This series on the book of Revelation is defining the prophesy by looking into the source code. The source code for Revelation, and all of the New Testament (NT), is the Old Testament (OT). The NT is the OT revealed! By decoding the component pieces of the prophesy we can better understand and identify the intent of the prophesy, its time in history (as discussed in Part I), the subjects of the prophesy and the judgments pronounced against them.
Part II of this series decoded the nature symbols for “earth,” “sea,” “heaven,” “sun,” “moon,” “falling stars,” “trees,” “grass,” “earthquakes,” “thunder and lightning,” “air,” and “water.” All of these are symbols which God used in prophetic language, and do not have the commonly understood definitions normally applied in our everyday life.
Part III decoded many of the colors and numbers of the book, and provided some insight into the events that occurred in the judgment of those who pierced our Lord and Savior.
In this Part IV we will rely upon OT scriptures for the source of the meanings of some of the visions surrounding the throne scene of Revelation chapters 4 and 5. Remember that these are highly symbolic, and the temptation is to invest too much dependence upon a literal image.
1. Trumpet – Rev. 1:10; 4:1; 8:2, 6, 13; 9:14 – calling the people to assemble; announcements from God; sounding the battle cry; warning of approaching attack; triumph over enemies; victory cry
Num. 10:2, “Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps.”
Judges 7:20, “And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon.”
Neh. 4:20, “In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us.”
Psa. 47:5, “God hath gone up with a shout, Jehovah with the sound of a trumpet.”
Isa. 18:3, “All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth, see ye, when he lifteth up an ensign on the mountains; and when he bloweth a trumpet, hear ye.”
Ez. 33:3-5, “If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; 4 Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.”
Joel 2:1, “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand;”
1 Cor. 14:8, “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?“
The trumpet of God’s word, His warning had sounded from John the baptizer, from Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah; from the apostles and those of the believers throughout the intervening years following Christ’s crucifixion; to the Revelation of Jesus Christ sent to John preceding the “at hand” fall of Jerusalem. The rebellious Jews did not heed the warnings, and the judgment God prophesied came upon them just as He said it would.
2. Throne of God – Rev. Chap. 4 & 5 – the judgment seat of God
When God is seated upon His throne, He is holding court, and pronouncing judgment. Represented in the tabernacle and temple as the mercy seat in the holy of holies where the high priest would meet with God to receive His commandments (Ex. 25:22).
Dan. 7:9, “I was seeing till that thrones have been thrown down, and the Ancient of Days is seated, His garment as snow [is] white, and the hair of his head [is] as pure wool, His throne flames of fire, its wheels burning fire.” (YLT)
These “wheels of burning fire” are the wheels of Ez. chap. 1 and 10. This scene parallels Isa. Chap. 6 and Ezekiel Chap. 1 -2.
Isa. 6:1, “ In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.”
Ez. 1:26, “ And above the expanse that [is] over their head, as an appearance of a sapphire stone, [is] the likeness of a throne, and on the likeness of the throne a likeness, as the appearance of man upon it from above.” (YLT)
It is the same appearance as in the mount with Moses, Aaron and his sons, and the seventy elders:
Ex. 24:10, “ and they see the God of Israel, and under His feet [is] as the white work of the sapphire, and as the substance of the heavens for purity;” (YLT)
The descriptions of the throne, of the living creatures with the four faces, and four or six wings, the pronouncements of God in thunder and lightning, and the instruction to the prophet of what he is to tell the people are all repeated in these chapters of Revelation.
3. Rainbow – Rev. 4:3 10:1 – it surrounds the throne of God, and it surrounds the head of the angel in chap. 10.
The rainbow is there for a reason, and it is significant. This was the covenant promise God made with Noah that He would never again destroy all flesh off the face of the earth by the flood of the waters. (Gen. 9:9-17) That it appears around the throne of God in Rev. 4:3, and again around the “strong messenger” (Christ) of Rev. 10:1 brings into mind God’s promise.
Specifically, it means that the judgment God prophesied was a limited judgment, not world-wide. The prophesy was for a specific group of people in specific nations / territories, and was to come upon the enemies of God. This judgment was pronounced upon those who had pierced Christ (Rev. 1:7) and persecuted His church. (Deu. 30:7; 1 Thess. 2:14-15)
Ez. 1:26-28, “And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. 27 And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. 28 As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.” (KJV)
Floods became a symbol of destruction, and were used by God in prophetic language to compare with invasions of foreign armies. (See. Is. 28:2; 59:19; Jer. 46:7-8; 47:2; Dan. 9:26; 11:2; and many others.)
The rainbow surrounding the throne and Christ are meant to comfort those that are in Christ, in His church, the saints. The promise extends to all of us who are covered by the blood of our Savior. The judgment would not wipe out all man-kind.
Therefore, Revelation is not about the “end of the world” for which so many people of our time seem to hope.
4. Four living creatures – Rev. 4:6, 8, 9; 5:6, 8, 11, 14; 6:1, 6; 7:11; 14:3; 15:7; 19:4
The KJV translates these as “beasts,” which is a meaning given in Strong’s, but which is not the context of these scriptures. These are of a completely different office and nature than of the predator beasts of chapters 13 – 20. These are the living creatures who are the agents of God, with the characteristics of God as described in Ez. chap. 1, and are correctly translated so in Young’s Literal Translation of the above verses.
Rev. 4:6-7, ” and before the throne [is] a sea of glass like to crystal, and in the midst of the throne, and round the throne, [are] four living creatures, full of eyes before and behind; 7 and the first living creature [is] like a lion, and the second living creature [is] like a calf, and the third living creature hath the face as a man, and the fourth living creature [is] like an eagle flying.” (YLT)
Compare with Ezekiel’s description:
Ez. 1:5, 10; “ And out of its midst [is] a likeness of four living creatures, and this [is] their appearance; a likeness of man [is] to them,” ….. “10 As to the likeness of their faces, the face of a man, and the face of a lion, toward the right [are] to them four, and the face of an ox on the left [are] to them four, and the face of an eagle [are] to them four.” (YLT)
These are the same which Ezekiel identifies as the cherubim of Ez. 1:15, 20:
”15And the cherubs are lifted up, it [is] the living creature that I saw by the river Chebar.“…..20It [is] the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river Chebar, and I know that they are cherubs.”
(A grammatical point: in the Hebrew the plural of cherub is cherubim, not cherubs. You may see it either way.)
Isa. 6:2 calls them “seraphim:”
” Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” (KJV)
These are burning ones symbolizing judgment of God. God’s fury is fire (Ex. 3:2; Psa 21:9; Nah.1:6; Heb 12:29), and these have a burning flame described in Ez. 1:13 as coals of fire, and burning lamps going up and down their bodies. Isaiah sees them with six wings, whereas Ezekiel sees four wings and four faces. They fly where God wills them to go (Ez. 1:12, 20). They hand out coals of fire, which are the judgments from God (Is. 6:6; Ez. 10:2, 7)
See Ez. 10:2, “And he spake unto the man clothed with linen, and said, Go in between the wheels, even under the cherub, and fill thine hand with coals of fire from between the cherubims, and scatter them over the city. And he went in in my sight.” (KJV)
They are represented in the wilderness tabernacle over the mercy seat in the holy of holies (Ex. 25: 18-20), which is a representation of the throne of God.
Ex. 25:22, “And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.” (KJV)
And we go back to Gen. 3:24, “ So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”
They are guardians, agents / angels of God, bearing his chariot in Ezekiel, and constantly doing the will of the Almighty.
Ezekiel saw them with each having four faces. Faces are aspects, appearances, what they look like to others who see them. These living creatures were beside God at His throne, and surrounded Christ. They reflected the appearance and image of Christ.
Christ is the King of Kings (1 Tim. 6:15), the lion is a symbol of kingship. Christ was the sacrifice for all who will call upon Him; the ox, or calf was one of the animals frequently sacrificed under the old law. Christ became a man to be able to perfect all of us in Him, which is the representation of a man’s face on the living creatures. Christ’s judgment is swift and certain; the aspect / face of the eagle; possibly also reflecting sovereignty and deity.
According to Hebrew tradition, their faces represented the tribes of Israel around the tabernacle; the lion that of Judah, with Issachar and Zabulon on the east of the camp; the ox / calf that of Ephraim on the west side, with Manasseh and Benjamin; the man was the emblem of Reuben, who was camped on the south with Gad and Simeon; and the eagle that of Dan, encamped on the north with Asher and Naphtali.
This view is secondary to the higher symbolism that reflects the nature of Christ. However, it is interesting that the armies God usually used to bring judgment against Israel most often came from the north. The eagle was the emblem of swift, swooping justice, and being on the north side of the camp might have indicated the direction of God’s judgment. (Isa. 14:31; Jer. 4:6; 6:22; Jer. 50:9; Ez. 1:4; 26:7; etc.).
Ez. 1:24 says that the noise of their wings is “as the voice of the Almighty.” They appeared out of the midst of the glowing amber fire which was in the whirlwind cloud of the north in Ez. 1:4, and which is the same glowing amber fire if Ez. 1:27, and is described as the “appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord” in Ez.1:28.
The image of these all involve fire, and specifically the fire of God’s judgment.
That these creatures were full of eyes (Rev. 4:6, Ez. 1:18) symbolizes the omniscience of God, that He sees everything. Nothing we do is hidden from Him.
5. The scroll sealed with seven seals – Rev. Chap. 5.
The correct meaning is “scroll”, a rolled parchment with writing and engravings on both sides. The English translation of the word “book” was unknown until the printing press was invented in the 15th century A.D. Scrolls were typically kept in the king’s treasury, or a library. They symbolized knowledge and wisdom.
This scroll was to be opened by the Lamb of God who came up before the throne.
Dan. 7:13-14, “I was seeing in the visions of the night, and lo, with the clouds of the heavens as a son of man was [one] coming, and unto the Ancient of Days he hath come, and before Him they have brought him near. 14 And to him is given dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, and all peoples, nations, and languages do serve him, his dominion [is] a dominion age-during, that passeth not away, and his kingdom that which is not destroyed.” (YLT)
This is the depiction of Rev. 5:7-9, where Christ comes to the Ancient of Days to open the scroll and to reveal the prophesy…. the revelation of Jesus Christ! He was in the midst of the throne scene as though just slain…“ a Lamb hath stood as it had been slain,”
The timing of this is important as it is the throne scene of Dan 7, and Rev. 4-5, which are both the same throne scene and which occurred after the crucifixion of Christ at His ascension. That means that Daniel’s prophesy was speaking of the first century A.D. events of the Messiah and His church, the latter days of the old covenant.
6. The seven seals – Rev. 5:1 – seals are used to prove, and authenticate authorship, with a signet ring often set in wax.
Dan. 12:9, “And he saith, `Go, Daniel; for hidden and sealed [are] the things till the time of the end;” (YLT)
It was God who sealed the scroll, not Daniel. Daniel was given a sneak peek (described in Dan 9:24-12:13) at the things that would happen to his people and his holy city -the Jews and Jerusalem in their latter days, but they were to be hidden / sealed away from the people till the time they were needed.
At His ascension, Christ received the scroll from God who had authored and sealed it. He was opening them, revealing the information, showing John who would then tell the churches what was about to happen to them.
The very act of breaking the seals meant the time for the end had come! As the seals were opened they brought forth seven judgments upon the land and people. The breaking of the seventh seal brought seven more woes.
Remember Lev. 26:18, “ And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.”
The first four seals revealed four horses with riders in different colors (see Part II for the color symbols), and all are bringing war and battle. Horses were used by kings for battle, and the warriors had their shields, swords, and bows. This imagery is used in Zech. 6:1-8 where war chariots full of war horses brought down judgments of God upon four empires.
The four chariots of Zech. chap. 6 were four kingdoms. The colors of the horses signified the different kingdoms and their armies which succeeded one after the other, and may very well parallel the four kingdoms of Dan. chap. 2 and 7. The grisled, or mixed colored horses of Zech 6:3 compares with the mixed feet and toes of the fourth kingdom in Dan. 2:41-43, and again with the exceeding strong beast with teeth of iron in Dan. 7:7. (See Clarke’s Commentary on Zech. Chap. 6)
The Roman empire was a mixed empire; part republican senate, and part dictatorial Caesar, all with mixed composition of all of the previous nations and peoples it had conquered. It was both weak and strong.
It was in the days of this fourth kingdom, the Roman empire, when Christ’s kingdom was established. (Dan. 2:44; 7:9-14, 18, 27; Is. 2:2, Micah 4:1-2)
It was during this Roman empire, the fourth kingdom of Dan. 2 that Christ appeared on earth, and during which Christ ascended to the Ancient of Days (Dan. 7:13-14), during which the saints of the Most High took possession of the everlasting kingdom (Dan. 7:22, 27), and during which judgment sat, that is began (Dan. 7:26).
All of which is the judgment that began at the house of God in Jerusalem (1 Pet. 4:17), and was carried out against Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Christ has been ruling at the right hand of the Father, and judging the nations with a rod of iron ever since. (Psa. 2:9; John 5:22; Rev. 2:27; 12:5; 19:15)
Remember the previous articles which have a great many more references from the Old Testament for the evidences of the fulfillment of the prophesies in the first century A.D., especially the ten parts of “It’s Not The End of The World”, and “The Seventy Weeks of Daniel Chap. 9”.
Sources: KJV and Young’s (YLT) All bold emphasis is mine.
Further reading: Understanding Prophetic Symbols