Sun, Mar 26, 2000

The Faces of God: Revelation 4:6b-8

Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.



Maybe you have heard the story of Tommy, a young boy who angrily returned home from Sunday School, and vowed that he would never go back. His shocked mother asked what had happened to turn him from Sunday School. Tommy snapped back with his answer: "My Sunday School teacher doesn’t know anything about God. She doesn’t even know what God looks like!" Tommy’s mother asked him how his teacher was suppose to know what God looked like. Tommy once again spoke up and said: "I drew a picture of God, and my teacher didn’t know what it was!"

In Psalm 40:7 David wrote in speaking of Jesus, "...‘Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me." In other words, as you read the Scriptures the Holy Spirit is painting for us a picture of Jesus Christ. And many times, like the Sunday School teacher, we don’t see what God is trying to show us in His Word, the picture He is painting for us, as obscure as it may seem.

This morning, as we continue our study in Revelation chapter 4, we are going to see an incredible picture of Christ being painted for us. And so, lets read through our text this morning, beginning in Revelation chapter 4, verse 6, and we will pick up our reading in the middle of verse 6. (Read Revelation 4:6b-8).

Now keep in mind that John was caught up into heaven and is before the throne of God, seeing God the Father sitting upon the throne. And around the throne were twenty-four elders which we said represented the church. We saw the Spirit of God around the throne of God. And when we get into Revelation chapter 5 we will see Jesus also around the throne. We also see around the throne of God four living creatures, and that is what we are going to focus on this morning.



These creatures, also seen in Ezekiel chapters 1 and 10, are Cherubim. They are angelic beings. And these eyes all around could be referring to God being all-seeing, for these Cherubim were representatives of God. Now some people have trouble with these creatures, especially their description in Ezekiel chapter 1. But they forget that God created them, and I think we will be amazed when we get to heaven at the variety of angelic beings there are. We see Cherubim and Seraphim mentioned and they are created for God’s good pleasure. So I have no problem with God creating these living creatures, for look at all of us how different we are. And I’m sure these angelic beings are saying, "What a weird bunch of creatures God created!" when they look at us!


As you look at the faces of these creatures, each face is different. Why? Because these four living creatures represent the attributes, or the faces of the living God. They are represented by the face of a lion, the face of a calf, the face of a man, and the face of an eagle. They represent the four-fold picture of Christ as seen in the Gospel’s. In fact, you can go back in church history to Iranius and others and see that they too recognized that the faces of these Cherubim correspond with the four Gospel’s. So lets see this picture that God is painting for us.

First of all lets look at the lion, who represents majesty, power. As you study the Gospel’s you will see that Matthew presents Jesus as the Lion from the tribe of Judah. Matthew, in speaking to the Jewish people, presents Jesus as the Messiah, the fulfillment of what the Old Testament prophets spoke about. In fact, Matthew quotes from the Old Testament more than any other Gospel writer. And when you look at the genealogy of Jesus in this Gospel it goes all the way back to Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, and linking Jesus to the throne!

The next animal that is described is the calf or the ox or the beast of burden. And in the Gospel of Mark we see Jesus presented as the suffering servant. Even Jesus said in Mark 10:45, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." And as you study the Gospel of Mark you will notice that there are no genealogies of Jesus mentioned. Why? Because you don’t list the genealogies of a slave or a servant, it is not important!

The next face is that of a man. And this is speaking of Jesus as the Son of Man. And the Gospel of Luke speaks of the humanity of Jesus. As you read Luke you will find that the phrase, "Son of Man" is used some 25 times. And as you look at the genealogy of Jesus found in Luke, you will see Luke take us all the way back to Adam, the first man, showing us the humanity of Jesus!

And lastly we see the face of an eagle. And the eagle speaks of power, majesty, as they sore higher than any other creature, it speaks of supreme sovereignty. And so what Gospel do you think we find this picture of Jesus in? The only one that is left, the Gospel of John. And John speaks of Jesus as the Divine "Son of God," and we see that phrase some 11 times in his Gospel. It is a phrase that speaks of His deity. Also, John gives us a genealogy that is vastly different than Matthew and Luke, in fact, it is out of this world! In John 1:1-2 we read "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God." You see, in this genealogy John points to the eternal existence of Jesus, His Divinity, that He is God!

And so what we see is Jesus as the KING, who came to SERVE as a MAN, but who is fullyGOD! But it doesn’t end there. It has been said that the New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed, and the Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed, and that is what we are going to see.

We are going to be looking at a very obscure, and sometimes passed over portion of Scripture found in Numbers chapter 2. In this portion of Scripture we see the Lord tell Moses and Aaron how the camp of Israel was to be set-up during their wilderness wanderings. Listed for each tribe were those men that were 20 years old and up, men who were able to go to war. The total number of men that could go to war were 603,550 men, not including the tribe of Levi or the women and children. So the total number of people that were leaving Egypt, heading to the Promised Land, could have been upwards of 2 to 3 million people. Lets take a closer look and see how these tribes were positioned around the camp.


On the east side of the camp were the tribes of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. Now the tribes of Issachar and Zebulun were under the lead tribe of Judah, whose banner was a gold lion on a scarlet background. Thus, when the pillar of fire or the cloud, which represented the presence of God, the Shekinah glory, began to move, Judah and those tribes associated with them moved first in the camp. Also, the total number of men able to go to war, 20 years old and above, was 186,400 from these three tribes.

Now we saw that Matthew presented Jesus as the Lion from the tribe of Judah and here in the camp we see the very same thing, Judah with its banner of a lion. So in the camp of Israel we see the kingship of Jesus.


On the south side of the camp were the tribes of Reuben, Simeon and Gad. Now the tribes of Simeon and Gad were under the lead tribe of Reuben, whose banner was a man on a background of gold. These three tribes were the second group to move out and the total number of men that could go to war from these three tribes was 151,450.

Again, the man speaks of humanity, and we saw Luke present Jesus as the "Son of Man," speaking of His humanity. And once again we see a picture of the humanity of Jesus in this banner.


On the west side of the camp were the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin. Now the tribes of Manasseh and Benjamin were under the lead tribe of Ephraim, whose banner was a black ox on a gold background. These three tribes were the third group to move out when camp broke, and the total number of men that could go to war from this group of three tribes was 108,000.

Again, the ox or the calf is a beast of burden. And we saw Mark present to us Jesus as the suffering servant. And again we see a picture of the servanthood of Jesus in this banner.


On the north side of the camp were the tribes of Dan, Asher, and Naphtali. Now the tribes of Asher and Naphtali were under the lead tribe of Dan, whose banner was a gold eagle on a blue background. These tribes were the fourth group to move out when it was time for them to break camp. And the total number of men that could go to war in these three tribes was 157,600.

Again, the eagle represents supreme sovereignty as he sores through the heavens. And we saw John present Jesus as the Son of God! And that is the picture we see here in this banner, the deity of Jesus.


In the middle of the camp were the Levites with Moses, Aaron and the priests camping by the entrance of the tabernacle on the east side. The other families of Levi also camped around the tabernacle with the Kohathites on the south side, the Merarites on the north side, and the Gershonites on the west side. And their responsibility was the care of the tabernacle including its upkeep, its transportation and ministering in the tabernacle itself.

Thus, as you looked at the camp of Israel, understand that their tents always faced towards the tabernacle which was located in the center of the camp. And so, when you wake-up in the morning the first thing you would see is the smoke from the morning sacrifices being offered up. When you went to bed at night, you would see the light of the tabernacle shining. Thus, the tabernacle was the focus of the nation and needed to be in the heart of the camp, where it was.

And what an important lesson for us to learn as individuals, as a family, and as a nation. The strength of any individual, any family, any nation is found only when God is in the center, when God is the heart, the focus of their lives. In fact, when communities were being built, many years ago, they would be built around the church, which was the center of the community, and the homes would spread out from there. Thus, the church, a place where people came to worship God, was the focus of their community and their life. It is sad to see we have lost that focus in our society today.

The camp of Israel also represented a picture of the throne of God, as we have seen with the four living creatures and the banners of the lead tribes of Israel. So as Israel set-up camp, they were painting a picture of the throne of God.

There is also one other point that I would like to make regarding the camp of Israel. When the various tribes set-up camp they would do so due east, due west, due north, and due south. And they would follow the proportions of how wide the Levites were camped, in the center of the camp around the tabernacle. If they would go beyond those proportions, that would mean they would no longer be setting up camp due east, due west, due north, and due south, but would be going northeast, northwest, and-so-on.

Now as you look at the camp of Israel you would always do so from the east, facing the opening of the tabernacle. Now if you take the number of people from each tribe and place them in their position in the camp; north, south, east and west, you will find your vertical axis will have a slightly longer dimension on the bottom than on the top, 186,400 to 108,000. The horizontal axis will be almost equal, south to north, 151, 450 to 157, 600.

Now in the center of the camp is where the tabernacle was located. And in the tabernacle was the ark of the covenant, located in the holy of holies. And this is the place where God dwelt, above the mercy seat, which was located on the top of the ark of the covenant, between the wings of the Cherubim. In Exodus 25:22 we read of God meeting with them in this place. The Lord said, "And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel."

Now, unbeknown to the children of Israel, or anyone else for that matter, God was giving a beautiful picture of His great love for us. And the only way you could see this picture, as you looked at the camp of Israel, is if you were directly above the camp, if you were flying over it. And if you did look down you would see a picture of a cross, made by the various tribes which camped east, west, south and north. Not only that, but right in the middle of the cross was where the tabernacle was located, which represented the presence of God. And the sacrifices that were done in the temple, would cause the blood of these animals to be spilled. Thus, as you looked at the camp of Israel you would see God in the middle of the cross, sound familiar? You see, the shadows of the cross in the Old Testament are brought to light with Christ, as HE is placed right in the center of this picture.

Without the cross of Calvary, the finished work of Christ, we would still be lost in our sins. But we are told in Revelation 13:8 that Jesus was "...the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.Long before we ever were created, God knew what it would cost Him to redeem us back to Himself, HIS LIFE!

Paul, in Colossians chapter 2, beginning in verse 13 said, "And you, being dead in yourtrespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him,having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements thatwas against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths." Colossians 2:13-16.

Paul is telling us that Christ has taken all of our sins and nailed them to the cross of Calvary having paid the penalty for them with His sacrificial death, with the spilling of His blood. When He cried from the cross the words, "It is finished!" it was the Greek word TETELESTAI, which can be translated "Paid in full!" You see, your debt, your sins, have been paid in full by Christ and all you have to do is receive that free gift into your life. Ask God to cleanse you of your sins and fill you with His Spirit, that you believe that Jesus is not only your Lord, but you Savior, and by faith you are cleansed.

Paul concluded by saying in verse 17 of Colossians chapter 2, "which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ." The camp of Israel was just a shadow of what was to come, it pictured the cross of Calvary with God being right in the center of the cross. But that was only a shadow, THE SUBSTANCE IS CHRIST!


Heaven is a place of worship, the worship of the true and living God. It is as Psalm 29:1-2 says,"Give unto the LORD, O you mighty ones, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness."These four living creatures, Cherubim, who surround the throne of God, have as their function in heaven to worship God day and night. And in their worship they speak of the tri-unity of God. They sing out "Holy, holy, holy" as they worship God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. One God manifested in three distinct persons. These creatures are totally overwhelmed by the beauty of His holiness and it is expressed in their actions toward Him.

And they not only declare the holiness of God in their worship of Him, but His power. He is the creator of heaven and earth. It is as Jeremiah 51:15 says, "He has made the earth by His power; he has established the world by His wisdom, and stretched out the heaven by His understanding." And Lastly, they sing of His eternal existence, "Who was and is and is tocome." It is as Psalm 90:2 declares, "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Youhad formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God."

I love to worship God and to hear the beautiful voices coming together of brethren worshiping God, what a joy that is. When we had a our praise and worship night a few weeks ago, what joy that was as we came together as a body of believers, just to take that time from our day, and give it totally over to Him with hearts of worship. And I can’t even imagine the sounds of worship in heaven, what that will be like. Can you imagine? Next week we will conclude Revelation chapter 4 by looking at the twenty-four elders who are around the throne of God and see that they also are worshiping God as the Cherubim are. And as we have seen, these twenty-four elders represent the church, they are a picture of the church. So it is important we understand what we will be doing in heaven with our Lord.

I pray that I have painted a picture of Jesus for you this morning. A picture that comes out of the Word of God. A picture that flows from the heart of God. It is something that He wants us to see. Take a look around you and see what God has given to you; your family, your friends, the many blessings. And don’t stop there. Look to the cross of Calvary and see how much He loves you, so much so that He gave His life so that you may live!

It is easy to get into that "Woe’s me" mentality. That everything we see is bad. That we alone are good. No one loves God like me. Nothing goes right for me. And you can go on-and-on, and if you do you will be depressed, and with a heart like that, you won’t want to worship God, nor will anyone want to be around you. Get the focus off yourself, give it to the Lord, and worship Him, serve others, and you will find true joy that is manifested in your life by your actions.

If you don’t know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, ask Him into your life. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins, and He will. It is as Jesus said in John chapter 3, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that hisdeeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God." John 3:16-21. It is your choice, and the decision you make has eternal consequences! Choose Christ!


The Camp of Israel

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