Let’s read Revelation 4:6-8, “Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were FOUR LIVING CREATURES full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The FOUR LIVING CREATURES, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come’!” (NKJV)

WHO or WHAT are the FOUR LIVING CREATURES in these verses? Many interpretations have been given but there are two that have gained the widest acceptance. We will offer both views, but I am inclined to agree with second view due to the weight of Scripture that supports it.

1) The FOUR LIVING CREATURES “represent the attributes of God.” Those who espouse this view say “they are not created beings, for they are in the midst of the throne where only Deity can dwell.” According to this view the “lion” symbolizes DIVINE MAJESTY; the “calf” speaks of DIVINE STRENGTH; the “man” indicates DIVINE INTELLIGENCE; and the “eagle” illustrates DIVINE SWIFTNESS in executing judgment. In verse 8 these DIVINE ATTRIBUTES declare God’s HOLINESS and bring glory to Him.

2) The FOUR LIVING CREATURES are a “combination of cherubim and seraphim”; in other words, they are angelic beings. The fact that these “creatures” are “worshipping God” in verse 8 supports the view that they are indeed “created beings,” for how can “divine attributes” worship God? The description of the “four living creatures” resemble, in many ways, the CHERUBIM described in Ezekiel 10. For example, in Revelation 6:6 it says they “are full of eyes in front and in back,” and in verse 8, “were full of eyes around and within.” Now let’s compare that with Ezekiel 10:12, “And their whole body, with their back, their hands, their wings, and the wheels that the four had, WERE FULL OF EYES ALL AROUND.” They also sound identical to the SERAPHIM in Isaiah 6. We read in Revelation 4:8, “each having six wings…they do not rest day or night, saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty.” Isaiah 6:1-3 reads, “In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne…Above it stood SERAPHIM, EACH ONE HAD SIX WINGS…And one cried to another and said: ‘HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, IS THE LORD OF HOSTS” (NKJV).

One may be wondering why they looked like a lion, a calf, a man, and a flying eagle in verse 7. Many commentators agree these remind us of the FOUR WAYS Christ is presented to us in the FOUR GOSPELS. In Matthew Christ is the KING, symbolized by the LION. Mark’s gospel presents Him as the perfect SERVANT as pictured by the CALF. Luke portrays Him as the SON OF MAN which corresponds to the third living creature who “had a face like a MAN.” And John’s gospel features Christ as the SON OF GOD who came down from heaven, illustrated by the EAGLE. These angels, who are always in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, are REFLECTING HIS GLORY! Another has said, “When Moses came down from the mount, unknown to him ‘the skin of his face shone’ (Exodus 34:29) with the shining image of his Master. Those who spend time in the presence of God become like the Lord Jesus.”  (201.5)  (DO)