Revelation 4:6b-8a – The four living creatures who surround the throne of God are the closest beings to God. They are angelic beings who are the guardians of God’s throne and of His holy presence (Revelation 5:6;14:3). They are always found near the throne of God.
They have six wings and are full of eyes. Their function has to do with the holiness and wrath of God (Revelation 6:1, 7; 15:7). They declare the holiness of God day and night. They are beings who were created for this very purpose. They seem to be the same beings as the cherubim seen in Ezekiel’s vision (Ezekiel 1:4-25; 10:4, 15). Cherubim are an exalted order of angels frequently associated with God’s power (1 Samuel 4:4; 2 Samuel 6:2; 22:11; Psalm 80:1; 99:1; Isaiah 37:16).
-After Adam and Eve sinned, God drove them out of Eden and stationed cherubim at the entrance to keep them from returning (Genesis 3:24).
-Two carved cherubim were placed in the Holy of Holies, symbolically guarding God’s holiness (1 Kings 6:23-28).
-They were represented on the hanging veil which separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place (Exodus 26:31).
-God is represented as flying on the cherubim and on the wings of the wind (Psalm 18:10). -Satan, before his fall, was the ” the anointed cherub who covers “; his duty was to attend God’s throne (Ezekiel 28:14,16).
John chooses certain animals on earth to describe characteristics that he notices. One being was like a lion which is a symbol of supremacy, one like an ox (calf) a symbol of strength, one like a man symbolizing intelligence, and one like an eagle a symbol of speed. Their function is to glorify and honor God day and night.
The four living creatures are involved with the coming judgments of the Tribulation. One of them calls forth the rider on the white horse (Revelation 6:1-2). Another will decree economic disaster upon the earth (Revelation 6:6), while another will give the seven angels involved in the bowl judgments their bowls (Revelation 15:7).
From Isaiah’s vision, we learn that the seraphim used their six wings in the following manner: ” with two [they] covered [their faces], and with two [they] covered [their] feet, and with two [they] flew ” (Isaiah 6:2). Four of their six wings related to worship; with two they covered their faces, since even the most exalted created beings cannot look on the unveiled glory of God without being consumed. They also used two wings to cover their feet, since they stood on holy ground. Worship is thus their privilege, calling, and permanent occupation.
Revelation 4:8b –11 – The four living creatures lead heaven in worship by focusing on God’s holiness; “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God. ” The threefold repetition of holy is also found in Isaiah 6:3. God’s holiness is His complete separation from evil. He is untainted by any evil, error, or wrongdoing. The prophet Habakkuk praised God because of His holiness (Habakkuk 1:13). In 1 Peter 1:16, God Himself declared, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
The praise for God’s holiness here is in the context of His judgment. Being holy, God hates sin, and pours out His wrath on it. ” Because of His grace and mercy offered to the world through Jesus, God refrains from worldwide judgment, but in the future time of Tribulation, the opportunity for mercy and grace will be past, and the sinful, rebellious world will feel the fury of God’s wrath. So terrifying will that time be, that unrepentant sinners will plead that they might be hid from His presence (Revelation 6:16-17).
The four living creatures also praise God for His eternity, “who was and who is and who is to come.” Scripture repeatedly affirms God’s eternity, that He transcends time, having neither beginning nor ending (Psalm 90:2; 93:2; 102:24-27; Isaiah 57:15; Micah 5:2; Habakkuk 1:12; 1 Timothy 1:17; 6:15-16).
God’s eternality brings us comfort knowing that He will always be there to take care of us. God’s eternity guarantees that our eternal life in heaven will never cease, it also means that the punishment of the wicked in hell will last forever, that their weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth will never cease (Revelation 14:11).
The praise of the four living creatures causes the twenty-four elders to respond in worship as well falling down before Him. They cast their crowns before the throne in humility and gratitude. They cry out about the worthiness of God. Their focus is on God’s glory manifested in creation; He is presented as Creator throughout Scripture (Revelation 10:6; Genesis 1:1; Exodus 20:11; Isaiah 40:26, 28; Jeremiah 10:10-12; 32:17; Colossians 1:16).
The elders are acknowledge that God has the right both to redeem and to judge His creation. Their song anticipates paradise lost becoming paradise regained. This chorus of praise pictures God about to judge Satan, demons, and sinners and to reclaim His creation.
Revelation 5:1 – This chapter introduces Jesus as earth’s rightful ruler, who is pictured about to return to redeem the world from sin, Satan, death, and the curse.
The events of Revelation 5 occur right after those of Revelation 4. The scene, as in chapter 4, is the throne of God in heaven. Present are the cherubim, the twenty-four elders. The events described in these two chapters anticipate God’s judgment about to be poured out on the earth which is described in Revelation 6–19.
In his vision, John saw in the hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. The word “book” doesn’t refer to a book in the modern sense, but to a scroll (Revelation 6:14). A scroll was a long piece of papyrus or animal skin, rolled from both ends into the middle.
The book (scroll) is the key to understanding the rest of Revelation. Roman wills were sealed up with seven seals, but this scroll is not a will but a deed or contract. In ancient times, contracts were written on the inner pages and sealed with seven seals. Then the contents of the contract would be described briefly on the outside. We see an illustration of this in Jeremiah where Jeremiah, in obedience to God’s command (Jeremiah 32:6-7), purchased a field in spite of its potential loss as a sign that the Babylonian captivity would not be permanent (Jeremiah 32:15).
The scroll John saw in God’s hand is the title deed to the earth, which He will give to Jesus. Unlike other such deeds, it does not record the details of what Jesus will inherit, but how He will regain His rightful inheritance. He will do so by the judgments about to be poured out on the earth. While the scroll describes the judgment on the earth, it is also describes how Jesus will redeem the world from Satan and his seed who have joined with him in his rebellion. Ezekiel describes this same scroll in his vision of heaven (Ezekiel 2:9-10).
Revelation 5:2-4 – The strong angel is not named but we see him elsewhere in Revelation 10:1, 18:21. Some identify him as Gabriel, others as Michael, but no name is given. The angel sought someone both worthy and able to open the book and to break its seals. The one who could break the seals had to have the power to do so. No one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it. John began to weep greatly, Why?
John wept because he wanted to see the world rid of evil, sin, and death. He wanted to see Satan vanquished and God’s kingdom established on earth. He wanted to see Israel saved and Christ exalted. John knew that the Messiah had been executed, Jerusalem destroyed, and the Jewish people massacred and scattered. He was well aware that the church faced intense persecution and was filled with sin (Revelation 2-3). Everything seemed, from his perspective, to be going badly.
The promise had been made to him that he would see these things, but now he was not going to see them, because there was no person worthy to approach God and open the book. But God had already decided to take action. Ezekiel and Daniel (Ezekiel 2:9-10; Daniel 12:8-9) refer to this same book.
It is important to note that the book is in God’s hand. He is in charge of human history, and He has a definite plan and purpose for the universe. The fear of the bomb, an unstable economy, the environment, war, and the other massive problems of the world seem to have no answer. But God does: He is going to bring history to a climax and establish righteousness throughout all the earth. The believer is to be the most optimistic person on earth.