Rev. Mark H. Creech
The late Dr. Billy Graham, the worldwide renowned Christian evangelist, asked, “What is heaven? It’s the home that God created, and he possesses. His throne room is his headquarters from which he issues his commands, directions, and prophecies.”
In Revelation chapter 4, the apostle John is lifted on high to the throne room of God, where the Lord is about to show him what will happen during the earth’s last days.
Around God’s throne John sees other worldly things – 24 elders with crowns on their heads – lightning and thundering and voices from the throne – an emerald rainbow – seven torches burning – a sea of glass like crystal – and four creatures.
The scripture reads:
The four creatures around the throne remind us of characters from a Marvel Comic book, but they aren’t fictional or cartoonish. These beings are real and of great significance and power. Otherwise, they would not be central to God’s place of government.
In Reveling through Revelation, the late Dr. J. Vernon McGee, radio Bible teacher extraordinaire, says:
“These creatures, of the highest intelligence, are in God’s presence. They resemble the cherubim of Ezekiel 1:5-10; 10:20 and the seraphim of Isaiah 6:2-3. Are they a new order of creatures in heaven that have not been revealed before in scripture?”
It’s a bit difficult to nail down. However, their appearance suggests they function as witnesses to Christ’s four-fold ministry throughout eternity.
One has the face of a lion, a symbol of divine majesty – the same portrait of Christ given in Matthew’s account as the lion of the tribe of Judah – the King of kings – the Messiah of the world.
Another has the face of a young ox – a calf – the same picture presented in Mark’s account of Christ as Deity condescending to graciously serve humanity – the one who “came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
Still, another has the face of a man – indicating intelligence and purpose – the same image of Christ in Luke’s account, which traces our Lord’s ancestry back to Adam, where mankind fell. It also shows Jesus as the Second Adam who redeems all who believe. It speaks of his identifying perfectly with humanity. God has a human face in Jesus Christ.
The fourth face is that of an eagle, which communicates Deity as seen in John’s account of Christ. Like an eagle, the Lord sees everything we do from on high. Like an eagle having six mighty wings with multiple eyes, he can move swiftly to execute judgment. Nothing is hidden from him. John recorded Christ saying God “has given him [Christ] authority to judge everyone.…”(John 5:27). This redeemer is the Supreme Judge of the world.
Revelation 4 says these heavenly beings with incomparable supernatural powers call out:
John Phillips, in Exploring Revelation, has beautifully written:
Who is it that sits upon the throne? It can be none other than Jesus because the one they worship is said to be “the creator of all things.” Isn’t this what Colossians 1:16-17 reveals about him? Those verses of scripture say:
This point is crucial because we live in a time when Christ is being rejected as God incarnate, that he was born of a virgin and was sinless.
Barna Research says most American adults believe Jesus did exist. However, “[m]ost adults—not quite six in 10—believe Jesus was God (56%), while about one-quarter say he was only a religious or spiritual leader like Mohammed or the Buddha (26%). The remaining one in six say they aren’t sure whether Jesus was divine (18%).
Barna Research also says Americans are divided over Jesus’ sinlessness.
“About half of Americans agree, either strongly or somewhat, that while he lived on earth, Jesus Christ was human and committed sins like other people (52%). Just less than half disagree, either strongly or somewhat, that Jesus committed sins while on earth (46%), and 2 percent aren’t sure,” Barna reports.
Words from H.A. Ironside are quite appropriate here:
When the four living creatures give the cue praising and worshipping, Revelation says the twenty-four elders also fall before the Lord worshipping and casting their crowns before the throne.
These crowns, which the elders have previously been rewarded for their faithfulness in service, they remove from their own heads and present to the Lord. They know their faithfulness was predicated on his faithfulness to them. All the glory belongs to God and God alone.
After I posted an article on Facebook titled Will There Be Gradations, Rank, a Higher Existence for Some in Heaven? -a few folks said in the comments section that they disagreed with my conclusion there would be places of position and rank in heaven based on rewards given at the Judgment Seat of Christ. I argued the twenty-four elders next to the throne of God wearing crowns is a good example.
One lady commented, “If I have no rewards, I will be eternally grateful for the blood of Jesus.” Another person said, “I’ll be content just to be a door greeter, like at Walmart.” Still, another wrote, “My reward is heaven with him. That’s all I want. My obedience brings all the rewards I need.”
I appreciate the sentiment, but such an approach to heavenly rewards is not biblical. If rewards aren’t important to the believer, then what will we present at Christ’s feet to the glory of God? God wants us to work diligently for Christ and to attain rewards so they might be presented to him as an act of worship when we get to heaven. The rewards are not so much for exalting us as they are for giving honor and praise to God. Shall we be empty-handed before his throne?
Revelation chapter four underscores for us the necessity of worship. If the heavenly beings, the twenty-four elders, the saints, and the multitudes of angels bow down before Christ in adoration – resignation – submission – and worship – so must we. All of life must become an act of worship.
John A. Broadus, who was long recognized as the “Dean of American teachers of homiletics” and served at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, once said:
Therefore, let us join in the chorus:
Do you know the Lord personally? Do you have a relationship with him through Jesus Christ? Let your worship start with confessing your sins, turning to Christ for forgiveness, and receiving the free gift of eternal life.© Rev. Mark H. Creech
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.