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Revelation 4:6-11 “The Four Beasts’ and The 24 Elders’ Worship of God”

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SIH STSTA ICONTHE TEXT:

 

The Worship of The Four Beasts Before The Throne Of God In Heaven:

 

Revelation 4:6-11 KJV

(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.

(7)  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.

(8)  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.

(9)  And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,

(10)  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,

(11)  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.

 

 

 

THE INTRODUCTION:

Chapter 4 begins a new section in the book of Revelation… “Jesus Christ In The Midst Of Heaven”.  Prior to this section, our attention was placed upon earth and the Lord in the midst of His assemblies, communing with them and instructing them.

In chapters 4 and 5, we will have our attention switched to the great worship taking place in heaven.  This worship will be pointed toward Christ and the Father.

A very brief outline of this section of Scripture:

Vision Of Heaven 4:1-5:14

  1. Worship Before The Throne  (4:1-11)
  2. The Throne Of God (vs 1-5)
  3. The Four Beasts’  & Elders’ Worship Of God (vs 6-11)
  4. The Scroll And The Lamb (5:1-7)
  5. Worship Of The Lamb (5:8-14)

 

THE EXPOSITORY STUDY:

Revelation 4: –

(6)  And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: 

John’s description of the throne of God continues…

Flowing out from the throne was an expanse of glass stretching out like a sea .   This glass was very clear, much like perfect crystal.

This sea of glass is also described in Revelation 15:2… “And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.”

This text helps us to see that it is solid (saints are standing on it) and reflective (the fire from the seven lamps reflected upon it)

 

What does this “sea of glass” symbolize for us?  It pictures the way of salvation for mankind or, put another way, it is the living water of God (John 4:10-11; 7:38).

Please notice that:

  1. it flows from the throne of God (salvation comes from God);
  2. it is illuminated by the 7 lamps (the Holy Spirit reveals the way of salvation to fallen mankind),
  3. those who have overcome the sinful world walk upon it (it is the path that is taken by the people of God that takes them into God’s presence);
  4. it is crystal clear (the way of salvation is genuine, true, not tainted by sin in any way)
  5. it is reflective (it reflects the light of the 7 lamps and, by implication, it reveals the spiritual condition of those who walk upon it. In other words, as the chosen of God come into contact with the gospel message they see themselves as sinners in need of a Savior, much like a person sees themselves in a mirror – James 1:23-24)

These are several of the reasons we can know that the sea of glass is a picture of God’s living waters presented as the way of salvation.

 

and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts 

John describes the throne as having four “beasts”, or living creatures, in the middle of and surrounding the throne.  What does he mean by this?  The throne had one beast surrounding it on each side… one to the north, one to the south, one to the east and one to the west.   Each beast was in the midst, or in the middle, of the throne (each one stood in the exact middle of each side of the throne).

John begins to describe these beasts which will help us to understand what they symbolize…

 

full of eyes before and behind.

These living creatures possessed numerous eyes that entirely surrounded their heads.  In other words they could see in every direction.

 

(7)  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.

Please note they look differently one to another…

  1. one’s face resembled a lion – a lion is a symbol of royalty and authority
  2. one’s face resembled a calf (or ox) – an ox represents a service, slavery, laborer
  3. one’s face resembled a man – a man represents humanity, weakness, frailty
  4. one’s face resembled an eaglean eagle represents deity, transcendence and all-knowledge

 

These four living creatures seem to be presented to us in the Old Testament in Isaiah 6:2-7;  Ezekiel 1:5-25 and 10:1-22.  Note the following table that emphasizes the similarities of these beasts…

 

Description Revelation 4: Isaiah 6: Ezekiel 1: Ezekiel 10:
         
Lion X   X X
Calf (Ox) X   X X
Man X   X X
Eagle X   X X
Wings (4 or 6) X X X X
Full Of Eyes X   X  
Verbal Praise X X    
         

(8)  And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him;

These beasts had six wings.  In Isaiah 6:, we are told that two wings are used to cover their face, and two wings are used to cover their feet, and two wings were used to fly.

 

and they were full of eyes within: 

Once again John explains the great number of eyes that could be seen surrounding their head.

 

and they rest not day and night,

Their constant activity is to praise the Lord day and night.

 

Saying Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.   (9)  And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,  

Their message of praise includes:

1.  “Holy, holy, holy” – a declaration of the exclusivity of God (He stands out from all others). It is only the three persons of the Godhead are sinless, just, all wise, all knowing, present everywhere etc etc etc.

  1. Lord God Almighty,” – a declaration of His great strength and authority
  1. “which was, and is, and is to come”. – He eternally exists as Creator and Completer of all things. He existed before all things (throughout eternity past) and will exist throughout eternity future. He began everything and will bring everything to His desired end.
  1. “give glory and honour and thanks” – Their message gives to the Lord praise, value and words of appreciation for all He has done.
  1. “to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever” –  Their praise is pointed towards the eternally existing God.

 

Who are these 4 living creatures?  If we look ahead at the next chapter (5:8-10) we find that these four beasts sing a song (along with the 24 elders) that proclaim that they are redeemed by Christ’s blood, made kings and priests of God, and will reign with God on the New Earth.   This clearly tells us that they represent the saved.

 

Please keep in mind the 24 elders represented the saved and, especially their blessed POSITION OF HONOR AS THE ETERNALLY BLESSED OF GOD.

The 24 living creatures represent for us another aspect of those who are saved… THEIR POSSESSION OF ETERNAL LIFE.

 

This use of different symbols to present the same basic type of being was also used in the 7 lamps of fire representing the same Holy Spirit in its seven ministries.  In our text today, we see the 24 elders and the 4 beasts all picturing the saints of God.  However, they symbolize different characteristics of those saints.

 

Please take notice of many aspects of believers represented by these 4 living creatures:

1.  They are described as “beasts” (in Greek “living creatures”) This points us to the eternal life that they possess. Other titles given to these heavenly creatures are “Seraphim” (burning) point to saints as those purified ones and those who are the light of the world; and “Cherubims” (grasped ones) which point to saints as being held, protected in the hand of God.

  1. They surround the throne eagerly awaiting the commands of God to then do His bidding. They are pointed towards all four directions on the globe ready to take the gospel message throughout all the world.
  1. They were “full of eyes before and behind” – saints of the Lord possess spiritual sight and constantly are to be on guard against Satan and the influences of this world etc.
  1. They are pictured as a lion, ox, man and eagle – they are given great authority from God; they are the servants of God, they are fallen; sinful, weak, humanity; they are overcomers and victors in Christ transcending the sinfulness and heartaches of this world
  1. They had six wings (covering their face, feet, yet continue to fly) – the saints are ashamed (covering face) not wanting to look at Lord due to their sinfulness; the saints recognize their sinful walk; yet the saints fly above all these hindrances to service knowing there are servants of the Ultimate Victor over sin, death and Satan.
  1. “They rest not day and night” – the saints of God are constantly seeking opportunities to serve the Lord in this world and in the world to come.
  1. “saying holy holy holy…” – the saints praise the Lord on earth and throughout eternity with their entire being for all He has done for them.

 

 (10)  The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, 

 Now, the 24 elders in response to the praise of the 4 beasts are said to “fall down before him that sat on the throne” – They fall down in humility and submission to God.   How important it is for us to always allow the worship of other Christians to encourage our hearts to worship and submit to Christ’s will also.

 

 and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

The rewards for faithful service to Christ that they have received they now give back in praise to God.

Stop and think about it… every act of service that we perform for the Lord can only be done through His gracious intercession in our lives.  Our service comes from His granting us the ability to serve Him.  Our words come from His enabling of our understanding and our mouths as He opens the door of ministry.  Our Godly actions come from the Lord’s giving us our life, health, strength, gifts of ministry, opportunities to serve etc etc etc.  EVERYTHING we do for Him is only through HIS enabling graces.  That is why He is the only One that truly deserves the rewards for our service.

  

(11)  Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power:

These 24 elders now praise the Lord for His deserving of all acts of praise and service that we can give to Him.  All of our desires, words and actions that give forth praise, value, and ability are deserved by Him.  We cannot “over-serve” Him.

  

for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Why does He deserve all that we can do for Him?  It is because He is our Creator, and the One who freely chose to create us of His own sovereign abilities.

 

  

CHRIST REVEALED:

In this section of Scripture, we see the results of Christ’s work continually on display.

We see that, because Christ died and rose again, His people are saved from their sins and obtain eternal life.  Based upon this we see God being worshipped now and throughout eternity.

In the symbolism of the four beasts (and the 24 elders from our previous section) we can see the tremendous number of eternal spiritual blessings that sinful mankind receives through the work of Christ.

All of the activity we see in this vision is a wonderful display of the results of the effectual work of Christ on the cross.  God will be honored eternally based upon the faithfulness of Christ as He gave His life on the cross for the forgiveness of His people and the securing of their eternal life.

 

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION (SUMMARY)

As the possessors of eternal life, we have been blessed of God in many different ways.  All of these culminate in our need to prais and honor the Lord with “all that is within” us.  May we all see the need to glorify the Lord as we live our lives on earth, knowing that throughout eternity we will be praising Him for all He has done!

 

 

May the Lord bless us as we seek to see Jesus in the pages of the book of Revelation.

 

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Email Contact:          settledinheaven@gmail.com

 


1 Comment

  1. SLIMJIM says:

    Thank you for this message!

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