MP3: The Mighty Angels of Revelation 1-6
Hosts: Nathan Jones & Vic Batista
The Seven Spirits
Vic Batista: In Revelation 4 and we are introduced to a heavenly scene with angelic beings dwelling in Heaven. They all have different jobs that God has created them to perform.
Nathan Jones: John has been brought up — raptured — to Heaven “in the Spirit.” He then is given a panoramic view of what is going on in Heaven. After the messages to the Seven Churches, he now has been show what is going on up in the very throne-room of God! John is one of the few, just like the Prophet Ezekiel in the Old Testament, who got to see first-hand just what Heaven looks like, and from the very throne-room of God no less. The Apostle Paul was another. Paul years earlier wasn’t given all the revelation that John got to see, but he knew some insights, such as concerning the Rapture.
Not only does Revelation 4 say that John was “in the Spirit” in verse 2, the Holy Spirit that means, he was able to see things so few have been witness to before. When John was up in Heaven, he saw tremendous things such as lightening, thunder, voices, lamps, and the “spirits” of God.
Ask me what the most confusing thing to understand about Heaven is, and I’ll point out Revelation 4:5 where it talks about the “seven Spirits of God,” or the “sevenfold spirits,” as some translations render. I’m not sure if that is a reference to the Holy Spirit or angels who serve the Lord. Some commentators say that the seven spirits are written in lowercase, so they must be angels. Some interpret the seven spirits as solely related to God and it is the Holy Spirit in seven parts. This is way beyond my understanding! I don’t even think that John understood. When we got to Heaven someday, maybe we will understand what John is describing.
The Living Creatures
What is fascinating about this throne-room scene is the type of angels standing before the throne of God. We always picture, maybe because of television, where angels are all white guys with blond curly hair and white wings. They earn those wings by doing good works. Then a bell rings and the angel get his wings. Hollywood has given us these crazy views of angels. Television programs like “Touched by an Angel” and movies like “It’s a Wonderful Life” have contributed to our unbiblical understanding of angels. Television and books and pop culture just don’t have it right when compared to the Bible.
As we read Revelation 4, we discover there are so many varieties of angels. There are angels who look like men. There are angels who look like animals and creatures. There are angels who look like acts of nature, like lightning and thunder. There are little angels. There are giant angels, so big in fact, that some could stand across an ocean!
Even odder, John next describes these four Living Creatures, called seraphim, who stand before the Lord. Revelation 4:6-8 describes them:
“Before the throne of God is a sea of glass, clear as like crystal. And in the midst of the throne and around the throne were four Living Creatures full of eyes in the front and the back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second like a creature like a calf, the third living creature has a face of man, and the fourth living creature looked like a flying eagle. And the four Living Creatures each had six wings who 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!'”
Exactly what are these Living Creatures?
Vic Batista: These Living Creatures are a different order of angels than the others God has created. We see them described in Ezekiel 1 as well.
Nathan Jones: Yes, the four Living Creatures in Ezekiel guide the chariot of God. God’s throne isn’t a stationary throne. It actually has wheels like a chariot and it moves across the heavens. How amazing that God isn’t stationary on His throne, but rather the throne moves! These seraphim have something to do with the locomotion of God’s throne.Nathan Jones: God's throne isn't stationary. It actually has wheels like a chariot and moves… Click To Tweet
The seraphim are also very special angels in that they are the only four that we know of who stand perpetually directly before the throne of God. Each represents a different type of creature, and oddly enough, and this is the weirdest thing, they are all covered in eyes. Kind of creepy! Maybe we won’t be so creeped out when we see them in person one day. But, if you are believer in Jesus Christ, we know that one day you will stand before the throne of God and actually see these creatures face-to-face.
Vic Batista: Amazing! I once was asked, “Vic, do all angels have wings?” That’d be Hollywood’s picture of angels. They have wings and they are very beautiful. But, that’s not what the Bible says, right?
Nathan Jones: We do know these four Living Creatures have wings, six actually. There are other angels who have two wings, and still others who have none whatsoever.
The Shape-shifting Angels
Nathan Jones: Some, if not all, angels have the ability to change their shape. For instance, when the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ appeared before Abraham in the Old Testament, He was called the Angel of the Lord. That was Jesus’ name, or given title, before He was incarnated and born as a man. When Jesus appeared with some angels to Abraham, they looked just like your average Joe.
There were other times, take for instance, when Joshua was standing before an angel who claimed to be the commander of God’s army. He was so brilliantly amazing to look at that Joshua immediately fell down and wanted to start worshiping this angel. He didn’t look like a regular man, rather he looked like a god (lowercase “g”).
So, can all angels come in the form of men? That’s a tough question and many have wondered that. I’d say they don’t all have the ability to cloak themselves in human form, or at the time of their visit, they just didn’t need to change shape.
Vic Batista: In the Bible, the angels aren’t really mentioned often as having wings. When two appeared at the Resurrection, one of the Gospels say that they look like young men, though there was something brilliant about them; there was something awesome in their appearance. Mary Magdalene then knew they were angelic beings, but the angels at the Resurrection didn’t seem to have wings or halos.
In the fourth segment of our series “The Mighty Angels of Revelation,” we’ll continue to look at the angels found in Revelation 4.