Holy, Holy, Holy

“In front of the throne was a shiny sea of glass, sparkling like crystal. In the centre and around the throne were four living beings, each covered with eyes, front and back. The first of these living beings was like a lion; the second was like an ox; the third had a human face; and the fourth was like an eagle in flight. Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty— the One who always was, who is, and who is still to come.””
Revelation‬ ‭4:6-8‬ ‭NLT

The living beings spent day and night calling out about God’s holiness in worship. May God forgive us if we take what they were doing as being boring, as a pointless and repetitive act of telling everyone present what they already knew. We need to unpack and discern what they were saying. The clue is with the eyes. The living being’s eyes were not only capable of seeing what was around them in their “now” but they could also see everything about God – who He is, what He has done, and what He will do. 

The reference to day after day and night after night perhaps indicates an eternal act. The living beings, some think, were angels or seraphim with a special role. They were immortal, created that way, and with the mental capacity to fully understand all that God was capable of. As an aside, satan too was an immortal being; he was one of the most important beings in Heaven and was ejected because of his pride and rebellion. Some think he was Heaven’s principle musician and worship leader, and there are a few clues from the prophecies in Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 13. So the living beings were responsible for what was one of the most important tasks in Heaven – leading the worship of our amazing God. 

The living beings started their song of worship with the repetition of the word “Holy”. The significance of it being sung or spoken three times emphasised how important it was. God’s holiness is interwoven into the very substance of Heaven, and the unholy will have no place there. For eternity the eyes of the living beings will see all, and God’s holiness is apparent. And they finish their song with a reference to God’s eternal presence. It is a difficult and problematic thought for time-bound people, the thought that God has always existed. And these immortal beings had within them, I believe, the knowledge of all that God had ever done and is yet to accomplish. With all that knowledge, what else can they do than praise and worship God?

The worship of God somehow connects our spirits with the Spirit of God. So we worship God privately in our prayer closets and again in our churches and fellowships. Like the living beings, we must never stop worshipping Him. And it’s not just an action of prayer or singing a song. Worship involves all we are and what we do. Living a life of worship connects us continually with our wonderful and amazing Heavenly Father.

Dear Lord God. What else can we do but worship You, the Almighty, the Creator of the Universe. We join the living beings in the Spirit today, deeply grateful for all You have done and for who You are. Amen.

The Seraphim

“In front of the throne was a shiny sea of glass, sparkling like crystal. In the centre and around the throne were four living beings, each covered with eyes, front and back. The first of these living beings was like a lion; the second was like an ox; the third had a human face; and the fourth was like an eagle in flight. Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty— the One who always was, who is, and who is still to come.””
‭Revelation‬ ‭4:6-8‬ ‭NLT

John saw, in his vision, four living beings. He couldn’t really work out what they were but he managed to find enough similarities to associate them with earthly creatures. He could see features he identified with a lion, an ox, a human, and an eagle. But there the similarities ended. 

We must pause for a moment, to reflect on what is really happening. God graciously gave John a glimpse through a door into Heaven, which is a place we will only be eligible to enter once we have left our earthly lives. It’s perhaps a place we can consider as being like a parallel universe from a science fiction novel, but, most importantly, it has a spiritual basis, which provides us with quite a few ideas about Heaven. So John was seeing a spiritual environment, a world if you like, through a human, earth-bound, lens. A bit like a translator hearing someone speak one language, and then translating it to another. The translation can be straightforward while on familiar and simple linguistic grounds, but the translator will start to struggle when ideas or strange concepts are needing to be communicated.

So, bearing that in mind, we have four living beings. Two Old Testament prophets, Ezekiel and Isaiah, also had a glimpse of them. We read in Ezekiel 1:10-12, “Each had a human face in the front, the face of a lion on the right side, the face of an ox on the left side, and the face of an eagle at the back. Each had two pairs of outstretched wings—one pair stretched out to touch the wings of the living beings on either side of it, and the other pair covered its body. They went in whatever direction the spirit chose, and they moved straight forward in any direction without turning around.” And in Isaiah 6:2, “Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew.” So these living beings were perhaps angels, the seraphim in Isaiah’s vision, with a special job to do. They were, in this glimpse, leading Heaven in the worship of God and His Son Jesus. 

What do we pilgrims make of all this? I suppose we can only continue to marvel as we try to get our human minds around the Heavenly vision. But one thing we mustn’t do is to discard these verses and ignore or reject them as being irrelevant. They are are included in the Bible for a reason. And one day what that is will be revealed.

Dear Heavenly Father. As we unfold these pages in Revelation, we pray that You help us understand what is there. We thank You for Your love and care, helping us in our daily walk towards our Heavenly home. Amen.

Living Beings

“In front of the throne was a shiny sea of glass, sparkling like crystal. In the centre and around the throne were four living beings, each covered with eyes, front and back. The first of these living beings was like a lion; the second was like an ox; the third had a human face; and the fourth was like an eagle in flight. Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty— the One who always was, who is, and who is still to come.””
Revelation‬ ‭4:6-8‬ ‭NLT

The complexities of the vision of Heaven continue to unfold before John. He now notices that there is a “shiny sea of glass” before God’s throne. Not any old glass – to John, the effect was as if it was made of crystal and it sparkles, glinting away in the lights that emanate from and around the throne. Perhaps John’s view was tempered by his constant view of the sea around Patmos, the island where he was exiled. A sea sparkling in the sunlight. But he was aware that the crystal sea was something special. John revealed what he thought he saw and he made a stab at describing it, but what was it really? Another feature of Heaven beyond our understanding?

But we now come to the four living beings. They were beyond anything that John had ever seen or experienced, but he tried his best to describe what they looked like. He doesn’t say how big they were, but getting a meaningful perspective in what his glimpse of Heaven revealed would have been difficult without any reference points. But he managed to pick out similarities with earthly creatures. And the first thing that grabbed his attention was that they were covered in eyes. Front and back. We humans have two eyes, and a brain that can process the images we see to provide information about what we are seeing, and with two eyes giving us a stereoscopic, 3D, view of life around us. But imagine what is required when there are so many eyes. Now I know that many insects have compound eyes, giving them images different to our single eyes. But somehow I think that this is different. These beings were in a different league to anything we know or understand on Planet Earth. These beings could see anything, and they had the mental processing power to deal with what they saw. Absolutely fascinating and amazing. 

Back to us pilgrims, standing in John’s shoes, mouths hanging open as the enormity of what John saw starts to sink in. Many people avoid Revelation because it contains images and events that disturbs their world. The thought that there is a real place containing so much that they don’t understand makes them feel uncomfortable. But we pilgrims know we have a loving Heavenly Father, who made us in His image. Spiritually, God placed within us the prerequisites for our lives in Heaven, and has given us the opportunity to connect with Him through His Son, Jesus. We will join Him one day, and what we don’t understand will be explained. In Heaven, our praise and worship of God will be interlaced with our wows of discovery and delight. Heaven will be an amazing place.

Dear Lord God. How can we thank You enough. You have placed Your Spirit within us to help us and prepare us for a life with You. Please forgive us for our waywardness and lack of faith. Amen.