about-bg about-bg


The Crystal Sea

• Greg Boyd

In John’s vision in Revelation 4, he sees a sea of glass, which represents peace. What does this vision of peace mean for life when we are surrounded by chaos, evil and the constant barrage of all that is not peaceful? This vision of peace came before the final victory of sin and death. This peace is our inheritance in the present. We only need to see it and embrace it as God’s gift to us.

Show Extended Summary Hide Extended Summary

This is the first sermon in a new series called “Good Heavens” that covers chapters four and five in Revelation.

This message focuses on one verse in this chapter: “Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal” (Revelation 4:6). This communicates peace, a reality that all is well. This “sea of glass” is a symbol of what creation will look like when God’s love will be reflected in every square inch of the renewed creation.

In the Old Testament, the sea is viewed as a destructive force that represents chaos, destruction and evil. This motif is written about in Revelation 13:1 and 21:1. This “sea of glass” in Revelation 4 offers a vision that the great sea monster has finally been defeated, redeemed and transformed, and now contributes to the glory of the throne room. Whatever is meant by the details, this sea imagery communicates complete serenity. All is well.

The question we must ask is: how is all well at this point of the book when evil still is alive and is not defeated until the end of Revelation? The answer is found in the already/not yet paradox found in the New Testament. This is the reality of living in a time when God has already completed the work of redemption, but it has not yet been worked out in time.

There are two ways that this paradox works. The first is that time does not work for God the way that it does for us. In 2 Peter 3:9 we read, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” God measures time differently than we do. God has always existed. Therefore, our experience of time gets measured against God’s infinite existence. As a result, any duration of time will be infinitely short. From God’s perspective, it is as if the things that are not yet done on earth are already done.

The second way of understanding this paradox is to consider the nature of the all-powerful and all-wise creator. God gives free will to creatures, both angelic and human. However these creatures might choose, God has anticipated every possibility and has a plan in place on how to bring good out of each choice. Whatever mess free agents make of creation, God is always at peace, perfectly confident that he can fulfill his ultimate plans and promises for all creation.

This peace of God is ours, as God’s children. It is part of our inheritance. We have access to this throne room now, even in the midst of the storm. Paul writes about this in Ephesians 2:4-7:

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

We are already seated with Christ within God’s throne room. We are already sitting far above all powers and authorities. And we are already declared holy and blameless and already made an eternal dance partner of the triune God. Therefore, we are, in some sense, already in the heavenly dimension in which all is well. This peace is ours now, even in the midst of the tumult of this world and the chaotic challenges that we face. We can know this peace.

Hide Extended Summary

Topics: Peace, Presence of God, Spiritual Warfare

Sermon Series: Good Heavens!

Downloads & Resources

Audio File
Study guide
Group Study Guide
The MuseCast: May 7

Focus Scripture:

  • Revelation 4:1-11

    After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first 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 there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne.

    Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

    In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

    “‘Holy, holy, holy
    is the Lord God Almighty,’
    who was, and is, and is to come.”

    Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

    “You are worthy, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
    for you created all things,
    and by your will they were created
    and have their being."

Subscribe to Podcast

One thought on “The Crystal Sea

  1. Patty says:

    This was a favorite this year thus far. I missed you!
    Thank you Emily for all the effort you put forth
    ( remarkably I might add) despite your recovery from long Covid. I. Just. Can’t. Imagine. Loved the analogies to examples in nature! ❤️

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *





"I've been a WH podrishioner for several years now and I can't tell you how much it has changed my life. I came across these podcasts at a time when I was in an extremely unhealthy/abusive situation, and these teachings were immensely influential to me maintaining my faith and sanity. THANK YOU for showing me what a Jesus-looking God is like and what it means to follow Him. Many, many blessings to all of you!"

– Christina, from Oregon