What About The Four Creatures?

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. 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. 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.” Revelation 4:6b – 8

Jim and Kevin wondered if the faces of the four creatures might relate to Israel somehow or if that idea, which they remembered hearing before, really had any validity. Again, what do we know? We see simile again; the first creature was like a lion. But, what significance can we see in them? Well, we saw the relation to the common thread running through chapter 4 and that is God receiving glory in all of creation. So, what about the appearance of the four creatures and their relation to Israel in the wilderness? Actually, Beale finds a source in the Targums and provides an application here:

The tribes of Israel were divided into four groups in the wilderness, and each group was located at one of the four directions of the compass, with the sanctuary in the middle of the camp. According to Targ. Pal. Num. 2 each group had a standard with the colors of the stones representing their tribes on the priest’s breastplate and with an insignia on it: a lion, a stag (originally an ox), a man, and a serpent (which later tradition changed to an eagle). Later Jewish tradition affirmed that this configuration was intended to reflect the arrangement of the four guardian angels around the divine throne… it could suggest further that the living creatures in Rev. 4:8ff represent humanity, especially the worship of the ideal community of God. The Book of Revelation pg. 331

On the identification of the creatures with the four gospels, George Eldon Ladd gives us a brief synopsis for those who may want to track these down:

From early times, these four creatures have been thought to represent the four gospels. Irenaeus… thought that the lion represented John, the ox Luke, the man Matthew, and the Eagle Mark. Victorinus… followed by Jerome … changed the order. The lion was Matthew, the man Mark, the ox Luke, and the eagle John. Such interpretations are interesting… A Commentary of the Revelation of John pp. 77 & 78

John Walvoord gives us a very good discussion on the four creatures in The Revelation of Jesus Christ pp.108 – 112 and comes to virtually the same conclusion as Beale, Alan Johnson and Robert Mounce; the creatures are angelic or heavenly beings, reflecting God’s majesty, “fullness of life and power.”


  1. Assorted Babble by Suzie said:

    Thanks for posting this. I watch John Hagee quite often at Cornerstone Church and he preaches on prophecy and the latter days.

    In other references to the animals, I understand the Lion to be England and the Bear Russia (directly north of the center of our world in Jersalem)etc. We are definitely seeing all things come to past. People just do not get it or open their eyes to see what is happening. Actually it is very sad.

    Ever since the pull-out of the West Bank and Gaza…the disasters have escalated. The road map to peace, I do not agree with as far as our politics. This of course is all my opinion. All of Israel belongs to God’s people the Jews.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    December 8, 2005
  2. Assorted Babble by Suzie said:

    Merry Christmas Bo…wishing you and your family a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

    God Bless your family….

    December 23, 2005
  3. rmpltuskn said:

    I just stumbled across your blog after seeing your comment on zombieslayer. I can’t wait to go back and read through your archives. As a woman who asked Jesus into my life at 13, and was raised in the church, I’m just amazed at how very, very little anyone wants to talk about ‘end times’. Thanks for putting this out here.



    February 1, 2006
  4. Bo Salisbury said:

    Hey, Jolene!

    Glad you could drop in… I apologize for the few posts, but believe it or not, I was thinking the minute before I got your comment that I need to get serious about this. In our Bible study, we are already in chapter 6 of Revelation and there’s plenty to talk about. So, Lord willin’, there may be some discussion goin’ on here 🙂

    February 1, 2006
  5. Assorted Babble by Suzie said:

    Bo, I just ordered the new book by John Hagee Jerusalem Showdown….I can’t wait until it arrives. We are seeing things so clearly now unfold in a rapid speed with Iran and Russia laying out the ground work…etc.

    February 19, 2006
  6. 1:1 said:

    you must read “End Times Simplified” by Dave Sliker…****** also check this site http://www.ihop.org

    May 27, 2008

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

+ 12 = 18

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.