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Revelation 4

“On each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second . . . like an ox, the third . . . with the face of a man, and the fourth . . . like an eagle in flight. . . . Each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within” (vv. 6b–8a).

It would be hard to underestimate the interest that people in our day have in the book of Revelation. There exist countless prophecy seminars, books, magazines, and websites that purport to explain how Revelation is being fulfilled today. Yet what many people miss is that Revelation is first and foremost a vision of God in heaven, one that shares much in common with the prophetic books in the Old Testament.

Revelation 4 gives us an inside look at the heavenly throne room that mirrors many of the details of the vision of the Lord that Isaiah 6 records. When we compare Revelation 4:8 and Isaiah 6:3, for example, we see heavenly beings thrice proclaiming God’s holiness. Another thing that the beings in Revelation 4 and Isaiah 6 share in common is the possession of six wings each (Rev. 4:8; Isa. 6:2).

These details make it reasonable to believe that the creatures revealed in each account are identical. If that is so, Revelation actually gives us additional information about these angelic beings who worship God continually before His throne. The creatures in Revelation 4 are covered with eyes (vv. 6b, 8), but there is no attempt on the part of these creatures to shield their eyes as is the case in Isaiah 6:2. We cannot be certain of the reason for these differences, but given that Revelation is a highly symbolic book, it may be that the details are more concerned with communicating a theological truth about God and the angels than to give a comprehensive description of what these beings actually look like. Maybe the uncovered eyes on these angels are a way of indicating that God sees everything.

We may not know the exact meaning for the many eyes on the four creatures in Revelation 4, but we do know that there is a heavenly host of angels (see Luke 2:13). At least some, if not all, of these angels have as their primary responsibility the worship of the Lord. And, as both Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4 indicate, the angels who are worshiping God continually enjoy seeing Him face-to-face. They already enjoy the beatific vision that is the hope of all believers. One day, in our glorification, when every trace of the presence of sin has been removed, we will see the Lord (1 John 3:1–2). We do not know exactly what this will be like, but the Bible tells us that this vision will be far more wonderful than we can imagine. “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9).

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Scripture never teaches that human beings are transformed into angels when they reach heaven. However, it does report that we will see God face-to-face. We can hardly imagine what this will be like, but we know it cannot be compared to the best things we have in the here and now. We will never be bored, and we will never grow tired of looking on the face of God. Are you looking forward to the beatific vision?

For Further Study
  • Exodus 25:10–22
  • Psalm 148
  • Luke 2:8–14
  • Hebrews 1:6
Related Scripture
  • Revelation

Seraphim Viewing the Lord

Angels in God’s Providence

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From the April 2016 Issue
Apr 2016 Issue