The Four Living Ones
Revelation 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."
It says that there were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. So in the 2nd half of the verse, we see something else that is present around the throne of God; it is something that's highly symbolic and full of truth. And in the midst of the throne and round about the throne were 4 beasts full of eyes before and behind.
Now this word beast is really a poor translation. You get the idea of maybe a cow or an alligator or something. When we think of beasts, we think of a dumb beast. The word isn't really beast. The word there is zoon: it can be used of animals but the literal meaning of this word is living creatures or living ones -- He saw 4 creatures who were living. Living is the emphasis of this word. They were living in the presence of God. John says that these 4 living creatures were in the midst of the throne and round about the throne. And so all 4 were in very close proximity to the throne, but among them some were in the midst and some were round about. But all of them were close to the throne of God. Now, who are these that are close to the throne of God, in the midst of His throne and round about His throne. We're going to take a little bit of time and examine and see this.
Now there's a similar picture in Solomon's temple. We find that there were 4 cherubim and there the word is cherubim in the holy of holies. 1 Kings 6:23-28 will show us 2 of these 4. Oracle means holy of holies. Read verses 23-28. And he goes on here about other things that were made in the temple. So here's 2 of these cherubim. They're about 15 feet high and about 30 feet in their combined wing span. In verse 29, we find that there were also cherubim on the walls round about carved into the wood of the walls and then overlaid w/ gold. Read v.29. Now the other 2 cherubim in Solomon's temple were on the ark. They were of one piece of gold beaten into shape on the mercy seat of the ark. This ark was the same ark which God had commanded Moses to make. It was the very same ark and it was now located in Solomon's temple. Now to show that this ark was in the temple, we read 1 Kings 8:6,7. Now this ark, as I said, had 2 cherubim of it's own and this is seen in Exodus 25:17-22.
Now as to the meaning of this word cherub and cherubim being the plural, Lexicons like Gosenius and the dictionary in the back of Strong's concordance say only that it's of uncertain derivation. That is, what they're saying is that we don't quite know what this word means and Strong's gives the Hebrew word and then he says it means a cherub. He's not quite sure. And this goes right along w/ the fact that there is a deep revelation involved here. There's something unknown-- something yet to be revealed about these cherubim and even their name is somewhat veiled as to its meaning. Now Gosenius after he says that this is an uncertain meaning, he goes on to say that it may mean: a divine steed as it were, a horse. And he relates it to the Arabic word that means a ship of conveyance. A ship to carry something. Now we'll paint a picture of this and see what we can find out about them.
2 Samuel 22:11 speaks about the Lord in symbolic language. Read-- So, as it were, this cherub was His conveyance to convey Him wherever He wanted to go. Not that God needs to go anywhere, of course, you understand there is a picture involved here. (2 Kings 19:15;Exo.26:1; Song of Sol.3:6-10).
Psalms 18:10--And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.
1 Chronicles 28:18 Read. So there's a chariot of the cherubim that spread out their wings and covered the ark of the covenant before the Lord. So the scripture refers to these 2 large cherubim 10 cubits high which spread forth their wings in the holy of holies as "the chariot of the cherubim." As it were, they are a chariot to convey God, to convey His throne. It's a typological picture. Now Gosenius also gives another possible meaning to this word cherubim. He says it may mean: One who is near to God. One who ministers to Him or one admitted into His presence. So there's someone here that's being admitted into His presence.
Now what have we seen about these cherubim so far? We're going to make a kind of a sub-conclusion
First of all, in both the tabernacle and in Solomon's temple, they are in the holy and intimate presence of God. Now breaking it down: In the tabernacle, we find that their wings touch and their faces look towards one another, and so there's a unity there. There's a connection between them. They're tightly connected. As it were, they see eye to eye. There's a unity emphasized.
We also find that in the tabernacle, that when the glory of God appears on the mercy seat, it appears right between them and they are as it were, witnesses and partakers and guardians of that precious glorious presence of God. And as the glory of God appears, it reflects on them and it reflects on their faces because they're all of solid gold. It's as though they see the glory of God in each other's faces. (2 Cor.4:6 Christ, 2 Cor.3:18 us-- the saints)
In the tabernacle, they are of one piece w/ the mercy seat. They are of one piece. Now Christ is the mercy seat. Christ is that one of solid gold. He's that one who had the nature of God. In him dwelleth the fulness of the Godhead. He's the one who covers the law of God that would judge us by paying the price on the cross for our sins. He put a covering on that law that would judge us because the 10 commandments on tables of stone were within that ark and the mercy seat covers that, that we might come into the presence of God.
And Christ is also the ark. The ark is that wooden box overlaid inside and outside w/ gold that the mercy seat sat on. Christ is that ark. He's that vessel of wood, humanity, but also of gold, Deity. Both God and man. He's the one who had the perfect law of God in his heart, just as the ark had the tables of stone within. But these 2 cherubim on the mercy seat are joined as one piece w/ him. They are joined as one piece w/ that mercy seat. And they, as it were, partake of his nature. They're one w/ him, they're totally united w/ him. Now who are those who are totally united w/ him? I don't think the picture here is angels, and I don't think angels are beaten into shape. I think that people are beaten into shape. (Heb.2:10;Jas.1:2-4;Rom.5:1-5;Heb.5:8,9)
They are beaten into shape of one piece w/ the mercy seat. There was a solid block of gold and out of this was beaten this mercy seat and the cherubim coming up off it. So we find that they start out joined to him. And we start out this Christian life joined unto him. But, still there's a process to beat them into the proper shape. As it were, they are beautified and perfected through the trials that come to hammer them into this glorious dwelling place of God.
Looking into Solomon's temple for a minute, we find that there are now 2 larger cherubim of olive wood overlaid w/ gold. And Rotherham, in his translation, translated it wild olive wood. That they are of wild olive wood. And we find in other scripture such as Romans 11 that wild olive is a type of the Gentiles. It talks about the tamed domesticated olive tree being Israel and how the branches of the wild tree are grafted into the domesticated one, and they bear the same kind of fruit that the domestic tree had. And Gentiles are somehow involved w/ these cherubim. And if that's true, then this picture would look forward, typologically, to a later period of time when the Gentiles would come into the intimate presence of God. End of the summary.
Now what else can we find out in scripture about cherubim. There's a number of other passages we haven't looked into yet
Genesis 3:24 shows cherubim at the entrance to the garden of Eden (Read). So there were cherubim and the number is not specified. And there was also a flaming sword that turned every way to keep the way of the tree of Life.
Now these cherubim in Genesis, not strictly speaking, are not a type of Christ because they're plural in number. And Christ is not plural in number.
They're not men, because there were no men at that time other than Adam and Eve. They may point to men but they're not men in that immediate context.
Now possibly here, they are angelic beings placed at that entrance to the garden. However, if they are, then they would point to something greater in the future. And later on, we find that the saints of God are the ones who preserve the way to the tree of Life. Christ being the tree of Life, and the saints of God protect that way and they show that way to others. (2 Cor.2:16; 1 Tim.1:20)
Now those cherubim in Eden protected the way lest sinful man would come and eat of the tree of Life and live forever. God didn't want sinful man to live forever. He wanted man to realize that there was a death that would compel him to seek God and to get right w/ God because He knows that this life is not the end. And so it protected that way from sinful man. But later the saints would point the way to Jesus. They would preserve that way of the tree of Life by protecting that way, preserving it, as it were, keeping it open and showing the way; we keep the way of the tree of Life by proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (John 14:6;John 10 there's only one way to God-- through Jesus Christ)
Cherubim are seen elsewhere in scripture in Isaiah chapter 6 and Ezekiel chapter 1 and some other scripture in Ezekiel and there they are similar to the description on the living creatures in the book of Revelation. We'll go more into those scriptures later as we develop this picture of these living creatures.
But back in Revelation, we spoke about these 4 beasts and we saw that they were 4 living creatures and the #4 is a universal number. 4, as it were, answers to the 4 directions of heaven: north, east, south, west. And so there's a universal aspect involved in these living creatures. Somehow, if they are men, or if they are typological of men, then they have been redeemed somehow from all the earth. They somehow involve a universal group of people.
Revelation 4:6 also says that they are full of eyes before and behind. They are full of eyes in front and behind. Not only are they full of eyes in front and behind, but the literal language of verse 8 says in the Greek: round about and within they are full of eyes. So in front, back, around and within these living creatures are full of eyes. They are full of eyes to see perfectly all around them. And they are full of eyes to behold their Lord upon His throne. And they're also full of eyes within, as it were: they see and know themselves fully. They see where they've been and they know what they are and they see Jesus perfectly formed within themselves. And so fulness of spiritual vision is emphasized here. They see into the deep things of the plan of God, behind, as well as before. They see what God has done. They understand His heart and what His plan has been and they have a vision into what He is about to do in the future.
They see within-- they are totally aware of what God has done within them to bring them into this intimate place w/ Him. And most of all, they are full of eyes to behold Him that sat upon the throne, their Lord. They see into the deep things of God-- past and future.
Isa.33:17 (Read)-- Thine eyes shall see the king in His beauty. (Eze.10:12)
Also, many eyes possibly show many individuals represented by these 4 living creatures. Somehow that there are many individuals represented by each of these living creatures.
Revelation 4:7 "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."
Now these 4: The lion, the calf, the man, the eagle show the attributes of Christ in men, not in angels. Christ is pictured in these 4 types and yet not Christ only, but a plural, a universal company because Christ is not 4 beings. The number 4 points to something that's universal; there's something universal that has the attributes of Christ. What is that? It's a body. It's a perfected body of Christ. We see that Christ is the lion.
Lion: Jesus is the lion of the tribe of Judah in Revelation 5:5 (Read). Christ is that lion who is bold, fearless, conquering; the king of all other creatures of all other beasts. In the type, Christ is that king over all. Christ is the one who conquered Satan and death and the saints are the ones, not angels, who conquer Satan and death in Jesus. We find that Satan goes about as a roaring Lion (1 Peter 5:8). He's not a roaring Lion, but he goes as a roaring Lion. But, Christ is the Lion of the tribe of Judah and he conquers Satan who is as a lion. The true lion is shown forth.
Calf: Now also we find that it is Christ who is like a calf. And this word calf means: a young bull. And it's the bull of an ox. Christ is the one who was strong in the Spirit-- submissive, ready to labor faithfully, and patiently ready to be guided whatever direction his Father would have him to labor. We find that the ox was the most costly of all the sacrifices that could be offered, and it was the offering that the priests had to offer for themselves. So we find Christ then is our perfect example as a servant of God. The saints learn to become servants in him. How do we do that? By dying, by living the Christ life patiently and submissively, and therefore God sees and loves that quality in us as we take on Christ and walk in his steps. That becomes precious to God and therefore we ourselves become a precious offering to God. Our lives are an offering, a costly offering to Him.
Now Christ is the one who has the face as a man. He has a face as a man and yet he's more than a man. He's a man who perfectly revealed God. Col.2:9, In him.... the fulness of the Godhead dwelleth. 2 Corinthians 4:6, he shines in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. The face of Jesus Christ is revealed, his nature and his heart, his identity through us. And so we are tied in also to this one who has a face as a man.
In Christ, the overcoming saints also reflect the glory of God as they are perfected in him. And so they have a face as a man. Therefore, humanity is involved w/ these living creatures. We're not speaking of angels here, besides there are already angels elsewhere in this same picture. So we don't need to make these living creatures to be angels, some high order of angels. There were angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders and the number of them was 10,000 x 10,000 and thousands of thousands. We will go over some more reasons why these are not angels later.
Eagle: Now Christ is also the one who is like the flying eagle. A flying eagle makes it's nest on high in the crags of the rock.
An eagle is a stately and a noble bird. If the lion is the king of beasts, the eagle is the king of birds. An eagle is sharp of sight. An eagle is quick to snatch the prey and Christ will be quick to snatch the prey when the hour comes. I'm talking abut the Antichrist prey. Chriist will swoop down lighting fast w/ a company of other eagles and will conquer the whole ungodly thing.
The eagle stirs up her nest. She flaps her wings and creates a big draft that knocks the young eagles out of the nest. Forcing us to fly.
The eagle is powerful and yet tenderly teaches his young, that's us, how to fly in the spirit. A quote from Faucett's Bible dictionary: "The eagle hovers over her young in teaching them their first flight; ready in a moment to save them when in danger of falling on the rocks below." So he wants us to learn to fly, but he's right there when we make mistakes to bear us up on his wings.
Job 39:27-30 Read. The overcoming saints then are these young eagles in the nest and Christ is the eagle. Now eagles fly till they catch the up draft and then gently, effortlessly they allow the air currents to carry them up on high.
And we find that Jesus is the one who has already lifted up on high and so he bids us young eagles to follow his example, to catch the same up draft of the Spirit and follow him up into the heavens. He says come up hither. It's not difficult, just catch the up draft of the Spirit-- the pneuma, the wind and follow me. Not in your own strength-- stop flapping, just hold your wings out steady and I'll do the rest. I'll carry you up. Come up here where the earth grows far away and dim, and where you can't hear any sounds from the earth or hear that din down there. Come where the vision of the heavenly son is clear.
Isa.40:30,31 Read. So we say in answer: teach me Lord to wait. (Col.3:1-4)
Rev.19:20,21 Christ slays the enemy. Verse 14, we see the saints are w/ him.
Now we're talking about the living creatures in Revelation 4:6 and the primary thing to know about these living creatures is that they are living. That is the principle trait that they possess. Above the number of wings or eyes or what their faces look like, the primary trait of them is that they're living ones, living creatures. They are alive unto God forever. How did they reach this place of being noted as living ones? They reached it because they had totally died to self and lived totally for God.
In Romans 6:8-11, we see the path to take. This says that because we died w/ him we shall live together w/ him. And that's what these living creatures are doing in the book of Revelation. They are living together w/ him. What comes from a steady diligent life of reckoning yourself dead unto sin and walking as alive unto God? The answer: eternal life in the presence of God's throne.
It's as though God says to them, all right since you put to death the flesh, refuse to live after the manner of the world and you've lived your time in the body unto me, I'll just catch you up to my side and you'll live forever w/ me.
Col.3:1-4 Read. And that's what they're doing in this vision. They're appearing w/ him in glory.
John 12:25 Read. And that's what these living creatures have done. (Rev.12:10,11)
Revelation 4:8 "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."
Each of them had 6 wings. The #6 in other places in scripture is a number that represents man. And these wings then would be connected w/ glorified man, because you have the idea of man and wings. Wings pertain to a heavenly realm; they're in the glorious presence of God. Therefore, there's something here concerning glorified man. Man given the power to mount up and inhabit the heavenlies. Now here in verse 8 where it says each of them had 6 wings about him, the word "him" is not in the Greek. The word "about" actually pertains to the next clause, "about and within full of eyes". The Greek word order is "about and within full of eyes." They are full of eyes.
They were full of eyes within. So literally it says: round about and within they are full of eyes. Not just that they have many eyes, but they are full of eyes. There's a fullness of vision and spiritual perception that's involved with these living creatures. That's another argument against them being angelic being, because angels don't have that same fullness of spiritual perception. The Bible says that the angels are looking at the church to see the unfolding plan of God, even in the book of Revelation. They are still looking to things about to come to pass that haven't been fully opened up to them. Peter says that we preach the things that the angels have desired to look into (1 Peter 1:12;Eph.3:10). They haven't been fully able to look into these. But these living creatures have a fullness of spiritual vision, they're somehow able to look into many things, many spiritual understandings in the position that they're in.
Also it says, "And they rest not day and night". They do not cease day and night. Why don't they cease day and night? Because they never get tired. We cease our activities because we get tired, but they don't get tired; they don't have to rest.
Their chief function and goal in their life, as living creatures, is to worship God. And their heart compels them to worship Him without ceasing. They're not in any bondage. They're doing what they most desire; worshipping God continually without ceasing. There's no flesh to cause them to be interrupted.
They cease not day and night crying Holy, Holy, Holy. Now this triple Holy here is for emphasis. Now they say Holy, Holy, Holy. The Greek word order that follows is: The One Lord, the God, the Almighty, the one who was and the one existing and the one coming. The same idea as the way God revealed himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14: Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh, and that word encompasses all ideas, all the possible tenses because it's indefinite. A full translation of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh is I WAS, I AM, AND I WILL BE WHATSOEVER I PLEASE AND I CAUSE ALL THINGS TO EXIST. No wonder they praise God day and night crying Holy, Holy, Holy.
And so we see that they are continually engaged in praising God. Not only that, but they appear to have a very prominent position in that worship of God. It seems that they incite and evoke worship to God in others. There's an interaction here in the worship of God and they seem to be in a leadership position.
We see that, in verses 9-11 (Read). Verse 11 it says that all things were created for His pleasure. That doesn't necessarily mean that all things will give Him pleasure, but they were created for that intent. God says, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked and God has no malicious pleasure in the judgments that He's about to be pouring out after this vision. But because they have a free will, therefore, there are only some who choose to fulfill that role that they were created for, to give Jesus pleasure in life. We should want to give Jesus pleasure in our life because that is what we were created for.
Isaiah 40:9 "O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!" This is what we are to do here on earth.
Now let's just examine a few of the parallel passages and watch the truth of these living creatures unfold before us here
Ezekiel 1:1, Read. Then he spends the whole rest of the chapter talking about this one vision that he saw, and yet this vision encompassed more than God. There were living creatures, there was a firmament, there were coals of fire, there were wheels and yet he says: I saw visions of God. So all of these things pertain to God and they pertain to things that are close to God and have intimately to do w/ God. And in verses 4 and 5, he says (Read).. So in verse 5, these beings are called living creatures.
And also we find here this word living creatures in vs. 13,14,15, and other places. Now in Ezekiel 9 and 10, they are called cherubim. It's the very same beings but they're called cherubim. And in Ezekiel 9:3 and 10:4, the 4 together are called a singular cherub. They are called a cherub. Ezekiel sees this whole vision of, as it were, the chariot of God with 4 cherubim in the firmament and the throne up above and he calls this, this chariot that God in the vision was sitting upon, His throne, a cherub-- singular.
Then in Ezekiel 10:3 and other places the four together are called cherubim plural. He says they're the cherubim and he shows that they are plural.
Ezekiel 10:7,9-- each one of the four is called a cherub. So the whole thing together is called a cherub, and it's called cherubim. And then each one singular, each one of the 4 is called a cherub. So these are somehow plural and yet singular at the same time. Again this doesn't fit angels because we don't see angels spoken of as one body. We always see them in terms of either an individual angel or numbers "I saw 10,000 x 10,000 angels. You see there are no scriptures which talk about angels as a unified body. Angels are never referred to in scripture as a singular body, but saints are.
We also find that in Eze.10:15, the cherubim are called collectively a living creature, singular. So they're living creatures and yet the whole thing is a living creature as though they are one being. They're, as it were, one living organism. They were one body with many parts and yet one ( 1 Cor.12:12).
Now how does Ezekiel's vision compare to John's Revelation of the living creatures. Let's read some scriptures
Eze.1:4-6 reading vs.4-6. This comes out of the north and so what follows is sent of God because the north is a type in scripture of the dwelling place of God. It talks in Psalms 48 about Mt. Zion and the recesses of the north and that speaks of God's presence (Isa.14:13;Heb.12:22; Eph.2:6). So what follows this vision of the 4 living creatures is on earth. It's definitely on earth and yet it's sent from God, as it were, sent from His presence. And now it says here in v.5, they plural-- had the likeness of a man, singular. What man did they have the likeness of? The answer is Christ. They are in his likeness.
This vision is a fulfillment of Genesis 1:26: Let us make man in our image and after our likeness-- symbolically it applies here. They're in the likeness of a man, the man that God started out to make. But they are not Christ because they are plural. So how can they be in the likeness of a man and yet plural? Well, if you have the Revelation that there's a manchild who is plural and yet singular, then you can begin to understand this.
Now the likeness of a man doesn't fit angels. Of course, you have to realize that the primary application or way to take it when it says that the 4 had the likeness of a man (grammatically speaking), is that it's saying that there's a Revelation in that language there. They-- plural-- had the likeness of a man and so, as I said, what follows is sent of God. What follows is a picture of a last day ministry of awesome majesty and splendor and unity and effectiveness. A world wide body, 4, universal (the number 4 in scripture is symbolic of universal), perfectly joined together to minister on earth, and they're directed by God who sits upon the throne above them. They're perfectly submitted to His directions so that any way they go is the way that His Spirit would have them to go.
Eze.1:6, "Everyone had 4 faces". Now these are the same faces that are spoken of in the book of Revelation. However, instead of each living creature having only 1 each, one of them has all 4 of these faces. So actually there's 16 faces represented.
"Each has 4 wings". Now this is 2 less than in Revelation where it says that they had six wings. So it has to do with the fact that they are on earth. 4, showing the universal number on earth, the 4 directions of the heavens. But in the book of Revelation, they are in heaven; they're given 2 extra wings that cause them to mount up into heaven. So in Revelation, it would show them at a later time.
Eze.1:7,8 Read. So we see in vs.7 & 8 of chapter one that they have feet and hands. Now feet and hands are not mentioned in the vision of the living creatures in the book of Revelation. They're not a prominent feature there. Here these living creatures have a walk. They have feet because they have a walk. It's an earthly thing. And they have hands because they have a ministry to perform. That is, the hands and the feet were mentioned for these reasons. In the book of Revelation, their walk and their ministry are completed.
Now their feet are called straight feet. That is, they come down and they're straight. They were round like a calf's foot, like the hard part of a calf's foot is rounded. They had straight feet and therefore, these straight feet are for the purpose of walking a straight walk and there's integrity in their walk. They walk straight forward. Their feet are likened unto a calf's foot it says here in Eze. Strong's Concordance defines this word calf as "a male calf especially one nearly grown, a steer" and so there's youth. There's a young aspect and yet nearly full grown. They are young and yet they're ready to serve, ready to be those oxen to serve their master.
Now it says their feet sparkled like burnished brass, and so we also find not only a straight walk, but a polished well-- refined and beautiful walk before God. Their walk was judged righteous and therefore, it's brass-- a type of judgment. And their walk was tested in a furnace and it comes forth brilliant and polished. We see in Rev.1:17 Christ's feet were a fine brass. He overcame in this world by his pure walk, and we will also, as we abide in him, 1 John 2:6. He will judge the world by his pure walk, and we see in the book of Revelation 6:1-8;15:7 that the 4 living creatures take part in the opening of the Seals of God. So possibly we (the Raptured saints) will take part w/ Christ in judging the world, because we also have overcome by our pure walk in Christ. The lamb and the four beast or living ones-- Christ is the one who liveth, and we live because of him.
Eze.1:8, They had the hands of a man. (Read). Again, they-- plural had the hands of a man-- singular. Eph.4:13 tells us that we'll all, plural, come to a perfect man. There's a manchild to be born. Now they undoubtedly had the legs and body of a man also, although the scripture doesn't say. But, the primary thing to realize here is that they're not just some strange highbred creature. They're men, they're in the likeness of a man. But, then they do have those other features. Whenever there's not another feature besides a human feature mentioned, you need to assume that the form was human. They are working the work of Christ (Eph.2:10).
Now these hands are under their wings. As it were, their hands, their works are somewhat concealed. You might say they're submitted under these wings. Man's efforts, man's works are not a prominent feature of these living creatures.
Verse 9-- Their wings were joined one to another. They turned not when they went. They went every one straight forward and so their wings, the 2 upper wings because the other 2 cover their bodies, each one were joined to the wings of the Cherubim next to them and so there's a unity in this body. It's a universal body and yet they're perfectly joined together.
Now as I said, the other 2 wings covered their bodies in verse 11, and so also not only man's works but man's flesh is not pronounced; it's not seen as they present themselves. You don't see man's flesh. You see their bodies being covered by these wings.
And the emphasis over and over is that they go straightforward, and they don't turn as they go. Verses 9 and 12 (Read). So we find that they don't turn out of the path. They're not compromising. They're wholly following God.
Verse 13-- Read. So they are burning, as it were, with awesome zeal and holiness and the divine energy of God. It's going up and down among them. It says that they're as burning coals in the furnace, and this energy-- it's like it's restlessly darting up and down seeking for the first chance to just go out from them; the energy of God is among them. They're burning with the zeal and energy of the Spirit of God. In Col.1:29, Paul said that, "I labor according to the power of God which worketh in me mightily." They are glowing as lamps to the world with the power and holiness of God, and it will happen fast! Ezekiel 1:10, This is the same faces and in the same order as was seen in Israel's camp when they camped around the Tabernacle in the wilderness. Each tribe had a flag. Each tribe had a standard and there was a symbol on that flag. And to the south, Rueben camped and his symbol was a man. And to the east, Judah camped, and his symbol was a lion. To the west, Ephraim camped and his symbol was an ox or calf. To the north, there was Dan, and Dan's symbol was an eagle.
Map design is by Jeff Aue
Here was the Tabernacle with the gate facing the east, and to (directly east) Judah camped, and their symbol is a lion. Zebulon and Issaacar on either side of Judah. Then to the south there's Rueben, their symbol is a man. Simeon and Gad were on either side. To the west was Ephraim whose symbol was the ox or calf. Benjamin and Manassah were on either side. To the north was Dan whose symbol was the eagle with Asher and Naphtali on either side. And so this is the way the 4 living creatures faced.
Now in your mind, imagine that this is looking down onto the top of the 4 living creatures. In the book of Ezekiel, it won't look exactly the same there. It won't be these banners. But there would be a firmament here in the middle and you'd look down on a throne seated here and the one living creature would face this way and 1 would face that way and 1 would face east and so on. Then let's look at each of them now. Let's kind of microscope this down to look at 1 living creature-- 1 of the 4. Now this whole picture represents one of the 4. Each one of them had the face of a man, a lion, a calf, and an eagle, and the face of the man always faced outward. So if you looked at this vision of the living creatures from any direction, you'd see first of all, the face of a man.
Now the name "Rueben", whose symbol was a man, means "behold a son, see a son."
The name "Judah"-- symbolic of a lion-- means "praise" and so we offer praises up to the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.
"Ephraim"-- symbol calf-- means "fruitful" and so there's a fruitfulness involved here in this service when you become like that young ox who goes out to serve. There's a fruitfulness.
"Dan" means "judgment" and his symbol is the eagle. We mentioned before how the eagle swoops down upon it's prey, as it were, in judgment.
And so these different aspects have to do first of all with Jesus and also with the ministry of the manchild.
Now going on in Ezekiel, verse 14 (read). So there was a quickness; there was a lightning speed in that which they did. That which they did for their Lord seated upon the throne above, which we'll see later, it was done with speed. And we find elsewhere that not only did these creatures have these straight feet, but down below they had wheels and the wheels were as a wheel in the middle of a wheel and wherever the whole Cherubim went, it went straightforward, and these wheels would go either direction. They went straight which ever way they went. Which ever way the Spirit was to lead them; that's the way they went, and they went with lightning speed. And that's a glorious picture of a ministry that's perfectly joined together, and where God wants it to go, it goes. And it goes with lightning speed. At last there's a body brought together that is unified and submitted. Their wings are joined together. Now in the Hebrew, the word joined has a connotation of kissing-- this would show a closeness and unity. Their ministries dovetail. And they fit. They fit together beautifully, and they're perfectly joined. Therefore, God is able to put His power within them as these coals of fire (the anointing of God) and as this light that flashes up and down within them (full of Revelation from God). He's able to do something through them, and they are quick to obey God.
Now let's look a little bit in Ezekiel 9 and see what else we can find about them. Chapter 9:3-8(read). There's something involved with the judgment of God here that perhaps the word that these living creatures produce show forth that God is going to judge His house and is going to judge His people.
Now back to Eze.1:15 each one had a wheel. Verses 16-18 Read. Rings, that is, the rims of these wheels. Verse 19 They had unity of purpose-- wheels = stability-- This is a stable move of true unity in the spirit with one mind and purpose.
And so they have these wheels, and they're as a wheel within a wheel. Now that may refer to something that looks similar to a gyroscope with a wheel turning and then there's a wheel in the midst that's also turning. And we find that a gyroscope produces stability and so there's a stability in this body as it goes, which ever way it goes. There's no slip; there's no rough spot that can cause it to lose it's stability. And these wheels are full of eyes, it says. They are full of wisdom from God; they have the wisdom of God. Many-- they all have a vision, the same vision, and very high (v.18) that they were dreadful. This move of the Spirit is from above and it will be unstoppable, (Rev.3:8).
It's a unifies body of believers, and you need the body to accomplish what God wants you to do. And these wheels are full of eyes, and if that conjecture is true, then it shows a universal body of saints who are full of the vision of God. They know which way to go because they're full of eyes. And not only that, but wherever the Spirit is to go that's where they go.
And then Ezekiel also sees something above the living creatures, v.22 (read). It's awesome, terrible, and it fills him with awe-- the sight of this firmament above them. Verse 23 (read), So there's this firmament, and it says that it's like terrible crystal. Now in Revelation chapter 4, we also see that firmament like terrible crystal. We see the sea of glass. It says, as it were a glassy sea like unto crystal. But there the living creatures were above the firmament, that sea. Here they are below.
There they had 6 wings, here they have 4, and so in Ezekiel it shows them at an earlier time. It shows them when they are still on earth, because they have feet, they have hands, and they have wheels.
Now wheels are for conveyance upon the earth. You don't need wheels to get around heaven, but you need wheels to travel on earth. So they are, as it were, equipped to carry out their earthly ministry. And they're below this firmament, and yet the firmament has a clearness. There is a certain separation there, but it's clear; they look up and can see someone above them on the throne.
Verses 24,25 (Read). And now Ezekiel will begin to tell us what's above that firmament. Verse 26, It doesn't say there was a man upon the throne, but the likeness of the appearance of a man. It's 2 steps removed. And so it has something to do with a man, a glorified man, Jesus, and yet he sits upon the throne. And that's YAHWEH in Jesus Christ upon His throne ruling over and directing His last day saints. Verse 24, they are all speaking w/ one voice, singular, as the voice of the Almighty. So there are many and yet they speak w/ one voice, the voice of God.
Verses 27,28, And so we see a rainbow that is in the cloud. He sees a brightness around about this throne, and we see that same thing in the book of Revelation where there was a brightness all around the throne, a brightness like an emerald, John said (4:3). And that symbolizes the mercy of God, and a covenant. So we see the same picture here. Rainbow (Gen.9:12-17) was a symbol of a covenant of mercy which God gave to Noah. This rainbow of mercy shows the mercy of God as He sits upon His throne. The rainbow is said to be round about the throne. God is going froth, through these living creatures and He's showing Himself to be that covenant keeping God with the rainbow of the covenant around Him.
Read vs. 28-- 2:1, And so God speaks to Ezekiel from this throne.
Now in Ezekiel 10:1-22, we see the same truth of the Cherubim.
Verse 2 wheels, plural. Cherub, singular. Cherubim, plural-- many. So we see one body w/ many parts all in unity.
Verse 5, the sound of the Cherubim's wings was heard even to the outer court (to the whole world) as the voice of the Almighty God. It's God's voice speaking through these Cherubim to the whole world.
Verses 10,11 showing complete submission to the head (Christ), and they followed Christ wherever he went. Verse 12, full of eyes, again speaking of the wisdom of God that is hid in Christ. Full of eyes everywhere-- there whole body, backs, hands, wings, and wheels. They were full of the wisdom of God in everything they did. Rev.4:6; 1 Cor.2:15.
Verse 13, as for the wheels, it was cried unto them in my hearing, O wheel. Rotherham says, O whirling wheel. One body moving w/ God-- MOVE! Whirl, your about to go up!
Verses 14-17, cherub-- singular again, showing it's one unified body w/ many parts.
( 1 Cor.12) Both visions are the same vision. Eze. chapter 1.
Verses 18,19, the cherubim lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight: when they went out, the wheels also were beside them.....
Verse 22, it's the same vision that he saw in chapter 1. One of the key points is that they are servants and administrators of God. They are totally surrendered and in full submission to God's plan, and they move quickly to fulfill it. They are bound, by the fire of the anointing of God, to do His will.
Now let's see what else we can see about these living creatures. Isaiah chapter 6. Here we have another vision. I want to emphasize this is a vision just as John saw a vision. And visions represent something, and here's what Isaiah saw.
Isaiah 6:1, and he saw him upon a throne high and lifted up. And his train-- the train of his robe, filled the temple.
Verse 2, now the word here "seraphim" "a seraph" means "a burning one." So these are burning ones. They're burning with the awesome fire of God. It is similar also to what Ezekiel saw. That their appearance was like as coals of fire. And here they're called the burning ones-- Holy saints.
Seraphim is plural the same as cherubim, you don't need the (s) to make it plural in the Hebrew.
Each one had 6 wings, and so they had 6 wings like the book of Revelation shows them having 6 wings, whereas Ezekiel showed 4. These are Raptured saints standing above to minister to God-- servants of God. Two extra wings were to hide their faces in the throne room-- showing humility.
Verses 2-5, when he sees this vision of the throne, and YAHWEH upon His throne, and the living creatures, the burning ones, the primary thing he notes is "mine eyes have seen the King."
And Ezekiel said the heavens were opened and I saw a vision of God. God wants our eyes to be on Him, He wants us to understand His Holiness. And in Revelation, the voice said come up hither (speaking of the Rapture), and I will show you things that must be and the first thing he say was the throne and Him that sat upon the throne. God is primary. (Rev.4:1).
But it's God glorified in His saints. Now these Seraphim are said to be above the throne, and the firmament is not mentioned here. The sea before the throne is not mentioned. Now we know that there was a sea out in the court yard in Solomon's temple where Isaiah saw this vision or where he was in a vision. But there again these Seraphim would be above that sea. They're above the throne of God, as it were, they're standing around the throne of God... And they're ministering unto God. And that's what we saw in Revelation 4, so this again shows these saints of God, these manchild saints in a vision in the presence of God. They have 6 wings. They are glorified men. They dwell in that heavenly realm. And so this vision would be of something later than what Ezekiel saw.
Verses 6-9 of Isaiah. The same kind of message-- that Ezekiel was commissioned to go and preach when he saw the vision of the living creatures. The Lord said to him, "son of man, go and speak unto Israel for they are a rebellious house." And these Seraphim then, have something to do with the cleansing of God. They bring truths, as it were, coals from that altar where Christ was sacrificed. They bring truths concerning Jesus, and his sacrifice that brings cleansing to the ministers of God.
We see the same elements through all of these visions. It's the Holiness, the awesome worship of God. The coals of fire, and there's a Holiness among these Seraphim.
Now, we have looked at these 4 living creatures from several different standpoints. And now let's sum up what we've learned about them and see what conclusions we can come to as to who these living creatures are. We've seen it pointing in certain directions and now we will tie it all together.
In Revelation, we saw these living creatures in the midst of and round about the throne crying holy, holy, holy unto the Lord. So they were in a position to reign w/ Him and they were in an intimate position with the Lord upon the throne.
In Isaiah, we saw them again in a vision, in the midst, in the temple and Isaiah saw them in the temple in a vision. And again there, they were around the throne of God. It says they were actually above the throne as though standing to minister unto Him that sat on the throne. And they were worshipping God again crying holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. And there they were called the Seraphim. And the Seraphim means the burning ones or the shining ones. Burning and shining with the Holiness and energy of God. And all of these are visions. They are not literal representations of what anyone looks like. But, they are all visions.
And in Ezekiel, we saw them in this vision, but here instead of around the throne of God, we saw them on earth. And we saw that they had feet and they had wheels which are for earthly travel-- for earthly conveyance. They had a certain ministry in Ezekiel, and we saw them relating to the rest of the people of God in a certain way, and so these wheels and these feet were to convey them in a ministry-- an earthly ministry. Here they were called Cherubim, and they were called together a Cherub-- singular. Each one of them was called a Cherub, and they were also called living creatures. Each one of them as individuals was called-- a living creature, and all four of them together were called a living creature. Now here in Ezekiel unlike Isaiah and Revelation, we don't see them speak. We don't hear them say any particular words. But, we see that the voice of God is connected with them in a very definite way, and there's a marvelous truth here. In Ezekiel 1:24, for instance, says and when they went I heard the noise of their wings. The noise of great waters. The voice of the Almighty. The voice of speech, as the noise of an host. When they stood, they let down their wings.
And so, the voice of the Almighty, the sound of the rushing of their wings he says is like the noise of an host. Noise of great waters. The voice of the Almighty. So the voice of the Almighty somehow is connected with them. And where it says their wings were as the noise of great waters, in Revelation 19:6 we find the voice of saints in heaven praising God and it's compared to the voice of many waters.
Then it's also compared to the voice of the Almighty. And so we find a truth that it's God who is speaking through these living creatures, and He's speaking through them when they are on earth. So we have four, a universal company, speaking w/ the voice of God. God is speaking through them. 2 Cor. 5:20 Read.
It's as though the saints are speaking w/ the voice of God-- be reconciled to me. They are His ambassadors. And also the wings are compared to the voice of speech, and the speech is the word of God. That's what the wings, as it were, are speaking: the word of God.
And it's also as the noise of an host. And so this is as God's voice and yet it's a host of voices; it's an army of voices. But they are all blending into one; it's the voice of God speaking through them.
Now Ezekiel 10:5 adds to this and it says, (Read). And so in the last days the voice of God will be heard through His company. His manchild company. And it's going to reach to the outer courts; it's going to reach to even those in the church who are not in a close intimate position. It's going to be as the voice of the Almighty God when He speaketh. They said about Jesus, "Never a man spake like this man." And they were amazed that he spoke w/ authority, and also in the last days there is going to be a man that people are going to say, "Never a man spake like this man." He's going to speak the words of God with authority, as one who knows God in an intimate way, as one who has God dwelling in his heart.
Other references show Cherubim on the walls, and the ceiling of the tabernacle. That is, on the linen hanging in the tabernacle and also on the veil. And we find Cherubim on the walls and the doors and the ceiling of Solomon's temple. And out in the courtyard there are these 10 lavers and on the base of those lavers, there are Cherubim. And we find in Ezekiel, in the temple at the end of the book, that there are Cherubim engraved in the walls of the temple. But, God singles out these particular ones to describe more fully.
So what can we see about the four living creatures or Cherubim and their identity?
Who are these strange creatures? Well, they seem to represent administrators and representatives of God's power and God's Holiness and His presence. They are representatives of Him. And they are everywhere seen in close connection w/ God's throne, and they are seen in an attitude of both representing God and worshipping Him.
Now, question, are the living creatures angels? This seems very unlikely. And I'll give you several reasons why I don't think the living creatures are angels.
Now a few reasons why they don't seem to refer to angels
* The first is that they are seen w/ the attributes of Christ. The man, the lion, the ox, and the eagle all point to attributes of Christ. And these 4 symbols, these four attributes, as it were, are associated w/ men. In the book of Numbers, we find it's four tribes of Israel who have these banners of a man, an ox, a lion, and an eagle. And so they are associated with men. They are associated w/, as it were, a body of men, a group of men.
Now Israel in the wilderness was not a type of angels, but they were a type of the body of Christ and they were a type of the body of Christ in a particular way. That is, when the body of Christ comes to such a unity that they are perfectly arrayed around the tabernacle in the presence of God and they go forth in order, as these tribes went forth in a certain order. Also animals always point or represent man, not angels. They represent the nature, etc...
* The second point is that these living creatures are seen in close association over and over again w/ the 24 elders. And these 24 elders clearly represent redeemed men in some way; they cannot represent angels. Angels don't have victors wreaths and angels don't fall down before the throne and praise God for redemption, men do that, and all over the place these 24 elders are tied directly to the four living creatures. A few references in Revelation 4:9,10. So they are connected close together in this worship. These are just indicators.
Revelation 5:8, so every one of them: the 4 creatures, the 24 elders have these harps and harps are played in several places in the book of Revelation connecting it with redeemed saints who have come into their redemption. And they have these golden vials full of odours which are the prayers of the saints. So all of them are offering up prayers of the saints. In Revelation 5:14, again they are closely connected. Revelation 19:4 (Read).
* Now a 3rd reason why they don't seem to be angels is that in Revelation 4:6, they are in the midst of and round about the throne. And this shows the position of reigning. You don't sit in the throne unless you are connected with the authority of that throne to reign somehow. And yet we find that it's man who reigns with God, not angels.
Revelation 5:9,10, they sang a new song saying, Thou are worthy... (Read). So it's these redeemed men who are going to reign. And also Hebrews 2:5-10 (Read). He's bringing many sons unto this position to reign. So Christ was perfected through sufferings and he becomes the King of kings and also we are in him. So we find that we will be in that same position of reigning with him.
Hebrews 1:13,14 (Read). So that's who the angels are. They are servants to minister to those that should be the heirs of salvation. Angels minister to those that should be the heirs in that kingdom; to inherit that kingdom of salvation and to rule and reign with Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 1:5,6 (Read). Now this is not said to angels, "Thou art my son this day have I begotten thee." It's said to Christ and we are in Christ in the sense that we are members of his body. Angels are not members of his body.
* The 4th point is that God does not give us complex detailed descriptions of angels. It's not according to the tenor. It's not harmonious with the principles of God's Word, that He would want to draw our attention over and over again in these different chapters to angels and what they look like and what they're doing and what all their attributes are.
God is not trying to tell us what angels look like in detail. God wants to draw our attention to spiritual truths of His plan concerning us so we can move into those things. And so it's not according to the tenor of God's Word to begin to be so descriptive of angels, with all of these very specific attributes that are given.
* Now the 5th point is that the differences among the descriptions among these living creatures in different passages that we've seen them in. The differences of the way they are described seem to point away from angels and they seem to point to a group which encompasses both an earthly and a heavenly realm, because these creatures are seen in both realms. And also we see differences in the descriptions of what they look like in those two realms. For instance in Ezekiel, they had 4 wings and they had polished straight feet polished like brass. And they went straight forward and they ran it says, as the lightning. Now this emphasizes a walk of truth-- this going straight forward, turning not as they went; this shows a walk. Angels don't really have a walk. A walk applies to men and not angels. A walk has a goal; you are headed toward something and you arrive and your walk is finished. This applies to men, not angels.
Also they have wheels in Ezekiel and wheels as I said before are for earthly travel and angels don't need wheels. Men need wheels. Of course, the wheels are symbolic. But, the fact is, wheels are for earthly conveyance.
Now also these 4 living creatures in Ezekiel are found to be under this firmament. And above the firmament is the throne of God. And so God is upon His throne in a heavenly realm and these are below it in an earthly realm. Now this fits men much better than it does angels.
Now in Isaiah and Revelation, they have 6 wings and so somehow there's a transformation involved. They've come into something higher. They've come into something more when they move into this position around the throne of God.
They have 6 wings and they're now in a heavenly realm. And we find that their feet and their wheels are not seen in the book of Revelation. Nothing is mentioned, that is, of feet, and wheels. And nothing is specifically mentioned of hands; hands showing a ministry. And so their walk and their ministry is completed, and now we find that they're above the firmament. The sea of glass lies out before them. They are above it now; and they are in the midst of and round about the throne.
And Isaiah shows them again around the throne. It says that they are above the throne. Now an interesting point, Revelation 12:5 tells us that the manchild who's to rule all nations with a rod of iron; that's that ruling. And her child was caught up to God and to His throne. It is men who move from an earthly realm to a heavenly realm, not angels. Angels live in a heavenly realm; they are sent forth to minister to men on earth. But they don't dwell on earth then move up to a heavenly realm. It is men who have an earthly ministry and then are caught up, not angels. It is men who are being prepared to rule and reign with Christ, not angels.
* The 6th point on this is that these living creatures are spoken of as plural and yet singular. They are spoken of as a living creature collectively and yet cherubim, plural. Now this analogy fits the body of Christ, because Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12 that we are many members and yet one body. We're collective yet we're one. Angels are not spoken of in this same sense. We don't see a body of angels. Angels are not members of the body of Christ. They are not joined to Him in the same way that men may be joined to Him.
* They are said to be full of eyes-- the wisdom of God's plan. They see into His plan of the ages. Angels do not (1 Peter 1:12).
So, to sum up then: These living creatures are seen perfectly joined together in a ministry on earth in Ezekiel; their wings join. And they are in perfect submission to Him that is on the throne. And they are facing the four directions of the heavens. They are facing all four directions. So it shows the ministry that is going to go out and encompass the whole earth. And Jesus said that in the last days the gospel would be preached unto the whole earth, unto all nations for a witness to them then the end shall come.
And they are also four in number which shows a company that is universal. Now we find in Ezekiel that they have the face of a man. So my question is where in scripture do we see a universal group, many members yet one, with the attributes of a man perfectly joined together in submission to God-- all moving as one, all having the same mind. And the answer is in Ephesians 4:13 and 16 (Read).
"Fitly joined together." Just as those living creatures-- their wings were joined it said, when they held them aloft. "From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth according to the effectual working..." A mysterious truth and yet it is a mysterious truth-- these living creatures. But, it's a glorious truth-- a Revelation that God wants us to catch and understand so that we can aspire to it and move into it. So that we can realize that this is a position that is for us to move into (Rom.8:29). One body moving in unity wherever the Spirit leads them manifesting Christ-- not I but Christ that liveth in me the hope of my glory! We can move into it by FAITH! It's a last day manchild-- a unified body; all moving as one and then being lifted up to a heavenly realm. And that's what we see in the 4 living creatures.
Insert: Some additional insights concerning the book of Revelation Chapter 6:1-8 the four living creatures say "go" to these 4 horsemen of the first four Seals.
Now the Lamb had opened the Seal, but the living creature says go. And so this shows God allowing His overcoming saints to participate in His authority over these judgments that are being poured out. In some way they participate with Him and His authority. We can't say precisely all that this entails, but it could be the beginning of a fulfillment of 1 Corinthians 6:2 which says, (Read). Know ye not that we shall judge and God decides exactly what judgment is to be poured out. That's for sure! But, apparently from these verses He allows His overcomers in some way to share in what God Himself has decided to do. But, realize that the authority is God's; anything at all that is given to someone else is just merely delegated from God Himself.
Now we find that this same truth is in Rev.15: and vs.6,7. Here it says, (Read). So one of the four living creatures gives to the 7 angels 7 golden vials full of the wrath of God. There are 7 trumpets in the 7th Seal and this involves 7 Plagues of the wrath of God that are poured out upon the earth. And we find that one of the living creatures gives to these angels the 7 vials full of the wrath of God. And so all of these things we see the living creatures have a part in.
Seals 1-6 are during the Tribulation period, and the 7th Seal has 7 parts to it that consist of the 7 Plagues, trumpets or vials (they are pretty much interchangeable just different viewpoints) the last 3 being woes. And they all involve judgments on an ungodly world. The 4 living creatures are not seen to have anything to do with Seals #5,6. Seal 5 involves the martyrdom of the Tribulation saints, and the manchild in heaven, overcomers in heaven are not seen to have anything to do with that. Also Seal #6 ushers in the great day of the wrath of God, and the 4 living creatures are not seen to have anything to do with that, either. So we find that the manchild saints have overcome the world in Christ. Revelation 12:10,11 talks about that.
Those overcoming manchild saints had loved not their lives unto the death. That doesn't mean they all died. That just means they valued their life so little that if necessary they would give it and, therefore, they overcame and were caught up to that position.
And so this time when the manchild is caught up corresponds exactly to the time when the Antichrist comes in with his war, famine, death, and with hell following after him. And because we love not our lives unto the death, our will became swallowed up to do the pleasure of God, and therefore, He grants us this position of authority with Him. Another parallel truth we see is in Rev.19:14 where there are armies in heaven, and they were armies of the saints, and they followed Christ when he came to overcome the Antichrist at the 2nd Coming and establish His kingdom. It says (Read). And so again we see that the saints are in that position of authority over the world with Christ. Now the armies are not seen to do any conquering, though, only Jesus is in that passage.