Table of Contents
The Four Living Creatures
The four living creatures mentioned in Revelation (4:6–9; 5:6–14; 6:1–8; 14:3; 15:7; 19:4) are heavenly beings. They minister before God’s throne. The word “living beings” in Greek is zōa does not indicate to what order of beings these four living creatures belong. However, these beings closely resemble those mentioned in Ezekiel’s vision (Ezekiel 10:2, 14, 20). This prophet calls them cherubim (ch. 10:20–22). And they also resemble the beings that are mentioned by Isaiah in chapter 6:1-3.
When an attempt is made to understand these four living creatures, we should keep in mind that in symbolic prophecy, the prophet sees representations of the actual and not the actual itself. For instance, Jesus was symbolically presented as a lamb with a bleeding knife wound. He was also represented with seven horns and seven eyes (Revelation 5:6). And He was represented as riding on a while horse clothed in a garment dipped in blood (Revelation 19:11-15). Therefore, no one would conclude that this is a representation to the appearance of Jesus.
These four living creatures declare the holiness of God in worship, praise and devotion. Like the beings in Isaiah 6:3, they say, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord.” They fall down and worship God (Revelation 4:10). They praise Him for His infinite goodness and mercy towards His creation. They worship with the 24 elders who have “harps and golden vials full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 5:8). In addition, to worshiping God, the four living beings are involved in justice (Ezekiel 6:1–8; 15:7). And these beings are in constant motion and ministry around the throne (Ezekiel 1:12–20).
The objective in the references in Revelation, as in Ezekiel’s vision, was to give courage and inspiration to God’s people. The message is that God is in control watching constantly over His children. The believers needed to know that a divine, overruling purpose was at work during all ages. It is not important to imagine that in the service of God are four-headed, four-winged beings. But the forms chosen for this prophetic presentation were only chosen to symbolize heavenly messengers in their offices, capabilities, and powers.
Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.
In His service,