The Throne in Heaven and Hymns of Praise
Revelation 4, verses 2 and onward
r04c
Text
Comments
.2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.   In the spirit He went into vision as in re0110.
  One sat Instead, "One was sitting." See note.
.3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.   Rainbow See the note for this verse
.4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, [having been] clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold   Elders We may see them as human representatives. See the note on the notes page.
.5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.   Out of the throne See note 1 for this verse.
  Seven lamps of fire See note 2.
 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.
.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.
.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. 

  6 - Four beasts See the note for this verse below.
  7 - First beast like Discussed with the verse 6 note.
  8 - Saying Holy, holy, holy We can think of several ways in which God is three-times holy including His functioning as three individuals. This is one of the "hymns" of chapters 4 and 5. See note below.
.9 And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,   Liveth for ever Compare 1006.
 10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, -
 11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. -
.
Previous comments table
Next comments table
General navigation bar below


Note for verse 6
Characteristics of the four creatures
 

Living Creatures Reflect the Character of Christ
Creature
Number
Appearance
Tribe
Characteristics
References
1
lion Judah king or defender Rev. 5:5
2
calf Ephraim sacrifice Lev. 4
3
face of man Reuben substitute or humanity Phil. 2:5-8 
Gen. 4:1
4
flying eagle
sustained Ex. 19:4

   These ideas have room for refinement. The four cherubim in Ezekiel 10 are apparently the four living creatures here ez10. They are described a little differently here.
    The camp of the Israelites was in four sections, one on each side of the sanctuary.
   "Every man of the children of Israel shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of their father's house: far off about the tabernacle of the congregation shall they pitch. And on the east side toward the rising of the sun shall they of the standard of the camp of Judah pitch. . . . On the south . . . Reuben. . . . On the west . . . Ephraim. . . . The standard of the camp of Dan shall be on the north side. . . . (Num. 2). See layout map.
   Let's see how these correspond to the appearances of the four living creatures.
   "And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days. . . . Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength. . . . Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies. . . . Judah is a lion's whelp (cub): from the prey . . . Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward." (Gen. 49)
   "And Ephraim is as an heifer that is taught, and loveth to tread out the corn. . . ." (Hosea 10:11)
   Dan, the biting serpent, is hardly a fit symbol for a living creature. His tribe is missing from the reformulation of tribes that make up the 144,000 (Rev. 7:5-8). Perhaps the new banner shows a picture of a flying eagle the appearance of the fourth living creature. Perhaps the reason for it being a flying eagle is to show the contrast to the crawling serpent.

Note for verse 8
Crescendo of praise
   In Revelation 4 and 5 are five praise statements which theologians call hymns. In reading through the chapters we are awed by the magnificent crescendo of praise ringing through the universe for the One on the throne and for the One in the midst of the throne! The gift of our salvation is of such a magnitude that we will never understand it fully. What love the Father has and what love the Son has! And we don't deserve a bit of it.
   As I studied these hymns I began to see a marvelous pattern. First, I saw a progression as the praise and the numbers of those offering the praise increases. Then I saw more.

Progression in time
        Hymn 1, The eternal existence and holiness of God is seen (from eternity past).
        Hymn 2, Creation is reason for praise.
        Hymn 3, Ascribes merits from the cross. He then empowers us with the gift of the Spirit (at Pentecost)
        Hymn 4 He has power. According to chapter 7, this He receives in the judgment.
        Hymn 5. The whole universe (which would include the wicked) is involved in the praise. This is the time when every knee will bow. It's at the final time of judgment around the white throne at the end of the thousand years.

Chiastic literary pattern
   Praise for qualities of the eternal, holy, God
      Worthy Lord as Creator
         Lamb is worthy to open the book
      Worthy Lamb to receive power coming in glory
   Praise for eternal qualities of the One on the throne and the Lamb

Consider the relationships in the table below:
 

 The Plan of Salvation Seen in the Hymns
Praise
.         Voices         .
Actions
Divine
Qualifications
 Event or Time
Prelude
... out of the throne ... lightnings and thunderings and voices (4:5) - The fall - By choosing sin, man is without hope. The divine law has been broken.
Hymn 1
 . . . Holy,  holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which  was, and is, and is to come. (4:8) The 4 living creatures praise the One on the throne day and night. Righteousness of God in all ages Looking back to eternity past, and considering creation, through to the time of the cross.
Hymn 2
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (4:11) The 24 elders bow, casting their crowns before the throne. God is worthy as creator and sustainer of all. After creation ge0201ff.
Hymn 3, chiastic
center
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; (5:9) When the Lamb took the scroll, creatures and elders with harps and prayers sang this new song. Jesus, the divine substitute is worthy to open the scroll (book) worthy as priest and judge Inauguration of Christ after His death, resurrection and ascension. He begins the preadvent judgment in the end times re1406. It is described as breaking the seals in chapter 6. See Daniel's description da0708.
Hymn 4
 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on [over] the earth. . . . Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. (5:10,12) The angels along with the living creatures and the elders have seen the records of the opened scroll. Jesus is found worthy to reign as king (See Dan. 7:14) The preadvent judgment ends and the millennial judgment begins at the coming of Christ. Those found righteous reign with Christ as kings and priests re2004.
Hymn 5
. . . Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. (Rev. 5:13) These words are from "every creature" which would include the wicked. (Rom. 14:10-12) The one on the throne and the lamb are both worthy. The millennial judgment is followed by the executive judgment around the white throne. All the universe including the wicked see God's divine justice. The wicked are destroyed. re2011-13.
Postlude
. . . Amen. . . . (5:14) The living creatures said, amen, and the elders worshiped
 -
Life of the redeemed forever at peace in a universe living God's love

    The theme develops as we see how the One on the throne is worthy to reign and then how the Lamb is worthy to receive the responsibility for reading the scroll and for breaking its seals. We may understand this center point in the succession of praises as His inauguration. By comparing the groups who speak and the topics, we see a progression of the plan of salvation from eternity past to eternity future. Truly God is holy, holy, holy!


Previous
Next, Chapter 5
Chapter 4 home
Revelation home
Commentary home