And in front of the throne there was also what looked like a transparent glassy sea, as if of crystal. And around the throne, in the center at each side of the throne, were four living creatures (beings) who were full of eyes in front and behind [with intelligence as to what is before and at the rear of them]. The first living creature (being) was like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature had the face of a man, and the fourth living creature [was] like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, individually having six wings, were full of eyes all over and within [underneath their wings]; and day and night they never stop saying, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty (Omnipotent), Who was and Who is and Who is to come. And whenever the living creatures offer glory and honor and thanksgiving to Him Who sits on the throne, Who lives forever and ever (through the eternities of the eternities), The twenty-four elders (the members of the heavenly Sanhedrin) fall prostrate before Him Who is sitting on the throne, and they worship Him Who lives forever and ever; and they throw down their crowns before the throne, crying out, Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive the glory and the honor and dominion, for You created all things; by Your will they were [brought into being] and were created. (Revelation 4:6-11)
The same 4 creatures mentioned in this passage in Revelation have also been attributed to the writing styles in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. What’s interesting is that while scripture always references to itself (New Testament referencing the Old Testament and vice versa), the account of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, are not only referenced, but repeated. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John give us 4 vantage points on the same Jesus. We don’t find this anywhere else in scripture. We do not have David and his mighty men all accounting the same story at the same time, nor do we have Moses and Joshua telling the same story through the desert, etc.
The four gospels (accounts of the good news) are the only time this occurs in scripture. This means that the account of the story of Jesus is the most important focal point of all of scripture and all of existence.
Here are the characteristics of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John:
- Matthew the Evangelist, the author of the first gospel account is symbolized by a winged man, or angel. Matthew’s gospel starts with Joseph’s genealogy from Abraham; it represents Jesus’ Incarnation, and so Christ’s humannature. This signifies that Christians should use their reason for salvation.
- Mark the Evangelist, the author of the second gospel account is symbolized by a winged lion – a figure of courage and monarchy. Mark has John the Baptist preaching “like a lion roaring” at the beginning of his Gospel. It also represents Jesus’ Resurrection (because lions were believed to sleep with open eyes, a comparison with Christ in the tomb), and Christ as king. This signifies that Christians should be courageous on the path of salvation.
- Luke the Evangelist, the author of the third gospel account (and the Acts of the Apostles) is symbolized by a winged ox or bull – a figure of sacrifice, service and strength. Luke’s account begins with the duties of Zacharias in the temple; it represents Jesus’ sacrifice in His Passion and Crucifixion, as well as Christ being High priest (this also represents Mary’s obedience). The ox signifies that Christians should be prepared to sacrifice themselves in following Christ.
- John the Evangelist, the author of the fourth gospel account is symbolized by an eagle – a figure of the sky, and believed to be able to look straight into the sun. John starts with an eternal overview of Jesus the Logos and goes on to describe many things with a “higher” christology than the other three (synoptic) gospels; it represents Jesus’ Ascension, and Christ’s divine nature. This represents that Christians should look on eternity without flinching as they journey towards their goal of union with God.
So when we look back at the verse in Revelation (illustrating the vision in Ezekiel) we see that in verse 6 the creatures are described as having eyes in front and behind so as to have full knowledge of what is in front of them and what came before them. The disciples and the accounts in scripture of Jesus’ life were inspired by and written by the Holy Spirit through the hands of these men. Thus they had full knowledge, when the Holy Spirit came upon them, of everything that Jesus had taught them as well as everything they would need in order to accurately portray the story of Christ (John 14:26/Luke 12:11-12/ 1John 2:27), So the disciples, being full of the Holy Spirit knew what was before them and what was behind them. The seven-fold Holy Spirit wrote down the account of the eternal proclamations of the 4 living creatures. The word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). Day and night they (the gospels) never stop proclaiming “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God almighty. Who was and is and is to come (Revelation 4:8).”
The 24 elders that are depicted in Revelation, represent the Church that is reigning with Christ before Israel is redeemed and before the end of the first heaven and earth (as depicted in later chapters of Revelation). That being said, the church rejoices whenever the gospel is proclaimed and they prostrate themselves before His throne. So the last few verses of this passage can be read as such:
And whenever the GOSPELS (living creatures) offer glory and honor and thanksgiving to Him Who sits on the throne, Who lives forever and ever (through the eternities of the eternities), The CHURCH (twenty-four elders) fall prostrate before Him Who is sitting on the throne, and they worship Him Who lives forever and ever; and they throw down their crowns before the throne, crying out, Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive the glory and the honor and dominion, for You created all things; by Your will they were [brought into being] and were created.
John saw the power and redemption of the gospel of Jesus Christ. His story, His life, and His power, not only altered the trajectory of earth, but echoed throughout all of Heaven. The Word of the Lord endures forever (1 Peter 1:25) and all those that are redeemed by God worship Him forever.