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Who are the four living 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." Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: 
 "You are worthy, our Lord and God,
   to receive glory and honor and power,
   for you created all things,
      and by your will they were created
      and have their being."  Revelation 4:6-11
 
What do they look like?
  • There are four of them
  • Covered with eyes, front and back
  • All look LIKE something else: lion, ox, man’s face, flying eagle
  • Six wings, eyes under their wing
Some want to make these living creatures into different things (countries, mythological creatures), so we need to be careful.  Remember, this is what they looked LIKE.
 
What do they do?
  • Day and night they praise God
  • They cause others to praise God.
What is the significance of the animals?
  • Lions – represent Christ, strength, the line of Judah.
  • Ox – strength, hard work
  • Man – smart, human like, wise
  • Flying eagle – proud, strong, able to soar and fly
Why are there four?
  • Four directions of north, south, east, west or the four winds of heaven. 
  • Four is very prevalent in the creation of the tabernacle, ark and temple (four corners, four posts, four rings, four horns,
  • Some want to say the creatures represent four categories of nature.  Unfortunately fish are not mentioned or insects.  Just mammals and a bird.
They appear to the have all the qualities of these animals AND have the ability to see many places and go in many directions.  They are ANGELS.  We saw them before in Ezekiel and clearly they were angels there.
 
I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man, but each of them had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had the hands of a man. All four of them had faces and wings, and their wings touched one another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved.
Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a man, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. Such were their faces. Their wings were spread out upward; each had two wings, one touching the wing of another creature on either side, and two wings covering its body. Each one went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went. The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it. The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightningEzekiel 1:4-14
 
Angels are strong, fast, speeding quickly from one place to another, with the ability to see in all directions (not omnipresent). Angels also praise God. 
 
The scene highlights a worship service where the earthly (24 elders) and the spiritual (4 angels) gather before God's throne to say clearly “You created all things and by your will they were created and have their being.”