Revelation 4:6b – In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back.
As John looked toward the looked towards the throne again were 4 living creatures like nothing seen here on earth. They are not on the throne because they are not God but they are around the throne. Read Ezekiel 1:4-14 and then 10:18-22. The 4 living creatures are cherubim, which are angelic beings who surround and guard the throne of God. They are covered with eyes all over them which would lead them to see everything in all directions. Nothing escapes their attention.
Read Exodus 25:17-22. Cherubim were also prominent in the design of the ark of the covenant and mercy seat in the Most Holy Place of the tabernacle. The tabernacle was a transportable temple that the Israelites used to make sacrifices and worship to God in the wilderness after the exodus from Egypt. The Most Holy Place was the inner room of the tabernacle where God dwelt and the ark of the covenant was and which was a type and figure of the throne of God.
Read Ezekiel 28:12-19. This is a condemnation against the King of Tyre but there are parts in this passage that could not be applied to a mere human, and point towards most likely Satan. Satan may have been a cherub before being cast out of heaven. It shows that even the guardians of the throne of God are not without sin. Only God is completely holy and righteous.
Revelation 4:7 – 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.
From the passages in Ezekiel above we can see that the cherubim have 4 faces and in this passage in Revelation John possibly sees each one of the four different faces pointed in his direction.
Many different interpretations have been given by many different scholars. Some believe it represents the lead tribes as Israel was encamped in four groups of three tribes around the tabernacle in the wilderness. Some believe it represents God’s dominance over all of his creation including the mightiest of all wild animals (lion), the strongest of all domesticated animals (ox), the ruler of the skys (eagle), and the highest of all created beings (man). But the most accepted interpretation is that the four different heads represent 4 natures or characteristics of Jesus in which each can be represented also in the 4 written gospels. The lion represents the lion of Judah or Jesus’ Messianic nature which is also shown in the Gospel of Matthew. The ox represents a servant nature which the Gospel of Mark portrays of Jesus. The man represents Jesus’ human nature which is also shown in the Gospel of Luke. The eagle shows Him as God coming down from heaven which the Gospel of John shows. This could very well be the interpretation but true be told scripture never tells us exactly what the four different faces stand for so they may all or none be correct.
Revelation 4:8 – Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”
Read Isaiah 6:2-3. The creature’s description and song here is very similar to the seraphs described in Isaiah. Seraphs are angelic beings that lead in worship and praise for God. So what are the creatures cherubim or seraphs? Scripture seems to indicate that they are both.
In the 4 living creatures song we see a 3 fold Holy claim to God. In Hebrew the double repetition of a word adds emphasis, but a rarer third repetition implies superiority and calls attention to the infinite holiness of God. Interesting to note that a repetition of three signifies the complete infiniteness of the triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Again, like in Revelation 1:8, we see God referred to as Almighty (pantokrator), “one who has everything in his hands”.
We also see from Revelation 1:8 that God is the one the was, is, and is to come. Jesus is the eternal being and is larger than anyone can ever fathom! Amen!