It is not difficult to visualize the scene. The Jasper would
be almost dazzling in appearance. The Sardine, brilliant
red in colour would give the appearance of fire. Although unable
to picture the Ancient of Days, John is able to give us some
idea of the majesty and glory, that surrounds the mighty
And there was a rainbow round about the throne in sight
like unto an emerald
Rainbows on earth have many colours, they are formed by the
combination of sun and rain. But this is a rainbow around God's
throne. And in appearance it is like an emerald which is green.
This is a rainbow that has a green emerald like appearance.
'Education' by EG White, page 115 says, "As the bow in the
cloud results from the union of sunshine and shower, so the bow
above God's throne represents the union of His mercy and His
When the rainbow first appeared, it was a sign of God's
everlasting covenant of peace (Genesis 9). When God looks upon
the bow He remembers the everlasting covenant. To God it is a
reminder of mercy.
AND ROUND ABOUT THE THRONE WERE FOUR AND
TWENTY SEATS: AND UPON THE SEATS I SAW FOUR AND TWENTY ELDERS
SITTING, CLOTHED IN WHITE RAIMENT; AND THEY HAD 0N THEIR HEADS
CROWNS OF GOLD.
And round about the throne, were four and twenty seats
Without question John is describing the same scene as Daniel
in chapter 7, for both John and Daniel mention thrones or seats
being set in order around the central throne.
In Daniel 7:9 we are given a glimpse of the most sacred place
in all the universe, God's throne room. "I beheld till the
thrones were cast down", R.S.V. reads "thrones were
placed", "...and the Ancient of Days did sit".
says, "His throne was like the fiery flame...".
Revelation 4:3 says, "... and He that sat was to look upon
like a jasper and a sardine stone...", fiery red in colour
appearing like fire.
Other comparisons can also be made, adding to the general
picture of this view into the throne room of God.
And upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting
Who are these elders? Twelve times they are mentioned in
Revelation. Where do they come from?
Revelation 5:9 tells us,
"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." They are human beings just like you and me for they have been
redeemed by Christ's blood. Special representatives from every
race and nation, who are up in heaven when John had this vision.
Naturally one might wonder how they are in heaven, how did
they get there. Fortunately there is some information in the
Holy Scriptures regarding this matter.
Matthew 27:52, 53 says,
"And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints
which slept arose. And came out of the graves after his
resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto
There was a special resurrection at the time of Christ's
crucifixion and resurrection.
Ephesians 4:8 says, "Wherefore
he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive
(margin, A multitude of captives) and gave gifts unto men." This verse says that when Christ ascended to heaven after His
resurrection "he led a multitude of captives" (margin). These
elders as they are called have an important part in the
In Israel, the word "elder" designated a person holding an
official rank and position among their brethren. God directed
Moses to choose 70 elders to aid him in his great responsibility
of governing Israel. In the Christian church, the word "elder"
referred to a church leader.
These twenty-four elders serve at the throne of God. Seated
on thrones they apparently participate in the administration of
the universe. In the temple service of ancient Israel there were
twenty-four courses or orders of the Levitical priesthood (see
Chronicles 24, 25). There were 500 priests serving in courses or
Clothed in white raiment
To be clothed in white raiment suggests that previously they
were clothed in other garments. Seeing they have been redeemed,
their white garments symbolize purity of character.
19:8 says, "And to her was granted that she should be arrayed
in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the
righteousness of saints."
And they had on their heads crowns of gold
They are clothed in white raiment and have crowns of gold on
their head. There are two Greek words translated 'crown' in
English: 'diadema' is the crown of a potentate, a king or queen;
'stephanos' is the crown of a victor. It is the word 'stephanos'
that is used here. These elders are victors in the fight with
"I find, then, in these enthroned Elders, the highest
manifested glory of the risen and glorified saints. They are in
heaven. They are around the throne of Deity. They are pure and
holy, wearing white, 'which is the righteousness of the saints.'
They are partakers of celestial dominion. They are kings of
glory, with golden crowns. They are settled and at home in their
exalted dignities; not standing and waiting as servants, but
seated as royal counsellors of the Almighty. They are assessors
of the great Judge of quick and dead, the spectators of all that
transpires in heaven and earth, and participants in the judgment
of the world for its sins." J.A. Seiss, The Apocalypse, Vol.
1. p. 253.
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.
And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings
This is a favourite expression with John and is intended to
convey supernatural power and majesty.
And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the
'Patriarchs and Prophets' by EG White, page 356 says, "As
in vision the apostle was granted a view of the temple of God in
heaven, he beheld 'seven lamps of fire burning before the
throne.' ...Here the prophet was permitted to behold the first
apartment of the sanctuary heaven; and he saw the 'seven lamps
Which are the seven Spirits of God
We have already noticed that seven is a figure of
completeness or perfection. This is a symbolic representation of
the Holy Spirit.
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
And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto
This is not a sea as we understand sea. Some have believed
that no one is able to come close to the throne because of this
sea. Actually it is the floor of the throne room and is a vast
shimmering expanse reflecting the red and green radiance about
And in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne
While on the subject of God's throne it is clear that there
are at least two thrones. Ezekiel saw a blue throne.
1:26 says, "And above the firmament that was over their heads
was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire
stone...". This is the throne described by John which he saw
in the first apartment where were the symbols of grace - bread,
light, altar of incense. This throne is mentioned by the apostle
Paul in Hebrews 4:16. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the
throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to
help in time of need." Later on John saw a great white
throne (Rev. 20:11) which is clearly the throne of judgment.
Were four beasts full of eyes before and behind
Four Beasts is not correct. The Revised Standard Version has
"And round the throne, on each side of the throne, are four
living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind."
In the description of these four Living Creatures, a great
deal or symbolism is used. Fortunately we are not left to
speculate as to who these Living Creatures might be.
says, "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."
Chapter 10:15 says, "And the
cherubims were lifted up. This is the living creature that I saw
by the river of Chebar."
Chapter 10:20 says, "This is the
living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river
of Chebar: and I knew that they were the cherubims." You
will notice that the Cherubims are identical with the Living
There is no doubt that these beings are those who hold a high
place in the counsels of God. They are His special messengers
and they are also connected with the work of redemption. In
chapter 4 and 5 of Revelation they are pictured as playing a
very intimate part in the heavenly Sanctuary. Another thing that
comes through very clearly in these chapters is their readiness
to adore Christ in praise and song.
Full of eves before and behind
We have already noticed that this is a highly symbolic
representation, these Living Creatures with their several faces
and numerous wings and many eyes are Cherubims according to
Philip Mauro says, "Let us remind ourselves ... that we
are not looking at objects which bear any physical resemblance
whatever to those heavenly things. No one would for a moment
suppose that there is any physical likeness between our
glorified Redeemer and 'a Lamb having seven horns and seven
eyes,' or between the Holy Spirit of God and 'seven lamps of
fire.' What we are attempting to do (in our study) is to
decipher a description written in hieroglyphics, a description
in which the pictures of familiar objects are used as
representation of spiritual realities which may be persons, or
which may be moral ideas or truth, the symbols being such as
merely to suggest the realities for which they stand, by reason
of some moral likeness which they bear thereto." The Patmos
Visions, pp. 151, 152.
Being full of eyes would be symbolic of "all seeing".
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.
Commentators for centuries have linked these symbols with the
four aspects of our Saviour's ministry.
And the first beast was like a lion
In the Gospels, Matthew begins with the genealogy, showing
the right of Christ to the throne of David. There is an emphasis
on the King and His Kingdom. Christ is the 'Lion' of the tribe
of Judah of whom it is prophesied in
Genesis 49:10, "The
sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between
his feet, until Shiloh come...". And so we have the kingly
side of Christ portrayed in the first of the Gospels.
And the second beast like a calf
The second face was that of the calf, or the ox, the servant
of men. The calf suggests sacrifice, Christ is the slain Lamb,
the sacrificial victim. It also suggests the Christ who
constantly ministers on behalf of men.
And the third beast had a face as a man
The Gospel of Luke describes the 'Man' side of Christ.
19:10 says, "for the Son of man is come to seek and to save
that which was lost."
'The Son of man' is used frequently in this Gospel by Jesus
Himself. As God, it was impossible for Christ to die. By taking
humanity upon Himself, He became one with the human race and
shared the trials and tribulations that come to each one of us.
"As a member of the human family He was mortal, but as a
God He was the fountain of life to the world. He could, in His
divine person, ever have withstood the advances of death, and
refused to come under its dominion; but He voluntarily laid down
His life, that in so doing He might give life arid bring
immortality to light... What humility was this! It amazed
angels. The tongue can never describe it; the imagination cannot
take it in. The eternal Word consented to be made flesh! God
became man! It was a wonderful 'humility." E.G. White,
Review and Herald, July 5, 1887.
And the fourth beast was like a flying eagle
John in his Gospel emphasizes the Deity of Christ. Right in
the very first few verses of the first chapter, Christ is
portrayed as the glorious Word, the One who was equal with the
Father in might, power and glory.
John 1:1 says, "In the
beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word
was God." Verse 3 says, "All things were made by Him: and
without Him was not any thing made that was made."
John goes on to say that "in Him was life". He
is "the true Light". John portrayed the divine character
more fully than any of the other Gospel writers. This is
represented by the eagle flying heavenward.
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.
And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him
Wings are used in a symbolic sense in the prophecies of
Daniel. There were two wings on the Lion of
Daniel chapter 7,
and four on the Leopard. Wings suggest swiftness, rapidity. In
the case of the Living creatures it would indicate the speed
with which God's heavenly messengers deliver their errands.
And they were full of eyes within
Eyes are for the purpose of seeing, having a number of eyes
would mean that they do not miss anything, nothing escapes their
And they rest not day and night
As there is no night in heaven so there is no need to rest.
Neither is there a need to rest, as the angels never become
tired. In heaven there is ceaseless activity.
Saying, holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was,
and is, and is to come
Up to this point we have noted the things the prophet saw.
Sights such as no man has ever seen before. Now we notice that
John tells us what he hears and what he hears equals the majesty
of what he saw.
We quickly tire of repeating the same thing, it soon becomes
monotonous. However the Living Creatures never tire of ascribing
glory and honour to God, it never becomes monotonous to them. It
would seem hardly likely that they would repeat the same words
over and over again. If this were the case, the words would
quickly lose their meaning and significance.
Like the Gospel story, it has been told so many times that it
could also become stale and uninteresting. But it doesn't for
with every telling it becomes new and fresh. The Bible never
becomes old and stale either, for it is constantly revealing new
and wonderful things. So it is with the Living Creatures. Every
time they praise God they do it with words which bring to view
some new attribute of the Almighty.
AND WHEN THOSE BEASTS GIVE GLORY AND
HONOUR AND THANKS TO HIM THAT SAT ON THE THRONE, WHO LIVETH FOR
EVER AND EVER.
And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to
Him that sat on the throne
Heavenly beings as well as men, owe God thanks for God has
given them life also. Heavenly beings appreciate life more than
we here on earth. Life to us is spoiled by sickness, suffering,
sorrow and many other things that plague mankind.
In heaven, there is none of the things which we are so
familiar with, there is nothing to dampen the spirits of the
heavenly beings. They are surrounded by glory and majesty beyond
description. I am sure as they compare heaven with earth, it
would call forth from their lips special praise to God.
Who liveth for ever and ever
The Four Living Creatures give praise to God because He is
the Creator. God did not just make us, wind us up like a toy,
and push us out to wind down and then die. He has the power and
He uses it to keep us alive. Because He lives for ever and ever,
we too one day will do the same.
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,
In an act of worship, the elders fell down before God. In
public and in private worship it is usual to kneel as we pray.
Jesus set the example in this.
Luke 22:41 says, "And he was
withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down and
prayed". Paul mentions it in
Ephesians 3:14, "For this
cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
By kneeling in prayer recognition is given to the fact that
God is our Maker and our Redeemer.
In this act of worship the twenty-four elders prostrated
themselves before the Almighty. This is complete submission,
inspired by the sense of His infinite greatness. This is true
"The hour and place of prayer are sacred, because God is
there. And as reverence is manifested in attitude and demeanor,
the feeling that inspires it will be deepened. "Holy and
reverend is His name;" the psalmist declares (Psalm 119:9).
Angels, when they speak that name, veil their faces. With what
reverence, then, should we, who are fallen and sinful, take it
upon our lips!" ('Prophets and Kings' by EG White. p.48,49).
THOU ART WORTHY, 0 LORD, TO RECEIVE GLORY AND HONOUR AND POWER:
FOR THOU HAST CREATED ALL THINGS AND FOR THY PLEASURE THEY ARE
AND WERE CREATED.
Thou art worthy, 0 Lord, to receive glory and honour and
More than any other in that great throne room of God, the
twenty four elders are conscious of the reason that they should
worship God. Honoured in having a very important part to play as
the representatives of the human race, they are there, because
of the plan of Redemption and Calvary. They ascribe to God,
greatness, glory and power.
For thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure
they are and were created
The twenty four elders worship God as the Creator, more than
that they worship Him because He has ransomed them and made them
His sons, members of the royal family. This is true worship for it is inspired by love. The question
we should ask ourselves is, do we worship God because He
is wiser than we are? or because He is older, or more
intelligent, or more powerful?
This chapter as it takes us into the throne room of God
reveals that Heaven, from whatever standpoint it may be viewed,
presents the plan of Redemption. It also makes it very clear
that this plan is the one all-absorbing theme of the universe of
God. These things presented to John show that the activity of
the heavenly beings is spent in the service of man.
Another purpose of this revelation of Jesus Christ to the
apostle John is to show men how near God is to the creatures of
His hand. It also shows that the angels are vitally interested
in the Plan of Salvation. All heaven is waiting for the
redemption of man.
As we are taken into the very presence of God Himself, we
find that the throne of God is a throne of life, not an
inanimate throne of precious stones but a living and moving
throne. For as John looked, he saw lightnings and heard
thunderings and voices. He is viewing the centre of creation-
the throne of God.