The American Wisdom Series

Pamphlet 1845 Rev. kc 12-1

Four beasts - 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.

While exiled on the Isle of Patmos for preaching the Word of God, John was transported through time, in the spirit, to the Lord's Day, the first day of the Millennium, a time yet future but very near. After seeing and recording what Jesus Christ had to say to the seven churches here on earth, he was then taken to heaven to see for us what was happening there.

So John has been describing heaven for us, the very throne of God Almighty, with what looked like a sea of glass before it and the "shekinah glory", the beautiful multi-colored flashing rainbow surrounding it. There were 24 elders seated around the throne and John had just begun to tell us about the four living beings present at His throne.

Let's review verse six:

Rev. 4:6
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 behind.
Perhaps it is unfortunate that the translators of the King James Bible used the word "beasts" to describe these living beings. Today the word "beast" is often synonymous with "monster" and is used to describe creatures such as Godzilla and one's spouse. But then again, if very few people ever even read the Book of Revelation, especially since many ministers tell folks they'll be gone in a "rapture" and don't need to read it, what difference does it make? The wise in this generation will check it out anyway. And so it is that the Greek word used here is "zoon" and simply means "living being".

And once again, there is nothing really new described here by John, for we have record of these entities elsewhere in God's Word. Their first mentioned way back in the Book of Genesis, for these "zoa" are the cherubim of Genesis 3:24 that were placed at the east of the garden of Eden to prevent access to the "Tree of Life", i.e. they were guards whose purpose was to protect.

Genesis 3:24
So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
And so it is that these "zoon" are cherubim, guards, that stand at the throne of God. John now gives us a more detailed description of their appearance:
Rev. 4:7 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.
If this is new to you, if this is the first time you're reading about the lion, the calf, the man, and the eagle, then you are probably perplexed and filled with wonderment. That is why the Book of Revelation seems mysterious and sounds bazaar to some!  But once you become familiar with the Word of God and have read it all with some degree of understanding these beings will be appear completely natural to you .

Let's read one more verse describing the "zoon".

[8] 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.
These guards do not require sleep and they are not capable of exercising free will that could lead to rebellion.

The phrases "full of eyes before and behind" and "full of eyes within" come from a figure of speech which has lost its meaning in the translation from Greek into English. It simply means that they looked all around, a thing which guards do. It is much the same as the "flaming sword which turned every way" in Genesis 3.

We've discussed figures of speech in previous studies. In English, for example, when a person dies we might say "he kicked the bucket". That is a figure of speech that has nothing to do with buckets. It means he died. But such is not a figure of speech in French. So if we translate "kicked the bucket" into French, the Frenchman would never think of death (except dying while trying to figure out why some poor Christian would be kicking buckets around).

Now let's go back in time about 2500 years (2 1/2 days as God reckons time) to the prophet Ezekiel. God Himself visited Ezekiel. That's right! God came to Ezekiel in a vehicle escorted by four other vehicles. Ezekiel describes these vehicles as "flying wheels" that looked like "highly polished spectrum metal".  And guess what? Aboard the mother ship was the throne of God and He who sits thereupon. Here's part of Ezekiel's account:

Ezekiel 1:4
And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire.

Got the PICTURE so far? Now keep this scene in your mind as we read about another servant of God who ALSO SAW His throne, when God Himself paid Ezekiel a visit in His vehicle, with His throne aboard (read the entirety of Chapter 1 of Ezekiel in your own Bible.) Then read Pamphlets #1193, #1204, and  #1187.

Ezekiel saw whirling vehicles coming from the north that looked like highly polished brass. Look up the words "colour" and  "amber" in Strong's Concordance (Remember, that's what the wise do). They mean "appeared as" "highly polished spectrum metal, brass".

Here's how the Living Bible translates this verse:

Ezekiel 1:4  I saw, in this vision, a great storm coming towards me from the north, driving before it a huge cloud glowing with fire, with a mass of fire inside that flashed continually; and in the fire there was something that shone like polished brass. (Living Bible)
Back to the Kings James, verse 5:
Ezekiel 1:5 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.
Hey, what do you know! Here's the four living creatures, and they looked like men.
[6] And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.
You must keep in mind that these four living creatures are inside the whirling wheels, much like Captain Kirk and Spock would be in the Enterprise. In any event, these vehicles with the Cherubim escorting our Father and His throne, came to Ezekiel and landed before him. Read the rest of the chapter.
[7] And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass.
They lowered the landing gear.
[8] And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings.

[9] Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward.

They were obviously in formation. These vehicles are a subject for another time, but I would like to quote a few more verses form the Living Bible to give you a sense of what we're talking about.
Ezekiel 1:14 The living beings darted to and fro swift as lightning. [15] As I stared at all this, I saw four wheels on the ground beneath them, one wheel belonging to each. [16] The wheels looked like they were made of polished amber and each wheel was constructed with a second wheel crosswise inside. [17] They could go in any of four directions without having to face around. [18] The four wheels had rims and spokes, and the rims were filled with eyes around their edges. [19, 20, 21] When the four living beings flew forward, the wheels moved forward with them. When they flew upwards, the wheels went up too. When the living beings stopped, the wheels stopped. For the spirit of the four living beings was in the wheels; so wherever their spirit went, the wheels and the living beings went there too. (Living Bible)
Is that not a fantastic description by one who never saw a TV, a 747 Jumbo Jet or a Space Shuttle? The eyes around their edges were windows, portals, and Ezekiel could see inside.

And now here is a more detailed description of the four living beings Ezekiel saw, way before John saw them in Revelation.

Ezekiel 4:10 As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.
UNBELIEVABLE! They are identical to John's description; the man, the ox, the lion, and the eagle. These are exactly the same living beings as John saw, and they were with the throne, guarding and protecting it just as they are doing in heaven right now.

Let's now go back even farther in the Word, to the Book of Numbers, chapter 2, and understand what these symbols are. If you are fortunate to have a Companion Bible, on page 181 you will find a diagram of the encampment of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness of Sinai. Each of the Twelve Tribes had its own standard, i.e. flag, which went before them.

Look! The standard of Judah is the lion, the standard of Reuben is a man, the standard of Ephraim is the bull, ox, and the standard of Dan is the eagle.

The encampment from the Book of Numbers:



(W)      EPHRAIM                                JUDAH      (E)
        (Taurus)                                    (Lion)

                                    (a Man)


Mysterious symbols in the Book of Revelation? Not so!  You will also notice that Judah is on the east side. Read verse 8 again. It says the lion was on the right side! Of course it was!
[9] And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,
When the living beings give glory and honour and thanks, then:
[10] 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, saying,
[11] Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
He has created all things for His pleasure, which includes you and me. We have our children to give us pleasure and company and family. If you have ever had children, and one of them comes to you and puts his or her arms around your neck, and gives you a big hug and kiss, and says "Mommy (or Daddy), I love you", then you will know the joy and the pleasure which our Father seeks from His children.

Have you hugged your Father today?

To study the Bible is the noblest of all pursuits; to understand it, the highest of all goals.
We pray that with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you accomplish both.

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