“And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.” Revelation 4:6-7
“Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings . . . As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.” Ezekiel 1:5-6,10
Before the Throne of the LORD are the four beasts and the living creatures. They are ever before the LORD and shall not ever cease to be there.
To God, they represent the apple of His Eye, His beloved people Israel. They are the four major standards of Israel, the man being the standard of Reuben, Israel’s first born, the Ox being the standard of Ephraim, the Eagle being the standard of Dan and the Lion being the standard of Judah.
They are a constant reminder to God of His beloved people, whom He loves with an everlasting love and for whom He gave all to redeem.
But to us, His people Israel, they represent the focus of our affection and adoration — our great and wonderful God.
The face of the man reminds us that God kinned Himself to us. He robed Himself in like flesh as unto us, and became one of us. He knows our frame personally, for He took it upon Himself. He shared our psyche and knows our every weakness. There is but one difference between us and that is He never once fell to the temptations that we all face. He was victorious in righteousness and excellent in character, perfect and inless.
The Ox or bullock reminds us that this near kinsman of ours, this bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, after that He had kinned Himself to us, was made the sacrifice of God to pay the penalty of our sin. He was the sacrifice of God which took away the sin of the world. He paid the debt in full. He who knew no sin was made sin on the cross, so that through His atoning death we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
The Eagle reminds us that our blessed Redeemer, after He hath redeemed us, bears us up on eagle’s wings. We can do absolutely nothing without Him. The object of His affection is pitiful and helpless.
Knowing this, and because of His great love for us, He carries us. I am so glad.
The Lion reminds us that our kinsman-redeemer, the object of our affection, is also the mighty Lion of Judah: King of kings and Lord of lords! He is our defender, our deliverer and our saviour. When the enemy overwhelms — and he often does — our great Lion steps in and defends us with the fierceness of a lion. Oh what a Saviour! Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root and offspring of David, hath prevailed! And so shall He ever!
“And the four beasts . . . rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, the four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Revelation 4:8-11
Hallelujah! All glory be unto Christ both now and forevermore!