“Then as I looked, I saw a door standing open in heaven, and the same voice I had heard before spoke to me like a trumpet blast. The voice said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after this.” Revelation 4:1
“The Bible refers to heaven more than five hundred times, and others, such as Paul (2 Corinthians 12) and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1), have written descriptions of it. Yet John’s words in Revelation 4 and 5 are the most informative in all of Scripture. Readers are carried far beyond this world’s understanding into a picture of heaven’s realities. Through John’s vision, believers have the privilege of previewing the place where they will live forever.
The phrase “after these things” is used throughout Revelation to mark the beginning of a new vision. This new scene focuses on the throne of God and forms the prologue to the future, historical events that unfold in chapters 6–22. In keeping with the Lord’s promise to spare His church from the hour of testing given in 3:10, the church will be raptured before that time of tribulation begins. That door admitted John into heaven to the very throne room of God. It was heaven where Christ ascended after His resurrection and where He has since been seated at the right hand of God. Heaven became John’s vantage point for most of the remainder of Revelation. After noticing the open door, the first voice John heard was the familiar voice “like the sound of a trumpet” that had spoken to him in his first vision (in 1:10). This was the voice of the risen, exalted Christ. His voice is likened to the sound of a trumpet because of its commanding, authoritative quality. The central theme of John’s vision is the “throne of God,” mentioned eleven times in this chapter. All the features of the chapter can be outlined based on how they relate to that throne of divine glory.
What will follow the church age? Evidently in some form or other the time of the tribulation. Why must the time of tribulation follow the church age? Because when the church has been withdrawn, while Satan, godless governments and Christless religions remain in the world there must be tribulation, and such a time of tribulation as the world has never known in the mixed state which has been from the beginning until now. From the fourth chapter through the nineteenth, speaking generally, there seems to be an account of this time of trouble. At the beginning of chapter 4, then, the church may be considered as in heaven and not related to events which will take place on the earth in preparation for Christ’s return in power and glory.