FRIDAY MORNING MANNA
Biblical Numerology: NUMBER FOUR & FORTY– Part XI
The Four Special Beast/Creatures of Ezekiel and Revelation
“Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants, the prophets.” Amos 3 7, K.J.V.
“We also have the prophetic word made sure, which you would do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first that no prophecy is of private interpretation [or origin], for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1, 19, 20, N.K.J.V.
“And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” 1 Cor. 14: 32, 33.
“Yes, all of you be submissive one to another, and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5: 5-7.
The Holy Spirit spoke through Ezekiel
“‘I am the Good Shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.’ I am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine. As the Father knoweth Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.’____.
“Again Jesus found access to the minds of His hearers by the pathway of their familiar associations. He had likened the Spirit’s influence to the cool, refreshing water. He had represented Himself as the light, the source of life and gladness to nature and to man. Now in a beautiful pastoral picture He represents His relation to those that believe on Him. No picture was more familiar to His hearers than this, and Christ’s words linked it forever with Himself. Never could the disciples look on the shepherds tending their flocks without recalling the Savior’s lesson. They would see Christ in each faithful shepherd. They would see themselves in each helpless and dependent flock.
“This figure the prophet Isaiah had applied to the Messiah’s mission, in the comforting words [Isa. 40: 9-11 quoted]. David had sung: ‘The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.’ Ps. 23: 1. And the Holy Spirit through Ezekiel had declared: I will set up one Shepherd over them, and He shall feed them.’ ‘I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick.’ ‘And I will make with them a covenant of peace.’ ‘And they shall be no more a prey to the heathen; . . . .but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid.’ Ezek. 34: 23, 16, 25, 28, K.J.V.”- E. G. White, The Desire of Ages, “The Divine Shepherd” ch. 52, p. 477.
The Book of Ezekiel is deeply instructive
“The word of God is the most perfect educational book in our world. Yet in our colleges and schools, books produced by human intellect have been presented for the study of our students, and the Book of books, which God has given to men to be an infallible guide, has been made a secondary matter. Human productions have been used as most essential and the word of God has been studied simply to give flavor to other studies.
Isaiah describes the scenes of heaven’s glory that were presented to him, in most vivid language. All through this book he pictures glorious things that are to be revealed to others. Ezekiel writes: ‘The word of the Lord came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the Lord was there upon him. And I looked, and behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures.
“And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And everyone had four faces, and everyone had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot; and they sparkled like the color of burnished brass. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went everyone straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had a face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.’ The book of Ezekiel is deeply instructive.” [Remember the significance of number four that we cited at the outset of this series on the Bible numeric system?]
“The Bible is designed of God to be the Book by which the understanding may be disciplined, the soul guided and directed. To be in the world and yet to be not of the world [John 17: 14-17], is a problem that many professed Christians have never worked out in their practical life. Enlargement of mind will come to a nationonly as men return to their allegiance God. The world is flooded with books on general information, and men apply their minds in searching uninspired histories; but they neglect the most wonderful book that can give them the most correct ideas and ample understanding.” – Ibid, Review & Herald, Feb. 25, 1896/ Fundamentals of Christian Education, pp. 395-6.
Who are these four living creatures with faces like “a man, lion, ox, and an eagle”?
For further insight, as “prophets are subject to the prophets” (1 Cor. 14: 32) compare Ezekiel’s description of the “four living beast-creatures” with John’s vision recorded in Rev. 4: 6, 8, 9; 5: 6, 8, 11, 14; 6: 1, 6; 7:11; 14: 3; 15: 7; 19: 4. In the Authorized Version these “four living creatures” as mentioned in the NKJV, NIV, RSV., etc., are called “the four beasts.” They are mentioned 12 times in the Apocalypse and always, evidently to help clarify their special role in connection with the “four and twenty elders,” who likely are, according to the guarded opinions of other Bible commentators and students (including this writer) are special representatives of earth made up of resurrected holy men, who, not only work in harmonious subjection with and to the four creature/beings” in the highest, holiest, most solemn, reverent yet the most joyful and worship and adoration of God upon His great throne, with even more special services conducted during the Sabbath day but are also members of the jury as it were since the opening of the progressive pre-advent or investigative judgment that commenced in 1844 (Dan. 8: 14). They are constantly at the great white throne of God.
These four creatures or “beasts” are definitely creatures—not creators—and since God in Christ created all things by Him and for Him “that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.” Col. 1: 15, 16. God created everything to serve a specific purpose, the highest which is to glorify God.
He was the one who created these four special creatures/beasts who exclusively reside in the very presence of God’s great white throne. Angels were created as “ministering spirits” throughout the whole universe, the earth in particular that He created first for Adam, the only being created in His image and likeness, the crowning act of His creative power. Adam was His masterpiece, and, vice-gerent until the fall. Man not only lost the image and likeness of his Creator, he was banished from his Eden home and barred access to the fruit of the tree of life which God invested with properties to perpetuate life, lost his sovereignty over the whole earth and everything both animate and inanimate which God made for him, having ceded this sovereignty to Satan by yielding to his temptation. This is how and why Christ addresses Satan as “the prince of this world” till he is eternally destroyed.
“The great plan of redemption results in fully bringing back the world into God’s favor. All that was lost by sin is restored. Not only man but the earth is redeemed, to be the eternal abode of the obedient. For six thousand years, Satan has struggled to maintain possession of the earth. Now [at the end of the 6,000 years] God’s original purpose in its creation is accomplished. ‘The saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.” [Dan. 7: 18].” – E. G. White, Patriarchs & Prophets,p. 342.
“The true object of education is to restore the image of God in the soul, In the beginning God created man in His own likeness. He endowed him with noble qualities. His mind was well balanced., and all the powers of his being were harmonious. But the fall and its effects have perverted these gifts. . . . To bring him back to the perfection in which he was first created, is the great object of life,—the object that underlies every other. It is the work of parents and teachers, in the education of the youth, to co-operate with the divine purpose; and in so doing they are ‘laborers together with God.’[1 Cor. 3: 9].”- Ibid, p. 595.
Several Bible commentators suggest that the “24 elders” are composed of those who resurrected with Christ “and went to witness in the holy city [Jerusalem] and appeared to many.” Matt. 27: 52, 53. And it makes spiritual sense. Twelve is the number of God’s purpose: 12 patriarchs, 12 tribes, 12 disciples, 12 gates, 12 stars, 12 angels, 12 foundations, 12 manner of fruit, etc. Number 2 is the number of unity. 12 times 2 is 24. “In the mouth of two or three witnesses truth is established.” Deut. 17: 6; 19: 15; Dan. 3: 12-30; Matt. 17: 1-4; 18: 16, 20; 2 Cor. 13: 1; 1 Tim. 5: 19; Heb. 10: 28; Rev. 11: 3.
Our first New Testament introduction to these four beasts/creatures is found in Revelation 4: 1-11. We present Edwin Thiele’s Outline Studies in Revelation, pp. 97-98, as the Introduction of Revelation 4, An Exhaustive Ellen G. White Commentary on Revelation, Vol. 2, p. 669:
“The Vision of the Four Beasts and 24 Elders Around God’s Throne.
“The brief picture given of the four living creatures in the fourth chapter of Revelation reveals little concerning their exact nature and responsibilities. [However] by putting all the available information some idea may be secured of their functions. Their closeness to the throne would indicate that they are personages of great importance. They stand and minister in the very presence of God. They are close to the throne than the four and twenty elders. They are on the four sides of the throne. All that the throne stands for, they stand for. They have eyes everywhere, so they see everything and are able to report and direct with perfect knowledge and wisdom. It is they who lead in the worship before God’s throne, for it is when they have raised their voices in glory and praise that the four and twenty elders fall down in adoration before the Creator of heaven and earth. They are four-fold in character, combining the wisdom and insight of all the orders of creation—the reason, intelligence, and devotion, and spiritual ardor of man; the majesty, courage, and boldness of the lion;the submissiveness, patience and strength of the ox; and the vision, keenness of sight, swiftness of action, and striking power of the eagle . . . .
“While the elders are representatives of man to God, the living creatures are representatives of God to man. While the elders are counselors with God, the living creatures are observers for God and executors of divine decrees. While the service of the elders is with God in heaven, the service of the living creatures is both in the great sanctuary in heaven and among the sinners and righteous of earth. ‘of the angels, he saith, Who maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire?’ Heb. 1: 7. While the living creatures may be regarded as of the angels they may more properly be regarded as above the angels, the living ones at the side of God and at the command of God, ready to be instantly dispatched to any part of this world or God’s great universe. They are at all points of the compass, in command of all God’s activities silently and unseen, directing the affairs of the earth according to the plans of heaven.” – Edwin Thiele, Outline Studies in Revelation, pp. 97-98.
(To be continued next week)