Rev. Mark H. Creech
Revelation Chapter 4: Worship and the four creatures before God’s throne
By Rev. Mark H. Creech
November 4, 2022

The late Dr. Billy Graham, the worldwide renowned Christian evangelist, asked, “What is heaven? It’s the home that God created, and he possesses. His throne room is his headquarters from which he issues his commands, directions, and prophecies.”

In Revelation chapter 4, the apostle John is lifted on high to the throne room of God, where the Lord is about to show him what will happen during the earth’s last days.

Around God’s throne John sees other worldly things – 24 elders with crowns on their heads – lightning and thundering and voices from the throne – an emerald rainbow – seven torches burning – a sea of glass like crystal – and four creatures.

The scripture reads:

    In the center 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."

    Whenever the living beings give glory and honor and thanks to the one sitting on the throne (the One who lives forever and ever), the twenty-four elders fall down and worship the one sitting on the throne (the One who lives forever and ever). And they lay their crowns before the throne and say,

    "You are worthy, O Lord our God,

    to receive glory and honor and power.

    For you created all things,

    and they exist because you created what you pleased" (Revelation 4:6-11).

The four creatures around the throne remind us of characters from a Marvel Comic book, but they aren’t fictional or cartoonish. These beings are real and of great significance and power. Otherwise, they would not be central to God’s place of government.

In Reveling through Revelation, the late Dr. J. Vernon McGee, radio Bible teacher extraordinaire, says:

“These creatures, of the highest intelligence, are in God’s presence. They resemble the cherubim of Ezekiel 1:5-10; 10:20 and the seraphim of Isaiah 6:2-3. Are they a new order of creatures in heaven that have not been revealed before in scripture?”

It’s a bit difficult to nail down. However, their appearance suggests they function as witnesses to Christ’s four-fold ministry throughout eternity.

One has the face of a lion, a symbol of divine majesty – the same portrait of Christ given in Matthew’s account as the lion of the tribe of Judah – the King of kings – the Messiah of the world.

Another has the face of a young ox – a calf – the same picture presented in Mark’s account of Christ as Deity condescending to graciously serve humanity – the one who “came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

Still, another has the face of a man – indicating intelligence and purpose – the same image of Christ in Luke’s account, which traces our Lord’s ancestry back to Adam, where mankind fell. It also shows Jesus as the Second Adam who redeems all who believe. It speaks of his identifying perfectly with humanity. God has a human face in Jesus Christ.

The fourth face is that of an eagle, which communicates Deity as seen in John’s account of Christ. Like an eagle, the Lord sees everything we do from on high. Like an eagle having six mighty wings with multiple eyes, he can move swiftly to execute judgment. Nothing is hidden from him. John recorded Christ saying God “has given him [Christ] authority to judge everyone.…”(John 5:27). This redeemer is the Supreme Judge of the world.

Revelation 4 says these heavenly beings with incomparable supernatural powers call out:

    Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty—

    the One who always was, who is, and who is still to come.

John Phillips, in Exploring Revelation, has beautifully written:

    These lofty ones employ the resources of their intellects, the deep emotions of their hearts, the ceaseless drive and dynamic of their powerful wills – and they worship. It is the one great, supreme, dominating activity of their lives. All else is counted worthless when compared with the supreme activity of worship. With all their heart, mind, soul, and strength, they worship him that sits upon the throne.

Who is it that sits upon the throne? It can be none other than Jesus because the one they worship is said to be “the creator of all things.” Isn’t this what Colossians 1:16-17 reveals about him? Those verses of scripture say:

    For through him, God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.

This point is crucial because we live in a time when Christ is being rejected as God incarnate, that he was born of a virgin and was sinless.

Barna Research says most American adults believe Jesus did exist. However, “[m]ost adults—not quite six in 10—believe Jesus was God (56%), while about one-quarter say he was only a religious or spiritual leader like Mohammed or the Buddha (26%). The remaining one in six say they aren’t sure whether Jesus was divine (18%).

Barna Research also says Americans are divided over Jesus’ sinlessness.

“About half of Americans agree, either strongly or somewhat, that while he lived on earth, Jesus Christ was human and committed sins like other people (52%). Just less than half disagree, either strongly or somewhat, that Jesus committed sins while on earth (46%), and 2 percent aren’t sure,” Barna reports.

Words from H.A. Ironside are quite appropriate here:

    In a day such as ours, when His [Christ’s] glory as the Eternal Son is so often denied, when His true Deity, His virgin birth, His sinless humanity are all alike flouted by apostate teachers as so much traditional lore to be rejected at will, how refreshing to the soul to turn from earth to heaven and contemplate the glory displayed there as His and the unhindered adoration of His own as they prostrate themselves before His throne. If He [Christ] be not God, then heaven will be filled with idolaters….

When the four living creatures give the cue praising and worshipping, Revelation says the twenty-four elders also fall before the Lord worshipping and casting their crowns before the throne.

These crowns, which the elders have previously been rewarded for their faithfulness in service, they remove from their own heads and present to the Lord. They know their faithfulness was predicated on his faithfulness to them. All the glory belongs to God and God alone.

After I posted an article on Facebook titled Will There Be Gradations, Rank, a Higher Existence for Some in Heaven? -a few folks said in the comments section that they disagreed with my conclusion there would be places of position and rank in heaven based on rewards given at the Judgment Seat of Christ. I argued the twenty-four elders next to the throne of God wearing crowns is a good example.

One lady commented, “If I have no rewards, I will be eternally grateful for the blood of Jesus.” Another person said, “I’ll be content just to be a door greeter, like at Walmart.” Still, another wrote, “My reward is heaven with him. That’s all I want. My obedience brings all the rewards I need.”

I appreciate the sentiment, but such an approach to heavenly rewards is not biblical. If rewards aren’t important to the believer, then what will we present at Christ’s feet to the glory of God? God wants us to work diligently for Christ and to attain rewards so they might be presented to him as an act of worship when we get to heaven. The rewards are not so much for exalting us as they are for giving honor and praise to God. Shall we be empty-handed before his throne?

Revelation chapter four underscores for us the necessity of worship. If the heavenly beings, the twenty-four elders, the saints, and the multitudes of angels bow down before Christ in adoration – resignation – submission – and worship – so must we. All of life must become an act of worship.

John A. Broadus, who was long recognized as the “Dean of American teachers of homiletics” and served at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, once said:

    When anything lifts us up, then we want God as the climax of our exalted thought, and our thought itself is imperfect without it. If you will look in the early morning light, upon the glory of the autumn woods, bright and so beautiful; if you gaze upon the splendor…the nightly skies; if you stand in awe before the great mountains, snow clad and towering…if you go and gaze in the silence of the night upon the rush of your own imperial river, or stand by the seashore, and hear the mighty waters rolling evermore, there swells in the breast something that wants God for its crown and for its completeness. There are aspirations in these strange natures of ours that only God can satisfy. Our thinking is mutilated fragments without God, and our hearts can never rest unless they rest in God.

Therefore, let us join in the chorus:

    Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty—

    the One who always was, who is, and who is still to come.

Do you know the Lord personally? Do you have a relationship with him through Jesus Christ? Let your worship start with confessing your sins, turning to Christ for forgiveness, and receiving the free gift of eternal life.

© Rev. Mark H. Creech


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Rev. Mark H. Creech

Rev. Mark H. Creech is Executive Director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc. He was a pastor for twenty years before taking this position, having served five different Southern Baptist churches in North Carolina and one Independent Baptist in upstate New York.

Rev. Creech is a prolific speaker and writer, and has served as a radio commentator for Christians In Action, a daily program featuring Rev. Creech's commentary on social issues from a Christian worldview.

In addition to, his weekly editorials are featured on the Christian Action League website and Agape Press, a national Christian newswire.


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