Revelation 4:6-7 – Four Beasts – Part 1

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Rev 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.
Rev 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.

Introduction

Revelation is incremental and “line upon line, and precept upon precept.”

We have demonstrated repeatedly that the revelation of the things of the heavens, is a very gradual revelation throughout scripture. In the end we come to see that the heavens in which Christ dwells and for which He died, are the heavens of the hearts and minds of those in whom He dwells. It was through His death that He was able to cleanse those heavens.

Heb 9:23 [ It was] therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

We have gone to great lengths to demonstrate that the pattern of “the things in the heavens” has been an incremental and progressive revelation. The pattern of the tabernacle given Moses in Exodus was a tent with two rooms,  “a laver of brass,” and “a brasen altar.” The pattern of “the tabernacle of Moses” was not nearly as complex as the pattern for the temple which God revealed to King David.
There was no mention in Exodus of “the pattern of the porch, and of the houses thereof, and of the treasuries thereof, and of the upper chambers thereof.” It was just a two chambered tent. There was no mention in Exodus of “the courses of the priesthood.” There was only Aaron and his four sons, who soon were reduced to but two sons, when the two eldest sons offered strange fire to God. Here is but one verse which brings out these differences.

1Ch 28:11  Then David gave to Solomon his son the pattern of the porch, and of the houses thereof, and of the treasuries thereof, and of the upper chambers thereof, and of the inner parlours thereof, and of the place of the mercy seat,
1Ch 28:12  And the pattern of all that he had by the spirit, of the courts of the house of the LORD, and of all the chambers round about, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries of the dedicated things:
1Ch 28:13  Also for the courses of the priests and the Levites, and for all the work of the service of the house of the LORD, and for all the vessels of service in the house of the LORD.

And while there was a pattern given Moses of  “a laver of brass… between the tabernacle and the altar,” the phrase “brasen sea” is not to be found in the book of Exodus. That phrase first appears in I Chronicles along with all the other additions to the pattern of the things in the heavens which were given to King David for the building of a permanent temple.

1Ch 18:8 Likewise from Tibhath, and from Chun, cities of Hadarezer, brought David very much brass, wherewith Solomon made the brasen sea, and the pillars, and the vessels of brass.

None of these additions were part of “the pattern of things of the heavens” which were given to Moses for the construction of the temporary tent tabernacle.
This is all to say that the revelation of “the heavenly things themselves” requires the “open door in heaven” through which we are given this greatly expanded understanding of “the heavenly things themselves.” Which “heavenly things themselves” we are told are the dwelling place of God and the location of His throne within His temple, which is within His people.

1Co 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
1Co 3:17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

The spirit has expanded our knowledge of the brasen sea from a “laver of brass” to a “brasen sea” and here in Revelation four to a “sea of glass.”  Then in Rev 15 we are told the final detail about this sea of glass where we learn that it is a sea of glass “mingled with fire.”

Rev 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.

The revelation of the sea of glass is now complete. The sea of glass is that part of our walk which is located between the altar and the tabernacle. It is the baptism with which Christ was baptized. It is the “baptism of fire” which Christ came to bring us. It is the life we come to know if we truly desire “to know the fellowship of His sufferings and the power of His resurrection.”

Luk 3:16 John answered, saying unto [ them] all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:
Luk 12:49 I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?
Mat 20:22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.
Mat 20:23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but [ it shall be given to them] for whom it is prepared of my Father.

That is the progressive, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little revelation of what is the “sea of glass… between the altar and the tabernacle.” Now we are about to see that the revelation of “the four beasts round about the throne and in the middle of the throne, full of eyes before and behind” is given in the same incremental fashion.

What Are These Four Beasts?

Rev 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.

We have already seen in our previous studies that these four beasts, along with the four and twenty elders, tell us plainly who they symbolize and why they are said to be “round about the throne and in the middle of the throne.” Here is that revelation in straightforward and plain words:

Rev 5:8 And when he [ Christ] had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
Rev 5:9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
Rev 5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

Going back to what we have already covered in Rev 1:5-6 and Rev 2:26-27 we can bookend this question of who these beasts represent:

Rev 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, [ and] the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
Rev 1:6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him [ be] glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Rev 2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
Rev 2:27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.

But let’s begin at the beginning and see what the scriptures reveal about these beasts before we are told who they are here in Revelation. As we view these various verses, we should be struck by the same incremental, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, fashion of progression of the revelation of Jesus Christ that is these four beasts. When we first see them around the throne, we are not at first shown that they are four in number. In fact their numbers are not at first even mentioned. All we are told is that they are called cherubims who “guard the way of the tree of life.” Here is our first introduction to the concept of “the pattern of the things of the heavens.”

Gen 3:24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

We are told a lot about the function of the cherubims in this verse. We learn here that they are seen in conjunction with “a flaming sword,” and we are told that their function in conjunction with this flaming sword is to “keep the way of the tree of life.” Let me repeat that statement. These are those who “keep the way of the tree of life.” Those with spiritual eyes to see and ears to hear have just seen an open door in heaven here in Gen 3:24. This “open door in heaven” is a door which reveals to us “the heavenly things themselves,”  and they have heard what “the ears of man cannot hear.”

1Co 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
1Co 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
1Co 2:11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
1Co 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
1Co 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
1Co 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

The spirit does not reveal the deep things of God to the natural man. The natural man uses human reasoning and human logic over the mind of the spirit. “Neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
True spiritual discernment know what is the true “love of the brothers”, and what is the true love of God.

1Jn 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
1Jn 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

Those who “keep the way of the tree of life ” are those who know “the way of the tree of life.” What is that way? It is the way that obeys God’s commandments. It is the way of Christ.

Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Christ is the way. If the cherubims “keep the way of the tree of life” then we are being told, way back in Gen. 3, who are these cherubims who are “round about and in the middle of the throne of God. It is those in whom Christ lives and who obey His Father’s commandments. These cherubims are Christ in His christ. But this was not revealed to our father Adam. Nor was it revealed to Moses, who is used of the Lord to add to our knowledge of the things of “the heavens themselves.” Here is what we learn of these cherubims the next time we hear of them in the book of Exodus.

Exo 25:16  And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.
Exo 25:17  And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.
Exo 25:18  And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat.
Exo 25:19  And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof.
Exo 25:20  And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces [ shall look] one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.
Exo 25:21  And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.
Exo 25:22  And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

Everything God has to say to His people He says from “the mercy seat… from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony.”
Now our knowledge of the cherubims is expanded, and we now know that there are two of them and that they are at the very mercy seat of God. We now know that it is “from between the cherubims that God speaks forth all of His instructions to His people. Here it is revealed to us that the cherubims have wings and their wings cover the mercy seat of God. But there is much more to be learned as the “pattern of the things in the heavens” is given to Moses.
As it turns out these cherubims are to be found all over the walls of the tabernacle, woven into the fabric of the walls and into the fabric of the door of the holy of  holies.

Exo 26:1  Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work shalt thou make them.
Exo 26:31  And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made:
Exo 26:32  And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver.
Exo 26:33  And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy.

When King David gives his son Solomon the pattern for the building of the temple, we see these cherubims as even more omnipresent on the  walls of the temple on “the door to the oracle,” meaning the door of the holy of holies, and on the door of the temple.

1Ki 6:31  And for the entering of the oracle he made doors [ of] olive tree: the lintel [ and] side posts [ were] a fifth part [ of the wall].
1Ki 6:32  The two doors also [ were of] olive tree; and he carved upon them carvings of cherubims and palm trees and open flowers, and overlaid [ them] with gold, and spread gold upon the cherubims, and upon the palm trees.
1Ki 6:33  So also made he for the door of the temple posts of olive tree, a fourth part of the wall.
1Ki 6:34  And the two doors were of fir tree: the two leaves of the one door were folding, and the two leaves of the other door were folding.
1Ki 6:35  And he carved thereon cherubims and palm trees and open flowers: and covered them with gold fitted upon the carved work.
2Ch 3:7  He overlaid also the house, the beams, the posts, and the walls thereof, and the doors thereof, with gold; and graved cherubims on the walls.

Now we know that the “pillars in the tabernacle, and the doors of the temple of God” are covered with these cherubims, and the doors of the holy of holies and the door of the temple, have these cherubims carved into them. Now we should understand what John saw when he said: “… and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.”
So now we know that these creatures which are called cherubims are everywhere around the mercy seat and in the very midst of the mercy seat. But we still have not been told exactly what is a cherubim, or what cherubim look like. That revelation is left to the prophets. It is left to the prophet Ezekiel to add a few more details  to our knowledge and understanding of who and what are these cherubims.
But before we go to Ezekiel, we need to take note that these cherubims are mentioned again in 1 Kings in connection with brass lions, brass oxen and the brasen wheels of a chariot. All of this will become much more prominent as the revelation of the things of the heavens themselves continues to unfold before our eyes in the writings of the prophet Ezekiel. Here is more about this progressive revelation of the pattern of the things of the heavens as given to King David and as constructed by King Solomon:

1Ki 7:27  And he made ten bases of brass; four cubits was the length of one base, and four cubits the breadth thereof, and three cubits the height of it.
1Ki 7:28  And the work of the bases was on this manner: they had borders, and the borders were between the ledges:
1Ki 7:29  And on the borders that were between the ledges were lions, oxen, and cherubims: and upon the ledges there was a base above: and beneath the lions and oxen were certain additions made of thin work.
1Ki 7:30  And every base had four brasen wheels, and plates of brass: and the four corners thereof had undersetters: under the laver were undersetters molten, at the side of every addition.
1Ki 7:31  And the mouth of it within the chapiter and above was a cubit: but the mouth thereof was round after the work of the base, a cubit and an half: and also upon the mouth of it were gravings with their borders, foursquare, not round.
1Ki 7:32  And under the borders were four wheels; and the axletrees of the wheels were joined to the base: and the height of a wheel was a cubit and half a cubit.
1Ki 7:33  And the work of the wheels was like the work of a chariot wheel: their axletrees, and their naves, and their felloes, and their spokes, were all molten.

Now we know that these cherubims are not only “round about the throne and before the throne” of God, but they are also to be found on the brass bases which were used by the priests to carry the lavers in which to wash the flesh of the sacrifices.

1Ki 7:43 And the ten bases, and ten lavers on the bases;

The fact that these cherubims are found in the base metal part of the court of the temple, as brass, and the fact that they are also found as figures of gold “round about and in the middle of the very throne of God,” makes their song here in the book of Revelation much more meaningful:

Rev 5:8  And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
Rev 5:9  And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
Rev 5:10  And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

These creatures symbolize that which has been taken from the dust of the ground as marred base metals, and has been transformed into the pure gold that is in the midst of and about the throne of God. “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;”
But there is more to learn about “the things of the heavens themselves” in the book of Ezekiel. It is here in Ezekiel that we learn that all of this talk of cherubims and wheels of a chariot are actually a description of the very throne of God in heaven. It is all to be found in two separate chapters. First, chapter one and then chapter 10. We will look at what is revealed in chapter one first, and then we will go to chapter ten.

Eze 1:1  Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth [ month], in the fifth [ day] of the month, as I [ was] among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.
Eze 1:2  In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity,
Eze 1:3  The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.
Eze 1:4  And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness [ was] about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire.
Eze 1:5  Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.
Eze 1:6  And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.
Eze 1:7  And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass.
Eze 1:8  And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings.
Eze 1:9  Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward.
Eze 1:10  As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.
Eze 1:11  Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.
Eze 1:12  And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went.
Eze 1:13  As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning.
Eze 1:14  And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.
Eze 1:15  Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces.
Eze 1:16  The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.
Eze 1:17  When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they wen t.
Eze 1:18  As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four.
Eze 1:19  And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up.
Eze 1:20  Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their] spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.
Eze 1:21  When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.
Eze 1:22  And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above.
Eze 1:23  And under the firmament [ were] their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies.
Eze 1:24  And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings.
Eze 1:25  And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings.
Eze 1:26  A nd above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.
Eze 1:27  And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about.
Eze 1:28  As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so [ was] the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.

The heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.” What an “open heaven” is this chapter! Our understanding of “the things of the heavens themselves” has just been expanded exponentially. The cherubims are now revealed to be four in number. We have learned that “they are like burning coals of fire.” This was hinted at with the fiery sword of Genesis three, but here the cherubs become the fire. The fire “like lamps of fire goes up and down among the living creatures and is a bright fire which produces lightning.”
To this point in scripture we have not one word which tells us what is the likeness of the face of a cherub, but now we are told that they each have four wings and they each have four faces. They are the faces of a man, an ox, a lion and an eagle. We are now told they have “the likeness of a man, with a man’s hands under their four wings”. None of this was revealed to Adam or Moses or King David. In this chapter we learn that there four wheels associated with these four living creatures, that they appear as a wheel within a wheel, these wheels are “full of eyes and that “the spirit of living creatures is in the wheels. The patterns of the things of the heavens themselves is becoming much clearer, and there is yet much to be revealed.

Conclusion

We will have to stop here for today, but let’s review what we have been shown in God’s Word concerning the pattern of the things of the heavens themselves. Don’t forget what all of this is. It is all but a pattern of the heavenly things themselves, and the heavenly things themselves are the hearts and minds of the people of God. All of this is symbols of the things of the heavens themselves.
We have seen that this revelation of these symbolic cherubims begins in Gen 3 with the simple statement that God placed cherubims at the east of the garden of Eden “to keep the way of the tree of life.” We have seen that “keeping the way of the tree of life” is actually keeping the way of Christ, and we are being told that these cherubims do just that; they “keep the way of the Tree of Life” just as they also “keep the things written therein.”

Gen 3:24  So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

“The way of the tree of life” is “the things that are written therein.”

Rev 1:3  Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

We saw these cherubims again in Exodus in connection with the mercy seat, which we discover in Ezekiel one, is a type of the throne of God in heaven. But we are not told that in Exodus. In Exodus they appear to be two in number, and they have only two wings with which they cover the mercy seat. All we are told in Exodus, is that God speaks to his people “from between the cherubims.” What a revelation is that for those with eyes that see the pattern of “the heavenly things themselves.” We are told in Exodus that the cherubims are also woven into the fabric of the walls and doors of the Tabernacle of Moses and we saw in Kings and Chronicles that they were also carved into the walls and doors of the temple of Solomon whose pattern was given to King David to give to His son Solomon, to build.
It is in 1Ki 7 that we learn that these cherubims are not only to be found in gold all over the tabernacle of Moses and all over the temple of Solomon, but they are also to be found in the base metal brass, outside of the temple and in the courtyard of the temple on the sides of the bases which carried the lavers for the service of the tabernacle. This tells us that the cherubims are base metal in the court of the temple, before they become gold in the temple itself.
Next “the heavens were opened”, and we were given a much clearer view of the pattern of the things of the heavens themselves in Ezekiel one. It is here that we learn that there are actually four cherubims, that they are like fire, that they are like men and that they have the faces of a man, a lion, an eagle and an ox.
Finally we saw that they are closely associated with four wheels which appear to be a wheel within a wheel, and that these wheels are full of eyes, and “the spirit of the living creatures is in the wheels.”
Next week, Lord willing, we will go to our next appearance of these four living creatures, and we will see what Ezekiel 10 reveals about these “four cherubims round about and in the midst of the throne of God..”

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