And the four living creatures (around the throne of God), each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever.
They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
(Revelation 4 ESV)
It is so easy to approach The Revelation to John and focus on all the wild, dramatic things that happen in it, while completely missing the main thing. Someone once said, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." Just in this brief excerpt from Revelation 4 we are introduced to 4 living creatures (whatever those may be) and 24 elders (whoever they were). The living creatures are phantasmagorical beings that look kind of like a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle. If we compare John’s “trip” with the one Isaiah had (Isaiah 6), the fact that they each had six wings leads us to conclude that these are the Seraphim (er… whatever those might be).
I have sat through endless seminars and Bible studies, both live and on TV, that attempted to unravel the mysteries of The Revelation. Do the living creatures represent four great empires? Are the Elders the 12 sons of Jacob plus the 12 Apostles? Great questions, all.
But none of that is important by comparison to what John testifying to. Remember the testimony! “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
Who cares who said that or what a creature with eyes all around and within might look like? God is thrice holy. He was and is and is to come. He is trinity. Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one! God is entirely mighty. There is no lack of strength or power or perfection in him. THAT is what we need to know from the Revelation.
“Fall down before him, love and adore him”, as the old Gaither song goes. Does it really matter who the Elders are? What matters is that those with wisdom (elders), when they are confronted with God seated on his throne, no matter how great their position has been beforehand, fall down before the throne and worship the Lord. Elders become completely submissive in the presence of a Holy, Eternal God.
What are the crowns they wear? What do those look like? Paul talks about the church at Philippi as his “joy and crown.” Are the jewels in your crown real jewels or are they the souls of men and women you’ve introduced to the Savior? Or is a bejeweled crown of such little value in the presence of God that it becomes a complete “throw away”. The Elders cast down their crowns because the one on the Throne is so much more glorious than any honor that has ever come to them that they simply discard the symbol of their own honor. Only HE is worthy of a crown.
All the imagery is nothing. Figuring out what it all looked like is nothing. The order of events in the end times is nothing. ALL that matters is giving glory and honor to God.
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy Name, in earth and sky and sea;
Holy, holy, holy! merciful and mighty!
God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity.
-- Reginald Heber (1827)