The Four Beasts

FOUR BEASTSIn the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. (Revelation 4:6b – 8a)

Much speculation surrounds the identity of these four very peculiar creatures. Below are three potential interpretations.

Attributes of God – The four living creatures may symbolically represent the attributes of God including His omniscience and omnipresence (indicated by the creatures being full of eyes)—with the four animals bringing out other attributes of God. The lion indicates majesty and omnipotence, the ox faithful labor and patience, man intelligence, and the eagle supreme sovereignty.(1)

The Four Gospels – Another possible view is that they represent Christ as revealed in the four Gospels.(2) The lion expresses the royalty of Christ that Matthew gives prominence in his Gospel. Written primarily to the Jews, Matthew portrays Christ as the King of the Jews. The ox is a beast of burden. Christ as a faithful servant is a prominent characteristic featured in Mark. Man symbolizes the brotherly sympathy that Jesus has for the whole race of man that is emphasized in Luke. The soaring majesty of the eagle is reminiscent of John’s description of Christ as the Divine Word and His Heavenly origin.(3)

Cherubim – The “four living creatures” are viewed by some as an angelic order, similar to—if not the same as—the cherubim in Ezekiel 1 and 10. Those angels were in proximity to a throne and accompanied the Shekinah glory as it departed the temple before the Babylonians destroyed it. Since the divine glory is to return to some future temple (Ezekiel 43:1–5), perhaps the four living creatures remain in the presence of God’s glory, awaiting that return.(4)

Up Next – The praise of God.

___________________________________

References

  1. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, pp. 944–945). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  2. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, pp. 944–945). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  3. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 565). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  4. Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 1892). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s