Animals in HeavenAnimals in Heaven - A look at Revelation 4:6-9
Archive of Comments and Discussions - Questions and Answers From All-Creatures.org

In reference to: Commentary By Frank L. and Mary T. Hoffman

By Patrick - 10 Mar 2003

Interesting site :)

Things of note:

1) The original pair in the garden of eden did not eat other animals, only the vegetation in it.

Ge. 1:30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein [there is] life, [I have given] every green herb for meat: and it was so. {life: Heb. a living soul}

also

Ge. 2:9 And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, AND GOOD FOR FOOD; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

also

Ge. 1:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: {thou...: Heb. eating thou shalt eat}

Then after man's deflection and after the deluge we read of a "concession" in this pattern:

Ge. 9:3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. 4 But flesh with the life thereof, [which is] the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.

Why this situation? Was it that man now lacked something or was it that man interpreted this (and God allowed it), that men would become further degraded and in order to continue living would resort to eating the "souls", the flesh of others of God's creation?

In any case, it is clear that eating the flesh of other creatures was not the "perfect" and "good" pattern as laid out for the original pair.

Another thing worthy of note is that the scriptures do not distinguish between the souls of men or the souls of beasts...

Note Ecclesiastes

3:18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of MEN, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that THEY THEMSELVES ARE BEASTS. {that God...: or, that they might clear God, and see, etc}

19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that A MAN HATH NO PREEMINENCE ABOVE A BEAST: for all [is] vanity.

20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth? {of man: Heb. of the sons of man} {goeth upward: Heb. is ascending, etc}

Man, in his estate is no different than that of the animals. The same thing happens to both.

Note the rhetorical question at verse 21 (I paraphrase) "Who knows whether men go to heaven and animals just rot?"

This question is really a challenge. The answer is clear, men are not superior in this regard.

Why? Because the vast majority of people acquainted with the scriptures fail to understand that men and animals alike ARE SOULS. They don't "HAVE SOULS", they ARE souls. The Hebrew word for soul "ne'phesh" (the word in greek being "psyche") means simply "a breather". Anything that "breathes" IS a soul.

At the time that Solomon was inspired to write the words I quoted above men had long come to believe the first lie spoken:

"Ge. 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, YE SHALL NOT SURELY DIE:

5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and YE SHALL BE AS GOD, knowing good and evil."

Man had come to believe that instead of BEING a soul, that man HAD a soul and that this SOUL was immortal. That it could NOT die. Such being the case the problem of what happens to the soul after death became a matter of debate.

The scriptures are clear though and there is no dispute. Though we find scores of scriptures stating that the soul dies, we find none that say that the soul is immortal.

Note Ezekiel 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

Souls DIE. Death is the opposite of life.

Where are these souls? Do they have any consciousness? Any existence?

No.

Note Solomon's words at Ecclesiastes 9:4f

4 For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for A LIVING DOG IS BETTER THAN A DEAD LION.

5 For the living know that they shall die: but THE DEAD KNOW NOT ANYTHING, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any [thing] that is done under the sun. ...

10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do [it] with thy might; for [there is] no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

Note too Psalm 146:3

Put not your trust in princes, [nor] in the son of man, in whom [there is] no help. {help: or, salvation} 4 HIS BREATH GOETH FORTH, HE RETURNETH TO HIS EARTH; IN THAT VERY DAY HIS THOUGHTS PERISH.

The conception of an immortal soul invaded Judaism through corruption and contact with pagan nations and finally completely usurped the whole concept of a resurrection (that is "a standing up again" in the flesh) by the first century through Greek hellenization. It was the Greek Plato whose ideas on "the soul" were adopted by apostate Christendom and caused a butchering of the clear teaching of scriptures on this critical matter.

No one "has" an immortal soul. Not man, not beast.

When man or even "a sparrow" (Mt. 10:29) falls to the ground, God "remembers" the man or animal and that is where the creature is stored (much like an emergency spanshot made of a computer file during a power failure).

In the future God may "remember" all. This is the "new earth" that we are awaiting.

As to the book of Revelation and these particular passages it must be pointed out that these visions are much like symbolic MTV videos and the things represented are not to be taken literally.

What do these creatures picture? A vision reported by another prophet,

Ezekiel, helps us to find the answer.

Ezekiel saw God enthroned on a celestial chariot, which was accompanied by living creatures embodying characteristics similar to those described by John. (Ezekiel 1:5-11, 22-28) Later, Ezekiel again saw that chariot throne accompanied by the living creatures. This time, however, he referred to the living creatures as cherubs. (Ezekiel 10:9-15) The four living creatures that John sees must represent the many cherubs of God-creatures of high rank in the spirit realm.

John would not think it unusual to see cherubs positioned so close to God's person, since in the ancient tabernacle arrangement, two cherubs of gold were displayed upon the lid of the ark of the covenant, which represented Jehovah's throne. From between these cherubs, God's voice issued commandments to the nation.-Exodus 25:22; Psalm 80:1.

These four living creatures are "in the midst of the throne and around the throne." Exactly what does this mean? It could signify that they are positioned around the throne in such a way that one is standing in the middle of each side.

Thus, the translators of Today's English Version paraphrased the original Greek expression in this way: "surrounding the throne on each of its sides."

Alternatively, the expression could mean that the four living creatures are in the central position in heaven where the throne is. Likely, that is why The Jerusalem Bible renders the phrase: "in the centre, grouped round the throne itself."

The important thing is the closeness of the cherubs to Jehovah's throne, comparable to that of the cherubs that Ezekiel saw at each corner of God's organizational chariot. (Ezekiel 1:15-22) All of this harmonizes with the words of Psalm 99:1:

"God himself has become king. . . . He is sitting upon the cherubs."

John continues: "And the first living creature is like a lion, and the second living creature is like a young bull, and the third living creature has a face like a man's, and the fourth living creature is like a flying eagle." (Revelation 4:7)

Why do these four living creatures look so different, one from another?

These distinctive living creatures evidently highlight specific godly qualities. First, there is the lion. A lion is used in the Bible as a symbol of courage, especially in the pursuit of justice and righteousness. (2 Samuel 17:10; Proverbs 28:1) Thus, the lion well represents the godly quality of courageous justice. (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 89:14)

The second living creature resembles a young bull. What quality does a bull bring to your mind? To the Israelites the bull was a valuable possession because of its power. (Proverbs 14:4; see also Job 39:9-11.) The young bull, then, represents power, dynamic energy as supplied by God.-Psalm 62:11; Isaiah 40:26.

The third living creature has a face like a man's. This must represent godlike love, since on earth man alone was created in God's image, with the superlative quality of love. (Genesis 1:26-28; Matthew 22:36-40; 1 John 4:8, 16) Undoubtedly, the cherubs display this quality as they serve around God's throne.

What now of the fourth living creature? This one is like a flying eagle in appearance. God himself calls attention to the eagle's great vision: "Far into the distance its eyes keep looking." (Job 39:29) Hence, the eagle well symbolizes farsighted wisdom. God is the Source of wisdom. His cherubs exercise divine wisdom as they obey his commands.-Proverbs 2:6; James 3:17.

John continues his description: "And as for the four living creatures, each one of them respectively has six wings; round about and underneath they are full of eyes. And they have no rest day and night as they say: 'Holy, holy, holy is Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is coming.'" (Revelation 4:8)

This fullness of eyes suggests complete and farsighted vision. The four living creatures exercise this unceasingly, as they have no need of sleep.

They imitate the One of whom it is written: "As regards God, his eyes are roving about through all the earth to show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him." (2 Chronicles 16:9)

Having so great a number of eyes, the cherubs can see everywhere. Nothing escapes their attention. Thus they are well-equipped to serve God in his work of judging. Of him it is said: "The eyes of God are in every place, keeping watch upon the bad ones and the good ones." (Proverbs 15:3)

And with three pairs of wings-the number three being used in the Bible for emphasis-the cherubs can move with lightning swiftness to herald Jehovah's judgments and execute them.

Listen! Melodious, soul stirring, is the song of praise that the cherubs render to Jehovah: "Holy, holy, holy is Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is coming."

Again, the threeness indicates intensity. The cherubs strongly affirm the holiness of God. He is the Source and the ultimate Standard of holiness. He is also "the King of eternity," always "the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." (1 Timothy 1:17; Revelation 22:13)

The cherubs take no rest periods as they proclaim the matchless qualities of God before all creation.

Patrick

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