The seven letters to the seven churches have been completed. Of the seven churches, two have been praised and encouraged without any criticism or correction. One has been thoroughly condemned with nothing to praise. And the other four have received a mixed bag encouragement and condemnation.
In one way or another, all seven have been warned about a time of trial and tribulation for which they need to be prepared. To set that moment, John is now given a vision of a sovereign God in full command of the trajectory of history. While people of His church might, at times, be unable to resist earthly powers, which are hostile to Jesus Christ, the arc in history is not determined by sinful people but by God, enthroned and active in heaven.
And so, now, John is swept up in the Spirit to the very door of heaven.
Here is the vision he has been given:
After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.
And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: he first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the