“And I looked, and lo a Lamb stood on Mount Zion and with Him an hundred and forty and four thousand having His Father’s name written in their foreheads,” Rev. 14:1-5.
“THE LIVING CREATURES AND THE TWENTY-FOUR ELDERS”
“And they sang a new song BEFORE THE THRONE (OF GOD) and before the four living creatures and before the elders (of the heavenly Sanhedrin)…,” Rev. 14:3 AMP.
“And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth,” KJV.
In order to have a clear picture of what the FOUR LIVING CREATURES and THE ELDERS are, we shall have to go back to Chapter 4 of the book of Revelations. May I remind you that the entire picture before us shows that the throne, the four Living Creatures and the Elders are all in one location.
Again, it will be stupid for us to begin to imagine that within the throne of God faraway up in heaven, there could be literal beasts. For that is what the King James Bible said. So what then are these Living Creatures? How many Elders do we have before this throne? etc.
Now in Rev. 4, John spoke of the vision he had of the court in heaven with Jesus (one like unto the Son sat on a throne with a rainbow all around Him) which speaks of perfect light, which is life, when he said,
“..Around the throne there were twenty four other thrones with twenty four elders sitting on them. They were dressed in white and had golden Crowns on their heads… Before the throne were seven Lamps which were the seven spirits of God… In the center and around the throne were four Living Creatures with eyes all over them, in front and in hack. The first Living Creature was like a Lion. The second was like a Calf the third had a face like a man. The fourth was like a flying Eagle. Each of the four Living Creatures had Six wings and was covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day and Night they never stop saying ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty. He was, He is and He is coming.’ These four living creatures give glory, honour and thanks to the one who sits on the throne who lives forever and ever. Then the twenty elders bow down before the one who sits on the throne, and they worship Him who lives forever and ever. They put their Crowns down before the throne and say ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God to receive glory and honour and power, because you made all things. Everything existed and was made because you wanted it,” Rev. 4: 1-11 NCV.
So here we find the throne that the 144,000 were standing before (Rev. 14:3) and what is going on in it. We shall examine a few of these features one after the other for a clearer understanding of what the Spirit is saying to us. Mind you, it is a vision and it has to be interpreted.
THE FOUR LIVING CREATURES
These are not just ‘beasts’ or ‘animals’ that you can find in the bush. Rather these are symbolic of angelic beings representing man. They are “Living Creatures” because they have the life of God within them. For when God breathed into man, “man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7).
We are also told that they were “…full of eyes before and behind.” This speaks of perfect vision, unceasing watchfulness. The truth of the matter is, this symbolism is taken from the book of Ezekiel, Chapter 1. These four Living Creatures are synonymous to the Assyrian Karibu (a name similar to that of Cherubs that spread their wings over the Ark in Exo. 25:18+).
These Assyrian Karibus had the head of a man, the body of a lion, the hooves of a bull and the wings of an eagle. The images of these creatures stood guard outside the palaces of the Babylonians. It is the characteristics of these creatures that are herewith used to describe the ‘four living beings’ in Rev. 4:7-8, and 14:3.
And of course, we can see that these ‘four living creatures’ are the Cherubims that guard the glory of God even as can be seen over the Ark (Exo. 25:18+) and the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:24).
Evidently, we can see that these four living creatures are the four angels responsible for directing and guarding the world; because four symbolizes the universe, for the universe was created on the fourth day of the creation week of the Genesis account.
Their ‘many eyes’ as we said before speaks of God’s omniscience and providence. They keep on giving glory to God for His creation even as they are before the throne of God, the Ark.
The outstanding qualities found in animals are sometimes used in Bible language to describe symbolically a variety of qualities and powers. Such features as used at times may portray excellent qualities, which may be divine in nature as well as human, just like the case in question.
So we find that the LION stands for that which is NOBLEST (distinguished by deeds, character, rank, or birth, or lofty character). The BULL (OX) means STRENGTH, the MAN stands for WISDOM (the most intelligent of God’s creation) and the EAGLE stands for SWIFTNESS in terms of movement – speed. All are natures that can be manifested in the created world.
In Christian tradition, the four Living Creatures are symbolic of the four evangelists, which are Mathew, Mark, Luke and John as they portray Christ in their write-ups, as we shall see next.
To be continued…