Revelation 4:1-11 Part 10


1)    After these I looked and, lo, a door having been opened in the heaven and the sound, the first that I heard as a trumpet, speaking to me saying “come up here and I will show you what is necessary to take place after these”.

2)    Immediately I did come in spirit and, lo, a throne set in the heaven, and upon the throne One sitting,

3)    and the One sitting like stone, jasper and sardonyx in appearance, and a bow round about the throne like emerald in appearance.

4)    And round about the throne twenty-four thrones, and upon the thrones twenty-four elders having been clothed in white garments, and upon their heads gold crowns.

5)    And from the throne coming forth lightnings and sounds and thunderings, and seven fiery lamps ablaze before the throne that are the seven spirits of God,

6)    and before the throne as glassy sea like crystal, and in midst of the throne and round about the throne four creatures being entirely of eyes front and back,

7)    and the first creature like unto a lion, and the second creature like unto a calf, and the third creature having the face as of man, and the fourth creature like unto a flying eagle,

8)    and the four creatures one by one of them having six wings each, being entirely of eyes around and within, and they have no pause saying “holy holy holy Kurios The God The Almighty, the Was and the Is and the Coming.

9)    And whenever the creatures will present glory and honor and thanksgiving to the One sitting on the throne, to the One living into the ages of the ages,

10) the twenty-four elders will prostrate themselves before the One sitting on the throne, and they will adore the One living into the ages of the ages, and they will cast their crowns before the throne, saying

11) “worthy are You, the Lord and our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power; for You, You did create all, and by Your will they are, and they were created”.


Following up from last Lord’s Day, the issue this morning is God’s complete sovereignty over what He, Himself, has made; and His total independence from all that he has made; and the fact that He is clearly seen, known and discerned in all that He has made, because it is all “patterned” after Him in the heaven!  In other words, there is a correspondence in the cosmos to its Maker.  In many ways it is all in the “likeness”, or image, of the One Who conceived it and spoke it into being.

As the apostle Paul said to the Athenians in Acts chapter twenty-five:


24) The God that made the world and all things therein, He, being Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

25) neither is He served by men's hands, as though He needed anything, seeing He Himself giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

26) and He made of one every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed seasons, and the bounds of their habitation;

27) that they should seek God, if haply they might feel after him and find him, though He is not far from each one of us:

28) for in Him we live, and move, and have our being;


The apostle also said, as he wrote to the Roman Church in chapter one:


18) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness;

19) because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them.

20) For the invisible things of Him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even His everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse:

21) because that, knowing God, they glorified Him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened….


“That which is known of God is manifest in them….’  The cosmos; the earth; creatures; man himself….

“For the invisible things of Him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity”.


God’s power and divinity are clearly seen in the things He has made.  What a glorious statement!  How is that the case?  The knowledge of the power and divinity of God is even IN us humans.  All that He has made corresponds – it’s made in many ways in the “likeness” of what the apostle John now sees in the heaven.

What is in the heaven John describes for us in some detail; and it is the “pattern” from which all the cosmos is made.  As we’ve said, the heaven is the Archetype, and the creation is the “analogy”.  It is in its “likeness”!

And God… Father, Son, Spirit… does with it as He wills, for He made it, and He “patterned” it after Himself.  And that which is “made” always shows “much” of its Creator.  So, in many ways, it “looks like” Him and His throne above the firmament.  And, since it looks like Him and His throne, all His creatures are obligated to know His power and divinity and give Him honor and glory and thanksgiving!  That knowledge of Him is right before us, all around us, and IN us!  We’re responsible to perceive it; we’re responsible to know it; we’re responsible and obligated to acknowledge it; and we’re responsible and obligated to glorify Him and give Him thanks!

What are we responsible to know from our creation?  All that John sees in the heaven and records for us!  God has even given us a written record of what’s in the heaven!  Through Moses, and the Psalmist, and Isaiah, and Ezekiel, and Daniel, and now (the capstone) the Revelation to the apostle John!

All that!  The creation itself; and then the specific Revelation of the heaven.  And somehow it’s still difficult for us to grasp that we, and all the rest of the creation itself, are brought into existence, sustained in our existence, and activated in our existence, by the Word of His Power, correspondent to, and patterned after, what is in the heaven!

Now, let’s go further.  We’ve read Ezekiel’s vision of the heaven several times; and we’ve read John’s account numerous times.  There are some differences.  When you read them side-by-side, you’ll see those differences.

For example, in describing the “sea of glass” and the “cherubim and seraphim”, there are seemingly conflicting points.  But it is not so!  There are no conflicting points!  It’s the location of the prophet that ought to be taken into account.  The prophet Ezekiel is looking up through the “cone” of the Glory Cloud from below; on the other hand the apostle John is IN the heaven looking down at the firmament!  So any “conflict” in the two accounts is easily overcome by considering the location and perspective of the two prophets.

The same is true of the account of the four living creatures in Isaiah chapter six.  Isaiah, too, was looking upward from below; and his account is similar to Ezekiel’s.  Both were shown the heavens from below.

But all three accounts are clearly the same with regard to the four living creatures.  There are, indeed, four of them in every account.  And that there are four of them is a very significant number in the Scripture.

It’s just remarkable how many “fours” there are in Scripture with reference to the creation as it is made corresponding to that which is seen in the heaven.  All through God’s Word, the creation is referred to in “fours”. 

The instructions to Moses regarding the building of the entire tabernacle is in “fours”… the four corners, four sides, four cubits, four rings, etc.  And the furniture in the tabernacle is all built with reference to its “fours”.  In other words, a man-made earthly structure built specifically to God’s specifications to be the “likeness” of His Presence in the heaven, is built, by instruction from God, with dozens of “fours”, because the “fours” are correspondent to that which is in the heaven.

And to push that concept further along, I want to take you on a quick Biblical tour, because it’s quite obvious that God’s creation itself is revealed in “fours” in order to be “like” that which John sees in the heaven!

First, listen to Isaiah 11:12:


“And he will set up an ensign for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”


And here is the prophet Jeremiah, in chapter fifteen, instructed to prophesy the four disasters to come upon Israel, which is often referred to in Scripture as the “land”, or the “earth”:

1)    Then said Yahveh unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind would not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth.

2)    And it shall come to pass, when they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith Yahveh: Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for captivity, to captivity.

3)    And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith Yahveh: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the birds of the heavens, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and to destroy.


In Jeremiah chapter forty-nine, God instructs the prophet to prophesy against Elam:


36) And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven, and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come.


Elam, by the way, was the son of Shem, the oldest son of Noah.  And Abraham, of Ur of Chaldees, was a descendant of Elam.  And there will be no nation from which his descendants shall not come!  In any case, the point being that there were four winds and four quarters of heaven; and the four winds scattered the descendants of Elam (Abraham’s descendants).

Now hear God’s Word to Ezekiel, chapter seven:


1)    Moreover the word of Yahveh came unto me, saying,

2)    And thou, son of man, thus saith the Lord Yahveh unto the land of Israel, An end:  the end is come upon the four corners of the land.

3)    Now is the end upon thee, and I will send mine anger upon thee, and will judge thee according to thy ways; and I will bring upon thee all thine abominations.


“The four corners of the land”………..And shortly after this, we read this in Ezekiel as the cherubim move upon the face of the land:


20) This is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river Chebar; and I knew that they were cherubim.  (Cherubim is the plural of cherub, by the way).

21) Every one had four faces, and every one four wings; and the likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings.

22) And as for the likeness of their faces, they were the faces which I saw by the river Chebar, their appearances and themselves; they went every one straight forward.


And then, just a bit further in Ezekiel, we read this concerning Jerusalem:


21) For thus saith the Lord Yahveh:  How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the evil beasts, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast!

22) Yet, behold, therein shall be left a remnant that shall be carried forth, both sons and daughters:  behold, they shall come forth unto you, and ye shall see their way and their doings; and ye shall be comforted concerning the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, even concerning all that I have brought upon it.


The “four judgments upon Israel”.  And then, from that great passage in Ezekiel regarding the “dry bones”, hear this:


9)    Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord Yahveh:  Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.


Also hear this incredible passage from Daniel chapter seven:


2)    Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of heaven brake forth upon the great sea.

3)    And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.


The “great sea” is, of course, the “sea” of humanity – especially that of all the pagan nations.  The “four winds” broke upon that sea of humanity, and four great beasts emerged.  Please get this, now… the four winds of the heaven brought forth the four beasts out of all the nations of the creation, which were the four great civilization-changing, world-conquering, tyrant nations of history… Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome!

This is Daniel’s great vision of the four beasts ruling the earth before the FIFTH Kingdom, which is the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The “four winds” brought them forth, indicating the entire history of the world being animated by the “four living creatures” in the heaven – the earth and all of its history being in the “likeness” of that which is in the heaven!

Now, here are the words of our Lord Jesus as He explains to His disciples “that which is necessary to be done quickly”, Matthew chapter twenty-four:


29) But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

30) and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

31) And he shall send forth his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

And following directly from, and inextricably connected to, what Jesus said there in Matthew twenty-four, here’s what the apostle John saw… from Revelation chapter seven:


1)    After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that no wind should blow on the earth, or on the sea, or upon any tree.

2)    And I saw another angel ascend from the sunrising, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a great voice to the four angels to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,

3)    saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we shall have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.


Now, these are just a very few of the passages in Scripture having to do with how this created cosmos exists and how it operates.  And God’s people have got to get their minds around these things and begin to think like images of God as we were created.

Now that we’ve been purchased by the blood of Christ; now that our heritage in Adam has been terminated; now that we’ve been adopted and incorporated into the body of Christ; now that we have a new “genesis” and a new heritage, we have to begin thinking with the mind of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

What John saw in the heaven, and what we’re seeing through Word and Spirit, goes entirely counter to how the world order perceives reality!  We have a totally different “starting point” from that world order.

The starting point for atheists and deists, and others who remain in their adamic heritage, is themselves; whereas our starting point is God in His heaven.

Atheists and deists remain in their humanistic notions of “nature” and “natural law”.  All of the “universe” works according to natural law; i.e. the laws of physics and chemistry and biology, etc.  As we saw last Lord’s Day, that’s simply the old ba’alism of the Canaanites.  And our worldview has been permeated by this philosophy, which is, in essence, idolatry!

But Christians have God’s creation, and His written Word, and the Lord Jesus Christ – The Word Made Flesh.  This creation – the cosmos – does NOT operate on natural law, but has, as its very existence and being, the Word of God.  By direct command of God, His cosmos IS!  And by direct command of God, His cosmos is activated and animated! 

And this cosmos (in many ways) looks like, and corresponds to, the throne-room in the heaven.  And it operates because of Father, Son and Spirit.  And His living beings in the heaven, while giving praise and thanksgiving, move upon His very creation to carry out His perfect will.

As I mentioned before, pastor Calvin never wrote a commentary on John’s Revelation; however, he did write, before he died, a commentary on the first ten chapters of Ezekiel.  It is interesting reading indeed.  And that commentary indicates that, should he have written a Revelation commentary, his exposition would have necessarily been very similar to ours.  It would not have been very different!

And I want to read just a little bit of what he said in his commentary with regard to the cherubim, as Ezekiel wrote about them.  And please remember that the word “cherubim” is the plural of “cherub”.  And the cherubs in the heaven are very far from being cute, chubby infants with wings, and dimples, and bows and arrows, darting around causing people to love one another.

The cherubim around the throne are awesome creatures, living creatures executing the direct will and commands of God, and giving honor and glory to their Creator-God.

Here are a few comments from John Calvin in his exposition of Ezekiel chapter ten:


“… the Jews could not understand the meaning and the force of the angelic inspiration by which God governs the whole world:  hence after four living creatures had been presented before the prophet, four heads were also (seen in) each living creature….

… that by these heads all living creatures were represented to us. 

… angels are not called the power of God in vain.  We are to understand therefore, that while men move about and discharge their duties, they apply themselves in different directions to the objects of their pursuit, and so also do wild beasts; yet there are angelic motions underneath, so that neither men nor animals move themselves, but their whole vigour depends on a secret inspiration.

… the prophet signifies that God’s voice is heard by all creatures, so that not even the slightest motion happens without that secret instinct.  When the air is serene and calm, we do not think that God’s voice reigns there; but we imagine some natural cause.  So also when the sky is clouded, when it rains, when storms rise, when other changes happen, in some way or other we exclude God from these actions.  … but there (is) as certain hidden inclination by which all creatures obey his command.  … we should not think that events are rashly moved, or that any agitation arises without control, or that the elements are so gross that they do not obey God, since His voice gives efficacy and vigour to all.

Hence we gather that the events of things are not accidental, nor excited in various directions by any blind impulse, but directed by the hidden energy of God, and that too by means of angels.  (And by that he means “cherubim”.)


These are just a very few comments from this particular lecture in the prophecy of Ezekiel.  But I think you may be able to hear in them the fact that pastor Calvin, there in the late sixteenth century, without ever approaching the text of John’s Revelation, was “getting it”!  He was thinking with the mind of Christ.  His mind was “in the heavenlies”.  What that means is that that’s our starting point.  That’s where we begin, in order to understand who we are and what we are and how we are to respond to our Creator with thanksgiving and obedience.

At the end of this lecture, Calvin offers this prayer:


Grant, Almighty God, since we are the work and fashioning of thy hands, that we may know that we exist and move in thee alone, so that we may submit ourselves to thee, and not only may we be ruled by thy hidden providence, but may it so appear that we are obedient and submissive to thee, as becometh sons, that we may desire to glorify thy name in the world, until we arrive at the fruition of that blessed inheritance which is laid up for us in heaven, through Christ our Lord.


We as believers may even call these cherub-creatures “nature”, as long as we remember what nature really is – an immense construction throbbing with the ceaseless activity of God.  God caused the creatures of His creation to be in the likeness of the creatures in the heaven.  And therefore there is an inseparable connection which exists in the motions of angels and all creatures He has made.

As John Calvin said, “all creatures are animated by angelic motion”!!!  That is Biblical teaching that goes counter to everything taught in the world order.  God created this cosmos by His direct action (the Word of His Power); and it is all animated by that same direct action.  And it moves and has its being by His will.  And it all corresponds to His glorious throne-room.

We’ll see more about these living beings next Lord’s Day.  They are the very eyes and will and command of Almighty God, as they search out the throne and activate and animate the entire cosmos of God.  They are the very living will of God as they arouse, kindle, inspire and invigorate life and motion and movement in His creation.  They vitalize all things as the breath of God from the four winds of His creation.  They sing antiphonally with all other angels to the glory of God, while searching out the sovereign will of God for every aspect of being and existence.

And our life that is in us, having been created in His image, and our movements and directions, and our eyes, and our work, and our thoughts, and our worship, and our activities and our relationships are all animated through these creatures who are the very eyes and will of God.  And in many ways we are analogous and corresponding to them; and we are to be like them in the way that we live and move and have our very being in Christ Jesus the Lord.