And around the throne, twenty four thrones, and on the thrones twenty four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and on their heads, golden crowns (of victory)
And out of the throne came lightnings and voices and thunders, and seven fiery lamps burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
And before the throne was a glassy lake, like crystal, and in the middle of the throne and encircling the throne four Lives full of eyes in front and behind,
And the first Life was like a lion, and the second Life like a calf (young bull), and the third Life having a face like a man, and the fourth Life was the same as a flying eagle
And the four Lives in each them having six wings, all around and within full of eyes
. . . and without having a pause day or night saying “Holy, holy holy Lord God Ruler of All, which was and which is and which is to come”.
And whenever the Lives give honor and gratitude to Him who sits on the throne, the One who lives forever and ever
The twenty-four Elders fall on their faces before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and throw their crowns before the throne, saying
Holy art Thou, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, because You created all things, and through Thy will they existed and were created.
What do People do in Heaven?
I’ve often wondered this. What will our job be in heaven? CS Lewis, in a few of his most popular books, The Last Battle (the 7th in the Narnia series) and The Great Divorce, portrays heaven as a kind of adventure as we are called by God to move, running much faster than we possibly could on earth, “further up and further in!” Heaven, in his stories, is like an ongoing eternal adventure of discovery as we learn more of our Lord moment-by-eternal-moment (if the concept of moments has any meaning in the timeless multi-dimensional existence of God’s presence). I like Lewis’ thinking. Surely the picture we get of heaven in Revelation 4 and 5 is fantastical and wondrous and mind-bending. It is also focused almost entirely on the One on the throne.
The Living Ones-these creatures that seem to be the heavenly voices of which the Cherubim of Isaiah 6 are the echoes-are magnificent. They are impressive. They live in the middle of this throne which shines with verdant glory. They occupy pride of place, closer to the center of Power than any other creatures. They are frightening and majestic. And the story isn’t about them.
The Twenty-four Elders are glorious. Any one of us might aspire to have the honor of sitting on one of their thrones. Their crowns are earned by victory. We may all wish to gain such a crown, and Peter tells us this is something much more than a mercenary pursuit (1 Peter 5). It’s right for us to want to be in such a place in the Kingdom of God. Yet those who have achieved such status and notoriety are not focused on themselves. The story isn’t about them.
The Living Ones never rest. They constantly proclaim the holiness of God. The 24 Elders always join in, and if the Living Ones never rest, the Elders don’t either. They are constantly worshipping the One sitting on the throne. This is the reason for their existence. The Living Ones use the eyes all over their fronts, backs, and wings to look to Him. The Elders use their crowns to throw at His feet and honor Him.
What honors have you received? Do you have a drawer or closet or wall or room where you keep your certificates and trophies? Do you have a web page, or Instagram account where you keep your followers abreast of your achievements and activities? Do you have a YouTube channel where you present your best for anyone who might find it interesting? I have a few. But these things are useless if the only purpose they serve is to make us feel important, or to proclaim our own impressive greatness. The hosts of heaven have, according to the Bible, honors much greater than this earth has to offer; yet they are unimpressed with themselves. They give all glory and honor and praise and thanks to the Lord on the Throne. They don’t spend much time on their own thrones (sitting has been proven to be bad for your health). They invest, instead, in worshipping God.
I believe this is our greatest achievement in life-to honor God. Any glory or honor or recognition meted to us belongs to Him. From Him and to Him and for Him are all good things. Every good and perfect gift comes from him. Any ability or talent or appearance or power or fame we receive is entirely derivative-an expression of His goodness imputed to us for a short while. Satan wanted worship for himself. Saints seek to bring worship to their God.
Prayer for Today
To You belong all goodness, thought, strength, truth, light, life, peace, joy, thanksgiving, praise, wisdom, understanding, and glory. All we are belongs to You. Let any and all of our greatest achievements and loftiest accomplishments be laid at Your feet and turned to Your worship.
In the name of Jesus, the One who left His throne to show us Your glory
v 4 24 Seats Thrones. The number 24 is seen in I Chronicles 24-25 where David numbers the priests into 24 divisions, each to serve two weeks in the temple. In the New Scriptures, we see two sets of twelve: The sons of Israel, and the Apostles (Ephesians 2:20; Revelation 1:6, 5:10, 21:12-14; James 3:12, and Matthew 19:28)
Crown stephanos again (see 2:10 & 3:11). White Robes are a symbol of purity and separation to God’s service. See II Chronicles 5:12; Ecclesiastes 9:8; Isaiah 1:8; Daniel 11:35, 12:10; Matthew 17:2, 28:3; Acts 1:10; Revelation 3:4, 5, 18, 7:9-14, 15:6; 19:8.
What do Elders do?
So far in Revelation all we see them doing is sitting. Why are they the sitting ones? Is it because they’re Elders? Is it because they’re old? Maybe. Jesus did say those who were obedient to Him would enter into rest. But thrones are normally reserved for people in authority. These are the people in charge, right? Of course right.
So, I’ll ask again. What do the Elders do? Sit? As described above, that’s not all they do, the rest of this chapter describes the work of the Elders-and, I think, in the process describes our work as well.
v. 5 Lightnings Exodus 20:18; Rev. 8:5; 11:19 Seven Spirits see comments on Revelation 1:20; 2:1, etc.
v. 6 Lake This is a picture of the big bath that the priest would wash in before entering the temple, but here, everyone has access, its size is unlimited, and the people are standing on the sea, not washing in it. They are already washed in the blood of the Lamb.
Living Ones. I’m translating this literally, just to give a feel for what the language seems to indicate. Some translate zoa (??a) as Living Creatures, the King James translates it Beasts. They are living ones and they are active-they are the opposite of dead. See Ezekiel 1:4-28; 10:14; and Isaiah 6:1-8.
Eyes. If there is anything these creatures must do really well, it’s see! They are covered with eyes, front and back, and have six wings, each covered all over with eyes. What do they have to look at? The One sitting on the throne.
v 7 The Lord Jesus is portrayed in the Gospels as a servant—a bull--in Mark, as a King--a Lion, in Matthew, as a man in Luke, and as God--in the heaven as the eagle--in John. The people of God in the Old Scriptures always traveled with their banners above each tribe. There were four lead tribes, each leading three. The banners of the four lead tribes had the same faces as these four living creatures. These Creatures are both Like the Lord, at the center of the throne, living, and like the banner tribes-the Creatures and People of God in the presence of God. This raises an interesting question-are the angles built to represent the people of God in God’s presence, or were the tribes of Israel arranged by God to represent what His throne looks like?
v 8 See Isaiah 6:1-8.
v 10 See Revelation 5:8, 14; 11:16; 19:4