Jesus has just given the letters to the messengers of the seven churches, and now John is summoned.
“Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this,” John heard.
Accepting the angel’s invitation, John stepped through the open door. Instantly he found himself in the Spirit, before the throne of God.
The scene is described in my book ‘The End, the Wayfarer’s Guide to the Apocalypse’;
God sat on a massive throne in the midst of some kind of electrical storm, His presence generating so much power that the air cracked with flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. A rainbow shining like an emerald encircled the throne, while seven lamps blazed in front of it. The throne overlooked a crystal clear sea of glass.
Kingly men dressed in white, wearing crowns of gold sat on thrones surrounding God. They were the twenty-four elders and they totally worshipped him.
In the centre, around the throne were four living creatures. They were covered with eyes, front and back, even under their wings. The first living creature was like a lion, the second an ox, the third had a face like a man and the fourth was like an eagle. Each had six wings.
They worship God as much as the elders.
The seven lamps blazing in front of the throne are the seven spirits of God, the angels that sent their greetings in the first chapter (Rev 1:4). Jesus explains who they are in Rev 1:20. We know they’re before the throne of God but we only get to see them in their symbolic form. They’re messengers.
The twenty-four elders are men, the first to be made kings and priests to God, and they shall reign on the earth. They’ll play a part in the events that unfold.
The four beings with different faces and six wings are Cherubim, a rank of angels. After the fall of man, Cherubim were posted to guard the Tree of Life.
As well as being guards, the Cherubim are used by God for travel; Psalm 18:9-10.
The prophet Ezekiel described them as having human hands under their wings. Each of the cherubim had four faces: One face was that of a cherub, the second the face of a human being, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle. Ezekiel 10:14
John saw them with a face and Ezekiel saw then with four faces.
They struggled to explain what they saw as their vision was off world and in a different dimension.
If our pets could describe us getting into our cars, what would they say? I can just imagine it! “The humans got into a beast with round legs that moved without walking. It made strange noises and had smoke coming from its tail. It had four eyes, the top two were bigger than the bottom two. And it blinked orange while the eyes flashed white.”
Now imagine if the pets were two dimensional beings trying to describe it, they’d have no concept of width! How would they explain that? It’s the same with John and Ezekiel trying to describe the throne of God.
Signs and Symbols
It’s possible the four living creatures were represented by the lead tribes in Israel’s desert wandering.
Each of the twelve tribes bore a sign on its standard when they were travelling through the wilderness; Numbers 2:2
Four tribes were camped around the tabernacle at the cardinal points with two tribes behind them, forming a square. East was Judah-The Lion (Leo), West was Ephraim-The Bull (Taurus), South was Reuben-The Man (Aquarius) and North was Dan-The Serpent replaced by an Eagle (Scorpio).
The four great signs which thus marked the four sides of the camp, and the four quarters of the Zodiac, are the same four which form the Cherubim (the Eagle, the Scorpion’s enemy, being substituted for the Scorpion / Serpent).The Witness of the Stars, EW Bullinger
Bullinger believes that if you match the blessings of Jacob and Moses with the signs the connection will be clearly seen. I don’t know, it’s only a two out of four from me as I’m not too sure about Reuben or Dan. Here are the relevant verses. You decide.
- Dan-The Scorpion (Scorpio) – Genesis 49:19-21
- Ephraim-The Bull (Taurus) – Deuteronomy 33:17
- Judah-The Lion (Leo) – Genesis 49:8-12
- Reuben-The Man (Aquarius) – Genesis 35:22
Perhaps the four living creatures represent God’s creation.
The number four is an earth number – there are four seasons, four points of the compass, four phases of the moon, four winds, four sides of a square, four elements (earth, wind, fire and water) and four corners of the earth.
If only we could ask the earth, ask the beasts.
Once you start noticing the four, you’ll notice it everywhere. The twenty-four elders are a multiple of four (four times six, the number of man), and this is the fourth chapter of Revelation.
Getting back to John, here’s a clip and an anointed song by the band Kutless.