Who or what are these 4 Living Creatures and the 24 Elders? Their identities are a very very deep mystery of Revelation. One must go through the other mysteries of Revelation and of the Bible before he/she can reach the “place” of these two great groups of entities. Only God through our Lord Yeshua can unlock these other mysteries for us. Our Lord Yeshua, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge, holds the key to these mysteries. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.
This post is just a part of an article entitled Revelation and Its Mysteries. To understand their identities better, one must read also the topics “The Divisions of Revelation,” “The Parallelism Between The Trumpets and The Last Plagues” (not time related), and the “Parallelisms Based On The Creation Days” (not time related) in the said article.
(Rev 4:9 KJV) And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,
(Rev 4:10 KJV) 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,
(Rev 4:11 KJV) 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.
Verses 9 and 10 seem to tell that the 4 Living Creatures and the 24 Elders are symbolically related to each other. If we will multiply the 6 wings of the 4 Living Creatures by their number, the result will be 24 – the number of the 24 Elders. Who or what do these two groups of entities which are related to each other represent or personify? The author doesn’t know anyone or anything that could conform to their attributes except – the Letters to the churches, the Seals, the Trumpets, and the Last Plagues and the parallelisms between the 1st 6 parts of them. This “theory” is very strong. Let the initials L, S, T, LP represent the Letters to the churches, the Seals, the Trumpets, and the Last Plagues respectively.
- The 4 individual Living Creatures personify the L, S, T, LP. Their wings seem to represent the 1st 6 parts of the L, S, T, LP.
- The 24 Elders represent the 1st 6 parts of the L, S, T, LP as a whole. It’s only up to their 6th parts maybe because there are only six creation days where the parallelisms between the L, S, T, LP are based.
They have different sets of attributes. In the topic “Parallelisms Based On The Creation Days” (this is a very interesting topic), the parallelisms between the L, S, T, LP are based on the creation days. How could this thing be met? The above verses Rev 4:9-11 are hints and clues about these two groups of entities. As I understand it, these verses could be interpreted as thus, whenever a parallelism between the L, S, T, LP occurs a praise that is also a hint is offered by the 24 Elders (both of them are affected by the parallelism) to God and that hint is in verse 11 that says God created all things and by His will or for His pleasure are all things existed and were created.
Remember the “new song”? In Revelation 5:8-10, the 4 Living Creatures and the 24 Elders sang the “new song” before the opening of the Seals and in the re-opening of the 6th Seal (Rev 14:1-5) they were included in the vision. Why would they be the ones singing that song (Revelation 5:8-10) and why would they be included in the vision of “The Lamb and the 144,000” (Rev 14:1-5)? Notice also that it is one of the 4 Living Creatures who gave to the 7 angels the seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God in Revelation 15:7.
The reader will see the other proofs as he go along.
The L, S, T, LP as the 4 Living Creatures:
(Rev 4:6 ISV) In front of the throne was something like a sea of glass as clear as crystal. In the center of the throne and on each side of the throne were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back.
(Rev 4:7 ISV) The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature was like an ox, the third living creature had a face like a human, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle.
(Rev 4:8 ISV) Each of the four living creatures had six wings and were full of eyes inside and out. Without stopping day or night they were saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, who is, and who is coming.”
“Eyes” figuratively means knowledge, mental and spiritual faculties. See Strong’s and BDB’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries. In verse 6, it says that these 4 living creatures are full of eyes. These “eyes” could mean the individual knowledge and information (not in parallel) they carry to themselves from their 1st parts up to their 6th or maybe, up to their 7th parts. The “eyes” in their wings (verse 8), could refer to the knowledge and information that are in parallel between them from their 1st parts up to their 6th parts. In verse 7, they were individually likened to a lion, an ox, face like a man and a flying eagle and these could refer to the L, S, T, LP respectively. The author does not see any indication how the order of assigning should be done, so, the order of their appearance – which came first – will be the one that will be used here.
1st Living Creature – The Letters to the Churches – Lion
Our Lord Yeshua, in His letters to the churches commends the angels of the good works in their corresponding churches. He also corrects them and gives warnings against any wrong doings. Now, what does the lion-like attribute of the Lord has to do with the Letters to the Churches?
(Hos 5:14 ASV) For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will carry off, and there shall be none to deliver.
(Hos 5:15 ASV) I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me earnestly.
(Job 10:15 NIV) If I am guilty—woe to me! Even if I am innocent, I cannot lift my head, for I am full of shame and drowned in my affliction.
(Job 10:16 NIV) If I hold my head high, you stalk me like a lion and again display your awesome power against me.
You will see in the contexts of these passages that the Lord God is like a lion when he rebukes and disciplines His own people. That’s exactly what the Lord Yeshua will do if His admonitions and warnings to the angels of the churches are not heeded. He will be like a lion to them.
What about the following verse?
(Rev 5:5 KJV) And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
Should the lion-like attribute of the Lord Yeshua be assigned to the Seals because of this verse? As for me, it should be assigned to the Letters to the Churches because it’s the right order and reading the next verses…
Rev 5:6-9 KJV
(6) And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
(7) And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.
(8) And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
(9) And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
…the lamb attribute of the Lord Yeshua is the one who opened the book and loosen the seven seals thereof. Read Revelation chapter 6 up to chapter 8.
2nd Living Creature – The Seals – Ox
The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David opens the Seals as a lamb and not as a lion. Even in the re-opening of the 6th Seal, it is the imagery of the Lamb that is there.
(Rev 6:5 ASV) And when he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, Come. And I saw, and behold, a black horse; and he that sat thereon had a balance in his hand.
(Rev 6:6 ASV) And I heard as it were a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, A measure of wheat for a shilling, and three measures of barley for a shilling; and the oil and the wine hurt thou not.
This passage denotes scarcity of food but there’s another thing in here. In Rev 5:6 it says that the Lamb is in the midst of the 4 Living Creatures, so it could be His voice that came out in verse 6 above. Now, what is common between a lamb, wheat, barley, wine, oil, and an ox? All of them can be an offering to God. See Exodus 29:40 and Ezekiel 45:13.
In the 5th Seal, the symbolic souls of those who had been slain for the word of God are portrayed as being under the altar where offerings are made.
In light of these things we can now tell who the rider on the white horse is in the 1st Seal. It is the Lord Yeshua. He is the Passover Lamb that was slaughtered as an offering to redeem us from our sins. The verse says:
- He had a bow. What about the arrow? Visit the article – The Olivet Prophecy
- He was given a crown – a crown of thorns.
- He came out conquering, and to conquer.
(Rev 5:5 ESV) And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
(Rev 5:9 ESV) And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation
If we will compare these two verses, it seems that the words “conquered” (verse 5) and “slain” (verse 9) are synonymous to each other contextually.
Some bible translations render the word “conquered” in verse 5 as “prevailed”.
3rd Living Creature – The Trumpets – Face like a Man
In the 5th Trumpet, there’s a verse that describe a quality of the symbolic Locust Army – their faces like the faces of men (Rev 9:7).
A bigger aspect of the phrase “face like a man” is not easily seen in the Trumpets because we are not aware of it. We recognize a man through his face. Even if we haven’t met a certain man before, we could recognize him through a picture or a sketch of his face, but what really makes us recognize him is the collection of information regarding the qualities of his eyes, nose, lips, etc. It is this collection of information concerning the qualities of a man or group of men that is referred to as a bigger aspect of “face like a man” and these things can be found in the Trumpets (2nd part). Read the descriptions of the Locust Army with their King in the 5th Trumpet; The Two Myriads of Myriads Troops and the Two Witnesses in the 6th Trumpet.
What about this verse?
(Rev 8:13 HNV) I saw, and I heard an eagle, flying in mid heaven, saying with a loud voice, “Woe! Woe! Woe for those who dwell on the earth, because of the other voices of the trumpets of the three angels, who are yet to sound!”
This is the only instance of a “flying eagle” in the Trumpets, but if you will look at it closely, you will see that it’s not part of any Trumpet, is it? As for me, it’s part of the 7th Seal, speaking about the 5th, 6th and the 7th Trumpet.
4th Living Creature – The Last Plagues – Flying Eagle
One of the things that an eagle’s wings symbolize is power as in Jeremiah 48:40 and Ezekiel 17:3, 7. According to the parallelisms based on Day 5, birds can represent God’s people. With these things in mind, it can be stated that a flying eagle means God’s people or holy people while using their power. Can the reader still remember what is said in the topic “The Seven Last Plagues” under the Explanation of the Fourth Section in The Divisions of Revelation? It is pointed out there that the Two Witnesses are the ones God will use in pouring out some of the Seven Last Plagues. These two witnesses are God’s people – the holy people. They can be represented by a bird, an eagle, and their power – the wings of an eagle. What is stated there supports what is being said here and vice versa. They confirm each other.
The L, S, T, LP as the 24 Elders:
The entire L, S, T, LP except their 7th parts could be what these 24 Elders personify. Some people call the assembly of the earthly counterpart of these elders as Sanhedrin or Great Council. Even some small church organizations call some of their members as elders. These are the learned men and who are holding office (seat or office), trustworthy and honest men (white robes) and possessing authority (crown of gold).
Each of these 24 Elders carries information to himself. Let’s say, for example, the elder that represents the 1st Seal knows there’s a white horse and its rider had a bow and it was given a crown and it came forth conquering and to conquer. Some of them possess more information than the others, but just like the real human elders who convene and share their thoughts on matters of beliefs and doctrines, they also share the information they held among themselves. So, the knowledge of each of these 24 Elders represent the collective information that all of them held. Add to these things the information that came out of the parallelisms between the L, S, T, LP which they represent. Like earthly human elders they teach us new and deeper things, and help us understand deep mysteries some of which can only be learned through them. That’s exactly what they have done when we were studying the topic – Parallelisms Based on the Creation Days, isn’t it? We can inquire from them some things that are unclear to us.
The 24 Elders are MORE THAN JUST personifications of the L, S, T, LP.
Real human elders do not just teach, they also study. They learn from the Holy Scripture, the word of God, so as with the 24 Elders, they seem to acquire new knowledge from God who is seated on the throne and from the Lamb who is in their midst. You will notice these things when you will study what the elder have said to John at the 6th Seal. Some are outside of the collective information they represent.
(Rev 7:13 KJV) And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
(Rev 7:14 KJV) And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
(Rev 7:15 KJV) Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
(Rev 7:16 KJV) They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
(Rev 7:17 KJV) For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
In this vision, John says that it is the elder who knows who the multitudes are (verse 14). Is it because the elder is an elder? As for me, yes, because elders convene on matters of doctrines and beliefs and the Parallelisms Based on the Creation Days is like a convention to them. They know when the great tribulation occurs because of the information they had and because of the parallelisms. Let’s now find where the elder got what he had told to John in the passage above.
Knowledge they learned from God and from the Lamb or Lord Yeshua who were very near to them:
- “have washed their robes” (verse 14) – Rev 22:14
- “blood of the Lamb” (verse 14) – Rev 12:11
- “he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them” (verse 15) – Rev 21:3
- “living fountains of waters” (verse 17) – Rev 22:1-2
- “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (verse 17) – Rev 21:4
- “great tribulation” (verse 14) – 4th Letter Rev 2:22
- “day and night” (verse 15) – 4th Trumpet Rev 8:12
- “neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat” (verse 16) – 4th Plague Rev 16:8-9
Their inherent knowledge here strongly support that the great tribulation occurs on the 4th Seal and that the 24 Elders are the personifications of the 1st six parts of the L, S, T, LP as a whole with the parallelisms between them.
These things don’t stop here. This vision occurs on the 6th Seal. Who is the elder that represent this seal? Count it from the 1st Letter not including the 7th Letter up to this 6th Seal – it’s the 12th elder. Number 12 again in this Seal that’s full of 12’s.
Let’s study and find where the elder got what he had told to John in this verse:
(Rev 5:5 ESV) And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Knowledge they learned from God and from the Lord Yeshua:
- “Root of David” – Rev 22:16
- “Lion” – 6th Trumpet Rev 10:3
- “tribe of Judah” 6th Seal Rev 7:5
- “David” – 6th Letter Rev 3:7 and Rev 3:9
(Not the person David) Look at the other meaning of “David”:
Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary:
From the same as H1730; loving; David, the youngest son of Jesse: – David.
BDB’s Hebrew Definitions:
dâvid / dâvîyd
David = “beloved”
1) youngest son of Jesse and second king of Israel
Read a verse from the 6th Letter (Philadelphia):
(Rev 3:9 LITV) Behold, I give out of the synagogue of Satan those saying themselves to be Jews, and they are not, but they lie. Behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they shall know that I loved you.
The definition of the word “Philadelphia”:
Philadelphia = “brotherly love”
1) a city of Lydia in Asia Minor, situated near the eastern base of of Mount Tmolus, founded and named by the Pergamene king, Attalus II Philadelphus. After the death of Attalus III Philometor, 133 BC, it together with his entire kingdom came by his will under the jurisdiction of the Romans.
Part of Speech: noun proper locative
A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from Philadelphos (the same as G5361)
1) loving brother or sister
2) in a broader sense, loving one like a brother, loving one’s fellow countrymen
2a) of an Israelite
2b) of a Christian loving Christians
Part of Speech: adjective
A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G5384 and G80
Let’s continue with what the elder has told to John in Rev 5:5.
- “has conquered” – 7th Letter Rev 3:21 and 1st Seal Rev 6:2
Should we include the “has conquered” in the 7th Letter? The 24 Elders don’t include the 7th parts of the L, S, T, LP. The “conquering” in the 1st Seal if included will make the Seals to have a double entry.
What about the things they have said in the 7th Trumpet?
(Rev 11:15 ESV) Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”
(Rev 11:16 ESV) And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God,
(Rev 11:17 ESV) saying, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.
(Rev 11:18 ESV) The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”
The events that were said by the 24 Elders and by the loud voices in heaven are what comprise the 7th Trumpet. John did not see these events; he heard it from them, instead.
What about the “new song” which they sang together with the 4 Living Creatures and which only the 144,000 could learn?
(Rev 5:9 NIV) And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.
(Rev 5:10 NIV) You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
We already know that the 1st part of this song (the opening of Seals) has two applications, however its “origin” is not known to this article’s author. Maybe information like this falls under the attribute “crowns of gold” for the 24 Elders. The rest of the information on this song can be traced to John’s Letter to the 7 Churches in Asia:
(Rev 1:4 ISV) From John to the seven churches in Asia. May grace and peace be yours from the one who is, who was, and who is coming, from the seven spirits who are in front of his throne,
(Rev 1:5 ISV) and from Jesus Christ, the witness, the faithful one, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To the one who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood
(Rev 1:6 ISV) and has made us a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, be glory and power forever and ever! Amen.
If we will compare the rest of their song to the letter of John to the 7 Churches in Asia (the underlined ones) we will see that the 7 Churches represent the (people who were purchased by the blood of our Lord Yeshua from) “every tribe and language and people and nation” and vice versa. These (people from) “every tribe and language and people and nation” can be found on the 6th Seal (Rev 7:9) and on the 6th Trumpet (Rev 11:9). So, the multitude from “every tribe and language and people and nation” on the 6th Seal (Rev 7:9) are the 7 Churches who came out of the great tribulation. And on the 6th Trumpet, Rev 11:9 could be saying that members of the 7 Churches will gaze on the dead bodies of their brethren – the Two Witnesses – who are also God’s people and will refuse to bury them.
Visit the link below to understand this topic better. The reader needs to read the topics “The Divisions of Revelation”, “The Parallelism Between The Trumpets and The Last Plagues” and the “Parallelisms Based On The Creation Days” in the said article: Revelation and Its Mysteries