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If I Were Told the Future - Lesson 56

The 24 Elders and the Four Beasts
 

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Welcome to the second part of our study guide! Let’s pray together:

Our Father,

We are now ready to discover what the future holds for us.

First, we must identify the characters who will play an important part in the last moments of the world’s history, beginning with Your servants.

Today, we will study the 24 elders and the four beasts.

Please guide us during this lesson, through the power of Your Holy Spirit working within us. In Jesus Christ we pray.

Amen.




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Revelation 4:2,4,6

Behold, a throne was set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. (...)

And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and on the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. (...)

And in the middle of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.

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In our lesson «Introduction to the Seven Seals», we have seen the heavenly throne and the characters who worship God in that place.

Among them are 24 elders and four beasts, which we did not identify then. Let’s now try to discover who they are.




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Leviticus 19:32

You shall rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man, and fear your God: I am the Lord.

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Revelation 1:13,14

[I saw] One like to the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the breasts with a golden girdle.

His head and His hair were white like wool, as white as snow.

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Let’s begin with the 24 elders.

The picture of an old man calls to mind wisdom and respect.

The white hair of an old man also reminds us of the description of Jesus in the first chapter of Revelation.




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An elder personifies wisdom, experience, sound advice:

«With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding.» (Job 12:12)

«Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask your father, and he will show you; your elders, and they will tell you.» (Deuteronomy 32:7)

«And king Rehoboam took counsel with the old men that had stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, saying, “What counsel give you me to return answer to this people?” And they spoke to him, saying, “If you be kind to this people, and please them, and speak good words to them, they will be your servants for ever.” But he forsook the counsel which the old men gave him.» (2 Chronicles 10:6-8)




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Revelation 4:4

And round about the throne were four and twenty seats.

And on the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment.

And they had on their heads crowns of gold.

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The description of the 24 elders contains three elements which will help us to identify them:

- They are sitting on thrones, around God’s throne.

- They are clothed in white raiment.

- They have crowns of gold on their heads.




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Revelation 3:21

To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My throne.

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Revelation 3:5

He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white raiment.

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Revelation 2:10

Be you faithful to death, and I will give you a crown of life.

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The three elements describing the 24 elders (sitting on a throne, clothed in white raiment, and wearing a crown) also appear in the letters to the seven churches.

All these three are things Jesus promised to him who overcomes.




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Matthew 27:51-53

And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent.

And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared to many.

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Who are the victors represented by the 24 elders?

The Bible says that, at Jesus’ death, many saints rose from the dead. What happened to these saints afterwards?




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Ephesians 4:8 [RSV]

Therefore it is said,

«When He ascended on high He led a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.»

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Isaiah 24:23

The Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously.

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When He ascended to heaven, Jesus took these saints with Him, as the first fruits of His risen people.

This group thus makes up the first part of the 24 elders, representing God’s people under the Old Covenant.




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Luke 22:28-30

[Jesus said to His apostles,] «You are they which have continued with Me in My temptations.

And I appoint to you a kingdom, as My Father has appointed to Me; that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.»

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Matthew 19:28

And Jesus said to them, «Truly I say to you, that you which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, you also shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.»

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The second part of the 24 elders is made up of the twelve apostles, judging Israel, and representing God’s people under the New Covenant.




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Daniel 7:9-11,13,14

I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of Days did sit. (...) The judgment was set, and the books were opened.

I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spoke: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. (...)

And, behold, One like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him.

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The 24 elders are judges taking part in the first work of judgment, which began in 1844, and which goes on until the return of Jesus.




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Matthew 19:28

You which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, you also shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

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1 Peter 4:17

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God.

And if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

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So judgment begins «at the house of God», that is, with Israel of the Old Covenant, and the Church of the New Covenant.

The 24 elders, representing these two covenants, assist Jesus in His work of judgment.




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1 John 5:7

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

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Revelation 7:1

I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth.

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The number of the elders, that is, 24, or 2 x 12, also carries a symbolic meaning.

In fact, the number 12, or 3 x 4, symbolizes the alliance between God (associated with number 3) and the earth (associated with number 4).




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Revelation 12:1

And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

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Revelation 21:12

And [the New Jerusalem] had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.

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Symbolizing the alliance between God and men, the book of Revelation uses the number 12 to represent the pure Church and the kingdom of God.




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Revelation 4:3,4

There was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like to an emerald.

And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and on the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting.

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Genesis 9:12,13

And God said,

«This is the token of the covenant which I make between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between Me and the earth.»

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Besides the number 12, the rainbow near the 24 elders is another sign, dating back to Noah, of this alliance between God and men.




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1 Chronicles 24:3,5,7,18,19

And David distributed them, both Zadok of the sons of Eleazar, and Ahimelech of the sons of Ithamar, according to their offices in their service. (...)

Thus were they divided by lot. (...) Now the first lot came forth to Jehoiarib, the second to Jedaiah, (...) the four and twentieth to Maaziah.

These were the orderings of them in their service to come into the house of the Lord, according to their manner, under Aaron their father, as the Lord God of Israel had commanded him.

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The number 24 also calls to mind the service of the sanctuary, which was performed by 24 groups of priests who assisted the High Priest.




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Revelation 5:8-10

The four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints.

And they sung a new song, saying,

«You are worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and have made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.»

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Likewise, the 24 elders assist Jesus, our High Priest, in His work of intercession in the heavenly sanctuary.




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1 Chronicles 25:6-9,31

All these were under the hands of their father for song in the house of the Lord, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps, for the service of the house of God. (...)

So the number of them, with their brothers that were instructed in the songs of the Lord, even all that were cunning, was two hundred fourscore and eight.

And they cast lots, ward against ward, as well the small as the great, the teacher as the scholar.

Now the first lot came forth for Asaph to Joseph: the second to Gedaliah, who with his brothers and sons were twelve; (...) The four and twentieth to Romamtiezer, he, his sons, and his brothers, were twelve.

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Finally, the number 24 calls to mind the worship service in the sanctuary.

That service was performed by 24 groups of 12 Levites (288 Levites) singing and playing harps.




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Revelation 4:10

The four and twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that lives for ever and ever.

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Revelation 5:8,9

The four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints.

And they sung a new song, saying, «You are worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof.»

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Likewise, the 24 elders participate, by singing and playing harps, in the worship service taking place in the heavenly sanctuary.




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Revelation 4:6,9

In the middle of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. (...)

Those beasts give glory and honor and thanks to Him that sat on the throne, who lives for ever and ever.

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Now, let’s move on to the four beasts.

Like the 24 elders, they participate in the worship service which takes place in the heavenly sanctuary.

Who are these four beasts?




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This parallel shows that the four beasts are four angels (seraphim)




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The four beasts look like the four angels in Ezekiel:

«In the middle of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.» (Revelation 4:6,7)

«Every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. (...) 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 the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.» (Ezekiel 1:6,10)

«Their whole body, and their backs, and their hands, and their wings, and the wheels, were full of eyes round about. (...) And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.» (Ezekiel 10:12,14)




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Revelation 5:6

I beheld, and, see, in the middle of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the middle of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain.

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The four beasts, like the 24 elders, are closely linked with Jesus Christ.

The appearance of the four beasts even displays many traits of character belonging to Jesus, as we will see in the following verses...




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Revelation 4:7

The first beast was like a lion.

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Revelation 5:5

One of the elders said to me, «Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.»

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Hosea 11:10

They shall walk after the Lord: He shall roar like a lion.

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Similar to a lion, the first beast calls to mind Jesus Christ’s majesty, power, and dominion.




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Revelation 4:7

The second beast [was] like a calf.

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Isaiah 53:3,4

He is despised and rejected of men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.

Surely He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.

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Similar to a calf, the second beast calls to mind the patience of Jesus, who silently bore the sufferings which give us salvation.




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Proverbs 14:4

Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.

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Deuteronomy 8:17,18

You say in your heart, «My power and the might of my hand has gotten me this wealth.»

But you shall remember the Lord your God: for it is He that gives you power to get wealth.

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The calf, or the ox, also reminds us that Jesus is the great Supplier: He is the One to whom we owe everything, both on the earth and in eternal life.




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Revelation 4:7

The third beast had a face as a man.

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Isaiah 11:2

The Spirit of the Lord shall rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding (...).

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Hebrews 2:18

For in that He Himself has suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted.

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Similar to a man, the third beast calls to mind Jesus’ wisdom, but also His humanity, which enables Him to understand our weaknesses.




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Revelation 4:7

The fourth beast was like a flying eagle.

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Job 34:21

For His eyes are on the ways of man, and He sees all his goings.

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Jeremiah 32:19

Your eyes are open on all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

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Similar to an eagle, the fourth beast calls to mind Jesus’ insight, which enables Him to judge each one of us with righteousness.




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The four beasts all display Jesus’ royalty




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Revelation 15:7

And one of the four beasts gave to the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever.

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Revelation 11:16-18

And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell on their faces, and worshipped God, saying, (...)

«Your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged.»

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So, the 24 elders and the four beasts take part in the first part of the judgment, which ends with the pouring-out of God’s wrath, and the return of Jesus.

Now, who will assist Jesus in the second part of the judgment?




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Revelation 20:4

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them.

And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark on their foreheads, or in their hands.

And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

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All God’s people, risen at Jesus’ return, will take over and assist Jesus in the second part of the judgment that will take place during the Millennium.

This second part of the judgment will concern all those who rejected God and His offer of salvation in Jesus Christ.




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Revelation 19:1,4,6

After these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, «Alleluia! Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, to the Lord our God!» (...)

And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, «Amen! Alleluia!» (...)

And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunder, saying, «Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!»

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Let’s always remain faithful to Jesus and soon our voices will join those of the 24 elders and the four creatures proclaiming God’s eternal kingdom.




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Let’s thank God for His presence among us:

Lord,

Your Word says that «the four and twenty elders (...) cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power.”» (Revelation 4:10,11).

We are eagerly waiting for the day when we also cast our crowns at Your feet, praising You for having given us the gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ.

In His precious name we pray.

Amen.


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