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Displaying items by tag: 4 Living Creatures

Saturday, 15 October 2016 22:23

35. Singing a new song - PART 2 * Revelation 5:9-10

9 And they sang a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open the seals thereof: for you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation;

10 And have made us unto our God a kingdom and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.


*** Have redeemed us to God by your blood ***: Now we need to continue where we left off on study #34, the analysis of the unclear section in Revelation 5:8. There are a few different views on this passage. So, let's consider the different possibilities:

Option 1 - If only the elders were singing the new song in Revelation 5:9: On study #28, we saw that it is possible that the 24 elders are a complete representation of the people of God throughout History. And under this view, it makes sense that they were singing a new type of song. A song that talks about how it feels to be redeemed by the blood of Jesus. Unfallen beings don’t need personal salvation. They never sinned. They did not experience redemption in the way people who abandoned a life of sin did. That is why, under the assumption of Option 1, the four living creatures could not have sung the lyrics: “[…] for you were slain, and have redeemed US to God by your blood out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation”. (Similar translation found in: King James, New King James, Aramaic Bible in Plain English, Webster’s Bible Translation, World English Bible, Young’s Literal Translation, and others). Most Greek manuscripts, including the Textus Receptus, have the word “us” in this verse.

Option 2 - If the elders and the four living beings were singing the song in Revelation 5:9: In this case, the song would have to be different for the beings to be singing along with the elders. The line we just mentioned, talking about redemption, was written in the first person (“redeemed us”) in all but two Greek manuscripts. According to Stephanovic, the codex Alexandrinus and an Ethiopian versions do not have “us” in the text. In these two versions, the translation of the song, matching the assumption of option 2, reads: “and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (similar translation found in: New International Version, New Living Translation, English Standard Version, American Standard Version, New American Standard Bible, Darby Bible Translation, and others). In this version of the text, the living beings and the elders are singing about how Jesus had redeemed the people on Earth, and they are praising Him for this achievement.

*** Out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation ***: The redeemed people do not come from a specific group in the world. Jesus said in John 10:15-17: "As the Father knows me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore does my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.” No matter where His people are, they will hear His voice, and come to Him at the right time, regardless of their appearance, language, or geographical location. We could even expand this concept to say that God has people everywhere, regardless of their religious affiliation. As representatives of the saved people, the 24 elders were likely from different places and nationalities as well.

*** Made us unto our God a kingdom and priests: and we shall reign on the earth ***: Once again, we see a difference in the use of “we” and “they”, referring to who they were singing about. These were promises made to the people of God throughout the Bible. We see these statements in the book of Revelation as well (Revelation 1:6; Revelation 2:26-27; Revelation 3:21; Revelation 20:4-6). Christ’s death sealed the job description for His people. His followers were made priests, with a mission of serving Him and carrying His message throughout the world. Jesus’ sacrifice also guaranteed that one day, the redeemed of God would reign with Him forever (Revelation 20:4-6; see study #5). These statements are true for both God’s people on Earth, and the 24 elders in Heaven. As we saw on study #28, the elders have both kingly and priestly characteristics: they had crowns, thrones, royal robes, harps, and censers.

*** Overview ***: As we saw in lesson #34, Christ’s victory then became the lyrics of a new song. Weather or not the elders were the only ones singing this song, is not the issue. Wether or not the song included the word “us” or “they”, is not essencial for the understanding of the new song. Jesus’ blood is the main theme of the song. From that point in time, His sacrifice had the power to redeem God’s children on Earth forward into the future, as well as backward into the past. And not only that, it also had the power to redeem the humans that were living in Heaven. The strength of the Cross can pass right through any human barriers. God’s promises are not limited by the walls of separation people raise around themselves here on Earth. When God calls His people to come to Him, all those who belong to Him will answer, no matter where they are, what they are, or who they are. Jesus’s blood can transform a repentant sinner into a priest and a king. What we used to be is forgotten. What we become when we experience redemption is what is important.

Saturday, 08 October 2016 00:33

34. Singing a new song - PART 1 * Revelation 5:7-9

7 And he came and took the scroll out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.

8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of saints.

9 And they sang a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open the seals thereof: for you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation;


*** He took the scroll out of the right hand the Father ***: Back in Revelation 5:1, we studied that the sealed scroll was at the right hand of God (study #31), from the rare Greek expression epi ten dēxian. According to Stefanovic, here we have another rare expression ek tēs dexias, which also does not occur anywhere else in the New Testament. Even though this expression could mean both ‘from the right hand’, or ‘from the right side’, we can understand that this expression also refers to the right side of God the Father, the one who was sitting on the throne at the time of Jesus’ arrival in Heaven (see study #33). Verse 7 implies that Jesus approached the throne, and took possession of the sealed book.

*** The four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down ***: Once again, the four living creatures and the 24 elders are leading the praise and worship. After Jesus took the scroll, the four living beings and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb. This is a similar reaction we saw from John, in Revelation 1:17 (study #10), when he was in the presence of Jesus. In contrast to Revelation 5:8, where the elders and the living beings fell down, in verse 5:14 only the 24 elders bow down and worship God.

*** Every one of them had harps, and golden bowls full of incense ***: There is an angel in Revelation 8:3-5, who has a golden censer and incense to offer with the prayers of the saints. So, the idea that angels could participate in presenting the prayers of the saints to God is seen in another part of Revelation. But here, the text starts to get a little more complicated. It is not completely clear if only the 24 elders had the harps and the bowls of incense, or if the four living creatures had them too. At a first glance, it sounds like they were all holding the harp and the incense, but we cannot discard the possibility that only the 24 elders had them. Later on, in verse 14, only the elders fell down to worship God, while the four living creatures were saying something else. The expression “every one of them”, in verse 8, comes from the Greek hekastos, which refers to each distinct individual, as opposed to the group. It comes right after “four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb”. This raises the question: were the 24 elders doing something different from the 4 living creatures, from verse 8 forward? The answer to this question possibly ties up with verse 9, and who was singing the new song.

*** Golden bowls of incense ***: In the Old Testament Sanctuary, the priest had to keep incense burning constantly (Exodus 30:7-8). This was the job of a priest (2 Chronicles 26:18-19). And this was such a serious job, that if it was not done correctly, as specified by God, it could be a matter of life and death (Leviticus 16:12-13). The fact that the 24 elders have the bowls of incense, means they have a priestly role in heaven. The bowls of incense are very important. Revelation 5:8 says they “are the prayers of the saints”. Just like the smoke of the incense, in the Earthly Sanctuary, would cover the mercy seat of the Arc of the Covenant, the prayers of the saints flow right to the throne of God. Those holding the incense seem to be involved in the bringing of people’s prayers to God.

*** They sang a new song ***: They were singing a type of song they had never sung before. It had a new theme, one that had never been seen in Heaven before. Christ had just returned as the lamb who was slain, and so the heavenly chorus adjusted their songs to reflect the brand new role of Jesus Christ as the Redeemer. Before Jesus’ death and resurrection, Jesus had not fully paid the price for humanity yet. His mission to show the Father was, for the most part, complete even before the cross. But Jesus had to die our ‘forever death’ in our place in order to validade the plan of salvation. A song presented with this theme would have not made sense before He went through the entire process. And so, now that Jesus had finished that section of the plan, the singing of a new song, featuring the recent event of Christ’s victory, was in order. Jesus had just earned the right to open the scroll and its seals. We will continue to analyze the last part of Revelation 5:9 in study #35.

*** Overview ***: After Jesus arrived in Heaven, He approached the throne, and got the sealed book from the right side of the Father. Immediately, the 4 living beings and the 24 elders began to worship Christ. Jesus’ victory granted Him the ability to open the sealed book. Not only they were having a worship service in the throne room, they were also conducting activities which were assigned to priests. They were carrying bowls of incense. The prayers of the saints seem to be important enough for John to mention in this section. Christ’s victory then became the lyrics of a new song. Heaven was celebrating and rejoicing in an unprecedented manner. The way the Universe would now look at Christ had changed forever. His death and resurrection meant life not just for Himself, but for all the people who believe in the power of His sacrifice.

Saturday, 03 September 2016 00:20

29. Round and about the throne * Revelation 4:5-8

5  And out of the throne proceeded lightning and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

6  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 living creatures full of eyes in front and behind.

7  And the first living creature was like a lion, and the second living creature like a calf, and the third living creature had a face as a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle.

8  And the four living creatures had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.


***Lightening, thunderings, and voices ***: Verses 2, 3, and 4 of this chapter give a detailed description of the throne of God. In verse 5, we start to see some important activities happening in that throne room. There are flashes of lightning, thunderings, and voices coming out of the throne. This description reminds us of the scene at Mount Sinai, when God was giving the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19:16; Exodus 20:18). These are not the only time when the presence of God is associated with thundering and lightning (Job 40:9; Psalm 77:18; Psalm 104:7; Ezekiel 1:13). Out of the throne comes the active and powerful presence of God.

*** Seven lamps burning ***: Right in front of the throne, there are seven lamps. These lamps are burning, and they are the seven Spirits of God. The Greek word used for lamps here is the word lampade, which refers to a hand-held torch that has a wick and is fueled with oil. In Zachariah 4, we have seven lamps which were the eyes of the Lord “which range throughout the earth”. In Revelation 5:6 we read that the seven Spirits are seven eyes sent out to all the Earth. As we discussed in lesson #5, the seven Spirits of God are the perfect representation of the Holy Spirit. He is present there, before the throne.

*** The sea of glass ***: John mentions the sea of glass in Revelation 4:6, and also in Revelation 15:2. Here in chapter 4, he describes this element as being located in front of the throne. He compares it to three things: sea, glass, and crystal. The sea gives the idea of water and movement. Glass and crystal are solid and static objects. All of them have a translucent quality, and can become reflective depending on how light hits their surface. It is not clear if the glass description refers to a smooth flat section of glass, or to broken pieces of glass and more of a textured look. Revelation 15:2 adds yet another descriptor: fire. John says he "saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire". Also, he says the victorious people are standing on this sea of glass and fire. In chapter 4, the saved people are not there yet. And the fire, although present as the Holy Spirit standing in front of the throne of the Father, is not mentioned as being in or on the sea of glass at that time. In terms of Sanctuary language, the water element was represented as the bronze basin. The basin was sometimes called the sea (2 Kings 25:13-16; 1 Chronicles 18:8; 2 Chronicles 4:6; Jeremiah 52:17,20). The priests had to wash themselves there before sacrifices and before entering the Tent of Meeting. It was a symbol for baptism, as we saw in study #9. In Matthew 3:11, we read the words of John the Baptist, referring to Christ: "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire". Daniel 7:10 mentions a river of fire that was flowing out of the throne of God. It is interesting to note that in Revelation 15:2, when the saved people are standing on the sea of glass, fire is there mixed in. But in chapter 4, which is a scene that happens before the people get there, the fire is described separately. Very likely, this is not a literal combination of sea, glass, or fire. The sea of glass seems to be a hard to describe place. The point is, it marks an important area before the throne of God where the overcomers will stand one day.

*** The four living creatures ***: This is not the only time these beings appear in Revelation. They are always found near the throne of God, serving and worshiping Him (Revelation 4:6,8-9; Revelation 5:6,8-9,14; Revelation 6:1-8; Revelation 14:3; Revelation 19:4). This is also not the first time in the Bible where they are mentioned either. We can read about them in Ezekiel 1:5-10; Ezekiel 10:12,14,20-22; Isaiah 6:2-3. They remind us of the golden cherubim on the Arch of the Covenant in the Earthly Sanctuary. (Exodus 25:18-21; 1 Kings 6:23-28). The image of God sitting between cherubim is seen in other passages of the Old Testament as well (2 Kings 19:15; Psalm 80:1; Psalm 99:1; Isaiah 37:16). Isaiah calls them seraphim, and tells us they praise Him saying “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:2-3). In Revelation 4:8, John also tells us that they do not rest during the day or night, and remain praising God continually, “saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Both in Isaiah, and in Revelation, we see these beings praising the Trinity.

Full of eyes in front and behind, and inside; having six wings each and four different faces: Ezekiel 10:12 describes them as being “full of eyes all around”. He also says they each have 4 faces: as of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle (Ezekiel 1:5-10). Ezekiel saw one being with four faces, and John sees four beings, each with a different face (Revelation 4:7). Ezekiel had a long and detailed description of these beings. But it seems that for John, they are not the focus of the scene, and perhaps only one side of each of those beings was revealed to him. It could also be a different order of angels. Regardless of their specific anatomy, their role seems to be very special. They lead the praise and worship, and they serve God very closely. These beings are also involved in the opening of the first four seals (Revelation 6:1-8). There are different views as to what each of their faces represent. It could be a reference to their strength, service, intelligence, and swiftness. It could also be a symbol for the qualities of God’s character, including His ability to see and know everything.

*** Overview ***: There was lightning and thundering coming out of the throne of God. That means the throne was not empty. The magnitude of His glory could be felt, seen and heard. The Holy Spirit was also in the scene, in all his perfection and fulness, described as the seven Spirits of God. But not all members of the Trinity were present there. Jesus was not there. Even so, the heavenly creatures near the throne of God kept worshiping the Trinity continuously, by saying: “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty” (Revelation 4:8). This description refers to a moment in time, when neither Jesus nor the overcomers were present. No one was standing on the sea of glass just yet. Just from what we read in chapter 4, we can understand that this happened before the Second Coming of Christ. A time when Jesus was not there, but when the Holy Spirit was. In reality, the Holy Spirit is omnipresent. His appearance in the throne room does not prevent His activities from happening on Earth at the same time. But for the sake of John’s understanding, as well as ours today, this is how it was shown to John. We can understand that this part of the vision seems to describe what was happening in Heaven before Jesus’ ascension. Chapter 4 show us what it was like to be standing there, in the presence of God.

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