A Glimpse of the Throne Room
Glory and Honor
We have been given a powerful and life altering glimpse into the Throne Room of God. So far in our study, we have found some vivid images of the Triune God of Heaven and specifically the Son of Man, God’s Son. John the Apostle brings us a personal greeting of grace and peace from God the Father – the Alpha and Omega, the One who is and who was and who is to come as self-existent eternally, the One who is called Almighty. This greeting also comes from the Holy Spirit of God in all seven aspects of His fullness. Finally, this greeting comes from God the Son, the One who is a faithful witness accurately portraying all that God is, Who brings life from His resurrection, and is sovereign over the earth. It is a greeting for everyone who will hear what the Triune God of the universe has to say.
Then we were given a vivid picture of Jesus Christ as He interacts with the church of God here on earth. He is the One who stands in the midst of the golden lampstands (vv. 12-13, 20). The lampstands represent the church and we see the power of Jesus Christ put on display in His church. His presence brings great power to the church. His refining power continues to shape and purify His church (vv. 14-15). Ultimately, we found that Jesus Christ, the Son of Man has ultimate sovereign power in the church (v. 16).
Why is this true? Because Jesus is the “Living One” (v. 18). He died for the sins of the human race, but He rose from the grave and is now alive forever more. He holds the keys to Death and Hades. Chapter one of Revelation has given us a glimpse of the magnificence of the God we love and serve and His Son who has brought us salvation.
In chapter 4, John is given a glimpse into the very throne room of Heaven itself. There we see God seated upon His throne. He is fixed eternally as the King and Ruler of His creation. From Him emanates splendor, magnificence, power, and judgment. Believers will one day co-rule with Jesus Christ as they will be clothed in His righteousness and wearing the victor’s crown that is won through a life given to Him.
For those who do not believe, for those who do not accept the free gift of righteousness, there will be judgment for their sin. They will face God’s judgment of eternal separation in the place of eternal death. But if we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, give our hearts and lives to Him, we will be filled with the fullness of God’s Spirit. We can have the fullness of His power to live for Him. This Throne Room with its vast floor that extends into eternity reminds us of the importance of the robes of righteousness necessary to be in the eternal presence of a holy God.
We want to continue today looking at this glimpse John was given into God’s Throne Room and be encouraged again in our life with Christ as we look forward to that blessed day. What we will see described to us today is unique to say the least, but has a powerful message for us.
6b And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind:
7 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.
8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!"
9 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever,
10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11 "Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created."
The Four Living Ones (vv. 6b-9)
~ Exalted Cherubim (v. 6b)
Well, as you noticed, we have four beings translated in the ESV as “Creatures.” If you use the KJV, you will find them called “Beasts” in that translation. What translators are attempting to translate is the Greek word ζῷον (zoon) which simply means a “living creature.” It comes from the word ζωός (zoos) which means something that is alive. Since it is used to describe non-human life, the word is very often related to animal life. Here, I believe the best way to translate this is “living ones” or “living beings.” The reason for this is that these are angelic beings. How do I know that?
When we compare this passage to Ezekiel chapter 1, we find a very similar description of these Living Ones. But in Ezekiel 10:15, we find that Ezekiel clarifies that the Living Ones are Cherubim, which is an exalted order of angels. Cherubim were used to guard the entrance to the Garden of Eden after the Fall. Cherubim were placed on the Ark of the Covenant symbolically protecting God’s holiness. If you remember, we are told in Ezekiel that Satan was an “anointed cherub that covers” before his great fall. The four Living Ones, surrounding the Throne with one on each side of the Throne, are Cherubim.
It says in verse six that they are “full of eyes in front and behind.” This speaks of their awareness of all that is going on. They are alert and have comprehensive knowledge of everything that is happening. As we will see in verse eight, they are guardians of the Throne and so their complete comprehensive observation is absolutely necessary. Nothing escapes their attention. These are the exalted Cherubim, the Living Ones that surround the Throne.
~ Four Faces of Created Life (v. 7)
You can’t help but notice the description John gives us of the faces of these four Living Ones. The first is the face of a lion. The lion is considered the greatest of all wild animals. He represents great strength, ferociousness, and power. The second is the face of an ox. This word actually refers to a young ox or calf. This face represents what was considered to be the greatest of domesticated animals. The third face is the face of a man. He represents the highest order of all created beings with intellect, reasoning, and free will. The fourth face is the face of a flying eagle. The eagle is considered the greatest of all flying animals. Its speed and great eye sight give the eagle a huge advantage.
The four Living Ones represent the greatest of the four primary forms of life; wild animals, domesticated animals, flying animals, and human beings as the highest order of all. This is the same in Ezekiel’s vision except that each of the four Living Ones have all four faces. This is not a problem as it could be simply the perspective of these two visions of the Throne Room given to John and Ezekiel.
But why the four faces? It seems that these Cherubim are representatives of the all created life. As they fulfill their roles in what they do, they stand around the Throne on each side of the Throne as exalted representatives of all created life, yet as the great protectors of God’s holiness. You see, I believe every form of created life is designed to exalt the holiness of God. As we live our lives in the very presence of God, we should not only exalt His holiness, but we should do our best to keep His holiness from ever looking less that it is by the things we do. In essence, our lives should reflect the pure holiness of God.
1 Peter 1:15-16
But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."
Thus, these four Living Ones stand before the Throne representing all of created life exalting the holiness of God. Oh, this glimpse in the Throne Room has such powerful implications for you and me today in how we see and treat the holiness of God. The four Living Ones stand as guardians of the Throne.
~ Guardians of the Throne (v. 8a)
The six wings described in verse 8 denote their supreme responsibility before God. In Isaiah 6:2 we have a description of the six wings of the Seraphim, which is another order of God’s exalted angels.
Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
The two wings that covered their faces, relates to worship. This indicates humble submission before the unveiled appearance of a holy God. The two wings that covers their feet relates to worship also. The place where they stand at the Throne on the sea of glass is holy and thus the covering of their feet was another element of worship. The two wings by which they fly are the wings of obedience in carrying out their responsibilities before God.
Notice that the eyes are mentioned again. These Cherubim are “full of eyes all around and within.” This speaks of their full awareness as the guardians of the Throne. These protectors of the throne are magnificent in so many ways. Later in the book of Revelation we will find that the Living Ones are deeply involved in the execution of God’s judgments during the Tribulation period. One of the Living Ones will call forth the rider on the white horse in the first Seal Judgment when the Tribulation period begins (6:1). One of the Living Ones declares the economic disaster in the third Seal Judgment (6:6). One of the Living Ones will hand out the to seven angels the seven Bowl Judgments (15:7). These Cherubim are obedient to the orders of the Holy One who sits on the Throne.
These guardians of the Throne stand as representatives of all living things, they surround the Throne as protectors of God’s Holiness, and they act as obedient servants during the times of judgments. But that is not all. They stand in continual worship of God.
~ Continual Worship (v.8b -9)
And day and night they never cease to say, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!" And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever,
The four Living Ones give continual worship to God on the throne. Day and night, they say, “Holy, holy, holy.” We are told in Isaiah 6:3 that the Seraphim say to one another:
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!"
Holiness is the only attribute of God repeated in this way because it is the sum of who He is. Nothing can be compared to the holiness of God. He has always been holy, He is holy, and He will always be holy. I think we can learn something from the continual worship of the Living Ones. We ought to live in such a way that the holiness of God is not just reflected in our lives but exalted as we speak to one another about the greatness of our God. People should hear us talk about how awesome our God is. We need to exalt Him in not only the things we do, but the things we say to one another.
Notice in verse 8 that John repeats the terms used in chapter one for God the Father.
Who was, and is, and is to come – eternally existent One
The Almighty” – the all power One
The picture is one of perpetual praise of the nature and character of God the Father. We have three aspects of exalted praise taking place. First, the Living Ones give glory to Him. This doesn’t mean they are giving God something He doesn’t have, but that they are ascribing great worth and value to something He already has. When we give God glory, we see great worth in some aspect of who He is as God.
Second, the Living Ones honor God. In other words, great esteem or respect is being shown toward God. This is done through acts of obedience, love, and talking about the greatness of God to others. Third, the Living Ones give thanks to God. Any time glory and honor are being given, the natural outflow is thanks. Thanking God for who He is and all He has done. Glory, honor, and thanks is the content of perpetual worship coming from the Living Ones.
This should characterize our lives as well. Remember what it says in 1 Corinthians 10:31?
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Our lives should be lived in perpetual praise to the Father. He is the One who is seated on the throne, the One who lives forever and ever. As the Living Ones break out in glory, honor, and praise, the worship spreads to the 24 Elders. Did you see how verse 9 began? Whenever the four Living Ones break out in worship, verse 10 is the result. There we find the 24 Elders also worshipping God.
The Twenty -Four Elders (vv. 10-11)
This is what is so unique about genuine worship, it tends to spread to others. Look at verse 10 again as we see some powerful images of genuine reverential worship taking place.
~ Reverential Worship (v. 10)
The twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
In worship before God, the twenty-four Elders prostrate themselves before God’s Throne. We must realize that in order for the twenty-four elders to prostrate themselves before God the Father, they must come down from their own thrones in reverence and humbly fall on their faces before God. They are not preoccupied by their own excellence or place of co-reigning with God. They are not concerned about their own position, their honorable positions, or even their reward. They care greatly about reverential worship to God.
They understand that they have nothing that they were not given. They know that everything they have ever accomplished was only by God’s enablement. Thus, it is clear to them that even their crowns of victory are not from their own doing. All that they are and have done is because of God and so they fall down before the Father, casting their crowns before His throne in reverential worship.
This is something that every single one of us must realize. We are created by Him, and for Him, and all that we do is enabled by God. Do we see our lives in this way? Do we live each day thankful for His enabling? Is worship a part of our lives on a daily basis? I love this last verse because it sums up the idea of genuine worship in giving God glory and honor.
~ Glory and Honor (v. 11)
Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created."
This word “worthy” is the sticking point for many unbelievers. It is the Greek word ἄξιος (axios) which refers to the weight of something on a scale. Old time scales had a beam. You would put what you were weighing on one end of the beam and weights on the other end. When something is worthy, it means that it is weighty enough to counter balance the scale. It has enough weight or value that it counters the weight on the other end.
In our world today, many unbelievers see no worth or value of having God in their lives. They view other things as more important, more worthy of their time, or more valuable to them. The things of their life are weightier than the things of God. Unfortunately, we even see that in the lives of many who call themselves Christian. The things of this world out weigh the things of God.
Here, the twenty-four elders say God is worthy. He has more value. He is weightier than anything else in life. God is worthy to receive all this glory and honor. He is worthy of being the all-powerful King of the universe. Why? Simply put, He created all things, and by His will all things exist. God is worthy of all glory and honor. No matter how much glory and honor and we place on the scales, God’s worth will always counter balance it. He is worthy of all glory and honor.
In this glimpse of the Throne Room, I hope that you can see more clearly than ever before the importance of God’s holiness. We are not just reflectors of the holiness of God, but we are to live out the holiness of God to the best of our abilities. We are to be holy because He is holy. Also, I hope you see that God is worthy and that you make God weighty in your life. More important than anything else. I hope that you understand, that God is worthy of glory and honor because He is the Creator.
Is that how you see God in your life? Do you understand what it means that this God who sits on the Throne loves you so much that He sent Jesus to make a way for us as sinners that we can be with Him for eternity in His presence? If you have never put your faith and trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, won’t you do that today?