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 Revelation Chapter 4 (Part 36) (Verses 6b - 9)

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PostSubject: Revelation Chapter 4 (Part 36) (Verses 6b - 9)   Wed Apr 22, 2015 10:03 pm

Revelation Chapter 4 (Part 36) (Verses 6b - 9)

John describes 4 living creatures in Revelation 4:6b.  His description is as follows:

“In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back.  The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, 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 with eyes all around, even under its wings.”

There is nothing metaphoric here.  These are real angelic creatures that surround God’s throne.  The only metaphors are descriptors that John uses to try to describe how these angelic creatures look.  These 4 living creatures are literal creatures with eyes all over them.  Each creature is distinct from the others.  Notice that each creature is the dominant creature of its domain.  The lion is the “king” of the jungle.  The ox is the strongest farm animal.  The man is the “king” of all beasts.  The eagle is the “king” of all birds of the air.  (It is interesting he specified a flying eagle as opposed to a perched one).  Each of these creatures has six wings and eyes cover their front and back, even on both sides of their wings.  These angelic creatures are cherubim.  These are not the seraphs of Isaiah 6:3.  But Ezekiel also witnessed cherubim.  It is interesting to compare the cherubim that John saw to those that Ezekiel saw.  There are a lot of similarities, but some striking differences.

The four living creatures in Revelation are depicted in verse 7 as each resembling four different creatures: a lion, ox, man, and eagle.  Ezekiel also saw four creatures, but he describes each one as having four faces: the face of a man, lion, ox, and eagle (Ezekiel 1:10).  The lion face was the face on the right side; the ox was on the left side; the verse implies that the face of a man was the front, which leaves only one spot, the back for the face of the eagle.  Interestingly, when Ezekiel later describes the creatures, in 10:14, the ox’s face in chapter one is replaced with the face of a cherub.  Yet he affirms that these are the same 4 creatures that he saw in chapter one.  In 10:20 and 22 of Ezekiel, it reads: “These were the living creatures I had seen beneath the God of Israel by the Kebar River, and I realized that they were cherubim” and: “Their faces had the same appearance as those I had seen by the Kebar River (i.e., those in chapter 1).”  We see in verse 20 that Ezekiel names, or depicts these creatures as “cherubim.”  Revelation 4:8 says that John’s cherubim each had 6 wings.  Ezekiel’s, according to Ezekiel 1:6, each had 4 wings.  Ezekiel 10:21 says that under the wings of the creatures were what looked like hands of a man.  

There are more striking differences between John’s cherubim and Ezekiel’s.  Ezekiel gives more descriptive details of what he saw.  He says in Ezekiel 1:7 that they had straight legs and their feet were like a calf’s and they shone like bronze.  Ezekiel says that they were in a line formation and their wings touched each other.  They went straight ahead, going back and forth very fast, like lightning.  Each had a wheel which consisted of a wheel intersecting a wheel, and the rims of the wheels were full of eyes.  The wheels were as body parts to the cherubim because they had full control of them.  These descriptions describe how the cherubim looked.  I don’t see any license here to treat any of these descriptions as metaphors to other ideas.  Some say that the many eyes represent God’s omnipresence and that he sees all.  Some say that the many faces represent God’s creation.  While God is indeed omnipresent, I believe John was describing how these creatures looked with no intended extended metaphors to anything else.  It seems that John and Ezekiel saw 2 different sets of 4 cherubim.  Some however try to merge Ezekiel’s and John’s cherubim and say that they are the same creatures.  If they are the same creatures then they have the ability to morph into different shapes, but I don’t believe this is the case.  Nor are these the seraphim that Isaiah saw in Isaiah chapter 6.  One thing is for certain: all of these angelic creatures worship around the throne of God.  We will one day join them in worshipping the Lord.  

The Israelites were commanded to put crafted cherubim on top of the Ark of the Covenant.  Exodus 25:17-20 reads:
“Make an atonement cover of pure gold—two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide.  And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover.  Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends.  The cherubim are to have their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them.  The cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the cover.”

Nearly everything that the Israelites were commanded to make were archetypes of the real thing in Heaven.  The cherubim are looking upward.  God is above them in the “cover”.  There is a passage in Ezekiel (1:22-28) that we won’t look at that shows that the God sits above them on His throne, which reflects the cherubim’s position in the Ark of the Covenant.  

Interestingly, for nearly everything that God has and does, Satan has a counterpart.  Satan’s counterpart to God’s cherubim is described in Daniel 7, except this beast does have metaphoric applications. Daniel has a vision and describes what is from Satan, but resembles God’s cherubim.  In verse 3 he says, “Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.” He goes on to say that the “first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle…; there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear…; After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard…; and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening…”  We will later look at these so called beasts when we discuss the Anti-Christ.  An angel later gives the interpretation of Daniel’s vision and says that each beast is a different conquering regime that would come in Daniel’s future.  These “beasts” resemble God’s cherubim, and certainly Satan is aware of what cherubim look like.  And of course Satan would know because he too is a cherub.  Ezekiel 28:14 says of Satan, “You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you.”  And Satan seems to be able to morph.  He was in the form of a serpent in the Garden of Eden.  Perhaps we can infer from this that all cherubim can morph.  Recall that one of the cherub’s Ezekiel described in chapter 1 went from the face of an ox to the face of a cherub (whatever that looks like—Israelites would have known because they were told to make 2 golden cherubs and place them within the Ark of the Covenant) in chapter 10.  

Incidentally, God used cherubim with flaming swords to keep Adam and Eve from reentering the Garden of Eden.  Revelation 21:12 says that an angel will be posted at each of the 12 gates of the New Jerusalem City.  These are likely also cherubim.  There is a great inference that I get from this text that I am eager to share, but will defer until we get there.  Maybe you can put it together yourself if you study Revelation chapter 21 and relate it to Genesis chapter 3 and ask yourself, “Why is there an angel posted at each of the 12 gates?”  The Tree of Life is pertinent to the answer to that question.  

Revelation 4:8 says that the creatures’ 6 wings were covered with eyes all around.  We know that God sees all, but this description seems to imply that little escapes the attention of God’s cherubim either.  Satan is a cherub, as we found out.  He is not omnipresent.  He is not all seeing nor all knowing.  Yet, little escapes his attention as he roams around the Earth going here and there seeking whom he may devour.  So I am not at all suggesting that any cherub sees all.  I am suggesting that they are much more aware of what is going on than you and I.  Incidentally again, since Satan is a cherub, Michael, his arch angel predecessor, would also be a cherub.  Cherubim are God’s fighting angels.  Gabriel would not be a cherub.  Gabriel is a messenger angel and never fights.

Revelation 4:8b reads, “Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”  It is a common misconception that all these creatures do is repeat this phrase over and over nonstop.  This is not all they do.  We studied that cherubim do many things and particularly, are used as God’s angelic warriors.  Let’s for one second entertain the notion that these creatures repeat this nonstop forever.  That would mean that nonstop, we would be bowing to the Lord for an eternity because verse 9 says, “Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders [us Christians] fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives forever and ever…”  We too would be robotic if that notion were correct, but we know from many passages that Christians will be doing many things in addition to worship and bowing down, including ruling and reigning with Christ.  In the next chapter we will see the creatures doing more than just repeating this same thing over and over.  These same creatures will help bring about God’s judgement on the Earth.  The seraphs in Isaiah 6:3 are similar where it reads, “And they were calling one to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”  While it is true that seraphs and cherubim and we will be perpetually giving God doxology, doxology will not be exclusively what we do.  After the seraphs said that, they helped Isaiah start his ministry by placing hot coals on his tongue.

Nevertheless, cherubim seem to lead worship in Heaven and as we will see in Chapter 5, they also execute God’s judgement.  And lastly, note what the cherubim are saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”  God is eternal.  He is eternal past.  He has no beginning.  He is even eternal present, for his name is the ever present, “I Am.”  And at this point in history, the New Earth has not yet been revealed.  God has more in store in the future even when this verse comes to pass.  The best is yet to come.  This verse also helps prove Jesus is God because as we already studied, Jesus is depicted as the one who was, and is [He is “I Am”] and is yet to come.  Jesus is the Alpha, the Omega, the first and the last (Revelation 1:8, 22:13-16).
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Revelation Chapter 4 (Part 36) (Verses 6b - 9)
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