At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. 3 And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. (Revelation 4:2-3)
After being summoned up through an open door in heaven (see verse 1) John appears before the throne of God. As I pointed out in my previous post, John was not really seeing God completely unveiled, for that would have resulted in John’s immediate death (see Exodus 33:20). But John apparently witnesses a likeness of God that at least represents the purity and greatness of who God really is.
I, for one, do not understand all the symbolism of the scene that is presented here. Obviously the throne represents God’s very real power, sovereignty, and authority over heaven and Earth. God appears in the likeness of precious stones in order to communicate the reality of His Awesome Glory. The rainbow that emanates from Him probably is also meant to convey His glory. This rainbow in heaven could also represent God’s mercy and loving-kindness towards mankind just as rainbows on Earth do (Genesis 9:11-17). A possible third meaning is that this represents the light of truth that emanates from God into all hearts that are obedient to Him (light is a very important theme in the Gospel of John).