Before the Crystal Sea

There is a little something that I have assumed for years, but never bothered to check. This morning I was reading in Revelation, the thought popped up again, and so I thought I would check on it. And, sure enough, there it was, right in the Bible.

“And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind” (Rev. 4:6).

This of course shows up in our hymns . . .

“Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee,
casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea”

But because of the limited use that sea has in modern English, many may assume that this is referring to the throne of God being on the heavenly seashore. But the “sea” here is the laver that the priests used for washing. There is obviously a symbolic connection to the sea as ordinarily understood, but the crystal sea in John’s vision is a laver.

Here is the earthly type of the heavenly antitype.


“And the pillars of brass that were in the house of the LORD, and the bases, and the brasen sea that was in the house of the LORD, did the Chaldees break in pieces, and carried the brass of them to Babylon” (2 Kings 25:13).

The Hebrew word for sea, the kind ships sail on, is yahm. The Greek word is thalassa, and the Latin word is mare. The Hebrew uses yahm here, the LXX uses thalassa, and the Vulgate uses mare. And in Rev. 4:6, the crystal sea is thalassa. So, there you go.

Theology That Bites Back



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