Monday, August 17, 2009

Revelation 4:6-11

Verse 4:6 “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.”

As discussed before, the tabernacle/temple on earth was a replica of the temple in heaven. There were certain objects that were a part of the temple that we will now see their heavenly counterparts. This first is the sea of glass which is before the throne. In the tabernacle there was a laver of brass. It was situated between the tabernacle and the altar and held water in which the priests could wash themselves. Ex. 30:18-21. In the temple, the molten sea is much more impressive (it did not have to be moved as the lavers did) in size and ornamentation. This sea was for the priests, but there were ten lavers (five to a side) made in which to wash the things that were offered for burnt offerings. In the heavenly temple the sea is of glass or crystal. It is no longer necessary for it to be of water for anyone to use for washing, as all have been made clean by the blood of Christ and can enter into the presence of God without washing at the sea/laver.

The next part of the description is very difficult to understand. In the midst and round about the throne are the four beasts. How does one explain something being both in the midst and round about? Tackling the round about first, it would seem the these four beasts (Gr. "zoon" - meaning living thing) are on each of the four sides of the throne in some capacity surrounding it. When we think of a throne, we think merely of a seat, but God’s throne is much more than that. In Ezekiel’s vision we see that the throne sat upon an expanse Ez. 1:22, 26 and as already seen in a previous verse in Revelation there is a bow. The living beings or creatures are in the midst of this expanse surrounding the throne. They are the closest ones in proximity to God in heaven. These beasts are full of eyes on every side. There is not a thing that they miss.

Verse 4:7-8 “And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was and is, and is to come.”

Again, this description of the four beasts is reminiscent of the description of the living creatures in Ezekiel’s vision, but there are some differences. In Ez. 1:5-18 “Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle. Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies. And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went. As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning. Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces. The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel. When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went. As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four.” Ez. 1:22-23, 26 “And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above. And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies…And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.” Ez. 10:12 “And their whole body, and their backs, and their hands, and their wings, and the wheels, were full of eyes round about, even the wheels that they four had.” This last passage refers to these creatures as cherubim. While there is a similarity in the four faces - a man, an ox/calf, an eagle and a lion, the cherubim of Ezekiel each have these four faces. One face facing in each of the four directions. On the other hand, the creatures in Revelation each seem to represent one of each creature. The creatures of Revelation are round about the throne. The cherubim are beneath it supporting and transporting it. The cherubim have four wings, the creatures or beasts have six. Both creatures are full of eyes. The group in Revelation is praising God, the cherubim are silent. There is another passage in scripture about a particular group of angels that surround the throne of God that might be this same group. This group is the seraphim. Is. 6:1-3 “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” In this case, while there is not a description of the faces, these seraphim occupy the same place as the beasts of Revelation, round about above the throne. They are praising God in the same way, and they both have six wings. It is likely that while the cherubim resemble in some ways what appears to be seraphim, God has made some differentiation to distinguish them for the job they are to do.

It is said that the four gospels represent the four aspects of the Lord Jesus Christ. Matthew portrays Christ as the King, Mark portrays Him as the Suffering Servant, Luke as the Son of Man, and John as the Son of God. These four beasts, the lion, calf, man, and eagle portray these four aspects of Christ. The lion is the king, the calf (ox in Ez.) is the servant, the man is the humanity of Christ, and the eagle is the deity of Christ. Christ was first a servant (first coming) then a king (second coming), and he has a dual nature, man and God.

Verse 9-11 “And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever. The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”

In heaven the praise of God is continual. When the beasts start the praise, the twenty-four elders join in. (See my archives in May 2009 on Melchizadek for explanation of 24 elders). They cast their crowns before him, as we will also do when we are in God’s presence. He is worthy of this praise and thanksgiving as He has created all things. Now is stated the answer to the perennial question that all of unbelieving mankind has been asking for ages-“What is the meaning of life?”. Mankind was created for God’s pleasure. God wanted fellowship with someone who would respond back to Him in love freely. Following this idea further would lead into a discussion of the doctrine of election, which is probably best left for another time. There are several praises sung during the course of Revelation. This one is addressing the Creator for His creation.

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