Three pieces of evidence indicate that the vision of Revelation chapter 4 does not portray a one-time event, but a general description of heavenly worship. 1) The throne in verse 2 is not set up, it “was standing” (NASB) continually in heaven (Greek: keitai, imperfect tense). In Daniel 7 the throne is “set up” (Greek aorist) in preparation for a special event. But the imperfect tense of Revelation 4:2 means continuous action in the past. The throne waaaaaaaaas there. At some point before the time of the vision the throne was already there and continued to be there. This suggests that what follows is not a one-time event, but a description of an on-going, repetitive scene.
2) The singing in verse 8 is not a single episode, it goes on “day and night.” The parallel to this is in the “day and night” accusations that Satan throws at the “brothers.” Just as Satan does not accuse God’s people at a single event in heaven (his accusations are extremely and annoyingly continuous), so the worship and praise in heavenly places occurs “day and night.” This is not a single event of worship in heaven, the vision is describing the ongoing worship that constantly continues there.
3) The singing of the four living creatures is continuously repetitive (Rev. 4:9– “whenever” in NIV, RSV). “Whenever the four living creatures give” (Greek: Hotan dôsousin ta zôa) praise to the One sitting on the throne, the twenty-four elders bow in worship. The English well expresses the continuous nature of the Greek. “Whenever” the four living creatures sing, the twenty-four elders respond. This is the language of continuous, ongoing worship. The scene of Revelation four is a general description of the worship that occurs in heaven, it is not describing a specific scene at a specific point in time. This sets the stage for Revelation five, where a moment of crisis occurs in heaven.