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Revelation 4:6b–11

“Around the throne, 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 living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight” (vv. 6b–7).

Commenting on the similarity between the lightning and thunder in John’s vision of heaven (Rev. 4:1–6a) and God’s appearance on Mount Sinai (Ex. 19), Matthew Henry writes, “God gave forth the law on Mount Sinai; and the gospel has not less glory and authority than the law, though it be of a more spiritual nature.” In Revelation, we get a manifold revelation of the glory and authority of God and the glory and authority of His gospel, for which we are to lay down our lives if it means staying true to Jesus (Rev. 2:10). In so doing, we actually lose nothing, for we will rule and reign forever over all things alongside our Savior (3:26–28; 2 Tim. 2:12).

Revelation 4:6b–11 continues the description of John’s vision of heaven. We see in verses 6b–8 that in addition to twenty-four elders around the throne of God, “four living creatures” are present in heaven. One creature looks like a lion, one like an ox, one like a man, and one like an eagle, and each has six wings and is covered in eyes. This imagery comes from Ezekiel 1, although each of the four creatures in Ezekiel’s prophecy had four faces and only four wings. We are not meant to think that John is seeing something different from what Ezekiel saw. Both use extensive symbolic imagery to describe the magnificence of the beings they saw. The power and glory of these angelic creatures is so great that Ezekiel and John have to talk about them in terms of the most magnificent of earthly creatures; human language cannot fully convey their splendor. Being covered with eyes probably indicates that nothing escapes the sight of these creatures. That, as one commentator notes, draws our attention to God. If these creatures can in some sense see everything, how much more does the Lord, who made these creatures, see and know all things?

John’s vision tells us that the chief task of the four supernatural creatures involves worshiping God. Like the angels in Isaiah’s heavenly vision, they praise the Lord for His incomparable holiness (Isa. 6:3) and exalt Him for His eternality. He “was and is and is to come!” (Rev. 4:8). Yet, these creatures do not worship the Lord by themselves. As they unceasingly praise God, the twenty-four elders fall down and glorify Him as well, casting down their crowns and proclaiming Him worthy of all honor because He created and sustains all things (vv. 9–11). As the twenty-four elders represent God’s people, this points to at least some of what we will be doing in heaven—worshiping the Lord in the splendor of His holiness.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Human beings were created for the glory of God, and we find our identity most truly as we worship Him. In the state of glory, we will behold the face of God. We will not grow tired of this, for seeing our Creator will fulfill every one of our longings. Today, our corporate worship is a foretaste of the yet more glorious worship to come. As we join with others in worship on the Lord’s Day, we are preparing ourselves for heaven.

For Further Study
  • Psalm 99
  • Ezekiel 10
  • Hebrews 12:18–29
  • Revelation 7:11–12

Johns Vision of Heaven

The Scroll with Seven Seals

Keep Reading Covenant Theology

From the October 2020 Issue
Oct 2020 Issue