The four living creatures are greatly related to the end of times because whenever the Old Testament prophets would see the four living creatures, they would also see visions of the end of times. Revelation chapters 4 and 5 contain many different characters. We will first concentrate on the four living creatures.
6 In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back.
Often, people do not know what to call spiritual beings. Today, people usually call them “angels”; but actually, this is not the correct term, because the word “angel” just means “messenger”. A spiritual being that is sent on a special mission is called an“ angel ”. If these spiritual beings are not sent out to perform a special task, they are simply called servants. Most of the time, John does not know the names of the spiritual beings that are sent to do a special job, so he just calls them angels. The four living creatures are four spiritual servants that perform their duties around God’s throne.
The Ark of the Covenant is located in the Tabernacle, inside the Holy of Holies. God’s Mercy Seat is situated above the Ark of the Covenant, which in Revelation is called the Throne of God. On the side of the Mercy Seat there are two cherubim . In the earthly Holy of Holies there are only two cherubim, because if four were in place, then it would be blocking God’s Mercy Seat, hence only two were placed in a symbolic manner.
From the design of the Tabernacle, we know that the four living creatures are the four cherubim. Cherubim probably mean mighty ones.
FOUR LIVING CREATURES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “’Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is , and is to come.”
The book of Ezekiel and Revelation call these four mighty spiritual servants, the“ Four Living Creatures”. They are also four in number and they also have the characteristics of a lion, an ox, a man and an eagle. They have six wings which cover God’s Mercy Seat.
All the prophets in the Old Testament describe the four living creatures as having the characteristic of “fire”. The prophet Ezekiel described the appearance of the living creatures as having wheels on fire and each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel and they would go in any one of the four directions, and the wheels did not change direction as the creatures went. It also said clearly that the four living creatures were under God’s throne, something like the 4 sedan chair bearers. So God’s Mercy Seat is mobile ; sometimes coming down among the people of the earth. It really isn’t just so high above that we cannot reach it. Some people say that they are like God’s imperial body guards, but of course, God doesn’t need anyone to protect Him, they are just servants that are very close to God.
Each person gives a somewhat different description of the cherubim. The prophet Daniel did not say anything about seeing the four living creatures, but mentions seeing wheels like fire under the throne. Ezekiel saw four wings, the upper two wings were touching the other living creature and the other two wings covered their bodies. John saw six wings but did not see wheels.
以賽亞先知所說的｢撒拉弗｣，沒有說幾位，也沒有稱他們為基路伯或四活物，卻稱他們為撒拉弗。撒拉弗的意思是｢那燃燒者｣，所以也是描寫他們為｢火的使者｣。以賽亞見六個翅膀，兩個遮臉( 遮著上面) ，兩個遮腳，兩個飛翔。不斷發出讚美的聲音：｢聖哉、聖哉、聖哉，神的榮光充滿全地。｣
The prophet Isaiah mentioned seeing “seraphim” but did not say how many. He did not called them cherubim or four living creatures, he just called them seraphim. The word seraphim means “fiery one”, that is why he calls them “angels of fire”. Isaiah saw that each had six wings, two wings covered their faces, two covered their feet and two were used for flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory.”
They must be servants of the highest rank because they were near God’s throne all the time.
FOUR LIVING CREATURES – CHERUBIM COMPARISON OF EACH VISION
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THE TIME WHEN THE CHERUBIM OFTEN APPEARED
以西結的描寫最詳盡，大概是他的性格。他寫每一段所見的異象，都清楚註明日期，也等於寫上他自己的歲數。他是一位祭司，上任的時候是30 歲，上任那一年就看見異象。如果再與皇帝的年分作比較，就可以知道他某一年幾歲。他的年齡只比但以理大叁歲，但壽命比較短，事奉的時間不長。不像但以理事奉主70 年，活到85 歲。
Ezekiel’s description is the most detailed, it must have been his personality. Every part of his vision is recorded in detail to the very date, as writing his own age. He was a priest; when he took office he was 30 years old. He saw a vision the year he assumed office. If compared to the years of the king, you could figure out how old he was on a certain year. He was three years older than Daniel, but his life was relatively shorter, he did not serve for too long; unlike Daniel who serve the Lord for 70 years, and lived to be 85 years old.
Daniel served two dynasties: Babylon and Persia. He served five kings: three Babylonian kings and two Persian kings. When Daniel was 80 years old, he was still serving in the palace, praying and fasting. He saw many visions and wrote down many prophecies .
以西結事奉主只有22 年，52 歲就死了。沒有說他進行過禁食，不過他也見了很多異象。從神的寶座一直到新耶路撒冷聖城、聖殿，寫得非常詳細。按照年份日子排好，就像寫日記一樣。
Ezekiel served the Lord for only 22 years; he died at the age of 52. It does not say that he fasted; but he also saw many visions. He wrote very detail accounts of God’s throne, the New Jerusalem, the Holy City and the Temple. The visions were arranged by dates and years, like a diary.
PREACHING TIME OF THE PROPHETS
(Please see picture below)…
VISIONS IN THE MIDST OF SUFFERING
People usually see visions during times of great suffering. Many Old Testament prophets saw visions of the last days during the time when they were facing the extreme sorrow and pain of being taken captives as slaves into a foreign country. Isaiah was the exception; he served in the palace and preached to the King and to his royal ministers. In the year that King Uzziah died, Isaiah saw a vision. Isaiah was close to King Uzziah and enjoyed his protection. Suddenly the one whom he depended on and who was close to him left him, this could be considered as a time of suffering.
The visions that these prophets saw had the same message, which was: God is still sitting on the throne. Even though they were controlled by the enemy, God wanted them to know that He is still in charge; everything is under God’s authority. The things that people have to face may seem disorderly and chaotic, as if the evil ones are in power and the righteous ones are being bullied, but actually the ultimate authority is still in God’s hands, God is still in control of all affairs.
The throne that the Old Testament prophets saw was a moving throne meaning that God is still working. The cherubim are always at His side, under His throne. They are like sedan chair bearers that make throne mobile. They move extremely fast, like lightning. They have wheels which intersect each other, so no matter which direction they wanted to go, they would move quickly and they had no need to turn. The ancient carriages which were either made of wood or metal moved very slowly and they also took a long time to make turns. The cherubim were different, they moved at a very fast speed. Furthermore, they each had four faces; they did not need to turn their faces to go to another direction.
Even though they had left the God-centered lifestyle they once had surrounding the Sanctuary, God had not forgotten them or forsaken them. They had left God a long time ago; they had lost their safety when they were taken captive to a foreign country. Yet the throne of God was on the move. God was still close to them, He had not given up of them, as long as they would repent and turn back to God, He would still be with them and protect them.
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE CHERUBIM AND THE FOUR GOSPELS
7 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.
The faces of the cherubim had the features of a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle and the most amazing thing is that they resembled the description that the four gospels gave about Jesus.
Matthew describes Jesus as the King of the Kingdom; the first chapter lists His royal genealogy, which proves that He is a descendant of King David. When Jesus was born, wise men from the orient came to see the newborn King, not shepherds. Matthew also contains many parables of the Kingdom of Heaven, laws of the Kingdom of Heaven, and many Old Testament prophecies. Matthew can use a “lion” as an emblem, because the lion is the king of the beasts.
Mark describes Christ as a humble servant, without a genealogy, just a poor preacher. It even records the words of the Lord: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many .”So Mark can use an “ox” as an emblem.
Luke describes Him as being 100% man. His genealogy goes back all the way to Adam, because He was a descendant of a human being. Luke describes His humanity. When He went to Jerusalem the last time, he wept because he was sad for their disobedience and for the calamity that would come upon them in the year 70. Luke describes His concern for the gentiles; He did not discriminate against women or children, and accepted women disciples, pointing out that His humanity was very strong. The face of a “man” could be used as His emblem.
John’s description is completely different. His genealogy starts by saying the He was already there from the beginning, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Everywhere in the book proves that He is God’s Son, “We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The Gospel of John can use an “eagle” as an emblem.
A lion, an ox, a man and an eagle are exactly the four faces of the cherubim.
THE IMAGE OF THE PERFECT SERVANT
The cherubim are not God, why are their characteristics similar to those of the Son of God? Because when Jesus was on earth He was “a Servant of God”. In the Book of Isaiah, in many of the prophecies, Christ is referred to as “My Servant”. When Jesus was on earth, he assumed the position of the Servant of God, until after his death and resurrection, which was when God exalted Him to the utmost, revealing His might as the Son of the God.
After Jesus resurrected from the dead, He told His eleven disciples to meet Him on a hill in Galilee where He said to them: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Before His resurrection he was like a simple human being, He was no superman; He was not built differently, God did not give Him a memory of what He was before He was born. He did not know how to walk when He was a baby and He could not perform any miracles when he was an infant. He had to get away from people who were trying to kill Him; He also had to learn how to talk when He was little. He only knew how to speak Aramean and Hebrew; He did not know any other languages. He had to learn the Bible from a very young age; He was human 100%, He was not a superman, He didn’t have any special powers.
It had to be this way so that He could be could die for the sins of every human being, in this manner His lifestyle would be our example. He was able to overcome difficult situations because He trusted in God, because He depended on the Holy Spirit. He knew what message to preach to the people each day, which disciples to choose, what lessons to teach to His disciples, because He spent intimate moments with His Heavenly Father and talked to Him every morning.
He wanted to let everyone know that we could also do the things that He did; we could even do greater things. If we have faith like Him, we will be able to see the miraculous signs and wonders that He experienced.
The things that people can not know, He did not know either. When He spoke to His disciples about the signs of the end of the world, He said: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven , nor the Son, but only the Father.” At that time, no one in the whole universe knew when the Lord would return the second time, only God knew. We will explain the reason why in the next chapter, but at this point we want to make clear that when He was in this world preaching the Word of God, He was a human being, He was God’s servant. All servants of God should be like the cherubim, they should possess these four characteristics, which are those of a lion, an ox, a man and an eagle.
A lion—the characteristic of a king—holds authority and power. True Christians should be servants of God, reigning together with Christ. He was called the Prince of Peace; His royal authority is not like the authority of the kings of this world. Royal worldly power is aggressive and dominating, that is why this world is full of conflicts. There are conflicts between countries and between ethnic groups; there are even conflicts among own family members. His followers will become children of peace and reign together with Him, breaking down all barriers between people, tearing down walls of discord, becoming messengers of peace, with the authority of a king, the authority of heaven, and the authority of the Prince of Peace.
The second characteristic is like an ox. Not only willing to be a servant of God but also a servant of the people. Cherubim are not only moving around constantly but also serving. Some of their wings are used for covering themselves, which is a humble action. God’s servants are submissive, hardworking, patient and humble. Broadly speaking, all Christians are servants of God, therefore we must serve humbly. A person who is not humble is not a servant of God. People who do not believe in the Lord are arrogant, rely only on themselves, they just want to do their own will and could care less about God’s will.
HUMAN BEING: MAN
The third characteristic is like a man. Among all the living things, human beings are the wisest. Therefore, the face of a man is used to indicate their wisdom. The wheels of the cherubim were full of eyes, to demonstrate their extraordinary wisdom. They can understand thoroughly all matters, they can see things others cannot see, and they can see the grace in serving the Lord and the blessings that come from walking with the Lord. Christians who regularly serve the Lord have the most ideal living environment, family , children, relationships, not because they have a high IQ but because they let God guide them at all the times.
The fourth characteristic is like an eagle. Eagles move swiftly, the cherubim’s movements were also fast as a flash of lightning, they did not have to make turns; they just went wherever they wanted to go right away. They did not hesitate, they did not procrastinate, they were not hesitant, they were not lazy; they were full of faith. Only people who are full of faith act quickly. A servant of God should also be like an eagle, have great foresight and vision and move swiftly.