When I read through the book of Revelation, I usually begin to feel lost at the exact point where we are now—the witnessing of the four living creatures in the throne room (Revelation 4:6).
Up until this point, most of the things John describes—a throne with lightening and thunder, a sea of glass, twenty-four elders in white garments—are objects I’ve encountered in some form before. I can visualize what John describes.
But then … John sees something out of this world beyond our limited visual history. In Revelation 4:6(b), he writes “and around the throne, [there were] four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind.”
It’s the full of eyes parts that creeps me out just a bit.
He goes on to say: “The first was like a lion, and the second creature like calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man and the fourth creatures was like a living eagle.” These I can picture.
John continues, “and the four living creatures, each one having six wings, are full eyes around and within…” Could John see something on these creatures he’s never seen before and use the word “eye” to describe this ability to see all around? We don’t know. But what the Lord is allowing John to describe to us are surely creatures who have the ability to see beyond the scope of our human view be it natural or supernatural.
Every jot and tittle of the written Word is purposeful and we are given such detail for a reason. God wants us to know there are other created beings we’ve yet to encounter and John tells us what these fascinating creatures do. “and day and night they do not cease to say, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God, The Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.’”
We’re told these four multi-winged beings praise God continuously and as they praise, John sees the twenty-four elders fall down before that throne of extreme energy and sparkling light.
And then John explains to us that these elders will cast their crowns before God and say, “Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; For Thou didst create all things and because of Thy will, they existed and were created.”
I’d like to take a step back here, beyond the imagery, and point out what we’re learning from this scene. This is a true worship service, my peeps. God is on the throne, His energy and power lighting up the skies around Him. He’s sparkling like a multi-faceted jewel and there is perhaps the largest transparent stone in the universe beneath his feet. The twenty-four elders, holding some form of authority, fall at God’s feet and claim He is the creator of all things and all things exist by His will alone. The four angelic beings who look some akin to we earthly beings sing out the truth: Holy is the Lord.
Truth surrounds this throne.
As lies not only penetrate our society, but lead to false doctrines, we’re shown an important state of existence here. God is and exists in truth.
Back to the Beings
This is not the first time these four beings show up in Scripture. The prophet Ezekiel documents these same angelic forces in Ezekiel 1:5-14. Not every detail is the same, but we must remember these were men seeing supernatural beings for the first time. We’re witnessing supernatural angelic lifeforms through the eyes of two limited, earthly men.
In Isaiah 6, Isaiah also describes similar angelic creatures when he is also shown God’s throne in heaven. He refers to these angels as Seraphim.
Throughout Scripture, we are given glimpses of additional angelic beings, too. These other-worldly sightings are not mysteries to be solved, but rather intended information to give us further knowledge about the invisible realm which is the realm from which our earthly existence was fashioned from (Hebrews 11:3).
Through angelic interactions and visions, we’ve come to understand there is an angelic order and that angels have differing responsibilities. We’re told angels have names and/or classes such as Seraphim, Cherubim, Archangels, dominions, principalities, ministering spirits, and hosts. They serve as messengers, fighters, guards, and helpers (Genesis 3:22-24; Daniel 10:13; Ephesians 3:10; Colossians 1:16; Matthew 18:10; Hebrews 1:14; Isaiah 6:1-3; Ezekiel 1:5-14; Revelation 4:6-9). The purpose of the four living beings around the throne, clearly, is to minister to God. In the two (possibly three) biblical accounts, they are with God and praising Him.
More on the Four
While we are not told why the four living beings John sees have different faces, an internet search will yield multiple articles and opinions. I was fascinated that many believe the beings represent the four gospels. Here’s a breakdown:
Matthew: The first beast is like a lion. In his gospel, Matthew presents Jesus as the king of the Jews—the lion of Judah.
Mark: The second beast is like a calf—the typical servant of the animal kingdom. Mark shows Christ as a servant of man.
Luke: The third beast is like a man. Luke’s gospel presents Christ as the Son of Man.
John: The fourth beast is an eagle. A high-flying and majestic bird, John presents Christ as exalted above all.
The Bible does not say directly that this representation is true, but considering that in an earlier blog, we determined that the things of earth were made as shadows of the things of heaven, then the earthly lion, calf (or ox in Ezekiel), man, and eagle are symbols to you and me of the things of heaven, not the other way around.
Through my own studies of the word and through teachers from various eras, I’ve come to understand that everything on earth points to Christ. He is all in all and our earthly purposes are enveloped in Him. And as we’ll see in the book of Revelation, Christ remains our theme.
Wrapping up this blog of what John sees first when he arrives in heaven, let’s finish up with what is revealed about Christ. The angels sing, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.”
The latter part of this statement is where our book of Revelation started, with Christ dictating the seven letters to John. He said, “from Him who is and who was and who is to come …” – Revelation 1:4.
Our revelation is this: He was. He is. And He is to come.
Christ is God and is forever.
Thank you for taking this Revelation journey with me as together, Christ becomes further revealed in our hearts and minds. If you liked this blog, you might like my newest Bible Brief, available on amazon.
More to come!
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