revelation 19 as King of kings and Lord of Lords, he’s wearing a royal crown… a diadema. But here in Revelation chapter 5, the crown that these 24 elders is wearing is a stephanos… a victor’s crown. The crowns that we have won, yet not cast down at his feet.
These clues of the Chorus, the Clothes and the Crowns of these four and twenty Elders, point to an unmistakable conclusion that the Church is represented by the four and twenty Elders.