Revelation Chapter 4 : 8
Revelation 4:8 – The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within.
In this verse, we are given further description of the four living creatures. Isaiah also saw these creatures, which he called “seraphim”:
Isaiah 6:1-7 – In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.”
The Hebrew word transliterated as “seraphim” literally means “fiery,” or “burning ones.” This word used elsewhere in Scripture relates to serpents (Numbers 21:6-8, Deuteronomy 8:15, Isaiah 14:29, 30:6). As shown above in Isaiah 6, and later in Revelation 6, the Lord has commissioned the living creatures to purge evil.
Ezekiel saw four similar, but different living creatures from the “seraphim,” called “cherubim.” Take note of the likenesses and differences between the living creatures below:
|Four living creatures stationed around the throne of God (Revelation 4:6) or fly above the throne (Isaiah 6:1)||Four living creatures located below the throne of God (Ezekiel 1:25-26, 10:1)|
|Each has one face (Isaiah 6:2, Revelation 4:7)||Each has four faces (Ezekiel 1:6, 10, 10:4)|
|The lion, calf, man, and eagle are their faces (Revelation 4:7)||The lion, calf, man, and eagle are their faces (Ezekiel 1:10)|
|Each has six wings (Isaiah 6:2, Revelation 4:8)||Each has four wings (Ezekiel 1:6, 10:21)|
|Covered with “eyes” (Revelation 4:6, 8)||Followed by “wheels” covered with “eyes” (Ezekiel 1:18, 10:12)|
|The “fiery” or “burning ones” (see commentary above)||Appearance like burning coals and lamps, moving like lightning (Ezekiel 1:13-14)|
|Used coals from the altar of God to purge sin (Isaiah 6:6-7)||Took coals to scatter on Jerusalem in judgment (Ezekiel 10:2)|
|Living creatures in the “midst” and around the throne of God (Revelation 4:6). Seven-fold Spirit located before the throne in Heaven (Revelation 4:5)||Holy Spirit dwelt beneath the golden cherubim on top of the “Ark of the Covenant” (Isaiah 37:16) and directed movement of the cherubim below the throne (Ezekiel 1:20)|
The wings of the golden cherubim, which over shadowed the “Ark of the Covenant” on Earth, suggest guardianship:
1 Kings 8:6-7 – Then the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the temple, to the Most Holy Place, under the wings of the cherubim. For the cherubim spread their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubim overshadowed the ark and its poles.
The following passage about Satan supports a cherub being a guardian, or one “who covers”:
Ezekiel 28:13-14 – You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes Was prepared for you on the day you were created. You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.
Based on proximity of the seraphim close to the throne of God, and having covering wings similar to the cherubim, they are likely guardians as well. If that is true, the seraphim are guardians around the throne of God, based on John’s account, and the cherubim are guardians on Earth below the throne, based on Ezekiel’s account:
Ezekiel 10:1 – And I looked, and there in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubim, there appeared something like a sapphire stone, having the appearance of the likeness of a throne.
Eyes cover the seraphim’s wings “around and within.” Back in Revelation 4:6, John described the four living creatures as full of eyes “in front and in back.” We are not told why the seraphim have all of these eyes. The wheels of the cherubim were full of eyes, moving the same direction the Holy Spirit moved:
Ezekiel 1:18-20 – As for their rims, they were so high they were awesome; and their rims were full of eyes, all around the four of them. When the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them; and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. Wherever the spirit wanted to go, they went, because there the spirit went; and the wheels were lifted together with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.
Perhaps the many eyes of the seraphim show the spiritual insight they have at the leading of the Holy Spirit, similar to that of the cherubim and their wheels. Some believe that the seraphim have spiritual insight into the past, present, and future, with the eyes looking “front and in back” (Revelation 4:6), “around and within” (Revelation 4:8).
In Isaiah’s vision of the seraphim, God told him that His chosen people would not be able to perceive Isaiah’s message; they would be spiritually blinded. Their spiritual state was far too gone to avoid judgment:
Isaiah 6:6-12 – Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.” Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” And He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ “Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed.” Then I said, “Lord, how long?” And He answered: “Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant, the houses are without a man, the land is utterly desolate, the LORD has removed men far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.”
Israel had spiritual insight, through the Word of God, that the Messiah would come. However, the religious leaders rejected Jesus as Messiah because they desired to follow after their own hearts. Thus they have since been spiritually blinded, in part. While God has reserved a remnant, He has blinded the rest:
Romans 11:7-8 – What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded. Just as it is written: “God has given them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see and ears that they should not hear, to this very day.”
However, when Jesus returns, He will heal Israel’s blindness:
Romans 11:25-27 – For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”
As shown in Revelation 4:4, the twenty-four elders represent the Church. In the passage below, we find the seraphim, along with the twenty-four elders, singing a song of redemption:
Revelation 5:8-10 – Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.”
Note that both the living creatures and the elders represent redeemed men. At this juncture, there will only be two camps of redeemed men: those saved before the cross and those saved after the cross. Those saved after the cross belong to the Church, represented by the twenty-four elders in Heaven. Before the cross, salvation came through faith in God from Adam to Abraham. And after Abraham, whether one was Hebrew or Gentile, salvation still came through faith in God. God commissioned the Jewish nation, through the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as guardians of God’s Word:
Romans 3:2 – …Chiefly because to them [the Jews] were committed the oracles of God.
Salvation was made available to all through God’s Servant, Jesus Christ, who is the Word of God born through the nation of Israel:
Isaiah 49:6 – “Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’ “
God intended for the Jewish nation to be a light to those in darkness, by showing through the Law, the need for salvation:
Romans 2:17-20 – Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law.
Though Israel failed in their commission (Romans 2:21-24), the Jewish Messiah took up the task:
Luke 2:30-32 – “For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”
If the twenty-four elders represent the Church, then is goes to reason that the four living creatures represent Israel, plus the Gentiles saved through faith in the God of Israel. For example, Rahab (Joshua 2 & 6), and Ruth, are a few notable Gentiles that accepted the God of Israel.
Consider the following parallels between the four living creatures and Israel:
|The four living creatures||Israel|
|Located around the throne
|Camped around the tabernacle
|Have faces of lion, calf, man, eagle (Revelation 4:7)||Camps of Israel bore the images of a lion, ox, man and eagle (see above)|
|Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 5:9)||Looked forward to redemption of the Messiah, accomplished through His shed blood (Romans 3:20-26)|
|“Fiery” or “burning ones” (see above)||Will be glorified by the light of Christ (Luke 2:30-32)|
|Has eyes on their “front and back” and “within and around” their wings (Revelation 4:6, 8)||Men of Israel were moved by the Holy Spirit to compose the prophetic Word of God (2 Peter 1:19-21)|
|Has six wings (Revelation 4:8, Isaiah 6:2)||Six is the number of man and Israel is God’s chosen people of the human race (Deuteronomy 7:6)|
On that last note, the many eyes of the living creatures likely signify spiritual discernment, as discussed earlier. Israel was a chosen nation, but not solely to bring forth the Messiah physically. Hebrew men were also chosen to transcribe almost the entire Word of God at the leading of the Holy Spirit. God’s Word gives us spiritual insight into the past, present, and future, looking “front and back” (Revelation 4:6) and “around and within” (Revelation 4:8), like the eyes of the four living creatures.
God has always kept a remnant out of Israel of spiritually discerned people (Romans 9:27, 11:25). As mentioned earlier, when Jesus returns, the entire nation will have the blinders taken off (Romans 11:25-27), and as a nation become a light to the Gentiles in the Millennium (Isaiah 60).
We have seen that the twenty-four elders and four living creatures, together, represent believers from all ages, up to the time of the Tribulation. The four living creatures represent faithful Israel plus a few believing Gentiles before the cross. The twenty-four elders represent the Church, or faithful Gentiles plus a few believing Jews after the cross.
Clearly, the four living creatures are of heavenly origin. Therefore, I believe it is likely the twenty-four elders are also of heavenly origin. Though they look like men, as do angels, John describes them as a separate group from angels (Revelation 5:11). There is more than one order of heavenly beings, seen in the differences between the cherubim and seraphim, which are very different from what we recognize as angels, who typically appear as men in Scripture.
In short, this heavenly court, whether all of heavenly origin or not, are clearly representatives of redeemed man, up to the time of the Tribulation:
Revelation 5:8-9 – Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”
Combining the components of the throne of God shown to us thus far, we can clearly see that Moses patterned the earthly tabernacle after the throne in Heaven:
The phrase “holy, holy, holy” is only found in one other passage, again proclaimed by seraphim:
Isaiah 6:1-4 – In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.
We saw in Revelation 3:7 that “holy” means to set apart (Leviticus 20:6). The Lord is “holy,” and is also known as the “Holy One” (Isaiah 43:15, 47:4). Interestingly, the seraphim, who represent Israel, call out praises both day and night around the throne of God, just as the Psalmist pictures Israel doing:
Psalms 22:2-3 – O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; and in the night season, and am not silent. But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel.
The number “three” speaks of God’s divine nature:
|God’s nature||Attributes||Godhead Member||Eternal|
Click here for more on the number “three” in the Bible.
“Who was and is and is to come” denotes the eternal nature of God, being outside of time. The angel used this title in Revelation 1:4 to introduce God the Father, and later in Revelation 1:8, Jesus used this title to describe Himself.
“Full of eyes” (see note on verse 6).
Holy, holy, holy. This is the cry of these heavenly creatures who know God as He really is. It has been suggested that each “holy” is directed to one of the members of the Trinity. Then these creatures remind us of the One who “is to come.” The return of Christ is guaranteed in the words of these heavenly hosts. In (Acts 1:9-11), angelic beings describe how Christ will literally return “in like manner as ye have seen him go”. Here these angels in heaven reaffirm that promise.
The six wings spoken of (in Isaiah 6), seem to show humility, obedience, and reverence to God. The number six makes me believe also, that these wings show work and activity (six day work). It seems here that one of their tasks was to proclaim the holiness of God.
I really believe the three “holy, holy, holy”, Lord God Almighty”, indicate Father, Word, Holy Ghost. “Which was, and is, and is to come”. God’s eternal presence is not limited by time, He has always been present and will come in the future.
The “which was, and is, and is to come” just furthers that thought and shows us the eternity of this three in one. We do know from (1 John 5), that there are three in heaven.
1 John 5:7 “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”
Verses 9-11: All of heaven “worship” the Father. The angels extol His character, and the “elders” (church), extol His creative powers. God has the right to rule and the sovereign authority to judge the earth, because He is both holy and the Creator of all.
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We are now living in the absolute End Times as per biblical prophecy.
Our Lord Jesus Christ – King of Kings. 2nd Coming and return is IMMENENT!.
Please do not waist another a minute.
No matter what religion you serve, there is only one God.
If, you want to be assured that you will not have to endure the perilous times that will befall you.
Irrespective, of what sins you may have committed at any time of your life. If you humble yourself and ask for God’s forgiveness. He will forgive you and wash them all away and welcome you as his beloved son or daughter with open arms.
If you are not a child of Father God or have not asked Jesus Christ to come into your life yet?
I implore you to do this without delay.
Read this prayer of Salvation and ask God to forgive you now and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour and you will be assured of eternal life.