“After these things...”
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, ‘Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.’” [Rev 4:1]
“After these things” [meta tauta, in the Greek]: This begins the next phase on the Revelation Roadmap of Rev 1:19: “Write the things which you have seen” [chapter 1], “and the things which are” [chapters 2-3], “and the things which will take place after this” [chapters 4-22].
“Beginning here, the revelation has to do with the consummation of this age.” [Walvoord] This is our current fallen age that began with the first sin in the Garden [ref. Gen 3] and will end when Jesus comes again [ref. Rev 19]. Sin entered the world through Adam; sin was dealt with through the Cross; sin will be purged from this earth at Jesus’ Return. Revelation 4:1 inaugurates this latter dispensation when sin begins to be purged from this earth.
It starts with the Rapture, the removing of the Righteous from this earth. The Church will be removed, not because they do everything right, but because they are declared righteous [justified] through faith in Jesus Christ. The two prominent scriptures describing the Rapture are 1 Cor 15:50-55 and 1 Thes 4:16-17. Also in 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Paul’s eschatological letters, we gain insight into the when and why of the Rapture.
Revelation alludes to the Rapture; it does not specifically spell it out like these other passages. Revelation infers the Rapture by omitting the “Church” from its vast future prophetic from Rev 4 onward. “The word ‘Church,’ so prominent in chapters 2 and 3, does not occur again until 22:16.” [Walvoord] This omission is telling, because the Church is in heaven from the start of Rev 4. Only then will God’s wrath be exercised to rid the earth of sin [Rev 6-19] and prepare the way for Christ’s return [Rev 19].
Revelation 4 begins the final chapter. We should know the end of the story! It will change the way we live in the here and now. Who reads a book without reading the final chapter? The narrative in Rev 4 goes from “the things which are” [present], to “the things which will take place after this” [future].
HOWEVER, as we move into this “final chapter” we should remember the personal revelation, commendations, exhortations, corrections, and promises that Jesus has given to His Church in Rev 2-3. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”