Throne Room Activity: The Twenty-Four Elders, Part 2

Revelation 4:9-10  

9 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever.

Picture above is from

I would like for us to continue with the application of the throne room activities for us in the present Day church.

III. We should worship God in humility, like the 24 Elders do in the vision. 

Animate creatures and inanimate creation worship God by performing their appointed ends by instinct.  

In this passage we have the whole of created order represented by angelic figures in heaven worshiping God. Animate and inanimate creation worships God by performing the function for which they were created. What we call “instinct” is God’s creative order at work. There are modal spheres of creation expressed in the eternal law of God. 

“Throughout Scripture we read that animals praise God. [We] don’t know exactly how animals praise God, but our inability to understand it shouldn’t keep us from believing it. Consider the psalms. Psalm 148 commands all of creation to praise the Lord, including the animals… .” (see Alcorn below.) 

One biblical scholar says that “creation praises God by simply being itself.” Creation follows the built in instinct to act the way the Creator has “wired” each part. (see Bancewicz below). 

vs. 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying… 

Man has the privilege and responsibility to worship God intelligently and freely. 

A. W. Tozer said this about man in contrast to other created things and beings: 

Man was made to worship God. God gave to man a harp and said, “Here above all the creatures that I have made and created I have given you the largest harp. I put more strings on your instrument and I have given you a wider range than I have given to any other creature. You can worship Me in a manner that no other creature can” (see Tozer below). 

“[God’s] essence, indeed, is incomprehensible, utterly transcending all human thought; but on each of his works his glory is engraven in characters so bright, so distinct, and so illustrious, that none, however dull and illiterate, can plead ignorance as their excuse” (see Calvin below; Institutes, 1.5.1). 

The Greek word for “worship” is proskunéō (from prós, “towards” and kuneo, “to kiss”) – properly, to kiss the ground when prostrating before a superior; to worship, ready “to fall down/prostrate oneself to adore on one’s knees”; to “do obeisance”. (see Bible Hub below). 

The Twenty-four elders fall before God’s throne and cast their crowns at his feet in all humility. 


The word for “crown” is stephanos, the victor’s crown in an athletic contest. (see image to the right) Bear in mind that it is made of laurel branches and leaves twisted together. It will not last. 

The elders ascribe glory, honor, etc. to God because they realize he is the reason for their victory over sin, the world and the Devil.  

vs. 11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honor and power,

for you created all things,

and by your will they existed and were created.”

IV. We should worship God as Creator and Ruler over all his cosmos as do all beings in the throne room scene. 

The sovereign will of God is the real and ultimate reason for the existence of all things. All creatures “were,” that is, they existed ideally in the mind of God from eternity. They “were created,” that is, their real existence followed their ideal existence in the mind of God. (see Hendriksen, p. 88-89, below). 

How Revelation Chapter Four applies to Christians then and now 

Application of Chapter Four Vision 3

We have three principle areas to concentrate on in Revelation Four, and we ought not to get caught up in the details beyond these—

1. The Throne and the One who sits upon it.

God is the Sovereign Creator and Ruler of all he has made. Both in the First Century and in the Twenty-First Centuries Christians must look to God as the Sovereign Ruler of their lives and all that concerns them. 

2. The Angels in heaven and what they represent. 

It is clear we are dealing in the vision with angels that are symbolic of things in our world. Christians are to take their lead from the angels in heaven. They like the angels are to serve God alone! 

3. The two songs in the chapter like bookends—the Holy Hymn and the Creator Hymn. 

The first song urges Christians’ constant attention to be fixed on God as Holy! He is Holy and wholly other than sinful humankind. Theologians call this the transcendence of God.

“When the Bible speaks of God as transcendent, it is not describing God’s location. It is not saying that God lives “up there” or “out there” somewhere. When we say that God is above and beyond the universe, we are saying that He is above and beyond the universe in terms of His Being” (see Sproul, below). 

The Psalmist can say truthfully God is our Refuge and Fortress (Psalm 91). We can go to him in the midst of trouble and trial and find protection and shelter and provisions. 

We as believers created by God, ought to render God the honor due his name. He alone has the right to direct how life is to be lived. Since He is Creator of all things. 

Personal Experience 

I used to read this passage in my study just before entering into the Church to lead worship every Sunday. I reminded myself that people are there to worship God, and not to be entertained! He is Holy and we are to approach him with awe and reverence. 

Chapter Five next time. 


Alcorn, Randy. (2011). Quotation from Heaven accessed 10 October 2019 from Note: Some passages in this book take apocalyptic passages from Scripture about heaven too literally. Care should be exercised in its use. 

Bancewicz, R. M. (2015). “The Trees Clap their Hands: What does it mean to say that creation praises the Creator?” Blog post accessed 10 October 2019 from

Bible Hub. (2004-2019). Accessed 15 October 2019 from

Calvin, John. (1559). Institutes of the Christian Religion, Trans. Henry Beveridge, 1845. Edinburgh, Scotland: Calvin Translation Society Publication. Accessed 11 October 2019 from 

Hendriksen, W. (1939). More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation (pp. 88-89). Grend Repids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Sproul, R. C. Everyone’s a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology (Kindle Locations 1434-1436). Reformation Trust Publishing.

Tozer, A. W. (1992). Worship: the Missing Jewel. Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications.  Accessed 15 October 2019 from

Throne Room Activity: Living Creatures, Part 1

Revelation 4:8b  

8 And the four living creatures…day and night they never cease to say,
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”

Picture above of the Four Living Creatures from Pinterest. I was not able to find the name, painter, or date of painting. 

One commentator divides the chapter into two parts:
1). What John Saw—the sights of the Throne Room and Attendants vs. 1-8a;
2). What John Heard—the heavenly worship vs. 8b-11.

Our post today deals with the heavenly worship. The closing verses of Revelation 4 are difficult to separate for comment, so I shall draw out the lessons for the Seven Churches and today’s Church. Most likely, the original audience would take these verses as incentives to follow the heavenly pattern in their worship services.

Heaven’s order is always to be our guide in worship. 


Etching of Isaiah’s vision with a Seraph cleansing him with
a live coal from the incense altar in heaven. (wikimedia commons) 

The Attendants of the God’s Throne Room focus their Worship on God, and so should we in ours. 

Excursus on Angels: Hebrews 1:13-14 tell us what angels are and do. 

13 And to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

Angels are ministering spirits. The word for minister in Greek is leitourgikos from which we derive the English word “liturgy.” They minister to the Lord in praise and worship. What else do they do?

Angels are sent from God’s presence to serve God’s children. The word for “serve” in Greek is diakonia, from which we derive the English word “deacon.” Part of their vocation is heavenly and part is earthly. Both are performed for God’s glory. Note they are sent forth from the atmosphere of worship to perform service for God and His people. Having finished the earthly part, angels return to worship and await the next mission for God. They do not skip a moment living for God and His glory. 

Ancient Marnier Search Gust Durer

Gustave Dore (1832-1919) print from the 1st edition of Rime of the Ancient Mariner

What would our service for God be if it were to proceed from such an atmosphere of true worship of God in our churches?! cf. Acts 13

1 Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. 

Note that the word “worship” is leitourgos = liturgy. I favor the old King James translation since I was reared with its use. “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted… .” We forget our ministry is to the Lord, first,  and then, to other people. In an atmosphere of worship, God speaks and sends us out to minister. 

I. We should worship God as Trinity, as do the hosts above. holy_trinity_template

vs. 8b And the four living creatures…day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” 

Figure to the left is all we can say about the nature of the the Trinity. 


This saying of the angels is taken from Isaiah 6:1-3. Here it is uttered in a Trinitarian context. There is no doubt that the Tri Sagion (thrice holy) is in reference to the Three Persons of the Godhead. If is often argued that the Tri Sagion in Isaiah is merely a plural of majesty and has no hint of the Trinity there in that context, the same cannot be said here. We have three Persons in the Godhead present. The Isaiah passage is fully interpreted here. “The Lord of Creation is also the Lord of the Ages.” (see Beasley-Murray below.) 

One note I would add to the translation of the passage in Isaiah 6 is about what the angels “fly above.” It cannot be possible for throne room attendants to fly above God Himself. Hebrew does not have a neuter gender for nouns, so the masculine gender does double duty for the neuter. Isaiah was saying God filled the heavenly temple. The only space for the angels was God’s vast robe which fills that space. “Above it stood the seraphim.” 

II. We should worship God as Sovereign Lord over all creation. 

There is no room in God’s throne room for a rival or rivals! All created beings are below Him. On that central place in our innermost being is a throne, too. God is to be there as our Lord! 

Postures in Prayer 2

Posture in prayer is determined by the intensity of one’s need. 

These angels remain in the presence of God ever praising the holiness of God’s person and actions! We have a difficult time thinking of holiness apart from a connotation of its negative aspects—absence of sin. However, God’s holiness is active. 



Primarily, God’s holiness refers to His greatness and His transcendence, to the fact that He is above and beyond anything in the universe. …He alone in His being transcends all created things.”

Secondarily, the word holy, as it is applied to God, refers to His purity, His absolute moral and ethical excellence” (see Sproul below). 

Holiness is an attribute of God whereby He actively asserts his purity and moral excellence in His Being and in all His dealings with His creatures. 

The focus of everything in heaven is on God seated on the central throne ruling over all reality. 

More about the other throne room activity next time. 


Sproul, R.C. (2014). Everyone’s a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology. Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing. Kindle edition. 

© 2019 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

God’s Throne Room Attendants, Part 2

Revelation 4 

5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, 6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.

Lightning on a mountain

Lightning and Thunder from the Throne 

vs. 5 This is reminiscent of the theophany at Sinai when the Mosaic Covenant was ratified. Exodus 19:16-25 records this. Lest we think this was an Old Testament phenomena only, Hebrews 12:18-29 reiterates God is still a God of justice and holiness. “Our God is a consuming fire!” Note the Hebrews passage does not say God was a consuming fire. The use of the present tense reiterates God is unchangeable! Beale states this clearly—

“This phrase is repeated in 8:5; 11:19; and 16:18, all of which have to do with God’s judgments. This becomes significant in light of the way many of the plagues of Revelation are clearly modeled (as we shall see) on those of Exodus. This then may serve as assurance to suffering Christians that their God is sovereign and has not forgotten them, because He has not forgotten their persecutors, whom He will surely judge by fire (e.g., 19:20; 20:9-10; 21:8).” See Beale, p. 103, below)

The Golden Lampstand before the Throne

The lampstand is one of the few symbols that is explained in the book of Revelation itself. It occurs in 1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 5:6. The background seems to be Zechariah 4:2, 10 and Is. 11:2 (LXX rendering). The seven lamps (lampas) are located on a lampstand (luknia). The lamps are a symbol of the sevenfold Spirit of God. (See Isaiah 11:1-5). 

lampstand in temple

A drawing of the Golden Lampstand

This lampstand and the reference to the lampstand and the sea let us know that we are in a temple setting. It is not the temple of Jerusalem; rather, it is the temple Moses saw on Mount Sinai which became the pattern of the Tabernacle and Temple, later on. 

vs. 6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind. 

The glass sea in heaven is the pattern for the laver in the Tabernacle. It is crystallized in heaven symbolizing the fact that the saints have reached a fixed state of holiness and no longer need a layer for cleansing.

God is Ruler of All His Creation

vs. 7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. 

Four living creatures — Literally, the text reads that they are “in the midst” (mesos) of the throne. However, it is a mistake to see them seated on the throne as “in the midst” (mesos) implies. It is best to take this as “in the immediate vicinity” of the throne. The eyes on both sides of the creatures symbolize the fact they are ever alert and watchful. Nothing escapes their notice.

Remember, God in the Old Testament called “Yahweh Sabaoth” = Lord of Armies. 

“The words ‘angels, hosts and armies’…refers to the fact that the Lord of hosts is lord over the armies of [creation] angels, humans, all animals, every plant and all the stars, planets and asteroids of the universe.” (see Lord of Hosts below.) All these hosts can be summoned to assist God’s persecuted people. 

John evokes creation as represented in God’s throne room by “four forms that represent whatever is noblest, strongest, wisest, and swiftest in nature” (see Swete, p. 71, below). 

vs. 8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”

each had six wings — This is reminiscent of Is. 6. This is why most commentators see the creatures as an angelic order. Why six? An old Jewish Targum reads: “With two, he covered his face, that he might see not; with two he covered his feet, that he might not be seen; and with two he flew.” 

God’s people may appear to be without influence and powerless. However, Revelation 4 reminds us whom we serve! God is the Ruler of all Creation and has the hosts of creation at his disposal to aid his people. 

ozymandias pen drawing

Powerful empires of old are no more though they struck fear in their subjects once. Percy B. Shelley’s Poem “Ozymandias” is instructive to us! 

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away. (See Shelley below.) 

God’s Presence on the Throne is our Incentive to Pray

During a dismal morning in WWI, David Lloyd George stood grimly before the members of the British cabinet. The seriousness of the situation was evident. The prime minister said, “Gentlemen, we are fighting with our backs to the wall. The only way out is up. Our only hope is God. Let us pray.” (see Lloyd-George below) 

If the out-look today is depressing for us, I suggest we try the up-look! God is still on the throne at the center of reality. We are called to pray in all circumstances. Our God hears and answers prayer! 

More next time. 


Beasley-Murray, G. R. (1974). The Book of Revelation in the New Century Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co. 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: A Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. Kindle Edition.

George, D. L. Story accessed 29 September 2019 from sermon-illustrations/60598/during-a-dismal-morning-in-wwi-david-lloyd-by-sermoncentral

Lord of Hosts. (n.d.) Accessed 27 September 2019 from bible-qa/qa-archives/question/is-there-a-difference-between-angels-hosts-and-armies/

Shelley, P. B. (1818). “Ozymandias” printed in The Examiner (defunct British newspaper); accessed 27 September 2019 from

Swete, H. B. (1911) The Apocalypse of St. John: the Greek text with introduction, notes and indices London, England: MacMillian and Co., Ltd. 

© 2019 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

God’s Throne Room Attendants, Part 1

4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads.

The image above is “God’s answer to Job,” Adriaen Collaert, after Jan van der Straet, 1587 – 1591” (see Seraphim below)  Note there is only a Hebrew word at the center and not an attempt to picture God himself. 

vs. 4 comments—The idea is that of a circular throne room, not a rectangular one. “Around” is kuklothen in Greek = “surrounding entirely.” The beings that sit on these 24 thrones are obviously an angelic order involved in the worship of God in heaven and involved in the fulfilling of his purposes on the earth.


Dr. Hendriksen’s Explanation of his Diagram 

“Diagram of the vision described in Revelation 4 and 5: The Universe Governed by the Throne. The vision consists of one single picture and teaches one main lesson. The square at the center represents the throne with steps leading up to it. In the center of the throne sits the Father (Rev. 4:2).

The innermost circle 1 represents the sparkling white diamond (4:3); circle 2 the sardius (4:3); circle 3 the emerald rainbow (4:3);

The Attendants before the throne: circle 4 the four living ones or cherubim (4:6); circle 5 the twenty-four thrones with their elders (4:4); circle 6 the many angels (5:11); and circle 7 all other creatures in the entire universe (5:13). The seven lamps and the sea of glass are also before the throne (4:5, 6).”

This part of the diagram refers to chapter 5: “The Lamb (L) stands between the throne and the living ones on the one side, and the twenty-four elders on the other (5:6). But the Lamb later advances to the throne (5:7), and is now seated on it with the Father (22:1). The throne rules over all. Take this lesson to heart!” (see Hendriksen, p. 84, below). 

Why 24?—The number twenty-four is suggestive of the twenty-four courses of priests in I Chronicles 24. (Click on link to read.) 

levitesIn addition, many commentators think that the elders represent God’s people of all ages. Just as the courses of Priests represented the totality of the Priesthood (pictured right), the twenty four elders represent the totality of God’s people of all ages. Some of the elect have already died and are already there in heaven. Some are still unborn, but these angels represent them all. This “symbolic view” is possible, but it is important not to over-interpret the details here. 

This passage teaches one lesson! God’s throne is the center of created reality. It is only accessible by us with the eye of faith at present, but it is real! 

The Atmosphere of Heaven Pervades the Hearts of Praying Christians

“There is a story about a new submarine that was being tested. As part of its test, the submarine had to remain submerged beneath the ocean’s surface for a long time. While the submarine was submerged for its test, a powerful storm passed through the area, causing a great deal of damage.

submarine“When the submarine returned to the harbor, the head of the team that was evaluating the submarine asked the captain, “How did that terrible storm affect you?” The captain looked at the man in surprise and exclaimed, “Storm? We didn’t even know there was one!”

“The reason for the captain’s surprise was that his submarine had been so far beneath the ocean’s surface that it reached the area known to sailors as “the cushion of the sea.” Although a storm’s high winds may whip the surface into huge waves, the waters in the “cushion” are not even stirred. So while vessels up above were being subjected to turmoil and damage, the submarine down below was not affected. It remained safely in the “cushion.” (see Cushion of the Sea, below) 

Having our lives here on earth centered on the unseen throne of God gives us “cushion” against life’s alarms here on earth! Psalm 91:1 “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” (KJV) Nothing centered on that throne is disturbed by anything in space and time. Philippians 4:5-7—

5 The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The question we should all constantly ask is: “Am I centered on God and His worship in my daily life?” “Do I begin each day with Bible Study, worship, and prayer?” If so we are under the shadow of the Almighty’s throne. The peace promised in Philippians 4 garrisons our hearts in all circumstance! 

The Shadow of the Almighty and Martyrdom and Death

jim_elliot_by_gregchapin-d6jqcxvMost older folks are familiar with Jim Elliot’s (pictured right) death as a martyr in 1956 in Ecuador, SA. It was the defining moment for my mother’s generation. Many were called to serve God on the missions field as a result of Elliot’s death. She told me of it often.

Jim and his wife, Elisabeth, had been married less than 2 years. She held a baby in her arms as she waited for his return. She recalls he and the other men sang a hymn based on Psalm 91 the night before they flew to their deaths—”We Rest on Thee.” 

We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender;
We go not forth alone against the foe;
Strong in Thy strength, safe in Thy keeping tender.
We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.
Yea, in Thy Name, O Captain of salvation!
In Thy dear Name, all other names above;
Jesus our Righteousness, our sure Foundation,
Our Prince of glory and our King of love.
We go in faith, our own great weakness feeling,
And needing more each day Thy grace to know:
Yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing;
We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.
We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender:
Thine is the battle, Thine shall be the praise
When reigning in the Kingdom of Thy splendor;
Victors, we rest with Thee, through endless days.

“So clearly the seemingly face-value meaning of Psalm 91 did not come true for the five missionaries who were martyred with spears in January, 1956 in Ecuador. So why did Elisabeth Elliot title her book about Jim Elliot, Shadow of the Almighty? That’s a quotation from Psalm 91:1. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty” (verse 1). Jim was killed.

Elisabeth Elliot answered like this: “The world called it a nightmare of tragedy. The world did not recognize the truth of the second clause in Jim Elliot’s credo: ‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” (Harper, 1958, p. 19).” (see Piper below). 


All of us have to die. Like George Whitefield said, “We are immortal until our work on earth is done.” This is the meaning of Psalm 91 and of Revelation’s scenes around God’s throne.

God’s rule over all time and eternity means we can safely carry on for him in the face of danger and persecution. 

More next time. 


Cushion of the Sea. (n.d.). Accessed 25 September 2019 from I first encountered the story years ago in Our Daily Bread

Hendriksen, William. (1939). More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Piper, John. (2012). Accessed 25 September 2019 from “Desiring God” Blog at

Seraphim. (2019). Accessed 25 September 2019 from article/the-seraphim

© 2019 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved